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What is the definition of Philosophy of Religion?

Study of the nature, kinds, and objects of religious belief


How is belief in God justified? How is it defined in philosophy?

  • By Faith
    • Defined as a belief held independence of evidence and argument


How is faith perceived within the philosophical community?

  • Considered a defect in rationality

  • Many philosophers claim that beliefs justified by faith are irrational (the opposite of rational)


What is the definition of Theology?

The study of God, his attributes and his relation to the world


What are the two approaches to doing theology?

  • Natural Theology
    • Theology that can be established by reason alone
  • Revealed Theology
    • Theology that requires acceptance of the revelation-based dogmas of a particular religion


Doing philosophy of religion requires the use of reason, not revelation.


What is the difference between a theist, an agnostic, and an atheist?

  • Theist
    • Person who has religious beliefs;
    • The proposition “God exists” is true
  • Agnostic
    • Does not know whether the proposition “God exists” is true
  • Atheist
    • Person without religious beliefs
    • The proposition "God exists" is false


What do we mean by "God" within philosophy?

  • person + divine attributes


What is a person?

Rational, autonomous, moral agent

  • Not the same as a human being

  • Persons are blamed or praised based on their actions


What is a perfect person?

Bearer of divine attributes:

  • Omniscient
  • Omnipotent
  • Immutable
  • Omnitemporal
  • Omnibenevolent


What is the inconsistency in the problem of evil?

If God is all-good and all-powerful, how can evil exist?


Mention the argument of the problem of evil

  1. An all-good being will not create evil.

  2. An all-powerful being would be able to eliminate evil.

  3. If God is all-good and God created the world, then evil would not exist in the world.

  4. Evil exists in the world

  5. Therefore, Either God is not all-good or God is not all-powerful.


What is one proposed solution to the problem of evil?

  • Explaining away the apparent existence of evil
    • Evil is not really evil, it is really good.
      • Looking like its evil, but tsunamis are not evil.
      • “We don’t know what good came out of the holocaust.”


What is the problem with the first proposed solution to the problem of evil?

  1. Begs the question

  • You will never convince that person that evil exists


What is another proposed solution to the problem of evil?

The free-will defense.


Mention the argument of the free will defense

  1. An all-powerful and all-good could not create the best of all possible worlds without granting some creatures free will.

  2. If some creatures have free will, they can use it in a way that generates evil.

  3. If evil exists, it results from the actions of creatures with free will, not God.

  4. Evil Exists.

  5. Therefore, God is not the cause of evil.


What are some problems with the free will defense arguments?

  1. Are natural disasters (“acts of God”) evil?
  2. Acts of God’s vengeance evil?

    • Genocide

    • Eternal damnation

  3. Are accidents that kill evil?


What is one philosophical problem with the free will defense?

  • If God is omniscient do we have free will? If God has divine foreknowledge of our actions, how can one claim that we are free autonomous agent?
    • Theist response: God is all-knowing, but He doesn’t intervene with our actions
    • Atheist counter-response: If God doesn’t intervene, then why pray for God’s intervention? Miracles?


What are a posteriori proofs?

  • Proofs whose cogency rests on evidence that can be known only via experience.
  • Knowledge justified by experience.


What are the 3 types of a posteriori proofs?

  • Cosmological Arguments

    • Arguments that purport to prove the existence of God based on some highly general fact about the world or the universe

    • Aquinas

  • Teleological Argumens
    • From the end, goal, or purposiveness found in nature to a conclusion that nature must be designed and products of design need a designer
    • Paley
  • Arguments from Religious Experience


What are a priori proofs?

  • Proofs whose cogency rests on evidence that can be known independent of experience

  • Knowledge not justified by experience


What is one type of a priori proof?

  • Ontological Argument

    • Arguments that purport to prove that God’s existence follows from the concept of God

    • Anselm


What are the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas?

  1. 1-4 are different versions of the Cosmological Argument
  2. 5th is a version of the teleological argument


What is the 2nd way?

  • The argument from efficient cause to a first cause

    • Efficient cause

      • The agent or event that produces some change in the accidental features of a thing

      • Examples

        • The fire causing change in paper when burned


Mention the 2nd Way of Aquinas

  1. There exist things that are caused.

  2. Nothing can be the cause of itself.

  3. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes.

  4. If there cannot be an infinite regress of causes, then there exists an uncaused first cause.

  5. The word God means uncaused first cause.

  6. Therefore, God exists.


Apply the RIFUT Rule to the 2nd Way

  1. Is it consistent (T)

    • “Then God must also have a cause”

    • If not, inconsistent

  2. Is it true that there cannot be an infinite regress? (T)
    • Why not?

    • “Cycle of big bang expanding and contrasting”

  3. By assigning numerical designation first or by defining God as he does, does the argument begs the question (I)
    • By defining God as “uncaused cause” seems convenient
  4. It does not establish the present existence of the First Cause (R)
    • It does not show that that cause still exists

Therefore, it does not establish the existence of God


Respond to the challenges against Aquinas' 2nd way.

  1. "Then what is God's cause?"
    • Don't have to have an explanation of the explanation
  2. "Constantly expanding and contracting"
    • Boarde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem
  3. "that definition seems convenient"
    • Drawing from the last two responses, that is an inherent characteristic of God
  4. "Present existence"
    • Also drawn from the nature of God


What is William Paley's Teleological Argument?

  1. Human artifacts are products of intelligent design (purpose)

  2. The universe resembles these human artifacts

  3. If the universe resembles these human artifacts, then the universe is probably a product of intelligent design (purpose)

  4. But the universe is vastly more complex than human artifacts.

  5. Therefore, there probably is a vastly powerful intelligent designer who created the universe


What is the difference between an inductive argument and a deductive argument?

On the inductive argument the conclusion follows on the measure of probability, not necessarily.


Is Paley's Teleological Argument cogent?

  • In order to conclude that natural objects are designed, we must first establish that they are manufactured by an intelligent being. Thus, one must first know that a god exists before one can say that nature exhibits design.
  • Is purposiveness or complexity a sufficient reason for concluding that an object was designed?


Who was David Hume?

  • 1711-1776
  • British Empiricist
  • Skeptic
    • Critic to the teleological argument
  • Writings
    • Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779)