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From the Philosophy Course Outline:

Reason and the Existence of God
Belief in God or a supreme being can be found throughout history and in many cultures. People’s belief in the existence of God is mainly a matter of faith. However, some philosophers have attempted to demonstrate God’s existence through rational argument.
This topic covers the range of arguments that have been used for and against the existence of God or a supreme being.
Students could examine the following questions:
  • Does God exist?
  • Is the existence of God necessary to explain the existence of the universe?
  • Is God’s existence necessary to explain the existence of complex things, especially living things?
  • Does the existence of evil pose a problem for a belief in the existence of God?

We will examine each of the four main focus questions in some depth and explore the rich vein of philosophical material that has been generated over thousands of year. The central focus of this unit is on the PHILOSOPHICAL arguments associated with the existence of God, not so much the psychological and sociological dimensions to the debate.



CONCEPTS of GOD

A crucial starting point for this exploration is the various Concepts of God that humans have had over time and around the world.
This is a long video, but well worth you taking your time to view. It has an overarching view of the development of various concepts of God over time.



What are the main concepts of God that you gleaned from viewing the video above?

A Powerpoint to get us going



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FOCUS QUESTION 1 - Does God Exist? ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
Given that there are various concepts of God even within a given denomination of a given religion, we can now explore some of the philosophical reasons for belief in the existence of a God with certain attributes.
What might this concept be?

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Another Powerpoint for us to explore

The key section to examine is the distinction between a priori arguments (such as the Ontological Argument) and a posteriori arguments (such as used in the Cosmological and Teleological arguments). There are also a couple of slides outlining St Anselm's ontological argument.





and here's a counter video to help us understand if there are any problems with the Ontological argument




TWO TASKS AND QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT AND RESPOND TO:

1. Outline Anselm’s ontological argument and examine the relationship between faith and reason in the ontological argument.
2. ‘The ontological argument does not prove anything.’ To what extent do you agree?




FOCUS QUESTION 2 - Is the existence of God necessary to explain the existence of the universe?
COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
What are the various explanations for the existence of the universe?
Cosmological Argument

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A good place to start.....Stanford University Encylopedia of Philosophy

A video to engage with.....













And now a Powerpoint that I will work through in class.....(note that some of it is a bit technical for our purposes)




FOCUS QUESTION 3 - Is God’s existence necessary to explain the existence of complex things, especially living things?
TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (This will be familiar from our analysis of William Paley's watchmaker analogy.)

"Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God." (St Thomas Aquinas)

Here's what The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has to say about it all....













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William Paley's view - as we are well aware
A complex and comprehensive analysis for you from the Internet Encyclopedia of PhilosophyTeleological Arguments




FOCUS QUESTION 4 - Does the existence of evil pose a problem for a belief in the existence of God?

THE PROBLEM OF EVIL - THEODICY
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Another good resource to explore

Philosophy of Religion

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And don't forget that the Library has some excellent printed resources for you.
Go to the Philosophy section and hunt away.




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Your task is to investigate the issue, including many of the following:
  • Why is it a philosophical issue?
  • What positions do people hold on the issue (including theistic philosophers, agnostic positions and atheistic responses)?
  • What are their reasons for holding these positions?
  • What objections or counter examples are relevant to these positions?
  • What is your position? (Justification)

Because of the breadth and depth of this broader issue, it is important to focus on a maximum of TWO of the "Proofs" of God's existence, rather than look at them all.


PresentationHow will you present your findings? This topic opens itself to many possibilities: role-play, oral presentation/PowerPoint, essay, drama or dialogue script, multimedia presentation, series of letters to the editor, etc. Which will you choose? Choose a method that is appropriate to what you are trying to say. Account for why you have chosen that method as part of your presentation. Other presentations are possible by negotiation.
Written form – Max of 1500 words. Oral form – Max of 10 minutesDUE DATE: Draft Due: Monday April 6 Final Copy: Friday April 10