Bryan Frances' New Problem of Evil

In this new paper, Bryan Frances raises a new form of the problem of evil, which he dubs the Problem of Absurd Evil. Here's the abstract:

Isn’t there something like an amount and density of horrific suffering whose discovery would make it irrational to think God exists? Use your imagination to think of worlds that are much, much, much worse than you think Earth is when it comes to horrific suffering. Isn’t there some conceivable scenario which, if you were in it, would make you say “Ok, ok. God doesn’t exist, at least in the way we thought God was. We were wrong about that”? Pursuing this question leads to what I call the Problem of Absurd Evil.

Happy reading!

Goff's Forthcoming Book Defending an Alternative to Both Theism and Atheism

Details here. Yet another alternative to theism that rivals or exceeds theism's explanatory power, and yet another sign of health in philosophy of religion, as it continues to unmoor itself from theism.

Here's the blurb to whet your appetite:

Why are we here? What's the point of existence? Most of us have wondered about these questions. For some, God represents an answer. For those who are unsatisfied by traditional religion, and also by the lack of an answer to these questions in atheism, Philip Goff offers a way between the two. Through an exploration of contemporary cosmology, as well as cutting-edge philosophical research on the nature of consciousness, he argues for cosmic purpose: the idea that the universe is directed towards certain goals, such as the emergence of intelligent life.

In contrast to religious thinkers, Goff argues that the traditional God is a bad explanation of cosmic purpose. He explores a range of alternative possibilities for accounting for cosmic purpose: perhaps our universe was created by an evil or morally indifferent designer, or a designer with limited abilities. Perhaps we live in a computer simulation. Maybe cosmic purpose is rooted not in a conscious mind but in natural tendencies towards the good, or laws of nature with purposes built into them. Or maybe the universe is itself a conscious mind which directs itself towards certain goals. Goff scrutinizes these options with analytic rigour, opening up a new avenue of philosophical enquiry into the middle ground between God and atheism. The final chapter outlines a way of living in hope that cosmic purpose is still unfolding, involving political engagement and a non-literalist interpretation of traditional religion.

God, Purpose, and Reality the title of John Bishop and Ken Perszyk's new book defending a new, non-personal rival to classical theism, viz., euteleological theism. We therefore have yet another new view of ultimate reality that aims to have equal or greater explanatory power than classical theism.

The Argument from Necessitarian Accounts of Laws of Nature

Necessitarianism about the laws of nature is a fairly popular view in contemporary analytic philosophy (Cf. Shoemaker, Swoyer, Bird, Fales, Ellis, Bigelow et al.). According to such accounts, the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. One popular type of account of necessitarianism about the laws of nature is dispositional essentialism. According to this sort of account, physical individuals and stuffs have their dispositional properties essentially, so that (for example) salt (or at the very least, least salt-in-alpha, i.e., the stuff that plays the salt role in the actual world) is essentially and thus necessarily such that it dissolves in water.  Similarly, matter-energy (or at the very least, matter-in-alpha) is essentially and thus necessarily such that the conservation laws hold. But if so, then it appears that God can't violate the laws of nature, which puts constraints on God's relation to the physical world. For example, it implies that he can't intervene in the world in such a way as to violate the laws of physics, or that (if some of the conservation laws are properly spelled out in terms of conserved quantities of matter-energy), can't create or sustain the universe. But such claims are incompatible with orthodox monotheism. Therefore, to the extent that one is persuaded by necessitarianism about the laws of nature, one thereby has reason to think orthodox monotheism is false.

Today, White Evangelical Protestants comprise Only 13.6% of Americans

From the Washington Post. Source with details here. Note also that twice as many Americans (26.8%) are religiously unaffiliated.

Koons' Nice Paper on Why Theists Should Oppose Criminalizing Sin

Koons, Jeremy. "Theism and the criminalization of sin", European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10:1 (2018).

Abstract: The free will theodicy places significant value on free will: free will is of such substantial value, that God’s gift of free will to humans was justified, even though this gift foreseeably results in the most monstrous of evils. I will argue that when a state criminalizes sin, it can restrict or eliminate citizens’ exercise of metaphysical free will with respect to choosing to partake in or refrain from these activities. Given the value placed on free will in the free will theodicy, theists who endorse this theodicy should thus oppose the criminalization of what I will call Millian sins —that is, actions which are immoral, but which do not directly harm another person. In other words, such theists should oppose legal moralism.

Happy reading!

The Argument from the Autonomy of Normative Ethics

The history of Western normative ethics has produced a wide range of plausible normative ethical theories that make no essential reference to God. Prominent examples include virtue ethics, consequentialism, social contract theory, Kantian ethics, Scanlonian contractualism, and care ethics. By contrast, the main theistic accounts -- divine command theory and theistic natural law theory -- have had a much harder time of it. The majority of ethicists therefore find divine command theory and theistic natural law theory among the most implausible. There are thus strong prima facie grounds for thinking normative ethics is autonomous, and thus independent of God. This is surprising on the hypothesis of orthodox monotheism, as the latter has naturally suggested to perhaps most theists that God is the ultimate ground of moral principles (which seems to be a straightforward implication of the widely-held aseity-sovereignty doctrine according to which (i) God is an absolutely independent being, dependent upon/derivative of nothing and (ii) everything distinct from God depends upon her for their existence). By contrast, the autonomy of normative ethics is not surprising on naturalism, for on the latter hypothesis, there is no such person as God, and thus there is no expectation that God is the ultimate ground of moral principles. The autonomy of ethics thus provides at least some evidence for naturalism vis-a-vis theism.

Bryan Frances' New Problem of Evil

In this new paper , Bryan Frances raises a new form of the problem of evil, which he dubs the Problem of Absurd Evil . Here's the abstra...