This essay aims to explain what Aquinas does and does not mean when using the word ‘God’. It also tries to explain why Aquinas thinks it reasonable to conclude that God exists and how Aquinas can be compared and contrasted with certain thinkers both agreeing and disagreeing with this conclusion. The essay places emphasis on Aquinas’s notion of esse and on the fact that he consistently asserts that we do not know what God is.
T. J. Mawson
This essay begins by remarking that the broad understanding of atheism (‘absence of belief in a God or gods’) is not a position that theism per se commits one to claiming is unreasonable. The essay then, however, proceeds to present an argument against atheism being reasonable. This constitutes a variant of the fine-tuning version of the Design Argument, and contends that both the universe’s fine-tuning to us, and our fine-tuning to the universe, are better explained by the ‘God hypothesis’ than by a range of alternatives (including the ‘maximal multiverse hypothesis’). While admitting that there is no single ‘killer argument’ against atheism, the essay argues that a persuasive, cumulative case for the God hypothesis—with cosmic fine-tuning as its strongest suit—can nevertheless be constructed.
Michael L. Peterson
The problem of evil is considered to be the most formidable objection to theism and a central element in the case for atheism. This essay surveys and evaluates the two key formulations of the problem expressed as an argument: the logical argument and the evidential argument. It also analyzes two types of defences offered in response to the argument from evil: the Free Will Defence against the logical argument and Skeptical Theist Defence against the evidential argument. Also treated are several greater-good theodicies that are generally employed as responses to the evidential argument: free will theodicy, natural law theodicy, and soul-making theodicy. Because it sounds a slightly different note from traditional greater good approaches, the theodicy of Open Theism—which argues that the theistic God could create a universe in which there is the possibility of evil occurring that does not serve some greater good—is examined.
The most interesting thing about sceptical theism is its sceptical component. When sceptical theists use that component in responding to arguments from evil, they think it is reasonable for their non-theistic interlocutors to accept it, even if they don't expect them to accept their theism. This article focuses on that sceptical component. The first section explains more precisely what the sceptical theist's scepticism amounts to and how it is used in response to various sorts of arguments from evil. The next section considers and responds to objections to sceptical theism. It is shown that just as there are non-theists who accept the sceptical theist's scepticism, so also are there theists who reject it.