May 30th, 2012
I have an old PPT I’ve been using in my lectures on the cosmological arguments and I thought I’d share it here for others to use since I’ll be revamping them in the meantime. In this PPT document I discuss the Lebnizian cosmological argument, the Thomistic cosmological argument, and the Kalam cosmological argument. This was delivered to an introductory level philosophy course so it’s certainly not exhaustive. Feel free to use any of the material in your teaching opportunities or for your own edification.
1.Anything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2.If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3.The universe exists.
4.Therefore the universe has an explanation of its existence. (from 1, 3)
5.Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God. (from 2, 4)
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May 21st, 2012
Aristotle’s ethic was eudaimonistic, which was later developed by Thomas Aquinas. Evil is the negation of good and requires no ontological grounding and it is the case that everyone always acts according to what they believe is good. Thomas’ meta-ethic was that being and goodness are the same in reference but differ only in sense. He follows Aristotle in making the connection between goodness and desirability. “The formula of the good consists in this, that something is desirable, and so the Philosopher [Aristotle] says that the good is what all desire.” Although all things desire goodness, not all things capable of pursuing goodness and pleasure with understanding understand what really is good; it is possible for creatures with intellect and will to desire an apparent good as a real one. Thomas states that something is desirable in two ways, either because it is good or because it appears good. Of these, the first is what is good, for an apparent good does not move by itself but insofar as it has some appearance of good; but the good moves by itself. Desirability and pleasure is an essential aspect of goodness. The perfection of anything is goodness and perfection is attained in actuality, “As regards nature the good of anything is its actuality and perfection.”
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May 15th, 2012
Theology is doubly revealed and many Christians often ignore God’s natural revelation as being a valid object of interpretation. It’s all too often that many Christians reject many valid scientific theories.
“Theology is properly distinguished as natural and revealed. The former is concerned with the facts of nature so far as they reveal God and our relation to him, and the latter with the facts of Scripture.” –Charles Hodge
Theology refers to the all encompassing knowledge of God.
Theology of Nature refers to the Book of Nature as revealed in Scripture (Ps. 19.1-4; Rom. 1.20) Look at Psalm 19. When speaking of God it refers to his general name (El, Heb., continuous, abundant, universal). Some of the themes are creation’s contingency, Imago Dei, Stewardship, the fall, etc.
Natural Theology refers to the metaphysical implications of, say, intelligent design, the beginning of the universe, the moral law, beauty, etc.
“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead he set before your eyes the things that he made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?” -Augustine
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May 1st, 2012
The doctrine that God is absolutely simple derives from the metaphysical considerations that God is a being whose existence is self-explanatory, absolutely perfect, and pure actuality. Prior to Thomas, the doctrine has its most influential formulations in Augustine and Anselm. According to Thomas, God is his essence and his essence is to exist. If the existence of a thing differs from its essence, this existence must be caused either by some exterior agent or by its essential properties. The latter seems to be impossible for nothing, if caused to exist, can be the sufficient and efficient cause of its own existence. Nothing can be self-caused and thus the latter option is insufficient. Therefore, if existence differs from essence then another being must cause existence. This option is also an insufficient explanation for God’s essence and existence because another being cannot cause God because he is the first efficient cause—the uncaused cause.
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April 10th, 2012
I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is my Lord and saviour.
‘I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.’ C.S Lewis’ oft-quoted remark encapsulates much of what I will say here in rambling form.
I’m not sure how I came by faith (apart from vague notions of grace and providence) but it has been transformative. First an apology: this piece of autobiography will no doubt seem sterile compared to the other inspiring accounts I have read here however I wanted to explore Max’s request (perhaps for self-indulgent reasons): there was nothing dramatic in my conversion and I have never had anything that resembles a full-blown religious experience.
My childhood was one of rather superficial, middle of the road Anglicanism (CoE) but church was reserved for Christmas and Easter which I opted out of upon turning 16. Despite these biannual outings to church, my parents never expressed clear religious leanings and have become increasingly agnostic: once the children left home these excursions ceased. I was an unreflective atheist for much of my childhood but gradually this changed to a self-satisfied agnosticism when I began to study philosophy in a thoroughly secularised environment
Prior to my rather late ‘higher’ education I had begun to experiment with drugs and engage in promiscuous behaviour: my relativistic outlook provided the perfect justification for the self-centred life that I had chosen. The department in which I studied (and the university as a whole) was unashamedly naturalistic – theism was explored as an interesting historical curiosity that had been vanquished by David Hume and no contemporary theistic arguments were considered on the reading lists (or if they were, they were not highlighted by the lecturers as being worthy of the level of scrutiny which they perhaps deserved).
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February 6th, 2012
Boethius discusses the problem in reconciling genuine human freedom with God’s foreknowledge in “Divine Foreknowledge and Freedom of the Will” (proses III-VI). He bases his whole discussion on whether or not something that is foreknown happens by necessity. He offers the disjunctive option of the necessity of either thing, which are going to happen be foreseen by God or that what God foresees will in fact happen—either way, he argues, human will is removed. When discussing the uncertainty of future events he concludes that, for God, there must be no uncertainty in these events because it’s then reduced to possible conditionals, or could-counterfactuals. Hence, the law of excluded middle is true for knowledge of future tensed events. He makes an interesting point when discussing aspects about Cicero’s contribution to the problem. If foreknowledge is removed then the events of human will are no longer necessary. Considering all of the discussion so far he believes that everything that happens does so by necessity.
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February 3rd, 2012
The following is a paper I completed three years ago for a course of Jurisprudence.
Epistemology may perhaps, be the most foundational thought process to humankind. Without knowledge, nothing may be accomplished or known. Governmental organization is inevitable in this world, and arguably by human nature. Because not everyone has the same view on every issue there was, is, and ever will be, perhaps through the epistemological, philosophical, and theological approach to government may humankind obtain more knowledge of human jurisprudential thought.
Natural law may be the most common view of jurisprudential thought because it is observable in society and has a great deal of evidence in its favor. This case is supported by the idea that humankind knows what is right because it is written on the heart of every human being. Theonomy, which may be viewed as a more radical step above natural law for a Christian is the applicability of God’s Law to today’s society. The cases for natural law and theonomy may seem naïve without any epistemological, philosophical, and theological evidences, but through meticulous study of these schools of thought, the goal of better understanding these ideas become more tenable.
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December 31st, 2011
Robert Adams raises and interesting objection to modal realism based on the problem of evil. He believes
[That] our very strong disapproval of the deliberate actualizing of evils… reflects a belief in the absolutely, and not just relatively, special status of the actual as such. Indeed, if we ask, “What is wrong with actualizing evils, since they will occur in some other possible world anyways if they don’t occur in this one?”, I doubt that the indexical theory can provide an answer which will be completely satisfying ethically.
Adams’ objection concerning the actualization of evil is irrelevant to a Thomistic version of modal realism (this version to be released in an upcoming paper in the Fall of 2012). Thomas does not seem to have any problem with the presence of evil. When discussing Boethius, a philosopher prompts the question, “If there is a God, how comes evil?” Thomas argues that the question should be reversed—“If there is evil, there is a God.” For there would be no evil, if the order of goodness were taken away, the privation of which is evil; and this order would not be, if God were not.
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