Perhaps the justification mostwidely offered for religious belief concerns the occurrence ofreligious experience or the cumulative weight of testimony of thoseclaiming to have had religious experiences. Putting the latter casein theistic terms, the argument appeals to the fact that many peoplehave testified that they have felt God's presence. Does such testimonyprovide evidence that God exists? That it is evidence has been arguedby Jerome Gellman, Keith Yandell, William Alston, Caroline Davis, GaryGutting, Kai-Man Kwan, Richard Swinburne and others. That it is not(or that its evidential force is trivial) is argued by Michael Martin,J. L. Mackie, Kai Nielson, Matthew Bagger, John Schellenberg, WilliamRowe, and others. In an effort to stimulate further investigation, Ishall briefly sketch some of the moves and countermoves in thedebate.
The most recent work on the afterlife in philosophy of religion hasfocused on the compatibility of an individual afterlife with someforms of physicalism. Arguably, a dualist treatment of human personsis more promising. If you are not metaphysically identical with yourbody, then perhaps the annihilation of your body is not theannihilation of you. Today, a range of philosophers have argued thateven if physicalism is true, an afterlife is still possible (Peter vanInwagen, Lynne Baker, Trenton Merricks, Kevin Cocoran). The import ofthis work for the problem of evil is that the possible redemptivevalue of an afterlife should not be ruled out (without argument) ifone assumes physicalism to be true. (For an extraordinary, richresource on the relevant literature, see The Oxford Handbook ofEschatology, ed. by J. Walls.)
In the Greater Good Defense, it is contended that evil can beunderstood as either a necessary accompaniment to bringing aboutgreater goods or an integral part of these goods. Thus, in a versionoften called the Free Will Defense, it is proposed that free creatureswho are able to care for each other and whose welfare depends on eachother's freely chosen action constitute a good. For this good to berealized, it is argued, there must be the bona fide possibility ofpersons harming each other. The free will defense is sometimes usednarrowly only to cover evil that occurs as a result, direct orindirect, of human action. But it has been speculatively extended bythose proposing a defense rather than a theodicy to cover other evilswhich might be brought about by supernatural agents other thanGod. According to the Greater Good case, evil provides an opportunityto realize great values, such as the virtues of courage and thepursuit of justice. Reichenbach (1982), Tennant (1930), Swinburne(1979), and van Inwagen (2006) have also underscored the good of astable world of natural laws in which animals and humans learn aboutthe cosmos and develop autonomously, independent of the certainty thatGod exists. Some atheists accord value to the good of living in aworld without God, and these views have been used by theists to backup the claim that God might have had reason to create a cosmos inwhich Divine existence is not overwhelmingly obvious to us. If God'sexistence were overwhelmingly obvious, then motivations to virtuemight be clouded by self-interest and by the bare fear of offending anomnipotent being. Further, there may even be some good to actingvirtuously even if circumstances guarantee a tragic outcome. John Hick(1978) so argued and has developed what he construes to be an Irenaeanapproach to the problem of evil (named after St. Irenaeus of thesecond century). On this approach, it is deemed good that humanitydevelops the life of virtue gradually, evolving to a life of grace,maturity, and love. This contrasts with a theodicy associated withSt. Augustine, according to which God made us perfect and then allowedus to fall into perdition, only to be redeemed later by Christ. Hickthinks the Augustinian model fails whereas the Irenaean one iscredible.
Theistic responses to the problem of evil distinguish between adefense and a theodicy. A defense seeks to establish that rationalbelief that God exists is still possible (when the defense is employedagainst the logical version of the problem of evil) and that theexistence of evil does not make it improbable that God exists (whenused against the probabilistic version). Some have adopted thedefense strategy while arguing that we are in a position to haverational belief in the existence of evil and in a completely good Godwho hates this evil, even though we may be unable to see how these twobeliefs are compatible. A theodicy is more ambitious and is typicallypart of a broader project, arguing that it is reasonable to believethat God exists on the basis of the good as well as the evident evilof the cosmos. In a theodicy, the project is not to account for eachand every evil, but to provide an overarching framework within whichto understand at least roughly how the evil that occurs is part ofsome overall good—for instance, the overcoming of evil isitself a great good. In practice, a defense and a theodicy oftenappeal to similar factors, the first and foremost being what many callthe Greater Good Defense.
In the face of the problem of evil, some philosophers and theologiansdeny that God is all-powerful and all-knowing. John Stuart Mill tookthis line, and panentheist theologians today also question thetraditional treatments of Divine power. According to panentheism, Godis immanent in the world, suffering with the oppressed and working tobring good out of evil, although in spite of God's efforts, evil willinvariably mar the created order. Another response is to think of Godas being very different from a moral agent. Brian Davies and othershave contended that what it means for God to be good is different fromwhat it means for an agent to be morally good (Davies 2006). A moredesperate strategy is to deny the existence of evil, but it isdifficult to reconcile traditional monotheism with moralskepticism. Also, insofar as we believe there to be a God worthy ofworship and a fitting object of human love, the appeal to moralskepticism will carry little weight. The idea that evil is a privationor twisting of the good may have some currency inthinking through the problem of evil, but it is difficult to see howit alone could go very far to vindicate belief in God'sgoodness. Searing pain and endless suffering seem altogether real evenif they are analyzed as being philosophically parasitic on somethingvaluable. The three great monotheistic traditions, with their ampleinsistence on the reality of evil, offer little reason to try todefuse the problem of evil by this route. Indeed, classical Judaism,Christianity and Islam are so committed to the existence of evil thata reason to reject evil would be a reason to reject these religioustraditions. What would be the point of the Judaic teaching about theExodus (God liberating the people of Israel from slavery), or the Christianteaching about the incarnation (Christ revealing God as love andreleasing a Divine power that will, in the end, conquer death), or theIslamic teaching of Mohammed (the holy prophet of Allah who isall-just and all-merciful) if slavery, hate, death, and injustice didnot exist?
The ontological argument goes back to St. Anselm (1033/34–1109),but I shall explore a current version relying heavily on the principlethat if something is possibly necessarily the case, then it isnecessarily the case (or, to put it redundantly, it is necessarilynecessary). The principle can be illustrated in the case ofpropositions. That six is the smallest perfect number (that numberwhich is equal to the sum of its divisors including one but notincluding itself) does not seem to be the sort of thing that mightjust happen to be true. Rather, either it is necessarily true ornecessarily false. If the latter, it is not possible, if the former,it is possible. If one knows that it is possible that six is thesmallest perfect number then one has good reason to believe that. Dowe have reason to think it is possible that God exists necessarily? Insupport of this, one can also appeal to a posteriori matters,noting the extant religious traditions that uphold such a notion. Thefact that the concept of God as a necessarily existing reality seemsto be coherently conceived widely across time and cultures is someevidence that the concept is coherent (it is possible there is a God),for God's existence has plausibility, thus can also contribute tobelieving it is possible God exists. There is an old philosophicalprecept that from the fact that something exists, it follows that itis possible (ab esse ad posse valet consequentia). A relatedprinciple is that evidence that something exists is evidence that itis possible that such a thing exists. There does not appear to beanything amiss in their thinking of God as necessarily existing; ifthe belief that God exists is incoherent this is not obvious. Indeed,a number of atheists think God might exist, but conclude God doesnot. If we are successful in establishing the possibility that Godnecessarily exists, the conclusion follows that it is necessarily thecase that God exists.
You don't need to explain general philosophical terms, like "valid argument" and "necessary truth." But you should explain any technical terms you use which bear on the specific topic you're discussing.
This will be accomplished through an examination of prevalent Roman individuals, and will look at the influence of stoicism on Roman culture; specifically laws, traditions, and practices....
Now, the paths that some branches take to get to that single root differ in many ways, yet all arrive at their own definition of how they themselves should live.
One suggested solution to this puzzle begins by reconsidering therelationship of two strands in (much) thinking about freedom of will:being able to do otherwise and being the ultimate source of one'swill. Contemporary discussions of free will often emphasize theimportance of being able to do otherwise. Yet it is plausible (Kane1996) that the core metaphysical feature of freedom is being theultimate source, or originator, of one's choices, and that being ableto do otherwise is closely connected to this feature. For human beingsor any created persons who owe their existence to factors outsidethemselves, the only way their acts of will could find their ultimateorigin in themselves is for such acts not to be determined by theircharacter and circumstances. For if all my willings were whollydetermined, then if we were to trace my causal history back farenough, we would ultimately arrive at external factors that gave riseto me, with my particular genetic dispositions. My motives at the timewould not be the ultimate source of my willings, only themost proximate ones. Only by there being less thandeterministic connections between external influences and choices,then, is it be possible for me to be an ultimate source of myactivity, concerning which I may truly say, “the buck stopshere.”
Another issue concerns the impact on human freedom of knowledge ofGod, the ultimate Good. Many philosophers, especially the medievalAristotelians, were drawn to the idea that human beings cannot butwill that which they take to be an unqualified good. (Duns Scotusappears to be an important exception to this consensus.) Hence, in theafterlife, when humans ‘see God face to face,’ they willinevitably be drawn to Him. Murray (1993, 2002) argues that a good Godwould choose to make His existence and character less than certain forhuman beings, for the sake of their freedom. (He will do so, theargument goes, at least for a period of time in which human beingsparticipate in their own character formation.) If it is a good forhuman beings that they freely choose to respond in love to God and toact in obedience to His will, then God must maintain an‘epistemic distance’ from them lest they be overwhelmed byHis goodness and respond out of necessity, rather than freedom. (Seealso the other essays in Howard-Snyder and Moser 2002.)
Finally, Norman Kretzmann (1997, 220–25) has argued in the context ofAquinas's theological system that there is strong pressure to say thatGod must have created something or other, though it may well have beenopen to Him to create any of a number of contingent orders. The reasonis that there is no plausible account of how an absolutely perfect Godmight have a resistible motivation—one considerationamong other, competing considerations—for creating somethingrather than nothing. (It obviously cannot have to do with any sort ofutility, for example.) The best general understanding of God's beingmotivated to create at all—one which in places Aquinas himselfcomes very close to endorsing—is to see it as reflecting thefact that God's very being, which is goodness, necessarily diffusesitself. Perfect goodness will naturally communicate itself outwardly;God who is perfect goodness will naturally create, generating adependent reality that imperfectly reflects that goodness. (Wainwright(1996) is a careful discussion of a somewhat similar line of thoughtin Jonathan Edwards. See also Rowe 2004.)