Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion is "the philosophical examination of the central themes and concepts involved in religious traditions." These sorts of philosophical discussion are ancient, can be found in the earliest known manuscripts concerning philosophy. The field is related to many other branches of philosophy, including metaphysics and ethics; the philosophy of religion differs from religious philosophy in that it seeks to discuss questions regarding the nature of religion as a whole, rather than examining the problems brought forth by a particular belief system. It is designed such that it can be carried out dispassionately by those who identify as believers or non-believers. Philosopher William L. Rowe characterized the philosophy of religion as: "the critical examination of basic religious beliefs and concepts." Philosophy of religion covers alternative beliefs about God, the varieties of religious experience, the interplay between science and religion, the nature and scope of good and evil, religious treatments of birth and death.
The field includes the ethical implications of religious commitments, the relation between faith, reason and tradition, concepts of the miraculous, the sacred revelation, mysticism and salvation. The term "Philosophy of Religion" did not come into general use in the West until the nineteenth century, most pre-modern and early modern philosophical works included a mixture of religious themes and "non-religious" philosophical questions. In Asia, examples include texts such as the Hindu Upanishads, the works of Daoism and Confucianism and Buddhist texts. Greek philosophies like Pythagoreanism and Stoicism included religious elements and theories about deities, Medieval philosophy was influenced by the big three Monotheistic Abrahamic religions. In the Western world, early modern philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, George Berkeley discussed religious topics alongside secular philosophical issues as well; the philosophy of religion has been distinguished from theology by pointing out that, for theology, "its critical reflections are based on religious convictions".
"theology is responsible to an authority that initiates its thinking and witnessing... philosophy bases its arguments on the ground of timeless evidence."Some aspects of philosophy of religion have classically been regarded as a part of metaphysics. In Aristotle's Metaphysics, the prior cause of eternal motion was an unmoved mover, like the object of desire, or of thought, inspires motion without itself being moved. This, according to Aristotle, is the subject of study in theology. Today, philosophers have adopted the term "philosophy of religion" for the subject, it is regarded as a separate field of specialization, although it is still treated by some Catholic philosophers, as a part of metaphysics. Different religions have different ideas about Ultimate Reality, its source or ground and about what is the "Maximal Greatness". Paul Tillich's concept of'Ultimate Concern' and Rudolf Otto's'Idea of the Holy' are concepts which point to concerns about the ultimate or highest truth which most religious philosophies deal with in some way.
One of the main differences among religions is whether the Ultimate Reality is a personal God or an impersonal reality. In Western religions, various forms of Theism are the most common conceptions of the ultimate Good, while in Eastern Religions, there are theistic and various non-theistic conceptions of the Ultimate. Theistic vs non-theistic is a common way of sorting the different types of religions. There are several philosophical positions with regard to the existence of God that one might take including various forms of Theism and different forms of Atheism. Monotheism is the belief in a single deity or God, ontologically independent. There are many forms of monotheism. Keith Yandell outlines three kinds of historical monotheisms: Greek and Hindu. Greek monotheism holds that the world has always existed and does not believe in Creationism or divine providence, while Semitic monotheism believes the world is created by a God at a particular point in time and that this God acts in the world.
Indian monotheism meanwhile teaches that the world is beginningless, but that there is God's act of creation which sustains the world. The attempt to provide proofs or arguments for the existence of God is one aspect of what is known as natural theology or the natural theistic project; this strand of natural theology attempts to justify belief in God by independent grounds. Most of philosophy of religion is predicated on natural theology's assumption that the existence of God can be justified or warranted on rational grounds. There has been considerable philosophical and theological debate about the kinds of proofs and arguments that are appropriate for this discourse. Common types of arguments for the existence of god include: Cosmological Argument Ontological Argument Teleological argument Argument from religious experience Argument from morality Wager arguments like Pascal's Wager attempts to rationally argue that one should believe in God. Skeptics and atheists have put forth various arguments against the existence of God including: The argument from inconsistent revelations The problem of evil, the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with that of a deity who is, in either absolute or relative terms, omnipotent and omnibenevolent.
Argument from poor design Argument from nonbelief or the argument from divine hiddenness Eastern Religions have included both theistic and other alternative positions about the ultimate nature of reality. One such v
Problem of evil
The problem of evil is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with an omnipotent and omniscient God. An argument from evil claims that because evil exists, either God does not exist or does not have all three of those properties. Attempts to show the contrary have traditionally been discussed under the heading of theodicy. Besides philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is important to the field of theology and ethics; the problem of evil is formulated in two forms: the logical problem of evil and the evidential problem of evil. The logical form of the argument tries to show a logical impossibility in the coexistence of God and evil, while the evidential form tries to show that given the evil in the world, it is improbable that there is an omnipotent and wholly good God; the problem of evil has been extended to non-human life forms, to include animal suffering from natural evils and human cruelty against them. Responses to various versions of the problem of evil, come in three forms: refutations and theodicies.
A wide range of responses have been made against these arguments. There are many discussions of evil and associated problems in other philosophical fields, such as secular ethics, evolutionary ethics, but as understood, the "problem of evil" is posed in a theological context. The problem of evil acutely applies to monotheistic religions such as Christianity and Judaism that believe in a monotheistic God, omnipotent and omnibenevolent; the problem of evil refers to the challenge of reconciling belief in an omniscient and omnibenevolent God, with the existence of evil and suffering in the world. The problem may be described either experientially or theoretically; the experiential problem is the difficulty in believing in a concept of a loving God when confronted by suffering or evil in the real world, such as from epidemics, or wars, or murder, or rape or terror attacks wherein innocent children, men or a loved one becomes a victim. The problem of evil is a theoretical one described and studied by religion scholars in two varieties: the logical problem and the evidential problem.
Originating with Greek philosopher Epicurus, the logical argument from evil is as follows: If an omnipotent and omniscient god exists evil does not. There is evil in the world. Therefore, an omnipotent and omniscient god does not exist; this argument is of the form modus tollens, is logically valid: If its premises are true, the conclusion follows of necessity. To show that the first premise is plausible, subsequent versions tend to expand on it, such as this modern example: God exists. God is omnipotent and omniscient. An omnipotent being has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence. An omnibenevolent being would want to prevent all evils. An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence, knows every way in which those evils could be prevented. A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil. If there exists an omnipotent and omniscient God no evil exists.
Evil exists. Both of these arguments are understood to be presenting two forms of the'logical' problem of evil, they attempt to show that the assumed propositions lead to a logical contradiction and therefore cannot all be correct. Most philosophical debate has focused on the propositions stating that God cannot exist with, or would want to prevent, all evils, with defenders of theism arguing that God could well exist with and allow evil in order to achieve a greater good. If God lacks any one of these qualities—omniscience, omnipotence, or omnibenevolence—then the logical problem of evil can be resolved. Process theology and open theism are other positions that limit God's omnipotence and/or omniscience. Dystheism is the belief; the evidential problem of evil seeks to show that the existence of evil, although logically consistent with the existence of God, counts against or lowers the probability of the truth of theism. As an example, a critic of Plantinga's idea of "a mighty nonhuman spirit" causing natural evils may concede that the existence of such a being is not logically impossible but argue that due to lacking scientific evidence for its existence this is unlikely and thus it is an unconvincing explanation for the presence of natural evils.
Both absolute versions and relative versions of the evidential problems of evil are presented below. A version by William L. Rowe: There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil bad or worse. An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil bad or worse. There does not exist an omnipotent, wholly good being. Another by Paul Draper: Gratuitous evils exist; the hypothesis of indifference, i.e. that if there are supernatural beings they are indifferent to gratuitous evils, is a better explanation for than theism. Therefore, evidence prefers that no god, as understood by theists, exists; the problem of e
Faith, derived from Latin fides and Old French feid, is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept. In the context of religion, one can define faith as confidence or trust in a particular system of religious belief. Religious people think of faith as confidence based on a perceived degree of warrant, while others who are more skeptical of religion tend to think of faith as belief without evidence; the English word faith is thought to date from 1200–1250, from the Middle English feith, via Anglo-French fed, Old French feid, feit from Latin fidem, accusative of fidēs, akin to fīdere. James W. Fowler proposes a series of stages of faith-development across the human life-span, his stages relate to the work of Piaget and Kohlberg regarding aspects of psychological development in children and adults. Fowler defines faith as an activity of trusting and relating to the world based on a set of assumptions of how one is related to others and the world. Intuitive-Projective: a stage of confusion and of high impressionability through stories and rituals.
Mythic-Literal: a stage where provided information is accepted in order to conform with social norms. Synthetic-Conventional: in this stage the faith acquired is concreted in the belief system with the forgoing of personification and replacement with authority in individuals or groups that represent one's beliefs. Individuative-Reflective: in this stage the individual critically analyzes adopted and accepted faith with existing systems of faith. Disillusion or strengthening of faith happens in this stage. Based on needs and paradoxes. Conjunctive faith: in this stage people realize the limits of logic and, facing the paradoxes or transcendence of life, accept the "mystery of life" and return to the sacred stories and symbols of the pre-acquired or re-adopted faith system; this stage is called negotiated settling in life. Universalizing faith: this is the "enlightenment" stage where the individual comes out of all the existing systems of faith and lives life with universal principles of compassion and love and in service to others for upliftment, without worries and doubt (middle-late adulthood.
No hard-and-fast rule requires individuals pursuing faith to go through all six stages. There is a high probability for individuals to be content and fixed in a particular stage for a lifetime. Stage 6 is the summit of faith development; this state is considered as "not fully" attainable. In the Bahá'í Faith, faith is meant, conscious knowledge, second, the practice of good deeds the acceptance of the divine authority of the Manifestations of God. In the religion's view and knowledge are both required for spiritual growth. Faith involves more than outward obedience to this authority, but must be based on a deep personal understanding of religious teachings. Faith in Buddhism refers to a serene commitment in the practice of the Buddha's teaching and trust in enlightened or developed beings, such as Buddhas or bodhisattvas. Buddhists recognize multiple objects of faith, but many are devoted to one particular object of faith, such as one particular Buddha. In early Buddhism, faith was focused on the Triple Gem, that is, Gautama Buddha, his teaching, the community of spiritually developed followers, or the monastic community seeking enlightenment.
Although offerings to the monastic community were valued highest, early Buddhism did not morally condemn peaceful offerings to deities. A faithful devotee was called upāsika, for which no formal declaration was required. In early Buddhism, personal verification was valued highest in attaining the truth, sacred scriptures, reason or faith in a teacher were considered less valuable sources of authority; as important as faith was, it was a mere initial step to the path to wisdom and enlightenment, was obsolete or redefined at the final stage of that path. While faith in Buddhism does not imply "blind faith", Buddhist practice requires a degree of trust in the spiritual attainment of Gautama Buddha. Faith in Buddhism centers on the understanding that the Buddha is an Awakened being, on his superior role as teacher, in the truth of his Dharma, in his Sangha. Faith in Buddhism can be summarised as faith in the Three Jewels: the Buddha and Sangha, it is intended to lead to the goal of enlightenment, or bodhi, Nirvana.
Volitionally, faith implies a courageous act of will. It combines the steadfast resolution that one will do a thing with the self-confidence that one can do it. In the stratum of Buddhist history Mahāyāna Buddhism, faith was given a much more important role; the concept of the Buddha Nature was developed, as devotion to Buddhas and bodhisattvas residing in Pure Lands became commonplace. With the arising of the cult of the Lotus Sūtra, faith gained a central role in Buddhist practice, further amplified with the development of devotion to the Amitabha Buddha in Pure Land Buddhism. In the Japanese form of Pure Land Buddhism, under the teachers Hōnen and Shinran, only entrusting faith toward the Amitabha Buddha was believed to be a fruitful form of practice, as the practice of celibacy and other Buddhist disciplines were dismissed as no longer effective in this day and age, or contradicting the virtue of faith. Faith was defined as a state similar to enlightenment, with a sense of self-negation and humil
Theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine. It is taught as an academic discipline in universities and seminaries. Theology is the study of deities or their scriptures in order to discover what they have revealed about themselves, it occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but especially with epistemology, asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship. Theology is derived from the Greek theologia, which derived from Τheos, meaning "God", -logia, meaning "utterances, sayings, or oracles" which had passed into Latin as theologia and into French as théologie.
The English equivalent "theology" had evolved by 1362. The sense the word has in English depends in large part on the sense the Latin and Greek equivalents had acquired in patristic and medieval Christian usage, although the English term has now spread beyond Christian contexts. Augustine of Hippo defined the Latin equivalent, theologia, as "reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity"; the term can, however, be used for a variety of fields of study. Theology begins with the assumption that the divine exists in some form, such as in physical, mental, or social realities, that evidence for and about it may be found via personal spiritual experiences or historical records of such experiences as documented by others; the study of these assumptions is not part of theology proper but is found in the philosophy of religion, through the psychology of religion and neurotheology. Theology aims to structure and understand these experiences and concepts, to use them to derive normative prescriptions for how to live our lives.
Theologians use various forms of analysis and argument to help understand, test, defend or promote any myriad of religious topics. As in philosophy of ethics and case law, arguments assume the existence of resolved questions, develop by making analogies from them to draw new inferences in new situations; the study of theology may help a theologian more understand their own religious tradition, another religious tradition, or it may enable them to explore the nature of divinity without reference to any specific tradition. Theology may be used to propagate, reform, or justify a religious tradition or it may be used to compare, challenge, or oppose a religious tradition or world-view. Theology might help a theologian address some present situation or need through a religious tradition, or to explore possible ways of interpreting the world. Greek theologia was used with the meaning "discourse on god" in the fourth century BC by Plato in The Republic, Book ii, Ch. 18. Aristotle divided theoretical philosophy into mathematike and theologike, with the last corresponding to metaphysics, for Aristotle, included discourse on the nature of the divine.
Drawing on Greek Stoic sources, the Latin writer Varro distinguished three forms of such discourse: mythical and civil. Theologos related to theologia, appears once in some biblical manuscripts, in the heading to the Book of Revelation: apokalypsis ioannoy toy theologoy, "the revelation of John the theologos". There, the word refers not to John the "theologian" in the modern English sense of the word but—using a different sense of the root logos, meaning not "rational discourse" but "word" or "message"—one who speaks the words of God, logoi toy theoy; some Latin Christian authors, such as Tertullian and Augustine, followed Varro's threefold usage, though Augustine used the term more to mean'reasoning or discussion concerning the deity'In patristic Greek Christian sources, theologia could refer narrowly to devout and inspired knowledge of, teaching about, the essential nature of God. The Latin author Boethius, writing in the early 6th century, used theologia to denote a subdivision of philosophy as a subject of academic study, dealing with the motionless, incorporeal reality.
Boethius' definition influenced medieval Latin usage. In scholastic Latin sources, the term came to denote the rational study of the doctrines of the Christian religion, or the academic discipline which investigated the coherence and implications of the language and claims of the Bible and of the theological tradition. In the Renaissance with Florentine Platonist apologists of Dante's poetics, the distinction between "poetic theology" and "revealed" or Biblical theology serves as steppingstone for a revival of philosophy as independent of theological authority, it is in this last sense, theology as an academic discipline involving rational study of Christian teaching
World War I
World War I known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history, it is one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide. On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis. In response, on 23 July Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, the two moved to a war footing. A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe.
By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente—consisting of France and Britain—and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia and, after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the 28th, partial mobilisation was approved. General Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; when Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th. German strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within four weeks shift forces to the East before Russia could mobilise. On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France; when this was refused, German forces invaded Belgium on 3 August and declared war on France the same day. On 12 August and France declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Alliance, opening fronts in the Caucasus and the Sinai Peninsula. The war was fought in and drew upon each power's colonial empire as well, spreading the conflict to Africa and across the globe; the Entente and its allies would become known as the Allied Powers, while the grouping of Austria-Hungary and their allies would become known as the Central Powers. The German advance into France was halted at the Battle of the Marne and by the end of 1914, the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until 1917. In 1915, Italy opened a front in the Alps. Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 and Greece joined the Allies in 1917, expanding the war in the Balkans; the United States remained neutral, although by doing nothing to prevent the Allies from procuring American supplies whilst the Allied blockade prevented the Germans from doing the same the U. S. became an important supplier of war material to the Allies.
After the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the revelation that the Germans were trying to incite Mexico to make war on the United States, the U. S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Trained American forces would not begin arriving at the front in large numbers until mid-1918, but the American Expeditionary Force would reach some two million troops. Though Serbia was defeated in 1915, Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916 only to be defeated in 1917, none of the great powers were knocked out of the war until 1918; the 1917 February Revolution in Russia replaced the Tsarist autocracy with the Provisional Government, but continuing discontent at the cost of the war led to the October Revolution, the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic, the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the new government in March 1918, ending Russia's involvement in the war. This allowed the transfer of large numbers of German troops from the East to the Western Front, resulting in the German March 1918 Offensive.
This offensive was successful, but the Allies rallied and drove the Germans back in their Hundred Days Offensive. Bulgaria was the first Central Power to sign an armistice—the Armistice of Salonica on 29 September 1918. On 30 October, the Ottoman Empire capitulated. On 4 November, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti after being decisively defeated by Italy in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. With its allies defeated, revolution at home, the military no longer willing to fight, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November and Germany signed an armistice on 11 November 1918. World War I was a significant turning point in the political, cultural and social climate of the world; the war and its immediate aftermath sparked numerous uprisings. The Big Four (Britain, the United States, It
Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London; the city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, contiguous with its capital, Potsdam; the two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions. Berlin straddles the banks of the River Spree, which flows into the River Havel in the western borough of Spandau. Among the city's main topographical features are the many lakes in the western and southeastern boroughs formed by the Spree and Dahme rivers. Due to its location in the European Plain, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. About one-third of the city's area is composed of forests, gardens, rivers and lakes; the city lies in the Central German dialect area, the Berlin dialect being a variant of the Lusatian-New Marchian dialects.
First documented in the 13th century and situated at the crossing of two important historic trade routes, Berlin became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich. Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II and its subsequent occupation by the victorious countries, the city was divided. East Berlin was declared capital of East Germany. Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of all of Germany. Berlin is a world city of culture, politics and science, its economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, research facilities, media corporations and convention venues. Berlin serves as a continental hub for air and rail traffic and has a complex public transportation network; the metropolis is a popular tourist destination. Significant industries include IT, biomedical engineering, clean tech, biotechnology and electronics.
Berlin is home to world-renowned universities, orchestras and entertainment venues, is host to many sporting events. Its Zoological Garden is one of the most popular worldwide. With the world's oldest large-scale movie studio complex, Berlin is an popular location for international film productions; the city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, contemporary arts and a high quality of living. Since the 2000s Berlin has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene. Berlin lies in northeastern Germany, east of the River Saale, that once constituted, together with the River Elbe, the eastern border of the Frankish Realm. While the Frankish Realm was inhabited by Germanic tribes like the Franks and the Saxons, the regions east of the border rivers were inhabited by Slavic tribes; this is why most of the villages in northeastern Germany bear Slavic-derived names. Typical Germanised place name suffixes of Slavic origin are -ow, -itz, -vitz, -witz, -itzsch and -in, prefixes are Windisch and Wendisch.
The name Berlin has its roots in the language of West Slavic inhabitants of the area of today's Berlin, may be related to the Old Polabian stem berl-/birl-. Since the Ber- at the beginning sounds like the German word Bär, a bear appears in the coat of arms of the city, it is therefore a canting arm. Of Berlin's twelve boroughs, five bear a Slavic-derived name: Pankow, Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Treptow-Köpenick and Spandau. Of its ninety-six neighborhoods, twenty-two bear a Slavic-derived name: Altglienicke, Alt-Treptow, Buch, Gatow, Kladow, Köpenick, Lankwitz, Lübars, Marzahn, Prenzlauer Berg, Schmöckwitz, Stadtrandsiedlung Malchow, Steglitz and Zehlendorf; the neighborhood of Moabit bears a French-derived name, Französisch Buchholz is named after the Huguenots. The earliest evidence of settlements in the area of today's Berlin are a wooden beam dated from 1192, remnants of a house foundation dated to 1174, found in excavations in Berlin Mitte; the first written records of towns in the area of present-day Berlin date from the late 12th century.
Spandau is first mentioned in 1197 and Köpenick in 1209, although these areas did not join Berlin until 1920. The central part of Berlin can be traced back to two towns. Cölln on the Fischerinsel is first mentioned in a 1237 document, Berlin, across the Spree in what is now called the Nikolaiviertel, is referenced in a document from 1244. 1237 is considered the founding date of the city. The two towns over time formed close economic and social ties, profited from the staple right on the two important trade routes Via Imperii and from Bruges to Novgorod. In 1307, they formed an alliance with a common external policy, their internal administrations still being separated. In 1415, Frederick I became the elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, which he ruled until 1440. During the 15th century, his successors established Berlin-Cölln as capital of the margraviate, subsequent members of the Hohenzol
James Luther Adams
James Luther Adams, an American professor at Harvard Divinity School, Andover Newton Theological School, Meadville Lombard Theological School, a Unitarian parish minister, was the most influential theologian among American Unitarian Universalists in the 20th century. Adams was born on November 12, 1901, in Ritzville, the son of James Carey Adams, a farmer and itinerant Plymouth Brethren preacher. In his family and in church, the Day of Judgment was considered a real possibility; when Adams was 16, his father became ill, Adams left school to work on the Northern Pacific Railroad to help support the family. He did well there and rose in management but dropped from this job to attend the University of Minnesota. After he graduated in 1924, he went on to the Harvard Divinity School to become a Unitarian minister. In his education, he moved from "premillenarian fundamentalism" to "scientific humanism" and to liberal Christianity. After graduation from Harvard, Adams served as minister of the Second Church, Unitarian in Salem, from 1927 to 1934, the First Unitarian Society in Wellesley Hills, from 1934 to 1935.
In the mid-1930s, Adams spent considerable time in Germany, where he befriended several notable religious figures who were active in clandestine resistance to the rise of Nazism. In 1937, Adams began a long career in academia by joining the faculty of Meadville Theological School in Chicago. While there, he became a member of the First Unitarian Church of Chicago and served on its board of trustees. In 1956, he became Professor of Christian Ethics at Harvard Divinity School, where he stayed until he retired in 1968, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1958. In 1962 he became part of the first board of directors for the Society for the Arts and Contemporary Culture. A number of his students became influential figures in Christian ethics across the theological spectrum. Among them was Stephen Charles Mott, a pioneer in evangelical social ethics in the US who taught at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for a quarter of a decade and President of the James Luther Adams Foundation.
Another one of Adams' students was Chris Hedges, author of War Is a Force. After his retirement from Harvard, Adams taught at Andover Newton Theological School and Meadville Lombard Theological School. In his years, he lived in Harvard Square, Cambridge adjacent to the Harvard Divinity School near the Harvard University campus and was an active member of Arlington Street Church in Boston until his death on July 26, 1994, he is buried at Cambridge Cemetery, Massachusetts. UUA biography James Luther Adams Foundation Famous UUs Papers at Syracuse University Library The historical records of James Luther Adams are in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Three films made by James Luther Adams on prominent German figures and religious leaders are in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts