Article

The Existence and Attributes of God

Trent Dougherty

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online June 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0049
The Existence and Attributes of God

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This entry focuses on the contents of the core conversation about God in recent Anglophone analytic philosophy. That conversation has been predominantly about evidence for the sort of God at the center of Abrahamic monotheism of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as an investigation into the finer points of certain key divine attributes. This conversation includes both arguments for the existence of God and arguments against. The arguments for the existence of God vary widely. Some rely on more a priori foundations such as the ontological arguments; some are quite empirical, such as the design argument. The cosmological arguments spans the gap by appealing both to a priori principles concerning explanation or causation as well as at least the minimal empirical claim that something exists. Each of these arguments is covered in this entry. Historically, the central argument against the existence of God is based on the presence of various kinds of evil. In recent years, two developments pertaining to this conversation have emerged. First, there is a certain response to the problem of evil called “skeptical theism” according to which evil cannot show that God does not exist because one cannot fathom the reasons God might have for allowing any state of affairs we might observe. This entry covers both presentations of and critiques of this response. Also, some theorists have reflected upon the debate and presented the idea that the very debatability of God’s existence is evidence that there is no God, for God would surely make his presence known. This is known as the problem of divine hiddenness and is covered in this entry. Concerning the nature of God, omnipotence is a traditional starting point, since many puzzles concerning it come quickly to the philosophical mind. This entry covers the most important investigations, presentations, and attempted resolutions of these puzzles. It is hard to consider the attributes of omniscience and eternity separately, for one of the historically most prominent proposed solutions to the puzzle concerning omniscience and free will exploits the concept of God’s being “outside time” in some sense. This entry tries to do justice to this fact while treating each attribute under its own heading. Finally, the very puzzling yet often theologically central doctrine of the problem of divine simplicity (that in some important sense God has no parts) is treated. In this entry the focus is always on the most prominent and most recent discussion. This will by nature involve very important contributions from earlier in the 20th century, but earlier sources are left to the bibliographies of works that are addressed in this bibliography. For classical readings on the topics, the reader is referred to the Anthologies section below.

Article.  10275 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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