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A 4 Pages Term Paper on Philosophy of Theology

Theistic View Against Jean-Paul Sartre And Plato

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Philosophy of Theology
Theistic View against Jean-Paul Sartre and Plato

      Theists have always responded quite variously to the questions regarding the nature and attributes of universe and God. They have encountered criticism from those who deny the ability of reason beyond ordinary experience, those who reject the role of reason in favor of revelation alone, and those who accept the rational method but reject the theistic conclusions. Nevertheless, theists continue to use rational argument to support their contentions that a God exists in the universe who is creative and sustaining of the world and toward whom the world is directed in a purposeful manner.

Sartre’s View Of Human

      In humans, the power or capacity exists to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. Those who support any of various forms of determinism deny free will. Opinions for free will are based on the individual experience of freedom, on sentiments of responsibility, on adopted religion, and on the universal belief of liability for own dealings that underlies the concepts of law, reward, punishment, and incentive. In theology, the existence of free will is reconciled with God’s goodness, and with divine elegance, which supposedly is necessary for any praiseworthy act. A prominent feature of modern Existentialism is the concept of a radical, perpetual, and frequently agonizing freedom of choice. Jean-Paul Sartre, for example, speaks of the individual “condemned to be free” even though his situation may be wholly determined.

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      Sartre first gave the term existentialism, using it for his own philosophy and by becoming the leading figure of a distinct movement in France that became internationally influential after World War II. Sartre's philosophy is explicitly atheistic and pessimistic. According to him human beings require a rational basis for their lives but are unable to achieve one, and thus human life is a “futile passion.” Sartre insisted that his existentialism is a form of humanism, and he strongly emphasized human freedom, choice, and responsibility. He eventually tried to reconcile these existentialist concepts with a Marxist analysis of society and history. (Hayman, Ronald. 1987)

      In his book,” Being and Nothingness”, Sartre conceived humans as beings who create their own world by rebelling against power and by accommodating personal responsibility for their actions, without help by society, established principles, or religious faith. Distinguishing between human existence and the nonhuman world, he maintained that human existence is characterized by nothingness through the capacity to negate and rebel. His theory of existential psychoanalysis asserted the unavoidable responsibility of all individuals for their own decisions and made the recognition of one's absolute freedom of choice the necessary condition for true human existence.

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Plato’s Human view

      The validity of free will has always been a subject of considerable debate among ethical philosophers. It would appear that a system of ethics must imply free will, for the denial of the ability to choose a course of action would seem to negate the possibility of moral judgment. A human without moral judgment is not responsible for his or her actions. In an attempt to resolve this problem, ethical philosophers have taken a great variety of positions, ranging from absolute determinism to absolute libertarianism.  Plato maintained that people could will their own actions, but that those actions alone were truly free that accorded with the good or harmony of the whole. Thus, only a wise action is free with free will as self-determination.  A person must be free because freedom is a necessary postulate of the moral perception. One of the prevailing philosophical ideas has been that partial self-determination exists although many considerations other than will are also involved in the formation of moral judgments of humans. (Cooper, John .M 1997)

Theistic View Of Humans

      The view that all humans are dependent in some way upon, yet distinct from, one supreme or ultimate being, of which one may also speak in personal terms exists. In religions, one speaks of this being as God, who is regarded as beyond human comprehension, perfect, and self-sustained but also peculiarly involved in the world and its events. In Western theistic religions, especially Christianity, faith is often contrasted with reason. The precise nature of this contrast varies from denomination to denomination and from theologian to theologian.  The truths of faith by humans are compatible with and supplement the truths of reason. While one can prove the existence of God by reason, doctrines such as the Trinity (the doctrine that God exists as three persons united in one being) must be accepted on faith. Since the doctrine of the Trinity is derived from the Bible, and because there is good reason to believe the Bible was divinely inspired, such acceptance is reasonable

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Theistic View Of The Universe

      Widely held theory of the evolution of the universe has its essential feature as the emergence of the universe from a state of extremely high temperature and density, the so-called big bang.  The big-bang model is based on two assumptions. The first is that Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity correctly describes the gravitational interaction of all matter. The second assumption, called the cosmological principle, states that an observer's view of the universe depends neither on the direction in which he looks nor on his location. This principle applies only to the large-scale properties of the universe, but it does imply that the universe has no edge, so that the big-bang origin occurred not at a particular point in space but rather throughout space at the same time. These two assumptions make it possible to calculate the history of the cosmos after a certain epoch called the Planck time. Scientists have yet to determine what prevailed before Planck time.

      Theists characteristically seek support for their contentions in rational argument and appeals to experience. In the history of Western thought, this has given rise to several types of arguments for the existence of God. The four primary types are the cosmological, teleological, ontological, and moral arguments. Frequently these arguments are propounded in combination. They begin with recognition of particular features of the world, or of the fact of its existence, and then infer God as the ultimate cause. The teleological argument proceeds from an observation of the functional order of the universe whereby things in the world function toward ends or goals. One form of the argument is based on the claim that existence is perfection among others and that, since God embraces all perfections, God must exist. This argument commonly falls under the criticism that existence is not a predicate that can be attributed or denied. Another form of ontological argument asserts that God can only be conceived as a necessary being and therefore cannot be conceived as nonexistent or merely possible. Another important attempt to provide a rational justification for the existence of God in the universe is the cosmological argument, also called the argument from first cause. The important version of this argument contends that to explain the existence of the contingent universe it is essential to postulate a necessary being, a being whose existence is not contingent on anything else. This necessary being is God. Critics have argued that the existence of the universe might be a brute fact—a fact without any explanation. They assert that proving the existence of a necessary being is not the same as proving the existence of God. A necessary being might lack some of the properties considered essential to God, such as being, all well. In a version of the cosmological argument found in contemporary scientific cosmology, God is postulated as the explanation for the big bang, the theory that a gigantic explosion created the material universe. Although contemporary theists maintain that a first cause is necessary to explain the big bang but critics contend that recent scientific theories indicate that the universe could have arisen spontaneously.

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Plato’s View Of Universe

      From Greek micros cosmos, “little world”, a Western philosophical term designating man as being a “little world” in which the macrocosm, or universe, is reflected. The ancient Greek idea of a world soul (e.g., in Plato) animating the universe had as a corollary the idea of the human body as a miniature universe animated by its own soul. The impression of the microcosm dates, in Western philosophy from the 5th century BC. Propagated especially by the Neoplatonists, the idea was passed to the Gnostics, Christian scholastics, Jewish Cabalists and to some Renaissance philosophers. The supposed analogy between the whole and its parts served not only to develop a cosmology in which the reality of the individual received due attention but was also fundamental to astrology and other fields in which belief in a metaphysical relationship between man and the rest of nature is postulated. In later philosophy a comparable view of man and the universe was presented. (Sean Sayers. 1999)  

The Differences

      The Atheists on one hand justify their philosophical position in several different ways. Negative atheists attempt to establish their position by refuting typical theist arguments for the existence of God, such as the argument from first cause, the argument from design, the ontological argument, and the argument from religious experience. Other negative atheists assert that any statement about God is meaningless, because attributes such as all knowing and all-powerful cannot be comprehended by the human mind. Positive atheists, on the other hand, defend their position by arguing that the concept of God is inconsistent.

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      The Theist on the other hand, believe in one God who is personal and worthy of worship, who transcends the world but takes an active interest in it, and who reveals his purpose for human beings through certain individuals, miraculous events, or sacred writings. A theistic God is personal if he can be understood by analogies drawn from human experience and if human beings can enter into a personal relation with him and petition him in prayer. Such a God is considered worthy of worship because he is believed to be morally perfect and infinitely powerful.


      Hayman, Ronald. (1987) Sartre: A Life. Simon and Schuster.

      Cooper, John M (1997). Plato. Hackett

      Sean Sayers. (1999). Plato’s Republic An Introduction Edinburgh University Press

      Loraine Boettner. The formed Doctrine of Predestination

      MacQuarrie, John (1997).  Principles of Christian Theology

      Prentice Hall.


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