See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Explore Now. Buy As Gift. Overview Reason, Faith and History offers a unique collection of essays on key topics in the philosophy of religion. Published in honour of Paul Helm — a major force in contemporary English-speaking philosophy of religion — this book presents specially commissioned chapters by the most distinguished philosophers and theologians in the field from North America, Israel, the UK and Continental Europe, including: Swinburne, Byrne, Torrance, Clark, Robinson, Gellman, Stone, Pink, Hughes, Trueman.
Spanning the breadth of philosophical, historical and theological interests articulated in the work of Paul Helm, and including chapters on Calvinism, philosophical theology, philosophy of mind, Christian Doctrine and Epistemology, this book presents an accessible text for students of contemporary philosophy of religion as well as those interested in philosophical theology more broadly. Table of Contents Contents: Introduction, M. Average Review. Write a Review.
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In this book Festival of Faith. He has written a trilogy on warrant warrant is "that property enough of which is what makes the difference between knowledge and mere true belief" — Plantinga , p. The third volume, Warrant and Christian Belief , appeared quite recently.
The topics that Plantinga has written on have been the most important ones in the philosophy of religion over the past thirty years, important because he has written on them. As a result of his work, the burning question in philosophy of religion today is 'What sort of justification, if any, is needed for religious belief? Let us look at this next. Traditionally, philosophers of religion have answered 'deductively or inductively sound arguments' to the above question [ie.
There are three very important ones:. This had been written off like so much else in the philosophy of religion until Plantinga revived it in The Nature of Necessity in a new, modal, version. The argument was originally put forward in AD by Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, in his work Proslogion , though it is hotly disputed whether his version actually is an argument or rather an investigation into God's mode of existence. Anselm's argument had the following steps:. Anselm then proceeds to show that God exists necessarily, ie.
Plantinga's move from the alleged possibility of God's necessary existence to God's actual necessary existence is legitimated by a system of modal logic known as 'S5'. There is still much debate about Plantinga's argument and how to understand Anselm's version. Graham Oppy has even recently written a whole book just on the ontological argument: Ontological Arguments and Belief in God This also has many forms, one being that if there exists a contingent being, ie.
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More formally:. This, although classically expounded by Aquinas, G. His version goes like this:. Van Inwagen does not endorse this argument — in fact, he rejects it; he merely puts it forward for consideration. It is notable because nobody had given it quite this formulation before. Historically, this argument was proposed by many philosophers, and given classic formulation with a famous 'watch on the heath' example by William Paley in his Natural Theology Paley's argument goes something like this:.
This argument, however, had already been severely attacked by David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion , and received another severe blow in the form of the theory of evolution. More recently Richard Swinburne, Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at Oxford, has given a new version of the argument from design using probability theory in his book The Existence of God. There has been some debate over how appropriate and how successful it is to use the tools of the philosophy of science to show that God's existence is more probable than not.
The basic structure of the argument is:. Recent versions including Swinburne's are considerably more complex than this simplified scheme. Although the arguments have long been favoured as apologetic tools to convince the sceptic of God's existence there are some reasons to be dubious about their cogency.
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All of them have disputable premisses and it seems presumptuous to think that any atheist that rejected them would be irrational. Plantinga suggested a more gentle strategy, at least concerning the ontological argument: he thinks that this argument does not show that God exists, but does show that it is rational to believe in God, since it is, he claimed, clearly rational to believe its premisses.
To find a God that is all-loving, all-merciful, totally just, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent requires us to go beyond these arguments of natural theology. Even if the arguments are sound the Christian will note that they do not tell us very much about what God is like: they tell us that he is a necessary being, that he is the cause of order, but not much more. To find a God that is all-loving, all-merciful, totally just, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent requires us to go beyond these arguments of natural theology, ie.
Finally, we want our belief in God to be firm rather than wavering cf. James , and it may be doubted whether our belief could be firm enough to allow us, say, to die for our faith, if it is based on a merely probabilistic argument. As for arguments against the existence of God, many of the arguments of the logical positivists, such as the one that talk about God is meaningless because it is unverifiable, have vanished without trace, along with the logical positivists themselves.
One argument that has shown no sign of diminishing in popularity, still less vanishing, is the problem of evil. This may be expressed very roughly as follows. It is very rare these days to see the problem of evil held up as a knockdown argument for atheism. This is due to the pioneering work of Alvin Plantinga you guessed it , who has shown that it is impossibly difficult to establish any sound proof of God's non-existence using this argument. He did this by arguing that it is possible that we have been given free will and that God cannot cause us to use our free will 'properly' as then we shouldn't be free.
Plantinga further speculated that natural disasters might very well be due to demons misusing their God-given free will. Instead, atheists usually now present the argument as showing just that God's existence is improbable. Debate continues to rage fiercely about whether it succeeds in this. If God did exist, should we necessarily know God's reasons for allowing suffering? People even disagree on whether the burden of proof here lies with the atheists or the believers.
This brings up a distinction drawn by Plantinga between a theodicy and a defence. Plantinga claims to offer only a defence, that is a demonstration of why the atheist's arguments do not succeed. He says that he is not able to offer a theodicy, that is, an explanation of why God allows suffering.
He puts forward his suggestions as mere possibilities; he does not claim that they are certainties. It seems that most people agree with Plantinga that the prospects for a successful theodicy, giving us for certain God's reasons for allowing evil, are not good. However, some brave souls are trying to explain the existence of suffering: Richard Swinburne's book Providence came out in If you wish to know more, there is no shortage of literature — over articles and books have been written on the problem of evil since alone. I trust that the reader will therefore forgive the brevity of this survey.
Bertrand Russell famously gave voice to this argument when he said, upon being asked what he would say if he met God on his death, "Not enough evidence, God! Not enough evidence! As Plantinga remarks, "we may have our doubts as to just how that sort of a response would be received" Plantinga , p. This argument is not for the conclusion that God doesn't exist, but rather for the conclusion that it is irrational to believe in God, as there is no evidence.
This argument depends on something like Clifford's principle, so-called after its famous proponent W. Clifford, who said "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence" — see Clifford , reprinted in Stump and Murray , p. The problem with this principle — and others relevantly like it — is that they seem self-defeating. Just what is the evidence for Clifford's principle itself? In any case, do I really have sufficient evidence for everything I believe: not just my religious beliefs, but my moral beliefs, my political beliefs, my philosophical beliefs?
1. What Philosophy of Religion Is
Even our general knowledge is largely based on trustingly accepting what we are told. So perhaps, contrary to Clifford, we do not need evidence to believe in God. This last reflection touches on the major question and discussion in the philosophy of religion at the moment: what sort of justification one needs for religious belief. In Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God , Plantinga suggested that religious belief might be a properly basic belief — in other words a belief that may rationally be held without being logically inferred from other beliefs.
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Plantinga suggested that religious belief might be a properly basic belief — a belief that may rationally be held without being logically inferred from other beliefs. If Plantinga is right then all the discussion of arguments for religious belief suddenly seems less important, since the arguments aren't necessary for rationality and maybe aren't even any good for converting unbelievers. Since then Plantinga has turned his attention from justification to warrant "that property enough of which is what makes the difference between knowledge and mere true belief" — Plantinga , p.
He has been arguing in his Warrant trilogy that a belief is warranted if it is produced by a cognitive mechanism functioning in accordance with its design plan. It seems pretty likely that if God designed us then it is part of God's design plan that we believe in God, so belief in God is rational and warranted and, if true, knowledge.
This, of course, will do little to convince the atheist, but this does not worry Plantinga unduly. He views his main tasks as being the exposition of the truth about the epistemic status of theistic belief and the defence thereof against attacks, rather than attempts to convert sceptics to his position. In particular, if Plantinga is right, it shifts the burden of proof onto the atheist: if she or he wants to show that the theist is irrational then she or he will have to show that the theist has not been designed by God to believe in God. But this seems a very difficult thing to prove.
A different attempt at justification has come from William Alston who taught Plantinga when Plantinga was a graduate student. Alston has worked on the nature of religious experience, producing his book Perceiving God In it he claims that "putative direct awareness of God can provide justification for certain kinds of beliefs about God. Finally on this topic, Edinburgh University Press has now launched a series on religious epistemology called 'Reason and Religion'. Each volume in the series is an exploration of one of the ways of seeking justification for religious beliefs.
Apart from the attempt to justify the claims of religion, the philosophy of religion has traditionally sought to understand and explain those claims. The central claim of western religions is that there is a God, and so western analytical philosophers of religion have spent a lot of their time trying to analyse that claim. This enterprise is usually called philosophical theology, though it belongs as much to metaphysics as it does to theology. In particular, debate has focussed on four of God's attributes: omnipotence, omniscience, eternity, and goodness.
For each of these, discussion tends to involve puzzles, such as 'Can God create a stone too heavy for God to lift? Here debate has focussed around how to define omnipotence while solving the old chestnuts mentioned above, and also on the question of whether God's omnipotence means that he can make us freely do what he wants, with most philosophers thinking not. There is also debate about whether any realm is outside God's power: does God really create all the truths of mathematics, morals, and logic too?
Could he have created them differently? Debate about omniscience has revolved around the question of whether God can know now what we shall freely do tomorrow. The argument goes something like this:. This is the view that accepts the argument, saying that it is not possible that God know what we shall freely do tomorrow, and so we are not free. God has determined our every move, including the evil ones that we make.
This response is typically made by Reformed Calvinists. This is the view that rejects the argument. This view says that it is possible that God foreknow what we shall freely do tomorrow. Usually those that take this line reject premiss 5 : I cannot tomorrow bring it about that God believed something yesterday.
They insist that we can bring it about that God believed things in the past. Those that take this line hold on both to God's exhaustive and infallible foreknowledge on the one hand and to human freedom on the other. This view in fact subdivides into two sub-views:. Let us say that tomorrow I shall feel tired and therefore freely stay in bed. Let us further suppose that if I had not felt tired I should freely have decided to get up. On the Molinist view God knows from all eternity the conditional propositional that if I were to feel tired tomorrow I'd freely stay in bed tomorrow and he knows from all eternity also the conditional proposition that if I were not to feel tired tomorrow then I should freely get up tomorrow.
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Furthermore, God knows that I shall in fact feel tired tomorrow. There is no obvious reason why God should not know this, as this is not a proposition about a future free action. But then God can deduce from the true proposition that I shall feel tired tomorrow and the true proposition that if I were to feel tired tomorrow I'd freely stay in bed tomorrow the true proposition that I shall freely stay in bed tomorrow.
So, God can have infallible and exhaustive foreknowledge of the future, including our free future actions, thanks to his knowledge of what we should freely do in certain circumstances.