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Constructing God: From Ancient Text to Contemporary Film: VIDEOS & MEDIA

Constructing God: From Ancient Text to Contemporary Film -- FYS 175-01, Spring 2015; (Dr. Michael O'Keeffe)


The following are video lectures with transcripts from Gresham College, United Kingdom.


Does God act directly in the world? Or did God create the world and limit His activity to that? Could God act now, and intervene to stop a war on Iraq, for example?


The second most crucial - and divisive - question across faiths is whether divinity is a personal entity or an impersonal reality. Is God a personal reality with whom we can form a relationship? Or is Ultimate Reality something which transcends the concept of personhood, not so much 'a being' as Being Itself?


If anything is universal in philosophical reflection, across ages and cultures, it is systematic inquiry into the problems of evil. What is not universal, however, are the actual problems that arise within particular religious frameworks, nor the underlying attitude towards suffering. Buddhists do not have to struggle with the question: ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ Muslims do not have to try to explicate the workings of karma. These are problems that arise in part from the particular philosophical and religious framework that a religion has and works within.


NetiD and Password required to view the films from off-campus.


  • Explanations for suffering include free will, God's punishment, God's method of teaching methods, and God's mysterious plan. We consider the story of Job.


  • Theodicy is an attempt to explain evil. Augustine formulated two influential replies to the problem of evil: evil is the lack of good and people have free will. This does not seem to apply to natural evil.


  • The issue of atonement presents one theological difference between the Jewish and Christian faiths. Both religions teach that making amends is an important part of forgiveness, but Jewish tradition makes forgiveness dependent on an act of atonement.


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