By: Leland Oliver, Ryan Lam, Marina Lacanilao, and Evan Chang
On November 17th 2016, Mr. Mesisca and Mrs. Bell’s 4th period theology classes had the privilege of talking to Professor Peter Adamson, an atheist philosophy professor in Germany. The discussion involved Peter presenting two arguments by ancient philosophers that argue that a god exists. The two arguments are the ontological argument, created by Anselm of Canterbury, and the Demonstration of the truthful, made by Persian philosopher Avicenna.
The ontological argument states that a god must exist because a god is something, “That which nothing greater can be conceived” and it must exist in the mind of someone even if they deny the existence of a god. The argument also states that, if it only exists in the mind, then an even greater being must exist – one that exists in both the mind and reality.
Avicenna’s argument states that there are beings that are necessary and others which need something else to bring it into existence. He argues that a necessary being exists necessarily and not dependent on anything else unlike contingent beings. Using that logic, we can analyze any object and then say that the universe is simply a collection of contingent beings that exist because something made it. This argument is used to show that a god must exist to create the universe and everything in it.
Peter Adamson introduced these two arguments to the senior theology classes and then explained why he doesn’t believe in a god, following up with counter-responses to questions raised by the students. Summing up his argument, he gave us insight into his life and religious upbringing making a final claim that most people follow a certain religion because they were brought up in that faith. While there are certainly still doubts and questions that the students and faculty still have, this did help the students analyze their faith and spark questions to be discussed in their respective classes.
Overall, this special class privilege was incredibly interesting. Professor Adamson provided a point-of-view that gave students the opportunity to think through their own perspectives regarding spirituality and hear from someone with generally different views than their own in the theology classes.