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Philosophy The Existence and Attributes of God
by
Trent Dougherty

Introduction

This entry focuses on the contents of the core conversation about God in recent Anglophone analytic philosophy. That conversation has been predominantly about evidence for the sort of God at the center of Abrahamic monotheism of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as an investigation into the finer points of certain key divine attributes. This conversation includes both arguments for the existence of God and arguments against. The arguments for the existence of God vary widely. Some rely on more a priori foundations such as the ontological arguments; some are quite empirical, such as the design argument. The cosmological arguments spans the gap by appealing both to a priori principles concerning explanation or causation as well as at least the minimal empirical claim that something exists. Each of these arguments is covered in this entry. Historically, the central argument against the existence of God is based on the presence of various kinds of evil. In recent years, two developments pertaining to this conversation have emerged. First, there is a certain response to the problem of evil called “skeptical theism” according to which evil cannot show that God does not exist because one cannot fathom the reasons God might have for allowing any state of affairs we might observe. This entry covers both presentations of and critiques of this response. Also, some theorists have reflected upon the debate and presented the idea that the very debatability of God’s existence is evidence that there is no God, for God would surely make his presence known. This is known as the problem of divine hiddenness and is covered in this entry. Concerning the nature of God, omnipotence is a traditional starting point, since many puzzles concerning it come quickly to the philosophical mind. This entry covers the most important investigations, presentations, and attempted resolutions of these puzzles. It is hard to consider the attributes of omniscience and eternity separately, for one of the historically most prominent proposed solutions to the puzzle concerning omniscience and free will exploits the concept of God’s being “outside time” in some sense. This entry tries to do justice to this fact while treating each attribute under its own heading. Finally, the very puzzling yet often theologically central doctrine of the problem of divine simplicity (that in some important sense God has no parts) is treated. In this entry the focus is always on the most prominent and most recent discussion. This will by nature involve very important contributions from earlier in the 20th century, but earlier sources are left to the bibliographies of works that are addressed in this bibliography. For classical readings on the topics, the reader is referred to the Anthologies section below.

General Overviews

Most general overviews of the topics in this bibliography serve as survey texts in the philosophy of religion. Most of them also have accompanying anthologies, which include classical and contemporary readings on the subjects such as Taliaferro 1998. Some of these texts—e.g., Hick 1990 and Rowe 2006—are quite brief and opinionated, but fair, introductions. Others such as Peterson, et al. 2008, and Zagzebski 2007 are quite comprehensive. Some thus cover all the arguments for God’s existence or all the divine attributes together in a single chapter while others such as Davies 2004 and Meister 2009 have independent chapters either on each individual argument for the existence of God, the divine attributes, or both.

  • Davies, Brian. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. 3d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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    A nice feature of this volume is its separate chapters on the various arguments for and against the existence of God as well as full chapters on different attributes. Also covers how talk about God is possible, religious experience, and other traditional issues in the philosophy of religion. It has an accompanying anthology (see Davies 2000 in Anthologies).

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  • Hick, John. Philosophy of Religion. 4th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

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    This slim classic opens with a chapter on the Judeo-Christian God. Its distinctive features are a classic section on the Irenaean (or soul-making) theodicy, which focuses on the development of moral character, and a concluding chapter on reincarnation and resurrection.

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  • Meister, Chad. Introducing Philosophy of Religion. London: Routledge, 2009.

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    This text has the benefit of independent chapters on the three main arguments for the existence of God and on the problem of evil. It contains a helpful glossary. It has an accompanying anthology (see Meister 2007 in Anthologies).

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  • Peterson, Michael, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger. Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    There is only one chapter on arguments for the existence of God that considers the main arguments in turn, but its discussion of the cosmological argument is quite good. The chapter on the case against God gives a fair reading of the evidence. The chapter on the attributes of God is quite brief but at times illuminating. Most of the chapters correspond to chapters in the accompanying anthology (see . Peterson, et al. 2010 in Anthologies).

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  • Rowe, William L. Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2006.

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    The first half of this slender volume gives excellent introductions to the idea of God and to the main arguments for and against the existence of God. It then turns to broader issues in the philosophy of religion.

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  • Taliaferro, Charles. Contemporary Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 1998.

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    This text takes a rather nontraditional approach in that the discussion of the existence and attributes of God is tightly interwoven with discussion of worldviews, practices, and concepts. There is an accompanying anthology (see Taliaferro and Griffiths 2003 in Anthologies).

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  • Zagzebski, Linda. The Philosophy of Religion: An Historical Introduction. Fundamentals of Philosophy 3. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.

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    An advantage of this volume is that one gets coverage of standard topics that is erudite and historically sensitive yet written in a more casual if not conversational tone. There is an accompanying anthology (see Zagzebski and Miller 2009 in Anthologies).

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Anthologies

Most anthologies that cover the topics of this bibliography accompany traditional texts in the philosophy of religion. Naturally, most of the anthologies have a considerable amount of overlap. Each has some distinctive feature, however. Craig 2002 has very helpful introductory essays for each topic. Pojman and Rea 2007 includes many high quality readings other anthologies lack. Peterson, et al. 2010 includes some non-Western and nonstandard sources, as does Meister 2007. Hick 1990 has a selection of existential thinkers, and Davies 2000 gives more individual attention to the topics of this bibliography than the others. Zagzebski and Miller 2009 includes patristic, medieval, and reformation theologians. Taliaferro and Griffiths 2003 has a section on feminist conceptions of God.

  • Craig, William L. Philosophy of Religion: A Reader and Guide. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002.

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    This thick volume has excellent coverage of important recent pieces in core areas of the philosophy of religion. The sections, including one on the coherence of theism, have very helpful introductions by professionals.

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  • Davies, Brian, ed. Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    Like the accompanying overview (see Davies 2004 in General Overviews), this volume, rather than lumping all arguments and all attributes into a single chapter, has separate chapters on each argument and each attribute in which it juxtaposes sources both ancient and modern.

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  • Hick, John. Classical and Contemporary Readings in Philosophy of Religion. 3d ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

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    This classic-readings text is unique in its inclusion of many existential thinkers as well as a good selection of early-20th-century thought. Yet it also, helpfully, has a section from Aquinas not just on the “five ways” but also on his doctrine of analogy so crucial to understanding his apologetic and theological method. A bit idiosyncratically, introductory notes come at the end, in an appendix, but they are helpful.

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  • Meister, Chad, ed. The Philosophy of Religion Reader. London: Routledge, 2007.

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    This anthology is designed to work closely with the accompanying overview (see Meister 2009 in General Overviews). It is broad in scope, including classical and contemporary sources, and non-Western sources.

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  • Peterson, Michael, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger. Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    Perhaps the most used in the classroom and the most up to date, this anthology is also very exhaustive. It covers not just the usual existence and attributes of God but also religious experience, religious language, miracles, and life after death. It also ends with sections on the relationship between religion and science, diversity, and morality. The readings are both classical and contemporary and from some non-Western and nonstandard sources.

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  • Pojman, Louis P., and Michael Rea. Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2007.

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    Classical and contemporary readings. There are sections on the three major arguments for the existence of God and readings on the argument from religious experience. The “problem of evil” section has the most essays. Also, chapters on faith and reason, revelation, and naturalism. There are many high-quality readings here that most similar collections do not have. The section on divine attributes includes chapters on eternity, omniscience, and omnipotence, and a short piece by Harry Frankfurt on the problem of the stone: can God create a stone so big that he is unable to lift it?

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  • Taliaferro, Charles, and Paul J. Griffiths, eds. Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003.

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    Nice section on divine attributes written by leading contemporary theorists as well as a chapter on the idea of God in feminist philosophy. Also, a large selection of writings concerning the theistic and naturalistic accounts of the evidential value of religious experience. A nice contrast between Richard Swinburne and J. L. Mackie. Section on the problem of evil also has pieces by leading contemporary theists. Pascal, Hume, Kierkegaard, and James show up, but contemporary theorists by and large make up the volume.

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  • Zagzebski, Linda, and Timothy D. Miller, eds. Readings in Philosophy of Religion: Ancient to Contemporary. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

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    This is a great collection of classical and contemporary writings. It is distinctive in its inclusion of material from classical antiquity and the patristic period: Cicero, Epicurus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria. It also contains core medieval and Reformation-era texts that are often omitted, such as those of Maimonides, Averroes, Luther, and Calvin. Yet the collection also includes the very best of contemporary perspectives, including Adams, Plantinga, O’Connor, and Zagzebski.

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Reference Works

Topics concerning the existence and nature of God are variously labeled “philosophy of religion,” “natural theology,” and “philosophical theology.” There are sometimes very subtle distinctions among these terms, but for the most part they represent a significant overlap in scholarship. However, philosophical theology is a bit more prone to consider the divine attributes as well as specifically Christian doctrines that concern God’s attributes, such as incarnation. Yet Quinn and Taliaferro 1999 fits this bill more than Flint and Rea 2009. Though divine attributes are considered a part of natural theology, the more recent focus has been on arguments for the existence of God, and Craig and Moreland 2009 does not disappoint in this regard. Also, natural theology tends not to mention specific sectarian doctrines, but Craig and Moreland 2009 contains an argument from the resurrection. The argument, though, only uses the premises necessary to be acceptable by standard historiography. Also particularly strong on theistic arguments is Wainwright 2007. Taliaferro and Meister 2010 is just the opposite: not much on theistic arguments but several good entries on divine attributes. Many of these works will contain portions relevant to many of the topics below. Each volume contains detailed research articles that are semiargumentative yet also surveys of their subject. The articles are written by leading contemporary scholars in the field and resemble long, peer-reviewed journal articles. There is considerable overlap in subject matter (though not necessarily content) in these volumes; especially with the Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology (Flint and Rea 2009) and the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion (Wainwright 2007), though the articles are all written by different people). They are best read together. In consulting other parts of the bibliography, this section should always be consulted as well.

  • Craig, William L., and J. P. Moreland, eds. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

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    This work contains chapters on the Leibnizian cosmological argument, the Kalam cosmological argument, the ontological argument, and the fine-tuning teleological argument, as well as interesting arguments from consciousness, reason, and morality. Unlike most such volumes, this one contains a very sophisticated argument from miracles centered on the resurrection of Jesus.

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  • Flint, Thomas P., and Michael Rea, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology. Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    This work has chapters on the divine attributes, theistic arguments, and the problem of evil, among others. There is a section with six articles on divine attributes: “Simplicity” (Brower), “Omniscience” (Wierenga), “Eternity” (Craig), “Omnipotence” (Leftow), “Omnipresence” (Hudson), and “Moral Perfection” (Garcia), and a section containing essays on evil by Draper, Murray, and Bergmann.

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  • Quinn, Philip L., and Charles Taliaferro, eds. A Companion to Philosophy of Religion Blackwell Companions to Philosophy. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 1999.

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    Unlike other such volumes, this one contains chapters on God’s being, simplicity, goodness, beauty, immutability, and impassibility. Also fairly distinctive are the treatments not just of the problem of evil but of naturalistic explanations of theistic belief and the presumption of atheism.

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  • Taliaferro, Charles, and Chad Meister. The Cambridge Companion to Christian Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    Section 2 of this volume is on specifically Christian doctrines, but Part 1 covers mostly attributes common to the three Abrahamic faiths: “Necessity” (Leftow), “Simplicity” (Davies), the three “Omnibutes” (Wainwright), “Goodness” (Hare), and “Eternity” (Hasker).

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  • Wainwright, William, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion. Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195331356.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This work has chapters on the divine attributes, theistic arguments, and the problem of evil, among others. This includes Rowe on divine power and goodness, Leftow on ontological arguments, Pruss and Gale on cosmological and design arguments, and van Inwagen on evil. The volume is nicely divided into sections on “Problems” and “Methods.”

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Series

There is really only one series focusing on contemporary analytic philosophy of religion. Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, edited by Jonathan Kvanvig, is an annual of original research articles across the philosophy of religion. It specializes in the very top level of scholarship. The average quality would approximate the very best that would appear in quarterly journals.

  • Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion series. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008–.

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    This roughly annual series presents the best of contemporary research in the philosophy of religion series. The contributions are detailed, peer-reviewed research articles on a wide variety of topics in the philosophy of religion and philosophical theology.

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    The Existence of God

    This section of the bibliography covers the three main arguments for the existence of God: the Ontological Arguments, Cosmological Arguments, and teleological, or Design Arguments; and the two main arguments against: The Problem of Evil and The Problem of Divine Hiddenness. Some think that one or more of the theistic arguments depend on one another and some think that the problem of divine hiddenness is just a version of the problem of evil. For the purposes of this bibliography, each issue will be treated individually. Furthermore, one class of arguments against the existence of God concerns alleged inconsistencies among divine attributes or between divine attributes and some other fact, such as free will. These issues are treated in the section The Nature of God.

    Ontological Arguments

    Though there was some pioneering work in the early 20th century (recounted in Plantinga 1965), the revival of interest in the ontological argument is largely due to Plantinga 1974, which develops a careful theory of modal logic then applies that theory to the ontological argument. Adams 1987 offers a very similar kind of modal ontological argument (to individuate argument types is difficult) and considers many variants, all set out quite formally in sentence, predicate, and quantified modal logic. Rowe 1989 was an early critic of the modal ontological argument, seeking to “turn it on its head” as it were, by arguing that the nonexistence of God seems more easily conceivable than his existence. A very short but important article. Oppy 1995, by contrast, offers a massive tome against the argument. Oppy 2007 offers a good summary of his case. Similarly, Sobel 2009 has three full chapters on the argument. Oppy 1995, Sobel 2009, and Leftow 2007 all contain historical material as well as treatments of the modern argument. All three also consider Gödel’s ontological argument, in which there has been a recent upswing in interest.

    • Adams, Robert Merrihew. The Virtue of Faith and Other Essays in Philosophical Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

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      Excellent discussion of the structure and assumptions of the ontological argument. The treatment is sympathetic and isolates a very simple version of the argument, which he defends as depending on very few and weak assumptions. He is primarily focused on the modal version of the argument. It is fairly technical but very clearly written and accessible.

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    • Leftow, Brian. “The Ontological Argument.” In The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion. Edited by William Wainwright, 80–115. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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      This is the best of the handbook articles on the ontological argument. It is a thorough and somewhat sympathetic treatment. He formalizes versions of the argument by Anselm, Descartes, Kant, Gödel, and others.

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    • Oppy, Graham Robert. Ontological Arguments and Belief in God. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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      The most detailed critique of the ontological argument. This book contains a brief history of the ontological argument and considers the modal as well as other less well-known versions of the argument, including a “Hegelian” version. The book contains well over a hundred pages of notes on the academic literature at the end and has the most extensive bibliography in print.

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    • Oppy, Graham Robert. “The Ontological Argument.” In Philosophy of Religion: Classic and Contemporary Issues. Edited by Paul Copan and Chad Meister. Oxford: Blackwell, 2007.

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      A good summary of Oppy’s views: he is the leading critic of the argument. This article ties together what he has said in several other places.

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    • Plantinga, Alvin, ed. The Ontological Argument. New York: Doubleday, 1965.

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      Plantinga collects classic pieces from the medieval period through the early modern up to the mid-20th century.

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    • Plantinga, Alvin. The Nature of Necessity. Oxford: Clarendon, 1974.

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      This work is primarily one of philosophical logic, but it applies the formal methods it develops to the ontological argument. The result is a powerful and creative defense of the modal ontological argument. The work is largely credited with the modern revival of the ontological argument. Though it takes place in the context of a highly technical treatise, the argument itself is quite easy to follow and informally presented.

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    • Rowe, William. “The Ontological Argument.” In Reason and Responsibility: Readings in some Basic Problems of Philosophy. 7th ed. Edited by Joel Feinberg, 8–17. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1989.

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      This is a short and direct critique of the argument focusing on the premise that God’s existence is possible.

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    • Sobel, Jordan Howard. Logic and Theism: Arguments For and Against Beliefs in God. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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      Along with Oppy, Sobel is the other leading critic of the ontological argument. This book contains three full chapters on the ontological argument: one historical, one on modern arguments, and one just on Gödel’s argument. Many appendices with technical details.

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    Cosmological Arguments

    Rowe 1988 is an excellent historical survey of cosmological arguments. All cosmological arguments start, in some way, with the existence of a contingent being and argue from there to the existence of a being who is necessary in some sense. The sense of necessity depends on the method of the argument. Some cosmological arguments, preeminently that of Swinburne 2004, proceed inductively: it is less surprising that there should be a world if there is a God than if there is not. Most cosmological arguments, though, have been deductive arguments from some kind of causal or explanatory principle. There has recently been a surge in interest in arguments based on Leibniz’s “principle of sufficient reason.” Pruss 2009 surveys the domain, and Gale and Pruss 1999 present and defend such an argument in a new and creative fashion. This argument is briefly criticized in Sobel 2009. Koons 1997 offers the most formalized and creative cosmological argument to date. It weds two formal systems: nonmonotonic logic and mereology. The result is an amazingly precise version of the argument. It is criticized by Oppy 1999 and in the appendix of Sobel 2009. The most recent book-length treatment of the cosmological argument is O’Connor 2008. It is broadly in the Leibnizan tradition and considers many metaphysical and epistemological issues surrounding the argument.

    • Gale, Richard M., and Alexander R. Pruss. “A New Cosmological Argument.” Religious Studies 35.4 (December 1999): 461–476.

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      This innovative paper presents a new Leibnizan argument by appeal to a weaker (and so putatively more plausible) principle of sufficient reason.

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    • Koons, Robert. “A New Look at the Cosmological Argument.” American Philosophical Quarterly 34.2 (April 1997): 193–211.

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      This innovative paper presents a new cosmological argument by appeal to defeasible reasoning models and fairly standard mereology, the logic of parthood. Most cosmological arguments are either paradigmatically deductive or inductive, but Koons plausibly gets the best of both worlds by setting out the argument in a form of nonmontonic logic.

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    • O’Connor, Timothy. Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

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      This profound work is one of the most thorough investigations of necessity as a ground of contingency in a very long time. It is a fairly short book, less than two hundred pages, but the entire work is focused on a protracted meditation on the epistemological, ontological, and religious aspects of seeking an ultimate explanation of contingency in a necessary being worthy of the title “God.”

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    • Oppy, Graham Robert. “Koons’ Cosmological Argument.” Faith and Philosophy 16.2 (1999): 379–389.

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      Oppy questions many assumptions behind Koons’s argument, including the notion of parthood and whether facts can be causal relata. He also makes a case that within Koons’s framework it can be proven that a wholly contingent entity could not have a cause.

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    • Pruss, Alexander. “Leibnizian Cosmological Arguments.” In Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Edited by W. L. Craig and J. P. Moreland. Oxford: Blackwell, 2009.

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      A sympathetic and searching account of a form of the cosmological argument based on a principle of sufficient reason.

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    • Rowe, William. The Cosmological Argument. New York: Fordham University Press, 1998.

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      This book is a classic investigation of several historical iterations of the cosmological argument. It is critical but fair. It is not pure history, but rather a philosophical assessment of some historical arguments by a leading contemporary theorist.

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    • Sobel, Jordan Howard. Logic and Theism: Arguments For and Against Beliefs in God. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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      Sobel focuses on the Leibnizan argument but is one of the few to consider the newer versions of Gale and Pruss, and Koons. There is brief treatment of Gale and Pruss but a full appendix solely on Koons.

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    • Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

      DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199271672.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      This book is by far the most thorough and detailed presentation of a broadly empiricist cosmological argument in its broader form (taking the existence and character of the cosmos as the starting point). His treatment shows some plausible continuity between the cosmological and design arguments.

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    Design Arguments

    The sort of argument that seems to have the broadest appeal among lay people is the argument from design. Philosophers have used many methods to try and capture the way many use the organization of nature as proof of a divine origin. The argument from design has, broadly speaking, two forms. First, there are arguments based on features of the universe’s overall structure. Then there are arguments that focus on particular aspects of specific entities within the universe. Leslie 1996, Swinburne 2004, and Collins 2009 all advance a cosmic fine-tuning argument. Oppy 2006 and Sobel 2009 discuss both historically important biological design arguments as well as brief discussions of fine tuning. Only Sobel, though, considers Swinburne 2004 in any detail, and that is in an appendix. Sober 2005’s discussion is almost exclusively limited to biological design arguments. Manson 2003 is the most important collection of writing on the design argument and contains pieces by most of the leading scholars. It covers both fine-tuning arguments, pro and con, and biological design arguments. Dougherty and Poston 2008 argues that there is a strong tension in trying to use both a cosmic fine-tuning argument and biological design argument in the same cumulative case.

    • Collins, Robin. “The Fine-Tuning Argument.” In The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, 202–281. Oxford: Blackwell, 2009.

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      This enormous entry is the most thorough treatment of the fine-tuning argument to date. It is an extended defense of the argument that is to be expanded into a book.

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    • Dougherty, Trent, and Ted Poston. “A User’s Guide to Design Arguments.” Religious Studies 44.1 (March 2008): 99–110.

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      Argues that the fine-tuning argument is incompatible with, or at least in tension with, the biological design argument. Thus, attempts to combine both forms of argument into a single cumulative case face a serious challenge.

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    • Leslie, John. Universes. London: Routledge. 1996.

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      A classic text that is among the most important works for returning the cosmic fine-tuning argument to the center of the discourse on the subject. Chronicles many apparent instances of fine tuning. Considers the following: (1) there is really no explanation called for; (2) there is an infinite number of worlds; and (3) a god of some kind designed the universe because of the value in it. Shows little patience for the first response but considers the other two hypotheses very carefully.

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    • Manson, Neil, ed. God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science. London: Routledge, 2003.

      DOI: 10.4324/9780203398265Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Important collection of recent work. Includes pieces by Collins, Ratzsch, Sober, Swinburne, and others. It has sections on both physics-based design arguments and biology-based design arguments, and there is also a section on multiple universes.

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    • Oppy, Graham. Arguing about Gods. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511498978Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      This book has a chapter on teleological arguments, which discusses both historical treatments such as Paley and Hume as well as contemporary treatments of both the biological design argument (e.g., Michael Behe’s version) and the fine-tuning version of the argument.

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    • Sobel, Jordan Howard. Logic and Theism: Arguments For and Against Beliefs in God. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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      Sobel considers both historical and recent treatments of the design argument. The historical portion focuses on Hume and is a bit idiosyncratic, but there is an appendix on Richard Swinburne’s work.

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    • Sober, Elliot. “The Design Argument.” In The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Religion. Edited by William Mann, 117-147. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.

      DOI: 10.1002/9780470756638Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Thoughtful and mostly balanced critical introduction to the design argument. Focuses on Paley and a bit on Hume, but the most relevant areas pertain to confirmation theory. Acknowledges the distinction between biological design and cosmic design but says very little about the latter. There are some unfortunate comments about creationism that need not distract the reader from the overall value of the piece, though Swinburne’s work seems unduly neglected.

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    • Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

      DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199271672.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Swinburne is by far the most prominent defender of the design arguments for the existence of God. This book sets out in detail a design argument that frequently makes use of Bayesian confirmation theory and takes as its principal datum the evolution of human beings as embodied moral/rational agents.

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    The Problem of Evil

    The evidence concerning the existence of God includes items put forth for the affirmative as well as the negative. The existence and nature of the world are the principal items usually put forth for the affirmative. The existence of apparent suffering without justification—allowing which would be evil—constitutes the principal evidence usually put forth for the negative. Because of the importance of Howard-Snyder 1996 and the plethora of very recent work, I omit items earlier than 1996 on this subject (though much of the essential material of the prior debate is in fact covered in Howard-Snyder 1996 in one form or another). Peterson 1998 is a good place to start because of the way it clearly presents the basic conceptual issues. Peterson 1992 has a set of readings that are organized in ways that reflect the conceptual map of Peterson 1998. Van Inwagen 2004 lacks the classical readings of Peterson 1992 but is quite diverse in what it does include. Van Inwagen 2008 is essentially the same text of the author’s his Gifford lectures and accessibly summarizes his views on evil. Plantinga 1974, now a classic, and Swinburne 1998 each have considerable focus on free will, but Plantinga, like van Inwagen, only offers a “defense” against evil: i.e., a story wherein God and the evils we observe are consistent and that is, for all we know, true. Swinburne offers a theodicy that attempts to give the actual explanations for why God allows bad states. Adams 1999 also offers a theodicy, but it is one that differs greatly from Swinburne’s. Whereas Swinburne puts humans and God in the same moral conversation, Adams stresses the transcendence of God.

    • Adams, Marilyn McCord. Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999.

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      Adams endeavors to understand how even evils that seem to constitute a threat to the value of one’s existence can be woven coherently into a good life. This involves the identification of something particular to the evil in question, not just a “global” balancer somewhere out there. She believes that union with God so outweighs any human experience that there is hope that it can defeat evil.

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    • Howard-Snyder, Daniel, ed. The Evidential Problem from Evil. Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

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      This is the most important collection of essays in print on the problem of evil. It covers all aspects of the evidential problem of evil, including (but not limited to) skeptical theism, from an impressive array of contributors on both sides of the debate.

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    • Peterson, Michael L. God and Evil: An Introduction to the Issues. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998.

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      This is a very nice and succinct introduction to the topic. It covers the formulation of various versions of the problem and a very helpful discussion of how to think about the different kinds of responses. Of particular value is the discussion on gratuitous evil.

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    • Peterson, Michael L., ed. The Problem of Evil: Selected Readings. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. 1992.

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      This anthology has a few classical readings from the book of Job, Augustine, Aquinas, and Hume, and a couple of modern literary pieces from Dostoevsky, Camus, and Wiesel. But by far the majority of entries are by major contemporary philosophers such as Adams, Mackie, Plantinga, Quinn, Swinburne, and Stump. Unlike many collections on evil, this one has a section on the existential problem as well as “practical” theodicy.

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    • Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974.

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      This is the classic presentation of the modern free will defense. It is at times quite subtle and technical, but it is generally very readable. It began a new era of the free will defense.

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    • Swinburne, Richard. Providence and the Problem of Evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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      Humanity’s most important functions are to love and to learn. A world suited for such beings will require the kind of environment and adversity that give rise to the problem of evil. Many elements of the Irenaean “soul-making” theodicy are represented in detail in Swinburne’s work. He also applies a version of this theory to animals. Swinburne talks much of God’s rights and duties, building on a parental analogy.

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    • Van Inwagen, Peter, ed. Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004.

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      This is a very interesting and diverse collection of essays. It includes not only such luminaries as Plantinga, Draper, and Otte on probability and evil but also selections on battered women, John Paul II, and original sin.

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    • Van Inwagen, Peter. The Problem of Evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008

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      Based on his Gifford lectures. After some early static about the nature of philosophical arguments, he distinguishes between the “global” and “local” problems of evil: a problem from the totality of evil in the world and an argument from particular horrendous evils. He offers a free will defense for the former but argues that it does not alone solve the latter problem. The book ends with treatment of divine hiddenness.

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    Skeptical Theism

    Of all the responses to the problem of evil, the one that has generated the most discussion recently is skeptical theism. It has become so standard and widely discussed as a response to the problem of evil that a separate set of readings is necessary. Because of the importance of Howard-Snyder 1996 and the plethora of very recent work, I omit items earlier than 1996 on this subject (though much of the essential parts of the prior debate is in fact represented in Howard-Snyder 1996 in one form or another). The central claim of skeptical theism is that due to cognitive limitations of humans, humans are not justified in believing that there are gratuitous evils—evils of the form we would expect to be absent from a world created by a perfect being. The reply is specifically to the “evidential” problem of evil (in contradistinction to the “logical” problem), which is advanced primarily by Rowe (included in Howard-Snyder 1996). Howard-Snyder 1996 contains the classic statements of the skeptical theist position by Alston, Plantinga, and Wykstra, along with replies by Draper, Russell, and Rowe. The debate continues with Plantinga 1998 arguing that there is a special kind of known good (the sum of all goods) that arguably counterbalances all known evils. Rowe 1998 replies that there is no such good in any relevant sense. Bergmann 2001 is now the standard statement of the skeptical theist position. Rowe 2001 replies, arguing cleverly from the basis of God’s nature: God would want us to understand to a sufficient degree the purpose of our suffering. Almeida and Oppy 2003 argues that the skeptical theists’ skeptical theses lead to a form of moral skepticism that undermines common moral practice. Bergmann and Rea 2005 argues that ordinary moral practice can get along just fine without certain principles. Dougherty 2008 argues that there is a form of the problem of evil based on basic intuitions that no current reply answers, so that the hardest problem remains largely unaddressed.

    • Almeida, M., and G. Oppy. “Sceptical Theism and Evidential Arguments from Evil.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81.4 (2003): 496–516.

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      Argues that the skeptical theism gambit leads to a sort of skepticism that undermines ordinary moral practice.

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    • Bergmann, Michael. “Skeptical Theism and Rowe’s New Evidential Argument from Evil.” Nous 35 (2001): 278–296.

      DOI: 10.1111/0029-4624.00297Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Bergmann is the leading defender of skeptical theism, and this article is the place to start. The main premise is that we have no good reason for thinking that the possible goods we know of are representative of the possible goods there are, and the same holds for evils and the logical relations between goods and evils.

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    • Bergmann, Michael, and Michael Rea. “In Defense of Sceptical Theism: Reply to Almedia and Oppy.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83.2 (2005): 241–251.

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      Argues that ordinary moral practice does not require anything ruled out by skeptical theism. Essentially, the authors endorse a kind of fallibilism about moral reasoning.

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    • Dougherty, Trent. “Epistemological Considerations Concerning Skeptical Theism.” Faith and Philosophy 25.2 (2008): 172–176.

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      Argues that skeptical theism clashes with nonskeptical epistemology, for the strongest version of the argument from evil depends not on the sort of inference the skeptical theist criticizes, but rather on the kind of intuition on which all nonempirical knowledge stands.

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    • Howard-Snyder, Daniel, ed. The Evidential Argument from Evil. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

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      This collection contains many very important pieces on skeptical theism. Of particular importance for skeptical theism are the contributions by Rowe, Alston, Wykstra, Draper, and Russell. It is hard to overstate the importance of these contributions for the middle stage of the debate.

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    • Plantinga, Alvin. “Degenerate Evidence and Rowe’s New Evidential Argument from Evil.” Nous 32 (1998): 531–544.

      DOI: 10.1111/0029-4624.00137Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Raises three objections to Rowe’s evidential atheological argument from evil. The discussion concerns whether there is a known good (the sum of all goods) that counterbalances certain horrendous evils. Also discusses whether there is a kind of ignorance, i.e., we do not know that no known good justifies the permitting of evil, which counterbalances our alleged ignorance concerning the purpose of allowing certain evils.

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    • Rowe, William. “Skeptical Theism: A Response to Bergmann.” Nous 35 (2001): 297–303.

      DOI: 10.1111/0029-4624.00298Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      This paper is a response to Bergman 2001. Rowe’s central argument is that it is not plausible that God would not be ready, willing, and able to make us understand to some sufficient degree the reasons for permitting apparently gratuitous evils.

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    • Rowe, William. “Reply to Plantinga.” Nous 32 (1998): 545–552.

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      This paper is a reply to Plantinga 1998. He Rowe denies that the sum of all goods is a known good in his sense, and he offers a counter-counterbalancer to Plantinga’s counterbalancing principle.

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    The Problem of Divine Hiddenness

    Some theorists (e.g., Kvanvig in Howard-Snyder 2002) think the problem of divine hiddenness is just a special case of the problem of evil. Others, (e.g., van Inwagen 2008), argue that they are separate problems. It is not necessary to adjudicate this debate to justify the amount of attention given to the problem of divine hiddenness, for if it is a special case of the more general problem, it is a very special case. Though the problem of divine hiddenness has been discussed in the past, the contemporary surge in interest begins with Schellenberg 2006. The replies that focus on the core idea of the argument have for the most part suggested that God has a good reason to remain hidden. Murray 1993 focuses on the fact that obviousness would remove freedom. Howard-Snyder 1996, Poston and Dougherty 2007, and van Inwagen 2008 all press a version of the point that one could in fact be much better off in a position of unbelief, at least for a time. Others turn to the Christian Scriptures for more specific reasons. Kvanvig and Moser (in Howard-Snyder 2002) pursue a general version of this strategy, appealing respectively to the notions of the Fall and idolatry. Garcia, Wainwright, and Ferreira pursue this strategy from within specific traditions: St. John of the Cross, Jonathan Edwards, and Kierkegaard, respectively (in Howard-Snyder 2002). Schellenberg (in Schellenberg 1996, Schellenberg 2006, Schellenberg 2007), for his part, continues to refer people back to the details of his argument as he has presented it and suggests that in each criticism he considers the argument has been altered or misunderstood.

    • Howard-Snyder, Daniel. “The Argument from Divine Hiddenness.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26.3 (September 1996): 433–453.

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      Howard-Snyder argues that Schellenberg’s argument from divine hiddenness makes a bad inference—from absence of evidence to evidence of absence—that is also present in standard presentations of the evidential problem of evil. He then proposes reasons God might have to withhold clear signs from people, in particular that even believing, they might respond inappropriately with rejection or scorn.

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    • Howard-Snyder, Daniel, and Paul Moser, eds. Divine Hiddenness: New Essays. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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      This volume is an essential connection of collected and original essays on the problem of divine hiddenness.

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    • Murray, Michael. “Coercion and the Hiddenness of God.” American Philosophical Quarterly 30.1 (January 1993): 27–38.

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      Advocates the intuitive position that some degree of hiddenness is required to maintain free will.

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    • Poston, Ted, and Trent Dougherty. “Divine Hiddenness and the Nature of Belief.” Religious Studies 43.2 (2007): 183–198.

      DOI: 10.1017/S0034412507008943Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Dougherty and Poston argue that Schellenberg’s argument glosses over ambiguities in the nature of belief such that there exist forms of belief in God that are in fact widespread and beneficial. Furthermore, they argue that Schellenberg is insensitive to diachronic considerations of how God might have an unfolding plan that includes a period of unbelief. Schellenberg’s reply is in Schellenberg 2006.

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    • Schellenberg, J. L. “Response to Howard-Snyder.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26.3 (1996): 455–462.

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      Schellenberg argues that Howard-Snyder’s reconstruction of his argument adds a premise he neither needs nor endorses.

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    • Schellenberg, J. L. Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006.

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      This is an updated version of the locus classicus of the argument from divine hiddenness (the first edition was 1993). In brief, he argues that if there were a God, he would make his existence known to all or almost all people of reason and goodwill. Yet such is not the case. He defends this argument against many objections that appeared since the first edition.

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    • Schellenberg, J. L. “Reply to Poston and Dougherty.” Religious Studies 43.2 (2007): 199–204.

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      Schellenberg argues that Dougherty and Poston 2007 misread his argument and depend on theological assumptions for their case against him.

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    • van Inwagen, Peter. “Lecture 8: The Hiddenness of God.” In The Problem of Evil. By Peter van Inwagen, 135–151. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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      Tells a story according to which God exists and has sufficient reason not to make his existence obvious. The reason he proposes that it is not true is that it would thwart God’s purpose of atonement with humanity by causing some people to believe for the wrong reasons.

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    The Nature of God

    This section covers the attributes of Omnipotence, Omniscience, Eternity, and Simplicity. Omnipresence is omitted because most accounts of omnipresence are a function of omniscience or omnipresence: God is present at a location in virtue of knowing all that happens there or having his power be operative there. Immutability is also omitted for now because it usually follows from an endorsement of the claim that God exists timelessly. There is some overlap in the treatment of omniscience and eternity, since many accounts of omniscience entail foreknowledge, which seems to conflict with human freedom, if God’s knowledge is temporal. One traditional move is to solve this problem via a timeless eternity, making God’s knowledge simultaneous with what he knows rather than “predictive” as it were. In this way the doctrines of God’s eternity and omniscience are closely related in the literature. Simplicity is treated because historically if God has any properties at all, simplicity is God’s central, and in a way only, property. Traditionally, many of God’s other properties are seen as corollaries of simplicity. The items referenced in the bibliography include ones strongly in support of traditional views and ones strongly opposed to them, as well as ones that offer various versions of the traditional views.

    Omnipotence

    Omnipotence is often the first divine attribute that poses a philosophical puzzle to precocious youth: Can God make a stone so big that God cannot lift it? The apparent force of the dilemma is obvious. Flint and Freddoso 1983, Swinburne 1993, Swinburne 1994, and Wierenga 1989 all treat this problem along the way toward their respective (and very different) definitions of omnipotence. One divide in the literature is between those works such as Pike 1969 and Swinburne 1993, which use a consistency-based notion of possibility, and those such as Flint and Freddoso 1983 and Wierenga 1989, which are based on a broadly logical notion of metaphysical possibility developed originally by Plantinga 1974. Hoffman and Rosenkrantz 2002 works in an essentially Plantingian fashion, though the authors’ account is largely driven by seeking to address the problem of God’s inability to change the past. Geach 1973 thinks the whole enterprise of trying to save the notion of omnipotence is hopeless and misguided. A special problem concerning omnipotence is its consistency with other divine attributes such as God’s perfect goodness. The one seems to imply the ability to sin, the other to exclude it. Pike 1969 addresses this problem directly and makes concessions. Hoffman and Rosenkrantz 2002 defends a more robust answer. Swinburne 1993 draws heavily on Aquinas in addressing this question.

    • Flint, T., and A. Freddoso. “Maximal Power.” In The Existence and Nature of God. Edited by A. Freddoso, 81–113. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.

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      This astonishingly precise essay is the model for analytic attempts to characterize omnipotence or a divine attribute generally. After setting forth five criteria of adequacy, the authors offer an account of omnipotence they think is both philosophically adequate and theologically adequate. They close the essay by considering special hard cases. They also treat the paradox of the stone.

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    • Geach, P. T. “Omnipotence.” Philosophy 48 (1973): 7–20.

      DOI: 10.1017/S0031819100060381Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Geach distinguishes between the notion of being almighty (having power over all things) and being omnipotent (having the power to do anything). He then takes a challenging line arguing that there simply is no coherent account of omnipotence. We should, he says, simply stick with the idea of God as almighty, since this is all the creeds require.

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    • Hoffman, Joshua, and Gary S. Rosenkrantz. “Omnipotence.” In The Divine Attributes. By Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosnekrantz, 166–178. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

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      In this densely packed chapter Hoffman and Rosenkrantz offer a definition similar to that of Flint and Freddoso 1983, but one catered to the problem concerning the immutability of the past. They close by considering the problem of God’s inability to sin.

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    • Pike, Nelson. “Omnipotence and God’s Ability to Sin.” American Philosophical Quarterly 6.3 (July 1969): 208–216.

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      A clear, classic piece, still relevant to today’s discussion. Pike argues that there are consistently describable states of affairs that are, and necessarily are, such that any being who brings them about does something morally wrong in doing so. It follows that any being capable of bringing about any consistently describable state of affairs, as it seems an omnipotent being should be able to, is thereby able to do something morally reprehensible.

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    • Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974.

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      Though Part 1 of this short book is primarily aimed at addressing the problem of evil, it contains some crucial, groundbreaking concepts concerning God’s power, including an argument against “Leibniz’s Lapse,” the thesis that God could create any possible world. It is, in a way, an extended study of what God can and cannot do.

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    • Swinburne, Richard. “Omnipotent.” In The Coherence of Theism. By Richard Swinburne, 153–166. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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      By careful steps, Swinburne builds up to a precise definition of theism that is sensitive both to the classical theist tradition as well as contemporary theorists. Like Pike 1969, he works with a narrow conception of the logically possible. He also treats the paradox of the stone.

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    • Swinburne, Richard. The Christian God. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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      In chapter 6, Swinburne briefly provides nuance to the definition of omnipotence in Swinburne 1993. Chapter 7 provides a way of understanding God’s “pure limitless intentional power” as the unifying element in God’s nature.

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    • Wierenga, Edward R. “Omnipotence.” In The Nature of God: An Inquiry into Divine Attributes. By , Edward R.Wierenga, 12–35. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

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      Wierenga creatively gives a sophisticated treatment of an essentially medieval view through the metaphysics of Plantinga. Wierenga considers the relationship between omnipotence and God’s relation to time, which is very helpful. He also treats the paradox of the stone.

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    Omniscience

    It is hard to separate the definition of omniscience from the problems generated by it. A great deal of the discussion of omniscience arises in treatments of a putative conflict between foreknowledge and free will. Thus the items in this list are a mixture of attempts to formulate a satisfactory definition and attempts to address the prima facie conflict between foreknowledge—itself a prima facie entailment of omniscience—and future free actions. Because there are also puzzles concerning timeless knowledge, the reader should also see the section on Eternity. Pieces that focus primarily on a formal definition of omniscience (though they do also treat the foreknowledge problem) are Hoffman and Rosenkrantz 2002, Swinburne 1993, and Wierenga 1989. Flint 1998 offers a model of how it is God could have foreknowledge. Like Wierenga 1989, Kvanvig 1986 gives both a formal definition of omniscience and an extended defense of a version of foreknowledge similar to that of Flint 1998. Hasker 1998 criticizes the views of Flint, Kvanvig, and Wierenga, which are all in one way or another related to Molinism. Fischer 1989 and Zagzebski 1996 are almost exclusively about the problem of the prima facie conflict between a version of omniscience that includes foreknowledge and the existence of free will, though they shed much light on the nature of God’s knowledge along the way. This is especially true of Zagzebski, who offers a model of divine foreknowledge that blends aspects of several other theories she takes to be inadequate on their own.

    • Fischer, John Martin, ed. God, Foreknowledge, and Freedom. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989.

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      This is an essential collection of essays on the relationship of God’s knowledge to human freedom. It contains an amazingly helpful introduction to the literature and topic and a very thorough bibliography of writings on the subject up to the time of publication.

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    • Flint, Thomas. Divine Providence: The Molinist Account. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998.

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      Flint offers the most in-depth study of the model of God’s foreknowledge derived principally from the work of the 16th-century Jesuit Luis de Molina. On this view, God has “middle knowledge” of counterfactuals of freedom, propositions asserting what a given person would freely do in various circumstances.

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    • Hasker, William. God, Time, and Knowledge. Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998.

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      This book is a tour de force of arguments against any strong form of divine foreknowledge. After a brief historical survey, the author claims to refute Molinisms of various kinds, the “simple foreknowledge” view, and the Boethian timelessness view. He closes with a defense of the religious adequacy of a God who does not know the future.

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    • Hoffman, Joshua, and Gary S. Rosenkrantz. “Omniscience.” In The Divine Attributes. By Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosnekrantz, 111–142. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

      DOI: 10.1002/9780470693438.ch6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Hoffman and Rosenkrantz defend a “maximal knowledge” account of omniscience wherein the core idea is having a degree of knowledge that could not be exceeded by any being. Their account ends up being very similar to that of Swinburne 1993. Unlike most treatments, they consider the outcomes of various epistemological theories for omniscience. They argue against Molinism in ways similar to Hasker 1998.

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    • Kvanvig, Jonathan. The Possibility of an All-Knowing God. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. 1986.

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      Kvanvig defends what he considers the traditional account of omniscience, which one satisfies just in case one knows all true propositions. He defends this view from criticisms by Swinburne 1993 (Kvanvig refers to an earlier edition, of course) that ultimately derive from Geach. Kvanvig covers a host of technical details in logic, philosophy of language, and epistemology. He defends a Molinist account of divine foreknowledge.

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    • Swinburne, Richard. “Omniscient.” In The Coherence of Theism. By Richard Swinburne, 167–183. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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      Swinburne develops a definition of omniscience that is a restriction of a version of Aquinas’s view. The main restriction concerns a limitation of foreknowledge based on the free actions of creatures and of God himself. Swinburne is one of the few to consider this latter issue in detail.

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    • Wierenga, Edward R. The Nature of God: An Inquiry into Divine Attributes. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

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      Wierenga creatively gives a sophisticated treatment of an essentially medieval view through the metaphysics of Plantinga. In addition to chapter 2, “Omniscience,” Wierenga has two further chapters on foreknowledge and the core notion in a kind of Molinist treatment of it: accidental necessity.

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    • Zagzebski, Linda T. The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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      Zagzebski rejects the three most discussed proposed solutions: Boethian timelessness, Ockhamism, and Molinism. However, she claims that they all contain insights that can be woven together into a coherent and successful response to the dilemma. She calls this view “Thomistic Ockhamism,” and it involves a complex and profound investigation on how God knows things through his own essence.

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    Eternity

    As mentioned in the introduction to Omniscience, the issue of God’s eternity is frequently discussed in terms of the traditionally popular use of God’s eternity to relieve the prima facie tension between divine foreknowledge—a seeming consequence of omniscience—and human freedom. Many of the treatments of eternity, therefore, also treat this problem. Stump and Kretzmann 1981 are largely credited for a return of interest in the divine timelessness view. There have been many replies to Stump and Kretzmann with rejoinders in turn, but the most salient is Rogers 1994. Leftow 1991 defends both that God exists timelessly as well as an application of this to the problem of free will. Helm 1988 also defends a strong view of timeless eternity but rejects its application to the problem of foreknowledge. Similarly, Wierenga 1989 defends but does not necessarily endorse timeless eternity: he does not attempt to apply it to the problem of foreknowledge in much detail. Swinburne 1993 and Hoffman and Rosenkrantz 2002 reject timeless eternity for similar reasons and endorse a form of omnitemporality. Ganssle and Woodruff 2002 contains many fine essays on both sides of the debate.

    • Ganssle, Gregory E., and David M. Woodruff, eds. God and Time. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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      An excellent collection of essays by a diverse panel of scholars, this volume is not to be missed. There are sections on creation, knowledge, and God’s relation to the world.

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    • Helm, Paul. Eternal God. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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      Helm defends a strong view of timeless eternity in which God is not simultaneous with any temporal being in any way. Helm defends this strong view from objections stemming from both traditional problems: omniscience, action, and the conflict between divine foreknowledge and human freedom. Helm rejects the Boethian solution to the latter problem.

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    • Hoffman, Joshua, and Gary Rosenkrantz. “Eternity.” In The Divine Attributes. By Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosnekrantz, 97–110. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.

      DOI: 10.1002/9780470693438.ch5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Like Swinburne 1993, Hoffman and Rosenkrantz reject timeless eternity as inconsistent with divine action, defending a temporalized eternity. Likewise, they reject strong immutability. Their treatment is very quick but clear. They end with an interesting discussion of substituting a notion of divine incorruptibility for strong divine immutability.

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    • Leftow, Brian. Time and Eternity. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991.

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      This amazing volume combines massive historical knowledge with detailed acquaintance with modern logical techniques. After developing a logical framework for analysis, Leftow surveys and evaluates the medieval tradition in detail. Then he makes a case for a notion of timeless eternity, both defending it against objections and applying it to personhood, omniscience, and religious experience.

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    • Rogers, Katherine. “Eternity Has No Duration.” Religious Studies 30.1 (March 1994): 1–16.

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      Rogers forcefully argues that the best way to think of eternity—pace Stump and Kretzman 1981 and Leftow 1991—is without duration. Rogers rejects all their physical analog arguments and skillfully argues that the medieval metaphors actually entail lack of duration.

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    • Stump, Eleonore, and Norman Kretzmann. “Eternity.” Journal of Philosophy 78.8 (1981): 429–458.

      DOI: 10.2307/2026047Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Human experience is sometimes simultaneous with some events. Stump and Kretzmann argue that from this fact we can come to understand the notion of eternal-temporal or “ET Simultaneity,” which is a relation between what is eternal and what is temporal. ET Simultaneity introduces the notion of an eternal reference frame. This paper generated many replies; it is essential reading.

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    • Swinburne, Richard. “Eternal and Immutable.” In The Coherence of Theism. By Richard Swinburne, 217–240.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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      Swinburne argues that God is to be thought of as eternal in the restricted sense of existing at all times, past and present. He rejects the notion of timeless eternity as both internally incoherent and as inconsistent with other beliefs about divine action. He likewise dismisses a strong notion of immutability as entailing absolutely no real change in favor of the notion that God never changes in character.

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    • Wierenga, Edward. “Eternity, Timelessness, and Immutability.” In The Nature of God: An Inquiry into Divine Attributes. By Edward Wierenga, 166–201. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 1989.

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      Wierenga gives a very careful exposition of eternity as including timelessness, which is inspired by the medieval tradition but expounded with rigor and clarity in analytic fashion. An advantage of Wierenga’s treatment is that he considers the relationship of timeless eternity not only to omniscience but immutability, considering both philosophical and scriptural objections.

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    Simplicity

    There was a surge in interest in the doctrine of divine simplicity in the 1980s. Much of this work is in the footnotes of the more recent items mentioned in this section, but the centerpiece was clearly Wolterstorff, et al. 1985, which generated a number of responses. Many contemporary defenses of divine simplicity agree with Stump and Kretzmann that a central challenge for it stems from the possibility of alternative divine creation, e.g., O’Connor 1999 and Pruss 2008. Others such as Rogers 1996, Woltersdorff 1991, and Brower 2008 address problems by rejecting a Platonic ontology of properties. Wolterstorff 1991 also turns away from a Platonic or “relational” ontology but specifically recommends investigating what the author calls a “constituent ontology.” He notes that classical defenders of divine simplicity tended to think of properties as constituents of the entities that have them. His call to move to a constituent ontology is taken up in the defenses of simplicity by Vallicella 1992 explicitly, and Hughes 1989 seems to have presaged this move and though it doesn’t mention the distinction does fit nicely with it.

    • Brower, Jeffrey. “Making Sense of Divine Simplicity.” Faith and Philosophy 25 (2008): 3–30.

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      Brower defends the doctrine of divine simplicity from the apparently absurd charge that it entails that God is a property, by rejecting a property account of predication and adopting instead a truth-maker account. Brower thinks widespread, uncritical acceptance of the predication account explains why so many theorists are so dismissive of the doctrine.

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    • Hughes, Christopher. On a Complex Theory of a Simple God: An Investigation in Aquinas’ Philosophical Theology. Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

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      Ingeniously marshals theses designed for quite different purposes into an account arguing that God is identical to the property of being God. From David Lewis, takes the notion that a property is a set of possible and actual individuals. Since only God can be God, being God = {God}. From Quine, takes the notion that a singleton is identical to its member, thus {God} = God. It follows from these two theses that God = being God.

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    • O’Connor, Timothy. “Simplicity and Creation.” Faith and Philosophy 16 (1999): 405–412.

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      Defends the doctrine of divine simplicity from the charge that if it were true, then God could not have created a world other than the one he did. It might seem that this is an implication, since to have willed another world seems to be to have a different willing, which is a different intrinsic state. O’Connor defends a view according to which God’s deliberation does not require distinct intrinsic states of willing for each possible act of creation.

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    • Pruss, Alexander. “On Two Problems of Divine Simplicity.” In Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion. Vol. 1. Edited by Jonathan L. Kvanvig, 150–167. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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      Briefly and ingeniously treats three possible problems for divine simplicity. First is the problem of the apparent identity among God’s properties. Pruss treats this problem by adverting to analogical predication. Then there are two issues stemming from the possibility of alternative acts of creation. He addresses the problems via reflections on, respectively, libertarian free will and semantic externalism.

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    • Rogers, Katherine. “The Traditional Doctrine of Divine Simplicity.” Religious Studies 32 (1996): 165–186.

      DOI: 10.1017/S0034412500024215Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Rogers argues that many modern theorists misunderstand the traditional doctrine of divine simplicity. She urges a turn away from an attribute-driven understanding to an act-driven understanding of God’s nature. She then argues that this more traditional understanding has some very untraditional corollaries, including that God’s nature depends on the choices of his free creatures.

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    • Vallicella, William F. “Divine Simplicity: A New Defense.” Faith and Philosophy 9.4 (1992): 508–525.

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      Vallicella attempts to follow the “constituent ontology” model proposed by Wolterstorff 1991. His conceptual anchor is that of a self-instantiating property. On his model the divine nature is a single conjunctive property that has itself as its sole possible instance.

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    • Wolterstorff, Nicholas. “Divine Simplicity.” Philosophical Perspectives 5 (1991): 531–555.

      DOI: 10.2307/2214108Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      In this classic piece, Wolterstorff points out that those most associated with the doctrine held a different view about the relation of an entity to its nature than is common today. Traditional advocates of the view tended to think of properties as constituents of the entities that have them. Modern theorists are much more Platonistic. Many contemporary defenders of divine simplicity now work implicitly or explicitly in a constituent ontology framework.

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    • Wolterstorff, Nicholas, E. Stump, and N. Kretzmann. “Absolute Simplicity.” Faith and Philosophy 2.4 (1985): 353–391.

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      Locates the greatest challenge for divine simplicity in puzzles concerning God’s will. Focuses resolution of the difficulty by concentrating on the act of creation. There is a sort of conditional necessity in God’s choice to create, but there is a real distinction in God between absolutely and conditionally necessitated choices. On these theses the authors build a model of God’s acts that they claim resolves the difficulties in question.

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    LAST MODIFIED: 06/29/2011

    DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195396577-0049

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