van Inwagen, Peter

Peter is The John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He has written on metaphysics, philosophy of logic, philosophical theology, and Christian apologetics. He stresses ultimate questions such as the nature of the world, the reasons for its existence, and our place and purpose within it. His books include Material Beings; Metaphysics; The Problem of Evil; and Persons: Human and Divine (with Dean Zimmerman). Here is how Peter frames the problem of free will: “Perhaps we should begin with this question: What is the “problem of free will”? Like those other great 'problem' phrases that philosophers bandy about, 'the mind-body problem,' 'the problem of universals,' and 'the problem of evil,' this phrase has no clear referent. There are obviously a lot of philosophical problems about free will, but which of them, or which combination of them, is the problem of free will? I will propose an answer to this question, but this proposal can be no more than just that, a proposal. I propose that we understand the problem of free will to be the following problem. There are seemingly unanswerable arguments that (if they are indeed unanswerable) demonstrate that free will is incompatible with determinism. [Determinism is the thesis that the past and the laws of nature together determine, at every moment, a unique future. The denial of determinism is indeterminism.] And there are seemingly unanswerable arguments that (if indeed . . . ) demonstrate that free will is incompatible with indeterminism. But if free will is incompatible both with determinism and indeterminism, the concept 'free will' is incoherent, and the thing free will does not exist…. [which must mean that] at least one of the three arguments I have presented, each of which is prima facie correct, contains some error? But which? And where does the error (or where do the errors) lie? That is the problem of free will…. The problem of free will, I believe, confronts us philosophers with a great mystery. Under it our genius is rebuked. "



Can Religion Be Explained Without God?

Most people believe that God exists and religion is God’™s revelation. But some claim that religion needs nothing supernatural; that religion, without God, can flourish because personal psychology and group sociology drive religion.

Read Post >  |  Comments (283) >

ALSO: Arguing God from Design, by Richard Swinburne >


  • View All Cosmos Comments
  • View All Consciousness Comments
  • View All God Comments

TV Episodes

Current TV Episodes - Summaries.
The 39 episodes in the current TV season: 13 episodes each for Cosmos, Consciousness, God.

Future TV Episodes - Cosmos, Consciousness, God

Previous TV Episodes


Learn about Closer To Truth participants. Browse bios and articles on CTT topics.

About Closer To Truth

Closer To Truth overview. Go behind the scenes and meet the CTT team. View photos from around the globe and more.

Articles & References

Additional material and resources on Closer To Truth topics.

Visit SciTech Daily: the best intelligent, informed science & technology coverage and analysis daily.

Previous CTT Season 3

Website of Closer To Truth season 3.