PHIL 3600 -- Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Chris Heathwood
University of Colorado Boulder
3600 - Philosophy of Religion
Study Guide for Final Exam
The final exam will come in two parts and will take place over two class periods. Part 1 will consist of very-short-answer questions (multiple-choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank questions, and the like). Part 2 will consist of short-answer questions (questions that can usually be answered in a sentence to a paragraph). Those will be similar to the sorts of questions below. Both parts are in-class, closed-note, and closed-reading exams. For Part 2, you will need to bring a bluebook. See the syllabus for the dates.
For both parts of the exam, you are responsible for all the topics and all of the readings that we have covered since the midterm. You are responsible for everything we did in lecture, including what we talked about and what was on the slides and the board. See syllabus and What We Did Each Day for specifics. The slides are available on the course schedule on the syllabus.
To prepare for the exam, re-read any readings that you found challenging, study your reading notes, study your class notes, study the slides from lecture, and, most importantly, write out your answers to the questions below, as if it were the exam. Do this before the review sessions, so that you will know what questions you need to ask.
Let me emphasize the importance of actually writing out answers to these questions. We often think we understand something -- until we try to put it in writing. Only then do we realize we don't really understand it. If you don't write out your answers, you won't know what you don't know.
Another excellent way to prepare for the final exam is to supplement your individual work on the material with group study. If you would find this useful, then try to arrange a study group with one or more of your classmates. If I can be of assistance in helping you form a study group -- e.g., I could send out an email to the class about it -- please let me know.
The Problem of Evil
- According to Mackie, "In its simplest form, the problem [of evil] is this: God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; and yet evil exists. There seems to be some contradiction between these three propositions, so that if any two of them were true the third would be false" (Mackie, "Evil and Omnipotence," p. 119).
What does 'evil' mean in this context?
Explain in your own words why, if any two of these propositions is true, the third must be false.
(c) State the Atheistic Argument from Evil as it was stated in class.
Which two premises are the ones that it is most plausible for a traditional theist to reject?
- One popular response to the Atheistic Argument from Evil is the Free Will Defense, which claims that evil is due to human free will.
Which premise does this response reject? And what is the rationale for rejecting it?
What is natural evil, and how does it make trouble for the the Free Will Defense?
- (a) Explain the difference between an epistemic reason to believe something and a prudential reason to believe something.
(b) Give examples that illustrate each.
- (a) What is it for one act, from among a set of alternative acts, to dominate?
(b) Write out an example of a decision matrix in which one act dominates.
(c) What is the Principle of Dominance? (In stating the Principle of Dominance, you can use the word 'dominate', which you defined earlier.)
(d) We discussed a problem with the version of Pascal's Wager that is based upon the Principle of Dominance having to do with the "libertine life." Lay out that problem in detail.
- (a) What is the expected value of an act? (Hint: it's probably harder than you think to state this accurately.)
(b) What is it for an act to maximize expected value?
(c) What is the Principle of Expected Value?
(d) Give an example of a decision matrix, along with an assignment of probabilities to the possible states of the world, in which one act maximizes expected value, and explain why it does this.
(e) State and explain the version of Pascal's Wager that is based upon the Principle of Expected Value. In doing so, you should write out the relevant decision matrix, along with the relevant assignment of probabilities. Do it as we did it in class (i.e., as NOT involving infinite utilities).
(g) What is the main thing wrong with with the version of Pascal's Wager that is based upon the Principle of Expected Value?
- Explain in a paragraph how the version of Pascal's Wager based on the Principle of Dominating Expected Value is an improvement over the one based upon the Principle of Expected Value.
- Explain some version of the "many Gods" objection to Pascal's Wager.
The Ontological Argument
- (a) What does Anselm mean by 'God'?
Explain Anselm's distinction between existence in reality and existence in the understanding.
Give an example of something that exists in the understanding but not in reality.
Give an example of something that exists both in reality and in the understanding.
Does anything exist in reality but not in the understanding? If not, explain why not. If so, can you give an example? If so, do so. If not, explain why not.
- (a) Define 'negative existential'?
Give an example of a negative existential.
What is the Problem of Negative Existentials? Explain the problem thoroughly.
What is the Anselmian Solution to the Problem of Negative Existentials? First state the solution in general terms, and then illustrate it with two examples: one involving a true negative existential and the other involving a false negative existential.
- State and explain Anselm's Ontological Argument. Be sure to justify each step in the reasoning. Be sure to state and discuss the thesis about greatness that the argument makes use of, and to illustrate it using an independent example.
- (a) Explain Gaunilo's "Lost Isle" Parody Argument and how it is supposed to make trouble for Anselm's Argument.
(b) Explain why Plantinga thinks Gaunilo's Parody Argument is not in fact analogous to Anselm's Argument and so why in his view Gaunilo's objection fails?
- (a) As we understood it in class, what does Kant mean when he says that existence is not a real property?
Give an example of a property that is real and explain why it's real.
Give an example of a property that is not real and explain why it's not real. (Don't use existence for either of your examples in (b) and (c).)
If Kant is right that existence in reality is not a real property, which part of Anselm's argument is in trouble according to your humble instructor, and why?
(e) Explain, in your own words, Kant's argument for his view that existence in reality is not a real property.
(f) When the fools says, "God does not exist," what exactly is the fool's sentence saying, according to Kant? (So this is asking about Kant's own solution to the Problem of Negative Existentials.)
The Fine-Tuning Argument
- (a) What do we mean when we say that the universe is fine-tuned, or "just right," for life.
Explain in detail two ways in which the universe appears to be this way.
- Here is how the Fine-Tuning Argument was stated on the handout:
P1. The Main Principle.
P2. The conditional probability of fine-tuning given random chance is extremely low.
P3. The conditional probability of fine-tuning given the existence of God is high.
Conclusion: The fine-tuning of the universe provides evidence for the existence of God over random chance.
(a) What does the "Main Principle" say?
(b) Give the rationale for P2.
(c) Give the rationale for P3.
(d) What sort of God does the Fine-Tuning Argument support if it is successful?
- Explain how the hypothesis that there are Multiple Universes is supposed to make trouble for the Fine-Tuning Argument for the existence of God.
The "No Evidence" Argument
- (a) Fully state the "No Evidence" Argument in line-by-line format, as we stated it in class.
- (a) How does Hawthorn define 'knowable a priori'?
(b) Give an example of a claim that seems to be self-evident.
(c) Give an example of a claim that is a priori but not self-evident.
(d) Give an example of a claim that is very obviously true but is neither a priori nor self-evident.
- Hawthorn highlights two main kinds of empirical evidence.
What is the first one? Explain it. Give an example of something we know on the basis of that kind of evidence.
(b) What is the second one? Explain it. Give an example of something we know on the basis of that kind of evidence.
(c) Fully state the rationale for P3 of the "No Evidence" Argument (the premise that is about whether there is empirical evidence for God's existence)?
- Why does Aquinas think that the claim that God exists is not self-evident? Explain in detail.
- (a) If the Ontological Argument is sound, which premise (if any) of the "No Evidence" Argument is mistaken? (State the whole premise.)
(b) If the Fine-Tuning Argument is sound, which premise (if any) of the "No Evidence" Argument is mistaken? (State the whole premise.)
(c) If a person has a convincing religious experience, which premise (if any) of the "No Evidence" Argument will he/she conclude is mistaken? (State the whole premise.)
(d) If Pascal's Wager is sound, which premise (if any) of the "No Evidence" Argument is mistaken? (State the whole premise.)
- (a) Explain Hawthorn's objection to Aquinas' argument for the view that God's existence is not self-evident.
(b) State Hawthorn's own account of self-evidence.
(c) Explain Hawthorn's account of faith, and show how it is supposed to answer the "No Evidence" argument.