Hi; please, I would like a philosophy professor to answer this question for me: is religion an ideology? And if it's not, then what is the difference? Thank you

An ideology or politically organizing world view doesn't have to be about God, so ideology and religion are not the same thing. Is religion a false view that organizes society? (This is Mannheim's "particular" conception of ideology.) Well, you might think so, but you would then have to think that religion is false. You could study religion under the "general" conception, in which it "arises out of life conditions", but it seems to me that a religious person might not disagree with that, provided that "life conditions" is understood sufficiently deeply.

Hello my question is about the Kalam Cosmological Argument. I personally do agree with the premises and the conclusion, however a person on youtube said that you cannot say that an infinite regress does not make sense but an infinite being does. So my questions are what is the difference between an infinite regress and an infinite being, can you say they are both absurd? Does an infinite being make sense?

Just a quick response to a point Stephen makes. He writes, 'It is eminently deniable that the universe began to exist.' However you phrase it, is deniable that the universe began to exist, but not "eminently" so. The evidence from physics is absolutely overwhelming. There are detailed measurements of the expansion rate of the universe extrapolated backwards and the explanation of Hubble's Law, the 4% background microwave radiation, which gave Penzias and Wilson the Nobel Prize in 1978, the existence of clouds of light gases, and so on and so on. How can you reasonably deny all this? In my view the logical arguments, though obviously they do not converge on a date of 13.8B years for the age of the universe, are also compelling, such as Whitrow's, discussed in my note above.

There doesn't seem to be any reason to say that an infinite regress "does not make sense" but that an infinite being does. There exist infinite progressions of things, particularly in mathematics. Can there be an infinity of real things? Or of physical things? Or of instants in time? Plainly different arguments are needed in each case, since at least on a Platonist view numbers are real if not physical. So some "regresses" or progressions or series or sequences do "make sense" and others don't. Now what about an infinite being? I suppose the question here is as always what is meant. Could there be a being infinite in wisdom, for example, or infinite in power, and so forth? There seems no obvious reason why not. Would an infinite being, in this sense, occupy the entire physical universe? Well, only if the being is physical and the universe is infinite in extent. But only a very few theologies have a physical or "corporeal" God, Hobbes' for example. So it seems that the standard conception in which God has...

Say that you join a "youth social and adventure group", where, while rock-climbing or bowling or hiking, its core members will begin, subtly, to sound out your religious beliefs and talk to you about God, is that at all morally problematic? Or in general, if any group has the main raison d'etre of recruiting for a church/political party/pyramid scheme, but initially conceals this motivation (for instance, through initially avoiding any mention of the parent organisation), is there anything wrong with that?

There is something plainly wrong with a group that conceals its real purpose, surely, and lures you in with a false front. But there is nothing wrong with members of a group that is visibly religious in orientation inviting someone to come along and join. 'Why not come and join our Catholic knitting group?' is fine. As to your first question, being sounded out seems OK, because if it get too intense or probing you can always leave. I do think there is something a bit off about a religious group targeting people who are a little lonely or isolated, but on the other hand if there's no expected quid pro quo where's the harm? The devil is in the details of how things are done, I think. Concealed pyramid schemes are another thing altogether, because here the element is deception is at the centre of what's going on.

As a believer, I think that theism is more reasonable than atheism although I think that atheists can have good reasons to believe that their worldview is true. Is this position rational? Put in another way, is it possible for me to claim that my worldview is the correct one while granting that the opposite worldview can be as reasonable as the one I hold to be true?

You might well think that you have the right or best solution to a difficult problem in engineering, say, and concede that some other solutions, though perfectly reasonable, happen not to be correct. "Reasonable" means that there are good reasons for saying or doing something. Is that reasonable?

Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist. Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist. Conclusion: Therefore, God exists. Can we accept the conclusion above as valid or even fact?

Stephen is right. The argument is valid, but it's not sound. It has a false premise. Even if you are a theist like me you can think that if God did not exist, there would be or could be such things as objective moral values and duties. Honesty would still be good, and we would still have a duty to help those in need. Philosophers who share my view find a great ally in Leibniz. For him, God loves the good because it is good. It is not the case that it is good because he loves it. In God reason comes before will.

I believe that God is the greatest conceivable being, and I also came to believe again, having been a former agnostic, that He really exists. My question is regarding the responses of some atheists to some traditional arguments for God's existence, most especially to the design argument, that for these designs in nature, we should not remove the possibility of a finite god, an evil god, or many gods who designed our universe. I think all those opinions are false because being the greatest conceivable being God cannot be finite or evil and there cannot be two greatest conceivable beings. But I just wonder why should God be the greatest conceivable being. Is it not possible for there to be a God or gods who are finite and/or evil and leave it at that?

Stephen is right. We should distinguish the Design Argument from the Ontological Argument. Your question concerns neither. Your question is about the Problem of Evil, so called. How can a being who is all-good, all-powerful and all-knowing allow evil to exist? The simplest way to solve this problem is to deny one of these three propositions, and it is perfectly acceptable to deny the second: God's power is limited. This approach is taken by process theologians, who say that God is developing . For the typical process theologian, as for the Mormon, God cannot break the laws of nature, for example. The trouble with this solution is not that it does not work for the theist. The problem is that it does not work for the traditional Christian theist, and as far as I know also for the Jewish and Muslim theist. A god with limited powers is simply not recognizable as the Creator of the Universe, the Father Almighty, and so on. So the solution is logically acceptable, but theologically unacceptable.

Hello philosophers , recently in a debate with Christians , I made a point that if one claims a relationship with a God or being that can't be seen , heard or touched that they are suffering from a delusion; is this an unfair statement and if so why ?

It's fair if it's a good argument. But is it? Is your premise true? Your Christian friends could have replied that when they think about the number three, say, or any other abstract entity, they have a relationship with it. Yet one cannot see, hear, or touch such a thing. Nor does the other entity have to be abstract. One could reasonably claim to have in a conversation a relationship with another mind, but minds, even though they are concrete, "can't be seen, heard or touched", and people who make such claims are not suffering from a delusion.

An atheist friend and I (I am a theist) had a long series of discussions about the existence of god, and his comments made quite an impression on me. I found what he said so stimulating, in fact, that I beagn to read more philosophy of religion to help me better understand the nature of the issues raised. One question, however, is a bit puzzling, and I have not read much about it, though I have seen it raised in atheist/theist debates about the existence of god. The issue is simply falsifiabilty: how can we know if some occurrence of anything is an act of god and therefore, say, the result of prayer, or the result or effect of natural processes? For example, if I pray for a sick relative and she recovers, I can say god healed her; but I can also rightly argue that medical science healed her; or, even more precisely, physicians using medical knowledge stabilized her body so that it could heal itself. I know many theists regularly thank god for certain acts (many of which they pray for) that could easily be...

Charles Taliaferro's reply is very helpful. For me the two things that have the most importance for your question are the Wittgensteinian approach, in which the one who wants evidence that the good that happens is, indeed, the result of prayer, is slipping in and then out of the way of the religious attitude to the world. When you have that attitude towards the world, you will not ask the question, or you cannot . . . This is similar to the approach given in John Wisdom's "Gods", in the parable of the gardener. The replies that were made to this piece are equally interesting. I also wonder why one wants to know whether an outcome is indeed the result of prayer. I personally do not have your question, though I am not sure why not, unless it is what I have said above, and so it occurs to me to ask whether the question itself might need a kind of justification, and, if so, what form it would take.

I've just listened to a BBC radio discussion of the ontological argument. I'm puzzled as to why the following objection was not even mentioned: - The concept of "something than which nothing greater can be conceived" necessarily includes the attributes of being all good and all powerful. Something all good and all powerful would not allow suffering. Suffering exists, therefore the concept cannot exist in reality. The counter-argument that suffering is part of God's plan for us to work out our own salvation only reinforces the original objection by admitting that God is not great enough to come up with a better plan. This argument is well known in philosophy in general, so why would it not be considered relevant to the validity of the ontological argument? God may still exist, but if He can't be all good and all powerful, the ontological argument for His existence is a non-starter. I had the impression from the radio programme that the ontological argument is still entertained by some philosophers. How...

True confessions: like Charles, I accept the Ontological Argument. But it must be said that a response to the Argument based on "the problem of evil" is something of a mistake. The reason is that the problem of evil is a problem for all arguments for theism, and offers nothing specific for us to learn about the ontological argument, particularly its logic, which is where almost all the interesting issues are.

Hello Philosophers! Can anyone defend the Ontological Argument against Kant's criticism that existence is not a predicate?

Some random suggestions: (1) David Pears pointed out that even if Kant's argument were wholly clear and wholly successful, which it is not, it could only show that existence is not an ordinary predicate, if it is a predicate. His view is that it is a predicate, just a very peculiar one; (2) There is also the view of the celebrated logician, mathematician and philosopher Bolzano, who writes in the Theory of Science ("Kinds of Propositions") that 'I take being [Sein] or actuality [ Wirklichkeit ] to be precisely what language makes it out to be, namely an attribute; whoever denies this confuses (I believe) actuality with substance. By substance I mean an actuality which is not an attribute of another actuality; hence I admit that we cannot truly predicate the putative abstractum of the substance (substantiality) of any object. For it is part of the concept of substance that there is no property of this kind. But it is not the same with actuality, which I consider to be a mere attribute, not...