What Is God?

I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

- Revelation, 1:8

Podcast of the Day

In Europe during the Middle Ages, any philosopher you encountered would have believed not just in God but in the God of Abraham. Most of them were Christians, but there were also Jewish and Moslem philosophers in the Iberian peninsula. But then - probably as late as the eighteenth century - things began to change and the burden of proof shifted from the unbeliever to the believer. So now it's quite rare to find a mainstream philosopher who is also a religious believer.

One such philosopher is Richard Swinburne, Emeritus Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at the University of Oxford. During a recent visit to this country, he explained to 'The Philosopher's Zone' why he believes that the hypothesis of a God is the best means of explaining the existence of the universe, and why this God has to be - like the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam - a personal God who is omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good. He also explained how the existence of such a God is compatible with the theory of evolution and with the presence of evil in the world.

Listen to The Philosopher's Zone episode on The Existence of God

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Anyone who has ever read the Bible knows that God can speak. Over the course of six days, God speaks the world into existence and then speaks to both Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Later he speaks to Cain and Abel, to Noah, to Abraham and many others. What sorts of things does God say? He issues commands – ‘Let there be light!’ – he lays down prohibitions – ‘Don’t eat from that tree!’ – and he asks questions, metes out punishments, offers advice, forecasts the weather, and orders an old man to kill his only son. Sometimes he says these things calmly, sometimes sarcastically, occasionally his words are filled with anger or pity or love. When God speaks people listen, but when people listen, should they always believe him? In other words, can God lie?

For over a millennium, some of the most influential theologians and philosophers debated the problem of divine deceit. Imagine that God can lie, asks the early fifth-century bishop Augustine. Imagine that God has decided to include falsehoods throughout the Bible. How would we know what parts to believe and what parts to reject? With the best of intentions, we might unknowingly condemn ourselves to eternal damnation, accepting heresies as truths, rejecting truths as heresies. The dangers of a deceiving God extended far beyond the pages of scripture. The 14th century Oxford-trained theologian John Wyclif feared that if God could lie to us, he could give us false visions, reduce reality to mere appearance and undermine all our knowledge of the world...

Continue reading Dallas G. Denery's article: How the Scientific Revolution made an honest man of God

Further Reading

Western concepts of God have ranged from the detached transcendent demiurge of Aristotle to the pantheism of Spinoza. Nevertheless, much of western thought about God has fallen within some broad form of theism. Theism is the view that there is a God which is the creator and sustainer of the universe and is unlimited with regard to knowledge (omniscience), power (omnipotence), extension (omnipresence), and moral perfection. Though regarded as sexless, God has traditionally been referred to by the masculine pronoun...

Continue reading the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Western Conceptions of God by Brian Morely

Bonus Webcomic

Will He? - SMBC

Related Topics

 Augustine | FaithIntelligent Design | Metaphysics | Miracles | Religion

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