The Talmud’s Theological Language-Game: A Philosophical Discourse Analysis

The Talmud's Theological Language-Game A Philosophical Discourse Analysis
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It is therefore difficult to assert a strong and impermeable boundary between religion and ethics in the biblical milieu. Such a boundary does not exist between law and ethics either. For these reasons the Bible contains multiple ways to motivate people to do what is right and good, ways that are championed by later contributors to Jewish ethical theories, as subsequent chapters will demonstrate.

While some of these motivating factors pertain to Israelites alone, the Bible nonetheless assumes that other nations also can and should behave according to at least some basic minimal standards.

Re‐playing Maimonides' codes: Designing games to teach religious legal systems

For this reason many biblical ethical texts concern relations between or among communities, including those between Jews and non-Jews, not just between or among the individuals within them. Charlotte Fonrobert notes that speaking of ethics is rather difficult when one considers rabbinic literature. Not only does this literature lack the very notion of ethics, it also emerges from various terrains and times and perforce bespeaks not only different moral conclusions, but even differing presumptions on how to reach those positions. Hence claims that there is a single rabbinic ethic are inherently suspect.

That said, the rabbis of old certainly do wrestle with ethicality, its interrelationship with both rabbinic and biblical halakhah law , and the desire to balance particularist with universalist concerns. This absence, Dan maintains, extends primarily from the fact that the genre does not call halakhah into question, as does Jewish ethics generally, particularly through the notion of lifnim mi-shurat ha-din supererogation —that one must act beyond the letter of the law.

That the medieval period produced wide-ranging ethical thought is further demonstrated in the chapter by Warren Zev Harvey. Obedience and love, Spinoza asserts, are the ultimate character traits that instantiate the highest forms of ethical existence in these realms. With the increasing civic and intellectual freedoms that emancipation and the Enlightenment brought to Jews, the nineteenth century witnessed a dramatic flourishing of Jewish thought and activity.

Ira Stone traces the challenges this new modernity posed to Jews and shows how they variously responded. Early twentieth-century Jewish theologians and philosophers were no less creative than their predecessors, as Jonathan K. These three German scholars, writing in the decades surrounding World War I, were both attracted to and repulsed by modernity. On the one hand, the modern drive toward nationalism inspired their commitment to Jews and Judaism, and so each plumbed the Jewish textual tradition to ground his ethical theory. Yet the destructiveness that self-centeredness can and did cause led each man to promote an ethic that attends to others.

Crane explores this turn to others and otherness, a turn that oriented much subsequent Jewish ethical theorizing. Heschel, by contrast, p. Soloveitchik, two luminaries in twentieth-century Orthodoxy in Israel and the United States, respectively. Whereas Kook views the moral impulse as already embedded in Jewish existence, Soloveitchik understands imitatio Dei as the central mechanism through which Jewish ethical behavior comes into being. In some ways, this difference in focus—on Jews or on God—echoes the primary difference between Kaplan and Heschel in the Conservative Movement.

Michael Berenbaum tackles the difficulties the Holocaust posed and continues to raise for Jews, Jewish theology, and specifically Jewish ethics. He identifies eight major commitments made by Jews and non-Jews that have since then inspired Jewish and global responses to such human-made atrocities as genocide and crimes against humanity. The next several chapters turn our attention to the streams of modern Jewry.

Michael Marmur traces the emergence of Reform Jewish ethical sensibility from its early days in nineteenth-century Germany through its evolution to modern America, Israel, and beyond. He identifies four major sensibilities that, while presented chronologically, are nevertheless found among contemporary Reform Jews: the notion that ethics should be the first theology of Judaism, a passion for tikkun olam repairing the world from injustices , a suspicion and critique of modernity, and an ethics of authenticity.

Changing what Jews do and altering the reasons why they should do things differently was not an exclusively Reform endeavor; Conservative Judaism also instituted innovations, especially since World War II. Cherry, in fact, argues for his own approach in contrast to those of some of the other representatives of Conservative Judaism whose theories and legal rulings he discusses.

He tests four theses comprising what he calls the maximalist Modern Orthodox position to demonstrate how they go about addressing moral conundrums already embedded in the textual tradition and those that modernity poses to contemporary Jews, illustrating the strengths and weaknesses of each of them and then arguing for the approach that he thinks is best.

Though founded as a stream within Conservative Judaism in and becoming a separate movement only in , the Reconstructionist Movement may be the youngest mainstream branch of modern Jewry, but its commitment to ethics has always been central to its self-understanding. David A. Indeed, as shaping actual Jewish living has continuously been its major goal, the movement eventually developed what is now called values-based decision-making that is to guide collective as well as personal ethical deliberation and concrete action.

Feminist methodologies creatively critique halakhah , theology, liturgy, ritual, and textual interpretation, all with implications for social and political analysis and activism. Nearly concurrent with the rise of feminist criticisms in recent decades was the emergence of postmodernism that both endorsed particularity as against the universality championed by modernity and simultaneously critiqued the totalizing effects inhering in particularity.

He then turns to the ethical philosophy of embodiment and self-mastery by Jonathan Schofer and Chaya Halberstam, to show that postmodern Jewish ethics is simultaneously intensely personal while also procedural and communal. Lest the reader assume that these chapters cover the totality of Jewish ethical theorizing, it should be stressed that it is only limited space that prevents additional Jewish ethical theories to be addressed at length here. Their exclusion is not a reflection on the sophistication of these approaches but more their prevalence relative to the other approaches included here.

For example, much more can be said about the emergence of the field of Jewish studies Wissenschaft des Judentums in the nineteenth century and its impact on how scholars think about Judaism, Jews, and Jewish ethics. Then and, truthfully, throughout Jewish history, Jews gave certain lines of inquiry privilege over others predominantly because Jews were influenced by the theoretical approaches and p. One objection to pluralism of this sort is that it leads to a dilemma, neither horn of which pluralists will want to affirm. On the one hand, if we do not have concepts that are in fact referring to Ultimate Reality as it is in itself, then we have landed in religious skepticism.

On the other hand, if we do have concepts that describe actual properties of Ultimate Reality, then we are not epistemically blind after all, and therefore we could, theoretically at least, be in a position to make evaluations about different claims that are made about Ultimate Reality from the various religious traditions. Another version of religious pluralism attempts to avoid some of the difficulties of the pluralistic hypothesis.

For the aspectual pluralist, there is an objective Ultimate Reality which can be knowable to us. Unlike the pluralistic hypothesis, and in very non-Kantian fashion, valid descriptions of the noumenal are possible. Peter Byrne argues that each of the different major religious traditions reflects some aspect of the transcendent. Byrne uses the notion of natural kinds in order to clarify his view. Just as the natural kind gold has an unobservable essence as well as observable properties or qualities—being yellow, lustrous, and hard—so too Ultimate Reality has an essence with different experienced manifestations.

Ultimate Reality manifests different aspects of itself in the different religions given their own unique conceptual schemes and practices. One challenge to this form of pluralism is that, since each of the religions is capturing only an aspect of the transcendent, it seems that one would obtain a better understanding of its essence by creating a new syncretistic religion in order to glean a more comprehensive understanding of Ultimate Reality. Also, since religious adherents are only glimpsing the transcendent through properties which are themselves enculturated within the various traditions, descriptions of Ultimate Reality cannot offer adequate knowledge claims about it.

So one is left with at least a mitigated form of religious skepticism. A second way of responding to the conflicting claims of the different traditions is to remain committed to the truth of one set of religious teachings while at the same time agreeing with some of the central concerns raised by pluralism. Religious relativism provides such a response. For religious relativism, as articulated by Joseph Runzo, the correctness of a religion is relative to the worldview of its community of adherents.

On this view, each of the religious traditions are comprised of various experiences and mutually incompatible truth claims, and the traditions are themselves rooted in distinct worldviews that are incompatible with, if not contradictory to, the other worldviews. Runzo maintains that these differing experiences and traditions emerge from the plurality of phenomenal realities experienced by the adherents of the traditions. Furthermore, there are incompatible yet adequate truth claims that correspond to the various worldviews, and the veracity of a religion is determined by its adequacy to appropriately correspond to the worldview within which it is subsumed.

An important difference between the religious relativist and the pluralist is that, for the relativist and not the pluralist, truth itself is understood to be relative. Relativism may offer a more coherent account of religious conflict than pluralism, but it can be argued that it falls short of the actual beliefs of religious adherents.

For most religious adherents, their beliefs are generally understood to be true in an objective sense. This leads to the third, and most commonly held, response to conflicting religious claims. In contrast to pluralism and relativism is a third response to the conflicting truth claims of the religions: exclusivism. The term is used in different ways in religious discourse, but a common element is that the central tenets of one religion are true, and claims which are incompatible with those tenets are false.

Another common and related element is that salvation is found exclusively in one religion. Regarding the truth claim, for example, for a Muslim exclusivist, Allah is the one true God who literally spoke to the prophet Muhammad in space and time. Since that is true, then the Advaita Vedantan claim that Brahman God is nirguna —without attributes—must be false, for these two understandings of Ultimate Reality contradict one another.

The same is the case for all religious exclusivists; since they take their religious claims to be objectively true, the contrary claims of other religions are false. This does not mean that exclusivists are not self-critical of their own beliefs, nor does it rule out the practice of dialoguing with or learning from religious others.

But it does mean that religious differences are real and that there are intractable disagreements among religious traditions. Religious exclusivism of which Alvin Plantinga is one prominent example has been the most widely held position among the adherents of the major world religions. Various responses have been made to exclusivism, including moral objections such as that the exclusivist is arrogant, dishonest, oppressive and intellectual and epistemic objections including claims that the exclusivist holds unjustified or irrational beliefs. A major theme among philosophers of religion in the West has been that of God, including questions about the nature and existence of God, challenges to the existence of God, language about God, and so on.

Within every major religion is a belief about a transcendent reality underlying the natural, physical world. From its beginnings, philosophy of religion has been concerned with reflecting on, as far as possible, how religions might understand Ultimate Reality. How the various religions conceptualize that reality differs, especially between Eastern and Western religions. In Western religion , primarily the three religions of Abrahamic descent—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—Ultimate Reality is conceived of and described in terms of a personal God who is creator and sustainer of all and perfect in every respect.

Many other properties are commonly attributed to God as well, including omniscience, omnipotence, and immutability.

It is not a personal creator God, but an absolute state of being. It cannot be described by a set of attributes, such as omniscience or omnipotence, for it is undifferentiated Absolute Reality. Taoists refer to it as the Tao; Hindus refer to it as Brahman; for Buddhists, the name varies and includes Shunyata and Nirvana.

According to this view, the best one can do from a religious perspective is to have faith that there exists a metaphysically and axiologically ultimate reality and that from this reality an ultimate good can be attained. It is generally the case that religious adherents do not hold their religious convictions because of well-articulated reasons or arguments which support those convictions. However, reasons and arguments are sometimes used by believers to defend and advance their positions.

Arguments for the existence of God have been utilized in natural theology and theistic apologetics for at least two millennia. Three which have been prominent historically and still receive special attention in contemporary philosophy of religion discussions are the ontological, cosmological, and teleological arguments. First developed by Saint Anselm of Canterbury — , ontological arguments take various forms.

All of them begin with the concept of God and conclude that God must exist. Anselm argues that God is a being than which none greater can be conceived. He then asks which is greater: to exist in the mind or in reality.

Levels of Language for Discourse Analysis

His argument concludes this way:. But obviously this is impossible. Hence, there is no doubt that there exists a being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, and it exists both in the understanding and in reality. Proslogion , chapter II, Since it would be a contradiction to affirm that the greatest possible being does not exist in reality but only in the mind because existing in reality is greater than existing in the mind , one is logically drawn to the conclusion that God must exist.

There have been many objections to this argument. Another important objection offered by Immanuel Kant was that existence is not a real predicate. Alvin Plantinga, for example, has devised a version of the ontological argument utilizing the semantics of modal logic: possibility, necessity, and possible worlds a possible world being a world that is logically possible. Defining a maximally excellent being as one that is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect in every possible world, his argument can be stated this way:.

Plantinga does not affirm that the argument provides conclusive proof that God exists, but he does claim that there is nothing irrational in accepting it. Regarding the latter, Michael Martin — , offers the following reductio :. Given this argument structure, we could also conclude that ghosts, gremlins, and countless other mythical creatures exist as well, which is absurd. Cosmological arguments begin by examining some empirical or metaphysical fact of the universe, from which it then follows that something outside the universe must have caused it to exist.

There are different types of cosmological arguments, and its defenders include some of the most prominent thinkers spanning the history of philosophy, including Plato, Aristotle, ibn Sina, al-Ghazali, Maimonides, Aquinas, Descartes, and Leibniz. Three versions of the argument that have received much attention are the Thomistic contingency argument, the Leibnizian sufficient reason argument, and the kalam argument. It is next argued that not all things can be contingent, for if they were there would be nothing to ground their existence.

This necessary thing or being is God. Another type of cosmological argument is the Leibnizian sufficient reason argument, so named after the German thinker Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz — The argument concludes that the explanation of the universe must lie in a transcendent God since the universe does not have within its own nature the necessity of existence and God does.

Some recent versions of the cosmological argument grant that contingent things exist due to the causal events of other contingent things, but they then go on to inquire why the universe should exist at all when conceivably this could have not been the case. What provides a sufficient reason for the existence of the universe? It cannot be another contingent thing and on into infinity , for to explain the existence of any contingent thing by another contingent thing lacks a sufficient reason why any contingent thing exists.

If our universe truly is contingent, the obtaining of certain fundamental facts or other will be unexplained within empirical theory, whatever the topological structure of contingent reality. An infinite regress of beings in or outside the spatiotemporal universe cannot forestall such a result. If there is to be an ultimate, or complete, explanation, it will have to ground in some way the most fundamental, contingent facts of the universe in a necessary being, something which has the reason for its existence within its own nature. It bears emphasis that such an unconditional explanation need not in any way compete with conditional, empirical explanations.

Indeed, it is natural to suppose that empirical explanations will be subsumed within the larger structure of the complete explanation. Oxford, Blackwell, , An objection raised against both the Thomistic- and the Leibnizian-type arguments is that they are demanding explanations which are unwarranted. If for every individual contingent thing in the universe there is an explanation, why does the whole need a further explanation? Furthermore, an explanation must at some point come to an end—a brute fact. So why not end with the universe?

Why posit some further transcendent reality? The argument is structured by William Lane Craig, its most ardent proponent in recent times, as follows:. The dilemmas are obvious. Either the universe had a beginning or it did not. If it did, either that beginning was caused or it was not caused. If it was caused, either the cause was personal or it was impersonal. Based on these dilemmas, the argument can be put in the following logical form:. This version of the cosmological argument was bolstered by work in astrophysics and cosmology in the late twentieth century.

On one interpretation of the standard Big Bang cosmological model, the time-space universe sprang into existence ex nihilo approximately Such a beginning is best explained, argue kalam defenders, by a non-temporal, non-spatial, personal, transcendent cause—namely God. The claim that the universe began to exist is also argued philosophically in at least two ways. First, it is argued that an actual infinite set of events cannot exist, for actual infinities lead to metaphysical absurdities. Since an infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite set of events, such a regress is metaphysically impossible.

So the past cannot be infinite; the universe must have had a temporal beginning. A second approach begins by arguing that an infinite series of events cannot be formed by successive addition one member being added to another. The reason why is that, when adding finite numbers one after the other, the set of numbers will always be finite. The addition of yet another finite number, ad infinitum, will never lead to an actual infinite. Since the past is a series of temporal events formed by successive addition, the past could not be actually infinite in duration.

Nor will the future be so. The universe must have had a beginning. Many objections have been raised against the kalam argument, both scientific and philosophical, including that there are other cosmological models of the universe besides the Big Bang in which the universe is understood to be eternal, such as various multi-verse theories. Philosophical rebuttals marshaled against the kalam argument include the utilization of set theory and mathematical systems which employ actual infinite sets.

Teleological arguments in the East go back as far as C. In the West, Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics offered arguments for a directing intelligence of the world given the order found within it. There is an assortment of teleological arguments, but a common theme among them is the claim that certain characteristics of the natural world reflect design, purpose, and intelligence.

These features of the natural world are then used as evidence for an intelligent, intentional designer of the world. The teleological argument has been articulated and defended at various times and places throughout history, but its zenith was in the early nineteenth century with perhaps its most ardent defender: William Paley — Those offered by David Hume — in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion are often taken to be archetype refutations of traditional design arguments. Among them are that the analogy between the works of nature and human artifacts is not particularly strong; that even if we could infer a grand designer of the universe, this designer turns out to be something less than the God of the theistic religions especially given the great amount of evil in the world ; and that just because a universe has the appearance of design, it does not follow that it is in fact designed; such an event could have occurred through natural, chance events.

A more recent version of the design argument is based on the apparent fine-tuning of the cosmos. Fine-tuning arguments, whose current leading defender is Robin Collins, include the claims that the laws of nature, the constants of physics, and the initial conditions of the universe are finely tuned for conscious life. Consider the following three: 1 If the strong nuclear force the force that binds protons and neutrons in an atom had been either stronger or weaker by five percent, life would be impossible; 2 If neutrons were not roughly 1. While each of the individual calculations of such constants may not be fully accurate, it is argued that the significant number of them, coupled with their independence from one other, provides evidence of their being intentionally established with conscious life in mind.

Objections to fine-tuning arguments are multifarious. According to an anthropic principle objection, if the laws of nature and physical constants would have varied to any significant degree, there would be no conscious observers such as ourselves. Given that such observers do exist, it should not be surprising that the laws and constants are just as they are.

One way of accounting for such observers is the many-worlds hypothesis. In this view, there exist a large number of universes, perhaps an infinite number of them. Most of these universes include life-prohibiting parameters, but at least a minimal number of them would probably include life-permitting ones. It should not be surprising that one of them, ours, for example, is life-permitting. Much of the current fine-tuning discussion turns on the plausibility of the many-worlds hypothesis and the anthropic principle. There are other versions of the teleological argument that have also been proposed which focus not on fundamental parameters of the cosmos but on different aspects of living organisms—including their emergence, alleged irreducibly complex systems within living organisms, information intrinsic within DNA, and the rise of consciousness—in an attempt to demonstrate intelligent, intentional qualities in the world.

If successful, the cosmological argument only provides evidence for a transcendent first cause of the universe, nothing more; at best, the teleological argument provides evidence for a purposive, rational designer of the universe, nothing more; and so on. Natural theologians maintain, however, that the central aim of these arguments is not to offer full-blown proofs of any particular deity, but rather to provide evidence or warrant for belief in a grand designer, or creator, or moral lawgiver.

Some natural theologians argue that it is best to combine the various arguments in order to provide a cumulative case for a broad form of theism. Taken together, these natural theologians argue, the classical arguments offer a picture of a deity not unlike the God of the theistic religious traditions and even if this approach does not prove the existence of any particular deity, it does nonetheless lend support to theism over naturalism which, as used here, is the view that natural entities have only natural causes, and that the world is fully describable by the physical sciences.

Along with arguments for the existence of God, there are also a number of reasons one might have for denying the existence of God. If the burden is on the theist to provide highly convincing evidences or reasons that would warrant his or her believing that God exists, in the absence of such evidences and reasons disbelief is justified. Another reason one might have for not believing that God exists is that science conflicts with theistic beliefs and, given the great success of the scientific enterprise, it should have the last word on the matter.

Since science has regularly rebuffed religious claims in the past, we should expect the claims of religion to eventually become extinct. A third possible reason for denying the existence of God is that the very concept of God is incoherent. And a fourth reason one might have is that the existence of God conflicts with various features of the natural world, such as evil, pain, and suffering. Over the last several hundred years there has been tremendous growth in scientific understanding of the world in such fields as biology, astronomy, physics, and geology. These advances have had considerable influence on religious belief.

When religious texts, such as the Bible, have been in conflict with science, the latter has generally been the winner in the debate ; religious beliefs have commonly given way to the power of the scientific method. It has seemed to some that modern science will be able to explain all of the fundamental questions of life with no remainder. Given the advances of science and the retreat of religious beliefs, many in the latter half of the twentieth century agreed with the general Freudian view that a new era was on the horizon in which the infantile illusions, or perhaps delusions, of religion would soon go the way of the ancient Greek and Roman gods.

With the onset of the twenty-first century, however, a new narrative has emerged. Religion has not fallen into oblivion, as many anticipated; in fact, religious belief is on the rise. Many factors account for this, including challenges to psychological and sociological theories which hold belief in God to be pathological or neurotic. In recent decades these theories have themselves been challenged by medical and psychological research, being understood by many to be theories designed primarily to destroy belief in God.

Another important factor is the increase in the number of believing and outspoken scientists, such as Francis Collins, the director of the human genome project. But despite this orchestrated opposition arguing the falsity and incoherence of theism, it has proved rather resilient. Indeed, the twenty-first century is reflecting a renewed interest in philosophical theism. Philosophical challenges to theism have also included the claim that the very concept of God makes no sense—that the attributes ascribed to God are logically incoherent either individually or collectively.

There are first-rate philosophers today who argue that theism is coherent and others of equal stature who argue that theism is incoherent. Much of the criticism of the concept of theism has focused on God as understood in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, but it is also relevant to the theistic elements found within Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and certain forms of African and Native American religions. The question of whether theism is coherent is an important one, for if there is reason to believe that theism is incoherent, theistic belief is in an important sense undermined.

The logical consistency of each of the divine attributes of classical theism has been challenged by both adherents and non-adherents of theism. Consider the divine attribute of omniscience. If God knows what you will freely do tomorrow, then it is the case now that you will indeed do that tomorrow. But how can you be free not to do that thing tomorrow if it is true now that you will in fact freely do that thing tomorrow? There is a vast array of replies to this puzzle, but some philosophers conclude that omniscience is incompatible with future free action and that, since there is future free action, God—if God exists—is not omniscient.

Another objection to the coherence of theism has to do with the divine attribute of omnipotence and is referred to as the stone paradox. An omnipotent being, as traditionally understood, is a being who can bring about anything. So, an omnipotent being could create a stone that was too heavy for such a being to lift. But if he could not lift the stone, he would not be omnipotent, and if he could not make such a stone, he would not be omnipotent. Hence, no such being exists. A number of replies have been offered to this puzzle, but some philosophers conclude that the notion of omnipotence as traditionally defined is incoherent and must be redefined if the concept of God is to remain a plausible one.

Arguments for the incoherence of theism have been offered for each of the divine attributes. While there have been many challenges to the classical attributes of God, there are also contemporary philosophers and theologians who have defended each of them as traditionally understood. There is much lively discussion currently underway by those defending both the classical and neo-classical views of God. But not all theistic philosophers and theologians have believed that the truths of religious beliefs can be or even should be demonstrated or rationally justified.

Perhaps the most compelling and noteworthy argument against theism is what is referred to as the problem of evil. Philosophers of the East and the West have long recognized that difficulties arise for one who affirms both the existence of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God and the reality of evil. David Hume, quoting the ancient Greek thinker Epicurus — B. Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Is he able, but not willing?

Is he both able and willing? There are different ways the problem of evil can be formulated. One formulation is construed as a logical problem. For the logical problem of evil , it is asserted that the two claims, 1 an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God exists, and 2 evil exists, are logically incompatible. Since evil ostensibly exists, the argument goes, God understood traditionally as being omnipotent and omnibenevolent must not exist.

In the latter half of the twentieth century, the logical argument held sway. But by the end of that century, it was widely acknowledged by philosophers of religion that the logical problem had been rebutted. One reason is that as claims 1 and 2 are not explicitly contradictory, there must be hidden premises or unstated assumptions which make them so. But what might those be? Given these claims, 1 and 2 would be logically incompatible.

However, it turns out that at least a may not be true, even on a classical theistic account. It could be that a world with free agents is more valuable than a world with no free agents. Further, it could be that such free agents cannot be caused or determined to do only what is morally right and good, even by God. If this is so, in order for God to create agents who are capable of moral good, God had to create agents who are capable of moral evil as well. If this is a logical possibility, and it seems to be so, then premise a is not a necessary truth because God cannot create just any world.

In addition, premise b is not necessarily true either. For all we know, God could use evil to achieve some good end, such as bringing about the virtues of compassion and mercy. As long as a and b are possibly false, the conclusion of the argument is no longer necessarily true, so it loses its deductive force.

This response to the logical argument from evil is called a defense , which is distinguished from a theodicy. The aim of a defense is to demonstrate that the arguments from evil are unsuccessful given a possible scenario or set of scenarios, whereas a theodicy is an attempt to justify God and the ways of God given the evil and suffering in the world. Both defenses and theodicies have been used by theists in responding to the various problems of evil.

Evidential arguments attempt to demonstrate that the existence of evil in the world counts as inductive evidence against the claim that God exists. One form of the evidential argument from evil is based on the assumption, often agreed on by theists and atheists alike, that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being would prevent the existence of significant amounts of gratuitous evil. Since significant amounts of gratuitous evil seem to exist, God probably does not. One influential approach, espoused by William Rowe , contends that many evils, such as the slow and agonizing death of a fawn burned in a forest fire ignited by lightning, appear to be gratuitous.

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Many of the Book of Enoch books available are in fact public domain the R. Avot , m. Aggadic Consideration of Human Freedom In first demonstrating the integral and authoritative voice of aggadic texts, rabbinic tradition could include aggadic perspective apart from halakhic correlation. Within its lesser bulk, there is far less aggadic material proportionately in the Yerushalmi than in the Bavli which scholars regularly explain is due to separate Palestinian midrash books, a phenomenon unknown to Babylonia. The notion of the world as a created order and an order reflecting, in sometimes very complex, unobvious ways, divine goodness and wisdom is crucial for Maimonides. They constitute a special celebration of the ingenuity and inventiveness of the human spirit.

However, an omnipotent and omniscient being could have prevented them from occurring, and an omnibenevolent being would have not allowed any significant pointless evils to occur if they could have been avoided. So, the argument concludes, it is more reasonable to disbelieve that God exists. One way of responding to such arguments is to attempt to demonstrate that there is, after all, a point to each of the seemingly gratuitous evils. A solid case for even some examples would lower the probability of the evidential argument, and one could maintain that normal epistemic limitations restrict knowledge in many other examples.

The theistic traditions historically have, in fact, affirmed the inscrutability of God and the ways of God. The skeptical theist has created a chasm between human and divine knowledge far beyond what theism has traditionally affirmed. Another version of the evidential argument has been advanced by Paul Draper.

On this hypothesis, the existence of sentient beings including their nature and their place is neither the result of a benevolent nor a malevolent nonhuman person. Contrast this with the theistic account in which, since God is morally perfect, there must be morally good reasons for allowing biologically useless pain, and there must be morally good reasons for producing pleasures even if such pleasures are not biologically useful.

But given our observations of the pains and pleasures experienced by sentient creatures, including their biologically gratuitous experiences such as those brought about by biological evolution , the hypothesis of indifference provides a more reasonable account than theism. In response, Peter van Inwagen maintains that this argument can be countered by contending that for all we know, in every possible world which exhibits a high degree of complexity such as ours with sentient, intelligent life the laws of nature are the same or have the same general features as the actual laws.

We cannot assume, then, that the distribution of pain and pleasure including the pains and pleasures reflected in biological evolution in a world with a high degree of complexity such as ours would be any different given theism. We are simply not epistemically capable of accurately assigning a probability either way, so we cannot make the judgment that theism is less likely than the hypothesis of indifference.

When assessing arguments of this sort, some important questions for consideration are these: What is the claim probable or improbable with respect to? And what is the relevant background information with respect to the claim? In this case, there is further opportunity for God to bring moral good out of the many kinds and varieties of evil in this life. Nevertheless, the evidential problem of evil remains a central argument type against the plausibility of theism. A theodicy, unlike a defense, takes on the burden of attempting to vindicate God by providing a plausible explanation for evil. There is evil in the world.

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There are various attempts to demonstrate what that good reason is, or those good reasons are. Two important theodicies are those that appeal to the significance and value of free will, and those that appeal to the significance and value of acquiring virtuous traits of character in the midst of suffering. The first fully developed theodicy was crafted by Augustine in the fifth century of the common era. Since all creation is intrinsically good, evil must not represent the positive existence of any substantial thing.

Edited by Elliot N. Dorff and Jonathan K. Crane

Evil, then, turns out to be a metaphysical privation, a privatio boni privation of goodness , or the going wrong of something that is inherently good. Both moral and natural evil, for Augustine, entered the universe through the wrongful use of free will. Since all creatures, both angels and humans, are finite and mutable, they have the capacity to choose evil, which they have done. Thus, while God created everything in the world good, including angels and humans, through the use of their wills these free agents have ushered into the world that which is contrary to the good.

Much of what is good has become corrupted, and this corruption stems from these free creatures, not from God. The Augustinian theodicy concludes with the culmination of history entailing cosmic justice. These evils do not seem to occur because of the free choices of moral creatures. The free will theodicy, then, is ineffectual as a solution to arguments from evil that include natural events such as these. Lewis, Alvin Plantinga, and others have proposed that supernatural beings may ultimately be responsible for evils of this kind, but most theodicists are skeptical of such a notion.

Another objection to this theodicy is that it was crafted in a pre-scientific culture and thus is devoid of an evolutionary view of the development of flora and fauna, including such elements as predation and species annihilation.

Borowitz, Eugene B.

The narrative of an originally perfect creation through which evil entered by the choices of free agents is now generally considered to be mistaken and unhelpful. The soul-making or person-making theodicy was developed by John Hick, utilizing ideas from the early Christian thinker and bishop Irenaeus c. According to this theodicy, as advanced by Hick, God created the world as a good place, but no paradise, for developing morally and spiritually mature beings.

Through evolutionary means, God is bringing about such individuals who have the freedom of will and the capacity to mature in love and goodness. Individuals placed in this challenging environment of our world, one in which there is epistemic distance between God and human persons, have the opportunity to choose, through their own free responses, what is right and good and thus develop into the mature persons that God desires them to be—exhibiting the virtues of patience, courage, generosity, and so on.

Evil, then, is the result of both the creation of a soul-making environment and of the human choices to act against what is right and good. While there is much evil in the world, nevertheless the trajectory of the world is toward the good, and God will continue to work with human and perhaps other persons, even in the afterlife if necessary, such that in the eschaton everyone will finally be brought to a place of moral and spiritual maturity. One objection to the soul-making theodicy is that there are many evils in the world that seem to have nothing to do with character development. Gratuitous evils appear to be in abundance.

Furthermore, there is no empirical support for the claim that the world is structured for soul making. Many persons appear to make no moral progress after much suffering; in fact, some persons seem to be worse off by the end of their earthly life. In reply, it can be argued that apparently pointless evils are not always, in fact, without purpose and merit. The compassion that is evoked from such seemingly indiscriminate and unfair miseries, for example, is a great good, and one which may not arise without the miseries appearing as unfair and indiscriminate.

While God did not intend or need any particular evils for soul-making purposes, God did arguably need to create an environment where such evils were a possibility. Thus, while each individual instance of evil may not be justified by a particular greater good, the existence of a world where evil is possible is necessary for a world where soul making can occur. So in these instances, at least, the soul-making process would need to continue on in the afterlife. The free will and soul-making theodicies share a common supposition that God would not permit evil which is not necessary for a greater good.

But many theists maintain that some evils are not justified, that some horrors are so damaging that there are no goods which outweigh them. But if there are such evils, the question can be raised why God would allow them. It may be that standard theism, theism unaccompanied by other religious claims, is inadequate to provide a response. In fact, some have argued that an adequate reply requires an expanded theism which incorporates other particular religious claims. One such approach has been offered by Marilyn McCord Adams —.

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The Talmud's Theological Language-Game: A Philosophical Discourse Analysis (SUNY series in Jewish Philosophy) [Eugene B. Borowitz] on Editorial Reviews. Review. "This is an important study of rabbinic methodology applying The Talmud's Theological Language-Game: A Philosophical Discourse Analysis (SUNY series in Jewish Philosophy) - Kindle edition by Eugene B.

Utilizing the resources of her own religious tradition, Adams pushes theodicy beyond a general theism to an expanded Christian theism utilizing a Christocentric theological framework. Have an Access Token? Enter your access token to activate and access content online. Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token. Have Institutional Access? Forgot your password? PDF Preview. Table of Contents. Related Content. Author: Hannah Hashkes. In Rabbinic Discourse as a System of Knowledge Hannah Hashkes employs contemporary philosophy in describing rabbinic reasoning as a rational response to experience.

Hashkes combines insights from the philosophy of Quine and Davidson with the semiotics of Peirce to construe knowledge as systematic reasoning occurring within a community of inquiry.