Presentation on theme: "Philosophy of Religion God and Reason – Two Views – “God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of."— Presentation transcript:
Philosophy of Religion God and Reason – Two Views – “God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.... [Islamic thinker] Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by His own word, and that nothing would oblige Him to reveal the truth to us.
– “Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.... [God] could have done the opposite of everything He has actually done. This gives rise... to the image of a capricious God, Who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God’s transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind His actual decisions.” Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith, Reason, and the University”
– Tertullian of Antioch also thought this way. Early Christian Father (AD 160- 230) God Himself has spoken through the Scriptures; so, they alone are the guides for faith and doctrine. Believers must always be on constant guard against the sophistical arguments of philosophers that corrupt the pure message of the Scripture.
– “God is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably (with logos) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats...” Emperor Manuel II Paleologus (1391)
– “[B]etween [God’s] eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which... unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language. God does not become more divine when we push Him away from us... ; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed Himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf.
– “Certainly, love, as Saint Paul says, ‘transcends’ knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone; nonetheless, it continues to be love of the God Who is Logos.” Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith, Reason, and the University” Clement of Alexandria also believed this. – Early Christian Father (AD 150- 215)
– Philosophy is the “handmaid of theology.” – Philosophy can pave the way for the acceptance of Revelation. – Philosophy is God’s gift to the Greeks to prepare them to accept the Christian Gospel. – Philosophy can help believers “unpack” Revelation and, thereby, come to a deeper and more profound understanding of Revelation.
At various times and among various of their adherents, Ibn Hazm and Tertullian’s view has been the dominant view of one or more of the West’s great monotheistic religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). At various times and among various of their adherents, Pope Benedict and Clement’s view has been the dominant view of one or more of the West’s great monotheistic religious traditions.
Fides quaerens intellectum. – Latin phrase attributed to the 11 th Century Christian Philosopher St. Anselm of Canterbury. – “Faith seeking understanding.” – This phrase captures an approach to the relationship between philosophy and religion that was dominant among all three of the West’s monotheistic tradition during the High Middle Ages – the 12 th and 13 th Centuries.
– By the beginning of the 11 th Century, Christians had regained control of much of Spain from the Arabic speaking Muslims who had controlled it for 300 years. – The Christians discovered, in such great centers of learning as Toledo in central Spain, that Islamic scholars had preserved many of the great philosophical works of the ancient world that had been lost to them, most especially the works of Aristotle.
– In addition to preserving the great philosophical works of the ancient world, the Islamic scholars had added to them. The Persian Muslim Avicenna The Spanish Jew Maimonides The Spanish Muslim Averroes – In the early 11 th Century, the Christian Archbishop of Toledo, Raymund I, founded a school to translate both the work of the ancient Greek philosophers and their Islamic and Jewish successors into Latin.
The head of the school was the Archdeacon of the Cathedral Domingo Gundisalvo. Gundisalvo made his great friend, the Jewish scholar Juan Avendeuth, his assistant. The school at Toledo attracted Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scholars from around the known world.
“It was from the example of Toledo that Europe first learnt to understand that learning knows no frontiers, that it is universal, global, and ‘human,’ and that it concerns mankind as a whole, without respect of race or religion.” Friedrich Heer, The Medieval World: Europe 1100-1350, p. 194 – The “example of Toledo” led to the creation of Europe’s great universities, e.g. Oxford, Cambridge, the Sorbonne.
– In these great universities, scholars began to reflect philosophically on the religious beliefs common to all three of the West’s great monotheistic traditions. – The conclusions these scholars came to can be summed up thus: Certain truths about God, e.g His existence and certain aspects of His nature, can be known through human reason alone, without Revelation.
Certain truths about God, e.g. the Christian belief that God is a Trinity of Persons, can only be known through Revelation. The truths known through Revelation, however, never are contrary to human reason and human reason (philosophy) can be used to explicate the truths of Revelation.
– In this course, we shall continue in the “spirit of Toledo.” We shall examine whether certain claims about the God common to the West’s three great monotheistic traditions, e.g. His existence, can be proven using human reason alone. We shall also examine whether certain beliefs common to Western Monotheism, e.g. evil actually exists and God is maximally perfect, are rationally coherent or not.
As indicated, to the scholars of Europe’s great medieval universities, the answers to these questions were clear. In this course, however, we will approach these questions in a genuinely open manner, looking at all sides. The goal is for you to acquire the skills necessary to come to your own well- founded conclusions about these questions. Next time, we will look at the question of what is the proper way to conceive of God, i.e. the Supreme Being.