What is theism?

Theism is the religious metaphysical philosophy that asserts God exists and that He created and sustains the cosmos. Classical theism supports a creator God that not only exists but is omniscient, omnipresent, exists necessarily, is nonphysical, eternal and essentially good. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism puts the philosophical position of theism as, “coming to mean a belief in a personal God who takes an active interest in the world and who has given special revelation to humans.”[1] The most competitive alternative philosophy within the modern intellectual climate is metaphysical naturalism. An entrenched philosophy of science acting without the existence of God and the soul, preceding with the assumption of strict materialism.[2]

Charles Taliaferro, a prominent philosopher of religion defines theism against the backdrop of Richard Dawkins criticisms. Dawkins and critics in general tend to think that if theism is true, proof of the existence of God should be found everywhere and in everything. Theism does not concern scientific specifics like mathematical formulas, quantities and intricacies of physics or DNA methylation within a unit of biological variation inheritance called epigenetics for example. Theism may support events within creation like spiritual and religious experience by human persons, but on the other hand, the millions of cells that make up that person would not be used by theistic philosophers. Rather theism philosophically expounds by inference that a transcendent mind of God is metaphysically necessary in order to maintain the cosmos as a whole. The scientific method, not in opposition but in a supplemental role within theistic natural theology, becomes a vehicle for scientific knowledge, which is then used by constructing logical arguments like the cosmological argument around current leading scientific theories like the big bang theory. Through this interplay of science and philosophy within the position of theism, there is a relationship of the metaphysical down to the local of physics and natural mechanisms of creation.

Dawkins seems to suppose that if God exists, God’s existence should be evident in gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear forces, lumps of matter, rocks, asteroids, and black holes. But while theism (rightly, I think) can serve as a justified explanation of some events in the cosmos (I subscribe to a theistic argument from religious experience), the chief evidence of much theistic natural theology is the very existence and endurance of our contingent cosmos as a whole. Those of us who accept a version of the cosmological argument hold that to fully explain the existence and endurance of this cosmos requires appeal to the intentional agency of a necessarily existing, good being (see Chapter 10). Contrary to Dawkins et al., theism is better seen as a philosophical explanation of the cosmos rather than as a scientific account of events in the cosmos.[2]

References

  1. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology in the essay, “The Project of Natural Theology” by Charles Taliaferro, pg 8. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 978-1-405-17657-6
  2. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology in the essay, “The Project of Natural Theology” by Charles Taliaferro, pg 12. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 978-1-405-17657-6
  3. The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science, “Evolution versus Naturalism” by Alvin C. Plantinga. Pg 137.
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One response

  1. […] in the sense most often understood by most scientists and atheists such as Dawkins. In classical theism, God is identical to his attributes, which are not abstract entities or quantities, and they are […]

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