By John Cottingham

ISBN-10: 0521843774

ISBN-13: 9780521843775

Delivering a brand new version for the philosophy of faith, John Cottingham combines emotional and highbrow points of our human adventure, and embraces functional in addition to theoretical matters. Cottingham finds how a non secular worldview is better understood now not as an remoted set of doctrines, yet as in detail concerning non secular praxis and to the hunt for self-understanding and ethical progress. referring to many vital debates in modern philosophy and theology, yet obtainable to basic readers, this booklet covers a variety of significant issues within the philosophy of faith.

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For example, since our entire uniform past experience informs us that human beings do not walk on water, if someone claims to have witnessed such an event, it will always be more probable that he or she was mistaken than that the occurrence actually occurred. If we start from the preponderance of previous empirical data, the hypothesis of a miracle can never be a plausible inference to the best explanation. But while Hume seems to me more or less correct in his assessment of what can plausibly be inferred from the balance of data alone, it is by no means clear that the claims of religion are typically advanced as the most plausible inference to be drawn from the empirical facts; moreover, it is by no means clear that the religious adherent needs to advance them as such.

If this is right, then creation, even by an omnipotent being, is in an important sense constrained: God may be free to create hydrogen, but he is not free to create hydrogen that does not decay into helium under certain conditions, for that is part of the essential nature of hydrogen. 29 Perhaps God should not have created a material world at all, given that beings operating within that world would inevitably be subject to all the potential suffering resulting from the necessary impermanence and instability of the material out of which they and their environment are composed.

But composed of a different molecular structure (‘XYZ’ instead of H2O), such that, for example, it did not drown people. I think we should beware of this kind of speculative ‘armchair’ metaphysics, which often rests on no more than a half-baked intuition that a certain imaginary scenario ‘seems plausible’. In reality, the beneficial properties of water such as drinkability flow from its molecular structure, which is integrally linked, via a host of complex physico-chemical laws, to a vast array of other powers and properties of water itself and of the other substances with which it is disposed to interact.

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The Spiritual Dimension: Religion, Philosophy and Human Value by John Cottingham


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