New Gourmet Report Up!
November 10, 2006 — 10:46

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: General  Comments: 18

The new Gourmet Report is up.

Something for Nothing
October 1, 2006 — 18:24

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: Christian Theology  Tags: , ,   Comments: 8

I’ve been thinking for a while about metaphysical positions that bring with them — free, so to speak — theological claims. For a not-so-good example, think of Bradley’s metaphysic. According to F.H. Bradley, there is no such thing as time. If Bradley is right, and God exists, then God is atemporal. (I say this is a not-so-good example because Bradley’s argument for the unreality of time also gets him the unreality of space, and further, the claim that there cannot be more than one thing. So, if Bradley is right, and God exists, then pantheism is true.) The same is true for McTaggart — if McTaggart is right about time being an illusion, then God is atemporal.
Now, of course I know that just about every metaphysic entails something-or-other about theology. And I also know that some metaphysical positions have nothing at all to say to some theological claims. However, I’m wondering whether there are any contemporary metaphysics such that, adding a contentious theological claim doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t provide a difficulty not already resolved in the metaphysic? A concrete example, you ask? Why, sure.

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SLU Graduate Student Conference on Religious Epistemology
August 31, 2006 — 15:38

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: News  Comments: 1

Mark your calendars and assure your transportation — SLU’s Graduate Student Conference is right around the corner. Robert Audi is the keynote speaker, and Prosblogion’s own Trent Dougherty will be presenting a paper co-authored with Ted Poston.
Here’s the scoop; more below the fold:
2006 Saint Louis University Philosophy Graduate
Student Conference
Sponsored by the Saint Louis University Philosophy Department and the Graduate School
The Epistemology of Religious Belief
Sept. 21 & 22, 2006
Keynote Address by Robert Audi, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and David E. Gallo Professor of Business Ethics (University of Notre Dame)
Panel Discussion with Robert Audi, Ph.D., John Greco, Ph.D. (Saint Louis University), and Eleonore Stump, Ph.D. (Saint Louis University)
Thursday, Sept. 21: Humanities Building, Room 142
3:30 p.m. Welcoming Reception
4:00 p.m. Keynote Address – Dr. Robert Audi: “The Dimensions and
Normative Authority of Religious Experience”
5:15 p.m. Break
5:30 p.m. Panel Discussion: The Epistemology of Religious Belief
Robert Audi, Ph.D., John Greco, Ph.D., and Eleonore Stump, Ph.D.

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The Reality of the Possibles
July 11, 2006 — 20:19

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: Concept of God  Comments: 7

Many of my philosophical interests intersect at a theistic theory of the possibles (the possibles are things that could possibly be, whether they actually are or not). I’m interested generally in modality, but also in theories of abstracta, the nature of possibilia, and a traditional understanding of the nature and attributes of God. This post isn’t about these things in particular, but these interests did lead me to an article by John Doyle entitled, “Suarez on the Reality of the Possibles” (The Modern Schoolman, Nov, 1967).
Let me start by saying that I don’t know much about Suarez past what I learned in this article. So, in the sequel, any time I talk about Suarez, I really mean Doyle’s understanding of Suarez.
Suarez has some interesting things to say about the relation between God and the possibles. Often Christians say that the possibles somehow rely on God for their existence. Aquinas, for instance, says that it is necessary for every being that exists to be created by God (ST I q44, a1). Other Christians believe that if the possibles are independent of God’s creative work, they infringe on his aseity. Suarez doesn’t agree.
Suarez says that even if God did not exist, the possibles would still exist. The possibles aren’t dependent on God, then, since they can exist even if God doesn’t exist (given that the possibles don’t contingently depend on God).
However, Suarez goes even further and claims that if the possibles didn’t exist, God couldn’t exist. Doyle writes, concerning Suarez’s view of the possibles:
“Of themselves they are eternally true and apt to be known, even if there were no God. Far beyond this, their reality is such that if they were not what they are, there would be no God and, a fortiori, none of the actual creatures that depend on him.”
Suarez has the order of dependence the other direction from Aquinas. The existence of the possibles doesn’t depend on the existence of God, since they can exist without him; but, if there were no possibles, there would be no God.
Suarez has other interesting things to say about the relationships between God and the possibles. He says (here I quote Doyle) that the possibles “are ‘not positively but in a certain negative way’ equal to God.” I suppose they are equal to God in a negative way insofar as Suarez says the possibles have their existence insofar as they are non-contradictory, but I’m not sure. Suarez also says (again, quoting Doyle) “the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, proceeds from the Father’s knowledge of Himself and of creatures inasmuch as they are possible.” As Doyle rightly sees, this makes the Son “somehow subsequent” to the possibles. I’ve never seen any Christian, let alone a philosophical powerhouse like Suarez, affirm something like this. Does anyone know anything about this, or about other Christian philosophers who have held similar views?

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