Philosophy of ReligionJuly 1, 2018
God, seen as a divine entity by many people. God is often intertwined deeply with religion and relating concepts since god is often seen as an enforcer of divine laws.
But do god exist and if it does, what is the nature of God. Philosophers have been debating on this issue since time immemorial. many views and approaches have been put forward to solve this issue and we will look at most of the famous thought schools.
Here are some of the arguments put forward towards the philosophy of religion :
1. Anselm Arguments :
St. Anselm was the Archbishop of Canterbury and he believed that God does exist. To prove that God did actually exist he put forward the theory as follows :
- Something can only exist in our minds and not a physical world like the unicorn, whereas other things exist in both physical and mental realm.
- If a thing exists in our mind then it’s physical manifestation would be better. For example – if you think of a life partner who is caring, have good look, smart, have money, then wouldn’t it be great if such person also exists in real life.
- God is the best thing. Now imagine the best thing one can possibly think of. Since we know a real thing is better than imaginary, therefore for God to be best (and therefore exit) it must exist.
After this argument, he thought that he had deductively proven the existence of God, but other philosophers pointed out that such argument can be used to prove the existence of anything.
So he used the same logic to prove the existence of his version of the best island:
- The best island is one where I can ski, relax in a tropical environment and hang out in the desert all at same time.
- Since I can imagine it and according to me it is best, so to an island to be best it also had to exist in real life.
- Because if it did not exist in reality, it would not be best, therefore this island is real.
As a response to this criticism, Anselm said that such arguments can only be used to prove the existence of necessary beings. But who defines a necessary being, and if we are adding unnecessary conditions to prove our point wouldn’t it means that our argument is a fallacy.
2. The parable of Invisible Gardner :
This is an atheist approach toward god’s existence.
This was a thought experiment and it goes as follows :
Two persons return to a garden after a long time. They found out that some plants were still thriving, so person A thought that someone must be looking out for them in their absence, while person B disagrees.
So they waited to catch the Gardner but no one showed up. So person A said that maybe garner was invisible.
So they put traps and bring dogs to catch the gardener. But no one was caught even then, so person A said that Gardner A must be intangible and unsmellable.
On which person B replied that what is the difference between a gardener that is invisible, intangible, unsmellable, undetectable and no gardener at all?
You must have figured out what A and B were talking about.
3. Aquinas arguments for god :
Thomas Aquinas, a believer in god proposed arguments that would prove god’s existence.
- According to him, that for the motion to occur a mover is needed. And that mover must be powerful to cause that motion and since there must be a first mover to set the chain of events so “god” must exist and he is that immovable mover.
- Argument from causation: According to him, that for a cause there must be someone to create that cause. And that causer must be powerful to cause that cause and since there must be a first causer to set the chain of events so “god” must exist and he is that first cause maker.
- Argument from contingency : he said that most of us are contingent beings (beings who could not have existed, for example – most of us are contingent because we could not have existed, moreover if we would not have existed world would not have stopped ), but he argued that all beings cannot be contingent. There must be at least one contingent being whose existence was necessary for the world to exist and that is God.
- Argument from degrees: He said that we need a scale to compare things, for example – hotness and coldness all are measured relatively i.e how many cold and hot depends on the scale on which we are making comparison. So to compare goodness there must be something perfect against who all comparison will be made, and that perfect being is God.
But many philosophers are against his views due to following reasons :
His arguments did not solve the problem of polytheism (or believe in multiple gods).
His arguments left us with “unmoved movers”, “uncaused causers” and “noncontingent beings” but they do not capture the definition of god present in any culture.
Moreover, he was also faced with another problem – if everything has a maker then god also must have a “God maker”, and that God maker too would have its own maker so who of them should be considered God.
Much has been discussed and arguments have been put forward for existence, so let’s look at one last important theory that defines god and it’s attributes.
Divine attributes of God :
- Omniscient: All-knowing
- Omnipotent: All powerful
- Omnibenevolent: possessing perfect goodness
- Omnitemporal: existing in all time
- Omnipresent: existing in all places
These arguments are mostly used to define God but many logical arguments are put forward to defeat these arguments too.
One such argument is that they are self-defeating. Consider :
Can God make an object so heavy God cannot lift? Because if such object can be created than God is not Omnipotent (all powerful) and if that object cannot be created then it is one thing that God cannot do, so again rendering God nonomnipotent.
Moreover, since God knows everything then God also knows future. But in all scriptures, free will is discussed, but if God knows what is going to happen in future then is free will given to us by God is the lie, therefore rendering religious books false.
A counter argument was also presented, and it says that God knows the future but does not cause it, therefore, we have free will. For example – consider a man who has been trapped in train tracks and a train is coming his way, and an overlooker is seeing all this. Overlooker knows the man’s fate but overlooker doe not caused it, which is same for God.
What are your views on God, God’s existence, and God’s attributes? Do tell us in the comment section.
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