Traditionally God has been considered absolutely simple. Some contemporary philosophers argue that this means that God is His attributes and hence is mere quality, and that all the divine attributes name exactly the same quality, which is incoherent. However, the contemporary debate misunderstands the tradition. God is not quality, He is act. Analogies from human experience can minimize the initial implausibility. There are worrisome corollaries to this doctrine, the most troubling being that God's nature is somehow dependent on the choices of His free creatures. This conclusion, though radical, is not as shocking as it appears.
Several writers have argued for the implausibility of there being naturalistic explanations of mystical experience. These writers recognize that the evidential significance of mystical experiences for theism depends upon whether explanations that exclude supernatural agency can be discounted; but they seem unaware of some of the best scientific work done in this area. Part I of the present paper introduces the theory of I. M. Lewis, an anthropologist, and tests it against the case of St Teresa. I use Teresa because of her prominence, and because we have considerable biographical data for her. I conclude that Lewis's approach, suitably supplemented, is strikingly successful in explaining this case.
In the debate about Christian attitudes to other religions, a threefold typology has emerged depicting differing Christian responses: pluralism, inclusivism and exclusivism. (This typology is not restricted to the Christian debate alone.) Traditionally, pluralism is opposed to exclusivism, the former claiming that it is arrogant and untenable to make exclusive truth claims, and that all religions are potentially equal paths to salvation and truth. In contrast, I argue that pluralism must always logically be a form of exclusivism and that nothing called pluralism really exists. The main purpose of my paper is to show that there is no high-ground in the pluralist position, for in principle its logic is no different from the exclusivist position. If this is established, then the debate can proceed with more substantial issues regarding the justification and clarification of truth claims.
This paper suggests, against a comparative horizon and in broadly philosophical context, a fresh approach to the study of Hinduism. After indicating how religion in general and 'Hinduism' in particular are plural phenomena both internally and externally, the paper goes on to define a (if not, the) distinguishing property of Hinduness (or hindutā) in terms of an approach that is based on a re-centring system of equilibrating and interactive polarities called 'polycentrism'. This is described further as a calculated paradoxicality, which is articulated in the light of possible objections.
The focus of this paper is the social trinitarian account in Richard Swinburne's "The Christian God." After setting out the route Swinburne follows in reaching his conclusions about the Godhead, I endeavour to show two things: (i) that his account does not avoid the charge of tritheism and thus is not faithful to key elements in the Christian creeds; (ii) the philosophical moves behind his conclusions are not compelling if, as we can, we challenge his assumptions about divine necessity. A better account of divine necessity takes us away from Swinburne's version of trinitarianism/tritheism.
Although there is a deep channel dividing British philosophy of religion from French thought associated with poststructuralism, much is to be gained from communication between the two. In this paper I explore three central areas of difference: the understanding of the subject, of language, and of God/religion. In each case I show that continental philosophy pursues these areas in ways which make issues of gender central to their understanding; and suggest that, while continental thought is neither monolithic nor beyond criticism, its understandings of difference are of great value to religious thought.
This essay attempts to make sense of Augustine's claim that time is a mental affection. He has been criticized, by Russell for instance, for advocating a subjective theory of time, thereby confusing the issue of what time is with the issue of what it is like to experience time. I defend Augustine from this criticism. His interest in time emerges out of confessional philosophy, and when this context is taken into account, his association of time with affection implies the converse of what it has mostly been taken to imply: not that time is in his experience of time, but that his experience of time is discomfortingly timeless.
Modern analytic philosophy of religion has become increasingly interested in the dogmatic substances of Christian theology. I argue that the doctrine of the Trinity provides an instance of the importance of dogmatic formulation for an appreciation of the philosophical aspect of the Christian concept of God. The starting point of my discussion is the recent defence of pantheism by Michael Levine, and his discussion of Neoplatonist and German Idealist models of deity. Both metaphysical theism and the alleged Neoplatonic metaphysical generalogy of pantheism are considered with particular reference to St Augustine's account of creation in the "Confessions". Just as it is impossible to distinguish the purely philosophical from the purely dogmatic concept of God, one cannot give an adequate modern account of theism without a rigorous and sensitive treatment of the historical models. The issue of pantheism shows how a misunderstanding of the meaning of concept of 'unity' can distort our view of theism as a model of deity.
Kenneth Surin has argued that theoretical theodicies of the kind associated with Swinburne and Hick face two major moral criticisms: first that they tacitly sanction evils; second that they display moral blindness in the face of unconditional evils. The paper upholds Surin's criticisms in the light of recent defences of theodicy. It concludes by considering and criticizing Wetzel's arguments for saying that theodicy is unavoidable for those who believe in God.
In this paper, I present an argument to show that the doctrine of divine temporality (the view that God is in time, but everlastingly eternal) is incoherent. The doctrine of divine temporality entails that God has traversed an actually infinite series of moments in order to reach the present. But I show that an actually infinite series of moments cannot be traversed. Hence, God could not have traversed his infinite past to reach the present. Therefore, the doctrine of divine temporality is necessarily false. I defend this argument against various responses and objections.
The paper that follows continues a discussion with Tomis Kapitan in the pages of this journal over the compatibility of divine agency with divine foreknowledge. I had earlier argued against two premises in Kapitan's case for omniscient impotence: (i) that intentionally A-ing presupposes prior acquisition of the intention to A, and (ii) that acquiring the intention to A presupposes prior ignorance whether one will A. In response to my criticisms, Kapitan has recently offered new defences for these two premises. I show in reply why neither defence succeeds in rehabilitating the case against omniscient agency.
This article brings together constructivist epistemology and feminist study of religion to provide phenomenological evidence that numinous consciousness is not the immediate, sui generis essence of religious experience that Rudolf Otto believed it to be. Whilst there are certain peculiarities in the Ottonian scheme that might make numinous consciousness unusually resistant to conceptual and ideological mediation, it can be shown that androcentric epistemological and axiological structures make the experience intelligible and worthy of accommodation within a given patriarchal religious tradition. By contrast, contemporary gynocentric spiritualities in which women celebrate their psychobiological difference as itself a necessary medium of religious experience, have no interest in protecting the holy from the limitations of its immanence.