PHIL 3600 -- Philosophy of Religion
Spring 2017
Prof. Chris Heathwood

University of Colorado Boulder

What We Did Each Day

(or plan to do)



Tu 1/17:  First day stuff: Introductions (especially concerning stuttering), roll, syllabus, questionnaire?.

Th 1/19: First Topic: The Nature of God. The need for a definition of 'God'. The "God is Love" Argument. Some possible divine attributes.
The guiding idea in constructing a definition of God: God as the supreme being. The big three divine attributes. Essence and accident. Why think the supreme being must have the big three essentially?


Tu 1/24:  Reading Quiz #1.  Divine Attributes (continued).  Self-existence.  Necessary existence.  Contingent existence.  Anselm's Argument for Divine Self-Existence.  The Principle of Sufficient Reason.  Essential eternality.  Essentially the creator of every contingent thing.  The definition of the God of the traditional theologians.

Th 1/26:  [Last day to complete questionnaire is tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 27)]  Fun facts about Aquinas. "Obj. 4" to the idea that God is omnipotent. The Cartesian Account of Omnipotence. An Argument Against the Cartesian Account of Omnipotence. A Revised Cartesian Account, and its problems. Possibility Accounts of Omnipotence. The Relative Possibility Account of Omnipotence. Why It Fails.


Tu 1/31:  Went over Report of Questionnaire Results.  The Possibility Accounts of Omnipotence. The Relative Possibility Account of Omnipotence. Why It Fails. Relative vs. Absolute or Logical Possibility. Examples of Logically Possible and Impossible States of Affairs.  The Thomistic Account of Omnipotence.

Th 2/2:  Reading Quiz #2.  The Thomistic Account of Omnipotence and the Problem of Divine Suicide.  The Thomistic Account and the Paradox of the Stone.  Can God create another omnipotent being?  The Thomistic Account and the Problem of Divine Sin.


Tu 2/7:  Aquinas' Reply to the Problem of Divine Sin, and Two Problems with It.  The Clarke/Rowe Account of Omnipotence.  How it solves the problem of divine sin.  A Problem for Clarke/Rowe Account of Omnipotence: the Problem of Essentially Limited Beings (such as Mr. McEar).  A Thomistic Solution to the Problem of Divine Sin?

Th 2/9:  Reading Quiz #3.  The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge (DFF).  Two Possibly Incompatible Ideas, and their centrality to major western religions. Augustine of Hippo.  Augustine's Formulation of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge (DFF). Augustine's reply to this (compatibilism).  A Simple Compatibilist View of Free Will.  Apparent counterexample to this: the Aliens and the Brain-Control Device.  A better reply to the Augustinian Formulation.  Necessity of the consequent vs. necessity of the consequence

The Edwardsian Formulation of the DFF.  Five Principles that Lie Behind the Edwardsian Version of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge: (i) Knowledge Entails Truth (KET); (ii) Divine Foreknowledge of Action (DFA).


Tu 2/14:  The Edwardsian Formulation of the DFF.  Five Principles that Lie Behind the Edwardsian Version of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge: (i) Knowledge Entails Truth (KET); (ii) Divine Foreknowledge of Action (DFA); The Fixity of the Past (FP); Transfer of Powerlessness (TP); Freedom Requires the Power to Do Otherwise (FRPO).  The Edwardsian Version of the Argument.  The Boethian Reply.

Th 2/16:  Reading Quiz #4.  Some Replies to Our DFF.   Incompatibilist Replies.  Compatibilist Replies.  Aristotelianism.  Boethianism.  First Paper Assignment.  Ockhamism.  Counterexample to the Fixity of the Past.  Rejoinder to Ockham: Hard vs. Soft Facts about the Past and the Fixity of the Hard Past.  The "Fixity of the Hard Past" Version of the DFF.


Tu 2/21:  Reading Quiz #5.  Ockhamist Reply to the "Fixity of the Hard Past" Version of the DFF: Past Knowledge of Future is Soft.  Second Rejoinder to Ockham: Dilemma of Freedom and Forebelief.  Infallible Belief Entails Truth (IBET).  Divine Forebelief of Action (DFbA).  The New Key Premise.  Plantinga's Reply to the Second Rejoinder to Ockham: Plantinga's Argument that Facts about God's Past Beliefs Can Be Soft.

Th 2/23:  A Final Issue: Power Over the Hard Past.  Newcomb's Problem.  Paul and the Ants.  Boethianism and Power Over the Hard Past. 


Tu 2/28:  Review Day

Th 3/2:  Midterm Exam, Part 1


Tu 3/7: Midterm Exam, Part 2

Th 3/9:  Guest lecture by Eden Lin on the Problem of Evil.  Six claims that seem jointly inconsistent.  An Atheistic Argument from Evil.  Some Objections to the Argument: "Evil as a necessary means to good"; "Evil as a necessary counterpart to good"; "Evil is due to human free will"; the natural evil reply.


Tu 3/14:  Returned and went over first paper.  Blaise Pascal.  Pensées.  Epistemic reasons to believe vs. prudential reasons to believe.  If there are no epistemic reasons to believe or to disbelieve in God, might reason require us to withhold belief?  The effect this would have on Pascal's Wager. 

Th 3/16:  Returned bluebooks; discussed midterm.  Is it in fact in our interest to believe in God?  Two different reasons why this is hard to know: hard to know the effects on your earthly life; hard to know the effects on your afterlife.  Decision Matrices.  Utility.  The Concept of Dominance.  The Principle of Dominance.  A Possible Counterexample to it.  The Argument from Dominance.  Three Objections to the Argument from Dominance: Doxastic Voluntarism; James's Suspicion; the Libertine Life. 


Tu 3/22:  Reading Quiz #6.  The Concept of Expected Value.  The Coin Bet and the Hike.  The Argument from Expected Value as applied to the Libertine Decision Matrix.  Problem with this argument: if there is no evidence on the question of God's existence, isn't P(G)<.5?

Th 3/24:  Reading Quiz #7.  The Principle of Dominating Expected Value. Infinite Utility.  The Many-Gods Objection to Pascal's Wager.  The God of the Philosophers.


Tu 4/4:  Ontological Arguments.  The A Priori vs. the A Posteriori.  Anselm's Definition of God.  Existence in the Understanding vs. Existence in Reality.  The problem of negative existentials.  Anselm's Solution to the Problem of Negative Existentials.  [ended class early for classroom interview by Prof. Pasnau]

Th 4/6:  Anselm's Ontological Argument.  Anselm's Thesis about Greatness.  Objections from students to Anselm's Ontological Argument.  Can we prove that the devil exists using Anselm's reasoning?  Gaunilo's Parody Argument: The Lost Island.  Plantinga's objection from "qualities with no intrinsic maximum" to Gaunilo's objection.


Tu 4/11:  Reading Quiz #8.  ANNOUNCEMENT: different office hours this week: Friday 1:00 - 3:00 (with guest lecturer Kris McDaniel).  Kant's Dictum.  Property Equivalence. Property Inequivalence.  Property Reality . Examples ('is red', 'is or is not a rhinoceros', 'exists').  Kant's Objection to Anselm's Ontological Argument.  How, if Kant's Dictum is true, Anselm's argument is unsound.  Kant's Argument for Kant's Dictum.  Kant's Solution to the Problem of Negative Existentials. 

Th 4/13:  The Fine-Tuning Argument.


Tu 4/18:  Second Paper Assignment.  The "No Evidence" Argument.  Hawthorn's Initial Account of Self-Evidence.  A Priori Knowability.  Examples.  Two Basic Kinds of Empirical Evidence: direct perceptual and explanatory.

Th 4/20:  class cancelled due to illness


Tu 4/25:  Reading Quiz #9.  The "No Evidence" Argument and the Rationale for P3.  The status of its conclusion.  How one might try to move from that conclusion to atheism.  Hawthorn's Objection to Aquinas' Argument against the Self-Evidence of God's Existence.  Hawthorne's Alternative Accounts of Self-Evidence.  Hawthorn's Account of Faith.  Andrew Sullivan passage.  Objections to Hawthorn's faith-based reply to the "No Evidence" Argument.

Th 4/27:  Collected second papers.  Free Reading Quiz.  FCQs.  Impromptu paper presentations.  Ask Me Anything.


Tu 5/2:  Review Day.

Th 5/4:  Final Exam, Part 1.  Return and review Final Exam, Part 1.


Tu 5/9, 7:30 p.m.Final Exam, Part 2.  BRING A BLUEBOOK!