Over on his Evolution Blog, Professor Jason Rosenhouse has written a post (which has been highly praised by Professor Jerry Coyne) entitled, Where can I find the really good theology? Part one. Apparently he really believes there isn’t any to be found:
We New Atheist types are often lectured about the need for studying theology. The idea is that if we tuned out the distressingly popular and highly vocal forms of religious extremism and pondered instead “the best religion has to offer,” then we would not be so hostile to religion.
…I have read a fair amount of highbrow theology. I have read my share of Augustine and Aquinas, Barth and Tillich, Kierkegaard and Kuhn, just to pick a few names. I have read quite a lot of Haught and Ward and Swinburne. I did not go into this expecting to be disappointed. Conversion seemed unlikely, but I expected at least to find a lot of food for thought. Instead, with each book and essay I read I found myself ever more horrified by the sheer vacuity of what these folks were doing. I came to despise their endlessly vague and convoluted arguments, their relentless smugness towards nonbelievers, and, most seriously, the complete lack of any solid reason for thinking they weren’t just making it up as they went along. I thought perhaps I was just reading the wrong writers, and that I would eventually come to the really good theology. But I never did.
Well, Professor Rosenhouse, I’ve been reading theology for over three decades myself, and I’ve compiled a collection of the “best of the best”: a dozen or so online articles which, when taken together, constitute a very strong philosophical case for belief in God. I’ve asterisked the ones which I think are the most important. I can assure you that the philosophers who wrote these articles are not just making it up as they go along: they’ve done a lot of hard thinking about their beliefs. If you think their arguments lack intellectual merit, I should very much like to know why.
I would also urge you to read Professor Edward Feser’s book, Aquinas. It’s about the best defense of Aristotelian Thomism that you are ever likely to read, it’s less than 200 pages long, and its arguments merit very serious consideration. You would be ill-advised to dismiss it out of hand.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s my list.
It’s your move, Professor Rosenhouse.
The modal cosmological argument
Job Opening: Creator of the Universe — A Reply to Keith Parsons (2009) by Professor Paul Herrick. Argues that philosophical theism, far from being vulnerable to the continued progress of science, rests on a rationally satisfying and philosophically attractive logical basis that cannot, in principle, be overturned by the continued progress of natural science.
Lecture notes and bibliography from Dr. Koons’ Western Theism course (Phil. 356). An excellent introduction to the modal cosmological argument, with a refutation of criticisms by Hume, Kant and Mackie. Also covers the design argument.
Koon’s paper, A New Look at the Cosmological Argument is more technical but definitely worth reading, especially for its rebuttals to common criticisms of the modal cosmological argument.
The cosmological fine-tuning argument: the case for the Universe having a Designer
The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe by Dr. Robin Collins. In The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland. 2009. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 978-1-405-17657-6. The most up-to-date refinement of the fine-tuning argument. Comprehensive and very rigorously argued.
The Fine-tuning of the Cosmos: A Fresh Look at its Implications by Dr. Robin Collins.
Making Sense of Divine Simplicity (forthcoming in Faith and Philosophy) by Dr. Jeffrey Brower, of Purdue University. A number of contemporary philosophers have argued that divine simplicity is at least a coherent doctrine. For all their ingenuity, however, contemporary defenses of the doctrine continue to fall on deaf ears. Brower’s purpose in this paper is two-fold: to explain why this is case, and to mount a new defense, one that succeeds where the others have failed to resolve contemporary concerns about the doctrine’s coherence, once and for all.
Eternity by Professor Paul Helm. Article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Foreknowledge and Free Will by Professor Norman Swartz. Article in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
(See also Foreknowledge and Free Will by Professor Linda Zagzebski. Article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)
God, obligation, and the Euthyphro dilemma by Professor Edward Feser. (October 26, 2010.)
C. S. Lewis and the Euthyphro Dilemmaby Dr. Steve Lovell. Please scroll down to read the article.
The article addresses the question: are actions good because God commands them, or does God command them because they are good? According to what Lovell calls the Divine Nature Theory, morality is rooted not in God’s commands, but in God’s necessary and immutable nature, which is essentially good.
God as the Grounding of Moral Objectivity: Defending Against Euthyphro by Dr. Steve Lovell. Please scroll down to read the article.
Abstract: The Euthyphro Dilemma (is x good because God says it’s good, or does God say x is good because it is good?), has been used as an argument against Theistic Ethics for hundreds of years. Plato was the first to use it. Since then Bertrand Russell, Kai Nielsen and many others have sought to really push it home. My aim in this paper is to show that the dilemma (as posed by both Russell and Nielsen) is a false one. Theistic ethics does survive the Euthyphro dilemma. I take up and defend Aquinas’ position: that God himself (or his nature) is the standard of goodness, and not his commands. This position avoids the dilemma since God’s commands / morality will not be arbitrary (since they are/it is rooted in God’s nature), and Goodness will not be in any sense anterior to God either.