The Philosophy Of Religion Philosophy

Add: 28-10-2015, 13:24   /   Views: 282

The properties of God, known as divine attributes, as pictured by traditional theism Point out some important questions, in the philosophy of religion.

One question that is whether these godly properties can exist together or the likes of omniscience, existence in our universe and perfect freedom are different from each other.

Other questions surround the clearness of terms like 'omnipotent' and 'omniscient'.

The word 'omnipotent' means having power to do whatever is not logically unthinkable.

This belief has led to the creation of paradoxes such as 'Can God create a stone too heavy for Him to lift?' or 'Can God create something that He cannot destroy?' Some religious believers maintain that God can outdo the logically impossible, but those who occupy a less forceful point of view claim that God is bound by the laws of logic like the rest of us.

The second group argues that the terms 'omnipotent' and 'omniscient' mean that God possesses certain powers like our own but by far bigger.

The question of what sort of knowledge God has is equally exciting.

Does God know the same sort of things that we do? Does God obtain such knowledge by the same ways? Does God have foreknowledge, and can God ever be surprised? Questions like that point out more concerns over the nature of god and raise the issue that is, in order to have knowledge, God needs to be physical.

As the psalmist in Hebrew scripture said, 'Is the creator of the eye unable to see?'

Arguments for the existence of God

St Augustine of Hippo said that questions about God were the most important that any philosopher could consider.

They still represent a series of questions that should be considered important in philosophy.

For many people today, belief in a supreme being is shaky because God's existence cannot be proven.

Let us briefly examine the nature of proof.

Proof changes from justification in that it not only provides a good reason for believing something but a logically convincing argument that forces us to believe it.

However, seriously doubtful arguments suggest that there is no complete proof for anything at all.

A number of arguments have been suggested by theistic philosophers for the existence of God and fall into two general categories: proofs from premises and proofs from religious experience.

Some apologists have felt that the only way to fill the gap of uncertainty and disbelief is by providing a neat understandable argument for the existence of God.

The cosmological argument

It look as if it is appropriate to start with the first cause argument.

One of the deepest human instincts, common in most cultures, is the idea that the universe depends on something else for its existence.

One Hindu creation myth describes how the world is set on the back of an elephant, which is balanced on the back of a turtle, which is itself is a part of an infinite line of turtles.

An image like that is an example of what philosophers call an infinite regress, meaning something that goes on forever without an end.

The infinite regress explanation for the cause of the universe still asks for the question, 'Why does the universe exist?' Another idea is the idea of a first mover or an uncaused cause.

A solution like that has been supported by thinkers like St Thomas Aquinas, and is named the cosmological or the first cause argument.

Aquinas believes that the universe was caused by, and is dependent on, an intervening God.

Aquinas' proofs of the existence of God are framed in three Ways:

Way 1

1 The world is in motion due to change.

2 All changes in the world are due to some prior cause.

3 There must be a cause for this entire sequence of changes.

4 We call this cause 'God'.

Way 2

1 The world consists of a sequence of events.

2 Every event in the world has a cause.

3 There must be a cause for the entire sequence of events.

4 We call this cause 'God'.

Way 3

1 The world might not have been.

2 Everything that exists in the world depends on some other thing for its existence.

3 The world itself must depend upon some other thing for its existence.

4 We call that which sustains the world's existence 'God'.

The second premise suppose that nothing can cause itself to come into existence but, rather, everything comes into existence as a result of something else.

The third premise is based on the medieval formula ex nihilo nihil fit, which translates as 'nothing comes from nothing' and is an naturally an attractive idea.

The problem of religious language

It is respected by both religious and non­religious writers that there are difficulties in using language, which is mainly made to describe everyday things.

Some theists have even gone so far as to claim that the only things that we can rightfully say about God must be said in a negative way and that nothing positive can be equally defended.

This tradition is known as apophatic theology.

Apophaticism is explained by the anonymous, fourteenth-century spiritual classic The Cloud of Unknowing, which, as its name suggests, pictures God as a being that the best understanding of god can only be experienced through love and grace.

The difficulties in talking about God have recently become the source of negative evaluation of religion itself.

The first one to consider these thoughts was Hume who said that we make a bonfire of all books that did not justify their claims by experimental or mathematical reasoning.

If we take in our hand any volume of religion or school metaphysics, for instance let us ask, 'Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence'.


Commit it to the flames for it can contain nothing but lies and illusions.

A group of scientifically minded philosophers known as logical positivists revived this attack on the theological statements in the twentieth century.

They stated that there must be sorts of statements: the meaningful and the meaningless.

A meaningful statement had to true by definition or provable through observation.

This was called the 'verification principle' and it clearly left most religious statements, as well as a good deal of ordinary speech, in the meaningless category.

The argument from miracles

The term 'miracle' does not simply refer to 'something to be wondered at' as its Latin derivation, miraculum, suggests, but it is used to describe any event that is attributed to direct, divine intervention: 'things which are done by divine agency beyond the order commonly observed in nature'.

On the face of it, this appears to have the most potential of all the traditional arguments as, if divine intervention necessarily need divine existence and God definitely intervenes in the world, then we can claim with confidence that God exists.

The argument from miracles has nevertheless attracted many criticisms.

The most famous exposition of miracles occurs towards the end of Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.

The author is responding to a group of a thoughts common at the time, supported by the so-called natural theologians.

Hume advises caution in any treatment of miracles, and takes this saying as a guideline: 'That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony is of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish'.

According to this way, any miraculous stories from whatever culture should be treated equally.

Hume notes that miracles appeal the human passion for story­telling and are often plentiful, unsophisticated cultures.

Does the above saying leave any room for miracles occurring? He claims that it has ruled out any occurrences to date, but is aware that this does not mean that there cannot be any in the future.

A writer called Anselm was writing for those who already had belief in God, and so to show that their faith was balanced.

In addition, he says in the introduction to his Proslogion:

I have written the following treatise in the person of one who

seeks to understand what he believes

At best, one can say that if God exists, He will have necessary existence, but maybe that does not prove that He does exist.