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An Introduction to Philosophy
Lecture 04: Philosophy of Religion

James Mooney
Open Studies
The University of Edinburgh

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  1. 1. The Existence of God An Introduction to Philosophy: 04 © James Mooney 2012
  2. 2. The Existence of God •  God has had a substantial role in much of the philosophy we have already considered. –  Descartes attempts to escape solipsism by appeal to the clear and distinct idea of God; he also invokes the Almighty in his attempt to explain the problem of causal interaction. –  In addition, Berkeley required the intervention of God in order to account for the continued existence of the world. •  However, most modern philosophers are atheists; many actually hold religion responsible for a great deal of the world’s ails. •  Given the role that religion continues to play in our lives it is important for philosophy to consider the argument for and against the existence of God.
  3. 3. St. Anselm (c.1033-1109) Faith seeking understanding The Ontological Argument P1 That than which nothing greater can be thought can be thought. P2 If that than which nothing greater can be thought can be thought, it exists in reality. C Therefore, that than which nothing greater can be thought exists in reality.
  4. 4. Gaunilo’s perfect island
  5. 5. God Omnipotent Omniscient Benevolent
  6. 6. The Cosmological Argument Either there was a first event in the history of the universe or there was no first event It is not possible that there was no first event (a priori) Therefore, there was a first event (an uncaused cause) p v q Law of Excluded -q Thomas Aquinas Middle ∴p 1224-1274
  7. 7. The Cosmological Argument •  The cosmological argument is valid (it is an a priori ‘deductive’ argument). •  It would seem to be the case that the notion of an infinite series is logically impossible. •  Science claims that all events in the universe are caused by antecedent events. As such, an uncaused cause would seem to be a unique event. •  However, the claim of universal causality is the result of an inductive inference (see next slide). •  Even if the argument is successful, it only proves that there was a first cause. •  This could even be endorsed by atheists. –  ‘Big bang theory’
  8. 8. The Problem of •  In inductive arguments, general laws or principles are inferred from particular observations of Induction (Hume) how things are in the world. e.g. Swan 1 is white •  We have already considered the Swan 2 is white… following valid argument form. Swan 3,999 is white e.g. All man are mortal Therefore, all swans are white. Socrates is a man •  As such, inductive arguments Therefore, Socrates is mortal move beyond their premises to•  This ‘syllogism’ is an ideal make important scientific claims. example of a deductive argument •  The problem, however, is that such - one where the truth of the arguments are invalid; it is premises entails the truth of the possible for the premises to be true conclusion. but the conclusion false (see also a•  Deductive argument never move posteriori, synthetic, contingent). beyond the information contained in the premises. •  As such, they are truth preserving (see also a priori, analytic, necessary)
  9. 9. Teleological Argument “Suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watchhappened to be in that place (...) There must have existed, at some time, and at some placeor other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find itactually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. (...) Everyindication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, existsin the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more,and that in a degree which exceeds all computation. ! William Paley, Natural Theology (1802) Argument from Analogy P1 (x) is like (y) P2 (y) has the property (P) C Therefore, (x) has the property (P)
  10. 10. Problems with the Teleological Argument •  Weakness of arguments from analogy –  Hume’s Example •  Potential infinite regress –  Who designed the designer? •  Even if successful, only proves existence of a cosmic designer (not an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent creator). •  Darwin’s theory of natural Charles Darwin selection explains apparent ‘intelligent design’. 1809-1882
  11. 11. Argument from Evil 1.  God knows about the existence of evil 2.  God could do something about the existence of evil 3.  God should want to do something about the existence of evil The existence of evil is incompatible with the standard conception of the Christian God. The traditional theistic response is that the existence of evil is a necessary implication of human free will.
  12. 12. NaturalEvil
  13. 13. ‘leap of faith’ Soren Kierkegaard 1813-1855"
  14. 14. Details James Mooney Open Studies The University of Edinburgh @film_philosophy