THEISM AND BELIEF. Etymological note: deus = God in Latin; theos = God in Greek.

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1 THEISM AND BELIEF Etymological note: deus = God in Latin; theos = God in Greek. A taxonomy of doxastic attitudes Belief: a mental state the content of which is taken as true or an assertion put forward as true. Atheism: the positive belief that there is no God. Agnosticism: do-not-know-ism. Theism: belief that there is a God. Deism: belief that there is a God but one who does not intervene in natural processes. (Also epistemological meaning.) Polytheism: belief in the existence of many gods. Henotheism: the exclusive worship of one God, but recognition of the existence of others. Pantheism: the doctrine that God and all of nature are identical. One self-created substance with infinite modes = God. Panentheism: the doctrine that all of nature is God. God not bounded by nature. Nature is not external to God.

2 Attributes of the God of theism 1. Infinite Boundless, endless. We might say God is beyond classification, for any classification is inherently limiting. God is the source of all being; creator distinct from that which is created. Corollaries: omnipotence & omniscience. 2. Self-existence or Aesity Ontologically independent. 3. Eternal God has no beginning nor end: implied by being infinite. God is outside all time. 4. The Creator God created all things ex nihilo; compare with art. Nothing else can ever become the creator; nothing created (like a human) can ever become God. That which is created is dependent on God for continued existence. 5. Personal Possible to commune with God; our relationship to God is more than that of an it. 6. Omnipotent: all-powerful. 7. Omniscient: all-knowing. 8. Omnibenevolent: all-loving.

3 Ontological Arguments The second of three large groups of arguments: cosmological argument, ontological argument, teleological arguments. Aspects of the ontological argument 1. Proceeds from the idea or conception of God as understood by theism. 2. Is a priori; uses no premise about the existence of the contingent universe. 3. Concludes that God exists necessarily. Prelude on necessarily true existential statements Concepts Existential statements 1. Woolly mammoth There are woolly mammoths. 2. Married bachelor There are no married bachelors. 3. Prime number b/n 5 & 7 There is no prime # b/n 5 & Highest natural number There is no highest natural number. 5. Red and Green Nothing is red and green all over at the same time. Question: If it is possible to derive negative existential statements from mere concepts, is it not possible to derive positive existential statements. 5. Prime # b/n 10 & 15 There are two prime #s b/n 10 & 15. Can this positive, necessary, existential statement about numbers serve as a kind of model for proving the existence of God? 6. God God exists. Numbers, like God: are not in space and time, are immaterial, indivisible, do not change or immutable. Of course numbers have no personal qualities.

4 St. Anselm s (c ) version St. Anselm refers us to a passage in the bible: Psalm 14:1. The fool says in his heart "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. (1) When the fool hears a being-than-which-none-greater-can-beconceived, he understands it (premise, which must be granted by a fool who tries to deny there is such a being). (2) Whatever is understood is in the mind (premise true by definition). (3) So, when the fool hears A being-than-which etc., such a being exists in his mind (from (1) and (2)) (4) If a being-than-which etc existed only in the fool s mind, it could also be thought of as existing in reality as well, and this is greater. (5) If a being-than-which, etc existed only in the fool s mind, it would not after all be a being-than-which etc. (from (4)). (6) So, a being-than-which etc cannot exist only in the mind (from (5)). (7) So, a being-than-which etc exists both in the mind and in reality. (8) Hence, God exists.

5 Aquinas and the Classical Cosmological Argument St. Thomas Aquinas (b. 1225; d. 1274) 1. The Argument from Change/Motion 1. From observation, we can affirm that objects are in motion. 2. If something is in motion, then it must be caused to be in motion from something outside of itself. 3. There can be no infinite chain of movers. 4. Therefore, there is a first, unmoved mover. 5. Therefore, God exists. 2. The Argument from Causation 1. Some events cause other events. 2. If an event occurs, then it must be caused by something outside of itself. 3. There can be no infinite cause and effect chains. 4. Therefore, there is a first, uncaused cause. 5. Therefore, God exists. Again, Aquinas rejects the possibilities that (a) causality is a brute fact, and (b) causal chains are infinite.

6 Is an infinity of past events or causes incoherent? 1. Set A is equivalent to set B = the members of A can be paired in a oneto-one correspondence with the members of B, i.e. so that each member of one set is paired with just one member of the other set and vice versa. (a) Set of oceans and set of fingers on my right hand. (b) Set of Statues of Liberty and set of Planet Earths. 2. Set A is a subset of set B = every member of A is a member of B. (a) Set of American Presidents is a subset of the set of American politicians. b) Set of students at TAMUCC is a subset of the set of university students. NB. Every set is a subset of itself. 3. Set A is a proper subset of set B = every member of A is a member of B but not vice versa. e.g. The set of American Presidents is a proper subset of the set of American politicians. 4. A set has infinitely many members = the set is equivalent to a proper subset of itself. (a) Natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, (b) Even numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 The set of natural numbers is equivalent to a proper subset of itself, i.e. the set of even numbers.

7 The Argument from Contingency This argument is often taken to be the cosmological argument. 1. Everything in the universe is contingent. Contingent truth: a truth that might not have been. Glenn Tiller has three dogs. Contingent being: something that might not have existed and depends on something else for its existence. Necessary truth: a truth that could not be otherwise. For example, All triangles have three sides. Necessary being: a being that depends on nothing else for its existence. 2. The universe is contingent. 3. A contingent thing cannot be the cause of its own existence. 4. Hence, the universe cannot be cause of it s own existence. 5. So, there exists a necessary being which is the cause of the universe. 6. God has the property of necessary, eternal reality 7. Hence, God necessarily exists.

8 The Principle of Sufficient Reason At the heart of the cosmological arguments is the principle of sufficient reason. This principle was given explicit expression by the German philosopher Leibniz. There can be no fact that is true or existent, or any true proposition, without there being a sufficient reason for its being so and not otherwise, although we cannot know these reasons in most cases. Leibniz, Monadology (1714), sec.32 There cannot be a reason for everything. It is mere auto-matic habit in the philosopher to make this demand, as it is in the common man not to make it. The principle of sufficient reason is a principle for which there is no reason. Santayana, Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923), pp. 186 & 289 Some objections and considerations Objections 1. Why accept the PSR? Some call it a obvious, but other regard it as a mere methodological assumption. 2. Everlasting contingency It is possible that what is contingent might have existed for all time. So it is possible that it was never caused. But this does not defeat the central argument. 3. Problem of Divine Attributes A first cause is not very God-like; it is more like gravity.

9 4. Only One Cause? The Birthday Fallacy Why should we assume that there is just one first cause/unmoved mover instead of that there is at least one? This assumption parallels the following reasoning: 1. Every person has a birthday. 2. Therefore there is a single day that is everyone s birthday. 5. How does a necessary being create the world? Simply to say there are contingent beings and a necessary being does not actually explain anything. Atheists will see it as little more than an appeal to magic. Reply: God chose to create the universe. Counter-Reply: But then God must exist in time in order to make a choice, but to exist in time means he must exist in the universe and cannot be the cause of it.

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