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Theism: An Axiological Investigation

News Project Team Lecture Debate Workshop Videos Research Results
 
Project Overview:

 
Throughout the history of philosophy, many arguments about the existence of God have been proposed. Some have defended theism, others atheism, and still others agnosticism. But while philosophers have been busy trying to determine whether or not God exists, they have often neglected to ask: "What difference would
- or does - God's existence make to the overall value of the world?" This question is not about the putative advantages or disadvantages of some individual or society having religious beliefs or engaging in religious practices. It is, instead, a question about the axiological consequences of theism. This research project will systematically investigate various answers that might be given to this profoundly important question. Some say that God's existence would make the world far better than it would otherwise be. But
this is not the only possible view. Some have said that God's existence would make the world far worse than it would otherwise be, and still other answers could be given. For example, one could hold that God's existence would make the world neither far better nor far worse, or that the effects of God's existence on the value of the world simply cannot be determined. This project aims to identify and evaluate arguments for and against all the major positions on this issue. In so doing, this project will also address the following question: "How can we tell what difference God's existence would - or does - make to the overall value of the world?" This project presupposes neither theism, atheism, nor agnosticism.
 
Activities:
  • This project supported the research of two Templeton Research Fellows in 2013-2014, and will support the work of two more in 2014-2015. The purpose of these research fellowships is to provide a period of uninterrupted research time for outstanding philosophers to pursue ground-breaking research on any aspect(s) of this project. 
  • This project also provided funds for a lecture and a debate on this topic.
  • A research workshop on this topic will take place in September 2015.
Call for Applications:
  • One research fellowship will be available during either the Summer 2015 or the Fall 2015 semester. For details, see the call for applications. Applications are due on March 31st, 2015.
 
 
News:

         
   
        
Project Team:

  
Project Leader
 
2014-2015 Templeton Research Fellow:

Franks
   
 
2013-2014 Templeton Research Fellows:
 
 Davis
Penner
 
 
Honorary Research Fellow:
 
 Trakakis
 
 
 
Lecture: Why "There is a God" is Good News (November 3, 2014)


 Swinburne
Speaker: Richard Swinburne, Emeritus Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion, Oxford University.
Date/Time:
Monday, November 3, 2014, 4:00-5:30pm.
Location:
Oakham Lounge, Oakham House, 63 Gould Street, Toronto.

 
Abstract: Humans have good lives in so far as they have true beliefs about moral and cosmic matters, and appropriate emotions; have others who love and influence them, and have power to choose freely how to influence themselves and others, and use it for good.  Contrary to the writings of "New Atheists", if there is a God, our life on earth would be richer in all these ways. We would be able to acquire better understanding of moral truths, and to have more appropriate emotions (including gratitude to God our creator), we would be loved and influenced by God, and have the power to please God and to influence ourselves and others in new important ways ; and if we use this power well, our lives will be much better than they would be without God. Given that God gives us life after death, we would also have the opportunity to choose to have an everlasting growth of relation to God in all these ways, and the enormous power to refuse to have this; and, if we make the right choice,  our lives would be very much better than they would be without God.
       
 





Debate: "What Difference Would - or Does - God's Existence Make?" (March 6, 2015)


PvI RdS Participants:

Dr. Peter van Inwagen, University of Notre Dame / Duke University.
Dr. Ronald de Sousa, Universty of Toronto. Title:  "Thank God He Doesn't Exist!"

Details:

Friday, March 6th, 4:00-5:30 pm (reception to follow)
Oakham Lounge, 2nd Floor of Oakham House, 63 Gould Street, Ryerson University

Registration:

To register, click here. There is no fee to attend.
 
 
Research Workshop (September 11-12, 2015):

A research workshop on the topic of this grant will take place on September 11th and 12th, 2015, at Ryerson University in Toronto. This event is open to the general public and free to attend. Confirmed speakers include:
Further details will be posted in due course.
   

Videos:

 

  
  
  



   
 
 



 


Presentations and Publications:

This grant has supported research leading to the following presentations and publications:
  • Davis, R. (2014) "Theism and the Counterpossible Consensus." Ryerson Philosophy Department Speaker's Series, Toronto, ON, March 11.
  • Davis, R., and Franks, W.P. (2013) "Counterpossibles and the 'Terrible' Divine Command Deity." Toronto Philosophy of Religion Work-in-Progress Group, Dec. 19.
  • Davis, R., and Franks, W.P. (2014) "Counterpossibles and the 'Terrible' Divine Command Deity." University of New Brunswick Philosophy Colloquium, Mar. 19.
  • Davis, R., and Franks, W.P. (2014) "Counterpossibles and the 'Terrible' Divine Command Deity." Religious Studies at 50 Conference, Leeds, UK, June 25-27.
  • Davis, R., and Franks, W.P. (2014) "Counterpossibles and the 'Terrible' Divine Command Deity." Evangelical Philosophical Society, San Diego, Nov. 19.
  • Davis, R., and Franks, W.P. (2015) "On Plantingean Pro-Theism: Transworld Depravity, Incarnation, and Atonement." Toronto Philosophy of Religion Work-in-Progress Group, March 5.
  • Davis, R., and Franks, W.P. (2015) "Counterpossibles and the 'Terrible' Divine Command Deity." Religious Studies 51: 1-19.
  • Davis, R., and Franks, W.P. (forthcoming) "Layman's Lapse: On an Incomplete Moral Argument for Theism." Philo.
  • Franks, W.P. (2015) "Heaven, Hell, and the Value of God's Existence." Ryerson University Life Institute Philosophy Cafe, March 17th.
  • Kraay, K. (2013) "Method and Madness in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy of Religion." Toronto Journal of Theology 29: 245-264.
  • Kraay, K. (2013) "Does God Matter?" Vanier College Speaker Series, York University, Toronto, Nov. 20.
  • Kraay, K. (2014) "William Hasker on Gratuitous Evil." Society of Christian Philosophers (Midwest Region) Conference, Trinity Christian College, March 27.
  • Kraay, K. (2014) "William Hasker on Gratuitous Evil." 7th Annual Ryerson Philosophy Day Symposium, Ryerson University, May 16.
  • Kraay, K. (2014) "William Hasker on Gratuitous Evil." Canadian Society of Christian Philosophers Conference, Brock University, St. Catharine's, ON, May 26.
  • Kraay, K. (2014) "On Meeting the Requirements for Moral Perfection." Canadian Philosophical Association Conference, Brock University, St. Catharine's, ON, May 26.
  • Kraay, K. (2014) "On Meeting the Requirements for Moral Perfection." Society of Christian Philosophers (Eastern Division) Meeting, Niagara University, November 6-7.
  • Kraay, K. (2014) "Peter van Inwagen on Gratuitous Evil." Religious Studies 50: 217-243.
  • Kraay, K. (2014) "Perspectives and Positions in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy of Religion." Toronto Journal of Theology 30: 132-140.
  • Kraay, K. (2015) "Can God Permit Pointless Evil?" Ryerson University Life Institute Philosophy Cafe, March 3.
  • Kraay, K. (2015) "On Meeting the Requirements for Moral Perfection." American Philosophical Association (Pacific Division) Meeting, Vancouver, BC, April 1-4.
  • Kraay, K. (2015) TBA. Rutgers Conference on Value Theory and the Philosophy of Religion, August.
  • Kraay, K. (2015) "Pro-Theism and Patient-Centred Restrictions on the Permission of Suffering." Brackenridge Philosophy Symposium, Universiyty of Texas (San Antonio), Oct. 15-17.
  • Penner, M.A. (2013) "Would it be Good for there to be a God?" Concordia University College Faculty Colloquium, Edmonton, AB, Oct. 16.
  • Penner, M.A. (2013) "Pro-Theism and the Added Value of Morally Good Agents." Ryerson Philosophy Department Speaker's Series, Toronto, ON, Oct. 22.
  • Penner, M.A. (2013) "Would God's Existence Matter?" Ryerson Philosophy Club, Toronto, ON, Oct. 24.
  • Penner, M.A. (2014) "How to Be a Universalist." Hell and Damnation, Trinity Western University Departmental Lecture Series, Feb. 13.
  • Penner, M.A. (2014) "Is it Rational to Prefer Atheism?" University of Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion Discussion Group, March 7.
  • Penner, M.A. and Lougheed, K. (2014) "Pro-Theism and the Added Value of Morally Good Agents." Toronto Philosophy of Religion Work-in-Progress Group, May 9.
  • Penner, M.A. (2014) "Is it Rational to Prefer Atheism?" Canadian Philosophical Association Conference, Brock University, St. Catharine's, ON, May 25-28.
  • Penner, M.A. (2014) "Skeptical Theism and Proper Function." Symposium on Epistemology and the Problem of Evil, Brock University, St. Catharine's, ON, May 28.
  • Penner, M.A. (2014) "Skepticism, Skeptical Theism, Moral Cognition." Toronto Philosophy of Religion Work-in-Progress Group, November 4.
  • Penner, M.A. and Lougheed, K. (2014) "Pro-Theism and the Added Value of Morally Good Agents." Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference, Canberra, July 6-11.
  • Penner, M.A. (2014) "Religious Skepticism." Toronto Journal of Theology 30: 111-129.
  • Penner, M.A. (2015) "Skepticism, Skeptical Theism, Moral Cognition." American Philosophical Association (Pacific Division) Meeting, Vancouver, BC, April 1-4.

 
Other Research on this Topic:

The following academic papers consider issues relevant to the grant project:

Funding:

 
This research project is made possible by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation, and by additional support from Ryerson University's Faculty of Arts, Philosophy Department, and MA program in Philosophy.