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All this, in aid of promoting literacy among the under-tens. It's a wonder anyone born between the years of learned to read at all. By Louisa Mellor. It was just that sometimes they would make strange braying screaming noises while their boggling eyes loomed and their jaws unhinged, and I would have to leave the room. It sees a young woman plagued by a very persistent hitch-hiker. By Frances Roberts. The Hitcher with his solo-polo vision aside, the wild creations of The Mighty Boosh were more kaleidoscopic than nightmarish. Except of course when he was angry. By Michael Noble.

This anime character based on the manga by Tsugumi Ohba begins the series as a mild-mannered high school student achieving top-class grades and on course for a career in law enforcement.

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He also possesses a malice rarely seen in anime. By Craig Elvy. A mix between the evil witch from Snow White and Mombi from Return To Oz , the really terrifying moment comes when our hero steals the fruit and runs off leaving the queen to shrivel up and die. Yes, she was evil, but did I really need to see her die a slow painful death and turn into Skeletor from He-Man?

By Carley Tauchert.

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Enraged by the attack, The Devil lashes out and disintegrates the assailant without hesitation. He could be sinister in his quieter moments as well, though. For all this jokes, smiles and pep-talks, The Devil's evil enigma often shines through. You rarely forget that he's black-mailing Sam throughout the entire series. Wise finds a way to be funny and fierce at once, adding an unsettling and eerie air to proceedings. By Rob Leane. This one speaks for itself, really; after all, what could be more terrifying than a man who decides to spend his middle age luring children to his castle, blindfolding them and then sending them into the catacombs so he can watch them die?

At the end of each episode Treguard would address the audience at home with a sinister wide-eyed stare and ominous missives such as "Just remember: It's only a game. Isn't it? But what really earns Treguard a place on this list is his reaction whenever a dungeoneer met a sticky end at the hands of an animated spider or a falling platform. Two words, said with such relish: "Oooh From his very introduction, it's clear that Lorne Malvo is a bad dude. Anyone who can wear those severe bangs has to be someone you don't want to trifle with, because that's the hair of a man who has been in his fair share of fights.

When that hair is attached to an ice-cold hitman and con artist, those fights don't end well for the other party. By the end of the first episode, after delivering a bone-chilling monologue and killing multiple people, it's clear that Malvo is not one to be trifled with. For me, scary isn't so much about creepy monsters and supernatural powers.

Scary is a human being with no hesitation, no remorse, and no compulsion about killing, cheating, lying, and maiming to achieve his ends. There's no character interaction between Malvo and someone else that either doesn't end in violence or doesn't feel like it's going to end in violence. Even when Malvo isn't doing the work himself, he's inspiring it in those around him. Malvo isn't a person, he's a malignance infecting Bimidji, Minnesota.

By Ron Hogan. That attitude towards women is one that some share, out here in the real world with us. That scares me. By Phoebe-Jane Boyd. A figure of authority as much as he is a servant of it, Justin is a Methodist preacher whose use of words and jet black charisma capture the all-too-willing members of his expanding congregation in deadly rapture as the sinister minister pursues his evil duty.

Is he mad, in a coma, or back in time? It would take five series to find out what happened to Sam Tyler and latterly Ashes To Ashes ' Alex Drake but whatever the result, that test card girl meant trouble. Inspired by the BBC's iconic Test Card F, featuring an eight year old girl playing noughts and crosses with a clown doll, she torments Sam throughout the two series of Life On Mars , spouting pessimistic lines like "none of this is real" to the displaced detective. Series creator Matthew Graham explained the fear factor best in an interview with Radio Times: "In , when television transmission had ceased for the night, when the story is done and the characters have vanished into nothing, the BBC would switch to the Test Card girl.

So she, if you want to be melodramatic, represents the apocalypse, the end. It's all the more disturbing then, that she is the final character we see in Life On Mars , playing with kids in the street and skipping up to the camera to turn off our TVs. By Mark Harrison. Basically Richard III with better hair, she is a master manipulator who is able to sniff out people's weaknesses and use them to her advantage in less time than it takes most villains to twirl their moustaches. Even when the odds are against her, Vee is smart enough to think on her feet, and has no compunction about playing the victim to avoid getting in trouble - like all great manipulators, she is a consummate performer able to mask her genuine emotions.

The ultimate mother hen from hell. By Tim George. Gemma commits plenty of crimes herself, of course. By Sarah Dobbs. He truly sent a shiver down our spine when he first broke into hideous laughter towards the end of that episode. Then suddenly, he snapped upright at began insulting his mother, freaking out everyone present and bursting into hysterical laughter. When he came back into the show for season 2, Jerome was given centre stage and allowed to really let loose.

Whether exacting revenge on his family, invading the GCPD, or almost chopping Bruce Wayne in half - Jerome always finds a way to make a sinister situation even scarier with a giggle, a zinger and consistent bloodshed. For anyone who already possesses a phobia of clowns, this demonic oddity taps right in to that same vein of fear. With that, the women become his property and are whisked away to do his bidding. The unspoken truth about what exactly he does with his captives only serves to make him scarier.

By Rob Keeling. The Gentlemen? The unseen thing that Dawn raises in Forever? Because there is evidence that God does not make Godself available to earnest seekers of such a relationship, this is evidence that such a God does not exist. The argument applies beyond Christian values and theism, and to any concept of God in which God is powerful and good and such that a relationship with such a good God would be fulfilling and good for creatures. It would not work with a concept of God as we find, for example, in the work of Aristotle in which God is not lovingly and providentially engaged in the world.

This line of reasoning is often referred to in terms of the hiddenness of God. Another interesting development has been advanced by Sandra Menssen and Thomas Sullivan. In philosophical reflection about God the tendency has been to give priority to what may be called bare theism assessing the plausibility of there being the God of theism rather than a more specific concept of God. This priority makes sense insofar as the plausibility of a general thesis there are mammals on the savanna will be greater than a more specific thesis there are 12, giraffes on the savanna.

In terms of the order of inquiry, it may be helpful at times, to consider more specific philosophical positions—for example, it may seem at first glance that materialism is hopeless until one engages the resources of some specific materialist account that involves functionalism—but, arguably, this does not alone offset the logical primacy of the more general thesis whether this is bare theism or bare materialism.

Perhaps the import of the Menssen-Sullivan proposal is that philosophers of religion need to enhance their critical assessment of general positions along with taking seriously more specific accounts about the data on hand e. Evidentialism has been challenged on many grounds. Some argue that it is too stringent; we have many evident beliefs that we would be at a loss to successfully justify. Instead of evidentialism, some philosophers adopt a form of reliabilism, according to which a person may be justified in a belief so long as the belief is produced by a reliable means, whether or not the person is aware of evidence that justifies the belief.

Two movements in philosophy of religion develop positions that are not in line with the traditional evidential tradition: reformed epistemology and volitional epistemology. Reformed epistemology has been championed by Alvin Plantinga — and Nicholas Wolterstorff — , among others. While this sense of God may not be apparent due to sin, it can reliably prompt persons to believe in God and support a life of Christian faith. While this prompting may play an evidential role in terms of the experience or ostensible perception of God, it can also warrant Christian belief in the absence of evidence or argument see K.

In the language Plantinga introduced, belief in God may be as properly basic as our ordinary beliefs about other persons and the world. The framework of Reformed epistemology is conditional as it advances the thesis that if there is a God and if God has indeed created us with a sensus divinitatis that reliably leads us to believe truly that God exists, then such belief is warranted. There is a sense in which Reformed epistemology is more of a defensive strategy offering grounds for thinking that religious belief, if true, is warranted rather than providing a positive reason why persons who do not have or believe they have a sensus divinitatis should embrace Christian faith.

Plantinga has argued that at least one alternative to Christian faith, secular naturalism, is deeply problematic, if not self-refuting, but this position if cogent has been advanced more as a reason not to be a naturalist than as a reason for being a theist. Reformed epistemology is not ipso facto fideism. Fideism explicitly endorses the legitimacy of faith without the support, not just of propositional evidence, but also of reason MacSwain By contrast, Reformed epistemology offers a metaphysical and epistemological account of warrant according to which belief in God can be warranted even if it is not supported by evidence and it offers an account of properly basic belief according to which basic belief in God is on an epistemic par with our ordinary basic beliefs about the world and other minds which seem to be paradigmatically rational.

Nonetheless, while Reformed epistemology is not necessarily fideistic, it shares with fideism the idea that a person may have a justified religious belief in the absence of evidence. Consider now what is called volitional epistemology in the philosophy of religion. Paul Moser has systematically argued for a profoundly different framework in which he contends that if the God of Christianity exists, this God would not be evident to inquirers who for example are curious about whether God exists.

This process might involve persons receiving accepting the revelation of Jesus Christ as redeemer and sanctifier who calls persons to a radical life of loving compassion, even the loving of our enemies. The terrain covered so far in this entry indicates considerable disagreement over epistemic justification and religious belief.

If the experts disagree about such matters, what should non-experts think and do? Or, putting the question to the so-called experts, if you as a trained inquirer disagree about the above matters with those whom you regard as equally intelligent and sensitive to evidence, should that fact alone bring you to modify or even abandon the confidence you hold concerning your own beliefs?

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Some philosophers propose that in the case of disagreements among epistemic peers, one should seek some kind of account of the disagreement. For example, is there any reason to think that the evidence available to you and your peers differs or is conceived of differently. Perhaps there are ways of explaining, for example, why Buddhists may claim not to observe themselves as substantial selves existing over time whereas a non-Buddhist might claim that self-observation provides grounds for believing that persons are substantial, enduring agents David Lund The non-Buddhist might need another reason to prefer her framework over the Buddhist one, but she would at least perhaps have found a way of accounting for why equally reasonable persons would come to different conclusions in the face of ostensibly identical evidence.

Assessing the significance of disagreement over religious belief is very different from assessing the significance of disagreement in domains where there are clearer, shared understandings of methodology and evidence. For example, if two equally proficient detectives examine the same evidence that Smith murdered Jones, their disagreement should other things being equal lead us to modify confidence that Smith is guilty, for the detectives may be presumed to use the same evidence and methods of investigation. But in assessing the disagreements among philosophers over for example the coherence and plausibility of theism, philosophers today often rely on different methodologies phenomenology, empiricism, conceptual or linguistic analysis, structural theory, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, and so on.

But what if a person accepts a given religion as reasonable and yet acknowledges that equally reasonable, mature, responsible inquirers adopt a different religion incompatible with her own and they all share a similar philosophical methodology? This situation is not an abstract thought experiment.

One option would be to adopt an epistemological pluralism, according to which persons can be equally well justified in affirming incompatible beliefs. This option would seem to provide some grounds for epistemic humility Audi ; Ward , , At the end of this section, two observations are also worth noting about epistemic disagreements. First, our beliefs and our confidence in the truth of our beliefs may not be under our voluntary control.

Perhaps you form a belief of the truth of Buddhism based on what you take to be compelling evidence. Even if you are convinced that equally intelligent persons do not reach a similar conclusion, that alone may not empower you to deny what seems to you to be compelling. Second, if the disagreement between experts gives you reason to abandon a position, then the very principle you are relying on one should abandon a belief that X if experts disagree about X would be undermined, for experts disagree about what one should do when experts disagree.

For overviews and explorations of relevant philosophical work in a pluralistic setting, see New Models of Religious Understanding edited by Fiona Ellis and Renewing Philosophy of Religion edited by Paul Draper and J. The relationship between religion and science has been an important topic in twentieth century philosophy of religion and it seems highly important today. This section begins by considering the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine now the National Academy of Medicine statement on the relationship between science and religion:.

Science and religion are based on different aspects of human experience. In science, explanations must be based on evidence drawn from examining the natural world. Scientifically based observations or experiments that conflict with an explanation eventually must lead to modification or even abandonment of that explanation. Religious faith, in contrast, does not depend only on empirical evidence, is not necessarily modified in the face of conflicting evidence, and typically involves supernatural forces or entities.

Because they are not a part of nature, supernatural entities cannot be investigated by science. In this sense, science and religion are separate and address aspects of human understanding in different ways. Attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist.

NASIM This view of science and religion seems promising on many fronts. Neither God nor Allah nor Brahman the divine as conceived of in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism is a physical or material object or process. It seems, then, that the divine or the sacred and many other elements in world religions meditation, prayer, sin and forgiveness, deliverance from craving can only be indirectly investigated scientifically.

So, a neurologist can produce detailed studies of the brains of monks and nuns when they pray and meditate, and there can be comparative studies of the health of those who practice a religion and those who do not, but it is very hard to conceive of how to scientifically measure God or Allah or Brahman or the Dao, heaven, and so on.

Despite the initial plausibility of the Academies stance, however, it may be problematic. The later are a panoply of what is commonly thought of as preposterous superstition. The similarity of the terms supernatural and superstitious may not be an accident. Moving beyond this minor point about terminology, religious beliefs have traditionally and today been thought of as subject to evidence.

Evidence for religious beliefs have included appeal to the contingency of the cosmos and principles of explanation, the ostensibly purposive nature of the cosmos, the emergence of consciousness, and so on. Evidence against religious belief have included appeal to the evident, quantity of evil in the cosmos, the success of the natural sciences, and so on. One reason, however, for supporting the Academies notion that religion and science do not overlap is the fact that in modern science there has been a bracketing of reference to minds and the mental.

That is, the sciences have been concerned with a mind-independent physical world, whereas in religion this is chiefly a domain concerned with mind feelings, emotions, thoughts, ideas, and so on , created minds and in the case of some religions the mind of God. The science of Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton was carried out with an explicit study of the world without appeal to anything involving what today would be referred to as the psychological, the mind or the mental.

The bracketing of mind from the physical sciences was not a sign of early scientists having any doubts about the existence, power and importance of minds. That is, from Kepler through Newton and on to the early twentieth century, scientists themselves did not doubt the causal significance of minds; they simply did not include minds their own or the minds of others among the data of what they were studying.

But interestingly, each of the early modern scientists believed that what they were studying was in some fashion made possible by the whole of the natural world terrestrial and celestial being created and sustained in existence by a Divine Mind, an all good, necessarily existing Creator. They had an overall or comprehensive worldview according to which science itself was reasonable and made sense.

Scientists have to have a kind of faith or trust in their methods and that the cosmos is so ordered that their methods are effective and reliable. Whether there is sufficient evidence for or against some religious conception of the cosmos will be addressed in section 4. Let us contrast briefly, however, two very different views on whether contemporary science has undermined religious belief.

We know, but our ancestors did not, that humans belong to a single species of African primate that developed agriculture, government, and writing late in its history. We know that our species is a tiny twig of a genealogical tree that embraces all living things and that emerged from prebiotic chemicals almost four billion years ago.

There is no such thing as fate, providence, karma, spells, curses, augury, divine retribution, or answered prayer—though the discrepancy between the laws of probability and the workings of cognition may explain why people think there is. Pinker Following up on Pinker, it should be noted that it would not be scientifically acceptable today to appeal to miracles or to direct acts of God. Any supposed miracle would to many, if not all scientists be a kind of defeat and to welcome an unacceptable mystery.

This is why some philosophers of science propose that the sciences are methodologically atheistic. As Michael Ruse points out:. The arguments that are given for suggesting that science necessitates atheism are not convincing. There is no question that many of the claims of religion are no longer tenable in light of modern science. But more sophisticated Christians know that already. The thing is that these things are not all there is to religions, and many would say that they are far from the central claims of religion—God existing and being creator and having a special place for humans and so forth.

Ruse 74— Ruse goes on to note that religions address important concerns that go beyond what is approachable only from the standpoint of the natural sciences. Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the purpose of it all? And somewhat more controversially what are the basic foundations of morality and what is sentience? Science takes the world as given Science sees no ultimate purpose to reality… I would say that as science does not speak to these issues, I see no reason why the religious person should not offer answers. They cannot be scientific answers. They must be religious answers—answers that will involve a God or gods.

There is something rather than nothing because a good God created them from love out of nothing. The purpose of it all is to find eternal bliss with the Creator. We humans are not just any old kind of organism. This does not mean that the religious answers are beyond criticism, but they must be answered on philosophical or theological grounds and not simply because they are not scientific.

For much of the history of philosophy of religion, there has been stress on the assessment of theism. Section 6 makes special note of this broadening of horizons. Theism still has some claim for special attention given the large world population that is aligned with theistic traditions the Abrahamic faiths and theistic Hinduism and the enormity of attention given to the defense and critique of theism in philosophy of religion historically and today. Speculation about divine attributes in theistic tradition has often been carried out in accord with what is currently referred to as perfect being theology , according to which God is understood to be maximally excellent or unsurpassable in greatness.

Divine attributes in this tradition have been identified by philosophers as those attributes that are the greatest compossible set of great-making properties; properties are compossible when they can be instantiated by the same being. Traditionally, the divine attributes have been identified as omnipotence, omniscience, perfect goodness, worthiness of worship, necessary of non-contingent existence, and eternality existing outside of time or atemporally. Each of these attributes has been subject to nuanced different analysis, as noted below. God has also been traditionally conceived to be incorporeal or immaterial, immutable, impassable, omnipresent.

One of the tools philosophers use in their investigation into divine attributes involve thought experiments. In thought experiments, hypothetical cases are described—cases that may or may not represent the way things are. In these descriptions, terms normally used in one context are employed in expanded settings. Thus, in thinking of God as omniscient, one might begin with a non-controversial case of a person knowing that a proposition is true, taking note of what it means for someone to possess that knowledge and of the ways in which the knowledge is secured.

Various degrees of refinement would then be in order, as one speculates not only about the extent of a maximum set of propositions known but also about how these might be known. That is, in attributing omniscience to God, would one thereby claim God knows all truths in a way that is analogous to the way we come to know truths about the world? Too close an analogy would produce a peculiar picture of God relying upon, for example, induction, sensory evidence, or the testimony of others.

Using thought experiments often employs an appearance principle. One version of an appearance principle is that a person has a reason for believing that some state of affairs SOA is possible if she can conceive, describe or imagine the SOA obtaining and she knows of no independent reasons for believing the SOA is impossible. As stated the principle is advanced as simply offering a reason for believing the SOA to be possible, and it thus may be seen a advancing a prima facie reason. Imagine there is a God who knows the future free action of human beings. If God does know you will freely do some act X , then it is true that you will indeed do X.

But if you are free, would you not be free to avoid doing X? Given that it is foreknown you will do X , it appears you would not be free to refrain from the act. Initially this paradox seems easy to dispel. If God knows about your free action, then God knows that you will freely do something and that you could have refrained from it. Think of what is sometimes called the necessity of the past.

Once a state of affairs has obtained, it is unalterably or necessarily the case that it did occur. If the problem is put in first-person terms and one imagines God foreknows you will freely turn to a different entry in this Encyclopedia moreover, God knows with unsurpassable precision when you will do so, which entry you will select and what you will think about it , then an easy resolution of the paradox seems elusive.

To highlight the nature of this problem, imagine God tells you what you will freely do in the next hour. Under such conditions, is it still intelligible to believe you have the ability to do otherwise if it is known by God as well as yourself what you will indeed elect to do? Self-foreknowledge, then, produces an additional related problem because the psychology of choice seems to require prior ignorance about what will be choose.

Various replies to the freedom-foreknowledge debate have been given. Some adopt compatibilism, affirming the compatibility of free will and determinism, and conclude that foreknowledge is no more threatening to freedom than determinism. While some prominent philosophical theists in the past have taken this route most dramatically Jonathan Edwards — , this seems to be the minority position in philosophy of religion today exceptions include Paul Helm, John Fischer, and Lynne Baker.

A second position adheres to the libertarian outlook, which insists that freedom involves a radical, indeterminist exercise of power, and concludes that God cannot know future free action. What prevents such philosophers from denying that God is omniscient is that they contend there are no truths about future free actions, or that while there are truths about the future, God either cannot know those truths Swinburne or freely decides not to know them in order to preserve free choice John Lucas. Aristotle may have thought it was neither true nor false prior to a given sea battle whether a given side would win it.

Some theists, such as Richard Swinburne, adopt this line today, holding that the future cannot be known. If it cannot be known for metaphysical reasons, then omniscience can be analyzed as knowing all that it is possible to know. Other philosophers deny the original paradox. God can simply know the future without this having to be grounded on an established, determinate future. But this only works if there is no necessity of eternity analogous to the necessity of the past. If not, then there is an exactly parallel dilemma of timeless knowledge. For outstanding current analysis of freedom and foreknowledge, see the work of Linda Zagzebski.

Could there be a being that is outside time? In the great monotheistic traditions, God is thought of as without any kind of beginning or end. God will never, indeed, can never, cease to be. This view is sometimes referred to as the thesis that God is everlasting. This is sometimes called the view that God is eternal as opposed to everlasting.

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Why adopt the more radical stance? One reason, already noted, is that if God is not temporally bound, there may be a resolution to the earlier problem of reconciling freedom and foreknowledge. As St. Augustine of Hippo put it:. The City of God , XI. Those affirming God to be unbounded by temporal sequences face several puzzles which I note without trying to settle. If God is somehow at or in all times, is God simultaneously at or in each?

If so, there is the following problem. If God is simultaneous with the event of Rome burning in CE, and also simultaneous with your reading this entry, then it seems that Rome must be burning at the same time you are reading this entry. A different problem arises with respect to eternity and omniscience. If God is outside of time, can God know what time it is now? Arguably, there is a fact of the matter that it is now, say, midnight on 1 July A God outside of time might know that at midnight on 1 July certain things occur, but could God know when it is now that time?

For some theists, describing God as a person or person-like God loves, acts, knows is not to equivocate. But it is not clear that an eternal God could be personal. All known world religions address the nature of good and evil and commend ways of achieving human well-being, whether this be thought of in terms of salvation, liberation, deliverance, enlightenment, tranquility, or an egoless state of Nirvana.

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Some religions construe the Divine as in some respect beyond our human notions of good and evil. In some forms of Hinduism, for example, Brahman has been extolled as possessing a sort of moral transcendence, and some Christian theologians and philosophers have likewise insisted that God is only a moral agent in a highly qualified sense, if at all Davies To call God good is, for them, very different from calling a human being good. Here are only some of the ways in which philosophers have articulated what it means to call God good.

The latter view has been termed theistic voluntarism. A common version of theistic voluntarism is the claim that for something to be good or right simply means that God approves of permits it and for something to be bad or wrong means that God disapproves or forbids it. Theistic voluntarists face several difficulties: moral language seems intelligible without having to be explained in terms of the Divine will. Indeed, many people make what they take to be objective moral judgments without making any reference to God.

If they are using moral language intelligibly, how could it be that the very meaning of such moral language should be analyzed in terms of Divine volitions? New work in the philosophy of language may be of use to theistic voluntarists. Also at issue is the worry that if voluntarism is accepted, the theist has threatened the normative objectivity of moral judgments. Could God make it the case that moral judgments were turned upside down? For example, could God make cruelty good? Arguably, the moral universe is not so malleable.

All such positions are non-voluntarist in so far as they do not claim that what it means for something to be good is that God wills it to be so. For example, because knowledge is in itself good, omniscience is a supreme good. God has also been considered good in so far as God has created and conserves in existence a good cosmos.

Debates over the problem of evil if God is indeed omnipotent and perfectly good, why is there evil? The debate over the problem of evil is taken up in section 5. Some theists who oppose a full-scale voluntarism allow for partial voluntarist elements. According to one such moderate stance, while God cannot make cruelty good, God can make some actions morally required or morally forbidden which otherwise would be morally neutral.

According to some theories of property, an agent making something good gains entitlements over the property. Theories spelling out why and how the cosmos belongs to God have been prominent in all three monotheistic traditions. Plato defended the notion, as did Aquinas and Locke see Brody for a defense. Zagzebski contends that being an exemplary virtuous person consists in having good motives. Motives have an internal, affective or emotive structure.

The ultimate grounding of what makes human motives good is that they are in accord with the motives of God. Not all theists resonate with her bold claim that God is a person who has emotions, but many allow that at least in some analogical sense God may be see as personal and having affective states. One other effort worth noting to link judgments of good and evil with judgments about God relies upon the ideal observer theory of ethics.

According to this theory, moral judgments can be analyzed in terms of how an ideal observer would judge matters. To say an act is right entails a commitment to holding that if there were an ideal observer, it would approve of the act; to claim an act is wrong entails the thesis that if there were an ideal observer, it would disapprove of it.

The theory can be found in works by Hume, Adam Smith, R. Hare, and R. Firth see Firth []. The theory receives some support from the fact that most moral disputes can be analyzed in terms of different parties challenging each other to be impartial, to get their empirical facts straight, and to be more sensitive—for example, by realizing what it feels like to be disadvantaged.

The theory has formidable critics and defenders. If true, it does not follow that there is an ideal observer, but if it is true and moral judgments are coherent, then the idea of an ideal observer is coherent. Given certain conceptions of God in the three great monotheistic traditions, God fits the ideal observer description and more besides, of course.

This need not be unwelcome to atheists. Should an ideal observer theory be cogent, a theist would have some reason for claiming that atheists committed to normative, ethical judgments are also committed to the idea of a God or a God-like being. For a defense of a theistic form of the ideal observer theory, see Taliaferro a; for criticism see Anderson For further work on God, goodness, and morality, see Evans and Hare For interesting work on the notion of religious authority, see Zagzebski For example, an argument from the apparent order and purposive nature of the cosmos will be criticized on the grounds that, at best, the argument would establish there is a purposive, designing intelligence at work in the cosmos.

This falls far short of establishing that there is a God who is omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent, and so on. Second, few philosophers today advance a single argument as a proof. Customarily, a design argument might be advanced alongside an argument from religious experience, and the other arguments to be considered below. There is a host of arguments under this title; version of the argument works, then it can be deployed using only the concept of God as maximally excellent and some modal principles of inference, that is, principles concerning possibility and necessity.

The argument need not resist all empirical support, however, as shall be indicated. That necessary existence is built into the concept of God can be supported by appealing to the way God is conceived in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. This would involve some a posteriori , empirical research into the way God is thought of in these traditions. Alternatively, a defender of the ontological argument might hope to convince others that the concept of God is the concept of a being that exists necessarily by beginning with the idea of a maximally perfect being.

If there were a maximally perfect being, what would it be like? It has been argued that among its array of great-making qualities omniscience and omnipotence would be necessary existence. For an interesting, recent treatment of the relationship between the concept of there being a necessarily existing being and there being a God, see Necessary Existence by Alexander Pruss and Joshua Rasmussen chapters one to three. The ontological argument goes back to St. The principle can be illustrated in the case of propositions.

That six is the smallest perfect number that number which is equal to the sum of its divisors including one but not including itself does not seem to be the sort of thing that might just happen to be true. Rather, either it is necessarily true or necessarily false. If the latter, it is not possible, if the former, it is possible. If one knows that it is possible that six is the smallest perfect number, then one has good reason to believe that. Does one have reason to think it is possible that God exists necessarily?

Defenders of the argument answer in the affirmative and infer that God exists. There have been hundreds of objections and replies to this argument. 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. Barnes, G. Oppy, and J. Not every advocate of perfect being theology embraces the ontological argument.

Famously Thomas Aquinas did not accept the ontological argument. Alvin Plantinga, who is one of the philosophers responsible for the revival of interest in the ontological argument, contends that while he, personally, takes the argument to be sound because he believes that the conclusion that God exists necessarily is true, which entails that the premise, that it is possible that God exists necessarily is true he does not think the argument has sufficient force to convince an atheist Plantinga — Arguments in this vein are more firmly planted in empirical, a posteriori reflection than the ontological argument, but some versions employ a priori reasons as well.

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, whether or not the cosmos had a temporal origin. The two versions are not mutually exclusive, for it is possible both that the cosmos had a First Cause and that it has a continuous, sustaining cause.

The cosmological argument relies on the intelligibility of the notion of there being at least one powerful being which is self-existing or whose origin and continued being does not depend on any other being. 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 omnipotent , but it would nonetheless challenge naturalistic alternatives and provide some reason theism. The later point is analogous to the idea that evidence that there was some life on another planet would not establish that such life is intelligent, but it increases—perhaps only slightly—the hypothesis that there is intelligent life on another planet.

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? Arguably, if explanations of the contingent existence of the cosmos or states of the cosmos are only in terms of other contingent things earlier states of the cosmos, say , then a full cosmic explanation will never be attained.

However, if there is at least one necessarily non-contingent being causally responsible for the cosmos, the cosmos does have an explanation. 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: for instance, imagine that Tom explains his possession of a book by reporting that he got it from A who got it from B , and so on to infinity.

This would not explain how Tom 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. 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.

L Mackie. While Rowe had defended the cosmological argument, his reservations about the principle of sufficient reason prevents his accepting the argument as fully satisfying. These arguments focus on characteristics of the cosmos that seem to reflect the design or intentionality of God or, more modestly, of one or more powerful, intelligent God-like, purposive forces. 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 it only provides some reason for thinking there is a God. It may be that some kind of cumulative case for theism would require construing various arguments as mutually reinforcing. If successful in arguing for an intelligent, trans-cosmos cause, the teleological argument may provide some reason for thinking that the First Cause of the cosmological argument if it is successful is purposive, while the ontological argument if it has some probative force may 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 to be addressed below may provide some 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 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 purposive 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, consider the objection from uniqueness. The cosmos is utterly unique. There is no access to multiple universes, some of which are known to be designed and some are known not to be. Without being able o compare the cosmos to alternative sets of cosmic worlds, the argument fails. Replies to this objection have contended that were we to insist that inferences in unique cases are out of order, then this would rule out otherwise respectable scientific accounts of the origin of the cosmos.

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 judge whether the cosmos is more reasonably believed to be designed rather than not designed. 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?


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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 many others.

One feature of the teleological argument currently receiving increased attention focuses on epistemology. It has been argued by Richard Taylor , Alvin Plantinga and in Beilby , and others that if we reasonably 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 Tom coming across what appears to be a sign reporting some information about his current altitude some rocks in a configuration giving him his 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.

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. Evolutionary epistemologists reply that the lack of a necessary link between beliefs that promote survival and truth and the fact that some false beliefs or unreliable belief producing mechanisms promote survival nor falls far short of undermining evolutionary epistemology.

Another recent development in teleological argumentation has involved an argument from fine-tuning. Fine tuning arguments contend that life would not exist were it not for the fact that multiple physical parameters e. For example, 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 much different.

John Leslie observes:. Alterations by less than one part in a billion to the expansion speed early in the Big Bang would have led to runaway expansion, everything quickly becoming so dilute that no stars could have formed, or else to gravitational collapse inside under a second. Leslie For a collection of articles covering both sides of the debate and both biological and cosmological design arguments, see Manson 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. If there is a God who is omnipotent, omniscient, and completely good, why is there evil? The problem of evil is the most widely considered objection to theism in both Western and Eastern philosophy. The deductive problem is currently less commonly debated because many but not all philosophers acknowledge 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. Such evidential arguments from evil may be deductive or inductive arguments but they include some attempt to show that some known fact about evil bears a negative evidence relation to theism e. Consider how often those who suffer are innocent. 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. 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 different, more substantial 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. Searing pain and endless suffering seem altogether real even if they are analyzed as being philosophically parasitic on something valuable. The three great monotheistic, Abrahamic 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.

What would be the point of the Judaic teaching about the Exodus God liberating the people of Israel from slavery , or the Christian teaching about the incarnation Christ revealing God as love and releasing a Divine power that will, in the end, conquer death , or the Islamic teaching of Mohammed the holy prophet of Allah, whom is all-just and all-merciful if slavery, hate, death, and injustice did not exist? 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: a theory of values that would preserve a clear assessment of the profound evil in the cosmos as well as some understanding of how this might be compatible with the existence of an all powerful, completely good Creator.

Could there be reasons why God would permit cosmic ills?

D.R.T. (Dead Right There) (A Nate Richards Novel)

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? 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.

In the Greater Good Defense, it is contended that evil can be understood as either a necessary accompaniment to bringing about greater goods or an integral part of these goods. 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. Reichenbach , Tennant , Swinburne , and 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. 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 Adams , many 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.