Unformatted text preview: Philosophy of Religion DOES GOD EXIST? ARE MIRACLES POSSIBLE? What is Philosophy of Religion? WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FAITH AND REASON? Omniscient Omnipotent Omnibenevolent One GOD
Creator Effective Eternal Personal Omnipresent What do we mean by "God"? The God described in the previous slide is what we call the "God of the philosophers" it's also the traditional western conception of God May be somewhat different from the conception of God used in early versions of Islam Judaism and Christianity In some scriptures, God appears to change his mind, have human like emotions or moods, be limited in his capacity, exist alongside other less powerful Gods, etc What do we mean by "God"? The traditional western conception of God is different from the nonwestern conceptions of God In non western traditions, God is sometimes For the purposes of the class, we'll use the traditional western notion of God. pantheistic (all things are part of God) or dualistic (there are two Gods, one good and one evil that are in competition with each other) among other conceptions... ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT An argument from the definition of God TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT The argument from design Arguments for the existence of God
Arguments against the existence of God
THE PROBLEM OF EVIL ARGUMENT An argument questioning why God permits suffering COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT The argument from first causes Good arguments for and against God's existence Need... To be sound deductive or good inductive arguments Need to demonstrate as their conclusion that a God with the appropriate definition exists or doesn't exist Merely showing that something powerful, or something good, etc exists is not enough The Ontological argument Proposed by St Anselm, an archbishop of Canterbury in the eleventh century Defines God as "that than which nothing greater can be thought." The idea being that the greatest thing that can be thought must have all the perfections in the earlier list Omnipotent, omniscient...etc. ..."the fool has said in his heart, there is no God...But surely, when this same Fool hears what I am speaking about, namely somethingthanwhichnothing greatercanbethought," he understands what he hears, and what he understands is in his mind, even if he does not understand that it actually exists. For it is one thing for an object to exist in the mind, and another thing to understand that an object actually exists... Even the Fool, then, is forced to agree that somethingthanwhichnothing greatercanbethought exists in the mind... And surely thatthanwhichnothinggreatercanbethought cannot exist in the mind alone. For if it exists solely in the mind, it can be thought to exist in reality also, which is greater. If then thatthanwhichagreatercannotbethought exists in the mind alone, this same thatthanwhichagreatercannotbethought is thatthanwhicha greatercanbethought. But this is impossible. Therefore there is absolutely no doubt that somethingthanwhichagreater cannotbethought exists both in the mind and in reality..." How the argument goes...
1. "That than which nothing can be thought" exists in our minds 2. Things can exist in our minds and in reality 3. It is greater to exist in reality and in our minds, than just in our minds 4. If ttwngcbt exists only in our minds, it would be possible for there to be something greater than ttwngcbt, which exists both in our minds and in reality 5. It is impossible for there to something greater than ttwngcbt Therefore, ttwngcbt exists both in our mind and in reality Is this a good argument for God's existence? Most people, even theists think there's something tricksy about this argument Defines God into existence... Three main criticisms (PONGS) of Anselm's argument Gaunilo's best possible island (a "that's just like arguing" argument) Kant's 100 thaler note objection (existence does not make something greater) Problems with the idea that God exists in our minds Gaunilo's response to Anselm This is a "just like arguing" argument uses the same form as Anselm's argument with a silly conclusion (there really is a perfect island) Gaunilo's point is that his argument's premises are true, but its conclusion is patently absurd (and false) Shows there must be something wrong with the form or structure of Anselm's argument (suggesting it isn't valid) or with one of the premises Gaunilo's response to Anselm
1. "That ISLAND than which none greater can be thought" exists in our minds 2. Things can exist in our minds and in reality 3. It is greater to exist in reality and in our minds, than just in our minds 4. If tItwngcbt exists only in our minds, it would be possible for there to be an ISLAND greater than tItwngcbt, which exists both in our minds and in reality 5. It is impossible for there to something greater than tItwngcbt Therefore, tItwngcbt exists both in our mind and in reality Is Gaunilo's criticism fair? Some people object that this argument does not work for islands/beer since there is no obvious way in which islands or beer can be great How many pots of treasure, palm trees, etc do you need to make the BEST island? Kant's objection (number 1) Kant objects to premise number 3. of Anselm's argument Existence is not a real predicate, it is a quantifier Predicates are expressions that ascribe a property to an object or state of affairs: GRASS IS GREEN
OBJECT PREDICATE Kant's objection... "GOD EXISTS" is grammatically like "GRASS IS GREEN" in English and other languages English (and other languages) treat the term "exists" as if it is a predicate referring to a property of a thing "existence" "Exists" is really a quantifier "exists" tells you that there is a thing to be assigned a property It is not a predicate that assigns a property of "existence" Kant's objection (number 2) Kant also objects to the claim that existence is a property that makes things greater... Is a hundred thaler (dollar) note in my imagination worth less than a hundred dollar note in reality? Some people do not agree with Kant a hundred dollar note is much greater in my pocket than in my head. But Kant does seem to be onto something "greatness" looks very subjective it oughtn't to decide what exists and what doesn't The "God doesn't exist in our minds" objection The main problem with Anselm's argument is his medieval notion of how the mind works Mental states/thoughts are about things e.g. "I believe that grass is green" is about grass Medieval philosophers thought that you could understand how mental states could be about things by saying that there were special kinds of objects inside of people's heads (the "intentional object") E.g. when I think "grass is green" I have an intentional object of grass in my head The "God doesn't exist in our minds" objection Is premise one true? Does God really exist in our minds? Don't have grass in our heads, we have thoughts that refer to or are about grass In the same way, we don't have God existing in our heads when we think of God, we have a concept that is about God in our heads Concepts or ideas of grass Concepts don't have to be anything like what they're about (think of words) ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT The Cosmological argument... Aquinas presents five versions of this argument... I'm going to focus on Aquinas' second way of arguing for God's existence The Cosmological Argument (Aquinas' second way) 1. All causes we observe in the world occur in 2. 1. long sequences where each thing is caused by something before it Nothing can cause itself Therefore, either there is an infinite series of causes, or there is an initial first cause There cannot be an infinite series of causes Therefore, there must be an initial first cause (God) The Cosmological argument... This is a very popular way of arguing for God's existence There are some problems with this form of the argument, however Problems with premise 4: the notion that we can't have an infinite regress of causes Problems with the conclusion: what the argument shows Premise 4: Why can't we have an infinite series of causes?
Reasons to think premise 4 is true PONG!! Does the limitation of our imagination tell us what is possible or not possible BUT no experience of finite causal sequences with first causes either Each cause is accounted for by the one before it It's hard to imagine, an infinite causal sequence We have no experience of (whole) infinite causal sequences If there is no first cause, how do we get all the causes in the middle? Premise 4: Why can't we have an infinite series of causes?
Reasons not to think Premise 4 is true PONG!! Are causal sequences like these other sorts of infinite sequences? Causal sequences are not just mathematical abstractions like numbers or geometrical points We have experience of other infinite (noncausal) sequences E.g. numbers, points in a section of space If God exists, there would still have to be an infinite length of time (temporal sequence) in which God has existed Conclusion: What does the argument tell us? Not clear why the conclusion of the cosmological argument tells us God exists To demonstrate God's existence, the argument needs to show that something with all of the attributes that God possesses exists This argument only shows us, at best, that the universe must have a cause Quite possible the universe does have a first cause, and this cause is boringly physical (the quantum vacuum...etc.) Alternative version Michael Martin: Aquinas means there needs to be a total cause for the universe Explanation for why the universe as a whole exists and continues to exist Why the universe exists now A sustaining cause Different from saying the infinite causal sequence needs a first efficient cause Alternative version Difference between an efficient cause (from Aristotle) and (what I shall call) a sustaining cause Efficient cause is some thing or event A that causes a change in another thing/event B An efficient cause A does not explain why B or the change in B persists over time a sustaining cause is a thing that explains the persistence of a thing or event over time (rather than merely its beginning or change) An example Suppose Billy falls over and breaks his arm The efficient cause was the concrete i.e. what caused the change in his arm The sustaining cause of his broken arm is the properties of the bone (i.e. it doesn't mend immediately) Another version of the cosmological argument... (Aquinas' second way following Martin) 1. There needs to be a cause/explanation for why the universe continues in existence (a sustaining cause) 2. Either there is a first, sustaining cause, or there is an infinite sequence of merely efficient causes 3. An infinite sequence of efficient causes would not explain why the universe persists Therefore, there must be a first sustaining cause Is this version any better? Still doesn't make clear that the first cause is God The cause needs to be powerful and eternal, not necessarily all powerful Not necessarily personal ...etc. Gets round the "no infinite causal sequences problem" Do we need an explanation for why there is anything at all? Martin says A accepts we can have them, only they're not explanatory COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT The Teleological argument... Our version of the teleological argument was presented in Hume's "Dialogues concerning Natural Religion" Hume doesn't agree with this argument: he is repeating William Paley's ideas Three characters: Demea (the stupid one) Cleanthes (the pious one) and Philo (the clever one) Hume is probably Philo since Philo wins all the arguments... Paley's suggestion William Paley claimed that it is obvious that certain things are designed (like watches) and other things are not The way the objects are put together suggests this...there is careful arrangements of parts, an apparent purpose, etc... Certain natural artifacts appear to be designed in the same way The Teleological argument... Hume's form of the teleological argument is an argument from analogy Reminder: Two things A and B A and B have characteristics (P's) in common; A also has characteristic Q; argue that B also has Q What makes arguments from analogy stronger? More A's with both the P's and Q in common More P's in common for A's and B Some underlying connection between having the P's and having Q How the argument goes... (Dialogues, p.41) 1. Human artifacts are wellordered, adjusted with perfect accuracy, their means serve their ends,...etc and human artifacts have a designer 2. Natural objects are well ordered, adjusted with perfect accuracy, their means serve their ends...etc. Therefore, natural objects have a designer Is this a good argument? How can we go about testing to see if this is a good argument? Needs lot of A's (human objects) with the properties in common and a designer Do natural objects have a lot of properties in common with human objects? Good design, order, etc think of the eye Also have properties that they don't share in common Seems right we have lots of examples of well designed human objects Is this a good argument? Is there supposed to be the right sort of underlying connection between possessing P and possessing Q? Exists if only a designer can account for things that possess those properties Some reason to think that there are other ways we can account for things possessing order, means to end, etc., such as evolution by natural selection and other natural processes God could use evolution, but then he wouldn't be designing objects in the way that humans do the argument relies on the idea that God's design is like human design in the right way Is this a good argument? Scientists actually use the fact that natural systems are not very well designed as evidence of evolution Evolution isn't generally a very intelligent process rather like trial and error. Has to use available variation in animals' characteristics sometimes that variation is imperfect. For example the Panda's thumb where a preexisting structure has been adapted for a new use (exapted). Panda's thumb Hume's counter analogies Hume thinks that the original argument is actually insulting to the idea of God It is possible to use the same kind of argument to demonstrate the existence of a designer not like the traditional western God Hume shows this by making several counter analogies to show that we can argue in exactly the same way as Paley does, but conclude there are bad or weak or multiple Gods Hence he argues the teleological argument is a mistake for Christians and other theists. The counter analogies to the teleological argument One of the things that happens with human artifacts is that there is a committee of designers, engineers, builders and so forth The more complicated the item, the more likely it is that lots of people were involved Think how many people were involved in designing this: The counter analogies to the teleological argument
1. Human artifacts that are well ordered, means fit the end, etc. have a committee of interacting designers 2. Natural objects are well ordered, means fit the end, etc. Therefore, natural objects have a committee of interacting designers The counter analogies to the teleological argument Another problem with human design is that it is often imperfect Sometimes human designers deliberately or accidentally create bad things; usually because they are bad or ignorant The counter analogies to the teleological argument Similarly, there are in nature objects that are not very well designed: The human knee The human back Even the eye (it's wired backwards!) The ebola virus Or objects that seem actively bad The counter analogies to the teleological argument
1. Human artifacts that are slightly imperfectly ordered, etc. have imperfect, absent or evil designers 2. Natural objects are slightly imperfectly ordered, etc. Therefore, natural objects have imperfect, absent or evil designers The counter analogies to the teleological argument Another issue that arises with human design is conflict in what the designs are for For example, human beings sometimes engage in "arms races" where one designed object is constructed to counteract the effects of another The same is true in nature. The counter analogies to the teleological argument
1. Human artifacts that are well ordered, means fit the end, but have conflicting or differing ends have a whole variety of different designers 2. Natural objects are well ordered, means fit the end, but have conflicting or differing ends etc. Therefore, natural objects have a whole variety of different designers The point... It's not clear the argument from analogy goes through because we have reason to think that there is no clear connection between being ordered, etc (P) and having a designer (Q) Even if it did go through, because of the obvious characteristics of real human designers, it's not clear this is an argument for a traditional God that is all knowing, all powerful, etc. TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT The problem of evil argument The problem of evil is the most famous argument against God's existence Argues from the evil or suffering that exists in the world to the non existence of a traditional western God What is evil? The problem of evil is essentially designed to show there is an inconsistency in the theist's world view Theists believe that God hates evil So why does evil persist Evil can be whatever the theists say it is; whatever God's being "good" precludes Two possibilities are that evil is whatever a "normal rational being would want to avoid" (Bernard Gert); or evil is pain and suffering WHAT IS EVIL?
Murder Hatred Greed MORAL EVIL Evil caused by the actions of humans Two kinds of evil any solution to the problem of evil must account for Lying Rape Tsunami Disease Earthquakes NATURAL EVIL Evil caused by natural forces Fighting War Stealing Fires Tornadoes Volcanoes The problem of evil argument
God is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving If God is all knowing, all powerful and all loving then God would prevent all evil unless there were a good reason to allow every bit of the evil that exists 3. Evil exists 4. There is no good reason to allow every bit of the evil that exists Therefore God does not exist Is this a good argument? Most people, including the theists, want to accept premises 1 through 3. If God is all good he should want to remove all the evil he possibly can If God is all powerful he has the power to remove all the evil in the world If God is all knowing he knows where the evil is in order to remove it God must have a good reason to allow evil. Is this a good argument? Theists traditionally attack the problem of evil argument by attacking premise 4. They provide reasons or justifications for God permitting evil These justifications are traditionally known as "theodicies" from: THEOS
+ DIKE God Justice Is this a good argument? Theists must be able to account for the existence of all the evil in the world not just some of it There are some cases where it looks especially hard to do this Cases of innocent suffering which have no further obvious justification E.g. Babies dying of birth defects Possible Theodicies... Evil is justified because evil does not really exist. It is just a privation of good Pain and other evils do seem positively bad Not something most theists want to deny Evil is justified because without evil, good could not exist good needs a contrast to be appreciated This only accounts for a tiny little bit of evil Perhaps all we need is to be able to imagine evil, not to actually experience it this could be innate Possible Theodicies... Evil is justified as a punishment for wrong doing and is hence a greater good But the babies with birth defects are innocent Even more unjust to punish, e.g. parents via baby Evil often seems out of proportion to people's actual sins Evil is justified because the good of heaven outweighs the evils of earth But there would be more good if babies just went straight to heaven Possible Theodicies... Evil is justified because it builds character by facing difficulties, we become better people (greater good) This isn't so for the babies What about the people who end up hating God? People often experience more suffering than they need Evil is justified because it makes people seek to know or glorify God (greater good) Seems unfair to use the baby, say as a way to get the parent to accept God too. This makes God look a bit egomaniacal Why can't (all powerful) God do this without suffering? Possible Theodicies... Evil is justified because it is the consequence of human free will (greater good) Might work for moral, but not for natural evil Can't God make free people who almost always choose good? (i.e. have a good character) makes evil occur less often Why can't evil people's actions not reliably result in evil? i.e. why can't we make bad choices without actual consequences? Possible Theodicies Swinburne argues that individuals who are free Swinburne seems to be saying that evil choice God is delegating responsibility to us No responsibility without consequences have to have real consequences to their actions. without consequence leads to less value to our moral choices But why do moral choices with serious consequences (my choice to brutally murder you) have more value to God than your happiness? Possible Theodicies... God's goodness is different from ours God really doesn't mind babies dying in agony, mass murder, torture, rape and genocide this makes one wonder what "God is good" means Evil is justified, but we can't tell what the adequate reason is Ultimately the best response Why? Problems with the Problem of Evil The main problem is that the Atheist is making the problem of evil argument Therefore the onus is on the atheist to demonstrate that her premises are true The theist only has to say that it is at least possible that the third premise is not true In which case the PoE doesn't work either The evidential argument from evil... One alternative way to run the problem of evil argument is to say that the existence of evil without apparent explanation makes the existence of God less likely than his non existence Or (Cahn's version) the existence of evil suggests just as well the existence of an evil God that allows good as it does a good God that allows evil (the Moriarty hypothesis) The moriartyist faces the Problem of Good argument! PROBLEM OF EVIL ARGUMENT Conclusions... Neither the arguments for or against God's existence work very well All have flaws the most obvious one for the theist is that the conclusions don't really demonstrate God's existence as such The atheist's problem is that since God is supposed to be all powerful and all knowing, there's no reason to think we'd know what his reasons for evil are Hence allows evil for some reason we don't (and possibly can't) know about. ...
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- Spring '08