Between Orthodox Theism and Materialist Atheism

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    Tim Mulgan’s aim is to explore two alternatives which occupy a middle ground between orthodox theism and atheism, and which are intended to be preferable to either of these extremes. Ananthropocentric theism posits a morally perfect creator God who has no interest in the fate of individual human beings, but the position incorporates its own ‘non-human-centered non-natural values’. Axiarchism is non-theistic in the sense that it involves reference to impersonal goodness rather than to a personal God, and Mulgan adds to it an ananthropocentric dimension as a way of dealing with the problem of evil. He ends by proposing ananthropocentric purposivism as a rival to both atheism and orthodox theism.
    I agree that defending a plausible middle-ground in this context is a central philosophical task, and that it is inextricably tied up with the question of value. I agree also that orthodox theism as Mulgan understands it raises difficulties, although I am less clear about what counts as orthodox, and how its limits are to be comprehended. I begin with some objections to Mulgan’s position. I then present a summary of my own expansive naturalist version of a middle ground as presented in God, Value, and Nature. I explain how expansive naturalism makes room for a loving God, and offer some reasons for favouring it over Mulgan’s position.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationCurrent Controversies in Philosophy of Religion
    EditorsPaul Draper
    ISBN (Print)9781138183469
    Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2019


    • theism, axiarchism, ananthropocentric theism, naturalism, expansive naturalism

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