Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Divine Attributes

I'm about to start teaching a philosophy of religion course. Although such courses tend to focus on the question of whether God exists, mine will deal with "divine attributes" or properties that are typically ascribed to God/divine beings.  We'll consider properties like omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, immaterial and eternal.  I'm hoping readers of this blog will suggest other properties--perhaps ones that are less commonly discussed by philosophers--for us to consider in my class.  I'm also hoping to get suggestions about texts that we could use.  Thanks!

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the concept of the "holy trinity" is interesting. How could God be the father, the son, and the holy ghost? This is something interesting to watch on the topic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmvrbOmb0hk

Moti Mizrahi said...

I would suggest divine rationality a la Leibniz's PSR. Incidentally, I have a paper on divine attributes (including divine rationality) that might be helpful: http://philpapers.org/rec/MIZNPA

Jesse Steinberg said...

Thanks, Moti! I'll add that to the list of possible topics and I'm looking forward to reading your paper!

And I'll the Holy Trinity topic too. Thanks for that suggestion, Anon.

Michael Dean Hebert said...

The "New" Atheist movement is continuously growing in America, and I think we're only going to hear about it more and more in the main stream media in the future. This front seems to often use what they claim to be a fundamental conflict between science and religion as a launching point for their argument that science is holding the trump card and religion should be abolished. I think it would be nice to at least spend a week on this conflict in a philosophy classroom, rather than with newsroom talking heads, with our bullshit meters held high in order to get some grounding for the future as these topics become more present. Full disclosure, I'm an atheist (if I must use the term, I tend to find it silly), but I think the new atheist movement can often overplay their cards and I'd like to see more rigorous and philosophically sound arguments against various forms of theism than we sometimes see atheists in the "new" atheist movement use. Hope that makes sense.

Annalee Galston said...

Anthoropomorphization or lack thereof.

It seems in the argument for/against the presence of omnipotence and infinite powers qualifying God, many philosophers argue with the contigency of God being anthropomorphized. But what if God wasn't of a humanistic nature? What if instead of asking "of an anthropomorphized God, what qualities might be true?", we ask "of these qualities what form of God could be true?" It seems then that the argument for/against God's ominpotence and infinite power could then evolve. If that were the case, then "of these qualities amongst non-human supernatural beings, do philosophers cross this same paradox?"

Andrea Manthei said...

not sure if we'll talk about this in depth next week, but I like the topic of fate and religion. If a god created the world and knows all that has happened and will happen, then how should we look at the world around us with the events that happen? And how do people of that religion respond to "bad" things happening...like natural disasters? "Its a bad thing, but it was all part of god's plan."? or are there other responses too? Then, also, that plays into do we have free will then and can people use the excuse "well it was supposed to happen" to do anything they want. In religions like, i think Calvinism, followers believe that God already decided and knows who will suffer eternal damnation and receive salvation (predestination). if its already determined that you will get one or the other, how does that affect everyday actions? How does free will play into this as well?

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fascinating class. How about:

1) How can an immaterial being have causal power in the physical world? What is the mechanism (causal pathway) by which God acts in the world? (An instance of the mind-body problem.)

2) Does God have free will? Is God bound to act accoring to his nature?

3) Is God precluded from having certain mental states, like doubting, wondering, being surprised, feeling vengence, seeing, hearing, feeling pain or pleasure?

Anonymous said...

Not trying to be cute, but how will you pretend to teach a philosophy of religion course where reason is not simply the ultimate norm of truth, but the only game in town?

Anonymous said...

Nothing follows from a definition save prescription. Can a mutual admiration society bent on defining truth sanctify it as well? And why is it taking so long?

Anonymous said...

"In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." - Bertrand Russell

Michael Dean Hebert said...

I would also like to analyze the supposed distinction between faith and 'blind' faith. I think we often hear theists talk about how they don't like 'blind' faith, but I fail to really see a distinction between the two. Isn't faith by it's very nature blind? It seems to me that when we say someone has 'blind' faith, we merely mean that their beliefs are more extreme. I do not see how those who claim their beliefs are supported by faith (as opposed to the 'blind' faith they may ascribe to others) are any more substantiated in their claims, however more mild those claims may be.

Anonymous said...

What is a liter of water? Reason suggests that it it exists in, or is amenable to, time and space and composed of molecular forces that predict and account for its various states and properties; in other words, reason models phenomema. The water is, in-itself, dimensionless - it represents as dimensioned in time and space with perfect causality. What is the feeling of pride? Reason suggest that it exists in, or is ammenable to, time and space and composed of electro-chemical forces found only in a particular structure (viz., a brain); in other words, science models consciousness. The feeling is, in-itself, devoid of space, could not possibly exist in anything but, arguably, time, and is, in fact, dimensionless. If you want to find God, you're gonna have to stop modeling him start a relationship.

"But as with the appearance of the sun the visible world makes its appearance, so at one stroke does the understanding through its one simple function convert the dull, meaningless sensation into perception. What the eye, the ear, or the hand experiences is not perception; it is mere data. Only by the passing of the understanding from the effect to the cause does the world stand out as perception extended in space, varying in repect of form, persisting through all time as regards matter. For the understanding unites space and time in the representation of matter, that is to say, of effectiveness. This world as representation exists only through the understanding, and also only for the understanding" - Schopenhauer

"Two Chinamen visiting Europe went to the theatre for the first time. One of them occupied himself with trying to understand the theatrical machinery, which he succeeded in doing. The other, despite his ignorance of the language, sought to unravel the meaning of the play. The former is like the astronomer, the latter the philosopher. " - Schopenhauer

This is not a physical science or symbolic logic course.

Anonymous said...

An easy read that entertains Hegel, but not, unfortunately, Schopenhauer, would be "Jesus Christ: The Fundamentals of Christology" by Roch A. Kereszty. Maybe next semester.

Anonymous said...

You might consider the "property" commonly known as grace.

Aviva said...

I'd like to talk about rationality and logic and its place in philosophy of religion. I've struggled with the assumption and anthropomorphizing of Gd's attributes throughout the semester, and I'd love to hear how peers and the philosopher's before me reasoned this problem.