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As a believer, I think that theism is more reasonable than atheism although I

As a believer, I think that theism is more reasonable than atheism although I think that atheists can have good reasons to believe that their worldview is true. Is this position rational? Put in another way, is it possible for me to claim that my worldview is the correct one while granting that the opposite worldview can be as reasonable as the one I hold to be true?

I hope you are right for I while I am a Christian philosopher (or a philosopher who is a Christian) I believe that many of my friends and colleagues who are atheists or agnostics or who accept Islam or a non-theistic view of God (as my Hindu philosopher colleague and friend) are just as reasonable as I am in the sense that each of them has intellectual integrity and has spent at least as much time intelligently reflecting on their convictions, earnestly seeking the truth in such matters. Still, I think each of us needs to hold that the reasons that justify our different beliefs are not defeated (undermined) by the reasons for incompatible beliefs. An atheist might be able to acknowledge that I am just as reasonable as she is, but she cannot (in my view) think that her reasoning is undermined by the evidence or reasoning that I undertake. Alternatively, consider a Christian-Muslim exchange (something I am deeply committed to). I accept a traditional Christian understanding of God incarnate on the basis of an historical argument and an argument from religious experience (I roughly following the reasoning of the Oxford based philosopher Richard Swinburne in his book on the incarnation). In doing so, I believe that I am committed to thinking that no one had decisive, irrefutable evidence against the incarnation that any reasonable person would or should accept. I can certainly recognize that my Muslim philosopher friend Mohammad is reasonable in only recognizing Jesus as a holy prophet (peace be upon him), but there is a limit here in terms of my not being able to accept that he knows (with certainty, based on irrefutable evidence) that Jesus was only a prophet.

Three other points are worth noting.

First, I believe that the above matter is not special to philosophy of religion, but it runs throughout metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, philosophy of law, philosophy of language, science, and so on. I have two colleagues that are Kantian and one that is Humean. They both cannot be right about the nature and normative status of ethical obligations, but as far as I can telly they are intellectual peers and regard each other as equally reasonable.

Second, it is partly because we do (in the practice of philosophy) believe that colleagues who disagree with us are equally reasonable that we are motivated to engage each other in debate and sustained arguments. Without that assumption / premise, the very landscape of philosophy would look more hostile (in my view) than it currently does.

Third, as a general point, I happen to think that the reasons why philosophers adopt the positions they do is highly complex and historically conditioned. My hypothesis is that philosophers form their views on different matters based on clusters of arguments, their view of certain concrete cases which they interpret differently in light of alternative theoretical commitments, the success or failure of thought experiments, their particular exposure to positions during their graduate education, and perhaps even psychological and sociological reasons. For example, one person might naturally rebel against the perceived status quo which is why he or she adopts a form of phenomenology in a department which is structuralist, whereas another person is an anti-realist about freedom in a philosophical libertarian culture. So, in offering this third suggestion, I suggest that we rarely have a case in which two philosophers disagree about X because they disagree about the evidential force of a single, separate line of reasoning. To give a concrete case, I think Philip Kitcher is just as reasonable as me or probably more reasonable than me philosophically (he is older, has been practicing philosophy longer at an elite university, while I am a mere College professor). I accept a cosmological argument for theism (you can find a good version in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), whereas he does not. Imagine we read the same article. The reasons for our diverging in our assessments probably lies outside of the line of reasoning in the contribution. Kitcher, for example, adopts a form of pragmatism when it comes to ostensibly necessary truths that I think is mistaken. For us to debate the cosmological argument, we would probably need to debate the adequacy of his pragmatism, and then probably move on to ever greater areas of epistemology and metaphysics. Overall, then, I suggest (going back to my original response) two philosophers may be equal in intellectual integrity, equal in focussed, intelligent reasoning, equally in identifying the truth or most reasonable position(s), and yet reach divergent views, partly due to the highly complex, interwoven nature of philosophy.

I hope you are right for I while I am a Christian philosopher (or a philosopher who is a Christian) I believe that many of my friends and colleagues who are atheists or agnostics or who accept Islam or a non-theistic view of God (as my Hindu philosopher colleague and friend) are just as reasonable as I am in the sense that each of them has intellectual integrity and has spent at least as much time intelligently reflecting on their convictions, earnestly seeking the truth in such matters. Still, I think each of us needs to hold that the reasons that justify our different beliefs are not defeated (undermined) by the reasons for incompatible beliefs. An atheist might be able to acknowledge that I am just as reasonable as she is, but she cannot (in my view) think that her reasoning is undermined by the evidence or reasoning that I undertake. Alternatively, consider a Christian-Muslim exchange (something I am deeply committed to). I accept a traditional Christian understanding of God incarnate on the basis...

Do you need to be religious in order to be Moral?

Do you need to be religious in order to be Moral?

I will try to resist this reply: that depends on what you mean by "religious" and "moral." But definitions do matter, and I will not be able to avoid appealing to definitions.

If you have a very broad definition of "religious" according to which being religious involves reverence, caring about what is sacred, being consistent (as when someone might say of an athlete that "she works-out religiouslyl") and if "morality" includes such elements, then, yes, there is an important (at least) intersection between being religious and being moral.

But if by "religious" one means that one adheres to religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam.... then most philosophers have not thought that being religious is essential for being moral. In fact, many religious thinkers (theologians or sages) have insisted that morality (both the awareness of what is moral and the ability to live a moral life) is available for persons in general independent of one's religious beliefs and practices. There are various nuances, however, that I address below. Sorry if this reply might appear pedantic, when you probably are hoping for a 'yes' or 'no' response.

Many religious thinkers believe that religion involves far more than "morality" --the worship of God, for example, which is sometimes described as a duty but often portrayed as a great, transcendent experience that goes beyond the realm of morality --just as, on a minor scale, the pursuit of something aesthetic (beauty in the arts) might involve matters that extend beyond (without being in conflict with) morality and ethics. It would be hard to put the greatness of Beethoven's Ode to Joy in narrowly moral / ethical terms.

I suggest that three of the many interesting, debated questions that bear on your question concern (1) whether acknowledging morality as an objective, binding code that calls for (or demands) our allegiance requires a religiously oriented worldview; (2) the extent that religion itself can be reduced to morality and (3) the extent to which religion can either enhance or conflict with moral beliefs and practice (as captured, for example, from a secular point of view).

On the first point, you might find the work of George Mavrodes interesting or challenging. He proposes that an acknowledgement of objective morality requires viewing the world in teleological (purposive or, in his case, theistic terms). Probably the leading advocate for that position today is C. Stephen Evans. On the second point, Kant would be your key reference point. Scholarship on Kant is divided and complex, but more often than not he is seen as a key promoter of the view that at the very heart of Christianity, and all religions when properly purified through philosophical criticism, is ethics. In terms of the third category, perhaps there is no more provocative philosopher for you to engage than Kierkegaard in his dramatic, extraordinary work: Either/Or.

For my own views, check out A beginner's guide: philosophy of religion.

I will try to resist this reply: that depends on what you mean by "religious" and "moral." But definitions do matter, and I will not be able to avoid appealing to definitions. If you have a very broad definition of "religious" according to which being religious involves reverence, caring about what is sacred, being consistent (as when someone might say of an athlete that "she works-out religiouslyl") and if "morality" includes such elements, then, yes, there is an important (at least) intersection between being religious and being moral. But if by "religious" one means that one adheres to religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam.... then most philosophers have not thought that being religious is essential for being moral. In fact, many religious thinkers (theologians or sages) have insisted that morality (both the awareness of what is moral and the ability to live a moral life) is available for persons in general independent of one's religious beliefs and...

Should a brief history of the principles of the world religions and philosophers

Should a brief history of the principles of the world religions and philosophers be part of public school curriculum?

I believe that if one's education in public school did not include some attention the world religions (a study of their history, teachings), then one's education would be profoundly incomplete. I think that it would be impossible to claim to be well educated in the history of Europe, the near and middle East, Asia, the Americas, Africa without some knowledge of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. One might be well educated in math, physics, chemistry, biology without such a background, but once one comes to terms with history, culture, art, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology, medicine... I propose that it would be very difficult to avoid "a brief history of the principles [and history] of the world religions." You asked about the principles of philosophers as well as religion and, on that point, I also think it would be hard to claim to be well educated without some exposure to the philosophical principles that underlie a culture's history and governance. In my country, the United States, being self-aware about the history of the USA would, I believe, require understanding the philosophical principles behind the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the causes behind the Civil War, and so on.

I believe that if one's education in public school did not include some attention the world religions (a study of their history, teachings), then one's education would be profoundly incomplete. I think that it would be impossible to claim to be well educated in the history of Europe, the near and middle East, Asia, the Americas, Africa without some knowledge of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. One might be well educated in math, physics, chemistry, biology without such a background, but once one comes to terms with history, culture, art, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology, medicine... I propose that it would be very difficult to avoid "a brief history of the principles [and history] of the world religions." You asked about the principles of philosophers as well as religion and, on that point, I also think it would be hard to claim to be well educated without some exposure to the philosophical principles that underlie a culture's history and governance. In my country,...

Is science held to a lesser standard of proof than religion for analytic

Is science held to a lesser standard of proof than religion for analytic philosophers?

Interesting question. To begin, matters of "proof" are rarely involved in analytical philosophy of religion. In fact, the days of when any philosopher claims to "prove" a thesis in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of science etc seem past. Philosophers for a while seem to settle on advancing good or cogent arguments (or plausible counter-arguments and counter-examples) rather than claiming to prove a point. Though there are some philosophers who do think they have proofs. Galen Strawson, for example, claims (wrongly, in my view) to have proven that no person is morally responsible for any of their acts.

Proofs to one side, it is interesting to wonder whether the evidential standards differ among analytic philosophers when they consider claims in science and claims in or about religion. Roger Trigg is an interesting philosopher who contend that science requires a philosophical foundation and that foundation invites or provides some evidence for theism. Richard Swinburne takes up and defends a similar position. In general, however, many philosophers today subscribe to the greater authority of the sciences (especially the natural or physical sciences) rather than the authority of religious teachings. For a balanced approach you might look at the two volume work Science and Religion in Dialogue edited by Melville Stewart (published by Wiley-Blackwell).

Interesting question. To begin, matters of "proof" are rarely involved in analytical philosophy of religion. In fact, the days of when any philosopher claims to "prove" a thesis in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of science etc seem past. Philosophers for a while seem to settle on advancing good or cogent arguments (or plausible counter-arguments and counter-examples) rather than claiming to prove a point. Though there are some philosophers who do think they have proofs. Galen Strawson, for example, claims (wrongly, in my view) to have proven that no person is morally responsible for any of their acts. Proofs to one side, it is interesting to wonder whether the evidential standards differ among analytic philosophers when they consider claims in science and claims in or about religion. Roger Trigg is an interesting philosopher who contend that science requires a philosophical foundation and that foundation invites or provides some evidence for theism. Richard Swinburne takes up and...

Is atheism a valid philosophical stance to take, from an academic point of view?

Is atheism a valid philosophical stance to take, from an academic point of view? I've recently been collecting university-published books, including on the topics of religion and philosophy and I noticed a pattern that there were far more books and university fellows dedicated to christianity and other forms of theism. Does this mean atheism is merely a curiosity in academics or have I been buying the wrong books?

Atheism is, indeed, a respectable philosophical stance. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism would provide a helpful overview, and for contemporary reflection on atheism you might check out the Oxford University Press book Philosophers Without God, edited by a panelist on this website. Michael Martin's book Atheism is a massive sustained argument for atheism. There are, indeed, many positive philosophical works on theism and Christianity in particular. I happen to be a Christian philosopher (or a philosopher who is a Christian) so I do not think you have been buying the wrong books! But I study and engage with the excellent and growing body of philosophical works that advance atheistic positions and I recommend these to you.

Somewhat related to your question, please allow me to add an observation about the concept or category of *atheism.* English usage of the term may be somewhat fluid, but I am inclined to think that if someone (a philosopher or professor in some other field or, really, anyone at all) has never given any serious thought about theism (the belief that God exists), then it might be more accurate to think of them as *non-theists* rather than atheists. The reason for this is that the term "atheism" suggests (or so I suggest) a rejection of theism which (again, in my mind) suggests theism has been entertained. An analogy might be this: imagine a philosopher who has never really thought about Hegel. It would be odd to think of her as anti-Hegelian, but it would not be odd to think of a philosopher like Kierkegaard who studied Hegel's work closely and rejected it as anti-Hegelian. In terms of those philosophers who self-identify as atheists, there is a wide spectrum of viewpoints. One philosopher, William Rowe, who is an excellent philosopher (widely recognized as excellent by both atheists and theists), describes himself as a "friendly atheist." You can do a search for the term and find some interesting references on the web. What Rowe meant was not so much that he would (for example) gladly buy you a drink whether or not you are an atheist (on this matter, I can't say as I have never met him), but he means that while he thinks that atheism is true, he believes that atheism is not the only option for rational persons. He believes, for example, that while the problem of evil provides a person with a good reason for thinking atheism is true, a person can reasonably think that the existence and quantity of evil is compatible with believing in an all good God.

Atheism is, indeed, a respectable philosophical stance. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism would provide a helpful overview, and for contemporary reflection on atheism you might check out the Oxford University Press book Philosophers Without God, edited by a panelist on this website. Michael Martin's book Atheism is a massive sustained argument for atheism. There are, indeed, many positive philosophical works on theism and Christianity in particular. I happen to be a Christian philosopher (or a philosopher who is a Christian) so I do not think you have been buying the wrong books! But I study and engage with the excellent and growing body of philosophical works that advance atheistic positions and I recommend these to you. Somewhat related to your question, please allow me to add an observation about the concept or category of *atheism.* English usage of the term may be somewhat fluid, but I am inclined to think that if someone (a philosopher or professor in some other field or, really, anyone at...

Is there a book that looks at the Bible through the lens of philosophy? I know

Is there a book that looks at the Bible through the lens of philosophy? I know there are books like "Philosophy & Seinfeld", where a cultural artifact is subjected to philosophical analysis. Surely there must be something like that for the Bible?

The Bible has been subject to enormous philosophical attention. This is not only true for all the great medieval philosophers and the philosophers in late antiquity, but for many modern philosophers such as Pascal, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant --for Kant, the book of Job was of great significance-- Kierkegaard. Historically and today, some philosophers treat the Bible as a source for the philosophy of God or the philosophy of religion, exploring concepts such as divine revelation, the divine attributes, the relationship between God and the cosmos, and so on. The Bible has been used both for constructive philosophical work *see, for example, the collection Jesus and Philosophy edited by Paul Moser* as well as for advancing philosophical objections to theism in general or specific Biblical teachings. As a general source, check out the Routledge Companion to Theism. In the 20th century I think two of the most balanced philosophers who worked constructively on the Bible are A.E. Taylor and Austin Farrer. The elements of the Bible that are currently receiving the most amount of attention include Biblical narratives or teachings that bear on the belief in God as Triune, the incarnation, the atonement / redemption, miracles, divine revelation itself, the relationship of science and religion, and the morality of divine commands e.g. the binding of Isaac and the conquest narratives in the book of Joshua. Some philosophers interested in religious ethics will sometimes seek out Biblical teachings that bear on reproductive ethics --abortion, birth control, surrogacy-- sexual ethics, euthanasia, just war theory, the relationship of justice and mercy, capital punishment, the relationship between church and state, socialism vs. free market economy, health care, good samaritan ethics, work ethics, notions of vocation, concepts of integrity / hypocrisy, child abuse, the proper use of alcohol, and more.

The Bible has been subject to enormous philosophical attention. This is not only true for all the great medieval philosophers and the philosophers in late antiquity, but for many modern philosophers such as Pascal, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant --for Kant, the book of Job was of great significance-- Kierkegaard. Historically and today, some philosophers treat the Bible as a source for the philosophy of God or the philosophy of religion, exploring concepts such as divine revelation, the divine attributes, the relationship between God and the cosmos, and so on. The Bible has been used both for constructive philosophical work *see, for example, the collection Jesus and Philosophy edited by Paul Moser* as well as for advancing philosophical objections to theism in general or specific Biblical teachings. As a general source, check out the Routledge Companion to Theism. In the 20th century I think two of the most balanced philosophers who worked constructively on the Bible are A.E. Taylor and Austin Farrer. ...

From reading your site regularly, it sounds like many people confound the

From reading your site regularly, it sounds like many people confound the question, "does God exist?" with a different question, "does a particular kind of God exist?" From what I understand of quantum physics, everything is connected to some extent. The sum total off all interconnections among all energy and matter in the universe(s) could easily be an identity for a natural and holistic "God" that not only seems to "exist," but also seems NECESSARILY to exist. Yet this "God" would be unsatisfying to many since it/she/he would have very little interest in human beings and their day-to-day lives. Many of the arguments that so-called "atheists" make seem to come across more like "I don't like your particular version of God," and not at all an argument that "no God of any kind exists." It seems to me that the latter proposition: "no God of any kind exists" is just as unprovable and just as unverifiable as the argument that "God does exist, we just don't know how or in what form."

A very insightful point of view! As a panelist who has responded to lots of "God questions" on this site and who has published a bit in philosophy of religion, my overall impression is that when most users of this site (and here please note I may be off base) have theism in mind when they ask 'Does God exist?' or raise questions about the implications of the existence (or non-existence of God). Theistic views of God (for the most part) understand God to be the all powerful, all knowing, omnipresent, essentially (that is, necessarily) good, everlasting or eternal (that is, either God is outside of time or in time and without temporal origin or end), necessarily existing (that is, God has aseity or self-existence and does not exist due to the power of another being) Creator and sustainer of the cosmos. This is (roughly) how God is conceived of in traditional Judaism, Christianity, Islam and in theistic forms of Hinduism. But there are lots of particular further beliefs about God that are not shared in these traditions (God is Triune and Incarnate in Christianity, not so in Judaism and Islam) and there are philosophical and religious concepts of God that are also divergent. It sounds as though your concept of God (or the divine) is akin to God as conceived of by Spinoza. To go right to your point: you are correct, someone might well reject a theistic concept of God or the divine but accept a different philosophy of God.

Perhaps two further points are worth considering: You refer to the (or an) atheist as claiming "I don't like your particular version of God." There is an interesting difference between atheists who do adopt that attitude. Thomas Nagel might be in that category as he has claimed that he hopes God does not exist, but there are some atheist, like Michael Tooley, who have taken the opposite position. Tooley (who has argued for atheism in many contexts) has said he wishes God did exist or (putting things slightly differently) he would prefer it if God (as conceived of theistically as an all good being, etc) exists rather than not exists.

Second, a large part of theistic tradition sees God as described earlier, but adds that God is unique or sui generus and not simply one of a kind. On this view the term "God" is not like the term for a genus or species --as in "human being." If we take that seriously (and perhaps we do not have to) we might better refer, not to different Gods or alternative concepts of God, but to different concepts of (for example) Ultimate Reality. John Schellenberg has been moving (philosophically) in this direction developing a view he sometimes calls Ultimism, according to which we might be better served investigating different concepts of what is ultimate in reality (for some of us this may mean investigating the God of theism, but in your case it may mean investigating God as conceived of by Spinoza0.

A very insightful point of view! As a panelist who has responded to lots of "God questions" on this site and who has published a bit in philosophy of religion, my overall impression is that when most users of this site (and here please note I may be off base) have theism in mind when they ask 'Does God exist?' or raise questions about the implications of the existence (or non-existence of God). Theistic views of God (for the most part) understand God to be the all powerful, all knowing, omnipresent, essentially (that is, necessarily) good, everlasting or eternal (that is, either God is outside of time or in time and without temporal origin or end), necessarily existing (that is, God has aseity or self-existence and does not exist due to the power of another being) Creator and sustainer of the cosmos. This is (roughly) how God is conceived of in traditional Judaism, Christianity, Islam and in theistic forms of Hinduism. But there are lots of particular further beliefs about God that are not shared in...

I recall reading, in the past, about a philosopher who acknowledged that the

I recall reading, in the past, about a philosopher who acknowledged that the existence of God was completely irrational and that he probably didn't exist. However, he emphasized that despite this fact, people should and need to believe in religion to feel happy, moral, and fulfilled in life, and so, belief is necessary. I can't recall who this is although I'm leaning towards Kant or Aristotle. Do you know who I can attribute this idea to or where I can read more?

On Kant and Aristotle: Kant did not think belief in the existence of God was completely irrational nor that God probably does not exist, but he did argue that the traditional arguments justifying belief in God (and indeed the traditional domain of metaphysics) went beyond the boundaries of reason. This meant, for him, that atheism as well as theism went beyond reason, where reason is understood to involve rational speculation and argument. But Kant went on to hold that what he referred to as practical reason offers grounds for faith that there is an all just God (also faith in an ultimately just cosmos in which there would be concord between virtue and fulfillment, something that may take a miracle or an afterlife to pull off).

On Aristotle: He advanced reasoned arguments for recognizing the reality of God and, in a sense, he suggests in the Ethics that our ultimate fulfillment in a life of philosophical contemplation is one that mirrors the divine, but Aristotle's God is not a providential creator and redeemer who seeks out the happiness of creatures and makes moral demands (calling persons to lives of justice and mercy). Thomas Aquinas in the 13 century would draw on much of Aristotle's philosophy of God, but he transformed it to bring it more in line with classical Christianity.

On your general concern: Many philosophers have considered the merits of beliefs and practices in terms that go beyond a narrow rational estimation of their being justified rationally. Plato, for example, in the Republic, allowed for there being useful falsehoods that might do great good socially and politically. Referring back to Aristotle, he may have offered an explicit reprimand to Plato when he commented that he loved truth more than his teacher (Aristotle was Plato's student for about 20 years). Henry Sidgewick is an interesting figure on this matter of whether it is better to only adopt beliefs that are rational versus adopting beliefs that are probably false but provide us with significant goods. Thus, while he was a major proponent of utilitarianism, he thought it might be good (sometimes) for persons to think that utilitarianism is false.

Of all the figures I might recommend given your interests, I think William James (1842-1910) may be the most engaging. The brother of Henry James, William has a wonderful style of writing and his works can be found on the web. I recommend The Will To Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy. While it was published in 1897, I think it still reads with a fresh, contemporary tone. James is very much interested in both the rational warrant or justification of our beliefs, as well as their affective role in our lives.

On Kant and Aristotle: Kant did not think belief in the existence of God was completely irrational nor that God probably does not exist, but he did argue that the traditional arguments justifying belief in God (and indeed the traditional domain of metaphysics) went beyond the boundaries of reason. This meant, for him, that atheism as well as theism went beyond reason, where reason is understood to involve rational speculation and argument. But Kant went on to hold that what he referred to as practical reason offers grounds for faith that there is an all just God (also faith in an ultimately just cosmos in which there would be concord between virtue and fulfillment, something that may take a miracle or an afterlife to pull off). On Aristotle: He advanced reasoned arguments for recognizing the reality of God and, in a sense, he suggests in the Ethics that our ultimate fulfillment in a life of philosophical contemplation is one that mirrors the divine, but Aristotle's God is not a providential creator and...

I'm developing a rebuttal to Biblical literalists and I'd like to know whether

I'm developing a rebuttal to Biblical literalists and I'd like to know whether the following is a recognized/named type of syllogism or other type of argument (and if so, what it's called): Verse X prophesied that would happen happened in verse Y Therefore, the prophecy was fulfilled (If this is not a recognized/named type of syllogism or other type of argument, could it be made so by adding one or two lines?)

This is still a little confusing to me, but I take it that you may be looking for the term:

Vaticinium ex eventu

This occurs when a writer (whether Biblical or not) offers a prophecy that some event will occur when (it is assumed) that the writer already knows the event has taken place. In the context of the Bible, perhaps the most salient case that is the subject of controversy is the New Testament recording of Jesus predicting that the Temple will be destroyed, which it was some forty years after his death. It is not obvious, though, whether this is a case of writing ex eventu. It is possible that Jesus could have foreseen the destruction of the Temple, especially when you consider the evidence available during Jesus' lifetime of how Rome responds to rebellion and recent past cases of Jewish resistance to Roman imperial power.

This is more a matter of history, than philosophy per se, though philosophers have long had an interest in thinking about the miraculous and whether it can ever be reasonable to believe in miracles. See the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Hume and the entry Philosophy of Religion.

This is still a little confusing to me, but I take it that you may be looking for the term: Vaticinium ex eventu This occurs when a writer (whether Biblical or not) offers a prophecy that some event will occur when (it is assumed) that the writer already knows the event has taken place. In the context of the Bible, perhaps the most salient case that is the subject of controversy is the New Testament recording of Jesus predicting that the Temple will be destroyed, which it was some forty years after his death. It is not obvious, though, whether this is a case of writing ex eventu. It is possible that Jesus could have foreseen the destruction of the Temple, especially when you consider the evidence available during Jesus' lifetime of how Rome responds to rebellion and recent past cases of Jewish resistance to Roman imperial power. This is more a matter of history, than philosophy per se, though philosophers have long had an interest in thinking about the miraculous and whether it can ever be...

Hello there. Some contemporary philosophers say that Aquinas' arguments for the

Hello there. Some contemporary philosophers say that Aquinas' arguments for the existence of God are good arguments (eg John Haldane), whilst others think they are no good. Lots and lots of philosophers and philosophy books seem to not understand the arguments properly (I can remember being taught the arguments in the philosophy department of one of the most prominent universities in my country where, looking back, with hindsight I am pretty sure the teacher did not understand the arguments well at all). So who to believe?? Any suggestions would be interesting! Thank you in advance.

I go on to recommend some other texts below and address the topic of philosophical disagreements and consensus, but first a comment on Stephen Maitzen's observation about not being under any obligation to believe either side in a dispute over theistic arguments. I am not disagreeing with Stephen on this, but I do wonder about the general point of when one might be obligated to come to terms (oneself) in believing one side or another in a philosophical debate.... Here is a suggestion:

Let's say you have been appointed the task of establishing a university in a developing nation in which there are different religious communities (Christian and Islamic or Hindu and Buddhist, for example). You have enough funds to establish sound programs in engineering, the sciences, languages...and now you are considering how much to devote to a philosophy department and, perhaps more specifically, you must decide whether that department or a religion department should include scholars who are well trained and are excellent in teaching who would be able to engage students (undergraduate and graduate) with arguments for and against theism or Monism, beliefs in Karma, philosophical investigations of faith and reason.... Imagine the decision is wholly up to you and (for some reason) there is no body of neutral "experts" you can consult. I think that under THOSE conditions, you may well have an obligation (as part of your task in establishing a university) to sufficiently inquire into the debates to see whether they can be carried out with fairness, skill, openness to listening and considering carefully to both sides. I suppose this is not at all a disagreement with Stephen, for I am not arguing that under those circumstances you would have an obligation to believe one side or the other. But you might have an obligation to inquire further into the debates until you are able to form a reasonable overview of the terrain...

In terms of further reading on theistic arguments, I would recommend the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy (SEP) entries on Philosophy of Religion as well as entries on specific arguments like the Cosmological argument. Oppy's book on Arguing about gods (recommended by Stephen) is brilliant in many respects, but I think it would be tough reading on your own; it is sometimes highly technical. There are some good recommendations in the SEP. I also co-edited The Routledge Companion to Theism (which Oppy contributed to) and this contains lots and lots of (what I hope you will find) interesting entries.

As for your general point about disagreements in the case of theism, I suggest that some disagreements in philosophy can stem, not from vigorous "objective" and "impartial" reasoning in which philosophers have enough time and energy to patiently review all the relevant arguments and objections. In this matter, theism is no different as a topic than, say moral realism (the conviction that there are moral facts that are as 'objective' as the fact that I am posting a reply to you now). Actually, topics in religion and ethics can be a bit more vexing than, say, philosophy of language, because the stakes are a bit high. Imagine that a philosophical argument in environmental ethics gives you convincing reasons to change how you live and what you eat and wear or whether you have children or adopt, etc... In matters of religion, some of those who grow up to become professional philosophers have had backgrounds in religion that are unfortunate (they were told to believe X on the basis of authority rather than good reasons) and this can taint one's interest in philosophically exploring religion as adults. So, background, time-constraints, patience or lack of patience... can all come in to account for there not being consensus (yet) in philosophy of religion and, I believe, in ethics, political theory, philosophy of mind and some other areas.

I hope we have not discouraged you from doing your own exploring of the philosophical literature. A nice pairing of opposing philosophers can be found in the book Debating Christian Theism.

I go on to recommend some other texts below and address the topic of philosophical disagreements and consensus, but first a comment on Stephen Maitzen's observation about not being under any obligation to believe either side in a dispute over theistic arguments. I am not disagreeing with Stephen on this, but I do wonder about the general point of when one might be obligated to come to terms (oneself) in believing one side or another in a philosophical debate.... Here is a suggestion: Let's say you have been appointed the task of establishing a university in a developing nation in which there are different religious communities (Christian and Islamic or Hindu and Buddhist, for example). You have enough funds to establish sound programs in engineering, the sciences, languages...and now you are considering how much to devote to a philosophy department and, perhaps more specifically, you must decide whether that department or a religion department should include scholars who are well trained and are...

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