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Adams, Marilyn McCord, and . Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God

1999, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Publisher’ Note: When confronted by horrendous evil, even the most pious believer may question not only life’s worth but also God’s power and goodness. A distinguished philosopher and a practicing minister, Marilyn McCord Adams has written a highly original work on a fundamental dilemma of Christian thought – how to reconcile faith in God with the evils that afflict human beings. Adams argues that much of the discussion in analytic philosophy of religion over the last forty years has offered too narrow an understanding of the problem. The ground rules accepted for the discussion have usually led philosophers to avert their gaze from the worst – horrendous – evils and their devastating impact on human lives. They have agreed to debate the issue on the basis of religion-neutral values, and have focused on morals, an approach that – Adams claims – is inadequate for formulating and solving the problem of horrendous evils. She emphasizes instead the fruitfulness of other evaluative categories such as purity and defilement, honor and shame, and aesthetics. If redirected, philosophical reflection on evil can, Adams’s book demonstrates, provide a valuable approach not only to theories of God and evil but also to pastoral care.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on philosophy of religion or atheism. It is most likely that this would serve as a secondary rather than primary reading, but would be particularly useful for students who feel that discussions of the problem of evil for theism are carried out at too high a level of abstraction to get to what is really central to the problem.

Chung-Yuan Chang, and . Immeasurable potentialities of creativity

2011, In Chung-Yuan Chang (ed.). Creativity and Taoism: A Study of Chinese Philosophy, Art, and Poetry. London & Philadelphia: Singing Dragon.

Summary: A study of the Taoist (Daoist) concept of creativity as a non-instrumental process in which all things create themselves. Chang argues for the foundational place of this understanding of self-emergent creativity in the aesthetics of Chinese art.

Comment: Can be used as both an introduction to Daoism and to Chinese aesthetics.

Related reading:

  • Laozi, Tao Te Ching. D. C. Lau, trans. New York: Addison Wesley, 2000.

De Cruz, Helen, and . The Enduring Appeal of Natural Theological Arguments

2014, Philosophy Compass 9/2: 145-153.

Abstract: Natural theology is the branch of theology and philosophy that attempts to gain knowledge of God through non-revealed sources. In a narrower sense, natural theology is the discipline that presents rational arguments for the existence of God. Given that these arguments rarely directly persuade those who are not convinced by their conclusions, why do they enjoy an enduring appeal? This article examines two reasons for the continuing popularity of natural theological arguments: (i) they appeal to intuitions that humans robustly hold and that emerge early in cognitive development; (ii) they serve an argumen- tative function by presenting particular religious views as live options. I conclude with observations on the role of natural theology in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on philosophy or religion, metaphysics (where arguments for and against the existence of God are being considered), epistemology or religious epistemology. The paper is clear and non-technical. It does not provide arguments for or against the existence of God but considers the debate as a whole. It may then be useful for scene-setting, or for placing previously considered arguments in their context.

Deane-Drummond, Celia, and . Gaia as Science Made Myth: Implications for Environmental Ethics

1996, Studies in Christian Ethics 9(2): 1-5.

Content: Offers a critical discussion of the Gaia hypothesis in the context of human responsibility for climate change.

Comment: Might be useful for environmental ethics, or as further reading on methodology of science and the dangers of confusing science and myth.

Jaeger,Lydia, and . Against Physicalism-plus-God

2012, Faith and Philosophy , 29, 295-312

Abstract: It is often assumed that contemporary physics is more hospitable to divine action (and human freedom) than classical mechanics. The article criticizes this assumption on the grounds of both physics and theology. Most currently discussed models of divine action do not challenge the physicalist assumption that physics provides a true and complete description of nature’s causal web. Thus they resemble physicalism-plus-God. Taking up suggestions from Herman Dooyeweerd and Henri Blocher, I propose an alternative framework for divine action in the world. It takes creation as the starting-point to understand the world and leads to a non-reductionist, multidimensional picture of reality

Comment: Good article for undergraduate students. It is valuable for studying the relation between science and divinity.

Nagasawa, Yujin, and . The Ontological Argument and the Devil

2010, The Philosophical Quarterly 60 (238): 72-91.

Abstract: The ‘parody objection’ to the ontological argument for the existence of God advances parallel arguments apparently proving the existence of various absurd entities. I discuss recent versions of the parody objection concerning the existence of ‘AntiGod’ and the devil, as introduced by Peter Millican and Timothy Chambers. I argue that the parody objection always fails, because any parody is either (i) not structurally parallel to the ontological argument, or (ii) not dialectically parallel to the ontological argument. Moreover, once a parody argument is modified in such a way that it avoids (i) and (ii), it is, ironically, no longer a parody – it is the ontological argument itself.

Comment: Useful in a philosophy of religion course. Provides an account of the ontological argument, parody objections to it, and responses to those objections. This paper is particularly useful because it is both cutting edge and graspable by advanced undergraduate or graduate students. Any course that treats arguments for and against the existence of God in any depth will discuss the ontological argument. Parody objections to ontological arguments are common (and often taken to be decisive); this would fit well in a course that discusses these parody objections.

Nagasawa, Yujin, and . A New Defence of Anselmian Theism

2008, The Philosophical Quarterly 58 (233): 577-596.

Abstract: Anselmian theists, for whom God is the being than which no greater can be thought, usually infer that he is an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being. Critics have attacked these claims by numerous distinct arguments, such as the paradox of the stone, the argument from God’s inability to sin, and the argument from evil. Anselmian theists have responded to these arguments by constructing an independent response to each. This way of defending Anselmian theism is uneconomical. I seek to establish a new defence which undercuts almost all the existing arguments against Anselmian theism at once. In developing this defence, I consider the possibility that the Anselmian God is not an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being.

Comment: Useful in a philosophy of religion course or any course that discusses the existence of God. Provides an account of the Anselmian idea that God is the best possible being, objections to this idea and responses to those objections. This paper is particularly useful because it is both cutting edge and graspable by advanced undergraduate or graduate students. This will fit well in a course that discusses the coherence of classical theism.

Olberding, Amy, and Philip J. Ivanhoe (eds.). Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought

2011, SUNY Press

Publisher’s note: Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought is the definitive exploration of a complex and fascinating but little-understood subject. Arguably, death as a concept has not been nearly as central a preoccupation in Chinese culture as it has been in the West. However, even in a society that seems to understand death as a part of life, responses to mortality are revealing and indicate much about what is valued and what is feared. This edited volume fills the lacuna on this subject, presenting an array of philosophical, artistic, historical, and religious perspectives on death during a variety of historical periods. Contributors look at material culture, including findings now available from the Mawangdui tomb excavations; consider death in Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist traditions; and discuss death and the history and philosophy of war.

Comment: This volume contains a number of excellent essays on mortality as it appears in Chinese philosophy. It would be useful in a history of Chinese philosophy course, or to provide an additional perspective in a course on philosophy of death, immortality and the afterlife. Of particular value for this purpose is Tao Jiang's chapter comparing Linji Yixuan's views on immortality to those of William James, discussing the degree to which remembrance counts as immortality.

Scrutton, Tasia, and . Thinking through Feeling: God, Emotion and Passibility

2011, New York: Continuum.

Publisher: This book examines some of the primary questions for the impassibility debate through the lens of contemporary philosophy of emotion: is the property of being able to experience emotions a susceptibility and a weakness, or a capacity and a strength? What does it mean to experience emotions, and what sort of being is able to experience them? In examining these questions, it explores the relationship between emotions, body, will and intelligence, addressing questions concerning whether emotions are essentially physiological or cognitive, whether emotions detract from intelligence or may actually contribute towards it, and whether (and to what extent) emotions can be controlled and/or cultivated. The book moves away from some of the artificially extreme accounts of emotion towards a more subtle account that sees most emotions as on a spectrum between cognitive and physiological, voluntary and non-voluntary.

Comment: This book will be of interest to those working within contemporary philosophy of emotion, its primary value lies in applying these insights to the impassibility debate within theology and philosophy of religion.

Stump, Eleonore, and . The Problem of Evil

1985, Faith and Philosophy 2(4): 392-423.

Abstract: This paper considers briefly the approach to the problem of evil by Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and John Hick and argues that none of these approaches is entirely satisfactory. The paper then develops a different strategy for dealing with the problem of evil by expounding and taking seriously three Christian claims relevant to the problem: Adam fell; natural evil entered the world as a result of Adam’s fall; and after death human beings go either to heaven or hell. Properly interpreted, these claims form the basis for a consistent and coherent Christian solution to the problem of evil.

Comment: A clear introduction to an important approach to the problem of evil. Good primary or secondary reading for undergraduate or postgraduate courses on philosophy of religion.