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Theism: An Axiological Investigation

 
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.
 
News:

         


 
Project Activities:

  • This project will support two Templeton Research Fellowships in 2013-2014 and two more in 2014-2015. The purpose of these fellowships is to provide a year-long period of uninterrupted research time for outstanding philosophers to pursue ground-breaking research on any aspect(s) of this project.
  • A research workshop on the topic of this grant will take place on September 11-12, 2015 at Ryerson University in Toronto. Details are below.
  • Two public events will be held on the topic of this grant: one during the Fall 2014 semester and one during the Winter 2015 semester. Details to follow.
      Questions about any of these initiatives may be directed to the Project Leader.
   
      
Project Team:

  
Project Leader
 
 
2014-2015 Templeton Research Fellows:
 
Trakakis
Franks
   
 
 
2013-2014 Templeton Research Fellows:
 
 Davis
Penner
 
 
Public Lecture: "Why 'There is a God' is Good News"


Swinburne

Richard Swinburne, Emeritus Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion, Oxford University.

Monday, November 3, 2014, 4:00-5:30pm. (Reception to follow.)
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.

This event will be live-streamed on the web at: https://ryecast.ryerson.ca/67/live/1061.aspx.   



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 free, and open to the general public. 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 DeityUniversity 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. (forthcoming) “Counterpossibles and the 'Terrible' Divine Command DeityReligious Studies.
  • Davis, R., and Franks, W.P. (forthcoming) “Layman's Lapse: On an Incomplete Moral Argument for TheismPhilo.
  • Kraay, K. and Dragos, C. (2013) “On Preferring God's Non-Existence Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43: 157-178.
  • Kraay, K. (2013) “Peter van Inwagen on Gratuitous Evil.” Canadian Philosophical Association Conference, Victoria, BC, June 2.
  • Kraay, K. (2013) “Method and Madness in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy of Religion Canadian Theological Society Conference, Victoria, BC, June 3.
  • 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., Chantler, A., and Lougheed, K. (forthcoming) “God and Possible Worlds”, Oxford Bibliographies Online.
  • 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, Canadian Philosophical Association Conference, 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.

 
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.