Philosophy 3600 - Philosophy of Religion



Unless otherwise noted, page numbers are to Pojman and Rea's Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Fifth Edition - i.e., this book.

Some entries have a list of questions below them. These are the "reading questions" for that reading. Keep them in mind as you are doing the reading, and write down in your reading notes the answers to them. This will help you immensely on the quizzes.

  1. Rowe, "The Idea of God," pp. 4-15 of his book Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction, Third Edition (Wadsworth, 2001).
  2. Aquinas, "Is God's Power Limited?," pp. 265-267.
  3. Mavrodes, "Some Puzzles Concerning Omnipotence," pp. 267-269.
  4. Frankfurt, "The Logic of Omnipotence," pp. 269-271.
  5. Plato, excerpt from Euthyphro, pp. 556-557.
  6. Craig and Sinnott-Armstrong, passages from God? A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist (Oxford, 2004).
  7. Augustine, excerpt from On the Free Choice of the Will, pp. 247-249.
  8. van Inwagen, passage on possible worlds, from his Metaphysics, second edition
    (Westview Press, 2002), pp. 97-98.
  9. Plantinga, "On Ockham's Way Out," Faith and Philosophy 3 (1986): 235-269.
  10. Pascal's Wager, pp. 364-366.
  11. Hájek, "Pascal's Wager," from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  12. St. Anselm's Ontological Argument: the editors' introduction, St. Anselm's presentation, Gaunilo's criticism, and Anselm's Rejoinder, pp. 2-5.

    1. The editors' introduction of the ontological argument describes it both as an a priori argument and as a reductio ad absurdum argument. Explain what each of these means. (Hint: the editors don't actually explain a priority, so you may have to do your own research on this one.)
    2. Why, according to the editors, does the ontological argument have special religious significance?
    3. What is Anselm's definition of God?
    4. What, according to Anselm, are the two ways in which something can exist? For each one, give an example (not involving God) that illustrates it.
    5. What, according to Anselm, are the two ways in which we can think about a thing? For each one, give an example (not involving God) that illustrates it.
    6. In a nutshell, what is Gaunilo's purpose in introducing the example of the Lost Island?
    7. Anselm's has a rejoinder to Gaunilo, but it is hard to say exactly what it is. Take your best shot at explaining -- briefly and in your own words -- Anselm's rejoinder to Gaunilo.
    8. Explain why, according to Plantinga, the greatest possible island can be conceived as not existing. (This is discussed in the editors' introduction.)

  13. Kant's Critique of the Ontological Argument, pp. 6-9, (from his Critique of Pure Reason)

    1. What does Kant think it is absurd to introduce into the conception of a thing? (p. 7)
    2. Give an example of a definition that explicitly does this?
    3. Does St. Anselm's definition of God explicitly do this?
    4. What does Kant mean when he says that "every existential proposition is synthetical"?
    5. What, according to Kant, is evidently not a real predicate?

  14. Parfit, "Why Anything? Why This?" Sec. 1-3 (the rest is encouraged, but optional).

    1. If the universe has always existed, then every event in it may have a cause, and so we could, in principle, explain every event in the universe. What, according to Parfit, would still be left to be explained?
    2. What, according to Parfit, is the most sublime question?
    3. Parfit discusses several different hypotheses that intend to explain the appearance of fine-tuning of our universe. He claims that the hypothesis that invokes God is more likely to be true than which hypothesis?
    4. According to Parfit, what can the theory evolution explain, and what can't it explain?
    5. Of the All Worlds Hypothesis, the Many Worlds Hypothesis, and the Null Hypothesis, which can we be certain does not obtain?
    6. According to Axiarchism, why does the universe exist?

  15. Collins, "A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God," Sec. I-V, pp. 74-84. (Appendix optional.)

    1. In your own words, what is the "fine-tuning of the cosmos"?
    2. According to Collins, which argument is the most powerful argument for the existence of God? (Just identify the argument by name.)
    3. Come up with your own example that illustrates the "prime principle of confirmation."
    4. In your own words, what is Collins' rationale for "Premise 1" of the argument on p. 77.
    5. What is Collins' reply to the More Fundamental Law Objection.
    6. State the Other Forms of Life Objection.
    7. What is the atheistic many-universes hypothesis?
    8. Describe the two versions of "models" of the atheistic many-universes hypothesis.
    9. Which of Collins' objections to the atheistic many-universes hypothesis is very similar to an objection that he considers against his own argument for God's existence (the main argument of the paper)?
    10. In your own words, state Collins' fourth reason for rejecting the atheistic many-universes hypothesis.

  16. Hick, "Immortality and Resurrection," first two sections, pp. 339-342.

    1. According to Hick, who first attempted to prove the immortality of the soul?
    2. According to Plato, only what sorts of things can be destroyed?
    3. According to "the contemporary analytic school," man is a what rather than a what?
    4. In a nutshell, why is death something fearful in the Jewish and Christian traditions but not in the Platonic tradition?
    5. What, according to Hick, is the major problem facing any view according to which God resurrects us by giving us a different body?
    6. Hick discusses an example in which a man in the USA disappears and then, Hick claims, reappears in India. What is this example meant to illustrate, or meant to be analogous to?
    7. What, according to Hick, is the most basic basis for the Judaic-Christian belief in the divine recreation of us after death?

  17. Olen, "Personal Identity and Life After Death," pp. 345-355.

    1. What, in general terms, is the problem of personal identity, according to Olen?
    2. Explain the difference between the notion of a person and the notion of a human being. Give an example of something that is a person but not a human being. Give an example of something that is a human being but not a person.
    3. What general point about personal identity is Olen's flu example meant to illustrate?
    4. According to the bodily criterion, who awoke in John Badger's bed? According to the memory criterion, who awoke in John Badger's bed?
    5. What, in a nutshell, is John Locke's theory of personal identity? According to Locke's theory, who awoke in John Badger's bed?
    6. What, in a nutshell, is David Hume's view about the self?
    7. Present the objection Olen raises against the bodily theory of personal identity.
    8. How does Olen think the bodily theorist should reply to this objection?
    9. What, in a nutshell, is Anthony Quinton's theory of personal identity? According to Quinton's theory, who awoke in John Badger's bed?
    10. What, according to Olen, are two good reasons for accepting Quinton's theory?
    11. If the mind-brain identity theory is true, is life after death possible, according to Olen?
    12. If we accept the Badger-Everglade story as a case of body-switching, what does Olen think this shows about the case of Mary?
    13. Does Olen see his picture of life after death as friendly to or in opposition to Hick's picture?
    14. As Olen writes, he "looked at two closely related questions: What constitutes personal identity? And is it possible for a person to survive the death of her own body?" How does Olen answer each of these questions?

  18. Wielenberg, "God and the Meaning of Life," from his Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe (Cambridge, 2005).

1. In Wielenberg's terminology, what is it for a life to have supernatural meaning?
2. In Wielenberg's terminology, what is it for a life to have external meaning?
3. In Wielenberg's terminology, what is it for a life to have internal meaning?
4. Describe a life that has supernatural but not internal meaning. Or if this is not possible, explain why.
5. Describe a life that has external but not internal meaning. Or if this is not possible, explain why.
7. How would Taylor reply to the "final outcome argument"?
8. How would Taylor reply to the "pointless existence argument"?
9. In an nutshell, why does Wielenberg reject Taylor account of the meaning of life?
10. What is Moore's isolation test and what is it designed to show?
11. On Wielenberg's interpretation, what is the best way, according to Peter Singer, to make your life worth living, and why?
12. What are the cases of Tom Landry and the Marquis de Sade supposed to illustrate?
13. What activity does Aristotle think uniquely exemplifies what Wielenberg calls 'Aristotle's Insight'? Does Wielenberg agree with Aristotle about this?
14. What, according to Wielenberg, is the unstated assumption of all three of the arguments he discusses for the claim that without God, life is meaningless.