Marcus Tullius Cicero
Here are some selections from On the Nature of the Gods penned in 45 BC by the Roman statesman and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero. In the excerpts Cicerco presents the Teleological Argument, or the Argument from Design, for the existence of God. The selections come from Book II, chapters XXXVII, XLIV, and XLVII.
Who would not deny the name of human being to a man who, on seeing the regular motions of the heaven and the fixed order of the stars and the accurate interconnexion and interrelation of all things, can deny that these things possess any rational design, and can maintain that phenomena, the wisdom of whose ordering transcends the capacity of our wisdom to understand it, take place by chance? Continue reading
Below is a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to John Adams toward the end of their lives (remarkably they died on the same day-Independence Day July 4, 1826-within five hours of each other). In the letter, Jefferson reveals his religious sentiments, pulling no punches about his revulsion to Calvinism and the trinitarian dogma (he calls it “tritheism”). In the course of the letter, he also endorses the teleological argument, or argument from design, making a rather eloquent presentation of the argument. Agree or disagree with the views he expresses (I disagree with his denial of the virgin birth of Jesus), the letter is a fascinating piece by any account. What strikes me most is the vehemence of his denunciation of Calvinism and that simply a mere mention of Calvin’s name from Adams (in his previous letter to Jefferson), and not even in a theological context, was enough to set Jefferson off into such a denunciation. Adams had only quoted Calvin’s exclamation to God during his infirmity late in life as a fitting expression of Adams own feeling toward the infirmity that beset him at the time he wrote the letter to Jefferson. Continue reading
Papyrus 46, one of the oldest New Testament papyri, showing 2 Corinthians 11.33-12.9.
Here’s another selection from James Harris Fairchild’s. In this selection Harris briefly presents the argument for the existence of God and the truth of the Christian revelation from the spread of early Christianity. In sum, “The great fact that Christianity starting from Judea spread over all the Western world and changed the whole tide of history requires as an explanation such events as those which the Gospels record.”
When we come to contemporary historians we find comparatively little light upon Jesus and the apostles. Suetonius, Tacitus, and Pliny the younger in the latter half the first century and the first of the second briefly refer to the Christians as a “mischievous sect.” Suetonius speaks of them as punished by Nero. Continue reading
James Harris Fairchild
This is a selection that I’ve adapted from James Harris Fairchild’s.In the selection Fairchild presents an argument for the existence of God and the truth of the Christian revelation that one does not see presented anymore, which is a shame because it’s a powerful argument. It is a kind of teleological argument from the Jesus of the Gospels. Just as the universe in general plainly evidences its design and creation by a transcendent being (God), so the person of Jesus presented in the Gospels plainly evidences divine origin. He is no “mere man” and no literary invention.
Chief interest gathers about the question of the historical reality of Jesus Christ. Did such a being appear upon this earth and pursue essentially the career which the Gospels ascribe to him, which would be proof of course of the existence of God and the truth of Christianity? We must answer this question affirmatively for the following reasons: Continue reading