Monday, April 18, 2016

Edward Feser on William Lane Craig's erroneous take on Divine Simplicity

For those of you Thomists out there, and for Catholic's that promote Dr. Craig's books and theories

"A number of readers have called my attention to a recent podcast during which William Lane Craig is asked for his opinion about theistic personalism, the doctrine of divine simplicity, and what writers like David Bentley Hart and me have said about these topics. (You can find the podcast at Craig’s website, and alsoat YouTube.) What follows are some comments on the podcast. Let me preface these remarks by saying that I hate to disagree with Craig, for whom I have the greatest respect. It should also be kept in mind, in fairness to Craig, that his remarks were made in an informal conversational context, and thus cannot reasonably be expected to have the precision that a more formal, written treatment would exhibit.

Having said that…

I was surprised at how many basic mistakes Craig made in his characterization of the views of his opponents, and at how little argumentation (as opposed to mere assertion) was offered in response to those views. Let’s walk through the various issues Craig addresses and dissect his comments. (A side note on the most minor mistake: The man interviewing Craig mispronounces my name. The correct pronunciation is “fay-zer,” like the word “phaser” in Star Trek.)


Divine simplicity

In characterizing the doctrine of divine simplicity, Craig gives the impression that the doctrine involves, among other things, the claims that we can only make negative predications of God, that we can make only analogical predictions of God rather than univocal ones, that analogical predications are non-literal, and that we not only have to be agnostic about God’s nature but that God has no essence. None of this is correct.

First, while some adherents of the doctrine of divine simplicity (such as Maimonides) are committed to a purely negative theology, most are not. Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, et al. certainly agree that we can make positive as well as negative affirmations about the divine nature.

Second, while Thomists hold that all language about God has to be understood in an analogical rather than univocal way, not all classical theists or adherents of the doctrine of divine simplicity would say that. For example, Scotists both affirm divine simplicity and hold that theological language is univocal. Of course, we Thomists regard this Scotist position as unstable, but the point is that it is (contrary to the impression given by Craig) simply not the case that the debate over divine simplicity is as such a debate over whether theological language ought to be understood in an analogical rather than univocal way." (…)

You can read the rest of the post HERE


Bonus item for the day from the Latin Mass Chairman of England engaging with modernity on the BBC. CLICK HERE

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