Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2012

ANNOUNCEMENT: 2012 BLPR Lecture Series

February 21st and 23rd. Guest lecturers will be Michael J. Murray and Jeffrey Schloss. As noted on other occasions, Murray is the author of Nature Red in Tooth and Claw: Theism and the Problem of Animal Suffering, and Murray and Schloss are the editors of The Believing Primate: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Reflections on the Origin of Religion. It looks as though their lectures will focus on these topics.  Details here.

Omnipotence, Suicide, Counterpossibles, and Aseity

Here's a question I'm toying with: Can an omnipotent being commit suicide? It seems to me that it could, at least in one sense:

1. If God were to attempt to commit suicide, he would (or might) succeed.

Richard Swinburne seems to agree (cf. his The Coherence of Theism). But if that's right, then it seems to me that no being -- not even a theistic God -- could be inherently indestructible. But if not, then there can be no being that is inherently metaphysically necessary.

Here's a half-baked objection and reply:

Objection: A theistic god is by definition essentially morally perfect. Therefore, while God could commit suicide (in virtue of his essential omnipotence), there is no possible world in which he would do so (in virtue of his essential moral perfection). The objection therefore depends on the thesis that there are non-trivially true counterpossibles, viz., (1).  But there are no non-trivially true counterpossibles; so, the objection fails.

Reply: I disagree. First, …

Comic Relief

Nailed it.

The Real Problem With Craig's Version of Reformed Epistemology (Slightly Revised)

In Reasonable Faith, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, and in several places online (here, for example),  William Lane Craig endorses a modified version of Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology. According to Craig's version, the Christian can know that Christianity is true in the basic (i.e.,immediate, non-inferential) way by means of "the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit". As Craig summarizes his view:
. . . the experience of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable (though not necessarily irresistible or indubitable) for him who has it; that such a person does not need supplementary arguments or evidence in order to know and to know with confidence that he is in fact experiencing the Spirit of God; that such experience does not function in this case as a premiss in any argument from religious experience to God, but rather is the immediate experiencing of God himself; that in certain contexts the experience of the Holy …

The Real Problem with Craig's Version of Reformed Epistemology

In Reasonable Faith, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, and in several places online (here, for example),  William Lane Craig endorses a modified version of Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology. According to Craig's version, the Christian can know that Christianity is true in the basic (i.e.,immediate, non-inferential) way by means of "the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit". As Craig summarizes his view:
. . . the experience of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable (though not necessarily irresistible or indubitable) for him who has it; that such a person does not need supplementary arguments or evidence in order to know and to know with confidence that he is in fact experiencing the Spirit of God; that such experience does not function in this case as a premiss in any argument from religious experience to God, but rather is the immediate experiencing of God himself; that in certain contexts the experience of the Holy …

Post Roundup: Criticisms of Plantinga's Argument from Proper Functionalism to Theism

-Wunder, Tyler. "Anti-Naturalism and Proper Function”, Religious Studies 44 (2008), pp. 209-224. (Notes here.)
-Bardon, Adrian. “Reliabilism, Proper Function, and Serendipitous Malfunction”, Philosophical Investigations 30:1 (Jan. 2007), pp. 47-64. (Notes here.)
-Graham, Peter. "Intelligent Design and Selective History: Two Sources of Purpose and Plan" (in Jonathan Kvanvig, ed. Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, Volume 3, 2011). (A link to the paper can be found here)

Plantinga's Proper Functionalism Unmotivated

Plantinga argues that internalist accounts of warrant are inherently inadequate, and thus that some form of externalism must be correct. However, he also argues that standard versions of externalism -- e.g. Goldmanian reliabilism -- are inadequate as well, on the grounds that they can't account for the fact that a belief can't be warranted if it's formed by a mechanism or process that is only accidentally reliable:

"Suppose I am struck by a burst of cosmic rays, resulting in the following unfortunate malfunction. Whenever I hear the word 'prime' in any context, I form a belief, with respect to a randomly chosen natural number less than 100,000, that it is not prime. So you say "Pacific Palisades is prime residential area" or "Prime ribs is my favorite"...; I form a belief, with respect to a randomly selected natural number between 1 and 100,000 that it is not prime. The process or mechanism in question is indeed reliable (given the …

Quote(s) for the Day

“I, however, have not been blessed with Plantinga faith. I believe that I have been blessed enough to have had experiences that are in some ways like those Plantinga describes, but for me, the most I have received directly from the Holy Spirit have been gentle nudges toward belief, certainly nothing even approaching the firm and certain conviction of which Plantinga speaks. And if the people I’ve talked to are to be believed — and they are — there are many who would be thrilled to receive faith as Plantinga describes it, but who have not, despite Plantinga’s claim that faith — presumably as he defines it, as a firm and certain conviction — “is given to anyone who is willing to accept it”

-Keith DeRose, "Are Christian Beliefs Properly Basic?" APA Eastern talk, 1998. Available here.

"Plantinga's theological minimalism can be seen in the lack of applicability of his Extended A/C model to the faith of typical Christians. While he speaks a great deal about the…