Alexander R. Pruss and Richard M. Gale
Unlike the ontological argument, which appeals only to highly sophisticated philosophers who delight in highly abstract deductive reasoning, cosmological and design arguments figure prominently in the argumentative support that everyday working theists give for their faith. The reason for this broad pastoral appeal is that these arguments begin with commonplace facts about the world and then, by appeal to principles that look plausible, establish the existence of a being who, while not shown to have all of God's essential properties, properties that God must have to exist, is at least a close cousin of the God of traditional Western theism. This article begins with a preliminary botanization of these arguments, indicating their similarities and differences, and then discusses each of them separately, giving prominence to the many different forms they take. Each of the two arguments begins with a contingent existential fact.
Lynne Rudder Baker
Death comes to all creatures, but human beings are unique in realizing that they will die. Hence, they are unique in being able to consider the possibility of life after death. Ideas of an afterlife of one sort or another have been promulgated by all manner of cultures and religions. For ancient peoples, the afterlife was a realm of vastly diminished existence populated by shades, ghostly counterparts of bodies. Ancient Indians and Egyptians before 2000
Stuart J. Youngner
Two factors, medical science's growing control over the timing of death and the increasingly desperate need for organs, have led to a reopening of the debate about the definition of death and have forced a consideration of aspects of the determination of death that had never been addressed before. Without the pressing need for organs, the definition of death would have remained on the back shelf, the conversation of a few interested philosophers or theologians. This article examines some new questions raised by medical technology and the frantic search for new, morally acceptable sources of human organs over the past thirty years. This examination concludes that death itself is a social construct and that, in a pluralistic society such as ours, a conclusive definition of death or determination of the moment of death is out of the reach of both medical science and philosophy.
William L. Rowe
In the major religions of the West—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—the dominant theological tradition has long held that among the attributes constituting the nature of God are to be counted his unlimited power (omnipotence), perfect goodness, and unlimited knowledge (omniscience). Within this theological tradition stands the work of many influential theologians and philosophers such as Maimonides (1135–1204), Aquinas (1225–1274), and al-Ghazali (1059–1111), who have labored to explain how we should understand these fundamental aspects of the divine nature. This article aims both to explain these three attributes of the divine nature and to discuss some of the ideas the difficulties philosophers and theologians have suggested arise when one endeavours to conceive of a being possessing such extraordinary attributes. Before beginning this task, however, it should be noted that the attributes ascribed to God in the historically dominant theological tradition within the major Western religions are not characteristic of the entire history of thought about God in those religious traditions.
William E. Mann
Searching for a way to avoid the rude anthropomorphism of his contemporaries, the Presocratic philosopher Xenophanes said of God that “always he remains in the same state, in no way changing; nor is it fitting for him to go now here now there”; that “without effort, by the will of his mind he shakes everything”; that “he sees as a whole, he thinks as a whole, and he hears as a whole”. Xenophanes' pronouncements are the first recorded sallies into philosophical theology. Although he may have had the first word, he did not have the last: his descendants include Plato, Philo, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Spinoza, and a host of others. Xenophanes emphasizes the differences between God and creatures. For many religious believers, however, it is the similarities that are most important. The God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is supposed to care for his creatures, know their innermost hopes and fears, respond to their prayers, strengthen them against adversity, share in their joy, console them in their sorrow and grief, judge their deficiencies, and forgive them their sins.
Paul R. Draper
How is science related to theology or, more broadly, to religion? According to one view, religion has made war on science by trying to stop or limit or control scientific progress. Further, this war is inevitable, both because the questions addressed by science and religion overlap and because scientific and religious modes of thought stand in fundamental opposition to each other. Scientists are disinterested investigators who make objective and demonstrable claims based on known facts; theologians are biased apologists who make subjective and speculative claims based on unsupported opinion. The warfare view is seriously flawed, both philosophically and historically. All sorts of biases influence scientific research; scientific inferences are obviously not demonstrative; and what scientists take to be the “facts” often depends in part on the theories they hold.
Recent work by analytic philosophers on the Trinity takes a mysterious 5th-century document as its starting point, accepting widespread but inaccurate narratives about the history of Trinity theories. This article summarizes the Platonic influence on ancient theologies and describes the rise of transcendent triads, and eventually the idea of a tripersonal God. Recent Trinity theories (positive mysterianism, Trinity monotheism, relative-identity approaches, and “social” theories) are explained as built to respond in various ways to a type of anti-trinitarian argument. But since each recent application of logic and metaphysics to the theology of the Trinity is problematic, it is argued that another look at the minority unitarian report is warranted.
George I. Mavrodes
The idea of the miraculous, and reports of miracles, are prominent elements in some religions. Christianity is one of those religions. This article discusses this idea primarily in the context of Christianity, though much of it applies to its occurrence in the other theistic religions. From the very beginning, accounts of the life of Jesus seem to include miraculous elements. In the four Gospels that are now part of the New Testament, Jesus is reported as having done many strange and amazing things. Most of these involve the healing of various diseases and disabilities, many of them apparently of long standing. There are also other incidents, such as walking on water, calming a storm, and changing water into wine at a wedding feast, that do not involve healings. There is at least one striking case of a resurrection attributed to Jesus, the raising of Lazarus (John, ch. 11). And finally there is the miracle that, for many Christians anyway, overshadows all of these others in importance. That is the resurrection of Jesus himself several days after his death by crucifixion.
This article explores Nietzsche’s notions about family. It considers the religious and personal temperaments of Nietzsche’s father and two grandfathers, which form a striking background to his own radical thoughts about religion. It suggests that Nietzsche began to turn away from the Christian faith after witnessing, at age four, the drawn-out and agonizing death of his father. The experience of growing up in a household filled with women (mother, sister, two aunts, grandmother, and housekeeper) also sheds light on Nietzsche’s infamous quips about women, on his claim to “know women,” and on his sometimes exaggerated masculinity.
The term “ontological argument” was Kant's name for one member of a family of arguments that began with Anselm of Canterbury. These arguments all try to prove God's existence a priori, via reasoning about the entailments of a particular description of God. The description almost always involves God's greatness or perfection. Where it does not, the argument has a premise justified by God's greatness or perfection. So these arguments might better be called arguments from perfection. This article deals with the main arguments from perfection and criticisms thereof in historical order. It first explicates Anselm's key phrase “something than which no greater can be thought” and then takes up his reasoning, then the question of whether its premises are true.
This article examines Schopenhauer’s influence on Nietzsche’s work. It considers how Nietzsche adopted some of his central ideas from Schopenhauer, how he exploited some of Schopenhauer’s positions to suit his own purposes, and how he developed some of his ideas as alternatives to Schopenhauerian positions. Nietzsche’s first published book, The Birth of Tragedy, is based on a Schopenhauerian metaphysical framework. Schopenhauer’s principle of individuation applicable to the world of representations is the key element in Nietzsche’s concept of the Apollonian and Schopenhauer’s principle of the undifferentiated nature of ultimate reality of the will is the key element in Nietzsche’s concept of the Dionysian.