We are going to think philosophically about a number of questions and issues related to religion. The purpose here is neither to convert believers into non-believers nor the other way around. The objective is to demonstrate and encourage applying philosophical thinking to matters of great importance. Religion is certainly of great importance. Philosophy is based upon reason and religion is based upon faith. With many of the issues we are about to examine the philosopher will attempt to give reasons and to look for reasons in support of beliefs. Some of the issues raised in this module and in the entire course may be disturbing to the belief systems of some. In life it is possible to live and live well based upon beliefs. It is possible to respond to some of the questions raised by philosophical reflection by simply declaring, “Well, I believe that…..” Now that response will probably be accepted by many people in many situations, in philosophy however, the “I believe, that’s why!” response is not acceptable. Philosophers need to have reasons for holding to a belief in particular after that belief has been called into question.
There are many ideas that people have concerning all things and religion in particular which may not be exactly true or not true at all. Be prepared for that possibility concerning issues related to god, religion, reality, knowledge, truth, mind, freedom and many other ideas that are common to our cultural heritage.
Concerning Religion there are many questions that Philosophers have been dealing with for some time. The very meaning of “Religion” is subject to philosophical reflection, speculation and criticism. After that the meaning and value of Religion are an important matters. For the religions of the West with their belief in the one god, the idea of god has come into a great deal of very careful thinking. In this module we shall examine those questions.
Theology - deals with religious beliefs in a rational manner and presumes faith
Philosophy of religion is rational thought about religious issues and concerns without a presumption of the existence of a deity or reliance on acts of faith.
What is Religion?
There are many definitions of religion. It is not that easy to pin down exactly what religion is and then to insure that the definition distinguishes religion from magic and from cults and sects. Many people offer definitions without much knowledge of the wide range of religious phenomena and the many different cultural manifestations of religion. It is a rather common misconception to think that religion has to do with god, or gods and supernatural beings or a supernatural or spiritual dimension or greater reality. None of that is absolutely necessary because there are religions that are without those elements.
In this millennium there are over 7 billion people on the planet earth. Most of them would declare that they are religious in some way. Rough estimates are made that place people in the various traditions.
Sizes shown are approximate estimates, and are here mainly for the purpose of ordering the groups, not providing a definitive number. This list is sociological/statistical in perspective.
- Christianity: 2.1 billion
- Islam: 1.5 billion
- Secular/Non-Relligious/Atheist/Agnostic: 1.1 billion
- Hinduism: 900 million
- Chinese Traditional Religion: 394 million
- Buddhism: 376 million
- Primal-Indigenous: 300 million
- African Traditional & Diasporic 100 million
- Sikhism: 23 million
- Juche: 19 million
- Spiritism: 15 million
- Judaism: 14 million
- Baha'i: 7 million
- Janism: 4.2 million
- Shinto 4 million
- Cao Dao: 4 million
- Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
- Tenrikyo: 2 million
- Neo-Paganism: 1 million
- Unitarianism-Universalism: 800 thousand
- Rastaferianism: 600 thousand
- Scientology: 500 thousand
This information is from Adherents.com : a growing collection of over 62,000 adherent statistics and religious geography citations -- references to published membership/adherent statistics and congregation statistics for over 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, ultimate concerns, etc.
The three religions that are proselytizing (seeking more members actively) religions are: Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. Islam is the fastest growing of the traditions and will most likely have the most adherents in the world by 2020.
Some of these religions have no belief in a god. Some have no belief in the survival of a soul. Some believe in more than one god. What do they have that makes them religion? Religion is the most comprehensive and intensive manner of valuing known to human beings.
The Big Story: Origins of Religion
Characteristics of Religion
These are the common characteristics or family traits of those members of the category or “family” of religion. Just as with family members not every member must have every trait but most have most of the traits. The more any human phenomena demonstrates these traits the more likely it is that it will be included into this category of social institutions known as religion.
Common Characteristics: (family traits)
- notion of a deity or absolute, that which is of ultimate concern and importance
- ideas on the nature of human beings
- the idea of divine providence, destiny, fate
- .the idea and meaning of human history
- problem of evil explained
- description of the central problem of human life and suffering idea of an afterlife-life after death
- a concept of the world
- ideas of human community and ethics
- a moral code
Religions of the West
Religions of the West- Judaism-Christianity and Islam share in some common traits or characteristics that distinguish them from other religions in this world.
- belief in one god
- belief in linear history
- belief in a sacred scripture- the book
These common features bind the three traditions together. One god made the universes at the beginning of time and that one god will end the universe. Each human has a soul and at the death of the body the soul shall separate from the body and go one in another dimension. There is a judgment to be made concerning the moral worthiness of the soul at death for an eternal reward or lack thereof. Time is linear and there is but one period of existence for individuals and the entire universe. Other religions hold for multiple or no deities, cyclic time and reincarnation of souls, even multiple reincarnations.
Problem with the Attributes of deity (god)
Concerning the existence of a single supreme deity or god there are a variety of positions or beliefs and concepts and imaginings.
There exists many understandings of the term "God". It typically differs not only from religion to religion, but also from person to person who share the same religious beliefs. It is therefore hard to define "god" or list a complete array of characteristics (nature) of god that is applicable to all religions.
For the sake of simplicity, the concept of "god" is often described by philosophers of religion to be an "
- All Merciful
- All Just
- All Loving
- Being" Any "god" that is referred to in most contexts of philosophy of religion must have the above four characteristics, including being a "Being".
In other words, if it is good thing, then the one god of the West was thought to have that feature and to have it to an infinite degree.
Above all, a simple "if" relationship exists between "god" and those four characteristics. That is to say. If X is a "god", X must possess all four characteristics. Yet, according to the above statement, the existence of those four characteristics together on Y might not be sufficient to lead to the conclusion that Y is a "god". However, the non-existence of one or more of the four characteristics on an object Z is sufficient to lead to the argument that Z is not a "god" that we have defined above.
Forms of theistic beliefs:
- Monotheism- a belief that there is but one god.
- Theism- one god separate from the creation
- Pantheism- one god existing in the creation-i.e., world=god
- Panentheism-one god , the world is part of god who is greater than creation
- Polytheism- is a belief that there are many gods.
- Agnosticism-is no clear or definitive knowledge of whether there is a god or not
Now these attributes certainly sound wonderful. However, do they make sense. How can a god that is all good and all knowing and all-powerful permit evil to occur? That is the Problem of Evil and it is covered in another section of this text. Here a brief consideration of of some of the characteristics will suffice to indicate the direction in which critical thinking moves.
- All knowing and all loving and all kind and all merciful and yet there is evil and pain and suffering?
- All good and all knowing and all powerful and yet the is moral evil ?
- All loving and all kind and all merciful and yet there is a place of eternal punishment-hell
Well the story of the one deity of the Hebrews became inconsistent with a being that was all good and all loving. Consider these stories of the single deity of the Hebrews and the Atrocities associated with acts of that deity or supported by that deity.
Atrocities Attributed to the Hebrew God of Israel
GE 3:1-7, 22-24 God allows Adam and Eve to be deceived by the Serpent (the craftiest of all of God's wild creatures). They eat of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil," thereby incurring death for themselves and all of mankind for ever after. God prevents them from regaining eternal life, by placing a guard around the "Tree of Eternal Life." (Note: God could have done the same for the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" in the first place and would thereby have prevented the Fall of man, the necessity for Salvation, the Crucifixion of Jesus, etc.)
GE 4:2-8 God's arbitrary preference of Abel's offering to that of Cain's provokes Cain to commit the first biblically recorded murder and kill his brother Abel.
GE 34:13-29 The Israelites kill Hamor, his son, and all the men of their village, taking as plunder their wealth, cattle, wives and children.
GE 6:11-17, 7:11-24 God is unhappy with the wickedness of man and decides to do something about it. He kills every living thing on the face of the earth other than Noah's family and thereby makes himself the greatest mass murderer in history.
GE 19:26 God personally sees to it that Lot's wife is turned to a pillar of salt (for having looked behind her while fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah).
GE 38:9 "... whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked ..., so the Lord put him to death."
EX 2:12 Moses murders an Egyptian.
EX 7:1, 14, 9:14-16, 10:1-2, 11:7 The purpose of the devastation that God brings to the Egyptians is as follows: to show that he is Lord; to show that there is none like him in all the earth; to show his great power; to cause his name to be declared throughout the earth; to give the Israelites something to talk about with their children; to show that he makes a distinction between Israel and Egypt.
EX 9:22-25 A plague of hail from the Lord strikes down everything in the fields of Egypt both man and beast except in Goshen where the Israelites reside.
EX 12:29 The Lord kills all the first-born in the land of Egypt.
EX 17:13 With the Lord's approval, Joshua mows down Amalek and his people.
EX 21:20-21 With the Lord's approval, a slave may be beaten to death with no punishment for the perpetrator as long as the slave doesn't die too quickly.
EX 32:27 "Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.
EX 32:27-29 With the Lord's approval, the Israelites slay 3000 men.
LE 26:7-8 The Lord promises the Israelites that, if they are obedient, their enemies will "fall before your sword."
LE 26:22 "I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children."
NU 11:33 The Lord smites the people with a great plague.
NU 12:1-10 God makes Miriam a leper for seven days because she and Aaron had spoken against Moses.
NU 15:32-36 A Sabbath breaker (who had gathered sticks for a fire) is stoned to death at the Lord's command.
NU 16:27-33 The Lord causes the earth to open and swallow up the men and their households (including wives and children) because the men had been rebellious.
NU 16:35 A fire from the Lord consumes 250 men.
NU 16:49 A plague from the Lord kills 14,700 people.
NU 21:3 The Israelites utterly destroy the Canaanites.
NU 21:6 Fiery serpents, sent by the Lord, kill many Israelites.
NU 21:35 With the Lord's approval, the Israelites slay Og "... and his sons and all his people, until there was not one survivor left ...."
NU 25:4 (KJV) "And the Lord said unto Moses, take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun ...."
NU 25:8 "He went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly."
NU 25:9 24,000 people die in a plague from the Lord.
NU 31:9 The Israelites capture Midianite women and children.
NU 31:17-18 Moses, following the Lord's command, orders the Israelites to kill all the Midianite male children and "... every woman who has known man ...." (Note: How would it be determined which women had known men? One can only speculate.)
NU 31:31-40 32,000 virgins are taken by the Israelites as booty. Thirty-two are set aside (to be sacrificed?) as a tribute for the Lord.
DT 2:33-34 The Israelites utterly destroy the men, women, and children of Sihon.
DT 3:6 The Israelites utterly destroy the men, women, and children of Og.
DT 7:2 The Lord commands the Israelites to "utterly destroy" and show "no mercy" to those whom he gives them for defeat.
DT 20:13-14 "When the Lord delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the males .... As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves."
DT 20:16 "In the cities of the nations the Lord is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes."
DT 21:10-13 With the Lord's approval, the Israelites are allowed to take "beautiful women" from the enemy camp to be their captive wives. If, after sexual relations, the husband has "no delight" in his wife, he can simply let her go.
DT 28:53 "You will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you."
JS 6:21-27 With the Lord's approval, Joshua destroys the city of Jericho--men, women, and children--with the edge of the sword.
JS 7:19-26 Achan, his children and his cattle are stoned to death because Achan had taken a taboo thing.
JS 8:22-25 With the Lord's approval, Joshua utterly smites the people of Ai, killing 12,000 men and women, so that there were none who escaped.
JS 10:10-27 With the help of the Lord, Joshua utterly destroys the Gibeonites.
JS 10:28 With the Lord's approval, Joshua utterly destroys the people of Makkedah.
JS 10:30 With the Lord's approval, Joshua utterly destroys the Libnahites.
JS 10:32-33 With the Lord's approval, Joshua utterly destroys the people of Lachish.
JS 10:34-35 With the Lord's approval, Joshua utterly destroys the Eglonites.
JS 10:36-37 With the Lord's approval, Joshua utterly destroys the Hebronites.
JS 10:38-39 With the Lord's approval, Joshua utterly destroys the Debirites.
JS 10:40 (A summary statement.) "So Joshua defeated the whole land ...; he left none remaining, but destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded."
JS 11:6 The Lord orders horses to be hamstrung. (Exceedingly cruel.)
JS 11:8-15 "And the lord gave them into the hand of Israel, ...utterly destroying them; there was none left that breathed ...."
JS 11:20 "For it was the Lord's doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be utterly destroyed, and should receive no mercy but be exterminated, as the Lord commanded Moses."
JS 11:21-23 Joshua utterly destroys the Anakim.
JG 1:4 With the Lord's support, Judah defeats 10,000 Canaanites at Bezek.
JG 1:6 With the Lord's approval, Judah pursues Adoni-bezek, catches him, and cuts off his thumbs and big toes.
JG 1:8 With the Lord's approval, Judah smites Jerusalem.
JG 1:17 With the Lord's approval, Judah and Simeon utterly destroy the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath.
JG 3:29 The Israelites kill about 10,000 Moabites.
JG 3:31 (A restatement.) Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad.
JG 4:21 Jael takes a tent stake and hammers it through the head of Sisera, fastening it to the ground.
JG 7:19-25 The Gideons defeat the Midianites, slay their princes, cut off their heads, and bring the heads back to Gideon.
JG 8:15-21 The Gideons slaughter the men of Penuel.
JG 9:5 Abimalech murders his brothers.
JG 9:45 Abimalech and his men kill all the people in the city.
JG 9:53-54 "A woman dropped a stone on his head and cracked his skull. Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, 'Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can't say a woman killed me.' So his servant ran him through, and he died."
JG 11:29-39 Jepthah sacrifices his beloved daughter, his only child, according to a vow he has made with the Lord.
JG 14:19 The Spirit of the Lord comes upon a man and causes him to slay thirty men.
JG 15:15 Samson slays 1000 men with the jawbone of an ass.
JG 16:21 The Philistines gouge out Samson's eyes.
JG 16:27-30 Samson, with the help of the Lord, pulls down the pillars of the Philistine house and causes his own death and that of 3000 other men and women.
JG 18:27 The Danites slay the quiet and unsuspecting people of Laish.
JG 19:22-29 A group of sexual depraved men beat on the door of an old man's house demanding that he turn over to them a male house guest. Instead, the old man offers his virgin daughter and his guest's concubine (or wife): "Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing." The man's concubine is ravished and dies. The man then cuts her body into twelve pieces and sends one piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
JG 20:43-48 The Israelites smite 25,000+ "men of valor" from amongst the Benjamites, "men and beasts and all that they found," and set their towns on fire.
JG 21:10-12 "... Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword and; also the women and little ones.... every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall utterly destroy." They do so and find four hundred young virgins whom they bring back for their own use.
1SA 4:10 The Philistines slay 30,000 Israelite foot soldiers.
1SA 5:6-9 The Lord afflicts the Philistines with tumors in their "secret parts," presumably for having stolen the Ark.
1SA 6:19 God kills seventy men (or so) for looking into the Ark (at him?). (Note: The early Israelites apparently thought the Ark to be God's abode.)
1SA 7:7-11 Samuel and his men smite the Philistines.
1SA 11:11 With the Lord's blessing, Saul and his men cut down the Ammonites.
1SA 14:31 Jonathan and his men strike down the Philistines.
1SA 14:48 Saul smites the Amalekites.
1SA 15:3, 7-8 "This is what the Lord says: Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass ....' And Saul ... utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword."
1SA 15:33 "Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord ...."
1SA 18:7 The women sing as they make merry: "Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands."
1SA 27:8-11 "David left neither man nor woman alive ....". (Note: This implies that children and infants were included in the slaughter.)
1SA 30:17 David smites the Amalekites.
2SA 2:23 Abner kills Asahel.
2SA 3:30 Joab and Abishai kill Abner.
2SA 4:7-8 Rechan and Baanah kill Ish-bosheth, behead him, and take his head to David.
2SA 4:12 David has Rechan and Baanah killed, their hands and feet cut off, and their bodies hanged by the pool at Hebron.
2SA 5:25 "And David did as the Lord commanded him, and smote the Philistines ...."
2SA 6:2-23 Because she rebuked him for having exposed himself, Michal (David's wife) was barren throughout her life.
2SA 8:1-18 (A listing of some of David's murderous conquests.)
2SA 8:4 David hamstrung all but a few of the horses.
2SA 8:5 David slew 22,000 Syrians.
2SA 8:13 David slew 18,000 Edomites in the valley of salt and made the rest slaves.
2SA 10:18 David slew 47,000+ Syrians.
2SA 11:14-27 David has Uriah killed so that he can marry Uriah's wife, Bathsheba.
2SA 13:1-15 Amnon loves his sister Tamar, rapes her, then hates her.
2SA 13:28-29 Absalom has Amnon murdered.
2SA 18:6 -7 20,000 men are slaughtered at the battle in the forest of Ephraim.
2SA 18:15 Joab's men murder Absalom.
2SA 20:10-12 Joab's men murder Amasa and leave him "... wallowing in his own blood in the highway. And anyone who came by, seeing him, stopped."
2SA 24:15 The Lord sends a pestilence on Israel that kills 70,000 men.
1KI 2:24-25 Solomon has Adonijah murdered.
1KI 2:29-34 Solomon has Joab murdered.
1KI 2:46 Solomon has Shime-i murdered.
1KI 13:15-24 A man is killed by a lion for eating bread and drinking water in a place where the Lord had previously told him not to. This is in spite of the fact that the man had subsequently been lied to by a prophet who told the man that an angel of the Lord said that it would be alright to eat and drink there.
1KI 20:29-30 The Israelites smite 100,000 Syrian soldiers in one day. A wall falls on 27,000 remaining Syrians.
2KI 1:10-12 Fire from heaven comes down and consumes fifty men.
2KI 2:23-24 Forty-two children are mauled and killed, presumably according to the will of God, for having jeered at a man of God.
2KI 5:27 Elisha curses Gehazi and his descendants forever with leprosy.
2KI 6:18-19 The Lord answers Elisha's prayer and strikes the Syrians with blindness. Elisha tricks the blind Syrians and leads them to Samaria.
2KI 6:29 "So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, 'Give up your son so we may eat him,' but she had hidden him."
2KI 9:24 Jehu tricks and murders Joram.
2KI 9:27 Jehu has Ahaziah killed.
2KI 9:30-37 Jehu has Jezebel killed. Her body is trampled by horses. Dogs eat her flesh so that only her skull, feet, and the palms of her hands remain.
2KI 10:7 Jehu has Ahab's seventy sons beheaded, then sends the heads to their father.
2KI 10:14 Jehu has forty-two of Ahab's kin killed.
2KI 10:17 "And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had wiped them out, according to the word of the Lord ...."
2KI 10:19-27 Jehu uses trickery to massacre the Baal worshippers.
2KI 11:1 Athaliah destroys all the royal family.
2KI 15:3-5 Even though he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, the Lord smites Azariah with leprosy for not having removed the "high places."
2KI 15:16 Menahem ripped open all the women who were pregnant.
2KI 19:35 An angel of the Lord kills 185,000 men.
1CH 20:3 (KJV) "And he brought out the people that were in it, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes."
2CH 13:17 500,000 Israelites are slaughtered.
2CH 21:4 Jehoram slays all his brothers.
PS 137:9 Happy will be the man who dashes your little ones against the stones.
PS 144:1 God is praised as the one who trains hands for war and fingers for battle.
IS 13:15 "Everyone who is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their ... wives will be ravished."
IS 13:18 "Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children."
IS 14:21-22 "Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers."
IS 49:26 The Lord will cause the oppressors of the Israelite's to eat their own flesh and to become drunk on their own blood as with wine.
JE 16:4 "They shall die grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcasses shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth."
LA 4:9-10 "Those slain by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food. ... pitiful women have cooked their own children, who became their food ..."
EZ 6:12-13 The Lord says: "... they will fall by the sword, famine and plague. He that is far away will die of the plague, and he that is near will fall by the sword, and he that survives and is spared will die of famine. So will I spend my wrath upon them. And they will know I am the Lord, when the people lie slain among their idols around their altars, on every high hill and on all the mountaintops, under every spreading tree and every leafy oak ...."
EZ 9:4-6 The Lord commands: "... slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women ...."
EZ 20:26 In order that he might horrify them, the Lord allowed the Israelites to defile themselves through, amongst other things, the sacrifice of their first-born children.
EZ 21:3-4 The Lord says that he will cut off both the righteous and the wicked that his sword shall go against all flesh.
EZ 23:34 "You shall ... pluck out your hair, and tear your breasts."
HO 13:16 "They shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up."
MI 3:2-3 "... who pluck off their skin ..., and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron."
MT 10:21 "... the brother shall deliver up his brother to death, and the father his child, ... children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death."
MT 10:35-36 "For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law a man's enemies will be the members of his own family."
MT 11:21-24 Jesus curses [the inhabitants of] three cities who were not sufficiently impressed with his great works.
AC 13:11 Paul purposefully blinds a man (though not permanently).
Hell: An Excessive Punishment
All perfect and yet there is the creation of the universe? Why? How could the deity then be all perfect if there is a reason for creation the being is not perfect because it has needs or purposes that need to be fulfilled.
- A spiritual being cannot be physical being.
- A physical being cannot be a spiritual being.
- A perfect being can not be physical as it would be limited and finite and would be subject to change and to the laws of the physical universe and it would decay.
- A perfect being can not be physical as it would need to be in time and space and thus have a beginning and an end.
And one more thing, the deity is written of and spoken of as male: god, the father. How is god to be thought of a male? To be a male a being would need a sexual nature. God would need to have what makes a male a male: DNA, chromosomes and genes, the xy chromosome pair in the 23 paired position of human DNA, sex organs. To be male god would need to have …. But that seems ridiculous and totally pointless. In other words it make no sense, literally! How can a spiritual being have physical properties? What would the one god need those organs for? How could it be possible?
Philosophy is about ideas and about reasoning and looking at ideas and beliefs and determining if they make sense or not. So philosophers look at the collection of ideas about the one deity, the supreme being deity, the deity of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition.
There are problems with any single being having all the properties traditionally assigned to the deity of the Western religions.
If the deity is all-powerful would it not have the power to create beings that would know what good was without knowing or committing evil? If this is not possible then how is the being all-powerful? If the being must make evil to make good then how is the being all-good?
If the being is all-knowing and thus knows in advance that there will be a use of free will that produces evil and then goes and creates free will then the being has made evil and is not all-good. So, there are problems with the set of beliefs associated with the one deity of the Western religions.
The idea of god that we have appears to be a combination of ideas from the oldest time of the Judaic tradition combining with ideas of the Greeks for the spread of the idea of the Jewish god by the Christians to the Greeks and Romans. The god of the Jews is described as a powerful and mean spirited god . The god of the Jews would order entire towns, almost all living humans on the planet to be killed. The deity of Plato and Aristotle, Greek philosophers, came to be seen as a spiritual and all perfect being. So the ideas of the early Christians combined features of the two traditions with some ideas of the Zoroastrians from Middle Eastern lands (Persia). Christianity is then characterized as Hellenized Hebraism! This means that the ideas of the Greeks (Hellenes, saviors of Helen of Troy) are placed over and combined with the ideas of the Hebrews.
In any exploration into what many people regard as the characteristics or properties associated with god, some would reflect on their ideas and perhaps notice a thing or two about them. For one, some of the qualities of the deity in combination produce a problem or two, as with evil. For another, ideas people have of the deity are very interesting when you consider the implications of those qualities.
Problems with the concept of the deity of the West
Now for those who believe in the god of the Judeo-Christian–Islamic tradition they must believe in a single being with characteristics of being: supreme, all-powerful, all-good, all-perfect, all-knowing, eternal etc… Why must they? Well, because they have no choice either they believe in the god of those traditions or else they make up their own ideas and they are then actually moving out of those traditions and are giving good example of the post modern relativistic, subjectivist tradition of the twentieth century. The religions of the West have very clear ideas about the Deity they have at the center of their beliefs. These religions have doctrines and dogma that the faithful must accept. Now there are many people who think they are in the Judeo–Christian-Islamic tradition but in actuality are not because they have redefined their religions to suit their personal preferences. Even so, the idea of a supreme being that most people have is beset with problems not the least of which is the problem of evil. This problem comes about as a result of combining ideas of a deity found in the Hebrew Tradition with the ideas of perfection found in the works of the Greeks (Plato and Aristotle). The concept of god in Western religions results in some perplexing ideas.
Here is one more problem with the concept of the deity beside that of Evil. Why would a perfect and supreme being create a universe? If it was for any reason then the being would be incomplete and not yet fulfilled and thus less than perfect. If it were for no reason other than fun, entertainment, play… then that raises another set of questions.
For those who alter their idea of the god to suit themselves and make the deity into something other than the classic idea of the Western religions, well they can avoid some of the problems but their god is not the god of Abraham and Moses as reported in the Bible.. They who have their own idea of god and insist that they have a right to do so would also be in violation of the first commandment that the god of the Western religions presented to Moses. The post modernists with their personal ideas of their own personal god have placed their god before the god of Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Mohammed. It is popular but certainly not orthodox. It is so popular that most who perform the substitution are unaware that they are holding ideas concerning the nature of god that would have had them condemned as heretics in prior centuries.
Another problem with the deity being all-perfect is that the being would need to possess all perfections and if freedom is a perfection or a good thing as opposed to its opposite being not god then the deity that is all perfect would also need to be free and yet it cannot be free as it is not free to be or do anything that is less than perfect or the very best possible. As it cannot be free it is not all-perfect.
Problem of Sex and the Deity
How is it that a deity can be thought of as a spiritual being and yet at the same time as having a sexual nature as a male or female (sexual identities known to species on planet Earth) when a sexual nature is a physical nature determined by physical entities such as chromosomes and organs? There are psychological and sociological explanations offered as to why deities are given sexual natures by humans. There is even now a position taken that the nature of the deity at the time of the construction of the tales at the start of the traditions in the West was not singular and the deity was at times referred to as male and other times female and even that the name given to the deity (YHWH) known as the the Tetragrammaton suggested a fluid sexual identity.
Conception of God
What exactly should our conception of a deity be? Is it possible for a deity to have all the qualities associated with the god of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition: Supreme, All powerful, All good, Eternal, All Knowing, etc……
What do you think of god?
Answer the above prompt in complete sentences and in the style of a philosopher.
Vocabulary Quizlet: 3.1