Search Results for John Hick
John Hick (1922-) is a British philosopher of religion who notes that the monotheistic belief in a wholly other godhead runs throughout the history of the Jewish and Christian traditions.
According to Hick, the idea of a wholly other godhead is characterized by the following attributes:
- Infinite and self existent
- The sole creator of all creation
- Regarded as a personal being
- Loving and good
Recently, Hick’s work advocates religious pluralism. Hick is probably right in saying that cultural influences have an effect on religious truth claims. But it would be entirely unwarranted to assume an equivalence of religious experience among different religions or, for that matter, among individuals within a given religion.
Moreover, some individuals encounter not just one type but several different types of religious experience within their lifetime.
- Religion, Pseudo-Religion, and Charlie Brown (jeffsdeepthoughts.wordpress.com)
- John Hick, Strato is right! (thestratonician.wordpress.com)
- More sophisticated theology: what do Christians do with all those troublesome other faiths? (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- Dawkins vs. Craig: No Debate on Genocide Claims (blogcritics.org)
- If God is All Powerful and all Merciful Why is There Evil in The World (davidebooks.wordpress.com)
Adam (Hebrew, adam = Man) is a key figure In the Bible’s Old Testament book of Genesis, Adam is said to be the first human being, fashioned from earthly clay and brought to life with the living breath of God.
According to Genesis his female counterpart, Eve, was created from his rib. It is noteworthy, says St. Thomas Aquinas, that Eve was not created from Adam’s head or from some other body part, such as his foot.
Being created from his rib signifies a woman’s traditional role, so Aquinas says, of fulfilling her role in marriage and offering humble service to her husband. In Genesis 1:27, however, we find another version of the creation story in which God creates male and female in his image. No mention is given of Adam’s rib in this verse.
With Eve, Adam is said to represent the ‘first age’ of mankind, this being The Fall and Sin because the original sin of Eve (and shortly after, Adam’s sin) brings evil to the world. Now Adam and all subsequent generations must work hard to survive.
Joachim of Fiore says this introduction of evil necessitated the rule of “the Law”—that is, the Ten Commandments given to Moses.
In Christian theology Jesus Christ, the ‘second Adam,’ is portrayed as God’s perfect redeeming solution to the evil disobedience of Adam. And the Virgin Mary is often regarded as the ‘second Eve,’ the perfect counterpart to Eve’s original sin.
Some branches of Jewish mysticism believe that we can return to the “Original Adam” (the perfect man before the Fall) by contemplating God. But for Christians, the perfect, sinless man (Jesus) can only be imperfectly imitated by his followers and never equaled.
¹ Seth is also the name of an alleged disembodied spirit that the channeler Jane Roberts wrote about. We find with many channelers that the names of these unseen beings are often derived from the annals of mythology and religion.
- Covered by a Sacrifice (wherelivingbegins.wordpress.com)
- Where Was Adam with Eve When She was Deceived by the Serpent? (peterdavid28.wordpress.com)
- ‘The Evolution of Adam’ by Peter Enns: Mini Book Review (christianityandvirtue.wordpress.com)
- Adam and Eve (Like a Virgin) (jaguarpf.wordpress.com)
- Just call me “helper.” (lorischulz.wordpress.com)
- Our Parents: Adam & Eve (ourfathershavetoldus.wordpress.com)
- Genesis 1-11 (ashleyharroldblog.wordpress.com)
- The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (therookietheologian.wordpress.com)
- Genesis 3 (whymyfamilywilldisownme.wordpress.com)
- In Adam All Die (ourfathershavetoldus.wordpress.com)
Church Fathers is the title usually given to those regarded as the brightest theological lights in the early Christian Church.
Influential and usually learned Christian thinkers contributing to the formation of Church dogma, aspects of their writings are often cited as supportive “truths” within the contemporary Roman Catholic Catechism.
The Church Fathers are considered exemplars of holiness and are usually, but not always, canonized. Tertullian (160–225) is a good example of a leading Christian who was never canonized.¹
The study of the Fathers’ writings is known as Patristics, although the Church Fathers fall into two periods, the Apostolic and the Patristic.
Since the 17th-century the Apostolic Fathers have been designated as those who wrote just after the New Testament period, to include Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Hermas, Polycarp and Papias. This list also includes the anonymous writers of the Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistle to Diognetus, Clement and the Didache.
The well-known theologian Origen (184–254) was too far interested Platonism and ideas similar to reincarnation to be taken as a Church Father. He was excommunicated by the Church but his work continues to interest scholars. And sort of slipping in the back door, as it were, Origen’s writings are often included in compilations under the heading, “Church Fathers.”
The Patristics wrote up to the 8th-century, to include Isidore of Seville (7th-century) and John of Damascus (8th- century).
Feminists point out that there are no Church Mothers, perhaps because of the sexist environment of the early Christian era. This type of discrimination persists through the ages and, so they say, remains in many contemporary religious and secular organizations.
¹ Tertullian also demonstrates that the Church Fathers could be quite harsh against their opponents, in this case, the early Gnostics. As the British philosopher of religion, John Hick, points out in Evil and the God of Love, Tertullian wrote scathing attacks against the Gnostics.
- Reading the Fathers: Clement of Rome (simuliustusetpeccator.com)
- Women priests and the Church censure of Father Bill Brennan (peaceandbread.com)
- History of Philosophy and the Early Church (patristicsandphilosophy.wordpress.com)
- Read the Fathers: Polycarp of Smyrna (simuliustusetpeccator.com)
- Why Urban Christians Need Wendell Berry (christianitytoday.com)
- real prayer is inner prayer… (thehandmaid.wordpress.com)
- Reading the Fathers: Epistle To Diognetus (simuliustusetpeccator.com)
- Guides to the Early Church Fathers (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- Abortion & Reincarnation (pathwaytoascension.wordpress.com)
- History of purgatory (divinelightblog.wordpress.com)
The definition of evil is informed by one’s core beliefs, and different kinds of arguments try to explain its existence.
Some materialists and scientists scoff at the idea of evil as if it were an antiquated legacy from a superstitious past.
Violent criminals are usually described in the news in psychiatric terms. Murderers are often reported as having a mental illness instead of being possessed by the devil. However, sometimes callous murderers are called “monsters” so the idea of evil can creep in to our essentially scientific worldview.
Meanwhile, savage tyrants and warlords are often viewed through a historical or, perhaps, political lens.
Evil in Christian theology
A basic theological distinction exists between natural evil and moral evil. Natural evil includes “acts of God” such as floods, earthquakes and avalanches. Moral evil is a conscious human choice to turn away from God’s will and participate in some action harmful to self and possibly others.
Duns Scotus classified “intrinsic evil” as acts that are inherently evil and accordingly prohibited. But intrinsically evil acts are not evil because they are prohibited.
In Christian theology evil is often seen as a necessary component of God’s plan of salvation. Here one accepts as an article of faith that God permits evil for some greater good, beyond the comprehension of mere mortals (see Isaiah 55:8-9).
A Christian school of thought, begun by Irenaeus and popularized by John Hick, argues that evil is permitted, but not caused, by God. Why, one might ask, would an all-powerful God permit evil? According to the Irenian school, the answer lies in the idea of ‘soul making.’ A soul freely choosing to abstain from evil is of greater value than one that automatically avoids evil like a programmed robot. The free soul apparently better glorifies God than would a sinless automaton.
Although evil may ravage, test and torment good souls living on earth, the true goal of our finite, earthly life is to be made worthy of eternal heavenly life. According to this perspective the evils of the world act as a crucible. Souls not succumbing to but resisting evil are purified and strengthened toward the good. Evil, then, is necessary. It acts as a kind of hammer that pounds out the soul’s impurities.
God permits some evils lest the good things should be obstructed.
Another Christian argument, influenced by Plato‘s idea of the Forms, is given by St. Augustine. Augustine sees evil as a privatio boni—the absence of good. According to this view, since God is good, evil must be where God is not present. Therefore God doesn’t create evil. It’s a choice. But the theological debates get complicated here, and some ask whether Augustine’s theodicy holds up for both natural and moral evil.
Different branches of Christianity hold different views about what happens to evil souls in the afterlife. Some Churches damn sinners eternally. Martin Luther, for instance, believed that some souls are predestined for hell. Meanwhile, some contemporary Christians pray for the liberation of souls in hell while others do not.¹ And the Catholic Purgatory is neither heaven nor hell, but a difficult preparation for heaven.
Evil in non-Christian religions
Evil in Islam is similar to that of Christianity. But for Muslims it is evil to suggest that Christ is one with God (John 10:30). And the prohibitions in the Koran differ from those of the New Testament. Notably, killing is permitted in the Koran in some circumstances (see http://www.yoel.info/koranwarpassages.htm and http://www.islamreview.com/articles/jihadholywarversesinthekoran.shtml), whereas the very thought of killing is denounced in the New Testament. Many branches of Christianity do, however, entertain the idea of a Just War.
In Hinduism a different view of evil is presented. Evil is permitted to maintain a proper balance of sacred heat or power (tapas) within the universe. Aspects of Hinduism speak to the reality of hell for evildoers. But evil in Hinduism is mostly viewed in terms of personal ignorance and spiritual development, making hellish punishments temporary instead of eternal.
According to this perspective, the evil soul reincarnates on earth until it is cleansed of the ignorance that influenced it to commit bad deeds. This differs dramatically from the Catholic view that souls in hell are eternally damned and, strangely enough, would never want to leave. Unlike the Christian, the Hindu aspires to transcend apparently relative ideas about good and evil through an experiential knowledge of universal truth.
Accordingly, the goal of Hinduism differs from both Christianity and Islam. For the Hindu, heaven is a halfway house on the road to ultimate realization. The reincarnating soul may enjoy periodic visits to different heavens but, though the round of rebirth, it eventually transcends all heavens and ultimately achieves the greatest good of the Brahman. A similar but in some ways different view of evil is presented in Taoism.
An interesting but often overlooked question is whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu heavens and hells are identical in character. The celebrated Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade notes that heavens and hells are described differently among world religions. But do they all feel the same? We can’t really know but my guess is NO.
Most cultures around the world at some point in history have seen evil as a cause of mental or physical illness. This view is prevalent in Shamanism. And some religious writers, such as the Catholic, Michael Brown, say they feel the presence of evil almost anywhere.
And on the inferiority of evil as compared to good, W. H. Auden writes in A Certain World:
Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good.
¹ See this excellent discussion: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=329730
- The freewill defense (St. Augustine of Hippo): Part 1 (thatreligiousstudieswebsite.com)
- One’s Good and the Other is Evil (conservativetickler.wordpress.com)
- Why God Won’t Allow Me to Heaven (ichosethebluepill.wordpress.com)
- A Scene from “Doctor Faustus” (alyssajmammano.wordpress.com)
- Medieval Good (ideasandotherstuff.wordpress.com)
- What is evil? (andrewejenkins.wordpress.com)
- Random Musings: the concept of a ‘just war’ (jmatthanbrown.wordpress.com)
- A reading from the Church Fathers: Love the Sinner Hate the Sin (gingerjar2.wordpress.com)
The German Lutheran scholar Rudolf Otto (1869–1937) describes The Holy in terms of a personal experience.
In The Idea of the Holy (1917) he borrows from the Latin word numen when introducing the term numinous, which refers to ”deeply felt religious experience.”
Experience of the numinous may derive from a monotheistic God or from many pagan gods. When originating from God, Otto says the numinous is endowed with “rationality, purpose, personality and morality.” Pagan numinosity, he suggests, is somehow inferior.
Otto makes a similar distinction between magic and religion. Not trying to be non-judgmental or politically correct, he says magic manifests a “dimmed” numinous, in contrast to the experience of God, which he describes as an awe-filled encounter, a mysterium tremendum and a majestus.
For Otto, the experience of God is the highest type of numinosity. It’s a personal experience of an omnipotent, omniscient power that’s worthy of utmost respect and which inspires not just awe, but also a healthy kind of fear.
The individual is urgently attracted to this power, but the experience of the Godhead may also frighten, humble and purify.
In addition, Otto notes that one would experience a sense of creaturely unworthiness and perhaps wretchedness, standing naked, as it were, in the face of such a great, powerful and “wholly other” Godhead.
- An Outline of Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy (epages.wordpress.com)
- Philosophy Word of the Day – Religious Experience (greatcloud.wordpress.com)
- Review – Strange is Normal: The Amazing Life of Colin Wilson (DVD) (epages.wordpress.com)
- The archetypes are gods: Re-godding the archetypes, by John H. Halstead (humanisticpaganism.wordpress.com)
- Parapraxes, Accidents and Necessary Mistakes (epages.wordpress.com)
Saint Irenaeus (125-202) was a Greek-born luminary of the early Christian Church who had been acquainted with disciples (most notably Saint Polycarp) who, in turn, had known the apostles. As bishop of Lyons in Gaul he wrote Against Heresies, a fierce attack on Gnosticism.
In his writing against the Gnostics, who claimed to possess a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself, Irenaeus maintained that the bishops in different cities are known as far back as the Apostles — and none were Gnostic — and that the bishops provided the only safe guide to the interpretation of Scripture. He emphasized the unique position of the bishop of Rome.¹
The scholar of religion and philosophy John Hick wrote about the Irenaean Theodicy (Irenaeus’ defense of God’s Goodness given the reality of evil) in the book Evil and the God of Love (1966). Hick said that, according to Irenaeus, a soul which freely chooses the good over evil is more valuable than one that, if such a thing were possible, automatically did the good like a robot.
However, before the ultimate goodness of souls freely cooperating with God comes about, sins will be committed and evil will manifest in this world until souls learn that choosing the good is the better option.
Tradition has it that Irenaeus was martyred and beheaded in 202 CE by Septimus Severus.
- Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr (trustinjesus.wordpress.com)
- First Mass at St. Irenaeus (cehwiedel.com)
- Prayers to Saints in the Pre-Nicene Era (energeticprocession.wordpress.com)
- Το κατεχόμενο χωριό Ζώδια της επαρχίας Λευκωσίας – The Turkish occupied village of Zodhia in the district of Nicosia (vatopaidi.wordpress.com)
- Church History Made Interesting (inchristus.wordpress.com)
- Power Cords and Apostolic Succession (catholicdefense.blogspot.com)
- Is being ‘unorthodox’ sinful or could it be the way forward? (opentabernacle.wordpress.com)
- Theosis in Early Christian Writings (Part I) (diglotting.com)
-  THE LETTERS SUPPOSEDLY WRITTEN BY IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH: 10th and final post in the series (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Parables of Treasure, Parables to Treasure (insightscoop.typepad.com)
Behaviorism is a psychological theory that sees mankind as operating more like a machine than as a free agent. Its modern form arose in reaction to so-called armchair philosophers, depth psychologists and alleged mystics who tried to understand human motivation in terms of what went on inside the mind or soul. For behaviorists, what really counts is what we can directly observe—in a word, behavior.
This approach is traceable to thinkers like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke David Hume, George Berkeley and David Hartley. Hobbes viewed man as a natural and social creature, while the others stressed the importance of the association of ideas.
In 1739, the so-called British empiricist philosopher David Hume wrote in A Treatise of Human Nature:
The qualities, from which…association arises, and by which the mind is after this manner conveyed from one idea to another, are three, viz. resemblance, contiguity in time or place, and cause and effect.¹
Most will say that the scientific study of behaviorism begins with the Russian, Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), who conditioned dogs to salivate not just at the sight of food but also at the sound of a bell that preceded feeding.
The American psychologist J. B. Watson (1878-1958) generalized these findings to human beings, emphasizing the importance of recency and frequency. This means that if we’ve smiled every time we’ve seen a child for the past ten years, we’re very likely to smile if we see a child today. The American B. F. Skinner (1904-1990) extended this system to include the idea of positive and negative reinforcement.
Pavlov’s type of learning is usually called classical conditioning, while Skinner’s is called operant conditioning. Skinner soon became the most popular advocate of behaviorism. He argues that past reinforcements determine behavior. We learn to repeat or decline behaviors based on their consequences. This is called the Stimulus-Response-Reinforcement (S-R-R) model.
Skinner also formulated the idea of shaping. By controlling the environmental rewards and punishments for behaviors, one is able to shape behavior. Psychologist also call this behavior modification.
Critics of behaviorism say it depicts a soulless, mechanistic view of mankind. Instead of resembling a pleasure-seeking machine, critics say that human beings are uniquely free, replete with emotional, intuitive, intellectual and spiritual concerns extending well beyond the narrow confines of reward and punishment.
Daniel Dennett contends that human beings are Skinnerian, Popperian and also Darwinian creatures. This means that we learn from stimulus, response and reinforcement but we also have the inner ability to test our hypotheses prior to enacting them in the real world.
This challenges Skinner’s anti-mentalism, as does Dennett’s Darwinian component. According to Dennett we act partially in accord with ancestrally acquired knowledge. A good example of this can be found in our capacity for language. Because of our language skills, many believe that human beings are hard-wired to learn languages. And we do, in fact, learn language if we’re raised in the right kind of environment, whereas a child parented by wolves in the wild won’t learn how to speak a language.²
¹ David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature London: Collins, 1962 , p. 54.
² Wittgenstein’s notion of a private language might seem to challenge this idea. But Wittgenstein, himself, argues that any kind of representation that isn’t socially shared cannot truly be language. More recently, the postmodern notion of connotation complicates this claim. Some postmoderns ask: If everyone understands signs differently, are we really communicating?
- Today’s Birthday: BURRHUS FREDERIC “B.F.” SKINNER (1904) (euzicasa.wordpress.com)
- Ep 191: What Was B. F. Skinner Really Like? (thepsychfiles.com)
- Positive Reinforcement and the General Public (ayahska.wordpress.com)
- New Textbook! Behavior Analysis and Learning, 5th Edition (psypress.com)
- 4 Fantastic Thinkers Who Helped to Shape Psychology (whatispsychology.biz)
- David Hume: Reason is Dead(ness) (pathtothepossible.wordpress.com)
- Artificial Artificial Intelligence (smashingboxes.com)
- “Networked Minds” Require A Fundamentally New Kind of Economics (videolectures.net)
- B.F. Skinner: The Man Who Taught Pigeons to Play Ping-Pong and Rats to Pull Levers (blogs.smithsonianmag.com)
- Behaviorism 101 (ronnekafrasergreen.wordpress.com)
The word historicity has two main meanings. The first refers to any kind of recorded history after prehistory. This could include cave art, such as we find at Lascaux in southwestern France.
The second meaning of the term refers to questioning the historical existence of Christ, or some other divine personage, mythical figure or place.
- Reasonably doubting that John baptized Jesus – Or how HJ scholars worked before they had Tools (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Non-Biblical Sources which Document the Historical Jesus (compassioninpolitics.wordpress.com)
- Dale Allison on Jesus Mythicism (diglotting.com)
- David Fitzgerald Debunks Historical Jesus at Skepticon 3 (holyblasphemy.net)
- Critically evaluating Paul’s claims about Jesus (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Why and how I came to question the historicity of Jesus (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Bart Ehrman’s failed attempt to address mythicism (vridar.wordpress.com)
- A rational foundation for investigating the mythicist question (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Reconciliation and Representation: Doctrine of Christ (wateristhickerthanblood.wordpress.com)
- Chris Columbus to Produce Film about Jesus Christ as a Kid (geektyrant.com)
William James (1842-1910) was an American pragmatist philosopher/psychologist and the brother of the famous novelist Henry James.
James suffered poor health and frequent bouts of psychological exhaustion but this did not adversely affect his work. His Principles of Psychology (1890) became a popular textbook for psychologists, influencing Carl G. Jung among others.
His collected lectures on religion, published as The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), remains a classic in religious studies.
James was raised in an affluent and literary Presbyterian family in New York City, later moving to various European cities, Boston and eventually Cambridge Massachusetts. Prominent guests frequented his New England residence, to include statesmen and intellectuals.
This diversity of blue chip characters and opinions likely influenced his outlook. Jung says that he was struck by James’ curiosity and fresh approach to psychology, calling him one of the few open-minded psychological researchers of his era.
James’ theory differentiates the personal and social dimensions of religion. He advocates a religious plurality to accommodate the specific needs of diverse individuals.
In describing direct, unmediated religious experience (i.e. mysticism), James, like Rudolf Otto, says the Godhead possesses a mysterious, non-discursive authority. His ‘Four Marks’ of mysticism have become standard fare in university religion courses.
James says these four marks of mysticism are
- Ineffability: Mysticism must be experienced first-hand, it cannot be adequately described to others through language
- Noetic Quality: The experience is accompanied with an increase in knowledge that cannot be obtained through discursive reasoning
- Transciency: Mystical experiences do not last very long (nuns, monks, yogis and some religious persons would likely disagree on this point)
- Passivity: While bodily exercises or meditation may prepare, facilitate or, perhaps, generate an experience of mysticism, the experience itself is overwhelming, rendering one a passive receptor
James also makes a distinction between “healthy-minded” – i.e. positive – approaches to religion and the morbidly pessimistic “sick soul.”
His comments about the value of saintliness reveal a materialistic bias, especially in his discussion of St. Teresa of Ávila. In keeping with this bias, James’ Principles of Psychology outlines a functionalist approach.
- On This Day In Psychology History – April 22 (psychology.about.com)
- Death Followed by Life (psychologytoday.com)
- Stob, “‘Terministic Screens,’ Social Constructionism, and the Language of Experience” (631rhetoric.wordpress.com)
- Those Fabulous James Boys (psychologytoday.com)
- Poppy Field (bethparkerart.wordpress.com)
- Research linking booze and cancer won’t put us off drinking, because alcohol gives us a religious experience (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Bibliography: History of Functionalism (ahp.apps01.yorku.ca)
- Wisdom (Week 2 – Day 1) (celestialpsychology.com)
- Sunday Devotional: Authentic Mystical Experience by Richard Rohr (zoecarnate.wordpress.com)
- Study of Vision Tackles a Philosophy Riddle (thehandiestone.typepad.com)
In the religious sense a seer is a person with an alleged gift of inner sight. He or she apparently ‘sees’ the past and future, possibly across great distances and through different spiritual realms.
Some spiritual figures like Da Free John, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Chinmoy and Paramahansa Yogananda apparently receive other people’s thoughts, feelings and experiences, and claim to use these abilities to assess their disciples’ degree of spiritual development.
Mystical Hinduism, particularly the guru ideal, stresses the importance of the seer. And his or her gifts are said to coincide with and contribute to spiritual wisdom.
In Catholicism the seer often adheres to the rules and regulations of their order, as in monastic Catholicism. Spiritual abilities are viewed as gifts or charisms from God and are usually played down out of humility–that is, there’s no desire to puff oneself up as a big holy person, an unsavory approach which in Jungian terms is called inflation or self-aggrandizement.
Catholic seers allegedly have the gift of ‘reading hearts,’ which includes knowing another person’s thoughts, inclinations and overall spiritual condition.
In Greek myth Tiresias was a blind seer.
Some are willing to entertain the idea that a seer may possess unconventional abilities but question their source as well as the ethics as to how they are applied in daily life.
Meanwhile, skeptics like James Randi remain unconvinced about everything paranormal, the notion of ‘seeing’ and so on.
» Clairaudience, Clairsentience, Clairvoyance, Remote Viewing, Rishis, Psi, Wisdom
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