Analytic Theology Cluster Group at University of Navarra (Spain)
January 9, 2015 — 6:04

Author: Martín Montoya  Category: News  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   Comments: 2

The 2015 Analytic Theology Cluster Group at University of Navarra (Spain)

The Cluster Group in Analytic Theology at the University of Navarra “Philosophical and Theological Perspectives on Divine Providence” gather together philosophers and theologians to study and discuss the main approaches made to this issue with an analytic methodology. As a result of the group activities Analytic Theology will be introduced for the first time in Spanish academia. The Cluster Group is supported by the Project “Analytic Theology” of the Center for Philosophy of Religion of the University of Notre Dame, funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

We will hold ten monthly Seminars related to our research project. Topics include:

  • Providence, Omniscience and Foreknowledge.
  • Providence and Divine Action.
  • Providence and Evil.
  • Providence, Libertarian Free Will and Determinism.

Two of the seminars will be given by two guests lecturers, Eleonore Stump and Brian Leftow. But also, we have two Public Lectures at Room 03, Amigos Building, University of Navarra. Participation is free without need of reservation.

  • Lecture 1 (Monday 2 March, 2015), Brian Leftow: Providence Determinism and Hell.
  • Lecture 2 (Monday 20 April, 2015), Eleonore Stump: Eternity, Simplicity, and Divine Presence.

For further information you can have a look at our website:

A Simple Question on the Consequence Argument
August 16, 2014 — 15:01

Author: Michael Almeida  Category: Uncategorized  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 29

Here’s a fairly simple question about the consequence argument. Still, I think it is an interesting question that focuses on the conditionals in the argument. The rule α is not interestingly in doubt, but I assume both α and β. Let P* be  proposition describing a time slice of the universe at some point a billion years ago. Let L all the laws of nature. Let P be a true proposition describing any event after P*.  If determinism is true, then P follows from the conjunction of P* and L. ☐ stands for logical necessity. Assume that determinism is true. Here is van Inwagen’s argument.

1. ☐((P* & L) ⊃ P) assumption
2. ☐(P* ⊃ (L ⊃ P)) 1; modal, prop logic
3. N(P* ⊃ (L ⊃ P)) 2; rule β
4. NP* premise
5. N(L ⊃ P) 3, 4; rule α
6. NL premise
7. NP 5, 6; rule α

I’m not so concerned with working out whether rule α or β are valid. But I am concerned about some of the implications of the premises of the argument. Note first that (8) is necessarily true,

8. N(P* ⊃ (L ⊃ P)) ≣ N(P* & L) ⊃ P))

The conditional in (3) allows for strengthening antecedents. So, (9) is also a necessary truth, for any Q whatsoever.

9. N(P* & L) ⊃ P)) ⊃ N(P* & L & Q) ⊃ P))

So, (3), together with (8) and (9) entail (10).

10. N(P* & L & Q) ⊃ P))

Let Q be that God brings time to an end. Or let Q be that a miracle occurs, as certainly happens in some worlds. Or let Q be that an event happens between the occurrences of P* and P that is inconsistent with P, as certainly happens in some worlds.  Recall that Np is the proposition that “No one has any choice about the fact that p“. Now no one has a choice about time ending, or miracles occurring or events-inconsistent-with P occurring in the past, in addition to not having a choice about P* and L. And this is true whether or not any of these propositions in Q, L or P* are true.

Consider a world w in which Q is true. It is also true in w that (11), though P* and L are not both true there.

11. N(P* & L & Q)

There is no world in which I have a choice about P* or L, even if they’re false. So, we can derive that (12) is true in w, from (10) and (11).

12. NP & ~P

So, it is consistent with no one ever having a choice about, say, whether I raise my arm that I do not raise my arm. So, NP is consistent with my bringing about ~P. But then NP is consistent with a version of the principle of alternate possibilities that is relevant to my having free will relative to P.



Traditional commitments about hell
March 16, 2011 — 8:37

Author: Alexander Pruss  Category: Hell  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 42

Here is a set (no doubt incomplete) of important traditional Christian theological commitments directly about humans in hell:

  1. All human beings in hell will be in hell everlastingly.
  2. No human being in hell experiences the union with God characteristic of heaven.
  3. All human beings in hell deserve to be in hell everlastingly and deserve all of the harsh treatment they receives there.
  4. No human being in hell would have been better off to have ceased existing instead or to have never existed.
  5. Some human beings are in hell and experience on-balance significant everlasting suffering there.
Of these, 1-4 are compatible with an empty hell, but 5 entails that there is at least one human being in hell (maybe even at least two).  
I will shortly say something about the details and choice of these commitments, but I now want to say something about why I am listing them.  Suppose, for instance, someone argues that annihilation would have to be better than being in hell or that it would have to be unjust for God to put someone in hell forever.  If we take the doctrine of hell to be implicitly defined by the important traditional Christian theological commitments about hell, then either they are confused–what they are arguing against is not the traditional doctrine of hell but some other doctrine of everlasting suffering–or else they are offering an argument for the incoherence of 1-5.  For it is a part of the traditional doctrine of hell that one is no worse off for being in hell than being annihilated and that those who are in hell are there deservedly.  To argue that annihilation would have to be better than being in hell would be like arguing that, necessarily, if soft determinism is true, there is no freedom.  If soft determinism is true, then by definition there is freedom, since it is a part of the doctrine of soft determinism that there is freedom.  So, to argue that necessarily if soft determinism is true there is no freedom is either to be confused or to argue that soft determinism is incoherent.
I am not saying all arguments against the doctrine of hell are like this.  But it is important for those who argue against or who defend the traditional doctrine of hell to be clear on the doctrine’s central commitments.
Moreover, I think 1-5 are actually coherent, and I will discuss this, too.


Did Darwin undercut all Paley-style arguments?
November 30, 2010 — 9:30

Author: Alexander Pruss  Category: Existence of God  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 68

Classic Paley-style design arguments go like this: There is some complex biological feature C which is such that

  1. God would have good reason to produce C, and
  2. C is extremely unlikely to occur through a random combination of elements.

It is concluded that probably God produced C, and hence probably God exists. The standard story is that Darwin undercut Paley-style arguments by providing a plausible explanation that does not involve God.

I shall suggest that the story is not so simple, and that, in fact, a very powerful Paley-style design argument may continue to go through.

The reason I say “suggest” reather than “argue” is that my argument is based on a crucial simplifying assumption. I shall assume a physics with a classical Hamiltonian dynamics satisfying Liouville’s Theorem. (To some readers this may already give a lot of my game away.) The justification is two-fold. First, for aught that we know, the correct dynamics of the world, whether deterministic or not, is such as to support some analogue of Liouville’s Theorem. Second, Darwin’s work appears to be consistent with classical mechanics, and was developed when classical mechanics was king. Thus, if Darwin’s work refutes classic Paley-style design arguments, this refutation should be consistent with classical mechanics.

Now, begin by posing this question: The standard story claims that Darwin naturalistically explained the explanandum of a Paley-style argument in a way that undercut that arguments–what is that explanandum?