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81. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Loren Pankratz Mormonism’s “Great Secret,” Freedom, and Evil
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As Mormonism comes to the forefront of American culture, some people may be tempted to assume that the past philosophical victories of Christian theism can be equally applied to the version of theism of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In this paper I attempt to show that there are differences in the LDS worldview, and in the LDS conception of the Divine Nature that make the problem of evil, both in its logical and probabilistic form, a very live threat to its brand of theism. This paper is a project of ramified natural theology that attempts to demonstrate that Christian theism is in a much better philosophical position than LDS theism with regards to the logical and probabilistic problem of evil.
82. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Adam C. Pelser The Courage of Faith: Kierkegaardian Reflection on the Spiritual Danger of Enjoying Finite Goods
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In Fear and Trembling, Søren Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous character, Johannes de Silentio, highlights the spiritual danger inherent in the Christian life of enjoying finite goods (especially our relationships with other people) without giving into the temptation to idolize or become too dependent for our happiness on them. In light of this danger, de Silentio suggests that the life of faith depends on a special kind of courage—“the courage of faith.” Here, I offer an analysis of the courage of faith, underscoring its importance for the Christian life, and I explore the interdependence of courage, faith, and a third virtue—humility.
83. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Curtis Rigsby An Evidentialist Critique of Evangelical Treatments of Non-Christian Religions: A Prolegomena to Dialogue
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In treating religious pluralism, Anglophone philosophical literature often turns to markedly general investigations—“meta-issues”—which by their generality minimize empirical content. On the other hand, more conservative Christian philosophers often do appeal to markedly empirical groundings for inquiry, particularly in the Bible. However, in this essay, I conclude that prominent evangelical Christian treatments of religious pluralism—because of their lack of attention to the extrabiblical data of non-Christian religions themselves—often risk being significantly irrelevant or inaccurate, or unclear in representing other religions. I further propose that excessive attention to philosophical “meta-issues” or neglect of the empirical details of particular religions threatens to obscure or to cause the overlooking of important data, such as significant continuities between prima facie very different traditions. As a corrective to such neglect, I undertake an evidentialist evaluation of religious pluralism, focusing especially on significant similarities and differences between Christianity and Pure Land Buddhism. This trajectory leads me to end with the question: if the doctrines of two or more religions are sufficiently similar to be mutually translatable, and if one of these religions issues true or soteriologically effective claims, then do its corresponding analogates similarly designate truth or promote soteriological efficacy, and if so, to what extent?
84. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Michael Gurney Same-Sex Marriage and the Church: The Public Relevance of Theistic Morality
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The contentious debate over same-sex marriage raises significant questions about the public relevance of theistic ethics in addressing broad social issues beyond the moral boundaries of the Christian community. Using the issue of same-sex marriage as a case study, it is argued that “natural law” kinds of arguments can provide epistemic support as “public reasons” for cogent theological-based arguments against same-sex marriage and can be successfully defended against frequent objections to the use of religious reasons in a pluralistic context.
85. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Richard Swinburne Jesus and the Total Available Evidence: Second Response to Cavin and Colombetti
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Cavin and Colombetti correctly affirm that in judging the probability of a hypothesis we should take into account “the total available evidence.” However, they neglect their own affirmation when they claim that I make an unwarranted assumption that God would not massively deceive the human race, when they claim that I do not take into account any evidence favoring hypotheses incompatible with the traditional account of what happened to the body of Jesus, and when they claim that I do not take into account the evidence that humans have a strong propensity to private sinning.
86. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Robert Greg Cavin, Carlos A. Colombetti Negative Natural Theology and the Sinlessness, Incarnation, and Resurrection of Jesus: A Reply to Swinburne
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We respond to Swinburne’s reply to our critique of his argument for the Resurrection by defending the relevance of our counterexamples to his claim that God does not permit grand deception. We reaffirm and clarify our charge that Swinburne ignores two crucial items of negative natural theology (NNT)—that God has an exceptionally weak tendency to raise the dead and that even people with exemplary public records sometimes sin. We show, accordingly, that our total evidence makes it highly probable that Jesus was not sinless, incarnate, or resurrected and that God has permitted massive deception regarding these defining Christian dogmas.
87. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Travis Dumsday Nominalist Dispositionalism and a Cosmological Argument
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Dispositionalism is most often paired with some form of realism about universals, whether moderate or Platonic. However, both historically and in the contemporary literature there have been advocates of nominalist dispositionalism. Here I argue that such a combination is likely to be workable only given the truth of theism (or some form of metaphysical nonnaturalism akin to theism). For those already inclined to favor nominalism and dispositionalism, a novel cosmological argument for theism results. Correspondingly, for nominalists already opposed to theism, it provides new reason to oppose dispositionalism, while for dispositionalists opposed to theism it provides new reason to reject nominalism.
88. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Jason Cruze Brains, Blame, and Excuses: A Reply to J. Daryl Charles
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In a recent article J. Daryl Charles argues that a neurobiological account of morality is significantly limited. Although there is something right about this claim, it’s unclear what Charles thinks neuroscience tells us about our ability to make moral judgments and to be held blameworthy as moral agents. Regarding the true case of the stepfather (“Smith”) who became a pedophile, I argue, against Charles, that it reveals the crucial role that the prefrontal cortex plays in the regulation of moral behavior. I offer additional evidence that brain damage can encroach on our moral capacities, and I argue that it’s unreasonable to hold Smith responsible since he temporarily lacked the ability to comply with the moral obligation to avoid fulfilling his desires.
89. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
J. Daryl Charles Still Blaming It on My Criminal Brain: A Reply to Jason Cruze
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This essay-response attempts to underscore the priority of broader moral-philosophical questions over specific “difficult” scenarios in which human behavior has been “determined” by genetic predilection or changes in brain structure. That is to say, a society must be capable of making basic moral distinctions—between good and evil, justice and injustice, acceptable and unacceptable behavior—before it can even begin to adjudicate the more “difficult” cases—cases such as those wherein brain structure has been chemically or surgically altered. In the end, at issue is whether human beings—all human beings, only some human beings, or no human being—can be held personally morally responsible for any actions. Notwithstanding the complexity of human behavior, in theological and moral-philosophical terms the matter is governed by our convictions about what it means to be truly “human” and how we understand the implications of being fashioned in the imago Dei.
90. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Craig Hazen Editor’s Introduction
91. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Walter Schultz Truth and Truthmakers
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This paper introduces, explains, and defends a theory of truth and truthmakers comprising the following four claims: (1) Truth is God’s knowledge. (2) A proposition p is true if and only if what it represents as “being the case” is a constituent k of God’s knowledge. Otherwise, it is either fictionally false or purely false. (3) Constituents of God’s knowledge are the truthmakers for true propositions. Thus, for every p, p is true if and only if some k makes p true. (4) The set T of all true propositions is included in God’s knowledge.
92. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Jeremy Neill Rawls and Acceptable Dispositional Standards: A “Livable” Public Space?
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The emphasis of many of Rawls’s interpreters has been upon the conceptual incompatibilities that would distinguish the overlapping consensus from the doctrinal commitments of religious believers. But an issue that the interpreters have not emphasized is to what extent the consensus would allow the faithful to abide by the dispositional injunctions of their religious traditions when they perhaps could accept the consensus’s conceptual requirements. This article highlights the consensus’s “dispositional incompatibility” problem: that the dispositional traits of the consensus would impact the traits of its religious participants in ways that would undermine their flourishing and capacity for lifestyle integration.
93. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Myron A. Penner, Kirk Lougheed Pro-theism and the Added Value of Morally Good Agents
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Pro-theism is the view that God’s existence would be good in that God’s existence increases the value of a world. Anti-theism is the view that God’s existence would decrease the value of a world. We develop and defend the morally good agent argument for pro-theism. The basic idea is that morally good agents tend to add value to states of affairs, and God, moral agent par excellence is no exception. Thus, we argue that the existence of God would be, on balance, a good thing and therefore something that one can rationally desire to be true.
94. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Robert Larmer Special Divine Acts and the NIODA Project
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I shall argue for two theses, one negative and one positive. The first is that NIODA (Non-Interventionist Objective Divine Action) accounts of the possibility of special divine acts uniformly fail. The second is that conceiving of special divine acts as requiring divine intervention is in no way antithetical to science.
95. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Joshua Lee Harris Some Prolegomena to Any Future Truth Theory in Christian Philosophy
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I argue that the many disparate meanings of truth in John’s Gospel ought to be con­sidered “prolegomena” for any Christian truth theory. That is to say, insofar as any theory of truth in Christian philosophy fails to accommodate the multifaceted character of truth evidenced in John, it fails as a theory. After demonstrating some of the most important meanings of truth in John, I argue that the “correspondence” theory advocated by many contemporary Christian analytic philosophers is a reductionism when considered in light of these prolegomena. Finally, I defend a more adequate alternative from Anselm’s De Veritate.
96. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Bradley N. Seeman Idolatry and the End of Apologetics: On Some Uses and Limitations of Continental Philosophy in Apologetics
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Myron Penner’s work shows some ways continental philosophy could strengthen apologetics. In particular, continental philosophy can serve what Francis Schaeffer called “the final apologetic” by exposing idols that keep us from living lives of “costly, observable love.” Yet continental philosophy can also imperil apologetics and theology. The worst danger stems from what I call the “idolatry of linguistic license,” a type of idolatry where linguistic criticism denies God a place in the normative community of speakers. Although the idolatry of linguistic license mars some recent critiques of apologetics inspired by continental philosophy, apologetics would still profit from measured use of continental philosophy.
97. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Tedla G. Woldeyohannes Paul K. Moser and the End of Christian Apologetics as We Know It
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In Paul Moser’s view, philosophical arguments of natural theology are irrelevant as evidence for God’s existence. I argue that embracing Moser’s view would bring about the end to the project and practice of Christian apologetics as we know it. I draw out implications from Moser’s work on religious epistemology for the project of Christian apologetics. I sketch what Christian apologetics would look like if one were to embrace Moser’s call to eliminate arguments as evidence for God existence. The result of embracing Moser-style (Moserian) apologetics is apologetics without argument. I argue that Moserian apologetics should be rejected.
98. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
StevenB. Cowan, Greg A. Welty Pharaoh’s Magicians Redivivus: A Response to Jerry Walls on Christian Compatibilism
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Jerry Walls has recently argued that no Christian theist should be a compatibilist because, on compatibilism, it is “all but impossible to maintain . . . the perfect goodness of God.” More specifically, he contends (1) that Christian compatibilism involves God in manipulation that undermines human moral responsibility, (2) that such manipulation makes God morally culpable for evil human actions, (3) that Christian compatibilism exacerbates the problem of evil in a way that Christian libertarianism does not, and (4) that Christian compatibilism entails universalism. In this paper, we argue that Walls is mistaken on all counts.
99. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Hugh G. Gauch, Jr. Public Presuppositions for Christian Apologetics
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Public presuppositions suffice in arguments for Christianity, without needing controversial presuppositions such as the authority of the Bible. Necessary and sufficient presuppositions can be derived from rudimentary common sense, which is shared by Christianity and virtually all other worldviews. These claims are defended against three problematic ideas in contemporary Christian apologetics concerning circular reasoning, starting points, and neutral rationality. Public presuppositions are discussed in the contexts of both evidential and presuppositional apologetics.
100. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
R. Keith Loftin On the Metaphysics of Time and Divine Eternality
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In this brief note I argue that one’s position regarding the metaphysics of time constrains one’s conception of divine eternality. Specifically, temporalism entails commitment to the dynamic theory of time, and atemporalism entails commitment to the static theory of time.