Philosophy of Religion
Summaries of classes
Please note that these are summaries, not 'the notes' for the class. These have been prepared by students in the class, and I have posted them here, unchanged, as a ready reference for those who could use a quick idea of what topic(s) have been discussed. But there is no guarantee of accuracy (or even proper spelling)! Caveat lector!
September 14th 2015 / Jack Buckley
What does philosophy mean?
Philosophy means the love of wisdom
Philia: meaning love. Wanting to acquire something.
Sophiá: meaning wisdom.
Is the experience of things, not just knowledge.
Knowing what is and is not important.
So philosophy is desiring to become wise.
To be considered wise is to be respected for your opinions because they have value.
Philosophy is divided into different themes/topics.
1. What are the fundamental elements or reality? (Metaphysics)
Questions under this theme look at insight into nature, creation, freewill.
A few famous philosophers and scientists that have explored this topic in great detail are: Aristotle, Albert Einstein, and David Hume.
2. Ethics How ought I to live?
Who’s to say if there is a right or wrong way to live?
What government ought we to have?
What is better a democracy, or a dictatorship?
In the theme of ethics it is important to question thing about your life.
Why do you do the things you do? ought you to become a vegetarian? what ought you to spend your money on? what type of vehicle should you drive?
A few famous philosophers and scientists that have explored the topic of ethics are: Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Immanuel Kant.
Knowledge, facts, beliefs.
How do you know when you know? Can you stake your life on provided knowledge?
Can you be absolutely certain about any one thing at any moment?
Facts can only exist in the system that they were designed to fit into. Never try to import standards of one specifically designed system into another system.
What is the standard or benchmark for knowledge?
A few famous philosophers within epistemology include: James Frederick Ferrier, Descartes, and Edmund Gettier.
4. Logic How do I go about proving something? Different systems and institutions have different rules about how evidence/ knowledge must be proven.
For example: In Law/courts there is the burden of proof. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
In philosophy logic and reasoning must be a part of all arguments/debates/ theories. Having logical and reasonable evidence gives them real meaning.
The main thing to do in philosophy is ideally to get answers for our questions. How do we get them? We can speculate on what an answer is. For example: Is ethics objective or subjective? We can imagine what the answer might be and then look for supportive reasoning and evidence.
At this point we then must be critical. Look at the proposed answers (by authorities) and evaluate the reasoning and arguments of that person or text.
Sometimes more than one piece of writing or opinion is needed to dismiss or support an argument.
You can also look at the tools that philosophers and you yourself have to aid them in the research being conducted.
Rational capacity to reason/natural instinct to reason.
Experience in principle is public..
We all vary in in different depths of experience but those experiences are for the most part publicly accessible. Some experiences are individual in the form of private revelations, dreams, ideology, and visions. These private pieces of experience are not usable in philosophy. They can add an extra dimension/interesting viewpoint but ultimately are dismissible because they are an experience that no one else can have.
Religion —> from the word religare = to bind
Organized way of worship of god/gods.
History of beliefs/faith Is personal but also communal
Sense of community and belonging
- Metaphysics, why does life exist at all?
- Epistemology, studying of knowing
- Knowledge vs Faith, What is the criteria to know something. Law goes off beyond reasonable doubt (OJ and the gloves, don't fit = reasonable doubt)
- Math is not problemistic, history is problemistic (bits of a skeleton)
- Ethics - How I ought to do anything
- Logic, Rules and procedures, determine reasonable belief
- Critical analysis, look at what you are being convinced of as well as assumptions , justifications they make.
- Speculative thinking, provides answers for the problems
Religion (Faith , Beliefs, Doctrines)
- Religious beliefs generally much stronger, belief has emotional attachment.
- Catholics saying I believe in God example of doctrines being repeated
- Institutions such as the Catholic Church, take action (crusades)
- Practices (activities of praise) Since at first glance (priest washing his hands)
- Aim, many aim at salvation, to break out of a cycle. Explain the now
- Provide a source of morality (historically) therefore grants security and peace
What makes a belief Religious? (Religious, Scientific, Historical)
- Who it talks about? Did Jesus have long hair?
- Not just who but who is asking the question is what makes it religious. It is part their faith.
- Subject not enough.
- Metaphysics, Is God real? Afterlife? Souls? Are souls immortal?
- Epistemology, Can I prove this? Probable? Certain? Belief?
- Ethics, God necessary to morality?
- Logic, what is the standard for proof?
- Critical analysis, Speculative questions
- Don't have faith why be ethical?
- Can we even talk about religion?
Fideist (Karl Barth)
- Reason has no role in faith, Fides (faith). 1 Corinthians God made wisdom foolish.
- How can God die? “Intellectually Outrageous” buried and rose again, not possible.
- Belief in religion contradicts all other rationality.
- Statements of reason or of fact.
- Reason = All beagles are canines
- Facts = This beagle has rabies. True at one time could be false at another. Used to have 9 planets.
- Does God exist? Reason or Fact
September 21, 2015 - Jason Fitzpatrick
What is Religion?
- Belief in something “higher”
o Transcendent (goes beyond our observable reality
o Generally tied to a desire to be liberated
- Practices (prayer, worship, rituals)
- Shared in Community
o ‘Heresy’ is to go outside/against this community
o tries to orient the person
§ Why am I here? What is my purpose of existing? How should I live?
o Dr. Sweet doesn’t think that religion is meant to teach about heaven or the past (origins of life, historical events, life of certain figures)
§ Instead, he proposes that religion and these stories are meant to tell us something about the present.
· Otherwise, why would it even matter? What difference would it make?
- Involves an idea of the Sacred
o Something deemed to be holy
o Commands respect
How can you Prove these things (religious ideas)?
Some think it is impossible to prove.
4 main approaches:
o Believe that it can’t even be discussed
§ Based of faith not reason
§ Some things cannot be publicly discussed
§ Ideas go Beyond reason/comprehension
· Anything finite (humans) cannot understand the infinite (God)
o It would take an infinite amount of thought to comprehend
o We need faith because reason can’t tell you anything provable about God
- Logical Empiricist
o Can’t talk about religion because it is meaningless
§ This is worse than being false
· Something which is false can be true given changing circumstances (e.g. “Thomas Mulcair is the Prime minister of Canada”)
· Something that is meaningless can never be true because it doesn’t make sense
§ A statement has to have meaning in order to be useful
§ Meaningful statements can fall into two categories
· Statements of fact (relative truth)
o Tell us about the world (“it is raining.”)
o Are true in some circumstances and false in others
· Statements of reason (True by definition – never false)
o Don’t tell us anything about the world
o They tell us how concepts are related (“Humans are mortal”)
· “God Exists”
o Not a statement of fact (it’s truth does not change based on circumstance)
o Logical empiricist would argue that it is not a statement of reason either.
o This is deemed possible because the statement is meaningless
- Psychoanalyst (Freud)
o Thought religion was meaningful but that meaning was disguised
o Important figures and events disguised in religious fables
§ Great emperors talked about as gods
o Some legends could be the embodiment of human values
§ E.g. “Hagin Sophia” (St. Sophia) could actually be the embodiment of wisdom (‘Sophia’)
o Religion is a fabricated story which we (humanity) eventually grow out of (much like the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, etc.)
o Sees religion as a lie that was necessary at a certain time
§ Good lies – teach important values and morals
o Meaningful but false
o Calls religion a ‘universal obsessional neurosis’
- Philosophical Theist (Aquinas)
o There are some statements of God that are reasonable and can be known to be true
§ True to everyone, not just the individual who believes them
o When you look at the world you see order and intelligent design
§ Implies an eternal power and divinity
o Statements of religion are meaningful and can be discussed because they are matters of fact
- Aquinas wants to look at 3 things
o What can be demonstrated (by reason alone)
o The relation between faith and reason (Separate or compatible?)
o That reason can prove many core religious beliefs (to prove it doesn’t mean to believe or make others believe)
- What is proof/demonstration?
o Proof/truth is relative to the subject matter being discussed
§ 5+7=12 is always true because it is a relation of concepts
§ Can you prove that you love someone?
· The nature of the subject does not allow you to prove it with the same certainty and levels of proof as math
September 23 - Claire Fothergill
September 23 - Claire Fothergill
Thomas Aquinas - Philosophical theist example
Is faith beyond reason?
Statements can be demonstrated/proven (sort of? Could be wrong?)
-Standard of varies (Different standards with different subject matter) (What I know depends on the subject matter. Some people don't have the mental capacity) “Knowledge is relative to the intellect of the known”
-Can’t demonstrate some things (Holy Trinity). Some things we can (that God exists)
*Reason can prove some aspects of faith*
-Why some people will not ever ‘get’ it.
1) Some people don’t have the intellectual ability.
2) Preoccupied with other things in daily life.
4) It takes a huge amount of time.
5) Our intellects are weak.
Faith steps in when reason fails.
Faith: not necessarily true or false, more of an attitude of trust (trust in wife even if it seems like she might be cheating)
“Necessary also for those things which surpass reason to be proposed by God to man as an object of faith”
Some times faith in things (believing that its true/will happen) can make them happen. If you have evidence (that you think is correct) you will follow through and promote it to happen
ex. If you see a person looking at you from across the bar and you go over and start talking to them and hit it off. You find out later that they weren't looking at you but at the clock above your head. You wouldn't have talked to them if you hadn't believed that they actually were looking at you.
After you believe in it and find out that its true you find the evidence - same with religion
You can’t reason about everything, reason makes mistakes.
“Presumption which is the mother of error” - You must challenge assumptions.
Why is it that faith and reason have conflict?
If there is conflict between the two you need to reconsider that your faith is not inline with the religion or that there is something wrong with your reason.
“Now the knowledge of naturally known principles is instilled into us by God”
- What is God? Characteristics? (Not like omnipotent, omniscient etc…)
September 28 -
September 28 -Devyn Crandall
Recap: Aquinas is defined as a philosophical theist because he believes there isn’t a conflict between faith and reason in fact they work together. He says some aspects of God can be understood and proven by reason and that God is one.
Discussion: What are divine attributes?
· Infinitely good
Illuminated the paradox of omnipotent by using the god and stone paradox. The argument works like such; Can there be a God that is completely omnipotent that can create a stone that even he can’t lift. If he can create the stone that he can’t lift then he is not omnipotent because he is limited and if he cannot create the stone he cannot lift then he is also limited.
Then the jump is made to ask could there be a God who could create beings that he could not control.
We then worked out the definition of “good.” Started out by suggesting it brought positivity or pleasure. After discussion the term good is to follow a standard. God is the ultimate good and the ultimate standard, God cannot sin, therefore when we sin we fail to meet the standard of good.
Lastly we talked about the difference between Univocal, Equivocal and Analogy. The importance of using proper language when discussing topics such as religion is key to forming sound arguments.
· Univocal Term: A terms that has only one meaning. That is, it signifies only one concept, and thus corresponds to only one definition. Such a term always has the same intension wherever it is used. E.g. the term "entomology" signifies the study of insects.
· Equivocal Term: A term that has more than one meaning. That is, it signifies more than one concept, and thus corresponds to more than one definition. An equivocal term has different intensions when it is used. E.g. the term "chihuahua" can signify (a) a breed of dog; (b) a state of Mexico.
· Analogous Term: A term that is intended to convey one or more similar characteristics that exist between two concepts. E.g. the term "data owner" is applied to individuals who have no legal title to the data they manage, but are expected to exercise responsibilities like those owners would typically exercise. Sometimes an analogous term can be no different to an equivocal term.
We have to use analogical terms when speaking about God.
- Sam Gan
- Sam Gan
- Aquinas –Being able to do anything that is logically possible
- Anything that doesn’t involve being and not being at the same time
- No contradictions
- Geach – Is omnipotence the correct word?
- Words describe reality
- EX. Stephen Harper likes kids vs. Stephen Harper is a pedophile
- Is problematic to describe God
Do numbers exist?
- Numerals do exist
- Where do numbers exist
- Are numbers concepts? Do they exist separate of humans?
- Does math represent reality
Is omnipotence a good word
God can do anything (including logical impossibilities)
a) Religious à God can break his/her promises
b) Any Person à What can we say about God?
God can do anything that is a logical possibility
ànot applicable to God
3) Aquinas 2.0
God can do anything that is logically possible for a being like God
Only in regards to the future
God can’t do anything to change the future
God breaking promises
à If yes, unreliable
à If no, not omnipotent
Maybe we shouldn’t use omnipotence
2 words used to describe God’s power: Omnipotent and Almighty
God has power over all things
-Cannot do everything (sin)
- Has power over sinners
EX. Stephen Harper vs. Private in army in a pushup contest
Get rid of Omnipotence
Things religious people would deny (most)
1. God has a body
2. God gets tired
3. God can be defeated
4. God can decay
5. God can get angry
Christians do not deny these things.
October 5, 2015 - Rosemary Gregg
· October 22nd ( given full class but should take approx. an hour)
· Two essay questions (there will be a few different choices)
Review of last class
· Why is it important to know divine attributes?
o The knowledge of what God is just, if not, more important than knowing that God exists
o We cannot identify God unless we know the characteristics that God has
o It is for this reason that Geach would say that words matter ( words describe reality)
· Geach believes that the word “omnipotence” is not appropriate to describe what God is (instead he uses the term almighty) and opposes 4 definitions of omnipotence
1) God can do anything (Descartes)
2) God can do anything logically possible ( one version of Aquinas)
3) God can do anything logically possible for God to do
4) God can do anything that is logically possible for God to do in the future
· Geach then continues his opposition with the help of Michael Foster who says that there are things that God could do, if he were omnipotent, in so far as he could do anything logically possible, that contradict religious beliefs. For instance the notion that:
o God has a body
o God can be tired
· These, however, are believed to be true if an individual is Christian because they believe Jesus (who did all those things) is also God
o So, in actuality there are elements in Christianity that contradict the notion of God as being omnipotent
· How might Aquinas respond to this problem
o Aquinas might say that God as God may not be able to do these things ( eg, have a body, be tired, suffer, decay, etc.) but God as Jesus may be able to
o In this sense God may be omnipotent but Jesus is not (a little iffy on this matter)
o Why is this even significant?
§ It might suggest that if omnipotence means anything at all then it probably doesn’t apply to the sort of God that Pascal talks about (in a religious sense)
§ That omnipotence is not interested in the God that philosophers are talking about
Ø Main point of all this: The idea of omnipotence is a kind of puzzle and causes a lot of confusion
· How can we solve the stone paradox ( can God create a stone that God can’t lift?)
o One proposed option: its not logically possible to say that God can’t lift a stone that God created.
§ This is a problematic option because first we would have to accept a definition of “omnipotence” for that to be true
o Another proposal is the opinion held by professor Sweet (among others)
· Sweet’s proposal addresses a difference between omnipotent and impotent
o Suppose a person, P: P would be limited in power if he was unable to make stones of some poundage (say more than 70 kgs)
§ Thus, to be omnipotent here means that one could create a stone of any specific weight
o Similarily, suppose a person Y: Y would be limited in power if he were unable to lift stones of a particular weight
§ Thus, to be omnipotent here means that one could lift a stone of any specific weight
o But, it is no limit on P’s (creating) power if he is unable to make stones which he (or anyone else) cannot lift
§ For example, if P can create stones of any poundage and Y can lift stones of any poundage, then P cannot create a stone which Y cannot lift yet P is not thereby limited in power
§ Therefore, exactly the same situation holds where P is both the same creator and the stone lifter
§ Suggested readings
o Divine omniscience and involuntary action (185- )
o The consolation of philosophy ( 17-33)
· The consolation of philosophy
o This text is a dialogue of between Boethius and Lady Philosophy
o Problem in text: is there a conflict between omniscience and the existence of human freedom?
o Example provided by Sweet
§ If God knows what will happen in 2015 then God has always known what will happen in 2015
§ Let us suppose that God knew that ISIS would seize territory in Iraq in 2015 AD so God knew in 5000BC that ISIS would seize territory in 2015
§ If God knew this then it had to be true and there is nothing that anyone could do to change ISIS from seizing the territory
§ Therefore, if God is omniscient then can humans really be free?
o If God is omniscient then he knows what will happen in the future
§ If God knows something then it must be true
§ So then it was already true from the day I was born either that I would be saved or I wouldn’t
§ But what must, of necessity, be true, I cannot change ( then there is no use in trying)
§ If I am saved then I can do whatever I want in the meantime and still go to heaven and,
§ If I am not saved then no matter what I do, I am doomed anyway
§ The conclusion that we might draw from this is that there is no point to human freedom. This is known as the religious doctrine of predestination.
o It should be made known that God doesn’t necessarily make anything happen but by nature of God knowing something it has to be true
o How does the of predestination mesh with religious ideas
§ In religious beliefs eternal life is granted by God regardless of person does
§ In theory Christians could believe in pre destination
o According to Lady Philosophy predestination is a very old problem
o She suggests that others have been sloppy when thinking about predestination and it needs to be observed in more clarity
· For next class
o Start on page 18 and start thinking about the statement:
§ “there is a conflict between divine forknowledge and the human free will”
October 7, 2015
October 7, 2015
The idea of omniscience poses a problem [a paradox] with freedom (free will). Boethius expresses concern to Lady Philosophy that if God knows all that has happened, is happening, and will happen then all things will necessarily take place because God knows it. Because of this, there should be neither reward, for any acts of heroism nor punishment for wrongdoings because their actions were pre-destined, and were not free .
Humans are in the realm of time:
God is not in the realm of time:
→ Sees Everything at a glance
→ Sees past, present, future as one
God is not in time
This paradox also means that God is also responsible for all humanly right and wrongs. _____
Lady Philosophy proposes a solution for Boethius’ dilemma through the explanation of capacity of knowledge. She believes that divine knowledge does not equate to human knowledge. Humans work through media (our senses) to come to conclusions. On the other hand, divine knowledge is too simple for us to understand.
Lady Philosophy states that all known things are not known according to it’s own power, but according to the capacity of the knower.
Fido the Cat knows about things such as: birds, mice.
Dr. Sweet knows things such as: the origin of Fido, concept of time, philosophy.
Similarly, there is a difference between human knowing and God's knowing.
Fido represents humans’ capacity of knowledge; Dr. Sweet represents God’s capacity of knowledge. The higher ability contains the lower ability, however the lower ability can never understand the higher (Fido can never understand the things Dr. Sweet understands).
Our perspective: we see choice in our freedom.
God’s perspective: things that God knows must happen.
Lady Philosophy concludes that there is no conflict between freedom and voluntary actions because God sees things as a single instant and has a present comprehension of everything that has and will happen, while humans only understand things in a sequential way.
[I think that more could be said here]
We then started to look at Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action written by Nelson Pike. Free will is not the same as voluntary action. To prove this we look at an example of a prisoner. A prisoner has a choice of what he or she wants to do but is unable to actually carry out the action because of being placed in prison.
Pike gives the example of Jones.
Pike also explains that Jones had no other choice but to mow his lawn in that specific Saturday, because God knew this thing was to happen 80 years prior. He poses the argument:
If P, then Q
Therefore not P
P= Humans have freedom
Q= God believes something false
If humans have freedom, then we make God believe something that is false.
God is omniscient.
Therefore, humans do not have free will.
October 14th --
October 14th --
Nelson Pike and
Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action
What is eternal and everlasting?
-God is outside of time, otherwise we would have to consider him to be temporal. How can be be acting in time?
-Nelson Pike raises the paradox of omniscience and free action. We are looking for a solution.
Knowledge means you believe it and it is true.
If ‘A knows X”, then “A believes X” is true and X is true.
This claim about knowledge applies to God
Omniscient beings hold no false beliefs
when we say that God is eternal, we do not mean that he is “outside of time” ( So that God has no relation to temporal events) but that God is “perpetually present”.
Therefore, what God knows, God has always known
“God is omniscient” means that God knows everything that has happened, is happening now and will happen in the future”
Jones and the lawnmower paradox.
God did not cause Jones to do this.
There are three options that come out of this particular paradox. Pike feels they are incorrect but he offers them anyways.
Leibniz- Is it necessary that Jones mow his lawn? Is it an absolute and conditional necessity. In relation to God’s knowledge our actions are hypothetically necessary, but not absolutely necessary. There is a difference between it being absolutely necessary that you do X and it being hypothetically necessary that you do X. Pike responds to this by saying it misses the point. It does not say that it was necessarily true that Jone’s acted as he did- just that he had to, he could not have done otherwise.
2) Molina - Claims that God knows what we will freely decide. It is not because God foresees it that it will happen, but because it will happen ( by free choice) that God foresees it. So God knows that Jones will freely mow his lawn. God does not know peoples choices because they choose them. God just knows.
3) Schliermacher- God’s foreknowledge does not entail determinism or predestination. A friend can have foreknowledge of another’s voluntary actions, this does not make them any less voluntary. Is this possible? Ms Smith knows that Jones will mow his lawn on Saturday. What she knows and what he does are two different things. It may be true but it could have been otherwise. Jones always had the power to make Ms Smith’s beliefs false. Ms Smiths belief and the truth of Ms Smith’s belief are only factually connected. Is God’s belief and the truth the same as Ms Smiths?
This leaves us with some options. We can :
Find another solution
Give up one of the assumptions
Redefine the definition of omniscience to be more general than particular.
Nelson Pike and
Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action
October 19 --
October 19 --Emma MacGillivray
Essay due November 10, 2015.
Does God know what God will do in the future?
God’s negotiation with Abraham:
• If God knew he wasn’t going to destroy the city, why would he negotiate with Abraham?
• If God is really negotiating he doesn’t know what he’ll do in the future.
Can God Make free choices? Is God free? Does God know what he’ll choose before he
• If God knows what he’ll choose ahead of time is it really a choice?
• If people believe in miracles does this mean God can change what was previously going to happen?
• Do prayers and negotiation influence God?
Paradox: If we have omniscience we have no free will. If there is free will there is no omniscience.
• We believe God knows everything
• We believe in free will
Logical problem: We believe these two hypotheses are true, but they are inconsistent with each other, they can’t both be true at the same time.
Having both divine omniscience and free will leaves us in a paradox. Lady Philosophy offers a way to solve this paradox. She argues God doesn’t ‘foreknow’ anything because he is outside of time. God doesn’t see things in a linear way, he sees everything at the same time, an eternal present. God has knowledge but no foreknowledge. However if Lady Philosophy is right there are problems:
• How does God know history?
• Is it possible to forgive someone at the same moment they sin?
Pike takes on Lady Philosophy’s argument and states that talking about God outside of time is a mess because we only understand what’s in time. The idea that God lasts forever is a temporal idea, so instead of talking about God outside of time(eternal) we should talk about him lasting throughout time; past, present, and future (everlasting). This gets Pike out of the history problem. However thinking of God in this way causes problems because if God exists in this way he needs foreknowledge to be omniscient.
What are we left with? Pike offers several solutions:
A. Deny basic assumptions: To say God is timeless. It is inappropriate to say he ‘foreknows’ anything because he lives in an eternal present(Boethius, Lady Philosophy’s idea).
B. To accept the argument that we are not free but should still be held responsible for our actions. To argue that just because we couldn’t have done otherwise does not mean that we should not be held responsible. To accept we are not free, but if we’re not free wouldn’t it be unjust to be punished? People believe we are motivated by the things that control our freedom. Example: did Sweet become a Philosophy prof because he wasn’t good at math? It looks as if we’re free but maybe we’re not. However because we think we’re free we can be held responsible.
C. Accept the soundness of the argument but deny one of the suppositions. God cannot know a free choice before it happens. If God is omniscient we are not free.
D. Conclude that God has a general providence but not a particular one.
E. Perhaps Gods omniscience is a concept we can’t grasp because it is beyond our understanding, and therefore shouldn’t be discussed.
- Omnipotence vs Almighty:
• Omnipotence: power to do everything( something that isn’t logically possible isn’t something. Example: square circle; you can’t describe or imagine this, it doesn’t exist.
• Almighty: Having Power over all things
- Conditional vs Absolute
• Conditional: If something happens the other is inevitable, depends on condition. Example: if I'm walking today i’ll use my legs
• Absolute: things that are true by definition. Example: bachelors are unmarried, humans will die.
- Active Power vs Passive Power
• Active Power: Ability to do. Example: to punch
• Passive Power: capacity of being able to be moved. Example: getting punched
Aprox. 50 mins.
covers all material up until perfection (Aquinas, Geach, Boethius, Pike)
3 kinds of questions
1) 3 Definitions-around 50 words each, on terms and concepts, define and explain how they relate to the course.
2) 1 short essay around 100-150 words. Explain something and state your view.
3) 1 long essay question, around 200-250 words. You’ll be asked to explain someones argument and position, then state whether you agree or disagree.
Is God Eternal?
- To be eternal is to be perfect.
- To be perfect means to be complete.
- If you’re complete you couldn’t get better, or worse.
- If you could get worse there would be a defect, and having a defect isn’t perfect.
- If God is perfect he can’t get better/worse.
- If God can’t get better or worse he never changes.
- Could God change his mind/emotions? Can god be happy, sad, disappointed?
- If you can’t change your emotional state wouldn’t that make you indifferent?
- If you can’t change is it possible to be compassionate? Is it possible to care?
- We believe God does care, so is it possible for him to be perfect?
- If God is perfect then is it possible to have a relationship with someone who is complete?
• Read Chapter VIII (Starting on Page 31): Discussing whether or not God is compassionate
• Read “The Divine Reality” (133-150): Discussing perfection, is God perfect? What does it mean to be perfect?
October 21 (mid term exam)
October 21 (mid term exam)
October 26 - Josie Phillips
-The new readings for the essay topics are found on the moodle site. Choose 2. No outside research necessary.
-An A+ paper consists of a thesis that defends a claim/a position and evidence or reasons that rationally persuade the rationally neutral reader.
God as “perfect”/supreme:
- Perfect à complete. Can’t add or take anything away.
- Metaphysical attributes: eternal, “absolute”, immutable (unchanging), transcendent, independent
- From a philosophical point of view, a “traditional” view of God, with “Platonic” attributes. (from the World of Forms (Ideos) which are eternal and unchanging).
Metaphysical Terms: (Philosophical claims)
o Act: To posses a certain quality in its completeness. What you are right now.
o Potency: The ability to one day, possess certain qualities. What you could be.
o Example: Stephen Harper has the actuality of being prime minister, while Justin Trudeau has the potentiality to be prime minister.
o Applies to everything that can change.
o Matter: The stuff you are made out of. (Philosophically, not atoms, bones, flesh, etc.)
o Form: (not shape) How matter is organized to be the way you are. You have the same form your entire life; it makes you who you are.
o If you are dead, you no longer have a form, you are just a body.
o The activating principle in animate objects is the soul.
o For inanimate objects, the form is an organising principle. For example, a table has the form of being a table.
o Body: All that I am made of
o Soul: The form of an animate/living body. What makes it “me.”
o Even if the material body changes (i.e. if you were to loose a hand) your soul would remain the same.
o Essence: “What it is,” a definition, continues after your existence. (Human: animal, self-conscious, aware, free, etc.) It is all things that physics cannot identify. Also contains all the thinks that you can possibly be. (Your potentiality).
o Existence: “That it is,” the actual thing. (For example, if all bachelors (unmarried men), were married off right when they were born, and there was no such thing as a bachelor, we would still know what a bachelor is).
Divine Attributes related to Perfection:
- Absolute (“supreme”): absolutely powerful, knowledgeable, perfect, etc. There is no room for improvement.
- Transcendent: goes beyond physical nature
- Separate from and independent of creation: God could have chosen to not create the world.
- Eternal and timeless
- Cannot change (immutable): God does not have potency
- Impassible: (no “movement” with regard to emotions) God can’t start or stop loving you.
- “Pure Act”
- Simple: God does not have any parts, no essence separate from existence.
This view of God combines relics of Greek philosophical thinking (Plato) and Christian philosophical thinking.
If God is impassible, how can we say that God has any personality? (Is caring, loving, forgiving, etc.)
-- Anselm and Aquinas
October 28 -- Aidan
November 2nd 2015 - Mehgan Turner
God – Traditional view: Immutable (Unchangeable/no movement), impassible (God’s passions can’t be moved therefore feelings can’t change)
Humans are passionate beings, God is not.
Absolute – so God as supreme, Pure Act (No Potential). All of this is metaphysical (Abstract), Plato based philosophy of God being the 1st cause so unchangeable/independent of humans or Creation. God didn’t have to create us but we need God to exist.
Hartshorne: We don’t need the idea of God’s independence, the freedom is good when he can be independent/unaffected by anything so he’s ethically independent (Right is always right & he will always do right thus avoiding bias). Sometimes independence can be bad I.E. if a good person encourages something maybe they should influence you. A good parent is often influenced by their child so this is a good thing/supporting them. So a balance is needed to be appropriately influenced when it’s a good thing but independent when necessary.
God is immutable as reliable, does not die/decay, he is constant: Last paragraph of pg. 137. But god is also a social being: loves, in a sympathetic union, humans can have a relationship to god, PG 149 there is a proportionality in God’s awareness of humanity and sympathetic dependence. Pg. 148 God is indebted to us and has no desire to end this dependence because he is not conceited or envious. God is supreme among social beings but still dependant/he will always be there. Without the social connection god would merely be a tyrant/love is shared so without humanity/creation god would actually be worse off as the social being could not be.
Therefore absolute immutability in every respect is not a divine attribute (Perfection).
So how should we understand god’s attributes? If
Hartshorne is right, what do we gain/loose? If A/A is right
what do we gain/loose? H – God isn’t perfect as pure
act/immutable. A/A lose God’s personality/relation to
creation. So who has the better understanding of the concepts?
A/A needs god as a complete being. H- pg. 147 God: completely
admirable with possibility of enrichment. So he has room to
grow/improve (Be more loving). A/A are using “perfection” in a
different way then; independence as a concept may also be used
differently then so comparison is harder. So how should we
understand what god is? What is the most consistent way to
talk about God? Only after determining what god is can you
discuss that god is. Attributes matter to discuss existence.
So now suppose there is a God. As all powerful then he has the power to eliminate all evil. As omniscient he can locate all evil. A perfectly Good being would eliminate evil as best he can.
i) One world is better than another if it contains the same/more good than the other & less evil than the other
ii) And an all perfect being will always chose a world containing more good & less evil than any other option
Therefore an omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good being eliminates all evil. So if there is a god, he’d do this. Yet evil still exists why?
· There is no god
· St. Augustus – God can’t do this
· Hume – God is a maleficent being
· Maybe 1/3 attributes isn’t accurate – Believers dislike this problem/solution
· Maybe we don’t understand what evil is?
John Mackie addresses this on the essay on page 171. How can a religious person accept all of this?
We also got midterms back. Final exam will be similar and we should review the midterms in preparation for it.
November 4, 2015 -- Doug Simpson
The problem with evil is we have a contradiction between understanding God and what is in the world.
If God is (1) omnipotent, (2) omniscient and (3) perfectly good, then 1+2+3 = elimination of evil.
A being with these attributes would eliminate evil—so then, why is there evil? We are faced with a logical contradiction and a moral inconsistency.
Definition of Evil
What is evil? It can be war, killing, disasters, suffering and dying. It can be against one another or evils of nature, (natural evils). Other evils involve human agency. Natural evil is not deliberate. Some evils are moral evils, meaning they deliberately done, otherwise it would not happen. The word ‘justifiable’ is important when talking about evil.
Other discussions about evil include:
*If there is no free will involved, then it is a natural evil.
*If there is pain and suffering involved, then we have evil.
*If blame is involved, we have evil.
*If no humans involved, we have evil.
*Evil can be arbitrarily inflicted on innocents and evil-doers alike.
*Some evil is unnecessary. Some deserve the pain of evil, but not animals.
*Some evil is avoidable: an example is war. War may bring about courage and be good for business but does that justify the evil? (If evil is arbitrary and avoidable, then why is there evil?
Because of the contradiction involved people look for answers and justifications for this problem.
The justification is called Theodicy. Theodicy is an attempt to answer the question of why a good God permits the manifestation of evil. It is the vindication of divine goodness in view of the existence of evil.
One way is to imagine a way out of it. I can imagine a way to describe evil, but I don’t know the answer just yet. An example is: “humans have free will but they mess up sometimes”.
Another way is to show one of the assumptions is wrong. If one assumption is gone there is no evil.
(1) Maybe evil is an illusion or not real.
Given what I see from my perspective I may have a defect. I don’t exactly see what was going on or I could not grasp it due to my limited abilities. Evil looks like it exists, but does not exist after all.
It is subjective; or “just stuff”; or a misrepresentation. People who believe in God have a problem with this. They are called to fight evil. This position would solve the problem but is not sensible or plausible.
(2) Good cannot exist without evil.
There is a problem what this really means.
In addition, it also challenges the formula of (1)omnipotent (2), omniscience and (3)perfectly good =elimination of evil.
If we use the word knowing, then “knowing” good can’t exist without “knowing” evil.
We can also appreciate and know evil without having to suffer. Do we need pain to experience pleasure? Not necessarily.
(3) The universe is better with some evil rather than no evil.
To illustrate we used a painting of Jesus coming down from the cross. Most of the canvas was dark except for Jesus and a few others. The images of Jesus (goodness) was enhanced because of the lightness of the paint. So, if it wasn’t for the darkness the center of attention (Jesus and goodness) would not be highlighted. Evil (darkness) is necessary for the greater good (lightness).
November 9 - Ryan Richardson
November 9 - Ryan Richardson
2. “Good cannot exist without evil” (“knowing that good can’t exist without evil”)
a. Suggests that there is some limit to what an omnipotent being can do
b. Not clear what this means
3. Evil is a necessary means to good
The universe is better
with some evil in it than it could be with no evil in it at
a. The Aesthetic Justification: (Augustine)
i. In making something, a good agent will seek to produce an effect which is the best it can
ii. Thus, in creating the universe, a perfect being will create that which is best in it’s entirety
iii. But “this does not mean he makes each part of this entirety absolutely perfect, but perfect in accord with the whole” (Augustine on free will III 68-9)
(Ex. The painting of Jesus being taken off the cross)
iv. God uses evil as an “antithesis” or “counterpart”
v. Therefore evil is necessary to the perfection of the universe
b. “The soul-building Justification” (Irenaeus: John Hick)
i. The world is not supposed to be a paradise, but a place of soul-making
ii. If there were no physical evil and no moral evil, there would be
1. None of the benefits of physical evil
a. No self-care, no need to work, no need to call for others in time of need
b. And the world would not operate according to natural law
2. No overcoming of evil I.e. No generosity, kindness
iii. Thus, evil is necessary for soul-making, developing certain moral virtues
5. Evil is due to human free will
n.b a difference between a “free will theodicy” and a “free will defence”
a. Freedom requires the ability to act wrongly as well as rightly
b. It is better (on the whole) that human beings should act freely than that they should be innocent automata, acting rightly in a wholly- determined way
c. Therefore, the cause of evil is not god, but the independent actions of human beings.
November 11 - Remembrance Day
November 16th, 2015 _ Ryan MacNeil
Defense of Evil
- Due to human free will
- Freewill requires the ability to act wrongly as well as properly
- Evil is not God’s fault, but ours
- Better humans act freely then be innocent automata (act according to God)
*a defence, but not a theodicy*
Criticisms of the defence
1. Humans responsible for evil? Yes.
- but if other beings can, then… how can we be wholly responsible?
- Satan, demons… can all do evil
- God is responsible for us = God can be to blame for evil
- creator responsible for the created
2. Why couldn’t God make humans always choose freely the good?
- if I can do good at one time, as well as another, why can’t I always do the right
- you can have freedom without evil then
- evil can also be attributed to ignorance; just don’t know when we are doing
- choosing depends on what we know
3. How important/good is freewill?
- freewill can lead to good things, but also bad things like greed, excess, harm…
- is the good from freewill > than the evil from it?
- do we need freewill to get into Heaven?
- if a machine can be made to never make mistakes and do what its told, why
Distinguish: existence of evil justified vs. could evil be justified?
- Distinguish the problem of evil
- Fideist’s response
- can’t know God’s ways for reasoning behind why there is evil in the world
- Logical Empiricist’s response
- no justification of evil if there is an all knowing, all powerful God
- Philosophical Theist’s response
- if all defenses put together, they may be able to produce a possible defense of
- 3 main components to the human psychic:
1. Id: instinct (pleasure/satisfaction)
2. Ego: sense of self that a person has
3. SuperEgo: socially desired internalisation of parental control
is disabled in its relations with reality
- Future of an Illusion (1927)
- why is civilization good?
- 2 purposes of civilization:
- control humans
- control nature
- civilization is based on:
- limiting the id and working the people in it
- why? Because we wouldn’t survive otherwise
- solution: individual is coerced in society
- 3 ways of addressing wishes:
- dreams: attempts at surrogate wish fulfilment
- cultural achievement: deny direct gratification
- religion: product of wish fulfilment
- a) provides explanations
- b) makes life feel more secure
- c) So – effect
- God explains ‘fate’, explanation for evils of civilization and a
- perpetuates infantile behaviour patterns
- reflects refusal to distinguish reality and what we want it to be
Religious ideas are…
- descriptive and meaningful
- what we’d like to exist
- what is valuable
- helps civilization
- response to stress in civilization
- not responding rationally to civilization
- not an error….
*but an illusion (derived from human wishes)*
18 - Alexander Thistle
-Freud’s future of a illusion:
-religion is an illusion, Freud identified neuroses with religion.
-Neuroses were physical ailments until Freud said they had a purpose, effect of a struggle, of desirous passion and inappropriate behavior, instability between ID and superego.
-Neuroses are responses, over reactions.
-Religion is a illusion to fulfill neuroses, a product of human wishs.
-Illusions are reactions, cannot be proved or disproved.
Religious ideas are:
-descriptive and meaningful
-not an error, cannot prove/disprove
-but are illusions, derived entirely from human wishs
-strong analogy between neurotic and religious behavior, simulates include: infantile behavior, repressive behavior, problems with self-image.
-Freud says religion is a non-functional way of dealing with repression, irrational and dangerous, but helpful for childhood neuroses.
What evidence is needed to prove Frueds theory?
What assumptions does he make?
Does he have sufficient evidence?
Criticisms of Freud:
1) He assumes that cultural behavior is analgous to individual behavior, does religion arise in individuals or society? (wish fulfillment doesn’t make society)
2) Does Freud give account of all theistic beleifs?
3) Is it an account of everyones religious beleifs?
4) If Frueds right, does it prove religion is purly natural?
5) Similarities between neuroses/religion are only surface similarities, doesn’t prove their the same.
6) If religion was true wouldn’t we see different behavior.
What does Freudism prove?
Does it prove religious belief is false?
Does it prove religious belief is reasonable?
Nov 23rd - Alexander Thistle
-3 kinds of proof, legal standard is needed to prove God.
-Paley: is there sufficient evidence?
Is there plausible alternative explanations?
If there are no other plausible explanations one must accept paleys argument to be rationally true.
-1802 paley dissucess intelligent design, looking for purpose through teleological argument on intelligent design
-Argument: you find a rock in a field, don’t question where it comes from. Find a watch in a field and one will question where it came from, someone built it, designed it and left it there.
1) Production of humans use intelligence to create watch, intelligence is key.
2) the universe is like a machine with moving parts, like a clock.
3) similar effects have similar causes
4)therefor the universe must have a creator.
Paley gives half argument, must focus on 1) and 2), is there evidence for design?
-Is there other evidence for where a clock comes from? A watch making watch acts like a animal and reproduces itself, whoever made this clock is intelligent, actually reduces possibilities for alternatives.
-Effect of conclusion: either
1) increases admiration and provides additional reasons for intelligent design
2) the making of the watch is different between a watch maker and a watch making watch, shows difference between unintelligent production and intelligent purposeful design.
November 25 - Colin Thompson
November 25 - Colin Thompson
November 30 - Mark Prosper
November 30 - Mark Prosper
Aquinas: 1st efficient cause
The Second Way
1. Recognize a series of efficient causes based on experience
2. Nothing can be its own efficient cause, or it would have to exist before it existed.
3. There cannot be an infinite series of causes.
- A: in a series of causes, the first cause causes the intermediate causes and ultimate effect.
- B: if you remove a 1st cause, then you remove its effect.
- C: suppose 3 is false, and there is an infinite series, by definition there is no 1st cause.
- D: by removing the 1st cause, you remove the intermediary causes and ultimate cause.
- E: there is an ultimate effect, us/world.
- F: the supposition must be wrong.
- G: therefore, 3 must be true.
4. The 1st efficient cause, which causes all people, is called God. (from 2 & 3)
God as efficient cause
- The statements 2 and 3 do not necessarily apply to God. God is not like us, necessary, and does not need a cause. Nothing caused God.
There can be an infinite causes going forward, but not backward.
Do not confuse material things with something that is not material, E.g. The Big Bang, and God.
Everyone assigns 1st efficient cause as God, yet it could be assigned a different name.
Cannot ask what cause 1st cause because it would not longer be the 1st cause.
The Third Way: Possibility and Necessity
- Possible Beings: can be and cannot be
- Necessary Beings: must be and cannot not be
All possible beings need a cause in order to come into existence.
- Can be generated, and can be corrupted. Possible to be, and not be.
1. In nature, there are “things which are possible to be and not, since they are found to be generated and to be corrupted”, such as possible beings.
2. It is impossible that there are only possible beings in the universe because “its impossible for these always to exist”
I. For that which that cannot be and at sometimes is not
II. If everything could not be, there would be a time when nothing existed
III. Now that which does not (have to) exist, beings to exist only through something already existing.
IV. If everything can not-be there was a time when nothing existed, and there wouldn’t have been anything to cause anything else to being to act.
V. Thus, there would be nothing not, which is absurd.
VI. Therefore, not all things can not-be, and there must be a necessary being.
3. “every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not.”
2 kinds of causes: non-transitive (accidental) and transitive (essential)
- transitive is ordered, and happening right now in a specific sequence
- there is no specific sequence in non-transitive causes