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Traditional Arguments for Belief in an Afterlife

Traditional Arguments for Belief in an Afterlife

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Traditional Arguments for Belief in an Afterlife

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  1. Traditional Arguments for Belief in an Afterlife

  2. Argument from Theology • “Theology” = study of God • “Theism” = belief in a god who has the characteristics of a person rather than a thing • Arg: An all powerful personal God would not allow other people to pass into non-existence

  3. Hume’s Responseto the Theologians • An all powerful God, by definition would not be constrained to do anything, including morality • If God is constrained by morality to create immortal human beings, then God is not all powerful • If God is not constrained by morality then he is all powerful, but not necessarily moral • AKA Euthyphro’s Dilemma

  4. The Argument from Morality • Justice = getting what one deserves • If there is no hope of an ultimate balancing of the scales of justice, then we must abandon belief in true justice because the ultimate good and bad people receive would only be a question of luck • Response: “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.”

  5. Projection Theories of Religion • Some scientific skeptics of religion propose that it is only wishful thinking that makes for our beliefs in God and the afterlife • Eg’s: Freud, Marx, Comte (scientific materialists) • Logically speaking such arguments can only provide reason for doubt • They cannot prove the non-existence of God or the afterlife

  6. The Argument from Popularity / Globalism • Vast majority of human civilizations have favoured afterlife belief • Obj: Popularity of an idea doesn’t make it true • Res: Experience of the yet to be materially explained phenomenon of consciousness means belief in materialism cannot simply be taken as a “scientific” given • Materialism is a metaphysical theory just like theism

  7. Theodicy • Theodicy = a religious explanation of existence of evil in the world • Historically dominant theodicy is that of St. Augustine of Hippo (4th cent CE) • Augustine’s theodicy = Human beings (and angels) fall from grace because of their inherent limitations and free will • AKA Doctrine of Original Sin

  8. Irenaean Theodicy • Irenaean theodicy = People (as individuals and communities) are on a journey from immaturity to moral maturity (perfection) • Such a task, if it is to be meaningful, requires challenges to overcome (evil) • Such a task cannot be completed in one lifetime • More compatible with story of evolution than Augustine’s theodicy

  9. Obj to Irenaean Theodicy • Why is human development so important? • Why is so much evil necessary to achieve self-development? • Does love truly require freedom?