OCR training programme 2010 2011 Get Ahead improving

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OCR training programme 2010 -2011 Get Ahead - improving delivery and assessment of Units

OCR training programme 2010 -2011 Get Ahead - improving delivery and assessment of Units G 581: Boethius Question

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. The nature of God’s omniscience has been greatly debated by theologians over the years because, depending on the concept accepted, whether we have free will or not can be contested. If one comes to the conclusion that humans do not have free will, then God can be seen as malevolent:

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. If He rewards and punishes unfree (? ) people , how is he just? Boethius recognised this and so reasoned out a concept of God’s nature that he felt allowed Him to maintain full omniscience and still reward and punish justly. A very clear and concise explanation of what Boethius was trying to do. Placing the argument within the attributes of God.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • This, however, was not fully successful. • A interesting statement this early in the essay – the end of the first paragraph - the candidate has nailed his/her position to the mast from the outset. No problem with this as long as they go onto show they can justify their view.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • Boethius’ concept of God is fairly Platonic: God is not part of the spatio-temporal world and thus, time does not pass for Him as it does for us. There is no succession of events as we experience them, rather, God experiences all in “one unchanging present”.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • This is a traditional concept of God for the church; wholly simple, immutable and perfect. Time infers change and as Anselm pointed out, being open to change would mean that God was not perfect as change makes beings lose what they once had.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • There is no past and no future for this timeless God and this is the key, Boethius claimed, to God being able to be fully omniscient and yet not cause our actions – and therefore able to retain his status as a just Lord. Boethius recognised that if God’s omniscience was “simultaneous possession of boundless life” then in some way, our actions must be necessary, but he did not come to the conclusion that God must cause these actions. • Excellent description.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • He solved the paradox in two ways; firstly, he maintained that due to the nature of God’s eternity, with no past or future, actions are as if they have already been decided on and thus, God does not influence them by seeing them. Secondly he distinguished between two types of necessity – our actions are necessary because God sees them and God’s omniscience is perfect and cannot be wrong, but they are conditionally necessary – they have the condition of free will: we could have chosen otherwise.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • What God sees is the result of our free will. In this way, Boethius concludes that God is wholly simple, perfect, absolutely omniscient and still benevolent as his omniscience does not cause our actions. He judges those who have sinned of their own accord, not those who have no other choice. This is his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. • Clearly a very clever candidate; very comfortable with the terminology and the essence of Boethius’ position.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • Aquinas, however, pointed out that Boethius’ concept of God was not philosophically sound. He also maintained that God is wholly simple, perfect and immutable. However he maintained that a wholly simple God’s omniscience must necessarily be causal; or else God is not wholly simple. • A interesting approach not only criticising Boethius but demonstrating an understanding of Aquinas.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • Aquinas recognised that Boethius had tried to escape God’s causal omniscience (God knows x and so x happens) by saying that in reality “x happens and so God knows x” but Aquinas says this is not possible if one holds a belief in a wholly simple God because God is now dependent on the actions of creation in order to be omniscient.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • For example, I am going to study Japanese at university. Boethius says that God knows this and my action is conditionally necessary, but that what God knows is a result of free choice and if I had chosen to study Greek God would know that instead. Aquinas points out that God’s omniscience, if it is dependent on my choice, is subordinate to his other attributes (omnipotence, for example) that are not dependent on anything! • So not only using Aquinas as a critique of Boethius but using examples from his own life to unpack these quite complex concepts.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • Thus, God cannot be simple because the definition of simplicity is that all God’s attributes are in perfect balance. A wholly simple God must not be dependent on anything, and if this omniscience is not dependent, it must be to some extent causal. In this case a God who punished or rewarded could not be just as we would not be morally responsible for our actions. • This is a level of critique of Boethius, through Thomistic philosophy which I would not expect from the average A grade candidate.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • If we have no free will and God judges and punishes unjustly, Christianity breaks down! That one chooses to believe, even against evidence or reason, is true faith. O, if a wholly simple God results in causal omniscience, we could consider if a God who is not wholly simple could appear more theologically sound than that one proposed by Boethius. Everlasting God is another concept of God put forward by philosophers who do not hold that a God outside time could possibly be theologically sound.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • Hughes tries to redeem a benevolent God who is just by suggesting that God is wholly simple but has dependent omniscience but Vardy, amongst other philosophers has pointed out that this is nonsense as then God would not be simple at all. • Introducing another couple of philosophers ‘en passant’ to develop another critique.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • We are left with the conclusion that either; God is wholly simple and Boethius has been unsuccessful in his attempt to prove that God justly rewards and punishes, or that God is not wholly simple at all, in which case Boethius must change his concept of God’s nature.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • It is imperative that God is benevolent and rewards and punishes justly because, as many theodicies have pointed out, it s hugely important that we can maintain that we have free will. Without it, reason would be rendered irrelevant, as would love. (Vardy gives the example of a slave girl forced to love a king – would her love not be far more valuable if she had the choice to love him? ) • A good move back to the centre of the problem – the issues raised by the different things we want to hold God to be.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • Swinburne for example, asks how a timeless God interacts and Mac. Quarrie claims that a timeless God who could not respond temporarily to prayer would not be worth praying to! The concept of everlasting God seems to be more successful that of Boethius’ timeless God when considering justice.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • Everlasting God is within time, but never has, and will never cease to, exist. Thus, there is a past and future for Him. This could mean two things for his omniscience. Firstly, as Ward holds, God cannot know the future, because it does not yet exist. This is not a limit on God’s omniscience because God knows all that is logically possible for God to know.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • Swinburne holds a different view with a similar conclusion: God could know the future , but He limits Himself out of love for us, so that we may have free will and be able to choose out actions, and therefore, God can remain just. Swinburne adds that free will must necessarily involve the freedom to damn ourselves or God is not fully just. Swinburne’s conclusion is pleasing because it is very coherent – do we not have other examples of God limiting himself out of benevolence? • Interesting use of pleasing here – but a good sign of the candidate being really ‘engaged’ with the question.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • Jesus, surely, is the ultimate example, God limited every attribute he had to the furthest extend – he became human out of love for us and desire for our salvation? The only problem with Swinburne’s, which suggests that Boethius’ timeless God presents a more successful argument is that it is a concept from the traditional ideas of the Church and scripture.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • The Church holds that this concept of God’s omniscience is too restricted to be applied to an almighty Lord. If we are traditional Christians then, we might refute Swinburne’s ideas and return to the paradox of timeless God and whether he can be timeless and not wholly simple as Boethius suggests.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • We can see then, the problems raised by the fact that the Church places so much seemingly illogical emphasis on tradition. If we could move from the concept of a wholly simple God, which as we have seen is problematic, to a concept that has been reached through the use of reason, a God given faculty, the we could argue that there was a concept far more successful than Boethius’ which allows God to be omniscient, in a way, and yet still reward and punish justly. • I might ask ‘illogical’ to whom?

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • As God is not even claimed to be wholly simple by Swinburne and Ward, we avoid Aquinas’ paradox. I will conclude then with a quote by Maurice Wiles that sums up my opinion of the philosophical debate.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • He perceptively said, “true faithfulness to the age of the fathers goes beyond repeating and building on their doctrinal conclusions to consciously continuing their doctrinal aims. ” Swinburne presents a better argument than Boethius, who was unsuccessful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss.

‘Boethius was successful in his argument that God rewards and punishes justly. ’ Discuss. • What ever problems one might have here and there with this essay, overall it is an excellent account of one particular way of responding to this difficult question. The candidate ‘justly was rewarded’ with full marks.