PREFACE TO THE APPENDIX (JULY 2006)
What follows are notes for a lecture on theistic arguments given in a summer seminar in philosophy of religion in Bellingham, Washington, in 1986. Although the last twenty years have seen a good bit of interesting work on theistic arguments (for example, on the fine-tuning arguments), the notes, while shortened a bit, are unrevised. My intention had always been to write a small book based on these arguments, with perhaps a chapter on each of the main kinds. Time has never permitted, however, and now the chances of my writing such a book are small and dwindling. Nevertheless, each, I think, deserves loving attention and development. I'm not sure they warrant publication in this undeveloped, nascent, merely germinal form, but Deane-Peter Baker thought some people might find them interesting; I hope others will be moved to work them out and develop them in detail.
I've argued in Warranted Christian Belief and elsewhere that neither theistic nor full-blown Christian belief requires argument for justification or rationality or (if true) warrant. One can be justified and rational in accepting theistic belief, even if one doesn't accept theism on the basis of arguments and even if in fact there aren't any good theistic arguments. The same holds for Christian belief, which of course goes far beyond theism: One doesn't need arguments for justified and rational Christian belief.
Documents beginning with “it gives me great pleasure to …” ordinarily enjoy all the sincerity of Dear in Dear IRS. This case, however, is different; it really does give me great pleasure to contribute an essay to a volume dedicated to Nicholas Wolterstorff. He and I have been friends and colleagues (sometimes at a bit of a distance) for more than 50 years. I have learned much from him, and admire him enormously. No one has done more to enhance the renewal of Christian philosophy in the twentieth century. I'm delighted to take part in this project and am grateful to the editors for making it possible.
This paper is part of a larger project investigating a number of connected topics, all of them centering around the relation between God and the world, the notion of God's acting in the world, and the question of how properly to conceive the connection between scientific statements about the world and theological or religious statements about God's relation to the world and action in it. In this present bit of the project, I am interested in particular in the question of the relation between the laws of nature, if indeed there are any such things, and the ways, if any, in which God can act in the world. I'll be particularly interested in a fascinating argument by Sydney Shoemaker for the conclusion that the laws of nature are necessary in the broadly logical or metaphysical sense; if this is true, then perhaps God's possibilities of action in the world are severely limited.
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