Worksheet #1: Brian Davies

A Paper Submitted to Dr. Robert Stewart of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Course Philosophy of Religion: PHIL5300RS in the Division of Philosophy

Matthew C. Jolley B.S., Shorter College, 2007 March 10, 2011

RESEARCH Question 1 (Aquinas on Faith and Reason) Thomas Aquinas understands there to be a friendly relationship between faith and reason. Aquinas explains to the reader that there are things which the human intellect with reason can understand, but also things that exceed human reason. That is, things about God. Now, Aquinas holds the belief that nothing can be known by the mind that is not first in the senses. He says, “For according to its manner of knowing in the present life, the intellect depends on the sense for the origin of knowledge; and so those things that do not fall under the senses cannot be grasped by the human intellect..(25). Knowledge of things must be first grasped in the senses in order for the human intellect to process and understand them. It is then that the mind is able to know; after the senses have sensed. But it does seem, according to Aquinas that the senses do indeed fall short of really relaying all the information that the human intellect needs to truly understand what is being sensed. He notes, “Sensible things cannot lead the human intellect to the point of seeing in them the nature of the divine substance; for sensible things are effects that fall short of the power of their cause (25).” This is where reason comes in. It is from the senses that the mind can get knowledge, but the senses do not deliver all the way. And so the reason works in league with the mind to know some intelligible things about God. But Aquinas goes on to say that it is faith that completes these sense-gathered and mind-processed things because he says that it is God who plants in the minds of Christian men these truths about him that they know naturally. He is specific about the Christian faith. The truth of the Christian faith, he says, is that of which surpasses reason, BUT the truths that the human reason come to are endowed by God. He says, …nevertheless that truth that the human reason is naturally endowed to know cannot be opposed to the truth of the Christian faith…it is impossible that the truth of faith should be

opposed to those principles that the human reason knows naturally [because]..the knowledge of the principles that are known to us naturally has been implanted in us by God; for God is the author of our nature (29). This is why Aquinas believes that the two agree; because they were implanted for use in believing in the things of God which could not have been known by sheer senses alone. And so I do agree with him that God can be known by reason only if we are talking about things revealed by God that are believed in faith and reasoned upon to be true based on those revelations. I can further believe this if we are talking about personal noetic structures, for perhaps those noetic structures are based in propositions made by the mind through natural theological beliefs gathered by the senses (per Romans 1:20). Certain doctrines, like the Trinity then, are not, like

He says, subject to rational verification because they are beyond what the senses or human intellect can grasp. It would be rational for a Supernaturalist, not a Naturalist. Some things men may comprehend about God reasonably, as in it is reasonable to say that God or a god created what we see. Per Romans 1:20, one may conclude that what we see is proof positive of a Creator God, but again, that is a reasonable inference, not an axiom. Such knowledge is only revealed through faith. This is the importance of faith and reason working together; God has caused

them to work together to grasp concepts beyond human intellect. But reason has been given to think through these revelations and reason as to why they are true. It is only through God’s implantation of knowledge and reason and faith that we can know Him, and so philosophers on their own could not have possibly proven God’s existence to be certain. It is God who gives faith and reason. The wrestling with reason about God brings the man ever closer to God as he discovers that reason cannot possibly summit the depths of the knowledge of God. Faith is the only solution to accepting the un-graspable. No person or philosopher can really prove God’s existence to be certain, but that is a matter of faith.

Question 2 By saying that belief is properly basic, Plantinga means, just as John Calvin did, that one can know that God exists without having any sort of argument, proof, nor belief based on an other proposition about the existence of God. He holds with the reformers that God has placed within every person the belief and the spark to hold belief in God as basic. Plantinga is an externalist, and this holds up his belief in properly basic beliefs in God. He believes that one cannot observe his or her own reasoning. One can only know if the mental faculties are working so one can think and reason. Externalism means that the factors that justify a belief are not solely internal or cognitively accessible to the one believing the proposition;1 that is, they are built in, or properly basic. To be an Internalist would mean that one has total access to the cognitive beliefs, and that those beliefs are completely internal. Plantinga rejects classical foundationalism on the basis that one does not need evidence to trace back to a belief in order to hold it as properly basic. What he means when he says it is properly basic is that it is a warranted belief, which falls in line with his externalism. For a belief to be warranted means that one holds a belief that is made and held by properly functioning cognitive equipment. Together with enough true belief, properly basic beliefs are warranted, and this is important because true belief is necessary for using the knowledge, not simply having it.2 I agree with Plantinga and the reformers because every person has the right to believe what they want to believe. It is perfectly within my epistemic rights of having knowledge that I should believe that God exists without any sort of proof or knowledge or anything else. Being raised in a Christian home is the only setback that I think about here because I cannot be really

1  Dr.  Robert  Stewart,  How  Do  We  Know  That  We  Know  What  We  Think  We  Know?  

(Class  Lecture,  02/10/2011).   2  Ibid.  

sure I would have thought about God existing if my parents would not have told me that He did. Who knows what thoughts I would have had? Perhaps I would have believed that there was a creator based on what I saw, but then that would be a proof. So in that vein I disagree that knowledge of God is properly basic. The senses have to take certain things in before the mind can known them. What does the word God mean to a 10 year old? His or her mom or dad had to say “this is God,” and give an explanation. Looking at the trees, wondering how they got there, and thinking upon certain arguments for how they got there will lead a person to a decision about if a Creator put those there, or if Nature as the whole system produced them. Either way, those factors are taken in by the senses and then submitted to the mind for processing. So I may have believed in a Creator, but not in God- that is, adhering to his ways, unless I was told of His ways. A second strength from Plantinga comes also from the Reformed thinkers. He says, Christians ought not to accept belief in God on the basis of argument; to do so is to run the risk of a faith that is unstable and wavering, subject to all the wayward whim and fancy of the latest academic fashion…The correct or proper way to believe in God, they thought, was not on the basis of arguments from natural theology or anywhere else; the correct way is to take belief in God as basic (81) And so, the argument of Plantinga that belief in God (as discussed above) is properly basic in that it is built in is his strength and a weakness. Sure it is within a person’s rights to just believe – any mind can do that. However, what brought on that just belief? A thought relayed from sense experience. The other weakness seen in Plantinga’s article is the fact that he sort of turns his argument against itself by saying that “The central point here, however, is that a belief is properly basic only in certain conditions; these conditions are, we might say, the ground of its justification (87).” It seems as if the whole prior argument was that properly basic beliefs needed no grounds. Even if one were to suppose that he is simply justifying properly basic beliefs by suggesting grounds for said beliefs, the two seem to contradict. For if belief is

supposed to be the built-in-type, the believer does not need proofs. Although it is within the epistemic rights of a person to believe, it is hard to argue against nature and sense experience as source material for beliefs that may seem properly basic. And this is where Kretzmann’s argument comes against and contrasts with Plantinga, but his argument is much simpler. The contrast is clear. Kretzmann sees Plantinga’s anti-evidentialism as no real argument at all, but rather just a question of “well, why shouldn’t belief in God be properly basic?” This no real argument at all. Plantinga even says in his argument that properly basic beliefs in God are not groundless, and that really shows that there must be evidence. The two certain agree there. It is clear to see that they also agree that incorrigible arguments could be properly basic as they have are not able to be corrected. Plantinga speaks of justification-conferring conditions, which seems to be the same thing as Kretzmann’s evidence, except that Plantinga doesn’t admit this. While the Evidentialist says that there is not enough evidence or sufficient evidence or the proposition that God exists; that there must be evidence, Plantinga says evidence is not needed but still insists that to be “appeared to treely” must present credentials (106). This screams, ‘we have evidence!’ The disagreement comes in the treatments of sub-propositional evidence. Plantinga doesn’t treat it as evidence (for whatever reason), and Kretzmann does. This is the basic contrast. Plantinga clings to the ability to ignore the evidence, and does. Kretzmann points the evidence out. Question 3 Ayer begins his discussion on God talk with a critique on linguistic terms to describe a transcendent God. He points out the Christian view that God transcends human understanding, and thus is unintelligible (in his estimation). He posits therefore that God talk, which is composed by terms intelligible to reason, is utterly worthless in describing a transcendent,

unintelligible God. He goes on to make this point by saying that these God-talk sort of words cannot express empirically verifiable truths because they are trying to describe an empirically un-verifiable transcendent being. And so they are worthless. To give an example, he tells of a person who has asserted that there is a yellow colored patch, and that person has seen with his or her sense of sight this yellow-colored material thing. His expression “expresses a genuine synthetic proposition which could be empirically verified (145).” The sentence “there exists a transcendent God” can have no literal significance because people only have as [personal] experience, that is, religious experience. Ayer comments on this observation and says, “But unless he can formulate his “knowledge in propositions that are empirically verifiable, we may be sure that he is deceiving himself (145).” So, he is arguing that if God is unintelligible and transcendent, and words used to describe Him are worthless, being intelligible only to reason-and our experiences only lead us to acts of intuition on faith, the words used to describe these experiences hold no water-by lack of evidence-and are then nothing but worthless God-talk words. Ayer has posited that a transcendent God cannot be knowable, and he only gives this opinion on the basis of verificationsim-that God cannot be knowable because there is no proof. Swinborne rebuts by pointing out things that exists that can’t be observable: Consider all the things that some men have claimed to be observable: ‘the end of the world, ‘my own death,’ ‘the devil,’ ‘heaven,’ ‘the fourth dimension, ‘Poseidon, ‘men turned into stones,’ etc. etc. Some men have held these things to be observable in principle and others have denied it. Is there any simple way to settle the issue? One way which has been suggested is to suppose that the observable must be describable by some simple sensory vocabulary; to suppose that we can really observe objects which are square or round, red or blue, move, utter noises, etc; but that we cannot observe quarrelsome men, or a lump of gold, or the planet Venus; and that when we claim to have observed the latter, we ought rather to claim to have inferred these things from things of the former kind which we can truly be said to have observed (146). Swinborne is getting to the point; that Ayer’s argument is weak because men have made this argument (that God exists and is observable and describable), and their argument cannot be

reasonably called false. This is because even though all Ravens are black, there might be a white one, somewhere. And so the words man uses to describe their experiences can be understood, and “despite the verificationist’s argument, there may well be factual statements which no evidence of observation can count for or against. Hence, even if it could be shown that this God talk, or creedal sentences did not make the kind of statements that observation could come to bear on empirically, that would not show that they did not make factual statements. (152).” It seems that Swinborne makes an o.k. argument for God talk, especially insisting that such factual talk about God cannot really be refuted. It’s really like the story of the Indian in the Cupboard, actually. However he doesn’t provide a really strong practical argument about why God talk is no worthless, but rather argues more for the existence of this transcendent God. He doesn’t deal well with Ayer’s critiques on useless intelligible-reasonable words to describe a transcendent unintelligible God. To really get down to earth with the argument, God talk is not really worthless because God talk is all we have to describe God, and it has been given through the bible. Whether human observations about God are full or not-the language that the human population has is all it has to describe God. The statements and words used are based in observation about God, and cannot be called worthless or heretical. They cannot be proven false simply because there is no empirical evidence. In the face of Ayer’s argument, it is completely within the epistemic rights of a person to believe in God. And, since this is their right, it is also logical to say that they would try to describe this experience with God though, say, the bible, or with words associated with things or actions that people do know. C.S. Lewis makes a great point about the insufficiency, but necessary reliance upon God talk. He says, “But very often when we are talking about something which is not perceptible by the five sense, we use words which, in one of their

meanings, refers to things or actions that are…The truth is that if we are going to talk at all about things which are not perceived by the senses, we are forced to use language metaphorically.3 And so God-talk is not worthless, because to believe in God by experience and express his character through words is not useless, and neither can be proven false. Belief in a transcendent God is a faith belief, and as such, a transcendent God cannot be properly described by words that come from the description of other things like a rock, a strong tower, a fortress, or a deliverer. But if the speaker has experienced these things and declares them to be true, a true refute cannot really be made simply based on lack of verification. The story of the Indian in the Cupboard could be true. Question 4 Anselm’s argument is the best because it makes the most logical sense of all the cosmological arguments, and he doesn’t second-guess his own argument. In my opinion, this makes for a solid argument. Also, what he argues lines up with the Biblical witness, which I think is really the best argument we have anyway. I believe that his argument is the best because he proposes the idea of vicariousness [without using the word itself]. The whole world is based on vicariousness. Just look-the flowers grow because of sunlight, water, and good soil. The lakes depend on the rain and the rivers depend on the lakes. It’s a vicarious system. Nothing can exist through that which it has produced-this is irrational he says, for who gave existence to the existence that the created thing is enjoying? So there must be something there that created; a vicarious relationship happening-that there is necessarily one thing through which all things exist because the source of exiting things is not the other things that are in the same system-and if it is not each other that has brought about or sustains existence, there must be something else out

3  C.S.  Lewis:    Miracles:  A  Preliminary  Study  (New  York:  Macmillan,  1947),  115.    

there. Even humans do not exist through each other at all, but vicariously through other things, and even if this other thing can be credited as a source for support, that source must have a source. And since these sources would go back and back, further and further to infinity, all that could be exclaimed as infinite would be “nature,” but there would never be an explanation for anything existing anywhere. Therefore there must be one thing existing outside the order-a supreme thing-that has given rise to these other sources. A supreme something that gives rise to the good, the great, and exists necessarily. Hume’s argument against the cosmological argument seems to be the strongest as he uses the very proposition of cosmologists [there must be a source for existing things] against them saying Every thing, ‘tis said, must have a cause; for if any thing wanted a cause, it would produce itself; that is, exists before it existed; which is impossible. But this reasoning is plainly unconclusive; because it supposes, that in our denial of a cause we still grant what we expressly deny, viz, that there must be a cause; which therefore is taken to be the object itself; and that, no doubt is an evident contradiction (231). He uses the very point of a source of causation against the cosmologists-logically he calls bull on the argument because if A is the cause of B and A is said to exist, then based on the cosmological argument, if A exists, it must have a cause. So if A is said to exist necessarily, this is a contradiction by the premises brought forth by cosmologists. To go further, Hume notes, “When you assert that the one follows from the other, you suppose the very point in question, and take it for granted, that ‘tis utterly impossible any thing can ever begin to exist without a cause (231).” But perhaps the strongest point that Hume makes is a critique of the argument that nothing created the supreme one that Anselm talked about. One may ask “What created the one?” One may answer, “nothing.” However, if nothing is really nothing, it can do nothing, and if nothing has created this one [God], then He is not there to be the cause of any thing. So to say

something existing has no source works against the cosmological argument and is a contradiction. Hume takes their basic argument and sort of agrees, which disproves their own argument. One may say that individual things in the universe need to be causally accounted for. That is fine. Nothing can come into existence without a source. Take human individuals. Their parents are the cause. Flowers and trees and other pollinated plants are pollinated by bees. So one should assume that the same must be true of the universe as a whole. It is not that the universe needs to be accounted for, but that is must necessarily be accounted for because for all things there is a source. The universe had to come from somewhere, and a thing existing cannot exist from parts of that system. So to go back and back to multiple possible sources within that system would never satisfy the question of “where did this come from?” But to say that there is something outside of that system that created, sustained, and gave life is no logically impossible, for the argument cannot be made that there is not something outside the whole system that created the universe. Even if one can say that everything must have a source, there is still the chance that there is a self-existing Source from which all things with their characteristics were created. Question 5 It seems as if David Hume’s argument could be read (albeit confusing with all these characters playing different roles) as a response to Paley’s watch analogy. Hume holds two strong arguments. The design argument from Paley, and most design arguments are teleological; that is there is nothing new coming into the argument; it is circular. When it boils down, the design argument is one from analogy. And to have this sort of argument is to beg the question, that is,

to hold an argument to be true in itself. To understand what one of Hume’s stronger arguments is, one must know what the design argument is. And since Paley’s argument of a watchmaker and a watch is a particularly famous argument, we may venture to his argument as the basis for really understanding the “strength” of Hume’s argument. Paley says that the universe is like a watch that has been designed. It is a “designed entity.” And since this watch has been designed with all of its intricate parts that work perfectly together, the fact that the parts work so well means that they have been designed. And if this watch (universe) has been designed, there must be a design. This is teleological. However, Hume argues that the simple observation of artefacts in their design is not correlative to a designer. He argues, “For aught we can know a priori, matter may contain the source or spring of order originally, within itself, as well as mind does; and there is no more difficulty in conceiving, that the several elements, from an internal unknown cause, may fall into the most exquisite arrangement (262). The long and short of it is that Hume argues that the teleological argument from analogy really holds no argument at all, but rather begs the question and so epistemologically, no one can really know that God exists as Creator, or that there is a “designer.” This lends to the second strong argument. Where Paley uses an analogy of the watch, so Hume uses the analogy of his own-one of human hair or animals (the animal argument is really the better one). He says that the operations of such a being are only partially observable, and there are operations within that being that are hidden and not known to the human, and so incomparable to a designer. He writes, By observation, we know somewhat of the economy, action, and nourishment of a finished animal; but we must transfer with great caution that observation to the growth of a fetus in the womb, and still more, to the formation of an animalcule in the loins of its male parent. Nature, we find, even from our limited experience, possesses an infinite number of springs and principles, which incessantly discover themselves on every change of her position and situation. And what new and unknown principles would acturate her in so new and unknown a situation as that of the formation of a universe, we cannot, without the utmost temerity, pretend to determine (264).

The long and short of this undersigned and “unknown” situation is that one cannot really know epistemologically whether a designer exists. So his two arguments are strong in the fact that they deal with two separate issues, albeit both are also circular, one dealing with the potential of matter having the “springs” necessary to cause being, and the other dealing with the insufficiency things not designed to know anything of a designer. The weakness of his arguments is that they are indeed also circular and really bring no more epistemological strength than the design arguments. This is my objection to Hume’s arguments. He has brought nothing new to the table, but only more teleological arguments. Just like the arguments for design, his arguments also beg the question. This does not really deflate or weaken the design argument. The design argument is still useful, but only when formed with Christian presuppositions. David Hume’s argument is only reasonable if believed under his set of presuppositions. Kant criticizes the design argument in a much gentler fashion [and a much more succinct fashion as well] by at least admitting that it is not unreasonable to think that there is an architect of the world (273). However, this architect would be a flawed one, in his estimation. As for an “all sufficient primordial being (273),” Kant would say, there is no sufficient way to know anything determinate about it, even with words that may be used to describe this being such as “very great,” “astounding,” or “immeasurable.” These words he would argue are simply based in what the observer makes of himself and his or her capacity for comprehension (273). Thus he says, “Physico-theology is therefore unable to give any determinate concept of the supreme cause of the world, and cannot therefore serve as the foundation of a theology which is itself in turn to form the basis of religion (273). In Kant’s estimation, there is no way to prove empirically a being of absolute totality, and so his thoughts on the design argument are not favorable at all.

I find that Swinburne’s position on design is preferable, mostly because he takes the argument from Hume and pulls it apart. And if David Hume’s position against design is one that is widely accepted, then Swinburne’s position can really be used well as an apologetic, not only for a designer, but for one God. His particular stance on the continuity of things stands apart in his writing. When he argues against multiple designers by pointing out the continuity of the universe, he deals a deathblow to Hume’s question of “why can’t there be multiple designers?” He writes, “If there were more than one deity responsible for the order of the universe, we should expect to see characteristic marks of the handiwork of different deities in different parts of the universe, just as we see different kinds of workmanship in the different houses of a city (284).” This is a brilliant observation, and a very nice point because the laws of the universe are unified across the universe (i.e. there is gravity ALL over the earth). Whether or not this god has sufficient power is irrelevant, but rather postulating deities that is important. Even Hume claims, “To multiply causes without necessity is…contrary to true philosophy (283).” He also simply makes a smart argument and a practical argument for the existence of a single creator. The argument is that there is a difference in the orders within the universe created by man, and the order of the universe not made by man. If this is the case, then the question must be asked “to whom is this order like?” And to “postulate that a rational agent is responsible for them would indeed provide a simple unifying and coherent explanation of natural phenomena (280).” He takes the weakness of the analogy of design and basically states, “who cares if the analogy is weak?” In fact, the analogy perfectly explains everything, and everything could turn on the analogy. To look at natural law and think that there is a god responsible for them “is of a perfectly proper type for inference about matters of fact, and that the only issues is whether the evidence is strong enough to allow us to affirm that it is probable…(280).” The bottom line is,

though things cannot be explained, the analogy is still logical, and the explanations rational. And to go further into the existence of a non-bodied god, he also mentions the fact that to have the regularities about the universe that there is, a bodied god would be much restricted to make such regularities happen. If this god was bodied, he would be restricted by certain laws of nature and of the universe, i.e. there would be “scientific laws outside of his control (282),” and so the not embodied god is logical, “and explains more coherently than the hypothesis that he is embodied. In short, I like Swinburne’s argument because it can be used as a apologetic, and as he takes apart Hume’s argument piece by piece, he effectively confirms the Biblical Truth that God is Spirit, God is One, God is alive, and God is creator. I seriously believe this is a strong apologetic for any atheist friend who might want to discuss these things. BIBLE INVESTIGATION Question 1 Three Biblical passages that teach something about faith are Hebrews 6:13-20, Hebrews 11:1, and Romans 3:4. These three passages teach that (1) faith is ultimately belief that God’s promises are true, and relies upon those promises as reality. (2) Faith is not sight. (3) Faith takes God’s own worldview and interpretation of reality as ultimate.4 I think that the biblical teaching about faith helps to understand the relationship between faith and reason because it does not oppose reason, but invites it. If one trusts the bible and indeed believes that faith means submitting to God’s worldview and interpretation as ultimate, faith becomes the heart of reason. That is, since the two are not against each other (as Isaiah 1:8 says ‘come, let us reason together, or in Matthew 22:37 to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind) and the bible clearly mentions reason and loving God with the mind. But since

4      Evan  May,  Personal  Interview,  20  Feb  2011.  

the mind is endowed with reason (as Aquinas would say), then faith must be the heart of reason-a reason submitted to God. Nowhere does scripture say that faith is opposed to reason, rather it is opposed to sight. This is unlike Fideism, which puts faith and reason diametrically opposed to one another because Fideism ignores any problems or objections. But reason with a heart of faith works through these [objections] as one submits his or her reason to God through faith that God’s Word in the bible is true and His interpretation of reality is ultimate. In essence, faith is the filter through which reason (for the Christian) must go. Faith cannot be subjected to reasonthat is rationalism, and ultimately, subjectivism-and both rationalism and fideism are systems of unbelief and rejection of God’s worldview as absolute. Fideism ignores the sufficient evidence that God has given, discounting it as nothing, and rationalism requires God to meet my criteria. In Fideism, faith becomes an emotional experience, not the reliability of God. In rationalism or autonomous reasoning, my own standard sets the bar, not the truth of God. In the meantime we can believe in God and reason that He is there through faith with the sufficient evidence of what we see, but more importantly, by what His word says. The bible is clear that one should love the Lord with the mind (per our earlier discussion about Matthew 22, and Isaiah 1). This can also be seen implicitly through Paul’s conversation with the men in Athens, as well with Festus while he is on trial when he confesses, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words (Acts 2625).” So the biblical teaching about the relationship between reason/mind for understanding the relationship between faith and reason is significant because it puts the locus of understanding on God’s worldview, not our own. It requires that when we take in things through the senses, and the mind then takes those things on, that it is the things we learn from God’s word and worldview that come to bear upon our understanding in the mind. It is by that standard that reason and the mind must

operate-through faith in His worldview and interpretation as the ultimate reality. In this one does not have to be afraid of reason, philosophies, or arguments of atheists or anybody else. Rather, the believer is set free to reason through the lens of faith and trust in the reliability of God and His promises. Even reading the bible requires reason, but believers must do so with the heart of faith, which is not opposed to getting knowledge or having evidence, but is opposed to sight. The reflex of faith is Romans 3:4, “Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, ‘That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” This is not fideism, because there is a grappling with men and God, and a realization that God is objectively reliable and true in the face of other philosophies and plausible arguments. Question 2 Three biblical passages that speak [either implicitly or explicitly about God’s existence] are Romans 1:18-20, Hebrews 1:1-3, and Daniel 3:8-30. Respectively, the two passages from Romans speak explicitly of God’s existence, while Daniel speaks of God’s existence implicitly through a miracle [that is, an interruption of what should have happened to the three men who were cast into a fire so hot that it killed the very men who walked them up to the furnace]. In these three passages, God makes himself known through the created order and the sort of power and precision it reflects. More importantly in this passage, Paul points out that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. That localizes God to a place where he dwells [albeit His presence is everywhere], and makes him seem rather anthropomorphized rather than spirit. However, it does point to God’s existence because it places God somewhere. Secondly, God’s existence can be seen in the person of Jesus, who is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature. Clearly put, in order for Jesus to be an imprint of God, God must be there. Finally, God reveals himself through miracles like the three men not getting burned up, but defeating the

element of fire not on their on volition. They didn’t smell like it, get burned by it, and what’s more, walked around in it with one that looks like a “son of the gods.” This implies God’s existence through a miracle. Even a naturalist would have to admit that if this is true, something outside of the ‘whole show’ as C.S. Lewis would put it-had to intervene in this situation to cause not even one thread to be singed or smelly. Something is working outside of the natural order of things, and it is reasonable to say that this implies God. But these are certainly not the only instances where God makes himself known. Multiple times in the Old and New Testament, God speaks (to Moses, to Abraham, to Job, to Jesus). He makes himself known through communication and relating to humanity. As for these passages relating to the cosmological arguments out there, the Romans 1 passage can be compared to the fourteenth century cosmological argument by John Duns Scotus. He basically explains that that the dependents (and here we can say, created things) cannot depend on other created things in their order to have created them. He says, “the whole collection of what is caused depends upon some other prior cause that is not part of that collection…Since the whole collection of dependents depends, it does so not upon something that is part of that collection, because everything there is dependent. Consequently it depends upon something that is not part of that totality (192). C.S. Lewis talks about the matter of vicariousness in which the whole patter of creation follows-that is, there is reliance upon something outside of the order that has power for giving life and “interrupting” the natural order, though as he would point out, is really no interruption at all. The things seen in Romans 1 get there nutrients and water through a vicarious system that couldn’t have produced itself, and even if infinite causes just keep going back and back, there had to be something outside of the system of things that created the cause in the first place. His argument there also falls in line with the cosmological arguments that something or someone is outside of the order

and bringing life to it as it relies on that Source vicariously, and in line with scripture, as that Source is defined as God-the one who makes things happen like men not being consumed by fire, creation coming into being and being sustained, and sending a Son to earth whom people believed in and were connected to the Father, vicariously. INTEGRATION AND APPLICATION Question 1 My understanding of the truthfulness and authority of the bible affect my approach to philosophy of religion by the simple fact that the Word of God provides my worldview for me, and my understanding is one of inerrancy. Any by inerrancy I mean that the Bible makes points about God, the world, us, and our relationship to God. And they are all true and given to us in certain types of genres for our understanding, and for God’s glory. So when approaching philosophy of religion, I have already been given a cosmology, a design argument, a way to understand my epistemological system [or what it should be], an ontological set of beliefs, and a way of understanding this whole system of nature, and the way of understanding who God has revealed Himself to be in our world. For cosmology, Genesis 1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” It does not set a time frame on when that beginning was, if it was a year yet, or how God came to be, but these are matters of faith. How could a human mind with its limited faculties be required to understand a cosmic event of creation that happened [who knows how many] years ago? The bottom line of Genesis is that God was there, and he is Creator. As for my design argument, see the last few sentences, and know that when pitted against scripture that God knew us before we were in our mother’s womb, and that he breathed into Adam the breath of life, Deism cannot be the explanation. This is a personal God who designed things perfectly, and who was intelligent about the natural system in that design. This understanding also lends to

how I approach ontological beliefs. Existence is given a source in God, found in the scriptures, and attested to in the stories of those who have given their lives in belief of this. Hume is right that we cannot know that God created (“knowing “ here being a merely human term), but only in his argument of anti-faith. For the one holding faith in God, and God revealing himself to said person, intelligent design and faith in the scriptures trump this. My epistemological system is dictated by the fact that God has given me the faculties to learn with, but also gives me His Spirit to teach me and guide me in the things of the Spirit, not in the things of the flesh. How I gain knowledge [other than the normal ways or reading, writing, studying, or experiments] is from the Spirit of God, and it is through that Spirit and the Word of God that “truths” must be weighed. The bible outlines that it was God who was the great Source for the creation of the world. My explanation concerning the authority and truthfulness of the bible as it pertains to faith and reason overlap somewhat with these other views that I hold on how to approach philosophy of religion. The biblical teaching about the relationship between reason/mind for understanding the relationship between faith and reason is significant because it puts the locus of understanding on God’s worldview, not our own. It requires that when we take in things through the senses, and the mind then takes those things on, that it is the things we learn from God’s word and worldview that come to bear upon our understanding in the mind. It is by that standard that reason and the mind must operate-through faith in His worldview and interpretation as the ultimate reality. In this one does not have to be afraid of reason, philosophies, or arguments of atheists or anybody else. Rather, the believer is set free to reason through the lens of faith and trust in the reliability of God and His promises. Even reading the bible requires reason, but believers must do so with the heart of faith, which is not opposed to getting knowledge or having evidence, but is opposed to sight. The reflex of faith is Romans 3:4, “Let God be true though

every one were a liar, as it is written, ‘That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” This is not fideism, because there is a grappling with men and God, and a realization that God is objectively reliable and true in the face of other philosophies and plausible arguments. The authority of scripture and its truthfulness is based in faith and experience. One cannot neglect the truth of scripture [as it has truly affected the lives of people], nor their religious experience with God. So the bible is the bedrock of understanding. Christians should be the best thinkers in the world because we know the truth. This simple fact should allow the Christian to think critically about all things philosophical and religious, while he or she remains tethered to God’s Word. God’s word provides the criteria for Aristotle’s material, formal, efficient, and final causes. His Word explains with tenacity and truth the world we live in, and being true, must be used by the believer as a lens through which to view philosophies and philosophy of religion. Question 2 I think that in witnessing to an unbeliever, using general revelation can be used as a starting point, as long as it is used to move the conversation towards the bigger point that people are responsible to the God of general revelation, and are thus accountable to him. Anyways, it seems practical to call attention to “who made this?” It must be connected to Christ. The assumption here is that this unbeliever is struggling with the existence of a god as the creator of things-perhaps a naturalist. In this case, a good starting point would be general revelation. Suppose I overheard someone talking about hummingbirds in a café one day. These people were discussing just how amazing humming birds really are; how their wings flap at an alarming speed, and how their hearts beat something like 1000 beat per minute. Incredible they

say! These same people also mention how the “energy” of the world really relays the beauty of this bird to our senses. I may at this point step into say, ‘I really appreciate how God has revealed himself through nature like that. From the incredible colors of the humming bird to the intricacy of its body system, to its ability to make a nest and raise young. I think this really shows that there is a God out there who blesses us with these sort of things.” The unbelievers may nod and agree that there is a possibility that this is true. But they say, how can you know that this God is really in control of these things, or has anything to do with the world as it is? We think that all we see is all there is-we are naturalists. I would respond with the question of the Law. The ten commandments would be my source material. I might ask ‘how do you know that it is wrong to steal?” Their answer would probably be “my parents told me.” I might then respond, “When you were two years old, not yet able to really learn that stealing is wrong, or that harming another individual is an offense, how is it that you knew that when your older sibling stole from you, that it was wrong? How was is that you had the tendency and tenacity to steal from them later, in secret? I would reference Romans 2:15-16, that even if one doesn’t have a written copy of God’s law (the Gentiles), it has been written on people’s hearts. This is evidence that God has written a moral code into people, and as God, can require people to live up to the standard of said code. From here, the path to the Gospel is clear, i.e. connecting human inability to work their way to salvation (Ephesians 2), and to the need for a Savior. So yes, general revelation could be used as a starting point to witness to an unbeliever, especially if the conversation is taken further. Question 3 I would begin by asking my friend a question about spiritual realities [first I would empathize with her situation, because losing a job and losing a job is a tough place to be in]. I

would also ask her to examine her heart. It seems that she quit the job because she was leaning towards this newly applied-for job. Now, it is easy to see what we want to see sometimes. It is the nature of our hearts to believe the reality that they set forth, because the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9). Perhaps she projected some of her own feelings into the situation. This is the major point. I might ask my friend why she would base the cosmic reality of God’s promise on her own personal experience and situation. I would point her to Hebrews 6:13-20, and the story of Abraham: For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. There are a few things here that are worth noticing: (1) It was ludicrous from a physically circumstantial standpoint that Abraham should be potent, or that Sarah should be fertile. They were 100 and 99 years old. Physically this should not have happened. In fact we see in Genesis 17 that Abraham and Sarah laughed and God. They knew their circumstances were very dim. Paul makes this clear for us in Romans chapter 4:19-21. He writes, He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. So, for (2), I would say to my friend: Abraham squarely face the situation of his body, and Sarah’s body, but his hope was not in the physical facts or what he knew about himself. Belief

in those things would have weakened his faith. However, no distrust in his own body and its lack of ability caused his faith to weaken because he realized that God is able to do what He promises. How Abraham felt about the situation was irrelevant because what God had said was the ultimate reality of the situation, and in that reality his faith was strengthened because God’s promises determine what is true, not our opinions about them, or about how we feel about them on any given day, or during any given struggle. No matter what, God’s promises (of justification, sanctification, salvation, care, concern, exhortation) remain unmoved, unchanged, and unmodified. We can hold this as an anchor for the soul because God has sworn by his own name that his promises are true. If my dear friend believes God’s word, even if she has weak faith, the object of her faith is what is strong. Tim Keller gives a brilliant example in his book, The Reason for God. He writes: Imagine you are on a high cliff and you lose your footing and begin to fall. Just beside you is a branch sticking out of the edge of the cliff. It is your only hope and seems more than strong enough. How can it save you? If you’re certain the branch can support you, but you don’t actually reach out and grab it, you are lost. If instead your mind is filled with doubts and uncertainty that the branch can hold you, but you reach out and grab it anyway, you will be saved. Why? It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch.5 I would urge my friend not to bank her beliefs of salvation on an experience, but on God’s promise. I may suggest that she examine her heart a bit. And then, I would ask her if she’d like some help looking for a new job, or perhaps help in trying to get her old job back. Question 4 The first thing I might say to my agnostic friend who challenges the idea of a first cause is to consider the fact that it is first of all not irrational to think that there is a first cause. I might mentioned Naturalism, and how it would say that what there is has been made from what there
5

Timothy Keller, The Reason For God (New York: Dutton, 2008), 234.

has been, and that along with David Hume, may say that there could be a certain energy that causes mysterious growth and new plants, animals, and what we see. However, the idea of an infinite amount of sources never gives account for any beginning point at all, but simply goes back and back and back into history. One would never find an origin. In this, I might mention the sort of regularities of order, that is of co-presence and regularities of succession, and talk about how in both we ought to be struck by the sort of minute and subtle arrangements of the universe that are much too ordered to be of chance, must as Cleanthes mentions in David Hume’s Dialogues when he says, “Consider, anatomise the eye, survey its structure and contrivance, and tell me from your own feeling, if the idea of a contriver does not immediately flow in upon you with a force like that of sensation.”6 From here I would most definitely pose the question of Romans 1:20, and ask my friend his or her thoughts on such a proposition that it is the very things that we observe by the natural order than inform us of God as creator, not that nature produced some sort of being that was powerful. The goal at this point in the conversation would be to move my friend towards considering his or her thoughts not just towards a god, but also towards a God who is Creator. To drive home the point of one creator, it would not be silly to use Swinburne’s argument of the continuity of nature and its continuity with One designer. That is, if there were multiple designers, we should expect to see multiple representations of those designers in different parts of the universe, like “an inverse square law of gravitation obeyed in one part of the universe, and in another part a law which was just short of being an inverse square law (284).” The point of all this would be to get my friend thinking about the

 

David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, ed. H.D. Aiken (New York, 1948), 28.

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possibility of a first cause. The rest would hopefully come with later conversations concerning the same topic. To answer his or her question about the source of God, I would at first admit that to take up this belief is not to take up a philosophical belief, but to take up faith. Though we could have a conversation about probabilities of God and go through many different postulations for God, ultimately, our conversation would have to run to one of faith, and not of empirical data. Immanuel Kant said, “nothing has of itself come into the condition in which we find it to exist, but always points to something else as its cause, while this in turn commits us to repetition of the same enquiry. Basically, our discussion would take the same turn, and it would have to depart the road of epistemology and empirical data to faith. I think this would actually be a great time to use the Gospel as a reasonable argument for the existence of this God, and faith that He has always been. I would have no explanation for my friend as to the origins of God, except to return to scripture as my source of belief through faith, and my personal experience with this God.

Bibliography May, Evan. Interview by author. Personal interview. Lakeview Christian Center, February 20, 2011. Davies, Brian. Philosophy of Religion: a Guide and Anthology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Stewart, Dr. Robert. "Externalism/Internalism." Class lecture, Philosophy of Religion from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, February 10, 2011. Hume, David, and Dorothy Coleman. Dialogues concerning natural religion and other writings . 1. publ. ed. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007. Keller, Timothy J.. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Dutton, 2008. Lewis, C. S.. Miracles: A Preliminary Study.. New York: Macmillan Co., 1947.

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