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Peter van Inwagen On Arguments For Theism
November 24, 2008, 9:25 am
Filed under: Christian Doctrine, Epistemology

Here’s Peter van Inwagen on arguments for theism:

As to theism, establishing that theism was the correct position, that would come down to producing arguments for the existence of God, wouldn’t it? You can try to find such arguments if you like, but all arguments for the existence of God will be philosophical arguments, and therefore inconclusive – as inconclusive as arguments for the existence of free will or an objective moral standard. If there were a “successful” argument for the existence of God, an argument that would force anyone who understood it to become a theist on pain of irrationality, it would be the first successful philosophical argument.


The deeper I get into philosophy the more obvious it has become to me that we have no philosophical proofs of anything interesting.  (Which is not to say that philosophy hasn’t given us interesting arguments for interesting things that furnish us with knowledge of these things.)  And I’m pretty sure it’s a sign of your inexperience or dullness of intellect if you think otherwise.  

(Here I take ‘proof’ to mean an argument that will convince anybody who rightly understands it and is dedicated to being a rational person.  I take it that philosophical controversies persist even between philosophers who rightly understand each other and are dedicated to being rational.)

BTW – I just realized that if you don’t know Peter van Inwagen is Christian philosopher this post will take on a very different meaning than I intended.  Well, he is a Christian.


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