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PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION JOHN HICK PDF

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Theophilogue: Theology, Philosophy, Dialogue • PDF Catalogue • HICK'S PHILOSOPHICAL ADVOCACY OF RELIGIOUS PLURALISM: EXPOSITION AND . Philosophy of Religion, Hick John, Prentice Hall,. Inc. U.S.A., , Ch. 4 & 7. 2. Problems of Religious Pluralism, Hick John, St. Martins Press, New York, A brief biography of Christian philosopher John Hick, best known for his work on religious pluralism.

First Form of the Argument In the next and crucial stage of his argument Anselm distinguishes between something. The argument now runs as follows: For something can be thought to exist that cannot be thought not to exist. Anselm's own formulation of this classic piece of philosophical reasoning is found in the second chapter of the Proslogion. Therefore there is absolutely no doubt that something-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought exists both in the mind and in reality.

The ontological argument could not be founded upon this latter notion. God is defined in such a way that it is impossible to conceive of God's not existing. Second Form of the Argument In his third chapter Anselm states the argument again. But this is obviously impossible. Something-than-which-a-greater-cannotbe-thought exists so truly then.

If then that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought exists in the mind alone. Anselm describes God as the being who is so perfect that no more perfect can even be conceived. The core of this notion of necessary being is self-existence aseity. If the most perfect conceivable being existed only in the mind. An island or any other material object is by definition a part of the contingent world. Thus far.

When questioned by Mersenne about the relation of his own argument to Anselm's. It is not entirely clear whether Descartes received the basic principle of his ontological argument from Anselm. It applies only to the most perfect conceivable being.

He claims that Anselm's reasoning would lead to absurd conclusions if applied in other fields. Is it possible. Anselm refers to the psalmisf s "fool" who says in his heart. Descartes also makes another and different attempt to prove God's existence: Discourse on Method..

The most perfect island. Can Anselm's argument in its first form. The first important critic of the argument. Given the idea of such an island. Gaunilon spoke of the most perfect of islands rather than as he should have done of the most perfect conceivable island.

Anselm at the first opportunity. Anselm's reply. The element in the idea of God which is lacking in the notion of the most perfect island is necessary existence. A second phase of the debate was opened when Rene Descartes This depends upon whether the idea of the most perfect conceivable island is a coherent and consistent idea.

This is a question for the reader to consider. Kemp Smith. Arguments for the Existence of God 17 Criticisms of the Argument In introducing the ontological argument. New Studies in the Philosophy of Descartes. IV and Meditations. A triangle without its defining properties would not be a triangle.

Kant replied. Kant rejected the basic assumption upon which Descartes's argument rested. Martin's Press. Part III. Critique of Pure Reason. The all-important difference is that in the case of the triangle we cannot infer that any triangles exist. A Treatise of Human Nature. Essentially the same point has more recently been made by Bertrand Russell Emmanuel Kant. Thus to say of x that it exists is not to say that in addition to its various other attributes it has the attribute of existing.

Immanuel Kant He points out as indeed David Hume had already pointed out in a different context 7 that the idea of existence does not add anything to the concept of a particular thing or kind of thing. The essence or defining nature of each kind of thing includes certain predicates.

Kemp Smith London: Just as the fact that its internal angles are equal to two right angles is a necessary characteristic of a triangle. He explicitly treats existence as a characteristic. This Cartesian version of the ontological argument was later challenged at two levels by the great German philosopher. As Kant says.

Philosophy of Religion

Book I. An imaginary hundred dollars. In each case the predicate is necessarily linked with the subject.. The same holds true of the concept of an absolutely necessary being. When we affirm that the dollars are real. What is analytically true is that if there is a triangle. Russell's analysis. For if existence is not a predicate. It should be added that some theologians. Barth's interpretation is criticized by Etienne Gilson in "Sens et nature de I'argument de saint Anselme.

But if existence. A definition of God describes one's concept of God but cannot prove the actual existence of any such being. On this view. Since we can talk about unicorns. Fides Quaerens Intellectum. Arguments for the Existence of God 19 in his analysis of the word "exists.

Similarly "Unicorns do not exist" is the equivalent of "There are no x's such that 'x is a unicorn' is true. For it would be self-contradictory to say that the most perfect conceivable being lacks the attribute of existence.

John Knox Press.

Anselm's argument does not seek to convert the atheist but rather to lead an already formed Christian faith into a deeper understanding of its object. The bearing of this upon the ontological argument is evident. If existence is. For a more technical discussion. Book n. The Nature of Necessity Oxford: Alvin Plantinga. The weakness of the argument as Aquinas states it lies in the difficulty which he himself elsewhere acknowledges 12 of excluding as impossible an endless regress of events.

For an important philosophical study of Aquinas's arguments. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Open Court Publishing Co. Charles Hartshorne.: He Who Is London: James F. His first proof.. See also Summa Contra Gentiles. The first Way argues from the fact of change to a Prime Mover. Five Ways: We may concentrate upon Aquinas's second and third proofs. Philosophical Theology New York: The Logic of Perfection LaSalle. Aquinas excludes the possibility of an infinite regress of causes and so concludes that there must be a First Cause.

Question 2. Summa Theologica. Sumtna Theologica. Part II. Oxford University Press. Aquinas's proofs start from some general feature of the world around us and argue that there could not be a world with this particular characteristic unless there were also the ultimate reality which we call God.

University of Notre Dame Press. His second proof. The assumption of the reformulated argument is that to indicate the causal conditions of an event is thereby to render that event intelligible.

Everything in the world about us is contingent—that is. Although this assumption is true on the basis of some theories of the nature of causality.

The argument in effect presents the dilemma: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Hans Reichenbach.

The proof of this is that there was a time when it did not exist. Apart from the emotional coloring suggested by the phrase. Second although there is only space to suggest this difficulty. If fact A is made intelligible by its relation to facts B. The Rise of Scientific Phibsophy Berkeley: University of California Press.

In this case. The existence of this printed page is contingent upon the prior activities of trees. Everything points beyond itself to other things.

Aquinas's reference to a hypothetical time when nothing existed seems to 14 Cf. Saint Thomas argues that if everything were contingent. If no such reality exists. Arguments for the Existence of God 21 regress of explanations. Since there are things in existence. Aquinas's third Way. For example. Book II. The force of the cosmological form of reasoning resides in the dilemma: Far from being ruled out. The most typical philosophical objection raised against this reasoning in recent years is that the idea of a "necessary being" is unintelligible.

Such an ultimate ground is the "necessary being" that we call God. It is said that only propositions. For this reason.. One writer points as an analogy to the workings of a watch. This inability to exclude the possibility of an unintelligible universe prevents the cosmological argument from operating for the skeptic as a proof of God's existence—and the skeptic is. The concept of a necessary being used in the main theological tradition exemplified by both Anselm and Aquinas 19 is not concerned with logical necessity but rather with a kind of factual necessity which.

Summa Contra Gentiles. This particular objection to the cosmological argument is based upon a misapprehension. The movement of each separate wheel and cog is accounted for by the way in which it meshes with an adjacent wheel. There remains.

Clearly such an argument is cogent only if the second alternative has been ruled out. In order for there to be a set of interlocking wheels in movement. Only a self-existent reality. The Macmillan Company and London: Suppose that while walking in a desert place I see a rock lying on the ground and ask myself how this object came to exist.

For general treatments of cosmological arguments. A watch consists of a complex arrangement of wheels. I cannot reasonably account for it in a similar way. Paley's book is available in an abridged version.

In modern times one of the most famous expositions of the argument from. The argument occurs in philosophical literature from Plato's Timaeus onward. The Cosmological Argument Princeton.

He Who Is. Finite and Infinite.: Princeton University Press. The Kaldm Cosmological Argument London: Macmillan and Company Ltd. Austin Farrer. Robert E. It would be utterly implausible to attribute the formation and assembling of these metal parts into a functioning machine to the chance operation of such factors as wind and rain. Arguments for the Existence of God 23 Today there is an important neo-Thomist group of thinkers who hold that there are valid forms of the cosmological argument.

Frederick Ferr6. We are obliged to postulate an intelligent mind which is responsible for the phenomenon. The Universe—Plan or Accident? Muhlenburg Press. I can properly attribute its presence to chance. Dacre Press. It appears again as the last of Saint Thomas's five Ways. Macmillan and New York: Paley adds certain comments that are important for his analogy between the watch and the world.

For an interesting recent presentation of the First Cause argument.

The rotation of the planets in the solar system and. He points out that any universe is bound to have the appearance of being designed. In a human brain. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. The 23 24 Arthur I. Hume's book was published in We may conclude with an example offered by a more recent writer. As examples of divine arrangement he points to the characteristics and instincts of animals.

Paley argues that the natural world is as complex a mechanism. Can such complex and efficient mechanisms have come about by chance. Paley in this respect typical of a great deal of religious apologetics in the eighteenth century develops a long cumulative argument drawing upon virtually all the sciences of his day. Part VIII. Fundamental Truth Publishers. We would still be obliged to postulate a watchmaker. Could anyone possibly attribute this device to a chance evolutionary process?

A wall which prevents death to every living thing. He is impressed by the way the alternation of day and night conveniently enables animals to sleep after a period of activity. Footprints of God Findlay.

The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review

There could not. The eye is a superb movie camera. He writes: The Ozone gas layer is a mighty proof of the Creator's forethought. Three of Hume's main criticisms are as follows. In this case the design argument fails. Hume suggests the Epicurean hypothesis. The Darwinian theory of natural selection.

To use an illustration of Hume's. The analogy between the world and a human artifact. Arguments for the Existence of God 25 persistence of any kind of life in a relatively fixed environment presupposes order and adaptation.

It can be revised and extended in the light of the special sciences. One could equally plausibly liken it to a great inert animal such as a crustacean.

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Only if the world is shown to be rather strikingly analogous to a human artifact. The question is. According to Darwin's theory. Part V. Parts VI. The "struggle for survival. The universe consists of a finite number of particles in random motion. This hypothesis provides a maximally simple model for a naturalistic explanation of the orderly character of the world.

Even if we could validly infer a divine Designer of the world. To refer back to the ozone layer. In unlimited time these go through every combination that is possible to them. As an alternative. If one of these combinations constitutes a stable order whether temporary or permanent. Needless to say. I have good evidence that the unseen object weighs more than ten ounces. Morris R. On the same principle. Theism is presented as the most probable world-view or metaphysical system.

Dover Publications. The problem of evil will be discussed in Chapter 4. II Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Phibsophical Theology. Two main theories of probability.

I cannot infer from this that it weighs a hundred ounces. These thinkers claim that a theistic interpretation of the world is superior to its alternatives because it alone takes adequate account of man's moral and religious experience.

Tennant27 and today by Richard Swinburne. A Preface to Logic London: It has. According to the first. Richard Swinburne. On the other hand. It has been suggested that we may speak of "alogical" probabilities and may claim that in a sense that operates in everyday common-sense judgments. As David Hume points out. Cornell University Press.

In the unique case of the universe as a whole there is no body of prior evidence-stating propositions to which we can appeal. In other words. Arguments for the Existence of God 27 any one particular number at a given throw is one in six.

Roderick M. There is only one universe. Perceiving Ithaca. Richard Swinburne has recently argued that the theistic explanation of the character of the universe is the simplest and most comprehensive available and can be shown by use of Bayes's theorem to have an overall probability greater than one-half. Philosophical Theology. Nor does there seem to be any valid sense in which it can be said that a religious interpretation of life is antecedently more probable than a naturalistic interpretation.

If—impossibly—we knew that there were a number of universes for example. According to the other type of probability theory. His argument is fascinating and 31 See. Since we are dealing with a unique phenomenon. But to make such an assumption is to beg the question. A Grammar of Assent. An Interpretation of Religion New Haven: Yale University Press and London: If the cause of these emotions does not belong to this visible world.

First Form In one form the argument is presented as a logical inference from objective moral laws to a divine Law Giver. Cardinal Newman. It is criticized in. Second Form The second kind of moral argument is not open to the same objection..

Harrold New York: David McKay Co. It consists of the claim thattanyone seriously committed to respect moral values as exercising a sovereign claim upon his or her life must thereby implicitly believe in the reality of a transhuman source and basis for these values.

John Hick. Critique of Practical Reason. Either our moral values tell us something about the nature and purpose of reality i. To recognize moral claims as taking precedence over all other interests is.

This is at least a move in the direction of belief in God. It seems to the present writer that so long as this contention is not overstated it has a certain limited validity..

But it cannot be presented as a proof of God's existence.. Is it too paradoxical in the modern world to say that faith in God is a very part of our moral consciousness. Arguments for the Existence of God 29 argues that both immortality and the existence of God are "postulates" of the moral life.

The sociological theory refers to this power when it suggests that the gods whom people worship are imaginary beings unconsciously fabricated by society as instruments whereby society exercises control over the thoughts and behavior of the individual.

The theory claims that when men and women have the religious feeling of standing before a higher power that transcends their personal lives and x The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Two of the most influential such interpretations will now be discussed.. The Free Press. The skeptic believes. The key to the complementary sense of God as people's final succor and security is found. Arguments Against the Existence of God 31 impresses its will upon them as a moral imperative.

We humans are social to the roots of our being and are deeply dependent upon our group and unhappy when isolated from it. This reality is not. The sense of the holy. Religious thinkers have offered various criticisms of this theory. This theory accounts for the transformation of the natural pressures of society into the felt supernatural presence of God by referring to a universal tendency of the human mind to create mental images and symbols.

In advanced societies this primitive unity has enjoyed a partial revival in time of war. In the Australian aboriginal societies. It is a chief source of our psychic vitality. The tribe or clan was a psychic organism within which the human members lived as cells. According to this interpretation. The encompassing human group exercises the attributes of deity in relation to its members and gives rise in their minds to the idea of God.

Towards Belief in God London: Its customs. Again the criticism focuses upon the individual who is set at variance with society because he or she "marches to a different drum"—for example. It is claimed that the sociological theory fails to account for the moral creativity of the prophetic mind.

How is this striking phenomenon to be brought within the scope of the sociological theory? If the call of God is only society imposing upon its members forms of conduct that are in the interest of that society. How can the prophet have the support of God against society if God is simply society in disguise?

The record shows. If the sociological theory is correct. In the understanding of the great teachers of the monotheistic faiths. These people are sustained by a vivid sense of the call and leadership of the Eternal. The moral prophet is characteristically an innovator who goes beyond the established ethical code and summons his or her fellows to acknowledge new and more far-reaching claims of morality upon their lives.

It seems. How is this to be accounted for if there is no other source of moral obligation than the experience of the organized group intent upon its own preservation and enhancement? The sociological theory fits a static "closed society.

God loves all human beings and summons all men and women to care for one another as brothers and sisters. It is claimed that the sociological theory fails to explain the socially detaching power of conscience. It is striking that in one instance after another the Hebrew prophets express a sense of closeness to God as they are rejected by their own people. The human race as a whole is not a society as the term is used in the sociological theory.

It is claimed that the theory fails to account for the universal reach of the religiously informed conscience. James Strachey New York: Liveright Corporation and London: The Hogarth Press Ltd. The Future of an Illusion But if the elements have passions that rage as they do in our own souls. The solution adopted in Judaic-Christian religion is to project upon the universe the buried memory of our father as a great protecting power. In Totem and Taboo.

The face that smiled at us in the cradle.. Moses and Monotheism The Ego and the Id He postulates a stage 3 See his Totem and Taboo Oedipus is a figure in Greek mythology who unknowingly killed his father and married his mother.

Freud uses his distinctive concept of the Oedipus complex 8 which rests on concurrent ambivalent feelings to account for the tremendous emotional intensity of religious life and the associated feelings of guilt and of obligation to obey the behests of the deity.

We are still defenseless. T7ie Future of an Illusion. We can apply the same methods against these violent super beings outside that we employ in our own society. According to Freud. Arthur Guirdham. Sex and Repression in Savage Society London: Ostow and B. Some of the discussions from the side of theology are: Ian Suttie. Ptolemaic Christianity would assert that everything exists and all of history has played out in specific patterns for the glory of the Christian God, and that there is no other possible path that will lead to salvation.

Hick appears as Copernicus, offering the belief that perhaps all theistic religions are focused toward the one true God and simply take different paths to achieve the same goal.

Johnson, compares Hick's pluralistic theology to a tale of three blind men attempting to describe an elephant , one touching the leg, the second touching the trunk, the third feeling the elephant's side. Each man describes the elephant differently, and, although each is accurate, each is also convinced of their own correctness and the mistakenness of the other two.

He states that "the different religious traditions, with their complex internal differentiations, have developed to meet the needs of the range of mentalities expressed in the different human cultures. He first cites the Sermon on the Mount as being the basic Christian teaching, as it provides a practical way of living out the Christian faith.

He says that "Christian essence is not to be found in beliefs about God In turn, this means that the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus form the permanent basis of the Christian tradition. Hick continues in this work to examine the manner in which the deification of Jesus took place in corporate Christianity following his crucifixion and questions whether or not Jesus actually thought of himself as the Messiah and the literal Son of God.

In several places e. Hick contends "that the historical Jesus of Nazareth did not teach or apparently believe that he was God, or God the Son, Second Person of a Holy Trinity, incarnate, or the son of God in a unique sense. That is, Jesus for example was not literally God in the flesh incarnate , but was metaphorically speaking, the presence of God. This, I Hick believe, is the true Christian doctrine of the incarnation. Neither the intense christological debates of the centuries leading up to the Council of Chalcedon, nor the renewed christological debates of the 19th and 20th Centuries, have succeeded in squaring the circle by making intelligible the claim that one who was genuinely and unambiguously a man was also genuinely and unambiguously God.

In other words, God allows suffering so that human souls might grow or develop towards maturation. For Hick, God is ultimately responsible for pain and suffering, but such things are not truly bad. Perhaps with a greater degree of perception, one can see that the "evil" we experience through suffering is not ultimately evil but good, as such is used to "make our souls" better.

Using Hick's own words, Roth has stated, "Hick's theodicy is implausible to me because I am convinced that his claims about God's goodness cannot stand the onslaught of what he calls the principal threat to his own perspective: 'the sheer amount and intensity of both moral and natural evil.

Second, I am dubious about Hick's hope of a gradual spiritual evolution till human beings reach a full state of God-consciousness Third, I believe Hick also faces what I call the 'cost-effective' criticism of the free will defense Various replies to the freedom-foreknowledge debate have been given. Some adopt compatibilism, affirming the compatibility of free will and determinism, and conclude that foreknowledge is no more threatening to freedom than determinism. While some prominent philosophical theists in the past have taken this route most dramatically Jonathan Edwards — , this seems to be the minority position in philosophy of religion today exceptions include Paul Helm, John Fischer, and Lynne Baker.

A second position adheres to the libertarian outlook, which insists that freedom involves a radical, indeterminist exercise of power, and concludes that God cannot know future free action. What prevents such philosophers from denying that God is omniscient is that they contend there are no truths about future free actions, or that while there are truths about the future, God either cannot know those truths Swinburne or freely decides not to know them in order to preserve free choice John Lucas.

Aristotle may have thought it was neither true nor false prior to a given sea battle whether a given side would win it. Some theists, such as Richard Swinburne, adopt this line today, holding that the future cannot be known. If it cannot be known for metaphysical reasons, then omniscience can be analyzed as knowing all that it is possible to know.

Other philosophers deny the original paradox. God can simply know the future without this having to be grounded on an established, determinate future. But this only works if there is no necessity of eternity analogous to the necessity of the past. If not, then there is an exactly parallel dilemma of timeless knowledge. For outstanding current analysis of freedom and foreknowledge, see the work of Linda Zagzebski. In the great monotheistic traditions, God is thought of as without any kind of beginning or end.

God will never, indeed, can never, cease to be. This view is sometimes referred to as the thesis that God is everlasting. This is sometimes called the view that God is eternal as opposed to everlasting. Why adopt the more radical stance? One reason, already noted, is that if God is not temporally bound, there may be a resolution to the earlier problem of reconciling freedom and foreknowledge.

As St. Augustine of Hippo put it: so that of those things which emerge in time, the future, indeed, are not yet, and the present are now, and the past no longer are; but all of these are by Him comprehended in His stable and eternal presence. The City of God, XI. Those affirming God to be unbounded by temporal sequences face several puzzles which I note without trying to settle. If God is somehow at or in all times, is God simultaneously at or in each?

If so, there is the following problem. If God is simultaneous with the event of Rome burning in CE, and also simultaneous with your reading this entry, then it seems that Rome must be burning at the same time you are reading this entry. A different problem arises with respect to eternity and omniscience. If God is outside of time, can God know what time it is now? Arguably, there is a fact of the matter that it is now, say, midnight on 1 July A God outside of time might know that at midnight on 1 July certain things occur, but could God know when it is now that time?

For some theists, describing God as a person or person-like God loves, acts, knows is not to equivocate. But it is not clear that an eternal God could be personal. Some religions construe the Divine as in some respect beyond our human notions of good and evil. In some forms of Hinduism, for example, Brahman has been extolled as possessing a sort of moral transcendence, and some Christian theologians and philosophers have likewise insisted that God is only a moral agent in a highly qualified sense, if at all Davies To call God good is, for them, very different from calling a human being good.

Here are only some of the ways in which philosophers have articulated what it means to call God good. The latter view has been termed theistic voluntarism. A common version of theistic voluntarism is the claim that for something to be good or right simply means that God approves of permits it and for something to be bad or wrong means that God disapproves or forbids it.

Theistic voluntarists face several difficulties: moral language seems intelligible without having to be explained in terms of the Divine will. Indeed, many people make what they take to be objective moral judgments without making any reference to God.

If they are using moral language intelligibly, how could it be that the very meaning of such moral language should be analyzed in terms of Divine volitions? New work in the philosophy of language may be of use to theistic voluntarists.

Also at issue is the worry that if voluntarism is accepted, the theist has threatened the normative objectivity of moral judgments.

Could God make it the case that moral judgments were turned upside down? For example, could God make cruelty good? Arguably, the moral universe is not so malleable. All such positions are non-voluntarist in so far as they do not claim that what it means for something to be good is that God wills it to be so.

For example, because knowledge is in itself good, omniscience is a supreme good. God has also been considered good in so far as God has created and conserves in existence a good cosmos. Debates over the problem of evil if God is indeed omnipotent and perfectly good, why is there evil?

The debate over the problem of evil is taken up in section 5. Some theists who oppose a full-scale voluntarism allow for partial voluntarist elements. According to one such moderate stance, while God cannot make cruelty good, God can make some actions morally required or morally forbidden which otherwise would be morally neutral.

According to some theories of property, an agent making something good gains entitlements over the property. Theories spelling out why and how the cosmos belongs to God have been prominent in all three monotheistic traditions. Plato defended the notion, as did Aquinas and Locke see Brody for a defense. Zagzebski contends that being an exemplary virtuous person consists in having good motives.

Motives have an internal, affective or emotive structure. The ultimate grounding of what makes human motives good is that they are in accord with the motives of God.

Not all theists resonate with her bold claim that God is a person who has emotions, but many allow that at least in some analogical sense God may be see as personal and having affective states.

One other effort worth noting to link judgments of good and evil with judgments about God relies upon the ideal observer theory of ethics. According to this theory, moral judgments can be analyzed in terms of how an ideal observer would judge matters. To say an act is right entails a commitment to holding that if there were an ideal observer, it would approve of the act; to claim an act is wrong entails the thesis that if there were an ideal observer, it would disapprove of it.

The theory can be found in works by Hume, Adam Smith, R. Hare, and R. Firth see Firth []. The theory receives some support from the fact that most moral disputes can be analyzed in terms of different parties challenging each other to be impartial, to get their empirical facts straight, and to be more sensitive—for example, by realizing what it feels like to be disadvantaged. The theory has formidable critics and defenders. If true, it does not follow that there is an ideal observer, but if it is true and moral judgments are coherent, then the idea of an ideal observer is coherent.

Given certain conceptions of God in the three great monotheistic traditions, God fits the ideal observer description and more besides, of course. This need not be unwelcome to atheists. Should an ideal observer theory be cogent, a theist would have some reason for claiming that atheists committed to normative, ethical judgments are also committed to the idea of a God or a God-like being.

For a defense of a theistic form of the ideal observer theory, see Taliaferro a; for criticism see Anderson For further work on God, goodness, and morality, see Evans and Hare For interesting work on the notion of religious authority, see Zagzebski For example, an argument from the apparent order and purposive nature of the cosmos will be criticized on the grounds that, at best, the argument would establish there is a purposive, designing intelligence at work in the cosmos.

This falls far short of establishing that there is a God who is omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent, and so on. Second, few philosophers today advance a single argument as a proof. Customarily, a design argument might be advanced alongside an argument from religious experience, and the other arguments to be considered below. This section surveys some of the main theistic arguments. The argument need not resist all empirical support, however, as shall be indicated.

That necessary existence is built into the concept of God can be supported by appealing to the way God is conceived in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. This would involve some a posteriori, empirical research into the way God is thought of in these traditions. Alternatively, a defender of the ontological argument might hope to convince others that the concept of God is the concept of a being that exists necessarily by beginning with the idea of a maximally perfect being. If there were a maximally perfect being, what would it be like?

It has been argued that among its array of great-making qualities omniscience and omnipotence would be necessary existence. For an interesting, recent treatment of the relationship between the concept of there being a necessarily existing being and there being a God, see Necessary Existence by Alexander Pruss and Joshua Rasmussen chapters one to three. The ontological argument goes back to St. The principle can be illustrated in the case of propositions. That six is the smallest perfect number that number which is equal to the sum of its divisors including one but not including itself does not seem to be the sort of thing that might just happen to be true.

Rather, either it is necessarily true or necessarily false. If the latter, it is not possible, if the former, it is possible. If one knows that it is possible that six is the smallest perfect number, then one has good reason to believe that. Does one have reason to think it is possible that God exists necessarily? Defenders of the argument answer in the affirmative and infer that God exists. There have been hundreds of objections and replies to this argument.

Classical, alternative versions of the ontological argument are propounded by Anselm, Spinoza, and Descartes, with current versions by Alvin Plantinga, Charles Hartshorne, Norman Malcolm, and C. Dore; classical critics include Gaunilo and Kant, and current critics are many, including William Rowe, J. Barnes, G. Oppy, and J. Not every advocate of perfect being theology embraces the ontological argument.

Famously Thomas Aquinas did not accept the ontological argument. Alvin Plantinga, who is one of the philosophers responsible for the revival of interest in the ontological argument, contends that while he, personally, takes the argument to be sound because he believes that the conclusion that God exists necessarily is true, which entails that the premise, that it is possible that God exists necessarily is true he does not think the argument has sufficient force to convince an atheist Plantinga — There are various versions.

Some argue that the cosmos had an initial cause outside it, a First Cause in time. Others argue that the cosmos has a necessary, sustaining cause from instant to instant, whether or not the cosmos had a temporal origin. The two versions are not mutually exclusive, for it is possible both that the cosmos had a First Cause and that it has a continuous, sustaining cause.

The cosmological argument relies on the intelligibility of the notion of there being at least one powerful being which is self-existing or whose origin and continued being does not depend on any other being. This could be either the all-out necessity of supreme pre-eminence across all possible worlds used in versions of the ontological argument, or a more local, limited notion of a being that is uncaused in the actual world.

If successful, the argument would provide reason for thinking there is at least one such being of extraordinary power responsible for the existence of the cosmos. At best, it may not justify a full picture of the God of religion a First Cause would be powerful, but not necessarily omnipotent , but it would nonetheless challenge naturalistic alternatives and provide some reason theism.

The later point is analogous to the idea that evidence that there was some life on another planet would not establish that such life is intelligent, but it increases—perhaps only slightly—the hypothesis that there is intelligent life on another planet. Both versions of the argument ask us to consider the cosmos in its present state.

Is the world as we know it something that necessarily exists? At least with respect to ourselves, the planet, the solar system and the galaxy, it appears not. With respect to these items in the cosmos, it makes sense to ask why they exist rather than not. In relation to scientific accounts of the natural world, such enquiries into causes make abundant sense and are perhaps even essential presuppositions of the natural sciences.

Some proponents of the argument contend that we know a priori that if something exists there is a reason for its existence. So, why does the cosmos exist? Arguably, if explanations of the contingent existence of the cosmos or states of the cosmos are only in terms of other contingent things earlier states of the cosmos, say , then a full cosmic explanation will never be attained.

However, if there is at least one necessarily non-contingent being causally responsible for the cosmos, the cosmos does have an explanation. At this point the two versions of the argument divide. Arguments to a First Cause in time contend that a continuous temporal regress from one contingent existence to another would never account for the existence of the cosmos, and they conclude that it is more reasonable to accept there was a First Cause than to accept either a regress or the claim that the cosmos just came into being from nothing.

Arguments to a sustaining cause of the cosmos claim that explanations of why something exists now cannot be adequate without assuming a present, contemporaneous sustaining cause. The arguments have been based on the denial of all actual infinities or on the acceptance of some infinities for instance, the coherence of supposing there to be infinitely many stars combined with the rejection of an infinite regress of explanations solely involving contingent states of affairs.

The latter has been described as a vicious regress as opposed to one that is benign. There are plausible examples of vicious infinite regresses that do not generate explanations: for instance, imagine that Tom explains his possession of a book by reporting that he got it from A who got it from B, and so on to infinity.

This would not explain how Tom got the book. Alternatively, imagine a mirror with light reflected in it. Would the presence of light be successfully explained if one claimed that the light was a reflection of light from another mirror, and the light in that mirror came from yet another mirror, and so on to infinity? Consider a final case. You ask its meaning and are given another word which is unintelligible to you, and so on, forming an infinite regress. Would you ever know the meaning of the first term?

The force of these cases is to show how similar they are to the regress of contingent explanations.

Versions of the argument that reject all actual infinities face the embarrassment of explaining what is to be made of the First Cause, especially since it might have some features that are actually infinite. In reply, Craig and others have contended that they have no objection to potential infinities although the First Cause will never cease to be, it will never become an actual infinity.

They further accept that prior to the creation, the First Cause was not in time, a position relying on the theory that time is relational rather than absolute. The current scientific popularity of the relational view may offer support to defenders of the argument.Thus religion is secularized, orto put it another wayordinary life takes on a religious meaning. Hume's book was published in This inability to exclude the possibility of an unintelligible universe prevents the cosmological argument from operating for the skeptic as a proof of God's existence—and the skeptic is.

If God is somehow at or in all times, is God simultaneously at or in each? Advancing knowledge has made it necessary to distinguish between their record of the divine presence and calling. Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Meaning of Paul for Today.

LEVI from Indiana
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