The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God

The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God

The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God

The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God

Excerpt

The topic of this book is theism, the doctrine that there is a god, and in particular a god as conceived in the central tradition of the main monotheistic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is my view that the question whether there is or is not a god can and should be discussed rationally and reasonably, and that such discussion can be rewarding, in that it can yield definite results. This is a genuine, meaningful, question, and an important one--too important for us to take sides about it casually or arbitrarily. Neither the affirmative nor the negative answer is obviously right, but the issue is not so obscure that relevant considerations of argument and evidence cannot be brought to bear upon it.

The central doctrines of this traditional theism are well summed up by Richard Swinburne: there is a god who is 'a person without a body (i.e. a spirit), present everywhere, the creator and sustainer of the universe, a free agent, able to do everything (i.e. omnipotent), knowing all things, perfectly good, a source of moral obligation, immutable, eternal, a necessary being, holy, and worthy of worship'. In general, I shall follow Swinburne in taking these descriptions fairly literally, though in some places I shall allow reasonable qualifications and flexibilities in interpretation.

It is sometimes doubted whether such descriptions can be literally meaningful. But there is really no problem about this. We know, from our acquaintance with ourselves and other human beings, what a person is--a person, as Swinburne explains, in the ordinary modern sense. Although all the persons we are acquainted with have bodies, there is no great difficulty in conceiving what it would be for there to . . .

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