Richard G. Swinburne (/ˈswɪnbɜːrn/; born 26 December 1934) is a British philosopher. He is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. Over the last 50 years Swinburne has been an influential proponent of philosophical arguments for the existence of God. His philosophical contributions are primarily in the philosophy of religion and philosophy of science. He aroused much discussion with his early work in the philosophy of religion, a trilogy of books consisting of The Coherence of Theism, The Existence of God, and Faith and Reason.
|Born||26 December 1934|
|Alma mater||Exeter College, Oxford|
|Philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, theology|
|Revival of Christian apologetics|
Swinburne received an Open Scholarship to study classics at Exeter College, Oxford, but in fact graduated with a first class BA in philosophy, politics, and economics. Swinburne has held various professorships through his career in academia. From 1972 to 1985 he taught at Keele University. During part of this time, he gave the Gifford lectures at Aberdeen from 1982 to 1984, resulting in the book The Evolution of the Soul. From 1985 until his retirement in 2002 he was Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at the University of Oxford (his successor in this chair is Brian Leftow). He has continued to publish regularly since his retirement.
Swinburne has been an active author throughout his career, producing a major book every two to three years. He has played an important role in recent debate over the mind-body problem, defending a substance dualism that recalls the work of René Descartes in important respects. See The Evolution of the Soul, 1997.
His books are primarily very technical works of academic philosophy, but he has written at the popular level as well. Of the non-technical works, his Is There a God? (1996), summarising for a non-specialist audience many of his arguments for the existence of God and plausibility in the belief of that existence, is probably the most popular, and is available in 22 languages.
A member of the Orthodox Church, he is noted as one of the foremost Christian apologists, arguing in his many articles and books that faith in Christianity is rational and coherent in a rigorous philosophical sense. William Hasker writes that his "tetralogy on Christian doctrine, together with his earlier trilogy on the philosophy of theism, is one of the most important apologetic projects of recent times." While Swinburne presents many arguments to advance the belief that God exists, he argues that God is a being whose existence is not logically necessary (see modal logic), but metaphysically necessary in a way he defines in his The Christian God. Other subjects on which Swinburne writes include personal identity (in which he espouses a view based on the concept of a soul), and epistemic justification. He has written in defence of Cartesian dualism and libertarian free will.
Although he is best known for his vigorous rational defence of Christian intellectual commitments, he also has a theory of the nature of passionate faith which is developed in his book Faith and Reason.
Swinburne's philosophical method reflects the influence of Thomas Aquinas. He admits that he draws from Aquinas a systematic approach to philosophical theology. Swinburne, like Aquinas, moves from basic philosophical issues (for example, the question of the possibility that God may exist in Swinburne's The Coherence of Theism), to more specific Christian beliefs (for example, the claim in Swinburne's Revelation that God has communicated to human beings propositionally in Jesus Christ).
Swinburne moves in his writing program from the philosophical to the theological, building his case rigorously, and relying on his previous arguments as he defends particular Christian beliefs. He has attempted to reassert classical Christian beliefs with an apologetic method that he believes is compatible with contemporary science. That method relies heavily on inductive logic, seeking to show that his Christian beliefs fit best with the evidence.
2008 in philosophy2014 in philosophy
2014 in philosophyArgument from beauty
The argument from beauty (also the aesthetic argument) is an argument for the existence of a realm of immaterial ideas or, most commonly, for the existence of God.
Plato argued there is a transcendent plane of abstract ideas, or universals, which are more perfect than real-world examples of those ideas. Later philosophers connected this plane to the idea of goodness, beauty, and then the Christian God.
Various observers have also argued that the experience of beauty is evidence of the existence of a universal God. Depending on the observer, this might include artificially beautiful things like music or art, natural beauty like landscapes or astronomical bodies, or the elegance of abstract ideas like the laws of mathematics or physics.
The best-known defender of the aesthetic argument is Richard Swinburne.Argument from miracles
The argument from miracles is an argument for the existence of God that relies on the belief that events witnessed and described as miracles – i.e. as events not explicable by natural or scientific laws – indicate the intervention of the supernatural.
One example of this argument is the Christological argument: the claim that historical evidence proves that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that this can only be explained if God exists. Another is the claim that many of the Qur'an's prophecies have been fulfilled and that this too can only be explained if God (Allah) exists.
Defenders of the argument include C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton and William of Ockham.Brian Leftow
Brian Leftow (born 1956) is the Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at Oriel College, Oxford, succeeding Richard Swinburne, who retired in 2002. In fall 2018, he will join the faculty at Rutgers University.Christian apologetics
Christian apologetics (Greek: ἀπολογία, "verbal defence, speech in defence") is a branch of Christian theology that defends Christianity against objections.Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul the Apostle in the early church and Patristic writers such as Origen, Augustine of Hippo, Justin Martyr and Tertullian, then continuing with writers such as Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and Anselm of Canterbury during Scholasticism. Blaise Pascal was an active Christian apologist before the Age of Enlightenment, and in the modern period, Christianity was defended through the efforts of many authors such as G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis, as well as G. E. M. Anscombe. In contemporary times Christianity is defended through the work of figures such as Robert Barron, Richard Swinburne, J. P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, Rabi Maharaj, Robert Hutchinson, John Lennox, Doug Wilson, Lee Strobel, Francis Collins, Henry M. Morris, Hugh W. Nibley, Alister McGrath, Alvin Plantinga, Hugh Ross, Frank Turek, Greg Koukl, James White, David Wood, Dinesh D’Souza, David Bentley Hart, Nabeel Qureshi, William Lane Craig and Roger Scruton.Classical theism
Classical theism is a form of theism in which God is characterized as the absolutely metaphysically ultimate being, in contrast to other conceptions such as pantheism, panentheism, polytheism and process theism.
Classical theism is a form of monotheism. Whereas most monotheists agree that God is, at minimum, all-knowing, all-powerful, and completely good, classical theism asserts that God is both immanent (encompassing or manifested in the material world) and simultaneously transcendent (independent of the material universe); simple, and having such attributes as immutability, impassibility, and timelessness. A key concept in classical theism is that "created beings" (ie, material phenomena, whether sentient biological organisms or insentient matter) are dependent for their existence on the one supreme divine Being. Also, although God is wholly transcendent, he not only creates the material universe but also acts upon the material universe in imposing (or organizing) a Higher Order upon that material reality. This order was called by the ancient Greeks logos.
Classical theism is associated with the tradition of writers like Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, St. Anselm, Maimonides, Averroes and Thomas Aquinas. In opposition to this tradition, there are, today, philosophers like Alvin Plantinga (who rejects divine simplicity), Richard Swinburne (who rejects divine timelessness) and William Lane Craig (who rejects both divine simplicity and timelessness), who can be viewed as theistic personalists. Philosophers like David Bentley Hart have defended classical theism itself in recent times.
Classical theism was almost universal among Christian theologians prior to the twentieth century. However, some of its recent critics argue that it is taken from pre-Christian philosophers and incompatible with the occasions in the Bible that describe God as emotional or changing. In defence of classical theism's compatibility with the Bible, these passages can be read in an analogous or allegorical sense as containing poetic elements, just as many other passages have also long been read. For example, Exodus 31:18 describes "the finger of God", and Genesis 3:8 describes God as noisily walking in the garden of Eden. It is inconsistent that most Christian critics of classical theism would read these latter verses in an allegorical sense, but insist that instances which describe change or passion in God are extremely literal in meaning. Moreover, whereas critics of classical theism charge that it has infiltrated Christian theology from pre-Christian roots such as Neoplatonism, in fact the term "classical theism" belies crucial differences between a traditional Christian and Neoplatonic conception of God. For example, whereas Arius followed the neo-Platonist Plotinus in asserting that God could not become a physical man, Athanasius defended the doctrine of God's incarnation as the man Jesus, while nevertheless defending the immutability and impassibility of Jesus' divine nature. According to a traditional Christian understanding of the communicatio idiomatum, it can be rightly said that God suffered and died on the cross, but only by virtue of the hypostatic union of the impassible divine word with Jesus' passible human soul and body. Hence, while the church fathers made sure to correct the classical theism of pagan sources where it was incompatible with Christianity, it can be argued that many of the modern Christian critics of classical theism are in fact themselves influenced by an overly uncritical adoption of trends within process theology, which itself has non-Christian philosophical roots in the thought of Charles Hartshorne.Eddie Tabash
Edward Tabash is an American lawyer and political and social activist. He is an atheist and a proponent of the Establishment Clause. He chairs the Board of Directors for the Center for Inquiry. Tabash has represented the atheist position in debates against several world-renowned religious philosophers and apologists, including William Lane Craig, Peter van Inwagen, J.P. Moreland, Greg Bahnsen and Richard Swinburne.God in the Age of Science?
God in the Age of Science?: A Critique of Religious Reason is a 2012 book by the Dutch philosopher Herman Philipse, written in English and published in the United Kingdom. Philipse found his Atheist Manifesto (1995) to be too hastily and superficially written, and decided to set up a more complete work to systematically refute all the arguments for the existence of God and adherence to any form of theism.To gain insight in how a religious person substantiates the existence of God, Philipse presents a "religious decision tree" that leads to four categories of theists. He starts by asking:
Is the statement "God exists" a factual truth claim?
If not, somebody claims that God does not factually exists, but is merely a metaphor. Defenders of this position are, according to Philipse, following the tradition of Wittgenstein, and are currently represented by people like D.Z. Phillips and Karen Armstrong.
If yes, is it necessary to invoke any kind of (logical) argumentation or (empirical) evidence to back up this truth claim?
If not, somebody claims that God factually exists, but that one may assert this without invoking any kind of argumentation or evidence. Alvin Plantinga is among those defending this position, aiming to explain the world in the case God exists, which itself remains a matter of faith (an axiom or presupposition, according to Plantinga).
If yes, does this argumentation or evidence need to be scientific in nature (to have gone through the scientific method), and is there no possibility to completely achieve a proof of God through one's own standards?
If not, somebody claims that God factually exists, and that one can prove this, but not in a scientific manner. Defenders of this position make use of what Philipse calls "typically religious arguments", such as revelation, religious texts, religious experience, prayer, speaking in tongues, a convulsion with foam at the mouth etc. Although himself an agnostic, the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould described this point of view as non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA): science and religion are two entirely different enterprises and have nothing to say about each other; therefore, science cannot assess the existence of God. The opposite of this is the god of the gaps argument, namely that if science can't explain any given phenomenon, religion can, often by postulating a god.
If yes, somebody claims that God factually exists, and that his existence can be demonstrated using scientific evidence. This position is held by people like Richard Swinburne and Stephen D. Unwin, who, for example, try to show the probability of God's existence using Bayes' theorem. The intelligent design movement (ID) claimed to possess scientific evidence for the traditional divine creation myth that would refute the theory of evolution (among other scientific facts). Aside from ID, there are many other creationist movements with scientific pretenses.Next, Philipse tries to refute arguments from every category step by step, but especially from the last case, namely Bayes' theorem as used by Swinburne. Based on his critiques of the last two cases ("God is supernatural" and "God's existence is within reach of natural theology") he concludes that:
God's existence is a meaningless predicate, according to the definitions of substance dualists and supernaturalists. (See also, theological noncognitivism).
If theism were meaningful, it would have no predictive power upon the existing evidence, because theists render the claim unfalsifiable every time evidence on the contrary is explained away with responses like "God works in mysterious ways" (See also the problem of evil). Therefore Bayesian arguments are inapplicable.
Therefore, because neither strategy is epistemologically satisfactory, one should conclude that atheism is a more principled position than theism.Irenaean theodicy
The Irenaean theodicy is a Christian theodicy (a response to the problem of evil). It defends the probability of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent (all-powerful and perfectly loving) God in the face of evidence of evil in the world. Numerous variations of theodicy have been proposed which all maintain that, while evil exists, God is either not responsible for creating evil, or he is not guilty for creating evil. Typically, the Irenaean theodicy asserts that the world is the best of all possible worlds because it allows humans to fully develop. Most versions of the Irenaean theodicy propose that creation is incomplete, as humans are not yet fully developed, and experiencing evil and suffering is necessary for such development.
Second-century philosopher and theologian Irenaeus, after whom the theodicy is named, proposed a two-stage creation process in which humans require free will and the experience of evil to develop. Another early Christian theologian, Origen, presented a response to the problem of evil which cast the world as a schoolroom or hospital for the soul; theologian Mark Scott has argued that Origen, rather than Irenaeus, ought to be considered the father of this kind of theodicy. Friedrich Schleiermacher argued in the nineteenth century that God must necessarily create flawlessly, so this world must be the best possible world because it allows God's purposes to be naturally fulfilled. In 1966, philosopher John Hick discussed the similarities of the preceding theodicies, calling them all "Irenaean". He supported the view that creation is incomplete and argued that the world is best placed for the full moral development of humans, as it presents genuine moral choices. British philosopher Richard Swinburne proposed that, to make a free moral choice, humans must have experience of the consequences of their own actions and that natural evil must exist to provide such choices.
The development of process theology has challenged the Irenaean tradition by teaching that God's power is limited and that he cannot be responsible for evil. Twentieth-century philosopher Alvin Plantinga opposed the idea that this is the best possible world, arguing that there could always be at least one more good person, in every possible world. His free will defence was not a theodicy because he was trying to show the logical compatibility of evil and the existence of God, rather than the probability of God. D. Z. Phillips and Fyodor Dostoyevsky challenged the instrumental use of suffering, suggesting that love cannot be expressed through suffering. However, Dostoyevsky also states that the beauty of love is evident, in that love can continue to grow, withstand and overcome even the most evil acts. Michael Tooley argued that the magnitude of suffering is excessive and that, in some cases, cannot lead to moral development. French theologian Henri Blocher criticised Hick's universalism, arguing that such a view negates free will, which was similarly important to the theodicy.List of Christian apologetic works
This is a list of Christian apologetic works.List of Closer to Truth episodes
Closer to Truth is a continuing television series on PBS & public television originally created, produced and hosted by Robert Lawrence Kuhn. The first premiere series aired in 2000 for 2 seasons, followed by a second series aired in 2003 for a single season.
The current / third series of the program, Closer to Truth: Cosmos. Consciousness. God, launched in 2008, with 18 full seasons to date. Robert Lawrence Kuhn is the creator, executive producer, writer and presenter of the series. Peter Getzels is the co-creator and producer / director.The show is centered on on-camera conversations with leading scientists, philosophers, theologians, and scholars, covering a diverse range of topics or questions from the size and nature of the universe (or multiverse), to the existence and essence of God, to the mystery of consciousness and the notion of free will.List of philosophers of religion
This is a list of philosophers of religion.
Joseph ben Abraham
Anselm of Canterbury
St. Thomas Aquinas
Augustine of Hippo
Jedaiah ben Abraham Bedersi
Isaac Orobio de Castro
G. K. Chesterton
Stephen R.L. Clark
William Lane Craig
Joseph Solomon Delmedigo
Aaron ben Elijah
Shem-Tov ibn Falaquera
Solomon ibn Gabirol
Johann Georg Hamann
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Jeshua ben Judah
Isaac Nathan ben Kalonymus
Isaac ibn Latif
Leon of Modena
Elia del Medigo
David ibn Merwan al-Mukkamas
Robert Cummings Neville
Bahya ibn Paquda
Robert M. Price
John Duns Scotus
Isaac ben Sheshet
Hoter ben Shlomo
Walter Terence Stace
Melville Y. Stewart
Samuel ibn Tibbon
Joseph ibn Tzaddik
Muhammad Alief Roslan
Hossein NasrList of philosophers of science
This is a chronological list of philosophers of science. For an alphabetical name-list, see Category:Philosophers of science.Metaphysical necessity
In philosophy, metaphysical necessity, sometimes called broad logical necessity, is one of many different kinds of necessity, which sits between logical necessity and nomological (or physical) necessity, in the sense that logical necessity entails metaphysical necessity, but not vice versa, and metaphysical necessity entails physical necessity, but not vice versa. A proposition is said to be necessary if it could not have failed to be the case. Nomological necessity is necessity according to the laws of physics and logical necessity is necessity according to the laws of logic, while metaphysical necessities are necessary in the sense that the world could not possibly have been otherwise. What facts are metaphysically necessary, and on what basis we might view certain facts as metaphysically but not logically necessary are subjects of substantial discussion in contemporary philosophy.
The concept of a metaphysically necessary being plays an important role in certain arguments for the existence of God, especially the ontological argument, but metaphysical necessity is also one of the central concepts in late 20th century analytic philosophy. Metaphysical necessity has proved a controversial concept, and criticized by David Hume, Immanuel Kant, J. L. Mackie, and Richard Swinburne, among others.
Metaphysical necessity is contrasted with other types of necessity. For example, the philosophers of religion John Hick and William L. Rowe distinguished the following three:
factual necessity (existential necessity): a factually necessary being is not causally dependent on any other being, while any other being is causally dependent on it.
causal necessity (subsumed by Hicks under the former type): a causally necessary being is such that it is logically impossible for it to be causally dependent on any other being, and it is logically impossible for any other being to be causally independent of it.
logical necessity: a logically necessary being is a being whose non-existence is a logical impossibility, and which therefore exists either timeless or eternally in all possible worlds.While many theologians (e.g. Anselm of Canterbury, René Descartes, and Gottfried Leibniz) considered God to be a logically or metaphysically necessary being, Richard Swinburne argued for factual necessity, and Alvin Plantinga argues that God is a causally necessary being. Because a factually or causally necessary being does not exist by logical necessity, it does not exist in all logically possible worlds. Therefore, Swinburne used the term "ultimate brute fact" for the existence of God.Occam's razor
Occam's razor (also Ockham's razor or Ocham's razor (Latin: novacula Occami); further known as the law of parsimony (Latin: lex parsimoniae) is the problem-solving principle that essentially states that "simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones." When presented with competing hypotheses to solve a problem, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions. The idea is attributed to English Franciscan friar William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), a scholastic philosopher and theologian.
In science, Occam's razor is used as an abductive heuristic in the development of theoretical models, rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models. In the scientific method, Occam's razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there may be an extremely large, perhaps even incomprehensible, number of possible and more complex alternatives. Since one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are more testable.Religious experience
A religious experience (sometimes known as a spiritual experience, sacred experience, or mystical experience) is a subjective experience which is interpreted within a religious framework. The concept originated in the 19th century, as a defense against the growing rationalism of Western society. William James popularised the concept.Many religious and mystical traditions see religious experiences (particularly that knowledge which comes with them) as revelations caused by divine agency rather than ordinary natural processes. They are considered real encounters with God or gods, or real contact with higher-order realities of which humans are not ordinarily aware.Skeptics may hold that religious experience is an evolved feature of the human brain amenable to normal scientific study. The commonalities and differences between religious experiences across different cultures have enabled scholars to categorize them for academic study.Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit
The Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit is a counter-argument to modern versions of the argument from design for the existence of God. It was introduced by Richard Dawkins in chapter 4 of his 2006 book The God Delusion, "Why there almost certainly is no God".
The argument is a play on the notion of a "tornado sweeping through a junkyard to assemble a Boeing 747" employed to decry abiogenesis and evolution as vastly unlikely and better explained by the existence of a creator god. According to Dawkins, this logic is self-defeating as the theist must now account for the god's existence and explain whether or how the god was created. In his view, if the existence of highly complex life on Earth is the equivalent of the implausible junkyard Boeing 747, the existence of a highly complex god is the "ultimate Boeing 747" that truly does require the seemingly impossible to explain its existence.William Harry Jellema
William Harry Jellema (1893–1982) was the founder of Calvin College's Philosophy Department. He taught at Calvin College from 1920-36, transferred to Indiana University and then returned to Calvin from 1948-63.Following his mandatory retirement from Calvin College, Jellema taught for a year at Haverford College and was invited by James Zumberge to found the philosophy department at Grand Valley State College in Allendale, Michigan and continue his teaching for another five years.Three of his students from Calvin were elected President of the American Philosophical Association, and two of his students delivered the Gifford Lectures. Alvin Plantinga described Jellema as "by all odds…the most gifted teacher of philosophy I have ever encountered” and “obviously in dead earnest about Christianity; he was also a magnificently thoughtful and reflective Christian.”The Jellema Lectures at Calvin College are named in his honor. Past Jellema lecturers have included JR Lucas (1987), Richard Swinburne (1988), Marilyn McCord Adams (1992), Sarah Coakley (2001), and Nancey Murphy (2009). There is also a study room in Calvin College's Hiemenga Hall named the Jellema Room, which contains Jellema's library.
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