Shand’s (Mis)conception Of Omnipotence

God's Hand

In Probing Shand’s Refutation of the Existence of God, I contended that John Shand, associate lecturer in Philosophy at The Open University, attacked a Straw God and committed an informal fallacy of composition. In this article I addressed his (mis)understanding of omnipotence. His (mis)understanding of omniscience and omnipresence are addressed in the next article. Continue reading

Genesis One: Doubting Creatio Ex Nihilo

Genesis “Look up to heaven and earth and see all that is therein, and know that God made them out of things that did not exist” (2 Maccabees 7:28)

Creatio ex nihilo is explicitly taught in 2 Maccabees 7:28 above and other passages such as John 1:1-3, Hebrews 11:3, Romans 4:17 and 2 Enoch 24:2. Philo, thus, correctly stated that “God, when he begat all things, not only brought them into manifestation, but made things which did not exist before, being himself not only a Demiurge but also a Creator” (De Somn. 1. 13).

The question I concisely addressed in this article is whether Genesis 1 is also communicating creatio ex nihilo. I think it does not. Genesis 1 does not articulate the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. This is why I think it does not: Continue reading

Bibliophile: Books and Journals Read

Head Book

I am a bookworm. Yes, I said it. I love reading philosophical and theological books and journals than sleeping or watching TV or Facebook-ing. Since February 2012 my blog posts included bibliography at the end of almost all posts. My aim for doing so is to stir passion for seeking and sharing knowledge by inviting my readers to read further on these issues I enjoy pondering and sharing with the motto “when love comes first, disagreements fall at their right and proper place”.

A  thing I noted after compiling this list is that I read and shared more works of Nietzsche in Philosophy and N. T. Wright’s in Theology  than any other thinkers. It appears that I tend to read and share the works of authors who challenge my thinking on my blog more than those who I agree with.

Here is a growing list of books and journals that I interacted with in my blog posts here at With All I Am since 2012.

Philosophical Books & Journals

Books:

Al-Ghazâli (1947) Bulletin de l’Institut Francais d’Archaeologie Orientale 46 1947: 203) cf Nasr(1993) An introduction to Islamic cosmological doctrines. Trans. Seyyed Hossein Albany : State University of New York Press Continue reading

Dawkins’ One-God-Further Blunder Simplified

One Less God

In A Devil’s Chaplain, Richard Dawkins reechoed an increasing popular meme. Dawkins contended:

[M]odern theists might acknowledge that, when it comes to Baal and the Golden Calf, Thor and Wotan, Poseidon and Apollo, Mithras and Ammon Ra, they are actually atheists. We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. (Dawkins 2004, 150)

I presented a case in Dissecting ‘One God Less’ Meme  showing that this meme is nonsensical utterance because it confused the concept of God, a general notion/idea of a being that is God, with conceptions of God, the way in which that general notion/idea is perceived or regarded. Noting that concept of God refers to objective notion/idea of a being that is God, while conceptions of God(s) refer to a particular groups’ subjective way in which that objective notion/idea is perceived, the meme appears to be a mere wind-egg. This article offered an analogy to explain the argument presented in a more simplified form.

Explanation From Analogy: United States of America’s Future Presidency

Say we are in USA in year 2050. There is a confusion over who is the current president, if indeed there is any. State B claims that Theodore Baal is the current president of USA. State C claims Benjamin Thor is current president of USA. And so on.

Newly formed State X dismisses Baal and Thor &c., as current president of USA and X claims that William Allah is the current president of USA.  State U rejects all B, C and X former-candidates regarded to be in the presidential office and hold that the former-candidate, now in office, is unknown. In this pool of States there is also ‘apresident’-state, State A. A claim is that there is no such thing as a president in USA.

From this analogy, it is clear that states B, C, X and U agree on the notion of there being a former-candidate that is now occupying the presidential office. What they disagree is who that former-candidate is regarded to now be in that office.  State A, contrary to other States, reject that notion of a being occupying the presidential office, since according to A, there is no such thing as presidential office.

Dawkins one-god-further’s blunder is on failing to note that by X dismissing Baal, Thor, &c., former-candidates regarded to be occupying the presidential office, X does not dismiss the notion of there being a being in presidential office. There  is multiple former-candidates but a single office presidential office. There is no multiple offices for A (or B, C, X and U) to go one further. There is either an office or no-office.

Claiming that X is like A in regard to Thor, Poseidon &c., but A goes one president further is nonsensical utterance because what X dismisses is not the notion of presidential office (concept), namely there is a being in office, but who is in that office (conception). U, for example, rejects all former-candidates regarded to be now in the office, but U  is not A  because does not reject that there is someone in that office.

Dawkins, Richard (2004) A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love. A Mariner Books. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Nathan Pratt: My Journey to Atheism

Journey

Something I’d like to get out of the way immediately is that this post is going to be very honest. It’s a brief history of my religious upbringing, my crisis of faith and the final pushes to search for truth. Nothing I’ll say in this post is said out of anger or malice. It’s an honest portrayal of the extreme difficulty of leaving something you’d held to be truth for almost 30 years. I imagine that some of the topics and points will offend, but please read to the end.

One of the more frustrating things to come out of leaving religion is that so many theists think I haven’t thought this out. That I’m just going through a phase. I’d be willing to wager that I’ve gone much farther in my pursuit of truth than about any believer out there. I’ve put a staggering amount of time into this journey. So when people wave it away as I’m simply misunderstanding or I just need to hear the right words or verses it’s extremely insulting.

I hope that even if we never see eye to eye you’ll see how difficult this journey had been and how extremely hard I tried to make belief work. Here we go….

– My History –

I was raised inside a Southern Baptist family. My home church was Sunnyside Baptist in Hobart, IN. Both of my parents came from pretty terrible childhoods and they viewed religion and god as the thing that saved them. I don’t blame them for wanting that for me.

Being baptists things were pretty legalistic growing up. This is the bible and its truth can’t be debated. It is what it is. Continue reading

Sensus Divinitatis

Raffaelo

“Is there any human being who has not entered on the first day of his life with an idea of that Great Head?” rhetorically inquired Arnobius of Sicca. Arnobius further inquired: “In whom has it not been implanted by nature, on whom has it not been impressed, aye, stamped almost in his mother’s womb even, in whom is there not a native instinct, that He is King and Lord, the ruler of all things that be?”(Aga. Hea. 33)

Arnobius echoed the idea that could be traced back to Cicero(Cic. Leg. I. 8) and beyond that human have an implanted knowledge of God(s) which when left to its natural function tends to direct them to acknowledge the existence of God(s).  This innate knowledge, which is also called the sense of divinity, is for Tertullian of Carthage, “the crowning guilt of men, that they will not recognize One, of whom they cannot possibly be ignorant”(1 Apo 17)

Even though God is ineffable and incomprehensible, John of Damascus resounded a similar understanding that “God, however, did not leave us in absolute ignorance. For the knowledge of God’s existence has been implanted by Him in all by nature.”(De Fide Orth. 1.1) The denial of the existence of God emerges from human’s fallen nature (1.3)

Noting John of Damascus’ work, Thomas Aquinas also argued that “[t]o know that God exists in a general and confused way is implanted in us by nature, inasmuch as God is man’s beatitude.”(Sum. The. 1.2.1.1). A richer development of this view is found in the works of  John Calvin. Calvin contended,

That there exists in the human minds and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead, the memory of which he constantly renews and occasionally enlarges, that all to a man being aware that there is a God, and that he is their Maker, may be condemned by their own conscience when they neither worship him nor consecrate their lives to his service. (Inst. 1.3.1)

Calvin went further,

All men of sound judgment will therefore hold, that a sense of Deity is indelibly engraven on the human heart. And that this belief is naturally engendered in all, and thoroughly fixed as it were in our very bones, is strikingly attested by the contumacy of the wicked, who, though they struggle furiously, are unable to extricate themselves from the fear of God. (1.3.3)

The reason that there never has been any society on earth that did not hold to kinds of beliefs in deities[and I will add life after physical death], according to Calvin, is due to the fact that sensus divinitatis is naturally inscribed on every human’s heart.

Cognitive science of religion is bringing in more reasons and evidence, for the first time as far as I understand, showing that it is true that humans are endowed with cognitive faculties that naturally stimulate sensus divinitatis. (Atran 2002, Bering 2002, Bloom 2007, Kelemen 2007 )

Further Readings

Atran, Scott (2002) In Gods We Trust. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Bering, Jesse (2002) “Intuitive Conceptions of Dead Agents’ Minds: The Natural Foundations of Afterlife Beliefs as Phenomological Boundary.” Journal of Cognition and Culture 2:263–308.

Bloom, Paul (2007) “Religion Is Natural.” Developmental Science 10: 147–151.

Kelemen, Deborah (2007) “Are Children ‘Intuitive Theists?’ Reasoning about Purpose and Design in Nature.” Psychological Science 15:295–301.

Paintings: Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino(Header) + Victor Mottez(Cover)

Necessary Existence of God

Da Vinci

Judeo-Christians understand God as a being  that is perfect in knowledge (Ps. 147:5), power (Job 42:2), presence (Ps. 139), acts (Ps. 18:30) and has none greater (Heb. 6:13) nor equal (Ps. 40:6).

Following Anselm’s:credimus te esse aliquid quo nihil maius cogitari possit“¹, God is understood to be a Being that exhibits maximal perfection. God is, borrowing Alvin Plantinga’s words, a being “having an unsurpassable degree of greatness—that is, having a degree of greatness such that it’s not possible that there exist a being having more.” (Plantinga 2002: 102 emp. removed)

God is thus understood to be a being having maximal excellence with respect to power (omnipotence), knowledge (omniscience), presence (omnipresence), and is morally perfect (this is why God cannot lie or be unrighteous).

From modal logic the existence of such a being(God) is either impossible or necessary. The concept of contingent existence of God is a contradictory idea since (i) necessarily, “a being is maximally great only if it has maximal excellence in every world” and (ii) necessarily, “a being has maximal excellence in every world only if it has omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection in every world.” (2002: 111)

Thus either the existence of God is impossible or necessary. The existence of God is not impossible. Therefore it is necessary. Therefore God, as understood by Judeo-Christians, exists.

Is this a persuasive case for existence of such a Being? No. I do not think it is. It does however show that Judeo-Christians’ understanding of God is rationally acceptable.

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¹ Anselmus Cantuariensis Prologion:  Trans. [W]e believe that You[God] are a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.

Plantinga, Alvin (2002) God, Freedom & Evil. First published by Harper and Row., 1974. Reprinted 2002.