aposteriori - A statement that can be known to be true or false only on the basis of evidence obtained from experience and observation, as in an empirical statement, such as "I have a head" or "the moon has craters."
apriori - A statement whose truth or falsity may be known prior to any appeal to experience. An a priori statement might be "I exist."
Alexander the Great - (356 - 323 BC) The king of Macedonia from 336 - 323 who went on to conquer all of Greece, the Persian Empire and Egypt. He marched all the way to India before his troops forced him to turn back. He died from drinking too much on the way back.
allegory - A mode of speech, generally narrative in form, where persons, places, objects, and events have symbolic meanings. John Bunyan's book, Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory of the Christian life. During the middle ages it was common to think that the Bible was allegory, and that objects had symbolic meanings. The allegorical interpretation of scripture has generally been rejected since the time of the Reformation.
anthropomorphism - ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing that is not human.
apologetics - The intellectual defense of the Christian faith.
Aquinas - (1225? - 1274) Saint Thomas Aquinas was an Italian theologian and philosopher known for his allegorical interpretations of scripture and his reconciliation of Aristotle and Christianity. He argued that reason is able to operate within faith yet according to its own laws, so he saw some division between faith and reason.
Aramaic - A northwest Semitic language spoken throughout the Ancient Near East and used for parts of Daniel and Ezra.
Augustine - (354-430) One of the Latin Church Fathers, generally recognized as the greatest thinker of Christian antiquity. He fused the Bible and Platonic philosophy. The City of God is his most famous work.
axiom - A proposition assumed without proof for the sake of studying its consequences. See Presupposition.
Bacon - (1561-1626) Francis Bacon was an English philosopher and essayist. Author of Novum Organum (1620), he argued that faith and reason are absolutely separate.
Big Bang hypothesis - A theory of the origin of the universe, widely accepted, which states that between 10 and 20 billion years ago a very dense primeval aggregate of matter (a singularity) exploded into the expanding universe which evolved over the years into the galaxies, which are still receding from each other.
Copernicus - (1473-1543) Author of On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, he is famous for proposing the truth that the Earth rotates on its axis and moves about the Sun.
culture shock - The trauma and anxiety, the disorientation, caused by movement from one's familiar cultural surroundings to an alien one. Experienced by refugees and missionaries, or anyone who goes from one society to another.
Darwinism - The theory of how evolution might have come about which constitutes the major contribution to science made by Charles Darwin (1809-1882).
design, argument by - One of the so-called proofs for the existence of God, which in reality is not a proof at all, but only evidence. Because the universe is complex and resembles a machine, and since machines clearly have an intelligent origin, the thought is that the universe too, should be assumed to be of intelligent origin.
electromagnetism - One of the four fundamental forces in nature. Electricity and magnetism are two aspects of one force. Electric currents running along a wire produce magnetic forces, as in an electromagnet, and rotating magnets around a wire produce electricity.
evolution - The process by which all existing organisms have developed from earlier forms through modification of characteristics in successive generations.
fallacy - A logically unsound argument.
first cause argument - One of the so-called proofs for the existence of God, which in reality is not a proof at all, but only evidence. The argument proceeds as follows: All effects have a cause. The universe is an effect. Therefore the universe has a cause. That cause must be God.
galaxy - A system of stars, their planetary systems (if any) dust, and gas held together by gravitation. They come in various shapes, and typically contain billions of stars and are thousands of lightyears across. There are billions of galaxies in the universe. The Milky Way is the galaxy in which our solar system is located. The Milky Way has a spiral shape, and our solar system is located in one of the spiral arms. The Milky Way contains approximately 100 billion stars and is about a hundred thousand light years across. It takes the Milky Way about 200 million years to rotate once on its axis, even though it is rotating at about 600,000 miles per hour (260 kilometers per second).
geocentric - Sometimes called the Ptolemaic theory, it was commonly believed before Copernicus that the Earth was the center of the universe, and that the sun, moon, planets, and stars all revolved around the Earth.
gravity - One of the four fundamental forces of nature, it is the force that cause objects to move or tend to move toward the center of the earth, moon, or any planet. A writer in the New Yorker put it this way: "What is gravity? To begin with, let's simply call it a force that every mass in the universe exerts on every other mass in the universe."
Greek - The primary language used in the Roman Empire during the time of Jesus Christ, it was used by the authors of the New Testament. About 200 BC the Old Testament had been translated into Greek, a translation called the Septuagint.
Hebrew - A northwest Semitic language used by the people of Israel, used by most of the writers of the Old Testament (except for part of Daniel and Ezra).
heliocentric - Baker, Astronomy writes "The heliocentric view, dating formally from the time of Copernicus, establishes the solar system on an approximately correct basis." That is, the Sun is the center of the solar system, around which the Earth and other planets revolve.
hermeneutics - The art or skill or theory of interpretation: the method of coming to an understanding of a text.
Herodotus - (484?-425? BC) A Greek historian who was the author of The Histories.
historical-grammatical interpretation - Sometimes mistakenly called the "literal" approach. Walter E. Kaiser, Jr. wrote: "The grand object of grammatical and historical interpretation is to ascertain...the specific usage of words as employed by an individual writer and/or as prevalent in a particular age. And the most fundamental principle in grammatico-historical exposition is that words and sentences can have only one signification in one and the same connection."
Hume - (1711-1776) David Hume was an empiricist philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist who conceived of philosophy as the inductive, experimental science of human nature.
hypothesis - an unproved or unverified assumption that can be either used or accepted as probable in the light of established facts. Theological proposals should be viewed as hypotheses, subject to verification.
idiom - An expression whose meaning cannot be derived from its constituent elements. An example might be "to kick the bucket", meaning "to die."
interpretation - The explanation or elucidation of a creative work, a political event, or other activity.
Liberation Theology - A theological movement, popular in the Third World, which interprets salvation, particularly as seen in the Exodus, in political terms. Therefore, the tendency is to believe the church's primary purpose is to assist in changing oppressive social, economic, and political structures.
logic - The branch of philosophy concerned with the rules of valid inference and reasoning.
Marcion - Second century originator of the heretical idea that there were two Gods, a judgmental, harsh, tyrannical God of the Old Testament, and a loving Father as revealed by Jesus in the New Testament.
moral argument - One of the arguments for the existence of God, which points out that ethics are without absolutes apart from God.
mystical experience argument - One of the arguments for the existence of God based on the subjective experience of Deity.
myth - The term is used in the study of religion and culture. Myths are accounts of gods or superhuman beings and extraordinary events or circumstances in a time that is altogether different from ordinary human experience.
natural revelation - God has told people about himself through the world and universe around us. By studying nature, literature, human beings, we can gain some insights about God. However, to know what God expects of us, to learn details about his love, and so on, it was necessary for him to reveal himself specially. Natural revelation is valuable, but not complete.
Occam's Razor - William of Occam was a fourteenth century philosopher who enunciated the principle "pluritas non est ponenda sine necessitate", or "nature likes things as simple as possible." In other words, in developing a theory, the simpler the explanation of a given phenomena that takes into account all the experimental evidence, the more likely it is to be correct. This could also be called the KISS principle: "keep it simple, stupid."
parallelism - In Hebrew (and other Ancient Near Eastern) poetry, the primary element which distinguishes poetry from prose is a rhyming of ideas rather than a rhyming of sounds or rhythm.
Philo of Alexandria - (born circa 10 BC) He was a Greek-speaking Jewish philosopher and theologian whose attempt to synthesize revealed faith and philosophical reason foreshadowed later developments in Christian theology.
philosophy - The study of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.
presupposition - The logically necessary condition of some state of affairs which must be satisfied if the state of affairs is to obtain. That is, those ideas which are held to be self-evident: assumptions. See Axiom.
Process Theology - A modern theological movement based on the view of reality in which process, change and evolution are as fundamental as substance, permanence, and stability. God is undergoing a process of growth and development. He is not omnipotent or omniscient.
psychology - The scientific study of human behavior.
quantum theory - A major branch of modern physics arguing for the emission of light (radiant energy) in discrete amounts or "quanta". It is now established as a corner-stone of modern physics, even though its philosophical problems (concerning reality and causality) remain contentious.
revelation - Refers to the process by which God tells people about himself, whether through nature or by specifically speaking to them.
social darwinism - The application of the concept of evolution to the historical development of human societies, placing special emphasis on the idea of "struggle for survival." Hitler picked up these ideas and incorporated them into Nazism.
solar system - The sun and its attendant planets, their moons, asteroids, dust, and comets, bound to the sun by gravitation.
spacetime - The mathematical construct representing the arena of events. Since the theory of relativity it has been recognized that space and time cannot be separated, with time then becoming the fourth dimension of our Universe.
special revelation - God has told people about himself in the Bible, a specific and detailed revelation of himself, which gives us details regarding his person and what he expects of people. It is not complete revelation, though: natural revelation is complementary and completes his revelation of himself.
strong force - The attraction acting over extremely short distances between nucleons and thus enabling the atomic nucleus to resist the electrostatic mutual repulsion of its protons.
Sumerians - An Ancient Near Eastern people living in Mesopotamia during the third and second millenniums BC, speaking an agglutinative, ergative language unrelated to any other known language. The writing system they developed (cuneiform) was later borrowed by the Babylonians and Assyrians.
supernatural - Used sometimes in the sense of make-believe, it originally referred to that which had been done by a being other than natural (human or animal) - though no less real.
teleological argument - argument by design.
theology - the study of God.
theorem - A proposition that can be deduced from the premises of a system.
time dilation - The resulting fluidity of time because of speed and/or gravitational conditions. Time is not an absolute.
tradition - Those ideas or beliefs handed down from the past. Opinion with the force of history behind it.
universe - The entire cosmos, made of everything that is. Spacetime.
weak force - The force which causes the unstable elementary particles to decay.
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