Does God exist? And can this be proved to the satisfaction of a non-believer, or even the doubter in myself? This unit looks at how philosophers – from Plato’s time to ours – have sought to answer these questions. It explores traditional moves, such as ontological and cosmological proofs, Leibniz’ argument and Pascal’s wager, as well as more recent discussion, including the intelligent design argument, and Richard Dawkins’ characterisation of this and other proofs as “deluded”. Gradually, great philosophers – Aquinas and Descartes, Hume and Kant – are seen to shine within an ongoing quest, to which we ourselves might be drawn: the search for a God whom philosophy can persuasively defend, but never enclose.

Unit code: AP2859P

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

Show when this unit is running

Learning outcomes


Analyse and assess arguments comprising various traditional proofs for God’s existence


Expand knowledge of particular proofs to encompass reasoning patterns or "types" which those proofs identify


Construct and/or critique modern versions of the traditional proofs


Sustain reasoned debate on the question of whether a given philosophical proof enhances faith claims for God’s existence


Lectures and Tutorials; Online module with guided online discussion fora

Indicative Bibliography

  • Davies, Brian. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1982.
  • Davies, Paul. The Mind of God. London: Penguin Books, 1992.

  • Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Paperback ed. Boston: Mariner Books, 2007.

  • Descartes, René. Discourse on Method and the Meditations. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968.

  • Hick, J.H. Arguments for the Existence of God. London: Macmillan, 1970. (recommended for purchase)

  • Hume, David. Principal Writings on Religion including Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and the Natural History of Religion. Pref. J.C.A. Gaskin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

  • Küng, Hans. Does God Exist? New York: Crossroad, 1991.

  • Levering, Michael Proofs of God: Classical Arguments from Tertullian to Barth. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2016.

  • Mackie, J. L. The Miracle of Theism. Paperback ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

  • Melchert, N. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2002.

  • Spitzer, Robert J. New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2010.

  • Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. Rev. ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

  • Swinburne, Richard. Is There a God? Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay (2500 words)

0 50.0

Essay (2000 words)

0 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Jan, 2001

Unit record last updated: 2019-03-04 11:53:09 +1100