Is There a God? (Richard Swinburne)

Image result for is there a god swinburne

Richard Swinburne doesn’t so much argue for the existence of God.  Rather, he posits God as the only viable cause for the universe. The intellectual rigor in this book is top-notch.  (There is a reason the New Atheists do not go after Swinburne). I will disagree with some of his conclusions at the end, but this is a useful text that is worth your time.

God

Swinburne outlines the doctrine of God in its classical terms, though he will balk on issues like eternalism and foreknowledge.  If we say that God is a person/personal being/One God in Three Persons, then we need to have some idea of what a person is. A person is “an individual with basic powers (to act intentionally), purposes, and beliefs” (Swinburne 4).  

Swinburne begins well by noting that God is an omnipotent, omniscient, and free person (6).  Further, God can’t do the impossible. So far so good. Unfortunately, Swinburne says it is impossible to know what a free creature will do tomorrow (7).  Omniscience for Swinburne simply means that God knows everything which is logically possible to know. We’ll come back to this claim.

He also rejects divine eternalism.  God, for Swinburne, is everlasting but not timeless. He does not simultaneously cause the events of 587 B.C. and 1995 A.D., since that would interfere with the future free actions of his creatures.  Rather, God exists in each moment of time. There is an obvious problem: Is God limited by time? Does God exist outside of time in any way?

The rest of the chapter on God is fairly good, especially his defense of divine essentialism (i.e., God has all of his essential properties necessarily).

How We explain things

Swinburne argues that the best explanation for an event is:

(1) It leads us to expect many and varied events which we observe.

(2) What is proposed is simple.

(3) It fits well with background knowledge (but only when background knowledge is available).

(4) We would not otherwise expect to find these events.

With these criteria, Swinburne argues that only God understood in the classical sense can make sense of the universe.  Materialism cannot, since it can’t explain abstract objects, mental states, etc. A finite god cannot, since it would need to be explained by something else (hence violating (2) above).  

The World and its Order

While he gives an unfortunate defense of Darwin, Swinburne does raise some problems for Hawking and Dawkins.  If time is really cyclical, and if, ex hypothesi, we could leave 1995 and eventually come back to 1994, then the following bizarre results entail:

* My acting can be the cause of my not acting (64ff).

How the Existence of God Explains the Existence of Humans

Good defense of substance dualism. Substances have properties and particular relations to other substances. A mental event, as opposed to a material object, is that which the subject has privileged access (72).

Analysis

His argument for limited omnipotence comes at a high cost.  One response to it is that even on Arminian grounds, models like Middle Knowledge at least attempt to preserve God’s knowledge of future free actions.  Swinburne makes no such attempt.

But there is an even easier response.  The Bible makes numerous predictions about the future free decisions of moral agents.  Did Mary and Joseph have human freedom? Yes. Did Mary freely choose to remain a virgin before Jesus was born?  Yes. Could it have been otherwise? It’s hard to imagine that it could have been. And that’s only one of many.

Review: The God Who Is There (Schaeffer)

I first read this book in 2002 and it was the primer that got me into apologetics and philosophy.  From Schaeffer I moved to James Sire; from Sire to Douglas Groothuis, and from Groothuis to Cornelius Van Til. The book is quite exciting for the reader actually believes he will take these arguments and reclaim culture for Christ. Schaeffer offers a stirring vision on how the loss of God affects every area of life.

Related image

Unfortunately, the devil is in the details. Schaeffer fundamentally misrepresents every philosopher and group with whom he deals. There is no intellectual rigor whatsoever.

Schaeffer sees himself broadly within the tradition of Cornelius Van Til, but he is a watered down version of Van Til. For all of Van Til’s problems, Van Til knew if you were going to press the antithesis, you were going to press it in the right place. Schaeffer fails that because he thinks “The Greeks were okay who got reason right. It was Hegel who messed it up and introduced irrationality.”

Thesis: In giving up the hope of rationality, a rationality that is founded only in the revelation of God in Christ, man is plunged below the line of despair. This line of despair normally moves in the following historical pattern: philosophy → art → music → general culture → theology (Schaeffer 16). Above the line there is absolutes (whether they are sufficiently justified).

The Positive Case for Christian Theism
God is personal and in creating man in his own image, man is personal (87). Schaeffer proves this in the form of a disjunctive syllogism (A v B; ~B; therefore, A).  “Either there is sa personal beginning to everything or one has what the impersonal throws up by chance out of the time sequence” (88).
God placed his revelation in history, and in doing so made it verifiable (92).  God’s speaking in history is what makes unity possible between the upper and lower storeys, because God spoke to all areas.
The Nature of Proof (Epistemology)
(1) A theory must be non-contradictory and explain the phenomena in question.
(2) We have to be able to live consistently with our theory (109).
The Good Parts
It’s not hard to see why Schaeffer had the influence he did.  The book was just “fun” to read.  And he saw the current problems on transgenderism, transhumanism, and Cultural Marxism.  His zeal for evangelism is contagious and he knew how important communication was (45).
While Schaeffer fundamentally misreads Hegel, he does get the dialectical methodology of Marx correct (46).  While he doesn’t draw the specific connection, we now see that dialectical methodology is a tool the New Left uses today (and which most conservative culture warriors are unable to deal with).

He has some very good analyses of art history.

 

The Bad

 

Schaeffer had a tendency to make sweeping surveys on philosophy.  Sometimes they were misleading.  Other times they were just false.  His most notorious example is Hegel, and here I can only summarize Greg Bahnsen’s critique of Schaeffer.
Schaeffer writes, “Before his (Hegel’s) time truth was conceived on the basis of antithesis…. Truth, in the sense of antithesis, is related to the idea of cause and effect. Cause and effect produces a chain reaction which goes on in a horizontal line. With the coming of Hegel, all this changed…. (Hegel proposed) from now on let us think in this way; instead of thinking in terms of cause and effect, what we really have is a thesis, and opposite is an antithesis, and the answer to their relationship is not in the horizontal movement of cause and effect, but the answer is always synthesis…. (Thus) instead of antithesis we have, as modern man’s approach to truth, synthesis”.
Hegel never denigrated logic.  He simply pointed out that the antithesis must always arise from the thesis because of man’s finite take on truth. Further, one can only be astonished at Schaeffer’s claim that the Greeks valued truth and the logical antithesis.  Plato and Aristotle might have, but one doubts that Heraclitus or the Sophists did. Indeed, Schaeffer’s misconstrual of Hegel in favor of the Greeks seems to let the Greeks off the hook!
This book is rightly considered a 20th century classic.  Despite its intellectual gaffes, it did get evangelicals thinking about worldview issues.  Schaeffer was key in rallying evangelicals to the pro-life cause.  For that we are grateful.  But the apologist cannot stop with Schaeffer.  Metaphysics and epistemology, which Schaeffer left undeveloped, have advanced light years.

Review: Gordon Clark, A Christian View of Men and Things

This book isn’t perfect but it does exhibit all of Dr Clark’s strengths as a communicator  My main problem with the book is the chapter lengths: they are excessively long. This isn’t too much of a problem, except Clark will spend 90% of the chapter debunking erroneous views, but he only gives a few pages to the biblical position, and even then it is only a summary.

Notwithstanding, there are a few areas where Clark shines, notably epistemology.  Even then, though, it is limited. We get evaluations of empiricism, skepticism, and relativism, and Clark lists all the inadequacies of these views–but there is more to epistemology than a survey of three or four options.  The book doesn’t have much on belief-formation, justification of knowledge, etc. Nonetheless, Clark hints towards a theistic summary (which would be later fine-tuned by Carl F Henry).

The Philosophy of Politics

What is the function of government?  Clark examines numerous ethical theories (Bentham, Aristotle, Plato) and notes that the definition of good [for government] depends on one’s nature of man (113).

A problem with Rousseau: “He seems to be torn between an infallible general will that cannot express itself and an expressed majority vote that is not infallible…” (121).

Theistic view:  state has limited power (136).  God is the source of all rights.

Funny quote: “But if men are essentially good, how is it that when they pass from psychology or theology to politics only the poor remain good and the wealthy become evil?   [The demand] for more government seems to imply that not only are poor people good, but politicians are even better” (139).

“The truths or propositions that may be known are the thoughts of God, the eternal thought of God. And insofar as man knows anything he is in contact with God’s mind.  Since, further, God’s mind is God, we may legitimately borrow the figurative language, if not the precise meaning, of the mystics and say, we have a vision of God” (321).

This is good.  And I think Clark was correct over Van Til on this point.  This also nicely sidesteps the Eastern Orthodox critique that the West relies on created grace and avoids any direct contact with God.  If Clark’s analysis holds, however, this isn’t true.

An Apologetics Primer

My church group began discussing ideas about an apologetics course this summer.  I’m wondering what kind of books to use.  Nothing too advanced.  And I don’t want this to become a “different styles of apologetics.”  Those discussions are usually as fruitful as sucking a gas pipe.  But I have found the following to be good in getting you to think about thinking.

My goal is not to “prove” anything or say x apologetic method is good.  I just want you to be good at thinking, and thinking about thinking.

Moreland, J. P. Love Your God with all Your Mind.  The place to start.  I’ve read it probably half a dozen times.  I used to buy it on the cheap and give it away.

Moreland, J.P.  Kingdom Triangle. Never quite gained the importance of his other book, but in many ways the argument is more focused.

McCall, Thomas.  An Invitation to Analytic Theology.  This will teach you how to break down an issue.

Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil and Knowledge and Christian Belief.  After Plantinga atheists realized they could no longer say that evil made the Christian worldview contradictory.

Clark, Kelly James.  Return to Reason. Plantinga’s lieutenant, so to speak.  Read this before you dive into Plantinga.

Clark, Kelly. ed. 101 Philosophical Terms You Need to Know.

Review: For Faith and Clarity

Beilby, James. ed. For Faith and Clarity: Philosophical Contributions to Christian Theology.

This book is not an intro to apologetics. It’s not even an intermediate text. It’s more like a supplement to some theological issues in apologetics. On the whole it is of limited value. Nevertheless, there were a few outstanding essays.

J. P. Moreland: General Ontology and Theology

Moreland outlines what substance metaphysics is. The ultimate categories are substance, property, and relation (47), and these categories are in sets. “A set of categories is a set of mutually exclusive and exhaustive classifications of all entities.”

A substance is a continuant that can change by gaining new properties and losing old ones, yet retaining its identity (57). Substance are not had by other properties. They have properties. A property is an existence reality which is exemplified by a substance.

William Lane Craig: Pantheists in spite of themselves.

Craig cuts Hegelianism off at the pass. For post-Hegelians God is the Infinite, yet any concept of the infinite contains within it the concept of the finite. Therefore, the finite is just as necessary as the infinite. Therefore, God is both infinite and finite. For Neo-Hegelians, “infinite” means “all.” The problem should be evident. God and the moon both exist, so this means that God is not all. Yet we hold that God is infinite.

How does a Christian respond to this? Craig notes that the Hegelian concept of infinity is just silly and outdated. Modern mathematics uses the concept of infinity, but it never means what Hegel says it means. Take Cantor’s sets:

0, 1, 2, 3,….

1, 3, 5, 7,…..

We can extend both sets to infinity. There is one to one correspondence between two sets if the members of A can be paired with the members of B. We do not need to get into all of the paradoxes with an actual infinite, but we need only show that the Neo-Hegelian definition is false.

J. Wesley Richards: Divine Simplicity

Richards gives 8 different senses of how divine simplicity was used in the history of the church.

  1. All divine properties are possessed by the same self-identical God.
  2. God is not composite in the sense of being made up of parts. God has no external causes.
  3. God’s essence is identical with his act of existing.
  4. All God’s essential properties are co-extensive.
  5. All God’s perfections are identical.
  6. All God’s properties are co-extensive.
  7. God’s essential properties and essence are (strictly) identical with God himself.
  8. All God’s properties are (strictly) identical with God himself..

Richards says that all Christians can accommodate P(1) – (6). Part of the difficulty is that earlier Christian thinkers were hamstrung by Platonic and medieval ontologies. For Thomas an essence of a thing is its “what it is as such” (Richards 162). Modern essentialism, by contrast, sees an entity as “exemplifying a certain essence.” For medieval realists, an entity participated (or shared) in the form of x. For modern essentialists, an entity exemplifies x.

Other essays of note are Plantinga’s evolutionary challenge and Wolterstorff’s essay on justice.

End of a year, shoring up conclusions

My theology doesn’t “change” much anymore, although I do explore different emphases and distinctives.  I consider myself in the Reformation tradition, even if I don’t “truck” with current TR distinctives.  The following is a list of what I found that works and what is a dead end.

Dead Ends

  1. Pop level presuppositionalism.  The thing is, we can’t all be Bahnsens.  Further, name a big league (bigly) debater of Bahnsen’s caliber.  Sye doesn’t count.  Really, you can only say “Yeah, well how do you know that?” enough before it’s evident that you are clueless.
    1. So what’s my alternative?  I don’t know.  Present a coherent case for Christianity and offer defeaters.  That’s the best I can do.
    2. The thing is, modern presup has no clue about the current moves and discussions in philosophical theology.
  2. Internet Covenanter thought.  If you are a godly member in an RP type church, bless you.  Stay there and be fed.  My beef isn’t with you.  But at the same time, the type of Covenanter thought one finds on Facebook is intellectual cancer.  There is no depth of thought nor constructive engagement with the past, nor could there be.
    1. RP Covenanter thought is Donatism. Which splinter group is pure enough?  You see this with Steelites.
      1. We can take this a step further: on one covenanter page the question came up, “Can one read Dabney, given his terrible views on race?”  On a pastoral level that’s a fair question.  I’m not a Dabney fan by any stretch and the average person shouldn’t read Dabney.  But the question is deeper: can we read anyone who isn’t “pure enough?”
      2. And once you start asking that question, you end up with being the only pure group (think Steelites, Greg Price, Dodson, etc)
    2. Necessarily, this means that much of church history is off-limits.  Think about it: if anyone who isn’t using psalms only and no instruments is a Baal worshiper.
      1. Don’t try to point to quotes from Aquinas on using the Psalms.  True, the medieval church and early church didn’t rely on instruments, but these guys also had icons, incense, and sang Gregorian and Ambrosian hymns.   So they aren’t you.
      2. I’ve dealt with Covenanters before in the past, so I won’t say more here.

Let’s go to a happier note.  Here are some valuable moves I’ve learned (okay, that sounded like a karate movie).

  1. Hans Boersma.  I read Heavenly Participation a few years ago and it had a big impact on me. I don’t accept his Radical Orthodoxy reading of philosophy, but his Platonic worldview did cash out in several ways:
    1. Heaven is more important than politics.
    2. The emphasis on “heaven” keeps one from following all of the “redeeming the body” fads.
    3. Dear Reformed people: do you want a good response to NT Wright?  Don’t try to rebut him on Paul.  Just show him Boersma’s view on heaven.
    4. However, I don’t hold with his emphasis on the Nouvelle Theologie.  De Lubac had a few good books but most of the time he just cited sources.  Further, Nouvelle Theologie was incapable of dealing with the modernism that followed Vatican II.
  2. Analytic Theology.  It’s simply too powerful a tool to ignore.  Yes, some of them go off the deep end and do nothing but quote truth tables all day.

DKG: Opening Questions 1a

This is taken from Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. It’s a prolegomena to apologetics.

  1. There are many possible ways to refer to the world by means of language.

Languages differ from one another not only by using different words to refer to the same thing, but also in the things the language is supposed to distinguish. No language is able to capture all the nuances of a said definiens. Furthermore, language uses symbols. Different languages use different symbols. However, different languages can describe the same reality.

  1. Is it always legitimate to demand a definition?

It is not always necessary to demand a definition. There is always a necessary vagueness to language. While at the outset it may seem to give greater precision, it alwasy assumes that the more precise and technical a term is, the more clarity it gains. However, it is quite the opposite. For instance, if one were to define Augustine’s view of time, most would not understand and the definition itself would be used in a non-ordinary way. Similarly, discussing “time” without defining it does allow for communication of the term.

  1. Is Scripture ever vague?

If language is vague–as I believe can be at times–and Scripture is communicated via language, then Scripture itself is not exempt from vagueness. Scripture is vague at times, and helpfully so, if its primary purpose from God is not always to communicate necessary precision, but to communicate truth as God intends it. This allows for imprecise quotations, rounded numbers, varied (though not contradictory) accounts without compromising its integrity. How so? This can be maintained if we allow Scripture to set its own standards of historiography and lexicography.

  1. Discuss the values, limitations, of the use of technical terms.

Technical terms, while not often biblical in origin, are useful and even necessary to the task of theology. If theology is the reflection upon and the application of God’s word to contemporary issues, then it must at times use non-biblical (but not un-biblical) language. The task of theology recognizes the at-times vagueness of Scripture and the necessity of technical terms to apply the vague areas of Scripture to concrete situations. However, technical terminology is not without its limits. A technical term by definition limits full biblical expression of the term (i.e.,regeneration). The danger then happens when the theologian uses one term as a b lanket statement for all of the scriptural usages. In other words, theologians are often faced with the danger of pulling terms out of the biblical context.

  1. Never use technical terms from non-Christian histories.

If this is the case, then we will not be able to use much terminology at all. Propositions are not to be judged faulty by the words they use, but on what are they are saying.

  1. Don’t confuse technical definitions with biblical usages. Describe the danger here.

Technical definitions are useful due the degree that they are precise in scope. Their greatest strength is their greatest weakness–precision. Technical terminology limits the use of a biblical expression or term and applies it, hopefully, within a proper context with a view towards application. The danger comes when assuming that because term x means y in this situation, it must always mean x.

  1. There is no one right set of technical definitions? Why? Evaluate.

Given that biblical terminology is often richer than technical terminology, it follows that no one theologian or theological school can exhaust a doctrine in one formulation. No theological system is free from the necessity of making qualifications.

  1. Some technical definitions can actually mislead us. For example, if one uses enlightenment, rationalistic terminology and applies it to the supernatural, then the Christian Theologian is immediately pressed to defend his faith using the opposition’s weapons. He is, in effect, fighting a losing battle from the start. Given the insights stated above, he must allow the Bible to be its own standard (this would require its own prolegomena) and define its own terms.

 

  1. Describe and discuss the liberal distortion of Scripture through an illegitimate development of technical terminology. Liberal theology takes biblical terminology out of its context and then imports

humanistic, romantic, or existentialist meaning upon the terms. Liberals take the concept of God’s love, strip it of its transcendence, and place it into metaphysical categories. Socialistic Christians (liberation theologians) take Christ’s concern for the poor and despised and draw the illogical conclusion that Christ primarily came for the socially outcast and was at war with those who were not themselves socially outcast. Barth saw divine transcendence as God’s own freedom divorced from the restraints God places upon himself.

  1. Discuss the danger of trying too hard to eliminate vagueness from theology.

Simply put, aiming for maximum precision at all times leads one to be more precise than God himself! Theologians must come to grips that God did not clearly outline many issues in His word: Supralapsarianism/infralapsarianism, traducianism, etc. An attempt to eliminate vagueness in theology leads

 

Frame Paper, Part 1

This is a paper, or rather part of an exercise, we had to do in seminary.  It was 12 years ago.  The italicized is the issue under discussion

1. Implication is something that pervades our experience.

Men are rational creatures (but much more than that!). While some men are not logically consistent, they cannot escape the demands that logic and rationality make on their lives. Even if men are not able to formulate symbolic arguments, they see the implications of such arguments everyday and act (or refuse to act!) accordingly. It is indirectly tied to the determinative nature that presuppositions (or ultimate) commitments play in our experience. Men may not fully understand (or rather, articulate) an issue, but they can act accordingly.

2. Logic is a hermeneutical tool.

Logic, like hermeneutics, seeks to unpack the meaning of a sentence (or structure of thought). Building off implication, which doesn’t give new meaning to the statement, but rather rearranges the meaning in new ways. Similarly, logic in theology doesn’t give “new meaning” to the text, but unpacks and rearranges meaning already there.

3. Define the nature of a logical must.

Logical musts are both analytic and moral. Those who know the truths of several premises know the conclusion, whether they act on it or not. Secondly, logical musts are moral in nature. Men are created imago Dei and since logic and rationality is a part of God’s character, to be logical is to be faithful to God.

4. Logic is dependent on ethical values.

If logical musts pervade men’s experience, then there is some ethical foundation for why this is so. However, logic itself does not provide the foundation for ethics. There must be some transcendent standard which gives meaning to logic. This standard, I suggest, is Christian theism.

5. What is the nature of logical certainty?

Logical axioms appear certain because on one level they are “obvious” to the world. Scripture teaches us that we must live wisely and by implication we are to live according to these facts insofar as they line up with Scripture. However, logic is not the normative perspective and so will at times need to be modified by Scriptural reflection. We are certain because God has revealed facts in nature (which do not contradict his word), commands us to live wisely and to judge all things by his word which at times will cause us to modify a previous system.

6. Is it biblically legitimate to use logic in theology? Does such use of logic conflict with sola scriptura?

Yes. Logic is a characteristic of God and while not the normative standard for the believer, it will not contradict God’s word provided logic is put in its proper category. Logic no more violates sola Scriptura  any more than the practice of hermeneutics does. Logic, like hermeneutics, unpacks meaning already in the text.

7. If you cannot handle the implications of formal logic, what is the next best thing to do? Why? Discuss.

If one is not ready for formal logic then he ought to become more self-critical and anticipate objections. Doing this implicitly involves the obedience/learning paradox. The more self-critical one becomes, the more logical he comes (that is, assuming that he seeks out logical instruction from more mature and perhaps, philosophically trained believers).

8. Discuss some limitations of logic.

Logic, for one, cannot provide its own epistemological justification. There must be a worldview present to provide the preconditions for intelligibility. Secondly, human logic is fallible. Or rather, human application of logical principles is fallible. While not necessarily a fault with logic, often logic fails to provide “the persuasive power” that more situational perspectives might have.

9. We cannot learn all we know all we know from logical proofs. Discuss, evaluate.

Proofs are tools of logic and while useful and indispensable, they are only secondary. More importantly, proofs themselves do not constitute the premises. In short, premises are often suggested by an extra-logical source (divine revelation, sense-experience, etc.). Therefore, logic often has no more authority than the source of its premises. This is quite useful for the Christian apologist. Logic presupposes God (of course, this argument can and needs to be developed elsewhere in Reformed studies).

10. Apparent contradiction is insufficient ground for rejecting a premise. Discuss.

A chief example of this truth is the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. But more to the point of what Frame is discussing: we may not have all the facts that present with us. Granted the support of a premise that the author left unstated, the contradiction disappears. The author might have a perspective on the issue from which there is no contradiction. Of course, upon further evaluation the author might just be wrong and the contradiction stands regardless. But this issue should keep young theologians from jumping to premature conclusions.

11. Human logic is never a final test for truth. Why? Discuss.

Human logic is subject to human finitude. It does not escape the fact that humans do not know all the facts, their imperfect use of the right facts, and the fallibility of their own logical systems. In other words, it does not have all the perspectives on a given situation.

12. “Logical order” is an ambiguous expression.

Logical order is an umbrella phrase for different kinds of orders. Among other things, it is unclear as to whether one is speaking of temporal orders, varying degrees of conditionality, causality, and priority, among other things. The difficulty of such an expression becomes obvious when one looks at the decrees of God and the ordo saludis.

13. Analyze the controversy between the supra- and infralapsarianism.

The supra- wanted to see everything in the context of God’s electing love. The infra- wanted to see it in terms of God’s unfolding drama. Within the context of “logical order” the supra- saw everything in presuppositional priority whereas the infra- saw everything in anticipated temporality.

14. Theological doctrines have a tendency to become analytic. Explain, evaluate using examples.

Analytic doctrines imply the truth of the inclusion within the premise. Seen this way, many doctrines imply one another rather than counteract one another. Human freedom is intelligible only within the context of a sovereign God who gives meaning to human actions. God is good because his attributes are inseparable from him and good becomes part of the definition of God. This allows the believer a sense of certainty that the analytic doctrines can index.

15. Give some examples of theological discussion in which the burden of proof is an important issue. Show why.

Whenever one sets forth a new doctrine he has the responsibility to show that he is correct. The Baptist must show that God no longer deals covenantally with families with respect to covenant membership. The pro-choice advocate must show that the fetus is not alive and so may be killed without moral qualm. Traditionally, the Christian theist has had the burden of proof for God’s existence, but if he redefines his position as an a-atheist with the understanding that all men know God, then the atheist has the burden of proof to show that God does not exist!

The Babel Answer Man

Perry and I have had our disagreements, but I appreciate his diligence in this regard. (Also see this post: https://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/a-hankadox-intermezzo/)

Long story short, the fangirl apologetics sites like Orthodox Bridge are going to have egg on their faces when this stuff comes to light.  OB doesn’t know anything about epistemology or metaphysics; they do not go beyond standard pop questions like “Oh yeah, wise guy, how do you know which books of the canon belong?”

Perry is a caliber above me.  I don’t deny that.  I have learned much from him, both in content and in debating style.  I just want to quote some of his words and more or less endorse them: (sorry for the formatting.  Most of these quotes are from Perry but wordpress didn’t quote them)

What is more, all the calls to the BAM show are screened. Hank gets those questions that he can answer and b y and large those he can’t are screened out. This is why, if you listen to the BAM show long enough, you hear the same questions over and over again with little diversity. And this is why the show tends to stay at a very low level of apologetic sophistication.

 

The Lutherans.  LOL.

 

And of course, Hank has no real field experience talking to cultic or aberrant groups on his own (let alone taking on university professors). When you have a JW at your door or you are taking on three JW elders and an overseer by yourself for four hours straight, you don’t get to screen out questions. (I once went over 9 hours with JW apologist Greg Stafford when I lived in Garden Grove, CA. My Lutheran neighbors used to sit out on their lawn chairs in the front yard to listen  whenever the JW’s came around.)

This next quote is the cream of the crop:

 

Just ask yourself, do you really think Hank could answer questions and hold a sustained conversation about the Kalaam argument in relation to whether actual infinities are possible or not? How about the technical details of New Testament Greek? Or maybe questions on the communicatio idiomatum in Chalcedonian Christology compared with say Assyrian Christology? How about Gettier Counter examples or Contextualism in Epistemology? How about the principle of Double Effect? Uhuh, exactly. While I have my theological issues with Bill Craig, Hank is no Bill Craig.

The next quote echoes something Kevin Johnson told me.  I like to do book reviews but I try to keep them relatively short.

 

But because Hank thinks of education as memorizing and arranging discrete facts, he tends to use language like an undergraduate to embellish the delivery. If you have ever graded undergraduate papers, you know of what I speak. Undergraduates do not understand that the purpose of technical language is not only precision, but to say more with less

 

Energetic Procession

Haven’t you heard? Hank Hanegraaff has become Orthodox! Well, yes I have heard. The noise Scan0001.jpgproduced by the collective freak out at one end of the theological spectrum from the Pauper and Pooper blog representing the bottom of the barrel of Protestantism and the unquestioning adulation of Orthodox fangirls and bloggers rushing headlong to his defense is rather difficult to miss. But I sit here poised to wish a pox on both houses, as it were. As most of you know, I am Orthodox and have been for about 17 years. And as a few of you may know, I worked for the Christian Research Institute (CRI) from 1990-1992.  (That’s yours truly, bottom left, right next to Hank!) So I have a somewhat unique perspective to offer on the whole affair. In the posts that follow I explain why this is probably not a good thing for anyone, maybe not even…

View original post 8,989 more words

ePistemologian’s Progress

Courtesy to Bunyan,

This list was taken from Craig and Moreland (2003): 627-639.  It’s a specialized list of technical works in philosophy and theology.  The theology section was kind of soft, so I didn’t spend too much time transmitting those titles.  I only listed works that a) are in LC’s library or b) I otherwise must have, assuming they weren’t in LC’s library. I started this list in 2014.

I hope to have this finished by 2020.

This list doesn’t include a lot of previously read philosophy (Coplestone, Gilson, Bahnsen, Van Til et al)

Books that have an (*) by them are books I’ve added to Moreland’s list.

Chapter 1: General Philosophy; History of Philosophy; basic issues

*Coplestone, Fr. History of Philosophy (about four volumes). (read)
*Russell, Bertrand.  A History of Western Philosophy (read).

Chapter 2: Logic

Lewis, David. Counterfactuals (reading).

Chapter 3: Knowledge and Rationality

BonJour, Laurence. In Defense of Pure Reason.
Pojman, Louis. The Theory of Knowledge.

Chapter 4: The Problem of Skepticism

Slote, Michael.  Reason and Scepticism (1970).

Chapter 5: The Structure of Justification

Audi, Robert.  Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction (1998). (Read)
Chisholm, Roderick. The Theory of Knowledge.

Chapter 6: Theories of truth and postmodernism

Groothuis, Douglas.  Truth Decay.  (Have read); mostly fantastic, but DG has since rejected the presuppositional outlook in this book.

Willard, Dallas.  “How Concepts Relate the Mind to its Objects: The God’s Eye View Vindicated?” Philosophia Christi, 2nd ser., vol 1, no.2 (1999): 5-20. (read)

Chapter 7: Religious Epistemology

Alston, William.  Perceiving God (1991).
Plantinga, Alvin.  “The Foundations of Theism: A Reply.”  Faith and Philosophy 3 (1986): 298-313.——————.  Warrant: The Current Debate. (read)
——————.  Warrant and Proper Function (read).
——————.  Warranted Christian Belief (have read).
Plantinga, Alvin, and Nicholas Wolterstorff.  Faith and rationality (have read).
*Wolterstorff, Nicholas.  Reason within the Limits of Religion. (read)

Chapter 8: What is Metaphysics?

Chisholm, Roderick.  On Metaphysics (1989). (read)
*Hasker, William.  Metaphysics (1983) (read)
Plantinga, Alvin.  The Nature of Necessity (1974). (read)
van Inwagen, Peter.  Metaphysics (1993). (read)
Loux, Michael.  Metaphysics. (read)

Chapter 9: General Ontology: Existence, Identity and Reductionism

Craig, William Lane, and J. P. Moreland, eds. Naturalism: A Critical Analysis (2000).
Suarez, Francis. On the various kinds of distinctions.

Chapter 10: General Ontology: Two categories–property and substance

Chapters 11 and 12: The Mind-Body Problem

Kim, Jaegwon.  Mind in a Physical World (1998). (read)
Moreland, J. P.  and Scott Rae.  Body and Soul: Human Nature and the crisis in ethics. (read)

Chapter 13: Free Will and Determinism

Fischer, John.  The Metaphysics of Free Will. (1994).
Kane, Robert.  A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will (2005).
Rowe, William.  Thomas Reid on Freedom and Morality (1991). (read)

Chapter 14: Personal Identity and Life After Death

Hick, John.  Death and Eternal Life (1976).

Chapter 15: Scientific Methodology

Moreland, J. P.  Christianity and the Nature of Science (1989).

Chapter 16: The Realism-Antirealism Debate

Chapter 17: Philosophy and the Integration of Science

Chapter 18: Philosophy of Time and Space

Craig, William Lane.  God, Time, and Eternity: The Coherence of Theism II.
———————–.  Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time.
Einstein, Albert.  Relativity: General and Special Theories. (read)

Chapters 19-22: Issues in Ethics

Beckwith, Francis.  Politically Correct Death.
Geisler, Norman.  Christian Ethics: Issues and Options. (read)
*Feinberg, John and Paul. Ethics for a Brave New World (2010) (have read)
*Holmes, Arthur.  Ethics. (read)
Pojman, Louis.  Ethics: Discovering Right from Wrong.

Chapters 23-24: The Existence of God

Barrow, John.  The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.
Beck, David.  “The Cosmological Argument: A Current Bibliographical Appraisal.”
Craig, William Lane.  The Kalaam Cosmological Argument.
Craig, WIlliam Lane and Quentin Smith.  Theism, Atheism, and Big-Bang Cosmology.
Denton, Michael. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.
Ganssle, Gregory.  “Necessary Moral Truths and the Need for an Explanation.”
Hackett, Stuart.  Resurrection of theism.
Hume, David.  Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
Martin, Michael.  Atheism: A Philosophical Justification.
Rowe, William.  “Circular Explanations, Cosmological Arguments and Sufficient Reason.” (read)
Vallicella, William. “On an Insufficient Argument Against Sufficient Reason.”

Chapters 25-26: The Coherence of Theism.

Adams, Robert.  “Divine Necessity”
Craig, William Lane.  God, Time, and Eternity: The Coherence of Theism II.
Creel, Richard. Divine Impassibility.
Hasker, William. The Emergent Self.
Helm, Paul.  Divine Commands and Morality.
Leftow, Brian.  “God and Abstract Entities.” (read)
Molina, Luis de. On Divine Foreknowledge
Nielsen, Kai.  Ethics without God.
Plantinga, Alvin.  Does God Have a Nature?  (read)
————–.  “How to be an Anti-Realist.” (read)
Wolterstorff, Nicholas.  “Divine Simplicity.” (read)
* ——————–.  Divine Discourse (1993) (read)

Chapter 27: The Problem of Evil

Hick, John.  Evil and the God of Love
Plantinga, Alvin.  God, Freedom, and Evil. (read)
Rowe, William.  “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism.”

Chapter 28: Creation, Providence, and Miracle

Craig, William Lane.  “Creation and Conservation Once More.”
Freddoso, Alfred.  “The Necessity of Nature.”
Helm, Paul. The Providence of God.
Hume, David. “Of Miracles.” (read)
Morris, Thomas.  Divine and Human Action.
*Strobel, Lee. ed. The Case for a Creator.
Suarez, Francisco.  On Creation, Conservation, and Concurrence.

Chapter 29: Christian Doctrines (I): The Trinity

(see other sources)

Chapter 30: Christian Doctrines (II): The Incarnation

Bayne, Tim. “The Inclusion Model of the Incarnation: Problems and Prospects.”
Freddoso, Alfred. “Human Nature, Potency and the Incarnation.”
Morris, Thomas.  The Logic of God Incarnate. (read)

Chapter 31: Christian Doctrines (III): Christian Particularism