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

Unit code: AP9850P

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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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


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

Unit sequence

A previous unit of philosophy at any level


Lectures and Tutorials

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 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.

0 50.0

Essay 1 (3000 words)

0 50.0

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