sábado, 19 de noviembre de 2016

Arguments for the existence of God: the limits of human understanding

Reason and the Existence of God

by William Carroll - 
William E. Carroll is Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, and a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion of the University of Oxford.

Are traditional arguments for the existence of God at least suspect—if not false—in the light of what modern philosophy tells us about the limits of human understanding?

In his famous 2006 address at the University of Regensburg, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the importance of academic inquiry into the “reasonableness of faith.” The Pope noted that a former colleague had quipped that the university had two theological faculties, one Catholic, the other Protestant, devoted to something that did not exist: God. The Pope also observed that even—perhaps especially—in an age of radical skepticism, it was “necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith.”

In our culture, which embraces skepticism as the default position in matters philosophical, it may seem strange to speak of the reasonableness of faith or to claim that God’s existence can be demonstrated. We are presented with a choice between a secular reductionism that excludes any appeal to the supernatural and God, on the one hand, and a religious reductionism that rejects any role for reason as a criterion of truth in matters of faith, on the other hand.

Contemporary rejections of proofs for the existence of God fall into three broad categories:

(1) various forms of positivism and scientism that hold that science disproves the existence of God; 

(2) philosophical arguments that challenge either the possibility of conclusive demonstrations of any kind, or, more specifically, the possibility of proofs for a transcendent cause; 

(3) theological objections to the possibility of rational demonstrations of God’s existence. Although the so-called “new atheism” associated with the natural sciences is the best known of the three, its arguments are by far the least sophisticated.

Matthew Levering’s new book, Proofs of God: Classical Arguments from Tertullian to Barth, concerns primarily the second and third categories. He offers a survey of the views of twenty-one thinkers on whether or not human reason can demonstrate the existence of God. Levering provides summaries of arguments, essentially in the Christian tradition, from three historical epochs: the Patristic and Medieval Eras, the Reformation and Enlightenment, and the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. With extensive footnotes, brief biographical entries, and a good bibliography, the book is, as Levering says, a “textbook” that can be consulted selectively.

  • Can There Be a Return to Traditional Metaphysics?
  • Hume, Kant, and Modernity
  • Resisting Fideism and Emotivism



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