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Ontology

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Ontology is intimately connected with metaphysics concerning the nature and relations of being and existence specifically. Essentially the theory of being or the study of existence. Ontologists do not necessarily engage in trying to define what it is to exist but rather comprehensively address what actually does exist. Ontology does not deal in the specifics of existence like seeing if a species of bird is existing, nor does ontology address the even broader category of birds. Ontology actually deals with notions of whether anything even exists at all, immaterial, material, properties and relations, possible worlds and the like are all areas of study within ontology.[1] It is impossible to do science without presupposing some type of metaphysical ontology. For example theists and atheists each hold a very different ontology. Whereas the former see the cosmos as an ordered construct of a divine being, and human being constitutes an immaterial reality, the latter (atheism) assumes the universe as only material and random chaos. Likewise, the evolutionist perceives humanity as nothing more than an animal, while the creationist regards humankind as created in the image of God.[2] Ontological views provide a part of an underlying assumption (philosophy) that governs theories of science that intend to interpret some aspect of the natural world.

The question about the basic nature of reality has usually been called “ontology,” after the Greek word ontos (beings). Ontology is the study of beings, the study of What Is. The question about why the universe exists has for centuries been regulated to a second area of metaphysics, "philosophical theology," after the Greek work theos for divinity.[3]

Contents

Ontological Argument

Existence

Existence is being in relation to a property which is called the predication relation. Because there is actual difference between existence and non-existence that difference is not the same as the property of being red. When something comes into being or comes into existence it has to have at least one property. This follows that if a human being is born than the one property is human.

Nothingness

Nothingness, philosophically speaking, has no properties and since it has no properties there is no existence. Nothingness properly understood would mean non-being or non-existence, literally nothing. Zeus and other Greco-Roman nature gods and goddesses created by man do not actually have existence and are cases of nothing because there are no real properties.

Biblical Ontology

Biblical ontology is concerned with the nature of God, Jesus, Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, the universe, humanity before or after the fall, and the Bible itself. Views on the ontology of God are:

  • Deism: God as separate from the physical universe, and not interacting with it;
  • Theistic dualism: God as separate from our physical universe, and interacting with it;
  • Immanentism: God as inseparable from the universe itself;
  • Corporealism: Jehovah as a corporeal being, head of the counsel of Elohim;

God

The monotheistic religions hold to one sacred doctrine, God is one and there is only one God. During Biblical times, this view was in stark contrast to the polytheistic religions (many Gods) practiced by the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.

Trinitarianism

Main Article: Trinity

The Trinity of God is central to Christianity. It is a word from the Latin trinitas, meaning "threeness". Neither that word nor any equivalent occurs in the Bible, but the doctrine is logically derived from many statements spread throughout the Scripture.

The very first word used for God, at the beginning of Genesis, is (Hebrew: אלהים, ʼElōhīm), which is a plural word, literally "gods". While the Hebrew word Elohim is plural, it is usually followed by a singular verb when referring to YHWH as in Genesis 1:1 where the verb ברא, baraʻ is singular — literally meaning "He created", possibly insinuating the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, while Elohim when referring to pagan gods is generally followed by a plural verb. There are exceptions to this rule as Elohim, when referring to YHWH, is followed by a plural verb in Genesis 20:13 , Genesis 35:7 , 2_Samuel 7:23 , and Psalm 58:12 and it can be used to refer to a single non-Israelite god, as in Judges 11:24 , Judges 16:23-24 , 1_Samuel 5:7 , and 1_Samuel 18:24 . The plurality and unity of God are both evident at the very beginning.

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'" - Genesis 1:26

Old Testament

The covenant established between God and Israel is reliant upon the recognition by His people that God is the one and only God, and strong warnings were given in the Old Testament against making and worshipping idols - a practice which was common at the time even among the Israelites.

"Do not turn to idols or make gods of cast metal for yourselves. I am the LORD your God." - Leviticus 19:4

The importance of this law is illustrated by its being the first command of the Ten Commandments given to Moses. It should be noted that the "other gods" warned against here are not gods at all, but substitutes for God (idols), or simply mythological.

"You shall have no other gods before me" - Exodus 20:3
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one." - Deuteronomy 6:4
"I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God." - Isaiah 44:4

New Testament

The New Testament also echoes this central theme.

"Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one." - 1_Corinthians 8:1-4
The "Shield of the Trinity", which portrays the components of God and their relationship.

Humanity

Views on human ontology and the mind:

  • Materialism: Humans are material and only material organisms. What we experience as the "mind" is only a consequence of the chemical interactions in our bodies;
  • Dualism: Humans are more than the sum of their physical parts. In addition to our physical properties, we bear a soul, distinct from our bodies;

Image of God

Humans are described in the Biblical book of Genesis as being made in the image of God.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Genesis 1:1-28

The ontology of humans must be defined with regard to this aspect of God which humans now possess. In The Genesis Record, Henry Morris describes these attributes as follows:

In any case, there can be little doubt that the “image of God” in which man was created must entail those aspects of human nature which are not shared by animals - attributes such as a moral consciousness, the ability to think abstractly, an understanding of beauty and emotion, and, above all, the capacity for worshiping and loving God.[4]

There are 2 basic definitions of the image of God.

  • Spiritual image: Adam was created to reflect the spiritual nature of Elohim;
  • Physical image: Adam was created to reflect the physical appearance of Elohim;
Spiritual

Adam was created to reflect the spiritual nature of Elohim. This belief, by far the most widespread among theists, holds that Adam was created in God's spiritual image, to reflect his reason and personality and ability to communicate. However, it is not believed that Adam was created in God's physical image, because it is believed that God has no physical existence or appearance.

Physical

Adam was created to reflect the physical appearance of Elohim. This view, much less common than the spiritual view, provides that Adam was created in the physical image of Elohim. It is often said that this view is based in part on corporealism, or the belief that God has a physical body. However, God in His omnipresence is not corporeal, but is Spirit (John 4:24).[4]

Arguments for this view include:

  • The same words used for image (צלם, tselem), and likeness (דמות, demūth), are used to describe the sons of the patriarchs.
"When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth." - Genesis 5:3
  • Elohim is plural, derived from the many references to such with phrases of; "Let Us make Man in our image," implying that the Elohim is plural, to include YHWH Elohim and the Sons of God, as well as the Holy Spirit decided to create man in their image.
  • YHWH Elohim (translated in this instance as "Lord of the gods") is described as physically walking through the garden.
"And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden." - Genesis 3:8
"Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless'; Genesis 17:1
"Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day." - Genesis 18:1

In The Genesis Record, Henry Morris summarizes:

We can only say that, although God Himself may have no physical body, He designed and formed man’s body to enable it to function physically in ways in which He Himself could function even without a body. God can see (Genesis 16:13), hear (Psalm 94:9), smell (Genesis 8:21), touch (Genesis 32:32), and speak (2 Peter 1:18), whether or not He has actual physical eyes, ears, nose, hands, and mouth. Furthermore, whenever He has designed to appear visibly to men, He has done so in the form of a human body (Genesis 18:1, 2); and the same is true of angels (Acts 1:10). There is something about the human body, therefore, which is uniquely appropriate to God’s manifestation of Himself, and (since God knows all His works from the beginning of the world -Acts 15:18), He must have designed man’s body with this in mind. [4]

See Also

Reference

  1. John W. Carroll and Ned Markosian, An Introduction to Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press 2010), pg. 12
  2. Genesis 1:26
  3. Quentin Smith and L. Nathan Oaklander, Time, Change and Freedom: An Introduction to Metaphysics (Routledge University Press 2005), pg. 2
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Morris, Henry M., The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1976. p.74.

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