After my presentation Friday at the AAAS meeting, I stopped by the reception of DoSER (AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion).It was interesting, but my impression was that this was a bunch of people trying to keep the peace by setting aside discordant voices: Dawkins-style nonbelievers and Discovery Institute-style believers. (In other words, anyone who more agressively highlights disagreements.) So it’s a bit of a club devoted to mutual back-slapping about their common reasonableness.Having a dialogue is not a… Read more

Swinburne’s Case for God – Part 2

Swinburne’s case for God (in The Existence of God, 2nd ed.) can be summed up this way:1. Based on evidence other than religious experience, the existence of God is not very improbable.2. If based on evidence other than religious experience, the existence of God is not very improbable, then the evidence from religious experience (in combination with other relevant evidence) makes the existence of God more probable than not.Therefore:3. The evidence from religious experience (in combination with other relevant evidence)… Read more

Swinburne’s Case for God – Part 1

Richard Swinburne summarizes his case for God in the final pages of the final chapter of The Existence of God:…all that my conclusion so far amounts to is that it is something like as probable as not that theism is true, on the evidence so far considered. However, so far in this chapter I have ignored one crucial piece of evidence, the evidence from religious experience. I concluded the last chapter (p.326) with the claim that, unless the probability of… Read more

Froese, Bader, and the compatibility of science and religion

I just finished Paul Froese and Christopher Bader’s America’s Four Gods, which was a very interesting survey of American religious beliefs analyzed according to four major conceptions of God: the Authoritative God, the Benevolent God, and the Distant God. It’s well worth reading.Still, I have to gripe about something that appears on page 145.The authors cite the books of Richard Dawkins, Vic Stenger, Mark Perakh, and myself as examples of “prominent science professors making similar arguments” against the existence of… Read more

How Many Ways to Analyze the Word ‘God’ – Part 6

In the last post on this subject (Part 5), I claimed that one can generate over 5,000,000 definitions of ‘divine person’ from a set of five divine attributes.In reflecting over my previous analysis of how many definitions one can generate from a set of just four divine attributes (power, knowledge, freedom, goodness), I noticed that my specifications of four degrees of these attributes (human, superhuman, perfect, and eternally perfect) mixed two different types of specification together: strength and duration. By… Read more

How Many Ways to Analyze the Word ‘God’? – Part 5

I have previously shown that using just four divine attributes (power, knowledge, freedom, goodness) that can occur in four different degrees (human, superhuman, perfect, eternally perfect), one can create more than 200,000 definitions of ‘divine person’.That is not quite as impressive as the estimate of three million definitions that I made initially, based on some mistaken assumptions. However, it is very easy to get up into the millions of defintions. By adding just one more divine attribute, one that can… Read more

A Simple Statement of the Problem of Evil

I have been trying to come up with a statement of the problem of evil that is comprehensible to undergraduates. Below is my draft. It makes for a rather long post, but any comments, suggestions, or criticisms would be appreciated. A SIMPLE STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM OF EVILBelievers tell us that God is good. Not only is he good, he is perfectly good, supremely good, as good as can be. God is also powerful. Not only is he powerful, he… Read more

Kleptocracy as secularism

Among some secular people observing events in the Middle East, I run into some worries that secular dictatorships will be replaced with worse—theocracies like what the Muslim Brotherhood has envisioned throughout most of its organizational history.Maybe. What is going to come out the present upheaval in unpredictable. In the Middle East, often the only opposition that has been allowed to exist has had an Islamic flavor. It is likely that if and when popular rule makes its inroads, cultural and… Read more

How Many Ways to Analyze the Word ‘God’? – Part 4

I’m going to cut to the chase now, for those who have no interest in following the details of my reasoning (“Dear God, please make him stop! I will barf on my keyboard if he mentions ‘criterial conditions’ or ‘range of degrees’ one more time.”): 205, 240 definitions of ‘divine person’ can be generated from four divine attributes (power, knowledge, freedom, and goodness), four degrees of each attribute (resulting in 10 ranges of degrees for each attribute), assuming that at… Read more

How Many Ways to Analyze the Word ‘God’? – Part 3

II. Only Three Attributes are RelevantIn this second case there will be far fewer possible definitions of ‘divine person’ because the assumption that one of the four attributes is irrelevant means that we only have three attributes to use in constructing sets of conditions that will in turn be used to generate definitions. Fewer elements means fewer combinations of elements can be formed.The following table illustrates the various possibilities in which only three of the four attributes are relevant (R… Read more

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