2. A Short History of Theistic Ideas
Philosophical theism was built on the the first articulated monotheism that dates
from the late Second Temple Jewish period of the prophetic tradition. We will see
how the ideas of Greek philosophy came to be used to understand this Semitic theism
and also the theism of Christianity. We will trace its development within Western
philosophy and explain how it produced, and was then influenced by, scientific ideas
and investigations. The exposition here is brief and takes the place of a more complete
account which would include more of the Islamic and Indian contributions to theistic
thought. Each era had its own underground currents, many of which were influential
and even popular. Those currents were often hardly recognized by philosophy and
were regarded as heterodox by the churches.
Every ontology, whether explicitly theistic or not, addresses similar issues.
We want to see how the various recurring themes of Chapter
1 have been dealt with in the past. We also want to
clarify the opposing tendencies in seeking explanations or resolutions of those
problems. We will examine the tension between those philosophies that start from
God and those that start from nature.