Sunday, April 5, 2009

Christian Philosophy Made Simple

This is a simplified introduction to the major Christian philosophers

St. Thomas Aquinas' Five Ways

Background: St. Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) was a Dominican priest, theologian, and philosopher. Called the Doctor Angelicus (the Angelic Doctor,) Aquinas is considered one the greatest Christian philosophers to have ever lived. Two of his most famous works, the Summa Theologiae and the Summa Contra Gentiles, are the finest examples of his work on Christian philosophy."The truth of the Christian faith...surpasses the capacity of reason, nevertheless that truth that the human reason is naturally endowed to know can not be opposed to the truth of the Christian faith."

First Way: The Argument From Motion

St. Thomas Aquinas, studying the works of the Greek philsopher Aristotle, concluded from common observation that an object that is in motion (e.g. the planets, a rolling stone) is put in motion by some other object or force. From this, Aquinas believes that ultimately there must have been an UNMOVED MOVER (GOD) who first put things in motion.

Follow the agrument this way:

1) Nothing can move itself.

2) If every object in motion had a mover, then the first object in motion needed a mover.

3) This first mover is the Unmoved Mover, called God.Second Way: Causation Of Existence This Way deals with the issue of existence. Aquinas concluded that common sense observation tells us that no object creates itself. In other words, some previous object had to create it.

Aquinas believed that ultimately there must have been an UNCAUSED FIRST CAUSE (GOD) who began the chain of existence for all things.

Follow the agrument this way:

1) There exists things that are caused (created) by other things.

2) Nothing can be the cause of itself (nothing can create itself.)

3) There can not be an endless string of objects causing other objects to exist.

4) Therefore, ther must be an uncaused first cause called God.

Third Way: Contingent and Neccessary Objects

This Way defines two types of objects in the universe: contingent beings and necessary beings. A contingent being is an object that can not exist without a necessary being causing its existence. Aquinas believed that the existence of contingent beings would ultimately neccesitate a being which must exist for all of the contingent beings to exist. This being, called a necessary being, is what we call God.

Follow the argument this way:

1) Contingent beings are caused.

2) Not every being can be contingent.

3) There must exist a being which is necessary to cause contingent beings.

4) This necessary being is God.

Fourth Way: The Agrument From Degrees And Perfection

St. Thomas formulated this Way from a very interesting observation about the qualities of things. For example one may say that of two marble scultures one is more beautiful than the other. So for these two objects, one has a greater degree of beauty than the next. This is referred to as degrees or gradation of a quality. From this fact Aquinas concluded that for any given quality (e.g. goodness, beauty, knowledge) there must be an perfect standard by which all such qualities are measured. These perfections are contained in God.

Fifth Way: The Agrument From Intelligent Design

The final Way that St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of has to do with the observable universe and the order of nature. Aquinas states that common sense tells us that the universe works in such a way, that one can conclude that is was designed by an intelligent designer, God. In other words, all physical laws and the order of nature and life were designed and ordered by God, the intellgent designer.

Crime and Punishment: Is man responsible for his actions?

I. Humanitarian Attitude Towards Crime:

i. Humanitarian Definition of Crime: Crime is an illness, a state of impared functioning. Crime is an illness which must be treated; and the people who commit crime must be cured.

ii. Method of Treating Crime: The Theraputic Paradigm A person who commits crime must not be punished. We must adopt a theraputic attitude towards crime. People who commit crime must be cared for so that their willingness and behavior be treated.

II. C.S. Lewis: The Injustice of Humanitarianismi. Justice: The Justification for Punishment

1. Equitable punishment can only be achieved if the concepts of deserving and justice are realised.

2. There can not be mercy and forgiveness without the idea of deserving. Deserving, mercy and forgiveness can not be given without the idea of wrong. With the idea of wrong, there must be an idea of punishment.

3. Therefore punishment is justified and also neccessary, because it is the recognition of a wrong doing and deserving, which ultimately enables the individual to recieve mercy and forgiveness.

ii. Humanitarianism: Devoid of Justice and Rights

1. If crime is considered an illness, and not a wrong doing, there is no justice, but only a so called cure.

2. If the wrong doing is not punished, but treated as if one would treat an illness, there is no justice. To cure someone of an illness that he "could not help" leaves us without justice. First of all the individual is no longer held responsible for his actions, as a result of this belief the individual is not punished.

3. The individual has no rights with the humanitarian view because the "ill" person is no longer a man, but merely a patient to be treated. He is not considered to be a man of free will, he becomes no differnt from an animal. As a result his treatment is not voluntary, therefore he has no rights. But, his rights are not lost merley in the regards of his choice to accept treatment, but also in the regards of the human quality of exersising free will. Not only this; he has also lost his right to freely repent. Just as an animal is not deemed worthy of forgiveness, the man who commited the crime can no longer be forgiven.

iii. The Abuse and Tyranny of Humanitarianism1. Once an individual commits a crime; his rights are lost. He is no longer a human being, but a sick person who needs a cure.

2. Morality, the concepts of right, wrong and punishment are replaced by narrow minded anamalistic views of human beings. The treatment for a person who commits a crime is no longer any different from the treatment given to an individual who truly has a mental sickness or a wild animal. This is a grave injustice to the dignity of the human person.

The problem of Evil :The Problem Of Evil

I) The Epicurian Paradox

i)Many have come to the conclusion that the existence of evil is incompatible with the existence of God, hence the creation of the Epicurian paradox, created by Epicurus.

ii.)Epicurian Paradox:

1)God is all-powerful.

2)God is perfectly good.

3)Evil exists.

4)If God exists, then there would be no evil.

5)There is evil.

6)Therefore God does not exist.

II)Saint Augustine's Free- Will Defense

God created man with free will having the ability to do good or evil. As a result there is no assurance that man will not choose to do evil. There is no contradiction with the existence of both God and evil. It is logically impossible for God to create free creatures and guarantee that they will never do evil. Among the infinite number of possibilities in an infinite number of possible worlds, God could have chosen a less evil, (or less free) world, yet if man is truly free, God can not stop evil. It would be impossible or illogical for God, who is an all- powerful, omnipotent being, to have created a world in which he controlled the evilness or freeness, for this would remove the gift of free will that he had given to man. The existence of free will without evil is an illogical impossibility. Even though man has the capacity to commit great evil, he also has the capacity to perform great acts of goodness. According to Mackie, God does not eliminate first order evil such as pain because it is a logically necessary component for goods such as sympathy. God could have eliminated second order evils such as cruelty, but to do so would remove freedom of will. If God intervened in every evil, it would erode human responsibility, and the laws of nature.

III)Mackie's Critisism of Saint Augustine's Free- Will Defense

According to Mackie, the choice between robots who always do good or free men who can do good or evil is a false dilemma. There was an "obvious better possibility" in which God could have created beings who always act freely, yet nevertheless, always chooses to do good.

IV)Why God Permits Evil To Exist In the Worldi)Hick's "Soul- Making" Explanation For Evil's Existence: The world is a soul- making place. Man who is made in the image of god, but not in the likeness of God, is an incomplete being who must strive towards the perfect likeness and love of God. Qualities such as love, and courage would not make sense in a world without evil, because the world would be nothing more than a "play pen paradise." The existence of Evil is necessary in order to build character development of man into the likeness of God.

ii)Swinburne Explains The Advantages Of The Existence Of Evil:

according to Swinburne, there are advantages of a world in which free men face challenges, and have the capacity to affect others. The existence of evil, give men the opportunity to perform act which show men at their best. Many evils spur men into action. A world without evils, would be a world without which men could not show sympathy, forgiveness, compassion and self sacrifice. In conclusion, there is no easy proof to show the incompatibility between the existence of evil and God. It is the price of free actions that evil will exist The existence of evil is compatible with the existence of God and God's choice to create creatures with free will.

Free Will: Does it Exist :Does Free Will Exist?

Free Will Versus Determinism

I. Universal Determinism: According to the theory of universal determinism, every thing is governed by causal laws. Therefore if you knew all the properties of the universe(the world), you would be able to infallibly predict all future events. Any present event, including human behavior, is caused by an antecedent cause!

i. The Determinist Argument:

1. Every event must have a cause.

2. Human Actions are events.

3. Therefore, every human action is caused

4. So, determinism must be true.

ii. Evidence For Determinism

1. Science seems to eventually find a cause for everything.

2. We assume in everyday life that everything has a cause; we can not help but believe that every event has a cause. This belief is called the Issue of Universal Causality.

iii. Evidence Against Determinism Common sense tells us that we can change, we feel we are not compelled, we could have acted differently.iv. Soft Determinism: An Alternative? An action may result from having a reason that one could not change, but the reasons themselves are not considered actions. Therefore, as long as we are not coerced, we can have a free action. An act may be entirely determined, yet be free in the sense that it was voluntary and not coerced. Whether we are morally responsible or not, is determined depending on if the behavior is voluntary or involuntary. Refute: This theory is illogical; one can not have moral responsibility if reasons are determined. The libertarian, determinist and free will arguments differ, yet all uphold the paradigm that involuntary actions negate moral responsibility.

II. Free Will

i. The Free Will Argument:

1. The Argument of Moral Responsibility states that if determinism were true, no person would be able to change his actions, therefore no one could ever be held morally responsible for his own actions. Common sense tells us that we can change our actions by our own choice.

2. We can and have overcome our desires and inclinations. Both common sense and fact show that we can actively change our behavior. Determinist reply: We only perceive that we can change our actions and behavior.

3. We do not feel compelled to act. At the time of a decision, we feel we have had other choices. Determinist reply: Such feelings of control are illusions; we are just ignorant of all the irresistible forces acting upon us.

4. At a certain time we feel that we could have chosen to act differently.

Determinist reply: Our behavior is already determined by previous events. Therefore you can not change your behavior.

ii. The Implications of Determinism: Man becomes nothing more than a puppet.

III. Libertarianism: A compromise

i Libertarian Points:

1. We have free will in the sense that given the same previous conditions, one could have acted otherwise.

2. Agent Causality explains that the individual or agent is responsible for all actions even though the self itself, does not change.

3. Actions can be free and uncaused. If actions are caused, they are caused by inner states (the self). These inner states themselves are uncaused and unchanging.

ii. Argument:

1. Behavior and actions seem to be the outcome of personal deliberation.

2. It appears as if actions in fact are the result of such deliberation.

3. While determinists claim that actions are not the result of a person's deliberation, they have been unable to prove that pre-determined conditions actually cause all human behavior.

iii. Implications of Libertarianism While libertarianism avoids the puppet like man of the determinist, man is replaced with an even less human like image; an erratic, jerking phantom who behaves without without rhyme or reason.

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