God and Necessity: A Defense of Classical Theism Paperback – 29 Sep 2001
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Overall, there is much to commend in this book, whatever one's philosophical perspective. It deserves interaction and careful thought, especially in areas where evangelical thinkers can sometimes tend towards stagnation.--Gary R. Habermas, Liberty University "Philosophia Christi "
About the Author
Stephen E. Parrish is a Librarian and an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at William Tyndale College in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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Dr. Gary R. Habermas
p.s. Also highly recommended are Parrish's two other books The Mormon Concept Of God: A Philosophical Analysis and See the Gods Fall: Four Rivals to Christianity.
Dr. Parrish argues for the concept of God as the Greatest Possible Being (GPB). Because of this concept of God, one can draw a number of conclusions, including God's omnipotence, omniscience, omni-benevolence, etc. Dr. Parrish argues conclusively against the concept of a Factually Necessary God (FNG) as opposed to a Logically Necessary God (LNG) being the GPB. The FNG exists in many worlds as the GPB, but not in all possible worlds. Only the LNG exists in all possible worlds as the GPB.
He follows this with a form of the ontological argument unique to the work. Instead of grounding his version of the ontological argument on the premise that "Possibly, the GPB exists in some possible world" as most modal versions of the argument do, Parrish starts with "The concept of the GPB is coherent (82)." In this way, he avoids the problem that some versions of the argument don't address, which is that someone could simply deny that it is possible that the GPB exists in any possible world. Thus, Parrish's version is strengthened, for he bases it on concept of the GPB rather than on the modality of the GPB.
In each chapter, Parrish fairly presents counter-arguments and refutes them. His argumentation is always clear and as concise as possible. I would compare his style of arguing with Plantinga's in that they both have a very clear flow of their book from start to finish, with each point building on the last throughout the work. Further, Parrish injects a touch of humor here and there in his work.
My one criticism is that sometimes, in his efforts to refute as many counter-arguments as possible, Parrish dismisses them a little too easily. This was particularly evident in his discussion of the compatibility of omniscience with incompatibilist (I believe this is equivalent to libertarian) free will. I would love to see his style of systematic argumentation applied to this issue. Despite this, this discussion really wasn't all that relevant to the rest of his work, which may be part of the reason he didn't dwell on it.
After presenting the case for the ontological argument, Parrish discusses the teleological and cosmological arguments, concluding that they may hold weight depending on one's own plausibility structure. This point is quite interesting: everyone has his or her own plausibility structure from which he or she judges everything, including other plausibility structures. Thus, an argument like the teleological argument may hold some weight in one structure, but not as much in another.
Because of this, Parrish presents what he calls the "Transcendental Argument." This argument, in my own words, essentially states that God's existence is necessary for any kind of logical thought. The rest of the book focuses on this argument. Essentially, Parrish argues for this by presenting three possibilities for the universe: Brute Fact (the universe is chance), Necessary Universe (the universe exists for intrinsic reasons), and Necessary Deity (the universe exists because of an external, necessary being). He refutes the first two worldviews and provides support for the Necessary Deity (the GPB). This constitutes about half the book and is extremely useful, not just for its applicability in regards to the argument Parrish is making, but in that it helps refute various alternatives to theism.
God and Necessity is a philosophical masterpiece. It has a broad scope, it is tightly argued, and it is extremely relevant. Despite very few minor flaws, Dr. Stephen E. Parrish's book, God and Necessity is an essential part of any Christian apologist's library.
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