Philosophy – Judaeo-Christian Influence on the Philosophy of Religion

Hello! Another long one today, on philosophy. The long title is basically meaning what are the Old Testament Christian effects on the philosophy of religion, so if you’re a little thrown by the title, that be the translations! Have a nice day.


Judaeo-Christian Influence on the Philosophy of Religion

Genesis 1 and 2

  • Genesis 1 is concerned primarily with the creation of the universe.
  • Genesis 2 discusses God’s relationship with humanity. God speaks directly to the humans he created.
  • They have different authors and the writing seems to reflect the authors – some of it sounds like it’s been picked apart from other stories. It is the same essential teaching but done in different ways.

Creatio ex nihilo

  • God created the whole universe, along with everything in existence, out of nothing.
  • This was a deliberate action by God and one that is good. It means that God is master of the world and its contents, but that God remains outside of his creation (transcendent).
  • Genesis could be interpreted to suggest that God did not actually create out of nothing, but brought order to a chaos that already existed.

Craftsman

  • In Job 38, the God who speaks directly to Job is portrayed as the skilled builder of the world. He measured the dimensions of the earth and holds up the pillars that support the earth. This shows that God created the world deliberately as an act of love, and took careful consideration when creating it.
  • In Genesis 2, God creates out of existing material and works like a master craftsman to mould Adam and Eve.

Humanity

  • Both Genesis stories show that God regards humanity as the highest point of his creation.
  • In Genesis 1, the universe is created piece by piece and finally humanity is placed on the earth to rule it. God creates man in his own image (very factual).
  • In Genesis 2, God speaks directly to the humans he created. There is a relationship between God and his creation that enables God to bless people and to punish them. The image portrayed here is of an imminent God, who walks with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and desires to be close to his creation.
  • This is very different from the sterile power envisaged by the ancient Greeks.

Key points of the Christian God

  • Eternal – Boethius suggested that God was timeless. God has no beginning or end.
  • Omnipotent – God is an all-powerful being.
  • Omniscient – God is an all-knowing being.
  • Omnipresent – God is present everywhere and throughout time. God is in all parts of his creation.
  • The world comes from God – The world was deliberately created by God as an act of love.
  • Creatio ex nihilo – Nothing existed before God. Everything in existence was created by God from nothing.
  • Perfection – God is good and perfect, so whatever God creates is good.
  • Immutable – God does not change. God does not have the potential to develop into anything else because he already is perfect.
  • Relationship with humans – God created the world for humans; they are the highest point of his creation. They were made in the image of God and are capable of having a personal relationship with God.
  • Giver of free will – God gave humans the gift of free will, enabling them to choose between good and evil. God did not create robots.

Goodness of God

  • God is good and perfect because the Bible states he is. His goodness lacks nothing. It cannot be improved upon; it is not potential but actual. God is the source of all goodness in the world and this goodness filters down through all his creation. God’s goodness equates to love, and the creation of the world is an act of love.
  • In Samuel 1, Hannah is upset because she has no children, so she prays to God. God answers her prayers and she gives birth to a son named Samuel. This reflects God’s goodness towards humanity.
  • In Exodus 20, God is shown as the law-giver when he gives Moses the Ten Commandments. Giving the laws is an act of love and concern for humanity because it provides them with guidance about how they should lead their lives. God keeps his promises, even when the Israelites break theirs.
  • Like a concerned parent, God is full of righteous indignation if his people do not obey his commands. God responds with anger and punishment if people disobey him. He punishes wrong-doers so they can learn from their mistakes.
  • For Christians, God’s goodness is seen in the person of Jesus, whom they believe was the Son of God (God can’t physically come to Earth so he sent a part of himself). In John’s Gospel, we are told, ‘For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life’. Jesus is sent as the saviour of the world. His teachings and actions are examples of God’s goodness. That God was prepared to let his son die for humanity is seen as further proof of his goodness.
  • In Job, a good man suffers one disaster after another. Throughout it all, Job remains faithful and obedient to God even though he cannot understand the undeserved calamities. Ultimately, his unquestioning faith in God is rewarded.
  • However, some of what God does is seen as mean or bad. He kills Job’s children and his wife to test him. He allowed the death of his ‘child’. He punishes excessively at times. He also seems to be self-absorbed in some of his acts, as he says that people must worship him or they are bad people.

Euthyphro Dilemma

  • Are things good because God commands them? Or does God command things because they are good? – Plato
  • If things are good because God commands them, this suggests that God is simply a divine dictator. Whatever he commands is automatically right and we are required to obey his word.
  • If God commands things because they are good, this suggests that there is a standard of morality that is external to God. It undermines his nature as an omnipotent creator.

Divine Command Theory

  • Everything that God commands is objective and is called a part of Divine Command Theory/Ethics.
  • The Old Testament and the Ten Commandment are a good example of this because He outright commands us to follow them.
  • It is about how God has made these laws and humans absolutely have to follow them, without question. If he orders someone to do something different, such as kill someone, then they must do it, and it is still moral and good because God has told them to do it. It doesn’t mean that anyone else outside of that specific command can go against the original commands.
  • Everything that God commands is good.

Weaknesses of Divine Command Theory

  • Divine Command Theory gives outcomes that are against our intuition. If God commands rape and murder, Divine Command Theory says its good, but it surely isn’t.
  • Kai Nelson says it would be morally wrong to blindly follow Divine Commands. It would diminish our humanity.

And there you have it in all its glory. I hope you enjoyed and got some use from it. Please comment any questions, ideas or other information below, like and share this to help other people and myself, and have a nice day!

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