Upgrade to remove ads
Philosophy of Religion
Terms in this set (92)
What do philosophers do?
Apply critical thinking skills to concepts, arguments, theories; they argue and analyse.
Latin - 'a bond between people and the gods'. Often thought of as the belief of some supernatural being or beings. Durkheim - a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things... beliefs and practices that unite into one single moral community.
to have the power to bring about any state of affairs that is contingent and not consisting of a free action of some other agent. There are some things outside God's realm of power because no human being on Earth can bring about an impossible state of affair e.g. making a square triangle or making 1 + 1 equal 4.
Gods existence does not need an explanation
Anselm claims that somethings existence has to be explained by something else, itself or nothing at all. Everything around us seems to be explained by another thing. Anselm believes that nothing can explain God's existence because if they could he would have to rely on that being and that would question his omniscience. This suggests that God is eternal or has no beginning or end.
The Heavy Rock Argument
Can God create a rock so heavy he cannot lift it? If he can he is not omnipotent for he cant lift a stone he created. If he cant, he is not omnipotent because he cannot create a stone so heavy he cannot lift it. Therefore, God is omnipotent. However, given that God is omnipotent it is impossible that there should be an object so heavy he cannot lift it. Therefore God cannot create a stone so heavy he cannot lift it for it is logically impossible for there to be something God cannot lift.
The Cosmological Argument
'Something must have started it all'
informed by our senses/experiences
determined by reason alone - independent of our 'prior to' experiences.
Aquinas First Way - Cosmological Argument
1 - Everything that is in motion is moved by something else
2 - Infinite regress is impossible
3 - Conclusion = there must be a first mover
Aquinas Second Way - Cosmological Argument
1 - Every effect has a cause
2 - Infinite regress is impossible
3 - Conclusion = there must be a first cause
Aquinas believes causes cannot extend infinitely into the past because then there would be no first cause, there has to be something that kickstarts it.
The Kalam cosmological argument
- A beginningless series of events in time is an actual infinite
- No actual infinite can exist
- So there can be no beginningless series of events in time
- So the universe began to exist at some point in time
- Whatever begins to exist at some point has a cause of its existence.
Conclusion = Therefore the universe has a cause of existence.
Aquinas Third Way - Cosmological Argument
- If everything is possible not to be, then there could have been nothing in existence.
- If this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing.
- If the world was empty at one time it would be empty forever
- Contingent things do now exist
- Conclusion = A necessary being or thing exists
Objections: the big bang theory and infinite regresses e.g. God > Super God
Response: Why think theres a reason for everythings existence
Aquinas Fourth Way - Cosmological Argument
Among beings there are some more and some less good. But to know 'more and less' we have to know what the maximum goodness is which is God.
What is the cosmological argument evidence for?
It is evidence that the existence of the world accounts for the existence of a God that created it
What is the main basis for ontological arguments?
These are arguments from nothing but analytic, a priori and necessary premises to the conclusion that God exists. They tend to involve arguments about the state of being or existing.
What is the main basis of design arguments?
The facts in this argument are based upon far more complex, controversial, and difficult to establish issues. This argument argues for the truth of certain claims about the world, all of which have the effect of pointing to apparent order brought about by an intelligent designer.
What does Paley believe about the subject of a designer?
'There cannot be design without a designer, contrivance without a contriver, order without choice, arrangement without anything capable of arranging, subserviency and relation to a purpose, without that which could intend a purpose'.
The Design Argument
Hume argued that any universe will look designed to an individual, whether it is or not. Any universe that is regular and orderly enough to produce living organisms, especially living organisms intelligent enough to formulate thoughts like 'our world was designed by a designer', must seem designed to those intelligent organisms.
What do design theorists argue?
They argue that the fine tuning of the world is evidence of an intelligent designer who had the aim of producing life in mind.
Reductio ad absurdum
An argument that tries to prove that some claim is false, in order to establish that its opposite is true. It starts by assuming a statement then attempting to reduce it to absurdity.
e.g. 1 - We should all live our lives exactly like Jesus lived his life
2 - We would have billions of preachers, nobody making the world go around.
3 - Conclusion = We shouldn't all live our lives like Jesus
The Ontological Argument
God exists in the understanding but not in reality.
e.g. The fool is the atheist. God exists in their understanding. The fool thinks God doesnt exist in reality.
Objections: 'On behalf of the fool' - Gaunilo
'Existence is not a real predicate' - Immanuel Kant
Gaunilo's objection to the Ontological Argument
Gaunilo thinks the argument doesnt work. He says that existence in the understanding is hardly existence at all. The line of reasoning leads to faulty conclusions when we substitute concepts. Anselm replies to this and says Gaunilo's claim is incoherent.
Kant's objection to the Ontological Argument
He says that existence is not a real predicate. It is not a property of things. Listing the properties of a thing help to describe that thing. But saying that they exist doesnt help to describe it, it doesnt succeed in matching up to something in the reality of things.
Anselms Ontological Argument
It is possible that God exists. If it is possible that God exists, then God exists in some possible worlds. If God exists in some possible worlds, then God exists in all possible worlds - as a matter of necessity. If God exists in all possible worlds, then God exists in the actual world. Conclusion = If God exists in the actual world, then God exists.
' In order to even doubt that God exists, you have to talk about God'
The Design Argument: The Colloquial Version
'How could the world have such beauty if it weren't designed by God' The best explaination is that it was designed by God instead of random forces.
Aquinas Fifth Way - 'Teleological' Argument
Nature appears to have been created with an end or goal in mind; that mind is guiding nature.
Things which lack knowledge and intelligence can be goal oriented e.g. bacteria
Whatever lacks knowledge and intelligence cannot move towards a goal unless it is directed by a being that has knowledge and intelligence.
Some intelligent body exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.
Highly complex objects are products of intelligent design
The universe is a highly complex object
The universe is probably the product of intelligent design
The universe cant be created by anyone but God
There is a God
Hume's Objections - Ontological Argument
If the cause of the universe is some designer then why cant we ask who designed that designer?
You cannot infer from the appearance of nature that there is one God or many, nor the attributes associated with the concept of God.
The analogy between human artefacts (watches, houses) and the universe as a whole is weak.
We would need to observe other universes for the 'artefacts > universe' generalization to be at all persuasive, for all we know, the tiny bit of it we've experienced might seem to be ordered or designed.
How is the universe fine-tuned?
The rate of expansion of the Big Bang theory, the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, Isotropy, thermal properties of Earth, properties of water.
The idea: Although nobody could have observed, the world could easily have been far more irregular than what it is. We can easily imagine worlds worse than ours.
Objections to the Ontological Argument
The Anthropic Principle
Although its still a matter of chance that the universe turned out this way rather than another way, its not so surprising that it appears to be fine-tuned for life. 'No explaination is required why the ten aces of hearts appeared, since if they hadnt we would not be here to puzzle about it'.
The Many Universes hypothesis
Our universe is just one of many universes 'parallel realities'. Have no contact with each other but are all equally real. All possible states/actions are actualised in some universe or other, with universes constantly splitting off into new ones.
What is a miracle?
Divine intervention that has made the physically impossible or insanely improbable actual. Laws of nature are regularities that hold when there are no supernatural interventions. A miracle would then be an instance of God overriding the laws of created nature.
Mackie - Miracles
A miracle occurs when the world is not left to itself, when something distinct from the natural order as a whole intrudes into it. It should fulfill the intention of God or a supernatural being. So if it can be proven that a miracle has occured then it would be good evidence for the existence of God.
Humes objection to miracles
Whenever we hear a story about a miraculous event we have to evaluate the reliability of the testimony of the witness. We must ask ourselves which is more likely:
1. That the witness is mistaken or lying
2. Or that a miracle has occured
We know that being mistaken and lying are common occurences and we know of no authenticated miracles.
Humes 'No Miracle' Argument
According to Hume, there are no really well-attested miracles. We should have high standards when we are assessing miracles because deception and mistakes are easy. The human mind has a positive tendency to believe an extreme degree of something strange and marvellous. Reports of miracles are observed chiefly from undeveloped and ignorant nations. The truth of any report of a miracle would establish the truth of Christ. Many people have an intense desire to believe in some religious object, and sometimes stories of miracle are used to draw people in.
If someone tells you something you are expected to believe them. Your basic reason must be that it is unlikely they wouldnt be telling you something if it was not so. The report could be false in two ways: are they mistaken? are they insincere? It is always more likely that the person telling you about some alleged miracle is mistaken or lying, than that miracle really being true.
Central Argument of Miracles
The main arugment rests upon a principle that governs the acceptance of testimony, believing what one is told, about any matter at all. There is no testimony that is sufficient enough to establish a miracle. Unless the testimony's falsity would be more of a miracle. The unlikelihood of the story being false is less than the unlikelihood of the story having around > we shouldnt believe it. Hume doesnt say miracles never do happen or never could happen, he is showing that we dont have good reason for believing that those stories happened. He renders them purely as a matter of faith.
The Burden of Proof
The defender has to prove it took place and that it violates the laws of nature. The possibility does not make much difference if you are a witness to a miracle.
A religious experience is an experience of something external to you as holy - 'awareness of another as holy' - Otto
An experience in which one senses the immediate presence of the divine. Experiences where there is a sense of 'otherness' or 'unity' - Rowe
Doesnt include religious themed experiences not of the divine (e.g. feeling guilty for having commited a sin)
recognised deity of some religious group
Rowe: mystical vs non mystical
Non Mystical = The divine is distinct from oneself. The experience looks out from you into the world around you.
Mystical = Feeling as one with the divine
Principle of Credulity
If a person has an experience which seems to be of X, then unless there is some reason to think overwise, it is rational to believe the X exists.
Reasons to think people are lying about experiencing a mystical experience:
Lies to strengthen their religion
Weird lighting or vision impaired situations
Having recently awoken
Near death experiences
What does Hume say about miracles?
He says there are no well-attested miracles. He has high standards but these are appropriate in an area where deceit, self-deception and mistake are so easy.
How do humans react to miracle stories?
The human mind has a positive tendency to believe what is strange and marvellous in an extreme degree.
'The passion of surprise and wonder, arising from miracles, being an agreeable emotion, gives a sensible tendency towards the belief of those events from which it is derived'.
What is the theory of religion and miracles?
Different religions are in conflict: their claims therefore undermine and destroy one another.
The very fact that a miracle story is used to introduce a new religion or to support an existing one is an additional reason for scepticism - many people have an intense desire to believe in some religious object, and experience shows that large numbers are constantly deluded by such claims.
What does Hume say about testimony's being sufficient?
'That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsity would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish; and even in that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the superior only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force, which remains, after deducting the inferior.'
What kind of arugment is Humes against miracles?
Epistemological. It does not try to show that miracles never do happen or never could happen, but only that we never have good reasons for believing that they have happened.
Argument: is belief in God rational?
if you believe in God = infinite reward, small loss
if you dont = infinite loss, small gain
Criticism of the wager - You cant simply make yourself believe in God
You have to form a genuine, communicative relationship with God, if you are to receive that infinite reward. You cant force yourself to believe in something just because you think its prudential. You have to come to believe things based on your experiences, upbringing, proper reflection, etc.
Reply: the arguments a last-ditch attempt to get a non-believer to believe.
Criticism of the wager - The wager assumes a rather low view of God and faith
It assumes that religion is all about maximising your own potential pay off. God would not reward people who formed a relationship with him based on these terms (i.e. as a means to an end - the infinite reward) It would be like being with your partner for money.
Reply: God might not be pleased with the behaviour of the wagerers. But their innovations will change as they practice.
Criticism of the wager - The Many Gods objection
Pascal assumes we choose between God and no God. But in fact we're choosing between many possible Gods - the Gods of the various religions.
Reply: the argument is best reserved for scenarios with 2 candidate options. e.g. someone is wagering between the Christian God and atheism.
The Bomb aka The Vindictive God
Pascal is assuming that God will reward those who believe in him and will not reward those who dont.
Criticism of the wager - Its not true that belief carries little cost
Many religions incur huge costs (financial, psychological, time,energy) on their adherents. And its not true that its 50% likely that God exists or doesnt exist. There is so conclusive evidence of God; no conclusive argument for Gods existence. Lots of suggestive reason to think God doesnt. So its almost certainly true that God doesnt exist.
Criticism of the wager - And perhaps its not true that the reward/loss is truly infinite
Perhaps there are no 'infinities', just very huge quantities.
Criticism of the wager - Pascals wager assumes that belief is necessary for God to reward you
It might also be the case that God rewards incredibly kind, generous people who live very good lives, make a difference in society etc. It might not be the case that God will damn all the good people who dont believe.
The Atheist's wager
You should live your life and try to make the world a better place, regardless if you believe in God.
Ethics of belief (1877) - Clifford
Its only permissible to believe in things you have good evidence for (and the belief in God/religion is not one of those things). The upshot: the wager leads us to make a belief.
The will to believe (1896) - James
Believes that Cliffords demands are too high. Life would be somewhat impoverished if we confined our beliefs to Clifford's narrow classification.
Is religious belief reasonable?
If we can use reason to prove that God exists, then surely there is no conflict between reason and faith. Pascal thinks that reason cannot decide the issue of Gods existence. Believing either way is a gamble, but we must either believe there is a God or not believe there is a God. If we believe either way there is a one in two chance that we will be right. But there is an 'eternity of life and happiness' to be won if we believe in God and God exists; whereas there is only 'one life', a life of following our own pleasure, to be lost if we believe in God and God doesnt exist. The odds of winning or losing are even, but the possible gain is infinite and the possible loss is infinite. The reasonable thing to do is to be on Gods existence and believe.
The Problem Of Evil
This is an a posteriori argument. (based upon certain facts that we learn by experience through senses). This argument says that God exists and is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-loving (morally good). Evil exists in the world. The claim is that these two statements are inconsistent. If God is omniscient he would know that there is evil in the world. If God is all-loving (morally good) he would want to destroy evil. If God is omnipotent he could destroy evil. Either God or evil exists, evil exists therefore God does not exist.
If it can be shown that it is a possiblity that God allows evil for a morally justified reason then this will not necessarily undermine his omnibenevolence.
The Counterpart Theodicy - The Problem of Evil
Good and evil are counterparts. God is justified in permitting evil because without it these could be no good. This seems to limit God's power as he can't create good without also creating evil. It also assumes that if two properties are opposites then one cannot exist without the other.
The Contrast Theodicy - The Problem of Evil
If there wasn't any evil, then we wouldnt know what good is. This limits God's power because it claims that even God cannot give knowledge of good without permitting evil. Even if correct, surely we dont need as much evil to understand what good is. It is plausible that a few instances of evil would suffice.
The Natural Law Theodicy - The Problem of Evil
God created the world according to natural laws. Much of our suffering is a result of these natural laws. Physical laws create the possibility of natural evil. We need natural laws to form, plan, invent etc. But the same water that quenches thirst also drowns. This also limits Gods power as it claims that God couldnt create natural laws that do not result in suffering. Furthermore, couldnt God intervene to prevent suffering without making nature unpredictable.
The Freewill Theodicy - The Problem of Evil
Suffering is a result of people abusing their freewill. God is morally justified in allowing this as freewill is so valuable. This also limits Gods power, as God could have created us with freewill but where we always choose the good. Some philosophers deny that we have freewill anyway. Our actions are determined by our biology and environment. This theodicy may go some way to explaining moral evil but cannot account for natural evils: earthquakes etc.
Soul Making Theodicy - The Problem of Evil
God allows evil to promote moral and spiritual maturity. We develop character by making free choices in challenging situations. This world that we inhabit is designed to promote God's plan of soul making. Overall, happiness or goodness is maximised by the presence of evil. Without evil there would be no higher good that comes through sacrificing or giving. The question is whether these 2nd order goods outweigh the evil that is in the world.
The Disjunctive Theory - The Problem of Evil
God allows evil because:
- it is punishment for sin
- to provide a contrast with good
- because regular laws are necessary
- because of freewill
- because it provides an environment for spiritual growth
This theodicy has the advantage of explaining a wider range of evils. It fits perhaps with our intuition that if God has reasons for allowing suffering, they are likely to be complicated and might not be the same in each case.
They either limit Gods power or make God look less than morally perfect. A successful theodicy adequately deals with both these issues.
Augustine's Solution - The Problem of Evil
If we understand that God is the only perfect being then we will realise that any being less than God cannot be perfect. Thus, humans are lacking in perfection or good. God is not the cause of what is not. We think of evil as a kind of thing. Evil is not a thing but an absence of being or goodness just as disease in the body is absence of health. The problem of evil is a problem only for someone that believes that there is a God who is omnipotent and wholly good. If you are prepared to say that God is not wholly good or not quite omnipotent, or that evil does not exist, or that good is not opposed to the kind of evil that exists, or that there are limits to what an omnipotent thing can do, then the problem of evil will not arise for you. Those who say that evil is an illusion may also be thinking, that this illusion is itself an evil.
If you were a parent and were commanded to sacrifice your child, what two options do you have?
To obey God because:
- you recognise the voice of God
- because obedience brings rewards
- because it will show ultimate love for God
- you will expect a miracle afterwards that will bring the child back to life
To disobey God because:
- God would never command to kill a child
- hearing voices is a sure sign of a psychological disorder
Divine Command Theory
The view that God's commands are what makes things morally right. Because God is the ultimate lawgiver, if God commands or forbids something then it is that which makes it right or wrong. If someone claimed God had spoken to him and told him to sacrifice his son they would be deemed as crazy. There seems to be a tension between a command of God and for love. In some instances, religionn either replaces or overrides the demands of societys morality. According to DCT, if God commands the torture of innocent children then that would presumably make it right. If this is so then no matter what God commanded, no matter how perverse, it would be morally right. If we cannot accept the fact that the moral goodness of something is because God commands it, then we are led to conclude that what is morally right is independent of God and DCT is wrong. The defender is of DCT could argue that God couldnt command something evil as it isnt in His nature. As God is perfectly good then we would expect that whatever God commands to be right. However this is saying that God commands things because they are right and not the other way around. Another significant problem for advocates of DCT is to answer the question of how we can know Gods will. After all if what God says is what is morally right, then we need to know what God is saying. The problem is that many people claim to know Gods will and they all seem to say its something different.
Plato's Euthyphro - Religion and Morality
Is what is holy holy because God approves it, or do they approve it because it is holy? This begins debate about the foundation of morality. Is an action right or wrong because God commands or prohibits it, or does God command or prohibit the action because it is already right or wrong. According to the divine command ethicist what ultimately makes an action right or wrong is its being commanded by God.
Alternatives to DCT - Virtues
One ethical theory that is favoured by many involves asking what a morally good person would do in any decision-making situation. This is known as virtue ethics. This could perhaps be applied to religion. When determining how to act, a Christian might ask: what would Jesus do in this situation, rather than what does Jesus command? The problem though might be in knowing God well enough to determine what He would do.
Natural Law - Religion and Morailty
The notion of divine providence. God has arranged the world according to a wise and good plan. This plan includes a harmonious relationship between our needs and desires. We come equipped with the ability to determine the good from the bad. Everyone has a basic knowledge of right and wrong.
Morailty independent of Religion
Many people believe we have no moral obligations unless God exists. Ivan Karamazov remarked that 'if there is no God, then everything is permitted'. However many people believe that we can carry out moral reasoning without reference to God or religion.
e.g. If I make a promise to a friend to help them with a particular task then I can reason that I ought to keep my promise because I dont like it when promises are made to me and then broken.
In that example there was no appeal to religion or God in determining what I ought to do.
Nietzsche - 'God is dead'
A cultural event as he didnt believe in God. We worship, but falsely. Our faith is empty, he says. Man has brought this upon himself- this is not Gods fault. We have killed God with progress with optimism with faith in this world - this is mankinds problem. If there is no God all values must be revalued and with God gone man must undertake the tasks which had been previously relegated to God. That is, as the source of morality.
The Overman - Master Morality
A new 'higher type' that will emerge out of the hypocrisies of the common herd. Without God to limit us, to define us, to smother us, we can finally grow 'beyond man'. When God dies we are left without identity or purpose in a vast universe that 'just is'.
The Underman and Slave Morality
A merely-human type that cannot face being alone in a godless universe. He refuses to be an individual and turns to the herd for power, identity and purpose. This individuals inferiority produces envy of the 'higher types' and in an effort to control their superiors the herd create slave morality based upon guilt, fear, and a distortion of the will to power. Thus, humility, and dependancy are praised as virtues while the characteristics of the superior type - love of domination, delight in one's own talents, fearlessness - are condemned as arrogance and cold-heartedness. Slave mobility tries to convince the powerful that they should protect the weak.
Tolstoy - midlife crisis about the meaning of life
He has a midlife crisis about life. The things that gave him pleasure no longer did. For Tolstoy the two sweetest drops of honey have been his family and his art. But now they seem meaningless. So long as you believed that life has a sense of meaning you will have pleasure. Tolstoy felt as though he had to go and look for it. He turned to 'simple folk' their lives contained much suffering and he noticed that everything they did had a sense of purpose.
The irrational path about the meaning of life
'All of humanity know what the meaning of life is'. The path of rational knowledge won't lead to the meaning of life. The path of irrational knowledge (faith) leads to rejection (where a meaning is needed)
What question injects meaning into life?
'How am i alive?'
What does Tolstoy say about being happy?
He says that if we want to be happy and have a peace of mind we must have faith. Otherwise we will think about despair and suicide.
Can life be meaningful without religion?
The biological answer: survive and reproduce > we might think this is the function of life.
Philosophers suggest the life approach: Make a list of valuable things and live to fulfill those and this will give your life meaning.
Meaning of lives
Believers can find meaning or purpose for their lives. Non believers can prioritise what matters to them, and live their lives with meaning. Tolstoy became a believer. But for other non-believers does it matter that they dont have an answer to the meaning of life? Does there have to be a good clear answer to live a good worthwhile answer?
The Platonic Argument - Life After Death
Plato thinks we are immortal. Really we are immaterial souls, our souls existed before we were born. Plato argues that only material things that can be destroyed so souls are indestructible. We will continue to exist after we die. Obviously this wont be a convincing argument for the sceptic that doesnt believe in souls in the first place.
The Religious/Rationality Argument - Life After Death
If it is reasonable or rational to believe in religion then it is also so to believe in the claims put forward by that religion. And since religions teach that there is life after death, it is reasonable or rational to believe that claim.
The Empirical Argument - Life After Death
Reports of near death, out of body and communication with the dead experiences are abundant, so much that they cant be flukes. Many of these experiences are independently similarly described. Our experience of the world therefore seems to suggest these are real.
Near Death Experiences
People describe as having a sense of peace and well-being, seperation from the body, entering a dark void or a tunnel, seeing a bright beautiful light, entering a beautiful world. Some also undergo a life review, they see a summary of their life and must choose to stay or go back. These experiences are not limited to certain people and need an explanation.
Are NDE's evidence for life after death?
Many people who have had one are evidence. Sceptics might claim that this is the way the human brain is wired.
Is our free will questionable?
If God is believed to be omniscient then it is expected that he already knows what we are going to do tomorrow. Many people believe their actions are free. They believe they make decisions to act on their own.
The theist could respond: Gods knowing what is going to happen doesnt cause it to happen. You might say you know the sun will rise tomorrow, but that doesnt cause it to happen. It just means that God knows the things we'll freely do. Our free will isnt restricted by Gods foreknowledge then.
The ability to originate your actions/decisions and thats compatible with God knowing in advance.
Problems for theists in relation to Free Will
-Denying free will has some major problems for theology
- God would always know who would sin and who would go to hell. If God knows whos going to hell then theres no way we can change that. This makes God seem less omnibenevolent if we dont even get a chance.
The idea of future events - Free Will
If God is temporal then future events may be outside the scope of knowledge, just like certain things are outside the scope of power. Gods omniscience only extends to the past and present moment, not the future. For this to work, then God doesnt have beliefs now about the future, except for maybe conditional beliefs.
Implications: God doesnt have a divine future for anyone.
Is it such a big deal to give up on free will?
Many atheists give up on free will because they argue our decisions are determined due to psychology and biology. Free will is an illusion. Our brain will choose to do things before our conscious self has chosen to do it - so we cant have done other than what we 'chose'.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
Philosophy Chapter 1
Introduction to Philosophy
Philosophy of Religion
Dr. Diller: Test 2
OTHER SETS BY THIS CREATOR
15 - Psychological Disorders
14 - Health, stress and coping
Chapter 12 - Physical and cognitive development