Religion and development: The rise of a bibliography
Study of how religious beliefs impact environmental values and attitudes to CCS. by investing over £2bn in CCS research and development to date , . .. Do you feel that there are any ethical or moral implications that should be The mean NEP scores for the Muslim and Christian groups were comparable (p. ). Jun 11, CrossRef citations to date. 0 . There are three basic scenarios: that religion plays no role; some role; or a major role. 'Religion and development: some comparative considerations', Development, 46 (4), , pp 64–67;. The study of religion and development focuses on how the moral and ethical resources of the world's major faith Online Publication Date: Nov Goody, J. () Religion and Development: Some Comparative Considerations.
To what extent are the Christian doctrine of creation and traditional views of divine action compatible with science? How can these concepts be understood within a scientific context, e. Note that the doctrine of creation says nothing about the age of the Earth, nor that it specifies a mode of creation.
This allows for a wide range of possible views within science and religion, of which Young Earth Creationism is but one that is consistent with scripture.
The theory seems to support creatio ex nihilo as it specifies that the universe originated from an extremely hot and dense state around The net result of scientific findings since the seventeenth century has been that God was increasingly pushed into the margins. This encroachment of science on the territory of religion happened in two ways: While the doctrine of creation does not contain details of the mode and timing of creation, the Bible was regarded as authoritative.
Second, the emerging concept of scientific laws in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century physics seemed to leave no room for special divine action. These two challenges will be discussed below, along with proposed solutions in the contemporary science and religion literature.
Christian authors have traditionally used the Bible as a source of historical information. Biblical exegesis of the creation narratives, especially Genesis 1 and 2 and some other scattered passages, such as in the Book of Jobremains fraught with difficulties. Are these texts to be interpreted in a historical, metaphorical, or poetic fashion, and what are we to make of the fact that the order of creation differs between these accounts Harris ?
Although such literalist interpretations of the Biblical creation narratives were not uncommon, and are still used by Young Earth creationists today, theologians before Ussher already offered alternative, non-literalist readings of the biblical materials e. From the seventeenth century onward, the Christian doctrine of creation came under pressure from geology, with findings suggesting that the Earth was significantly older than BCE.
From the eighteenth century on, natural philosophers, such as de Maillet, Lamarck, Chambers, and Darwin, proposed transmutationist what would now be called evolutionary theories, which seem incompatible with scriptural interpretations of the special creation of species. Ted Peters and Martinez Hewlett have outlined a divine action spectrum to clarify the distinct positions about creation and divine action in the contemporary science and religion literature. They discern two dimensions in this spectrum: At one extreme are creationists.
Like other theists, they believe God has created the world and its fundamental laws, and that God occasionally performs special divine actions miracles that intervene in the fabric of laws.
Creationists deny any role of natural selection in the origin of species. Within creationism, there are Old and Young Earth creationism, with the former accepting geology and rejecting evolutionary biology, and the latter rejecting both. Next to creationism is Intelligent Design, which affirms divine intervention in natural processes.
Intelligent Design creationists e. Like other creationists, they deny a significant role for natural selection in shaping organic complexity and they affirm an interventionist account of divine action. For political reasons they do not label their intelligent designer as God, as they hope to circumvent the constitutional separation of church and state in the US which prohibits teaching religious doctrines in public schools Forrest and Gross Theistic evolutionists hold a non-interventionist approach to divine action: God creates indirectly, through the laws of nature e.
For example, the theologian John Haught regards divine providence as self-giving love, and natural selection and other natural processes as manifestations of this love, as they foster autonomy and independence.
While theistic evolutionists allow for special divine action, particularly the miracle of the Incarnation in Christ e. God has laid out the laws of nature and lets it run like clockwork without further interference. Deism is still a long distance from ontological materialism, the idea that the material world is all there is. Views on divine action were influenced by developments in physics and their philosophical interpretation.
In the seventeenth century, natural philosophers, such as Robert Boyle and John Wilkins, developed a mechanistic view of the world as governed by orderly and lawlike processes. Laws, understood as immutable and stable, created difficulties for the concept of special divine action Pannenberg How could God act in a world that was determined by laws?
One way to regard miracles and other forms of special divine action is to see them as actions that somehow suspend or ignore the laws of nature. This concept of divine action is commonly labeled interventionist. Interventionism regards the world as causally deterministic, so God has to create room for special divine actions.
By contrast, non-interventionist forms of divine action e. In the seventeenth century, the explanation of the workings of nature in terms of elegant physical laws suggested the ingenuity of a divine designer. For example, Samuel Clarke cited in Schliesser Another conclusion that the new laws-based physics suggested was that the universe was able to run smoothly without requiring an intervening God.
The increasingly deterministic understanding of the universe, ruled by deterministic causal laws as, for example, outlined by Pierre-Simon Laplace —seemed to leave no room for special divine action, which is a key element of the traditional Christian doctrine of creation.
Newton resisted interpretations like these in an addendum to the Principia in Alston argued, contra authors such as Polkinghornethat mechanistic, pre-twentieth century physics is compatible with divine action and divine free will.
In such a mechanistic world, every event is an indirect divine act. Advances in twentieth-century physics, including the theories of general and special relativity, chaos theory, and quantum theory, overturned the mechanical clockwork view of creation. In the latter half of the twentieth century, chaos theory and quantum physics have been explored as possible avenues to reinterpret divine action.
One difficulty with this model is that it moves from our knowledge of the world to assumptions about how the world is: Robert Russell proposed that God acts in quantum events. This would allow God to directly act in nature without having to contravene the laws of nature, and is therefore a non-interventionist model.
Since, under the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, there are no natural efficient causes at the quantum level, God is not reduced to a natural cause. Murphy outlined a similar bottom-up model where God acts in the space provided by quantum indeterminacy.
After all, it is not even clear whether quantum theory would allow for free human action, let alone divine action, which we do not know much about Jaeger a.
Next to this, William Carrollbuilding on Thomistic philosophy, argues that authors such as Murphy and Polkinghorne are making a category mistake: God is not a cause in a way creatures are causes, competing with natural causes, and God does not need indeterminacy in order to act in the world. Rather, as primary cause God supports and grounds secondary causes. While this solution is compatible with determinism indeed, on this view, the precise details of physics do not matter muchit blurs the distinction between general and special divine action.
Moreover, the Incarnation suggests that the idea of God as a cause among natural causes is not an alien idea in theology, and that God at least sometimes acts as a natural cause Sollereder There has been a debate on the question to what extent randomness is a genuine feature of creation, and how divine action and chance interrelate.
Chance and stochasticity are important features of evolutionary theory the non-random retention of random variations.
Philosophy of Religion
In a famous thought experiment, Gould imagined that we could rewind the tape of life back to the time of the Burgess Shale million years ago ; the chance we would end up with anything like the present-day life forms is vanishingly small. However, Simon Conway Morris has argued species very similar to the ones we know now including human-like intelligent species would evolve under a broad range of conditions.
Under a theist interpretation, randomness could either be a merely apparent aspect of creation, or a genuine feature. Plantinga suggests that randomness is a physicalist interpretation of the evidence. God may have guided every mutation along the evolutionary process. In this way, God could guide the course of evolutionary history by causing the right mutations to arise at the right time and preserving the forms of life that lead to the results he intends.
Their challenge is to explain how divine providence is compatible with genuine randomness. Under a deistic view, one could simply say that God started the universe off and did not interfere with how it went, but that option is not open to the theist, and most authors in the field of science and religion are theists, rather than deists. Elizabeth Johnsonusing a Thomistic view of divine action, argues that divine providence and true randomness are compatible: God gives creatures true causal powers, thus making creation more excellent than if they lacked such powers, and random occurrences are also secondary causes; chance is a form of divine creativity that creates novelty, variety, and freedom.
One implication of this view is that God may be a risk taker—although, if God has a providential plan for possible outcomes, there is unpredictability but not risk. Johnson uses metaphors of risk taking that, on the whole, leave the creator in a position of control creation, then, is like jazz improvisationbut it is, to her, a risk nonetheless.
Why would God take risks? There are several solutions to this question. The free will theodicy says that a creation that exhibits stochasticity can be truly free and autonomous: Authentic love requires freedom, not manipulation. Such freedom is best supplied by the open contingency of evolution, and not by strings of divine direction attached to every living creature.
According to Genesis, humans are the result of a special act of creation. Genesis 1 offers an account of the creation of the world in six days, with the creation of human beings on the sixth day. Islam has a creation narrative similar to Genesis 2, with Adam being fashioned out of clay. These handcrafted humans are regarded as the ancestors of all living humans today. Humans occupy a privileged position in these creation accounts. In Christianity, Judaism, and some strands of Islam, humans are created in the image of God imago Dei.
There are at least three different ways in which image-bearing is understood Cortez According to the functionalist account, humans are in the image of God by virtue of things they do, such as having dominion over nature.
The structuralist account emphasizes characteristics that humans uniquely possess, such as reason. The relational interpretation sees the image as a special relationship between God and humanity. Humans also occupy a special place in creation as a result of the fall. By eating from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil they fell from this state, and death, manual labor, as well as pain in childbirth were introduced. The Augustinian interpretation of original sin also emphasizes the distorting effects of sin on our reasoning capacities the so-called noetic effects of sin.
As a result of sin, our original perceptual and reasoning capacities have been marred. Whereas Augustine believed that the prelapsarian state was one of perfection, Irenaeus second century saw Adam and Eve prior to the fall as innocent, like children still in development. Scientific findings and theories relevant to human origins come from a range of disciplines, in particular geology, paleoanthropology the study of ancestral hominins, using fossils and other evidencearchaeology, and evolutionary biology.
These findings challenge traditional religious accounts of humanity, including the special creation of humanity, the imago Dei, the historical Adam and Eve, and original sin. In natural philosophy, the dethroning of humanity from its position as a specially created species predates Darwin and can already be found in early transmutationist publications. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed chimpanzees as the ancestors to humans in his Philosophie Zoologique He proposed that the first organisms arose through spontaneous generation, and that all subsequent organisms evolved from them.
He argued that humans have a single evolutionary origin: Darwin was initially reluctant to publish on human origins. In the twentieth century, paleoanthropologists debated whether humans separated from the other great apes at the time wrongly classified into the paraphyletic group Pongidae long ago, about 15 million years ago, or relatively recently, about 5 million years ago.
Molecular clocks—first immune responses e. The discovery of many hominin fossils, including Ardipithecus ramidus 4. These finds are now also supplemented by detailed analysis of ancient DNA extracted from fossil remains, bringing to light a previously unknown species of hominin the Denisovans who lived in Siberia up to about 40, years ago. Taken together, this evidence indicates that humans did not evolve in a simple linear fashion, but that human evolution resembles an intricate branching tree with many dead ends, in line with the evolution of other species.
In the light of these scientific findings, contemporary science and religion authors have reconsidered the questions of human uniqueness and imago Dei, the Incarnation, and the historicity of original sin. Some authors have attempted to reinterpret human uniqueness as a number of species-specific cognitive and behavioral adaptations.
For example, van Huyssteen considers the ability of humans to engage in cultural and symbolic behavior, which became prevalent in the Upper Paleolithic, as a key feature of uniquely human behavior. Other theologians have opted to broaden the notion of imago Dei. Given what we know about the capacities for morality and reason in non-human animals, Celia Deane-Drummond and Oliver Putz reject an ontological distinction between humans and non-human animals, and argue for a reconceptualization of the imago Dei to include at least some nonhuman animals.
Joshua Moritz raises the question of whether extinct hominin species, such as Homo neanderthalensis and Homo floresiensis, which co-existed with Homo sapiens for some part of prehistory, partook in the divine image. There is also discussion of how we can understand the Incarnation the belief that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, became incarnate with the evidence we have of human evolution.
For instance, Peacocke regarded Jesus as the point where humanity is perfect for the first time. Teilhard de Chardin had a teleological, progressivist interpretation of evolution, according to which Christ is the progression and culmination of what evolution has been working toward even though the historical Jesus lived years ago.
According to Teilhard, evil is still horrible but no longer incomprehensible; it becomes a natural feature of creation—since God chose evolution as his mode of creation, evil arises as an inevitable byproduct.
Deane-Drummondhowever, points out that this interpretation is problematic: Teilhard worked within a Spencerian progressivist model of evolution, and he was anthropocentric, seeing humanity as the culmination of evolution.
Current evolutionary theory has repudiated the Spencerian progressivist view, and adheres to a stricter Darwinian model. Deane-Drummond, who regards human morality as lying on a continuum with the social behavior of other animals, conceptualizes the fall as a mythical, rather than a historical event.
She regards Christ as incarnate wisdom, situated in a theodrama that plays against the backdrop of an evolving creation. As a human being, Christ is connected to the rest of creation, as we all are, through common descent. By saving us, he saves the whole of creation.
Debates on the fall and the historical Adam have centered on how these narratives can be understood in the light of contemporary science. On the face of it, limitations of our cognitive capacities can be naturalistically explained as a result of biological constraints, so there seems little explanatory gain to appeal to the narrative of the fall.
Some have attempted to interpret the concepts of sin and fall in ways that are compatible with paleoanthropology. Peter van Inwagenfor example, holds that God could have providentially guided hominin evolution until there was a tightly-knit community of primates, endowed with reason, language, and free will, and this community was in close union with God.
At some point in history, these hominins somehow abused their free will to distance themselves from God. For van Inwagen, the fall was a fall from perfection, following the Augustinian tradition. John Schneideron the other hand, argues that there is no genetic or paleoanthropological evidence for such a community of superhuman beings. Helen De Cruz and Johan De Smedt favor an Irenaean, rather than an Augustinian interpretation of the fall narrative, which does not involve a historical Adam, and emphasizes original innocence as the state that humans had prior to sinning.
Future directions in science and religion This final section will look at two examples of work in science and religion that have received attention in the recent literature, and that probably will be important in the coming years: Other areas of increasing interest include the theistic multiverse, consciousness, artificial intelligence, and transhumanism.
Evolutionary theorists from Darwin onward argued that human morality is continuous with social behaviors in nonhuman animals, and that we can explain moral sentiments as the result of natural selection. This capacity has evolutionary precursors in the ability of nonhuman animals to empathize, cooperate, reconcile, and engage in fair play e. Since we can explain ethical beliefs and behaviors as a result of their long-term fitness consequences, we do not need to invoke ethical realism as an explanation.
Some ask whether evolutionary challenges to moral beliefs apply in an analogous way to religious beliefs see Bergmann and Kainespecially part III. Reflections on missionary work and development in southern Ethiopia', in O. De Gaay Fortman, B. Development interventionism from a human dignity perspective', in O. An attempt to simplify the debate', in O. Discussion on the theory, culture and practical conflict of Islam and financial globalization', Social Sciences in Ningxia 4 Anthropologists at work in the World Bank', in O.
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Faith-based organisations, civil society and international development', Journal of International Development 18 6 A project for the dignity of life', in W. Sarkan Zoumountsi', in W. A movement experience in India', in W. Faith-based initiatives, Ashgate, Aldershot. A project for human development founded on faith', in W. An Islamic perspective', in B. Donors, faith-based organisations and international development', Third World Quarterly 28 1 An orienting framework', in B.
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The example of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community', Ghana Studies Grassroots church partnering in the U. An introduction', in T. Another objection is that it makes no sense to think of a being existing necessarily; propositions may be necessarily true or false, but objects cannot be necessary or contingent.
Some philosophers reply that it makes no less sense to think of an individual God existing necessarily than it does to think of propositions being necessarily true. A further objection is that the ontological argument cannot get off the ground because of the question-begging nature of its premise that if there is a God, then God exists necessarily.
Does admitting this premise concede that there is some individual thing such that if it exists, it exists necessarily? Replies have claimed that the argument only requires one to consider an ostensible state of affairs, without having to concede initially whether the state of affairs is possible or impossible.
To consider what is involved in positing the existence of God is no more hazardous than considering what is involved in positing the existence of unicorns. One can entertain the existence of unicorns and their necessary features that necessarily if there were unicorns, there would exist single-horned beasts without believing that there are unicorns. Finally, consider the objection that, if successful in providing reasons to believe that God exists, the ontological argument could be used to establish the existence of a whole array of other items, like perfect islands.
Replies to this sort of objection have typically questioned whether it makes sense to think of an island a physical thing as existing necessarily or as having maximal excellence on a par with God. Does the imagined island have excellences like omniscience, omnipotence a power which would include the power to make indefinitely many islandsand so on?
Classical, alternative versions of the ontological argument are propounded by Anselm, Spinoza, and Descartes, with current versions by Alvin Plantinga, Charles Hartshorne, Norman Malcolm, and C. Dore; classical critics include Gaunilo and Kant, and current critics are many, including William Rowe, J. The latest book-length treatment of the ontological argument is a vigorous defense: Rethinking the Ontological Argument by Daniel Dombrowski There are various versions.
Some argue that the cosmos had an initial cause outside it, a First Cause in time. Others argue that the cosmos has a necessary, sustaining cause from instant to instant. The two versions are not mutually exclusive, for it is possible both that the cosmos had a First Cause and that it currently has a sustaining cause. The cosmological argument relies on the intelligibility of the notion of something which is not itself caused to exist by anything else.
This could be either the all-out necessity of supreme pre-eminence across all possible worlds used in versions of the ontological argument, or a more local, limited notion of a being that is uncaused in the actual world. If successful, the argument would provide reason for thinking there is at least one such being of extraordinary power responsible for the existence of the cosmos. At best, it may not justify a full picture of the God of religion a First Cause would be powerful, but not necessarily omnipotentbut it would nonetheless challenge naturalistic alternatives and bring one closer to theism.
Both versions of the argument ask us to consider the cosmos in its present state. Is the world as we know it something that necessarily exists?
At least with respect to ourselves, the planet, the solar system and the galaxy, it appears not. With respect to these items in the cosmos, it makes sense to ask why they exist rather than not.
In relation to scientific accounts of the natural world, such enquiries into causes make abundant sense and are perhaps even essential presuppositions of the natural sciences. Some proponents of the argument contend that we know a priori that if something exists there is a reason for its existence. So, why does the cosmos exist?
If we explain the contingent existence of the cosmos or states of the cosmos only in terms of other contingent things earlier states of the cosmos, saythen a full cosmic explanation will never be attained.
At this point the two versions of the argument divide. Arguments to a First Cause in time contend that a continuous temporal regress from one contingent existence to another would never account for the existence of the cosmos, and they conclude that it is more reasonable to accept there was a First Cause than to accept either a regress or the claim that the cosmos just came into being from nothing. Arguments to a sustaining cause of the cosmos claim that explanations of why something exists now cannot be adequate without assuming a present, contemporaneous sustaining cause.
The arguments have been based on the denial of all actual infinities or on the acceptance of some infinities for instance, the coherence of supposing there to be infinitely many stars combined with the rejection of an infinite regress of explanations solely involving contingent states of affairs. The latter has been described as a vicious regress as opposed to one that is benign. There are plausible examples of vicious infinite regresses that do not generate explanations: This would not explain how I got the book.
Alternatively, imagine a mirror with light reflected in it. Would the presence of light be successfully explained if one claimed that the light was a reflection of light from another mirror, and the light in that mirror came from yet another mirror, and so on to infinity? Consider a final case. You ask its meaning and are given another word which is unintelligible to you, and so on, forming an infinite regress.
Would you ever know the meaning of the first term? The force of these cases is to show how similar they are to the regress of contingent explanations. Versions of the argument that reject all actual infinities face the embarrassment of explaining what is to be made of the First Cause, especially since it might have some features that are actually infinite.
In reply, Craig and others have contended that they have no objection to potential infinities although the First Cause will never cease to be, it will never become an actual infinity. They further accept that prior to the creation, the First Cause was not in time, a position relying on the theory that time is relational rather than absolute. The current scientific popularity of the relational view may offer support to defenders of the argument. It has been objected that both versions of the cosmological argument set out an inflated picture of what explanations are reasonable.
Why should the cosmos as a whole need an explanation? If everything in the cosmos can be explained, albeit through infinite, regressive accounts, what is left to explain? One may reply either by denying that infinite regresses actually do satisfactorily explain, or by charging that the failure to seek an explanation for the whole is arbitrary.
If there are accounts for things in the cosmos, why not for the whole? The argument is not built on the fallacy of treating every whole as having all the properties of its parts. But if everything in the cosmos is contingent, it seems just as reasonable to believe that the whole cosmos is contingent as it is to believe that if everything in the cosmos were invisible, the cosmos as a whole would be invisible. Another objection is that rather than explaining the contingent cosmos, the cosmological argument introduces a mysterious entity of which we can make very little philosophical or scientific sense.
How can positing at least one First Cause provide a better account of the cosmos than simply concluding that the cosmos lacks an ultimate account? In the end, the theist seems bound to admit that why the First Cause created at all was a contingent matter.
If, on the contrary, the theist has to claim that the First Cause had to do what it did, would not the cosmos be necessary rather than contingent?
Some theists come close to concluding that it was indeed essential that God created the cosmos. If God is supremely good, there had to be some overflowing of goodness in the form of a cosmos see Kretzmann and Stump in Morrison the ideas of Dionysius the Areopagite; see Rowe for arguments that God is not free. But theists typically reserve some role for the freedom of God and thus seek to retain the idea that the cosmos is contingent.
Defenders of the cosmological argument still contend that its account of the cosmos has a comprehensive simplicity lacking in alternative views. God's choices may be contingent, but not God's existence and the Divine choice of creating the cosmos can be understood to be profoundly simple in its supreme, overriding endeavor, namely to create something good.
Swinburne has argued that accounting for natural laws in terms of God's will provides for a simple, overarching framework within which to comprehend the order and purposive character of the cosmos see also Foster At this point we move from the cosmological to the teleological arguments. Part of the argument may be formulated as providing evidence that the cosmos is the sort of reality that would be produced by an intelligent being, and then arguing that positing this source is more reasonable than agnosticism or denying it.
As in the case of the cosmological argument, the defender of the teleological argument may want to claim only to be giving us some reason for thinking there is a God. Note the way the various arguments might then be brought to bear on each other. If successful, the teleological argument may provide some reason for thinking that the First Cause of the cosmological argument is purposive, while the ontological argument provides some reason for thinking that it makes sense to posit a being that has Divine attributes and necessarily exists.
Behind all of them an argument from religious experience may provide some initial reasons to seek further support for a religious conception of the cosmos and to question the adequacy of naturalism. One version of the teleological argument will depend on the intelligibility of purposive explanation.
In our own human case it appears that intentional, purposive explanations are legitimate and can truly account for the nature and occurrence of events. In thinking about an explanation for the ultimate character of the cosmos, is it more likely for the cosmos to be accounted for in terms of a powerful, intelligent agent or in terms of a naturalistic scheme of final laws with no intelligence behind them?
Theists employing the teleological argument will draw attention to the order and stability of the cosmos, the emergence of vegetative and animal life, the existence of consciousness, morality, rational agents and the like, in an effort to identify what might plausibly be seen as purposively explicable features of the cosmos.
Naturalistic explanations, whether in biology or physics, are then cast as being comparatively local in application when held up against the broader schema of a theistic metaphysics.
Darwinian accounts of biological evolution will not necessarily assist us in thinking through why there are either any such laws or any organisms to begin with. Arguments supporting and opposing the teleological argument will then resemble arguments about the cosmological argument, with the negative side contending that there is no need to move beyond a naturalistic account, and the positive side aiming to establish that failing to go beyond naturalism is unreasonable.
In assessing the teleological argument, we can begin with the objection from uniqueness. We cannot compare our cosmos with others to determine which have been designed and which have not. If we could, then we might be able to find support for the argument. If we could compare our cosmos with those we knew to be designed and if the comparison were closer than with those we knew not to be designed, then the argument might be plausible.
Without such comparisons, however, the argument fails. Replies to this line of attack have contended that were we to insist that inferences in unique cases were out of order, then we would have to rule out otherwise perfectly respectable scientific accounts of the origin of the cosmos.
Religion and nation in Europe in the 19th century: some comparative notes
Besides, while it is not possible to compare the layout of different cosmic histories, it is in principle possible to envisage worlds that seem chaotic, random, or based on laws that cripple the emergence of life. Now we can envisage an intelligent being creating such worlds, but, through considering their features, we can articulate some marks of purposive design to help us judge whether the cosmos was designed rather than created at random.
Some critics appeal to the possibility that the cosmos has an infinite history to bolster and re-introduce the uniqueness objection.
Given infinite time and chance, it seems likely that something like our world will come into existence, with all its appearance of design.
If so, why should we take it to be so shocking that our world has its apparent design, and why should explaining the world require positing one or more intelligent designers? Replies repeat the earlier move of insisting that if the objection were to be decisive, then many seemingly respectable accounts would also have to fall by the wayside. It is often conceded that the teleological argument does not demonstrate that one or more designers are required; it seeks rather to establish that positing such purposive intelligence is reasonable and preferable to naturalism.
It is rejected by J. Mackie, Michael Martin, Nicholas Everitt, and others. One feature of the teleological argument currently receiving increased attention focuses on epistemology. It has been contended that if we do rely on our cognitive faculties, it is reasonable to believe that these are not brought about by naturalistic forces—forces that are entirely driven by chance or are the outcome of processes not formed by an overriding intelligence.
An illustration may help to understand the argument. Imagine coming across what appears to be a sign reporting some information about your current altitude some rocks in a configuration giving you your current location and precise height above sea-level in meters. Some theists argue that it would not be reasonable, and that trusting our cognitive faculties requires us to accept that they were formed by an overarching, good, creative agent.
This rekindles Descartes' point about relying on the goodness of God to ensure that our cognitive faculties are in good working order. Objections to this argument center on naturalistic explanations, especially those friendly to evolution. In evolutionary epistemology, one tries to account for the reliability of cognitive faculties in terms of trial and error leading to survival.
A rejoinder by theists is that survival alone is not necessarily linked to true beliefs. It could, in principle, be false beliefs that enhance survival. In fact, some atheists think that believing in God has been crucial to people's survival, though the belief is radically false. Martin and Mackie, among others, object to the epistemic teleological argument; Plantinga, Richard Creel and Richard Taylor defend it.
Two recent developments in teleological argumentation have involved the intelligent design hypothesis and fine tuning arguments. The first is an argument that there are orders of biological complexity emerging in evolution that are highly unlikely if accounted for by random mutation and natural selection or any other means in the absence of a purposive, intentional force Behe Debate on the intelligent design ID proposal includes questions of whether it is properly scientific, about the biochemistry involved, and whether if the ID hypothesis is superior to non-ID accounts the ID hypothesis can inform us about the nature of the intelligent, designing forces.
While the ID hypothesis has been defended as an allegedly scientific account—it is not based on an appeal to Genesis as Creationism is —many scientists argue that ID is not a scientific theory because it is neither testable nor falsifiable. Some also argue that ID goes beyond the available evidence and that it systematically underestimates the ability of non-intelligent, natural causes plus chance to account for the relevant biological complexity.
Critics like Kenneth Miller contend that Behe does not take into sufficient account the adaptive value of very minor changes in evolution such as the sensitivity to light found in algae and bacteria that gradually lead to complex organs such as the eye Miller Fine tuning arguments contend that the existence of our cosmos with its suns, planets, life, et al.
Even minor changes to the nuclear weak force would not have allowed for stars, nor would stars have endured if the ratio of electromagnetism to gravity had been different. A more sustained objection against virtually all versions of the teleological argument takes issue with the assumption that the cosmos is good or that it is the sort of thing that would be brought about by an intelligent, completely benevolent being.
This leads us directly to the next central concern of the philosophy of God. The problem of evil is the most widely considered objection to theism in both western and eastern philosophy. There are two general versions of the problem: The deductive problem is currently less commonly debated because it is widely acknowledged that a thoroughly good being might allow or inflict some harm under certain morally compelling conditions such as causing a child pain when removing a splinter.
More intense debate concerns the likelihood or even possibility that there is a completely good God given the vast amount of evil in the cosmos. Why should there be so much gratuitous, apparently pointless evil? In the face of the problem of evil, some philosophers and theologians deny that God is all-powerful and all-knowing.
John Stuart Mill took this line, and panentheist theologians today also question the traditional treatments of Divine power. According to panentheism, God is immanent in the world, suffering with the oppressed and working to bring good out of evil, although in spite of God's efforts, evil will invariably mar the created order. Another response is to think of God as being very different from a moral agent. Brian Davies and others have contended that what it means for God to be good is different from what it means for an agent to be morally good Davies A more desperate strategy is to deny the existence of evil, but it is difficult to reconcile traditional monotheism with moral skepticism.
Also, insofar as we believe there to be a God worthy of worship and a fitting object of human love, the appeal to moral skepticism will carry little weight. The idea that evil is a privation or twisting of the good may have some currency in thinking through the problem of evil, but it is difficult to see how it alone could go very far to vindicate belief in God's goodness. Searing pain and endless suffering seem altogether real even if they are analyzed as being philosophically parasitic on something valuable.
The three great monotheistic traditions, with their ample insistence on the reality of evil, offer little reason to try to defuse the problem of evil by this route.
Indeed, classical Judaism, Christianity and Islam are so committed to the existence of evil that a reason to reject evil would be a reason to reject these religious traditions.
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What would be the point of the Judaic teaching about the Exodus God liberating the people of Israel from slaveryor the Christian teaching about the incarnation Christ revealing God as love and releasing a Divine power that will, in the end, conquer deathor the Islamic teaching of Mohammed the holy prophet of Allah who is all-just and all-merciful if slavery, hate, death, and injustice did not exist?
In part, the magnitude of the difficulty one takes the problem of evil to pose for theism will depend upon one's commitments in other areas of philosophy, especially ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. If in ethics you hold that there should be no preventable suffering for any reason, regardless of the cause or consequence, then the problem of evil will conflict with your acceptance of traditional theism.
Debate has largely centered on the legitimacy of adopting some middle position: Could there be reasons why God would permit cosmic ills? If we do not know what those reasons might be, are we in a position to conclude that there are none or that there could not be any? Exploring different possibilities will be shaped by one's metaphysics. For example, if you do not believe there is free will, then you will not be moved by any appeal to the positive value of free will and its role in bringing about good as offsetting its role in bringing about evil.
Theistic responses to the problem of evil distinguish between a defense and a theodicy. A defense seeks to establish that rational belief that God exists is still possible when the defense is employed against the logical version of the problem of evil and that the existence of evil does not make it improbable that God exists when used against the probabilistic version.
Some have adopted the defense strategy while arguing that we are in a position to have rational belief in the existence of evil and in a completely good God who hates this evil, even though we may be unable to see how these two beliefs are compatible. A theodicy is more ambitious and is typically part of a broader project, arguing that it is reasonable to believe that God exists on the basis of the good as well as the evident evil of the cosmos.
In a theodicy, the project is not to account for each and every evil, but to provide an overarching framework within which to understand at least roughly how the evil that occurs is part of some overall good—for instance, the overcoming of evil is itself a great good. In practice, a defense and a theodicy often appeal to similar factors, the first and foremost being what many call the Greater Good Defense.
Thus, in a version often called the Free Will Defense, it is proposed that free creatures who are able to care for each other and whose welfare depends on each other's freely chosen action constitute a good. For this good to be realized, it is argued, there must be the bona fide possibility of persons harming each other.
The free will defense is sometimes used narrowly only to cover evil that occurs as a result, direct or indirect, of human action. But it has been speculatively extended by those proposing a defense rather than a theodicy to cover other evils which might be brought about by supernatural agents other than God.
According to the Greater Good case, evil provides an opportunity to realize great values, such as the virtues of courage and the pursuit of justice. ReichenbachTennantSwinburneand van Inwagen have also underscored the good of a stable world of natural laws in which animals and humans learn about the cosmos and develop autonomously, independent of the certainty that God exists.
Some atheists accord value to the good of living in a world without God, and these views have been used by theists to back up the claim that God might have had reason to create a cosmos in which Divine existence is not overwhelmingly obvious to us.
If God's existence were overwhelmingly obvious, then motivations to virtue might be clouded by self-interest and by the bare fear of offending an omnipotent being. Further, there may even be some good to acting virtuously even if circumstances guarantee a tragic outcome. John Hick so argued and has developed what he construes to be an Irenaean approach to the problem of evil named after St. Irenaeus of the second century. On this approach, it is deemed good that humanity develops the life of virtue gradually, evolving to a life of grace, maturity, and love.
This contrasts with a theodicy associated with St. Augustine, according to which God made us perfect and then allowed us to fall into perdition, only to be redeemed later by Christ. Hick thinks the Augustinian model fails whereas the Irenaean one is credible. Some have based an argument from the problem of evil on the charge that this is not the best possible world.
If there were a supreme, maximally excellent God, surely God would bring about the best possible creation. Because this is not the best possible creation, there is no supreme, maximally excellent God. Following Adamsmany now reply that the whole notion of a best possible world, like the highest possible number, is incoherent. For any world that can be imagined with such and such happiness, goodness, virtue and so on, a higher one can be imagined.
If the notion of a best possible world is incoherent, would this count against belief that there could be a supreme, maximally excellent being? It has been argued on the contrary that Divine excellences admit of upper limits or maxima that are not quantifiable in a serial fashion for example, Divine omnipotence involves being able to do anything logically or metaphysically possible, but does not require actually doing the greatest number of acts or a series of acts of which there can be no more.
Those concerned with the problem of evil clash over the question of how one assesses the likelihood of Divine existence. Someone who reports seeing no point to the existence of evil or no justification for God to allow it seems to imply that if there were a point they would see it. Note the difference between seeing no point and not seeing a point.
In the cosmic case, is it clear that if there were a reason justifying the existence of evil, we would see it? William Rowe thinks some plausible understanding of God's justificatory reason for allowing the evil should be detectable, but that there are cases of evil that are altogether gratuitous.
Defenders like William Hasker and Stephen Wykstra reply that these cases are not decisive counter-examples to the claim that there is a good God. These philosophers hold that we can recognize evil and grasp our duty to do all in our power to prevent or alleviate it.
But we should not take our failure to see what reason God might have for allowing evil to count as grounds for thinking that there is no reason. This later move has led to a position commonly called skeptical theism. Michael Bergmann, Michael Rea, and others have argued that we have good reason to be skeptical about whether we can assess whether ostensibly gratuitous evils may or may not be permitted by an all good God Bergmann ; Bergmann and Rea ; for criticism see Almeida and Oppy Some portraits of an afterlife seem to have little bearing on our response to the magnitude of evil here and now.
Does it help to understand why God allows evil if all victims will receive happiness later? But it is difficult to treat the possibility of an afterlife as entirely irrelevant. Is death the annihilation of persons or an event involving a transfiguration to a higher state? If you do not think that it matters whether persons continue to exist after death, then such speculation is of little consequence. But suppose that the afterlife is understood as being morally intertwined with this life, with opportunity for moral and spiritual reformation, transfiguration of the wicked, rejuvenation and occasions for new life, perhaps even reconciliation and communion between oppressors seeking forgiveness and their victims.
Then these considerations might help to defend against arguments based on the existence of evil. Insofar as one cannot rule out the possibility of an afterlife morally tied to our life, one cannot rule out the possibility that God brings some good out of cosmic ills.