God and Goodness

God and Goodness

God and Goodness

God and Goodness


Hugh Rice explains why belief in God need not be seen as a strange or irrational kind of belief, but can be a natural extension of our ordinary ways of thinking. He suggests that we should think of God in an abstract way, and he offers a satisfying account of the relationship between God and goodness. Anyone interested in the nature of God and the basis of religious belief will enjoy this book.


The aim of this book is to argue for the rationality of a belief in God conceived in a certain way—an abstract way. I argue for two main theses. The first is that it is rational to believe that the world exists because it is good that a world such as this should exist. The second is that we should identify the basic fact that a thing is good with God's willing that there should be such a thing. More specifically I argue that we should understand God's willing that something should be so as its being good that that something should be so. This forms the key element in the abstract conception of God which I develop. It has, I claim, one great virtue. It does justice to two elements of our thought which are otherwise difficult to reconcile: the idea that the basic facts about what is good could not have been otherwise, and the idea that God is sovereign.

The idea that the existence of the world can been explained directly in terms of its goodness is certainly not new; it is as old, perhaps, as Plato. It has recently been argued for most explicitly by John Leslie in his Value and Existence (Oxford: Blackwell, 1979). My treatment of the idea, however, differs from his in two ways. Firstly my arguments are different; and secondly, and more importantly, I argue that this explanation of the existence of the world should be thought of as being an explanation in terms of its creation by God.

My debts to the works of other philosophers are too numerous for me to try to catalogue. Some few will be apparent from references in the course of the book; but I have tried to keep references to a minimum.

I also owe a lot to discussions with others on a range of topics, in particular to Simon Blackburn, David Bostock, Bill Brewer, John Drurie, John Foster, Penelope Mackie, Ralph Walker, Lesley Brown, Robert Frazier, Terry Irwin, John Kenyon, Christopher Kirwan, Carolyn Price, Rowland Stout, Christopher Taylor, Keith Ward; and

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