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”. At graduate level, the unit promotes critical reflection on the viability of the attempt — from Anselm to Kant, to modern proponents of intelligent design — to offer a God whom philosophy defends but does not enclose
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
Reflect at depth on whether a given philosophical proof can be integrated with faith claims for God’s existence
Sustain a meta-level philosophical discussion/argumentation on "proof" of divine existence
Examine critically the compatibility of scientifically and theologically-based approaches to identifying evidence for divine engagement with the world
A previous unit of philosophy at any level
Lectures and Tutorials
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.
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Essay 2 (3000 words), following prior presentation at seminar of draft essay*.
*Seminar presentation of draft [clarity of presentation plus leadership of subsequent discussion to be assessed (40% of assessment for this essay)]; followed by submission of the written-up essay, assessed as a written piece of work (60%).
**Where a seminar quorum is unavailable, a 1-hour "presentation+discussion" of the draft essay with the lecturer (unassessed) will take the place of the seminar, with 100% assessment allocated the final version, as for Essay 1.
Essay 1 (3000 words)
Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Oct, 2017
Unit record last updated: 2019-02-05 08:51:27 +1100