Chelsea are due to play Arsenal in a soccer match. Mr A prays for Chelsea to win, while Mr B prays for Arsenal to win. Chelsea won the match. Why were Mr A's prayers answered but not Mr B's?

Why assume that Mr A's prayer's were answered? Is the idea of the example that Chelsea won because Mr.A prated for it to happen and God acted accordingly? Suppose I ray for a natural disaster and one happens. Would we assume that this was God answering my prayers? Surely not on any conception of God that's worth taking seriously. That Mr A prayed for what happened doesn't mean it happened because Mr A prayed for it, and in this case, that seems to be the response the believer should make. There's no reason even for a believer to think that Chelsea's victory was a matter of God favoring Mr A over Mr B. Of course, non-believers have an even simpler reply. But I'm treating your question hypothetically.

Perhaps a semantic quibble, perhaps a more deeply-rooted consideration.... Why is the Deity so frequently portrayed as "all-"powerful, "all-"knowing, etc. Is there some really fundamental reason why the Deity cannot be "very" powerful" and know "quite a bit indeed"?

Some theologians and philosophers would say that religious devotion to anything less than a perfect being amounts to idolatry, and a less-than-omniscient or less than omnibenevolent or less-than-omnipotent being would be less than a perfect being. My own view is that this is a view that only someone in the grip of a theory could love. I rather doubt that most believers give much thought at all to the difference between omni-God, as it's sometimes put, and a being so far beyond us that, perfect or not, deserves their profoundest devotion. (Whether there actually is such a being is a separate matter, and not the subject of these comments.) Perhaps there's one exception. Perhaps a being that was less than morally perfect couldn't be the object of a non-idolatrous religious devotion. That's a subject for an interesting conversation, but I'm not convinced that even this is right. So I think your question is a good one, and I"m inclined to think you're right.

Why most philosopher of religion are theist?Are most philosopher of religion before theist they study philosophy of religion? As fas as,I know there are very few philosopher who change their mind after studying philosophy of religion.

Are most philosophers of religion theists? You may be right, but I don't actually know. And I also don't know whether most philosophers of religion are theists before they study philosophy of religion. I also don't know how many philosophers change their minds after they study philosophy of religion. My sense is that what you're really interested in is how much influence philosophical arguments have on people's religious beliefs—at least, if the people are people who study philosophy. It's an interesting question and all I have to offer are personal impressions, which may well be wrong. I'd guess that there are lots of philosophers who stopped believing partly because they studied various arguments for the existence of God and found them to be inadequate. I'd guess that because it fits a fair number of people I've known, but as they say: the plural of "anecdote" is not "data." I'd also guess that there are far fewer philosophers who started out as non-believers and became theists because of their...

Recently I asked if theology were a branch of philosophy, and was encouraged by Dr. Stairs to ask my question. If we are told in Christian (Catholic at least) faith that God is the only One True God and we should not pray to any other God except Her/Him/It, then how come (in some branches) we can pray to saints or to Mary, and not be committing idolatry? One answer I've heard is that we do not "pray" to them so much as we ask them to intercede for us on our behalf....I don't know though, that sounds forced.

The question of whether this sounds forced or not is a hard one to make a judgment about, but the answer, as I understand it, is pretty much the one you've heard. If one prays to a saint, one is asking the saint to intercede; not to perform the miracle. Although we might say loosely that a saint "performed a miracle," the saint has no powers over nature of his/her own and if a miracle occurs, the source of the miracle is God. This isn't to suggest that your question is a bad one. Why bother, one might ask, with this circuitous route? After all, God (assuming there is a God) hears the prayer, knows what the petitioner want, and grants the request or not—even if the petitioner addressed the request to a saint. Perhaps a panelist with a deeper understanding of Catholic tradition can chime in, but Catholicism has a genius for appealing to the religious imagination of its adherents. And since religion is at least as much a matter of the heart as of the mind, one can imagine an argument to the effect that...

We've been pondering the Problem of Evil. How can a good God allow evil to exist? I think the solution is right there in opening pages of the Book of Genesis. According to the Bible, after six days' labor, God needed to rest to regain his strength. When God is enjoying some necessary down time, then evil takes advantage and spreads. Is this a convincing argument?

This argument is a variation on solutions that assume a non-omnipotent God. If God doesn't have the power to prevent all evil, then the fact that there is evil would be no surprise. This version's variation is just that God gets tired and sometimes has to rest. For the moment, leave aside the point that this is far too anthropomorphic a conception of God for most theologians' tastes. And leave aside that at least some theologians would say that anything less than an omnipotent god doesn't deserve the label "God" to begin with. (I'm sympathetic to the first point, less so to the second.) Ask instead what patterns of evil we might expect if we accept this explanation. Suppose there's a flood and people are drowned. Is the idea that if God hadn't been napping, they would have been saved? Suppose some crazy person walks into a school with a gun and kills a bunch of people. Are we suppose to say that they would have been saved if God hadn't been tired? It's probably safe to say that at every single minute...

Which is the more morally detestable action. To discriminate against people due to the color of their skin, or to discriminate against people due to their religious beliefs? On both accounts one discriminates against an involuntary characteristic, race being innate, and religious views being a matter of conviction. In the question, I assume that one cannot choose ones conviction, one cannot be forced to believe in God, not truly. Thus, being convinced of the truth of a certain religion is involuntary. Therein lies my question, if we accept the moral detestability of racism, should we also accept a moral detestability of religious prosecution? And if so, wouldn't morality dictate the refrain from verbal offenses against religious people, on par with those against races?

There are at least two issues here. One is whether race and religious belief are involuntary in the same way. Another is whether it's ever okay to discriminate on the basis of a person's beliefs—religious or otherwise. On the first issue I'm going to simplify by mostly setting aside some important questions about whether there is such a thing as race in any deep sense, and just what race amounts to insofar as there is such a thing. The important point is that in typical cases, there is for most any practical purpose nothing people can do about their race; racial identity is strongly involuntary. That's not so clearly true of matters of conviction. There's nothing at all unusual about people changing their convictions, including their religious convictions. Non-believers become believers; believers become non-believers. This doesn't tell us whether such changes are voluntary, but it's an important difference. Are such changes belief voluntary? That's too simple a way to frame the issue. It's often...

Does the following successfully establish a presumption of strong global atheism? "Define strong global atheism as the view that there is no god. There is a presumption of strong global atheism because theists propose the addition of a supernatural entity (a god) to what is already known to exist (the natural world). That is, theists make an extraordinary claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In the absence of such evidence, strong global atheism is warranted."

I'd say no. (By the way, I'm not sure what "strong global" adds to "atheism," but let that pass.) The trouble is that the argument begs the question against various forms of theism. To state the most obvious problem, there are plenty of theists who think that God is already known to exist and has been for millennia. Now perhaps these theists are wrong, but in this context one can't simply assume that without argument. Nor could you expect the theist simply to agree that knowledge of God is "extraordinary" compared to knowledge of the natural world. This is a topic that Alvin Plantinga has discussed extensively, but one of his persistent themes is that the theist is entitled to her beliefs without having to produce arguments for them; she is entitled to them as "basic beliefs," not unlike your belief that you are looking at a computer screen right now. Again, you might disagree, and Plantinga might be wrong. But once again, in this context you can't simply presume that he's wrong. (By the way:...

Can you have morals without acknowledging God? If so, where do they come from?

You can and many people do. As for where we can get moral beliefs if we don't believe in God, two unoriginal thoughts. The first is that in our actual day-to-day moral reasoning, most of us—even most religious people— don't base their moral responses on their religious beliefs. There are plenty of reasons to be honest or fair or kind or courageous without scurrying off to scripture. Some of the reasons might also show up in scripture: "Treat others as you'd wish to be treated" for example. But do we really think that someone who has internalized the point of that maxim would chuck it aside if they lost their religion? The second thought is a hard one for some people to grasp; I tend to think of it as a test of philosophical aptitude. The fact that some powerful supernatural being commands something isn't by itself a reason to think it's good. The point is very old; it goes back at least to Plato's dialogue Euthyphro . It goes with a pair of questions for the believer: are things right because God...

 Are there any rationally compelling reasons to believe in a god or gods, which created the cosmos and the things in it?

Nope. But what of it? "Rationally compelling" is too high bar. If a position really were rationally compelling , a rational person who understood it would have to be convinced. But there's very little in philosophy that meets this standard. There are rationally acceptable ways to believe in God, rationally acceptable ways to believe that there's no God, and rationally acceptable ways to be agnostic. As for what the reasons are, that's a long story, though I'd caution against thinking they can be reduced to slogans. Of course, the same point goes for more or less all claims that philosophers debate. But somehow, some people seem to think the case of religion is different.

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