Faith Philosophy Paul Tillich Paul Tillich Was Term Paper

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Faith: Philosophy

Paul Tillich

Paul Tillich was one of the most famous theologians of the 20th century. He represented the 20th century movement called neo-orthodoxy. Most of Tillich's work is represented in a series of transcribed lectures. Tillich's work contains volumes of historical details and theological connections. One of his most important works is the three volume systematic theology, which details theology from 1951 to 1963.

Tillich's Theory

Tillich's theology was that God exists or that God is a being. He identifies God as being itself. He quotes "God is being-itself, not a being." Tillich's theory is different from the other theologians. He does not believe in the existence of God. Theologians believed that there is no external factor in the existence of God. The general feeling is that God has not been derived from any source nor is He dependent on anything.

Argument and Example

According to Tillich, it wasn't a good idea to believe in the traditional theology that God exists. He believes that if serious attention were paid to that idea then no aspect of reality and thought could be applied to God. (Systematic Theology, vol. 2, 1957,-Page 6) Tillich believes that if a characteristic of finite reality were to applied literally to God then it would mean that the concept of reality would be far greater than God. This means that God would have to be dependent on the reality being in order to be. Tillich wants to prove that God is above God. God is not part of the finite realm. The finite realm is the world, which is part of the universe. Tillich believes that the finite realm is full of beings and non-beings. In this way God can't be a being as He is far beyond that. According to him, God has to be far beyond the finite realm. He is infinite. Reality would be the factor through which God would base his working. If He were to be subjected to finite reality then He is part of reality. This He also feels that all the statements about God are just an expression of symbolism. We can never understand what God is really. We do not possess knowledge about Him. We only know what we have been taught by our religion. There can be different views of God as there are different interpretations of God in the Christian faith alone. Therefore it would be more helpful if we had a proper and untainted understanding of the essence of God. He asserts the point that the infinite are not able to remain infinite in the finite realm. The feeling of God is in our essence. He claims that bringing anything from essence into existence would corrupt it due to ambiguity and finitude. This also applies to God. Tillich thinks that people have a limited understand of God. That is one reason why they don't know much about Him.

Strengths and Weaknesses

People have often mistaken Tillich's statements. They believe that his statement means that God does not exist. However Tillich does not say that God doesn't exist. He fails to prove his statement when he says that God is above God. No one can say that God is above God. There is no way of telling if our religious language has any proper meaning and if the theory of God above God exists for real. Tillich's theory is also flawed as it is said that being a necessary being affirms God's aseity. This is in line with the traditional theology. A being exists by itself and is contained within its own existence rather than relying on anything to exist. Tillich is very vague when he does not give any further detail on what is a necessary being. He feels that God is a necessary substance. This contradicts his own statement. This statement does preserve God's aseity but then applies a finite layer to God. In this way it makes it seem like God is finite. As he said that a necessary substance is "such a being would itself be a substance with accidents and would again open the question of substantiality itself."

Tillich mainly wanted to believe that God was just a concept in our God.

The only way to prove it was to deny that He existed. This wasn't the proper belief as God is the order of being itself.

Renee Descartes

Rene Descartes made a name for himself as a famous mathematician, scientist as well as philosopher. He was one of the first philosophers who made a great effort to get rid of skepticism. He had a lot of knowledge and views about everything. He believed that there was a relationship between the mind and the body.


His views were in sharp contrast with Paul Tillich. Descartes meditated in order to prove the existence of a Supreme Being. He meditated several times to get different answers. He observed that he knew about the certainty of his existence. After his second meditation he discovered that it would be difficult for anyone to convince him that he did not exist. He quoted "Is there not a God, or whatever I may call him, who puts into me the thoughts I am now having? Does it now follow that I too do not exist? No: if I convinced myself of something then I certainly existed. ... let him deceive me as much as he can, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I think that I am something" (Baird, 2000,-page 25)There was no way that he did not exist. Therefore he decided to implement a rule where everything he observes in a clear and distinct manner is there. In his third meditation he came to the conclusion that "We have an idea of infinite perfection. The idea we have of ourselves entails finitude and imperfection. There must be as much reality in the cause of any idea as in the idea itself (the principle of sufficient reason) Therefore, the idea we have of infinite perfection originated from a being with infinite perfection, and this being is God" this was done to prove that god is not a deceiver and that He does truly exist.

After his fourth meditation, he claims that we should not blame God for the mistakes we commit. God is not responsible for everybody's mistakes or for being the origin of human mistakes. He refuses to accept the fact that God is the source of errors and mistakes as he believed in his heart that God is not a deceiver.

According to him, a human being's will is beyond his/her knowledge and that's one reason why he/she makes errors. He feels that God should not be made responsible for that, as he is just an observer. He allows us to make our own judgments. This is what leads to make these mistakes. His fifth meditation went further to prove that God really exists. He gave the example of two and three-dimensional shapes which had clear and distinctive attributes, which belong to them. In that way God has all the perfect attributes, as HE is an omnipotent and supremely perfect being. He quoted "I have an idea of a supremely perfect being. The idea of this being necessarily entails every perfection. Existence is perfection. Therefore, the idea of a supremely perfect being entails existence (that is, a supremely perfect being exists)"

His sixth meditation proved the existence of material objects and the distinctiveness of the mind from the body. He felt that that there was a source in him, which could receive thoughts and images from an external source. He claimed that it couldn't be him, as those images weren't willingly produced. He also felt that God couldn't be held responsible for it, as God would…

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