Jeffery Jay Lowder of The Secular Outpost, one of the most well known and well respected online advocates for atheism/naturalism in philosophy of religion circles, posted a few months ago a compilation/outline of twenty five plus “lines of evidence” which point to naturalism over theism. You can find the list here. In my view, this list probably represents some of the best assortment of arguments for atheism/naturalism in use. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Lowder, his intellectual honesty and the extraordinary quality of his work. As I have seen very little substantial response to these arguments (if anyone knows of any, please point them out to me!), I thought it’d be worth it to examine some of them in a series of posts. Continue reading
In the previous post in this series, we examined the historical evidence pertaining to the existence of the person Jesus of Nazareth, concluding that the hypothesis that Jesus existed is most definitely the best explanation of all the relevant data and coming to understand why the overwhelmingly vast majority of scholars all agree that Jesus existed. But just knowing that some person Jesus of Nazareth existed doesn’t tell us very much about him, who he was, what he did, why he’s important, etc. To discover these things requires further inquiry, which we will now begin to undertake. Continue reading
(Carlo Crivelli (circa 1435–circa 1495) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons).
Being now three posts in to my “Reading Aristotle” series (see here, here, and here), I thought it time to begin a similar series on Aristotle’s great medieval champion, St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas is perhaps one of the greatest theologians, philosophers, thinkers, and just human beings in general in all of history. He and his writings, and the system of thought which arose from them, have had an immense impact on my own life and thought. He received ridicule while he was alive, being often taunted as “the dumb ox”, and he continues to receive criticism and ridicule up until today. But for those who take the time to study him, understand him, and learn from him, he is an unsurpassable treasure, a glimpse at what human beings can really be and accomplish.
In this post, we will begin to look at St. Thomas’s theological masterpiece, the Summa Theologiae. Continue reading
*In this post I’m attempting to imitate the “socratic dialogue” form of writing employed by Plato. The characters and events are all fictional, but are used to convey a philosophical argument.
Thomas: Tell me, what do you think love is?
Reuben: What do you mean, what is love?
Thomas: I mean, when you say that you love something, or are in love with someone, what is it that you are referring to?
Reuben: It is interesting that you ask. How can we define something, without even knowing what it is we are trying to define? It seems that we are stuck in a loop. We do not know what love is, and we cannot learn what it is without already knowing what it is.
Thomas: Hm, that does indeed seem like a problem. Continue reading
This is the second post in a series on Aquinas’s Argument from Contingency for the existence of God. In the Introduction, we discussed the different branches in the broader category of cosmological arguments for God’s existence; then we looked specifically at the Leibnizian contingency argument, emphasizing that it is completely different from Aquinas’s contingency argument, and that even though both refer to “contingent” and “necessary” beings, they don’t mean the same thing in both arguments.
Now, before we begin to lay out the argument itself, I’d like to make a quick comment. The Third Way is probably the most controversial/dubious of the Five Ways. For example, contemporary philosopher Robert Maydole writes that “The Third Way is not sound” and goes on to accuse it in several places of false premises and various logical fallacies . However, Maydole does think the argument can be “modernized” via modal logic in order to make it arguably sound, but, as we shall discuss further on, his criticism, as well as the vast majority of modern critiques, completely misunderstand the actual argument. When the argument and its metaphysical foundations are really understood, I believe it is defensible. So let’s begin. Continue reading
In the previous post in the series, we read through Aristotle’s Physics 1.2, which discussed the nature of “one” and the problem of “the one and the many”. That chapter ended by hinting at the famous act/potency distinction as a possible solution to the problem of how things can be both one and many. We now turn to 1.3, which begins:
“If, then, we approach the thesis in this way it seems impossible for all things to be one” (Physics 1.3, 186a4-5) .
This is basically the conclusion of the last chapter. In 1.2, Aristotle showed that it is impossible in principle to hold that being is one. From there, he moves to an examination of the specific arguments other philosophers had used to support the belief that being is one: Continue reading
So far, I have spent four posts (see here, here, here, and here) introducing the person of Jesus, explaining his historical significance, impact, and influence, and laying out questions that I will be examining in a historical inquiry into his life and identity. Although some readers might have grown impatient with it, I believe it was necessary to take so much time introducing the relevant ideas and issues, before actually beginning the historical process, so as to lay a solid foundation and direction. Whether Jesus is merely the most important human who has ever lived, or else God in human flesh, there can be no doubt to the importance of studying his life and the meaning thereof. As I have frequently stated, I will be conducting this inquiry strictly on historical grounds, with as much objectivity and little assumption as possible; although I certainly will not shy away from looking at theological aspects and perhaps deriving theological implications from the historical facts. For, after all, if Jesus really is the Son of God, to do any less would be a grave injustice.
But for now, we are at the very bottom of this steep climb, and have not yet arrived at any conclusions about his life, excepting its historical impact. So how can we go about learning the historical facts of his life? Continue reading