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Presentation on theme: "This presentation is available for you under the following (eminently reasonable!) conditions. I gladly grant to anyone who wants it a free licence to."— Presentation transcript:

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2 This presentation is available for you under the following (eminently reasonable!) conditions. I gladly grant to anyone who wants it a free licence to use this material for non-profit Christian teaching or for education. I require that I, Mike Fuller, am acknowledged on each occasion of use as the author of this material, and that it is not altered in any way. The images used in the presentation are (to the best of my knowledge) either copyright free, or (particularly the photographs) my own copyright, and may not be used for any other purpose. There is no charge made for this material, but any gifts you may choose to give are gladly received. These will be used to finance my continued exercise of ministry, particularly the encouragement of pastors in developing world countries Please send any such gifts to me at: Mike Fuller, 87 Middleton Road, Banbury, Oxon. OX16 3QS, UK or donate through PayPal at

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4 The Entire History of Western Philosophy in Fifty Minutes

5 “… if (the best philosophy) doesn ’ t seem peculiar you haven ’ t understood it ” Edward Craig

6 The Entire History of Western Philosophy in 50 Minutes Philosophy: the “ love of Wisdom ” especially questions about ultimate reality why things are the way they are making sense of life thinking about thinking Bertrand Russell “ … the no-man ’ s land between science and theology, exposed to attack from both sides ”

7 The Entire History of Western Philosophy in 50 Minutes … as soon as you start to comment on philosophy … … you have started to philosophise!

8 The Entire History of Western Philosophy in 50 Minutes Much of the story of philosophy is in dialogue with Christian faith. Can you prove that God exists? Why is there evil in the world? Can miracles happen? Is there life after death? Is experience useful evidence? What is good? Can we describe ultimate reality with ordinary words?

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12 The existence of God The question of miracle The question of life after death Three important themes

13 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Era or “ school ” Philosopher  Key point

14 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Presocratic Thales c. 620 – 540 BCE  Thinking about the world without first thinking about gods  Water the 1 st Principle from which everything came  God in all things Philosophical thinking before Socrates

15 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Presocratic Pythagorus 570 – 480 BCE  First systematic step-by-step reasoning  Ultimate reality in number Philosophical thinking before Socrates 

16 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Academics Socrates c BCE  Wrote nothing - recorded by pupil Plato  Concerned with ethics: what is good ignorance the cause of evil  knowledge = virtue ignorance the cause of evil proposal, answer, counter answer  dialectic argument proposal, answer, counter answer Because Plato started an Academy “ The unexamined life is not worth living ”

17 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Academics Plato Aristocles aka Fatso c BCE  Human being is really soul that fell from the stars  Theory of ideas remembered - on earth, there is only the imperfect  Ideal forms e.g. beauty  Ideal city-state: “ The Republic ” Because Plato started an Academy

18 Plato ’ s allegory of the cave

19 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Academics Aristotle BCE  member of Plato ’ s “ academy ” Classification of knowledge  systematic. scientific, diverse Classification of knowledge  teleology: purpose  God as “ Prime mover ”  revered by Church scholars Because Plato started an Academy “ Nature does not act without a goal ”

20 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Into the Christian era  Cynics: ascetic, minimise emotion  Stoics: virtue based on good, be indifferent to suffering body bad, spiritual good  Neo-platonists body bad, spiritual good  Augustine 354 – 430 “ Believe in order to understand ”

21 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Scholastics Anselm  the first ontological argument  God “ something than which nothing greater can be thought ”  an argument simply from thinking, not from observation Thinking based in Christian monasteries

22 The Ontological Argument  from Greek for “ to be ”, so “ concerned with being ”  God ’ s definition entails his existence What is the better gift: “ virtual ” roses.. or the real thing?

23  God is “ that than which nothing greater can be thought ”  the concept of God exists in the understanding  God is a possible being  if God exists only in the mind and is only a possible being, then if he existed in reality he would have been greater  if so, God is a being than which a greater can be thought … which is impossible! Anselm ( ) The Ontological Argument

24 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Scholastics Thomas Aquinas  Favoured by RCs  Influenced by Aristotle  “ Five Ways ” or “ Five arguments for the existence of God ”  a cosmological argument (4 of the 5)  a teleological argument (the 5 th ) Thinking based in Christian monasteries

25 Thomas Aquinas’s “Five Ways” 1. Everything is changing – but something must have caused it. 2. Every effect must have a cause 3. Things come into existence, and cease to exist. There must be a cause. 4. Excellence must come from perfection 5. The harmony of things suggests design. This all must be God!

26 The Cosmological Argument  cosmos - the world or universe  based on what can be seen  concept of contingency - dependent on something that may or may not happen

27 The Cosmological Argument The Unmoved Mover  Thomas Aquinas ’ “ First Way ”  everything that is in motion (changed) is moved by something else  infinite regress is impossible  emphasis on dependency  “… it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, moved by no other, and this everyone understands to be God ”. 1

28 The Cosmological Argument The Uncaused Causer  Thomas Aquinas ’ “ Second Way ”  everything that happens has a cause  infinite regress is impossible  emphasis on agency  “ There is no case known … in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself … it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God ” 2

29 The Cosmological Argument Possibility and Necessity  Thomas Aquinas ’ “ Third Way ”  things come into being and later cease to exist  some contingent beings exist  if any contingent beings exist, then a necessary being must exist (the cause of the universe must be external to it and must always have existed) 3

30 The Cosmological Argument Excellence  Thomas Aquinas ’ “ Fourth Way ”  in this world there is a scale of more good and less good  this cannot be an infinite scale  there must therefore exist “ perfection ” at one end of the scale - which is what everyone knows as God 4

31 The Teleological Argument  telos - end or purpose  focus on order, regularity, benefit and purpose  uses analogy  recalls Plato: all things ordered by the mind  based on what can be seen

32 The Argument from Design  Thomas Aquinas ’ “ Fifth Way ”  everything works to some purpose  observed beneficial results suggest there is a pattern of direction behind this  modern example - animal migration  this must be God! The Teleological Argument Thomas Aquinas

33 The Argument from Design “… whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed … therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God ” Summa Theologica The Teleological Argument Thomas Aquinas

34 The Question of Miracle Thomas Aquinas God does what nature could never do 2.God does what nature could do, but in a different sequence or connection 3.God does what nature can do, but from his power

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36 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Scholastics William of Occam d  “ Occam ’ s Razor ” : “ Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity ”  All being equal, accept the simplest answer Thinking based in Christian monasteries

37 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE The Age of Science Thomas Hobbes  materialist: God is matter  natural state of human beings = war  society prevents a falling back to this state (social contract)

38 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Rationalists Descartes  “ the father of modern philosophy ”  a philosophical framework for the natural sciences  a mathematician  deduction (from the reality of the mind), not perception (from senses) Knowledge comes from logical deduction Cogito ergo sum “ I think, therefore I am ”

39 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Rationalists Spinoza  the Universe is One  mind and body just different ways of conceiving this one Reality  everything is a necessary part of that Reality  therefore there is no free will Knowledge comes from logical deduction

40 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Empiricists John Locke  everything we know is derived from experience  the mind at birth is a “ tabula rasa ” (a blank slate)  primary (objective - really exist) & secondary (subjective – ideas in the mind) qualities of objects Knowledge is based on sense experience The mind is furnished with ideas by experience alone

41 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Empiricists David Hume  anything not given in experience is to be discarded  therefore there is no God, self, causation, inductive knowledge  “ I am nothing but a bundle of perceptions ”  “ miracles ” violations of laws of nature Knowledge is based on sense experience

42 David Hume  Hume described miracles as violations of the laws of nature  he said that claims of miracles came from ignorant and barbarous people …  … with poor quality of testimony …  … who might gain from their accounts …  … many religions cite miracle as support for their beliefs - but they could not all be right Arguments against miracles

43 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE A response to Hume William Paley  evidence in creation of design  the “ Clockmaker ” analogy  an argument from design (teleological argument)

44 The Argument from Design The Teleological Argument William Paley ( ) “ In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone … I might possibly answer that … it had lain there for ever … But suppose I found a watch upon the ground … I should hardly think of the answer which I had given before … when we come to inspect the watch we perceive … that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose …” Natural Theology

45 The Argument from Design The Teleological Argument William Paley ( )  analogy of watch found on heath  could not say “ always there ” !  human eye “ design ”  must be a designer Purpose Regularity  regularity, order, rule in universe  motion of planets, gravity, in solar system  designing principle at work

46 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Idealists Immanuel Kant  “ categories ” for incoming sense- data  “ categorical imperative ” – a universal moral law  a moral argument for the existence of God Rationalism + empiricism “ Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe – the stary heavens above and the moral law within ”

47 The Moral Argument for the Existence of God  we recognise an obligation to achieve the highest standard of goodness …  … and that this goodness should be rewarded by happiness  good and happy - the “ summum bonum ”, the highest good - ought to happen …  … so it has to be possible  BUT while we can achieve good, we can ’ t always ensure happiness as well  THEREFORE there must be a God who can do this

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49 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Idealists Hegel  “ dialectic ” – thesis, antithesis, synthesis  a progression towards absolute truth Rationalism + empiricism

50 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Materialists Karl Marx  atheistic dialectical materialism  socialism the necessary outcome of economic conflict  religion keeps the oppressed quiet Everything is made of matter

51 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE Materialists Ludwig Feuerbach  people are scared to face up to the fact that there is nothing after death …  … so they make up the father-figure they would like to be real Everything is made of matter

52 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE To the present day  Existentialists: the human predicament (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre)  Linguistic philosophy: (Wittgenstein) religious statements not open to truth or falsity God is dead!

53 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE To the present day Paul Tillich Philosophy frames the questions to which theology brings the answers

54 1000 BCE 500 BCE CE 1000 CE 1500 CE 2000 CE To the present day Freud: “ projected ” order Coplestone: self-causing universe Russell: “ just there ” Dawkins: The God Delusion Wiles: Auschwitz > God not involved Holland: perception Swinburne: good testimony Hartshorne: memory in the mind of God Hick: replica Vardy: reprint

55 Does Philosophy offer Proof of the Existence of God? No - but some more recent philosophers have argued that there is a demonstrable weight of probability that makes belief in God an intellectually defensible claim

56 How much can the discipline of philosophy help us develop better analytical skills? How much can we know about God by thinking, rather than by revelation? How can philosophical thinking prepare the human heart to understand the human predicament, and so be open to the Good News of Jesus? How can addressing philosophical issues create opportunities for dialogue with today ’ s youth?

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