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Philosophy of Theism, vol. 1 1894–1896

Alexander Campbell Fraser

Summary

Table of Contents

Abstract

For Alexander Campbell Fraser, the ultimate question is that of existence: Why am I here? Or, What is the purpose of this universe? These questions are the foundation of Fraser’s design-based theology, in which he argues the world is only intelligible or ‘reasonable’ if we assume an Ideal and Infinite Mind is behind it all. Fraser juxtaposes his personal view of divine ‘Mind’ and its involvement in the world with three other prevailing views of theology: the panmaterialist view (which denies the existence of a God and sees all ‘phenomena’ as the product of atomistic interactions); the immaterialist (panegoist) view (which sees the ‘ego’ or ‘individual’ as the centre of all perception and, therefore, all ‘phenomena’); and the pantheistic (acosmic) view (in which a transcendent God is the author of everything but is radically uninvolved and, therefore, unintelligible). All three views are fundamentally flawed, Fraser argues. Only the theistic belief, that there exists an Infinite Mind that is deeply involved in our sensory experiences, is philosophically consistent. ‘Theism’ contends every natural law that we ‘discover’ is a moment in which God reveals himself to our finite minds. All natural laws are ultimately reducible to God’s will. For Fraser, the only thing not reducible to God’s will is our ‘morality’. Our moral sense shows we are ‘causal agents’, he says, because we can choose to do good or evil. This is what distinguishes us from atomic interactions and gravitational ‘forces’, Fraser argues. We can choose to act against God’s will—the atom cannot.
KEY WORDS: Panmaterialism, Panegoism, Pantheism, Hope, Atheism, Agnosticism, Deism, Locke, Oracle of Delphi, Augustine, Descartes

Publication Data

OnlineWilliam Blackwood and Sons1895
OriginalWilliam Blackwood and Sons1895
Cover
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Templeton Press