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The Cadbury Lectures (DVD)

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Hosted by the John Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion. The theme for the 2015 Cadbury Lectures was 'God Over All' , and consisted of a series of lectures given by Professor William Lane Craig. The traditional concept of God, rooted in the biblical and patristic witness, is that God exist uniquely a se. That is to say, God is the only self-existent being, the sole ultimate reality, and all else that exists has been created by God. The most important challenge to this doctrine issues from Platonism, the view that there exist necessary, eternal, uncreated abstract objects. The main argument for Platonism is the so-called Indispensability Argument, which holds that our use of first-order logical quantifiers and singular terms in sentences we take to be true commits us ontologically to the reality of such objects. Theists might attempt to escape this challenge by adopting anti-Platonic forms of realism about such objects. But an arguably better course is to challenge the devices of ontological commitment which underlie the Indispensability Argument. When called upon to speak about such objects in a metaphysically heavy sense, the theist should regard such objects no more than useful fictions.

Lecture 1: Divine Aseity The biblical and patristic writers bear clear witness to the Judeo-Christian conception of God as the sole ultimate reality, the Creator of everything else that exists. Lecture 2: The Challenge of Platonism The most significant challenge to the doctrine of divine aseity is contemporary Platonism, the view that there exist eternal, necessary, uncreated, abstract objects, such as mathematical objects. The main argument for Platonism is the so-called Indispensability Argument, according to which our use of first-order logical quantifiers and singular terms in sentences we take to be true commits us ontologically to the reality of the objects quantified over or referred to. Since there are obviously mathematical truths like 2+2 = 4, we are committed ontologically to abstract objects.

Lecture 2: The Challenge of Platonism The most significant challenge to the doctrine of divine aseity is contemporary Platonism, the view that there exist eternal, necessary, uncreated, abstract objects, such as mathematical objects. The main argument for Platonism is the so-called Indispensability Argument, according to which our use of first-order logical quantifiers and singular terms in sentences we take to be true commits us ontologically to the reality of the objects quantified over or referred to. Since there are obviously mathematical truths like 2+2 = 4, we are committed ontologically to abstract objects.Lecture 2: The Challenge of Platonism The most significant challenge to the doctrine of divine aseity is contemporary Platonism, the view that there exist eternal, necessary, uncreated, abstract objects, such as mathematical objects. The main argument for Platonism is the so-called Indispensability Argument, according to which our use of first-order logical quantifiers and singular terms in sentences we take to be true commits us ontologically to the reality of the objects quantified over or referred to. Since there are obviously mathematical truths like 2+2 = 4, we are committed ontologically to abstract objects.

Lecture 3: Anti-Platonic Realism Theists who feel the force of the Indispensability Argument might have recourse to non-Platonic forms of realism in order to meet Platonism’s challenge. But non-Platonic realisms like absolute creationism and divine conceptualism face certain problems of their own, which ought to motivate theists to take a serious look at anti-realist perspectives.

Lecture 4: Making Ontological Commitments The Indispensability Argument for Platonism turns out, upon examination, to be not at all compelling, for it is founded on a criterion of ontological commitment that is grossly implausible and certainly not incumbent upon us. Both first-order logical quantification and singular reference should be regarded as ontologically non-committing.

Lecture 5: Just Pretend When called upon to explicate his ontological commitments, the theist should state plainly that he does not think that abstract objects exist. Abstract sentences are plausibly taken to be matters of make-believe, that is, statements which are prescribed to be imagined as true. In a metaphysically heavy sense, such sentences are not literally true, but we may usefully engage in the pretense that they are.