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Title: Philosophy%20of%20Religion

Philosophy of Religion
Definitions of Faith
  • I. Credential acceptance of unproven dogma and
  • II. Fiducia more than intellectual assent
    involves hear and will
  • III. Fideis trust with cognitive element, uses
    history and reason

Three Distortions of Faith
  • I. Intellectual distortionacceptance of
    proposition given by authority
  • II. Voluntaristic distortionlack of evidence
    made up for by act of will
  • III. Emotionalistic distortionno concrete
    fact, only subjective emotion

Challenges to Religious Belief.
  • Introduction.
  • In recent centuries, several philosophers have
    challenged central assumptions of religious
    belief, often with the purpose of advancing

  • David Hume.
  • 1. The Irrationality of Believing in Miracles
  • a. Thesis it is never reasonable to believe
    second hand reports concerning miracles.
  • The wise person should proportion his belief to
    the evidence this counts for sensory evidence
    from testimony as well.

  • b. Evidence and belief.
  • c. Reasons for not trusting testimonies.
  • ii. The character or number of the witnesses too
    few or of a doubtful character.
  • i. The opposition of contrary testimony when
    witnesses contradict each other.
  • iii. The manner of delivering the testimony when
    delivered with bias, hesitation, violent

  • d. Definition of a Miracle.
  • i. General definition "a miracle is a violation
    of the laws of nature".
  • ii. More accurate definition "a transgression of
    a law of nature by a particular volition of the
    deity, or by the interposition of some invisible

  • e. Main argument against miracles.
  • i. Uniform experience of nature amounts to a
    direct and full proof against the existence of
    any miracle.
  • ii. Argument in propositional form.
  • (1) The evidence from experience in support of a
    law of nature is extremely strong.
  • (2) A miracle is a violation of a law of nature.
  • (3) Therefore, the evidence from experience
    against the occurrence of a miracle is extremely
  • iii. General maxim about testimonies a testimony
    is reasonable only if its truth is more likely
    than its falsehood.

  • f. Four additional arguments against miracles.
  • i. Witnesses lack Integrity.
  • ii. Predisposition to Sensationalize.
  • iii. Abound in Barbarous Nations.
  • iv. Miracles Support Rival Religious Systems.

  • g. Miracles in Christianity two interpretations
    of Humes point.
  • i. Friendly interpretation the miracles and
    prophecies in the Bible are not rational, and can
    only be believed through an act of divinely
    inspired faith.
  • ii. Unfriendly interpretation belief in miracles
    is so irrational that it requires miraculous
    stupidity on the part of the believer.

Karl Marx
  • . Religion as the Opium of the Masses
  • a. Thesis religion is like a drug insofar as it
    is created by people as a means of dealing with
    genuine suffering and oppression.
  • b. 19th century critics of religion commonly
    offered psychological and sociological
    explanations for how presumably erroneous
    religious convictions arise in the minds of
    believers and how they function in society.

  • c. The opium of the people.
  • i. It is a projection of the best conception we
    have of human life. It lulls people into
    complacency to accept their present status in
    hopes for a better life in the hereafter.
  • d. Marxs Naturalism.
  • i. Theologians often defend the concepts of God
    and religion with arguments about the first cause
    of the world Marx believes that these questions
    are misguided and prove nothing

Friedrich Nietzsche.
  • The Death of God
  • a. Thesis civilization has killed (i.e.,
    outgrown) God through advances, and we need to
    find a new value system as a replacement for
  • b. The significance of the end of religious
  • i. Parable of the madman announces the death of
    God and the effects this has produced.

  • c. The consequences of the end of religious
  • i. The value system of religion is gone, and we
    have no fixed truth to rely on not even
    science, which is left over from belief in God.
  • d. Religion, science, pessimism, and need.
  • i. People are reluctant to give up religion
    because of a certain need to believe and to rely
    on something. The instinct of weakness preserves
    religions, metaphysics, and other kinds of

. The Problem of Evil
  • Introduction.
  • a. Principal question how could an all-good God
    permit human suffering and other evils.
  • b. Sometimes discussed to clarify Gods nature
    and human expectations of God other times as an
    argument against the existence of God.

Fyodor Dostoevsky.
  • . God and Human Suffering
  • a. Thesis the suffering of innocent animals and
    children seems to serve no greater good, and we
    would expect God to prevent these things.
  • b. Dialogue between two brothers, Ivan (an
    atheist) and Alyosha (novice monk).

  • c. Main problem.
  • i. Innocent animals and children frequently
    suffer, and there is no apparent good that comes
    from this to justify it.
  • ii. Believers in God are often the sources of
    suffering, which compounds the problem.
  • iii. Divine punishment of the offenders would not
    solve the problem.

John Mackie
  • The Logical Problem of Evil
  • a. Thesis belief in an all good and all
    powerful God is logically inconsistent with the
    fact of suffering in the world
  • b. The only adequate solutions to the problem are
    to deny Gods goodness, Gods power, or the
    existence of evil. However theologians do not
    take this route

  • c. Inadequate solutions
  • i. Goodness cannot exist without evil. Mackie
    responds that evil may be necessary to recognize
    goodness, but evil is not ontologically necessary
    for goodness to exist
  • Ii. The universe is better with some evil in it
    for example, without poverty (a first-order
    evil) there would be no charity (a second-order
    good). Mackie responds that first-order evils
    like poverty will also allow for second order
    evils, such as malevolence
  • Iii. Free will defense evil is the result of
    human choice, for which God bears no
    responsibility. He responds that God could have
    created a world containing free creatures that
    always chose to do good

John Hick
  • A Soul-Making Theodicy
  • a. Thesis human creation is a developmental
    process during which time we evolve to eventually
    become a more perfect likeness of God suffering
    is part of the process.
  • b. Hick follows Irenaeus, who maintained that
    human creation involves a two step process (1)
    we are created in the image of God, and, (2)
    after much development, become re-created in the
    likeness of God.
  • c. Hicks view is compatible with evolutionary

Mysticism and Religious Experience
  • Introduction
  • a. Mystical experiences are a kind of religious
    experience that specifically involves a sense of
    union with God.
  • b. Unanimity thesis there is a presumption in
    favor of the reliability of mystical experiences
    because mystics in different religions generally
    report the same thing (i.e., a unity of all

  • . Hindu Mysticism.
  • a. Thesis Hindu mysticism involves experiencing
    the Self-God (Atman Brahman), which is the
    ultimate reality of all things that lies at the
    core of each of our identities.
  • b. Bhagavad Gita.
  • i. Dialogue between Arjuna (an expert archer) and
    Krishna (his chariot driver Krishna) about
    engaging in a bloody family feud. Krishna teaches
    Arjuna about the Self-God and the meditative path
    of yoga.
  • ii. Those who cannot accomplish it in this life
    can try again in the next.

  • c. Patanjalis Yoga Sutra describes an eight-step
    meditative process that leads to this mystical
  • i. Appetitive restraint, social observance,
    bodily postures, breath regulation, suppression
    of the senses, focus, even awareness, and
    meditative union.

  • The Limited Authority of Mystical Experiences
    William James.
  • a. Thesis the claims of various mystics and
    concluded that they may be justly authoritative
    for the mystic having the experience, but they
    have no authority over the nonmystic

  • b. James defends three points.
  • i. Mystical states are authoritative for the
    mystic because they are directly perceived in a
    way similar to the way our senses perceive the
    world around us.
  • ii. No authority emanates from them which should
    make it a duty for those who stand outside of
    them to accept their revelations uncritically.
  • iii. Mystical experiences show that our normal
    consciousness of

  • The Untrustworthiness of Mystical Experiences
    Bertrand Russell.
  • a. Thesis mystical claims about the world are
    untrustworthy because they require abnormal
    physical states.
  • b. Three common points in reports of mystical
    experiences the unity of the world, the illusory
    nature of evil, and the unreality of time.

  • c. In spite of the unanimity of reports of
    mystical experiences, Russell argues that they
    should be dismissed because they require abnormal
    bodily states.
  • d. There may be some psychological benefits to
    moderate mystical experiences, particularly as it
    gives the sense of Breadth and calm and

Relationship of God to the World
  • I. God as Efficient Causeshapes the cosmic
    process from preexistence matter and forms
  • II. God as the source of the cosmic process
    which arises as an inner self-manifestation from
    the Divine Being
  • A. Plotinusall reality consists of a series
    of necessary emanations from the One as the
    Eternal Source
  • B. Spinozathe universe arises by logical
    necessity from the Divine Nature and is itself
  • C. Hegelthe universe is a dynamic evolution
    of the Absolute Spirit

  • III. God as the ever-changing final stage of
    the ongoing cosmic processnot its efficient
    cause or ground
  • A. According to Samuel Alexander, in its
    evolution from primal space-time the world is
    ever on the move toward an infinitely perfect
  • B. While it perpetually strives toward this
    goal it never attains a state of absolute

  • IV. God is the final cause of the Cosmic
  • A. Aristotles view of matter as uncreated
    and eternal, but considers God not only the
    efficient cause but also the final cause that at
    its ends or goal induces change in the world
  • B. Whitehead modifies this approach and
    rejects God as efficient Cause or creator, but
    considers God as the final cause that brings
    order into the world

Proofs for the Existence of God
Cosmological (Causal)Thomas Aquinas
  • I. Attempts to prove Gods existence from
    everyday experiences of the ordinary world around
  • A. Knowledge must be fed to us through the
  • B. Since God, thus, cannot be seen, we know
    God directly, but only through his effects

  • II. He produced the Five Ways
  • A. The first is from movement in the sense of
    change from potency to act the Final Mover
  • B. The second seeks to prove Gods existence
    as Efficient Cause, from whom we must have
    derived our existence and the existence of the
    worlds as we know it The Creator or Maker

  • C. The third way deals with the very nature of
    beingthis being is called contingent, beings
    happen to exist, but they might never have
    existed all the Necessary Being
  • D. The fourth way begins from the pattern which
    objects make in the Hierarchy of Nature
  • 1. Some things are more perfect than others

  • 2. Different things can be good in varying
    degrees according to their position in the
    Hierarchy of Being
  • 3. This hierarchical goodness must have some
    ultimate explanation which must itself be
    unlimited the Source of all Perfection and
  • E. The Teleological Wayargues from the
    complexity of nature and the law and order

Teleological Proof
  • I. William Paley wrote Natural Theology (1802)
    represents the 18th century view in its
    classical form

  • II. He writes that there could not be a design
    without a designer
  • Arrangement, disposition of parts,
  • subserviency of means to an end,
  • relation of instruments to arise, imply
  • the presence of intelligence with mind.
  • The existence of such a complicated
  • and interrelated world requires the
  • existence of an eternal omniscient
  • designer for such a magnificent world
  • could not have been the result of blind,
  • unthinking chaos.

  • III. Paleys world was Newtonian, based on a
    static mechanical model of nature
  • A. It was a world of design, not development
  • B. It was concerned with the order of nature,
    not the history of nature

Ontological Argument
  • I. Anselm (1033-1109) was foremost among
    scholastic thinkers
  • II. Wanted to defend the faith by intellectual
    reasoning rather than by arguments based on
    Scripture and other authorities

  • III. Cur Deus Homo important contribution to
    the theology of the Atonementinterpreted the
    doctrine in terms of the satisfaction due to the
    outraged majesty of God
  • IV. The Monologian was to establish the being
    of God solely from the consideration of truth and
    goodness as intellectual notions

  • V. The Proslogian the above reasoning was
    given a more systematic form
  • VI. Popular until the latter half of the 13th
    century Descartes and Leibniz would revive it
  • VII. If we accept Anselms definition of God as
    that being greater than which cannot be
    conceived, the ontological argument asserts that
    it is contradictory to conceive fo Gods
    non-existence, since existence is inherent in
    Gods perfection

  • VIII. To simplify this proof, one scholar
    devised the following outline
  • A. I have an idea of God
  • B. I am finite
  • C. My idea of God is infinite
  • D. Therefore the idea of God must bethe idea
    must have originated with the infinite mind
  • IX. Anselms argument is a priori, without
    recourse to empirical existence

Moral Proof
  • I. Immanuel Kant develops this proof after he
    destroyed the first three
  • II. He established the possibility of belief in
    God by means of a method which would have vast
    repercussions in modern and contemporary
    philosophical theology

  • III. His proof
  • A. Duty comes to us in the form of a
    categorical imperative
  • B. It is categorical in contradistinction to
    hypothetical, it is absolute and unconditional
  • C. It could not follow the formula you ought
    to do your duty if because this is reconcilable
    with you ought to do your duty if you have
    sufficient desire or inclination to do it

  • D. The hypothetical imperative concerns
    prudential, not moral actions
  • E. Kant held that if this analysis of morality
    was correct then three things would follow
  • 1. The Freedom of the Will, it would be
    ludicrous to feel obliged to do an action if in
    fact we were unable to do it, ought implies can

  • 2. The Immortality of the Soul, in spite of
    repeated attempts we never achieve our highest
    desireto be wholly moral or good
  • (a) Therefore we must have faith in and
    live in the expectation of a life beyond this
    one where the supreme achievement is possible
    and actual
  • (b) Thus, mortality demands that we believe
    in the immortality of the soul

  • 3. The Existence of God
  • (a) He was aware that the pursuit of the moral
    life does not always lead to happiness and the
    pursuit of happiness does not necessarily lead
    to the achievement of virtue
  • (b) Kant held that this insight leads a moral
    agent to believe in a God who can correlate the
    twohappiness and virtue
  • (c ) Technically, Kant did not regard this as
    a proof of God rather it is regarded as an

Soren Kiekegaard(1813-1855)
  • I. Lived in the 19th century, but many scholars
    believe he belongs to the 20th
  • II. His influence became prominent after WWI
  • III. Known as the Father of Christian

  • IV. His family life
  • A. Father was a dominating personalitysuccess
    ful in business and retired at age of 40
  • B. Kierkegaard with the 7th and last child
    (first child came after 4 months of marriage
  • C. His mother was 45 and his father as 56 at
    his birth

  • D. His father was a man of great guilt
    feelings, interpreted as
  • 1. a result of the premature birth of his
    first child
  • 2. a result of his cursing God as a young man
  • E. His father enjoyed taking him on imaginary

  • F. Strict religious orthodoxy was part of his
    younger years
  • G. He would break from his fathers influence
    for a while but would reconcile and experience a
    sort of conversion at the age of 25

  • V. He entered the University of Copenhagen in
    1920 to study philosophy
  • A. His real interest were in literature and
  • B. While at the university he seemed to have
    been a charming and very popular student

His Conversion
  • I. A series of events brought about a spiritual
    crisis in his life
  • A. His fathers confession of a moral sin
    committed with his servant girl

  • B. His broken engagement with his fiancé,
    Regine Olson in 1837
  • 1. She was a lovely and bright young lady
  • 2. He became engaged to Regine after
    completing his degree
  • 3. After a year he realized he had made a
    mistake and the engagement was broken

  • 4. He never answered the why of the breakup
  • a. He claimed to have loved her and never
    loved any other
  • b. In his Journals, he spoke of a divine
  • c. This experience began what he referred
    to as his aesthetic period

  • 5. He wrote several books under a pseudonym
    which dealt with his relationship to Regine
  • a. Either/or
  • b. Repetition
  • c. Fear and Trembling
  • d. Editying Discourses

  • C. He had written against a scandalous paper
    and he had expected his attacks would elicit
    support, such did not happen
  • 1. The paper turned on him with a series of
    savage articles and cartoons which held him up
    to ridicule
  • 2. He then suffered a martyrdom of laughter
    which resulted in isolating him further from the
    masses, which he likened at this time of a flock
    of dumb geese

  • 3. He saw this experience as providential and
    increased his resolve to pursue his religious
  • 4. During this period he wrote his two
    philosophical masterpieces
  • a. Philosophical Fragments (1844)
  • b. Concluding Unscientific Postscripts (1846)

  • 5. His other works at this time included
  • a. Purity of Heart
  • b. The Concept of Dread
  • c. Sickness Unto Death
  • d. Training in Christianity
  • e. For Self-Examination

  • II. During the last decades of his life he came
    to a profound awareness of Christian truth and
    believed that he was called to witness to this
    truth as he saw it
  • A. He realized this would entail suffering
    for him as an individual at the hands of the
  • B. The writings of these years all point to
    the difficulty of becoming a Christian and the
    hypocrisy of conventional Christianity and the
    institutional church

  • C. He finally felt called to make a direct and
    unsparing attack on the state church of Denmark
  • D. Articles and pamphlets which appeared
    between 1854 and 1855 were published in English
    as Attack Upon Christendom
  • E. According to Kierkegaard, where everyone is
    considered Christian by the conventional act of
    baptism, true Christianity does not exit

His Thought
  • I. His work can be seen as a sustained attack
    upon all forms of rational theology
  • A. Like Hegel, he uses a dialectical
    methodbut his methodology was existential,
    that is
  • B. It does not move within a closed,
    necessary, logical system
  • C. It begins, rather, with a single
    individual confronted with the possibilities of
    ones own existence

  • II. His existential dialectic moves with three
    chief spheres
  • A. The Aesthetic
  • 1. This period is identified with romantic
  • (a) sensual immediacyDon Juan
  • (b) doubtFaust
  • (c) despairthe wandering Jew

  • 2. Chief characteristic of this sphere is the
    lack of involvement, an inability to make a
    determined and permanent action
  • 3. One becomes a drifting victim of ones own
    search for the pleasurable moment, which is
    never satisfied and leads to restlessness
  • 4. This futility leads to the second stage of
    the aesthetic despairthe skepticism of
    Faustwhich is a qualified form of despair

  • 5. The recognition of despair is invoked in the
    figure of the Wandering Jew, in whom lurks the
    profounder despair which results in complete
    absence of hope
  • 6. In Sickness Unto Death, he analyses the
    dialectic of despair with brilliant insight
  • a. Despair must come before one realizes the
    true consciousness of life
  • b. Despair can lead to a spiritual hardening
    and death
  • c. Yet, it can also lead one to awaken to
    ones eternal validity

  • 7. Anxiety and despair will bring one before a
    decision and this decision requires a leap to a
    new stage

  • II. The Ethical
  • A. The leap to the Ethical Stage can be
    summed up with the phrase, choose thyself
  • B. The aim of the ethical life is not simply
    to know the truth but to become the truth not
    to produce objective truth but to transform
    ones subject self

  • C. Most ethical systems are overly formal and
    cannot take into account certain indispensable
    existential realities
  • 1. For instance, he would criticize Kants
    Moral Theology for the following reasons
  • 2. It tended to make evil and sin
    superficial rather than radical
  • 3. It failed to deal adequately with the
    motivation or will to carry out the moral

  • D. In Fear and Trembling, he wrote about the
    teleological suspension of the ethical
  • 1. Could there be situations in which ones
    absolute obedience to God would contravene the
    Categorical Imperativesuch as Abrahams
    sacrifice of his son Isaac

  • 2. He would answer yes! For one who knows
    the living God determines his relation to the
    universal by his relation to the absolute, not
    his relation to the absolute by his relation
    to the universal
  • D. For Kierkegaard, most ethical systems fail
    and there must be an existential leap to the
    religious stage of existence

  • III. The Religious
  • A. There are two possibilities in the
    religious stage, as recorded in Philosophical
    Fragments in which he compares the religion of
    Socrates (who is symbol of all philosophical
    idealism) with the Christian doctrine of creation

  • 1. The religion of immanence the religion of
    Socrates presupposes that religious truth is in
    every human being
  • a. All people posses truth what is needed is
    a teacher or midwife who, by skillful means, can
    induce the student to give birth to the
    knowledge located within
  • b. Each student is his/her own center and the
    entire world centers on the student
  • c. The teacher and the occasion of his
    teachings have no special significance

  • 2. The religion of Jesus
  • a. But what if Socrates is wrongwhat if a
    specific moment in time is of vital significance
    for the acquisition of truth?
  • b. Then, the teacher becomes an indispensable
    and unique bearer of the truth
  • c. The teacher must bring truth to the
    student and give to the student the conditions
    necessary for understanding it

  • d. A teacher who gives the student the
    requisite condition and truth is no ordinary
    teacher, but should be called Savior and
  • e. The disciple, who, in a state of error
    receives the condition and the truth becomes
    another man . . . A man of a different quality,
    or as we may call him, a new creature

  • 3. He regards the Incarnation as a paradox
    since it exceeds all limits of human
  • 4. It is the Absolute Paradox, the Absurd to
    which we can respond either in Faith or in Offense

  • 5. The paradox of the Incarnation is doubly
    absurd for
  • a. It claims that God has become human, that
    the Eternal has become temporal, and
  • b. Human happiness can have its point of
    departure in a historical event, the historicity
    of which can be only be accorded probability

  • 6. He stresses that ones eternal happiness can
    be based upon historical knowledge alone, for
    history is the sphere of the relative and the
  • 7. Eternal truth can be appropriated only by a
    Faith in the Paradox held in infinite passion

  • III. Truth is Subjectivity
  • A. Kierkegaard did not deny that there truths
    independent of the knower what he insisted was
    that it wrong to think of religious truth--,
    i.e., faith, as acquired in the same way one
    obtains knowledge

  • B. He wrote in his Journals
  • The thing is to find a Truth which is true for
    me, to find the idea for which I can live and
    die . . . What good would it do me to be able to
    explain the meaning of Christianity if it had no
    deeper significance for me and my life

  • C. In Concluding Unscientific Postscripts, he
    stresses that it is not the objective truth of
    Christianity, but the relationship of the
    existing individual to Christianity which is the
    fundamental problemin religion truth is
    subjective because it is a truth that requires
    personal appropriation

  • d. He is referring to a special kind of
    truthit is existential truth, truth that cannot
    be known through a parrot-like echo but only
    through ones own activity
  • 6. Thus, religious truth requires a leap of
  • 7. This leap is a moral and religious category
    and has to do with what William James called live
    options, those existential decisions of life
    involving new situations

His Influence
  • I. The immediate effect of his writings outside
    Denmark was extremely small
  • II. For over a century his influence would be
    small, but when his impact was felt, it was felt
  • III. He may be called the Father of
    Neo-Orthodoxy his system is call the Theology of