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2 Please send any such gifts to me at:
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 Philosophy: the “love of Wisdom”
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 “ … the no-man’s land between science and theology, exposed to attack from both sides” Bertrand Russell

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

8 Much of the story of philosophy is in dialogue with Christian faith.
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 Three important themes
The question of miracle The existence of God Three important themes The question of life after death

13 Era or “school” Philosopher Key point 
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE Era or “school” Philosopher Key point

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

15 Philosophical thinking before Socrates
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE Presocratic Pythagorus – 480 BCE Philosophical thinking before Socrates First systematic step-by-step reasoning Ultimate reality in number

16 Academics Socrates c. 470 - 399 BCE
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE “The unexamined life is not worth living” Academics Socrates c BCE Because Plato started an Academy Wrote nothing -recorded by pupil Plato Concerned with ethics: what is good knowledge = virtue ignorance the cause of evil dialectic argument proposal, answer, counter answer

17 Because Plato started an Academy
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE Plato Aristocles aka Fatso c BCE Academics Because Plato started an Academy 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”

18 Plato’s allegory of the cave

19 Academics Aristotle 384 - 322 BCE member of Plato’s “academy”
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE “Nature does not act without a goal” Academics Aristotle BCE Because Plato started an Academy member of Plato’s “academy” systematic. scientific, diverse Classification of knowledge teleology: purpose God as “Prime mover” revered by Church scholars

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

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

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 The Ontological Argument
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 ( )

24 Thinking based in Christian monasteries
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE Scholastics Thomas Aquinas Thinking based in Christian monasteries 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 5th)

25 1. Everything is changing – but something must have caused it.
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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 The Teleological Argument 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! Thomas Aquinas 5

33 The Teleological Argument
The Argument from Design Thomas Aquinas “… 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

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

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36 Thinking based in Christian monasteries
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE Scholastics William of Occam d. 1347 Thinking based in Christian monasteries “Occam’s Razor”: “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity” All being equal, accept the simplest answer

37 The Age of Science Thomas Hobbes 1588 - 1679
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE 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 Rationalists Descartes 1596-1650 “the father of modern philosophy”
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE Cogito ergo sum “I think, therefore I am” Rationalists Descartes Knowledge comes from logical deduction “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)

39 Knowledge comes from logical deduction
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE Rationalists Spinoza Knowledge comes from logical deduction 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

40 Empiricists John Locke 1632 - 1704
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE The mind is furnished with ideas by experience alone Empiricists John Locke Knowledge is based on sense experience 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

41 Knowledge is based on sense experience
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE Empiricists David Hume Knowledge is based on sense experience 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

42 Arguments against miracles
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

43 A response to Hume William Paley 1743 - 1805
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE A response to Hume William Paley evidence in creation of design the “Clockmaker” analogy an argument from design (teleological argument)

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

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

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

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

51 Everything is made of matter
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE CE Ludwig Feuerbach Materialists Everything is made of matter 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

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

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

54 To the present day Freud: “projected” order
1000 BCE BCE CE CE CE 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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