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Ben Acton

on 11 May 2014

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Transcript of AS PHILOSOPHY

Luke 1:37; 'for with God nothing is impossible'
God can do
Aquinas; God can do anything that is not self-contradictory or logically impossible.
Paradox of the stone
If God can create a stone which he cannot lift, then he cannot lift the stone therefore he is not omnipotent.
If God cannot create a stone which he cannot lift, then he cannot create the stone so is therefore not omnipotent.
Either way, God cannot be omnipotent.
Changing mathematical and geometrical truths
God cannot make 2 + 2 = 5 without changing the definitions of the symbols but then it ceases to be the same thing.
God cannot draw a square circle because the definitions are mutually exclusive.
If God cannot do these things, then he cannot be omnipotent.
Hebrews 4:13; 'nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight'
- God knows everything.
God cannot know exactly what I know in the same way that I know it, for example if I have knowledge of the statement 'I am only here now' God cannot know it in the same way because he is not 'I' (me) and cannot be 'only here' at any given time (he is transcendent or immanent) and cannot be here 'now' if he is eternal (outside of time)
If God cannot know these things, then he cannot be omniscient.
Free will
For an action to be genuinely freely chosen, there must be the option to not do it. However, if it is true that I will enact a certain action tomorrow, God must know what I am going to do tomorrow because God knows everything. But, if God knows what I am going to do tomorrow then there is no option but for me to do it, meaning that the action or choice is no longer freely chosen.
A benevolent God would give us free will, yet God's omniscience conflicts with free will.
Definition of Omnipotence
Aquinas would argue that omnipotence merely means to be able to do everything logically possible that is not self-contradictory or by definition impossible.
In this case, the two proposed problems with omnipotence no longer matter as they are both logical or paradoxical and self-contradictory problems.
Indexicals do not cause a lack of knowledge for God, God knows the same thing in a different way. i.e. 'Ben is there then' It is the same knowledge just known in a different way.
Sudduth says:
God doesn't need to be who I am to know what I know, to be where I am, to what is happening in the place I am, nor to exist when I exist to know what is happening at any time when I exist.
God is eternal so is outside of time, this means that he does not foresee what we are going to do but merely sees it because there is no future for God to see into. In this situation he does not know what we are going to do before we do it because there is no 'before' for an eternal being meaning that we still make free choices.
Hence, God's omniscience does not clash with free will.
Supreme Goodness
God is the source of all moral goodness and is supremely loving and just.
God is complete and perfect, and contains all attributes required for perfection.
The Euthyphro dilemma
Option 1:
Morally Good acts are good because they are willed by God.
Option 2:
Morally Good acts are willed by God because they are good.
Abhorrent commands
If acts are morally good simply because God said they were, malicious acts of cruelty could have become morally good.
Statements such as 'God is good' become empty because God is only good because he said so, the statement loses meaning.
Morality would be based on the mere whims of God and he made uninformed, random decisions about what should be good, making morality somewhat meaningless.
Independence from God
To say that morally good acts are willed by God because they are good is to say that morality must have been there prior to, and independent of God. This conflicts with divine command theory and would put morality 'above' God.
Neither option is acceptable and both cause problems for God, hence God cannot be supremely good.
Morality is grounded in the immutable character of God, who is perfectly good. His commands are not whims, but rooted in His holiness.
- Morality is not external to God, it is within God.
The Problem of Evil
God is omnipotent
God is supremely good
Evil Exists
God is capable of stopping evil
God should want to stop evil
Yet evil exists
Either God is not omnipotent
Or God is not supremely good
Or God does not exist
Augustine: The Free Will Defense
God originally created a perfect humanity, humans were created with moral perfection and free will. Genuine free will means the possibility of humans disobeying God. Humans disobeyed God with devastating consequences and later generations inherited these evil tendencies.
The responsibility for evil is with the creation, not the creator.
Giving humans free will outweighs the cost of evil.
Irenaeus, Swinburne and Hick
Humans are not created perfect and then fall into sin, but are created as immature beings capable of growing into the persons God intends, we must choose between good and evil to improve the world, there cannot be improvements when there is no evil to overcome.
The world is a place of 'soul making' to strengthen us for heaven.

Further Problems
Even still God should intervene and stop evil before it happens.
God could have changed the character of humans so that they only made good choices.
This does not account for natural evil such as earthquakes.
If evil is here to help us grow then it is unfairly distributed and often pointless sometimes nobody even knows of the evil to learn from it.
Anselm's ontological argument
1. Even a fool (atheist) can understand the concept of God, that he is the greatest conceivable being.
2. Existence is a great-making property, a being that exists is greater than a being that does not.
3. Therefore for God to be the greatest possible being, he must exist.
Anselm's ontological argument part 2...
It is not possible for God to ever not exist for it is greater for a being to not be able to not exist therefore God cannot not exist and neither can he begin or end existing for it is greater to always exist, to
exist and God is the only thing that necessarily exists.
William Lane Craig:
Gaunilo's Island
Existence is not a predicate
Kant argues that all predicates (characteristics/properties) describe what they are predicates of, they must add to the concept of the being. However, adding or taking away existence from a concept in your mind does not change the concept in any way, hence existence is not a predicate so cannot be greater or lesser to possess.
Gaunilo argues that Anselm's argument could be used to prove the existence of a perfect island because it is greater for an island to exist than not exist, and that is absurd. Anyone who accepted this argument for a perfect island must be a fool, therefore anyone who accepts Anselm's ontological argument must also be a fool.
Concepts cannot prove existence
If one was to convert the statement that God has the property of existence into an if/then sentence it would read like so: 'If God existed, he would exist'
A simpler example would be that of a unicorn, it is generally accepted that unicorns have horns, or as an if/then sentence, 'If unicorns existed, they would have horns.' All that is proved by the ontological argument is that if God existed, he would exist and this is a meaningless statement.
Islands are contingent
By the definition of an island it must have a begining and an end, originating from volcanic or seismic activity and assuming that a perfect island would contain rivers and beaches, it will eventually be eroded away. It would be greater for the island to exist necessarily rather than contingently but if you continued to add perfections to the island it would eventually become God and hence defeat the entire argument.
Intrinsic maximums
There are no maximums to intrinsic values, for example there could never be the perfect number of palm trees on the island, or the perfect gradient of the rolling hills.
As well as this, intrinsic values are generally subjective and would change from person to person whereas the idea of the greatest conceivable being, God, is universal.
Other Objections
The transference of human qualities to other entities
e.g. inanimate objects being described as happy, angry, menacing, raging, etc.
The process of enlarging something, making it greater in size, amount or quality. In this case, the exaggeration of human qualities to make them greater
Hume's theory of the origin of <God>
The idea of <God> originated from the psychological process of tying human qualities to all things we experience (anthropomorphism) and combining this with the process of augmenting human qualities (compassion, strength, intellect) to a ridiculous extent up to perfection and projecting these qualities onto a human-like being: God
Feuerbach's theory of the origin of <God>
"Consciousness of God is self-consciousness" - God is human nature purified (similar to Hume), our experiences of favorable characteristics are projected onto an illusory transcendent plane of perfection, our own feelings, aspirations and fears are objectified in the form of <God> and his teachings (religion).
Decline in self-worth
Our creation of the illusion of <God> is a bad thing because it means that we praise <God> for good things when they happen and for the good qualities within us when really we are entirely responsible and should in reality praise ourselves.
The superego is the part of the mind which deals with morals and what can be done about these desires based on what is right and wrong. The superego is mainly unconscious but not entirely as it involves spiritual goals and morals etc.
The id is the part of the mind which has the basic desires and wishes and wants to fulfill those no matter what, does not concern morals. The id is the unconscious part of the mind.

The ego is the part of the mind which finds the halfway point between the id and the superego and figures out a plausible solution to the desires according to what is wanted and getting it without doing wrong. The ego is the conscious part of the mind.
The Oedipus Complex:
The complex of emotions aroused in a young child, typically around the age of four, by an unconscious sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex and wish to exclude the parent of the same sex.
A relatively mild mental illness that is not caused by organic disease, involving symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, obsessive behaviour and hypochondria but not a radical loss of touch with reality.
How this relates to <God>
These relate to the ideas of morality in religion, specifically the superego - that a moral code rules over the Id’s desires, and that the mind attributes this to religion and God’s wishes.
How this relates to <God>
Freud says that a male’s desire for his mother puts him in conflict and competition with his father, and this introduced the idea of the fear of God’s punishment. The father figure is strong and protects us and when this fatherly image is projected onto a greater being, God, the submission to the stronger being and desire to not go against the figure that protects you introduces the idea of deference to God and why people carry out his wishes.
How this relates to <God>
The somewhat irrational and compulsive behaviors of people who suffer from the mental illness are thought to be the reason for religious codes and practices as we know them - people who suffer from neurosis, and also have the concept of a God/supreme father figure, will then feel compelled to act upon those ideas no matter how irrational it may be. So things such as prayer, worship and going to Church (as well as many of the things that supposedly make you a good, religious human being) are attributed to the ideas of people with neurosis.
Freud's theory of the origin of <God>
<God> originated from the projection of an ideal father figure.
During the Oedipal phase, the child must deal with anxiety over the possibility of being punished by the father and the child responds to this threat by subconsciously projecting the father's will onto <God> in the form of the superego.
Religion represents the perpetuation of a piece of infantile behavior in adult life, he says that religion is simply an immature response to the awareness of helplessness and the desire for protection.

Marx's theory of the origin of <God>
Religion is a byproduct of society: The social and economic inequality between the proletariat (working class) and the upper-class leads to the spread of religion as a form of social control to ease the pains of the poor and make them more susceptible to exploitation by the upper-classes. Religion reduces the risk of revolution and keeps the proletariat in order.
Durkheim's theory of the origin of <God>
Religion comes about from the collective consciousness of groups of people when they unite together - the energy and emotions shared by a group of people with a common purpose gives a sense of supernatural power. This collective consciousness creates a shared set of beliefs, ideas and moral attitudes in a society and as society progresses and becomes more complex, so does our idea of <God>.
Benefits of religion:
Discipline - the moral codes set by religion create a set of laws within society and create a more civilized way of life
Cohesive - group outpourings of religious practices bind people together and provide a center for a community
Euphoric - the collective consciousness of a group of people sharing the same cause creates a sense of happiness and satisfaction with life
Vitalizing - taking part in a religion with regular practices can provide a sense of stability in life and along with that, clearance of the mind to make one feel better about oneself as well as having a placebo-like effect upon people with genuine illnesses.
Response: Infallibility
Most psychological claims, especially Freud's, rely on subconscious processes meaning that there is no way to tell whether or not these processes occur because they are subconscious and we are not consciously aware of them. This makes their claims unfalsifiable and somewhat pointless as they cannot be proven nor disproven.
Response: God Alternative
None of these claims disproved the existence of God, it is possible that the idea of God originated from God himself and that he planted the idea within our minds (Descartes trademark argument). Another possibility is through religious experience where people claim to have seen God or Jesus and hence the idea spread through the mechanisms discussed in the sociological causes.
Response: Transcendence
The psychological arguments describe a process of augmentation of human qualities and projecting them onto the idea of God, however, <God> has the property of transcendence (being external to the world) yet humans have no quality even vaguely similar to transcendence. The concept of this property cannot have come from human qualities and experience, it must have come from God himself.
Durkheim's theory fails when applied to religious extremist groups who use religion as a reason to commit vast atrocities be it war or terrorism or when religion is used to oppress people rather than improve their lives and the supposed disciplines are entirely ignored or bent to new, malicious aims.
Poor people who use religion as a cause to oppose the oppression of the rich do not fit with this theory
There are many rich people who are also religious yet are those who supposedly use religion to oppress the poor.
Religion begins with the poor then spreads, the poor may use religion to oppose political oppressors yet the heads of religious bodies continue to oppress them and once socialist revolution takes place religion would quickly be dissolved.
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