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On Divine Explanation and Divine Freedom (Circulation Draft)


On Divine Explanation and Divine Freedom (Circulation Draft)

Jason's Pictures May 2009 - February 2010 283

Jason Zarri

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What follows is the text of a paper on the philosophy of religion, concerning the compatibility (or lack thereof) between God’s freedom and his ability to explain the orderliness of the world. Due to constraints on length, the paper is much shorter than it needs to be.  I would be very grateful for any feedback that could help me imp[rove the paper. Please keep in mind that the paper is a work in progress, and is still in a fairly rough state.


To read the full draft, which is a PDF file, please click this link:

On Divine Explanation and Divine Freedom (Circulation Draft)


When theists try to justify their belief in God they often argue that God’s existence could explain certain facts about the world: why it is orderly, why it is hospitable to life, or why it even exists at all. In this paper I will argue that, though we may have good reason to believe the existence of God could explain these facts, there is a tension between God’s role as an explanation and the traditional view that He is a free agent. To put it roughly, in order for God to explain, e.g., the orderliness of our world, there must be constraints on what God can will: If there are not it would be no more likely for God to create worlds like ours than it would be for Him to create worlds that are disorderly, and the mystery as to why the universe is as orderly as it is gets replaced by the mystery as to why God chooses as He does. However, if there are some things that God cannot will it would appear that God is not completely free, a conclusion which many theists would find unpalatable. As we shall see, the orthodox doctrine of Divine Simplicity complicates things a bit, but at the end of the day it doesn’t make things any easier for the theist.



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