Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Test Monday

Exam Monday

On Monday, February 28, there will be an exam in this class.

This exam provides an opportunity to demonstrate that you deeply understand the various arguments for God's existence that we have discussed in class and read about through the various assigned readings.

To demonstrate this understanding, you will be asked to:
  • state and explain some specific arguments (e.g., a version of the design argument, a version of the cosmological argument, a moral argument, etc.: you must review the readings to identify all the arguments we have discussed prior to the ontological argument [which will not be on the exam]);
  • to do this, you must give the argument's conclusion, as well as the premises, and present this in a manner where the premises lead to the conclusion;
  • you must be able to explain at least three objections to the argument, i.e., reasons to think that a premise is false or reasons to think that there is insufficient reason to accept some premise;
  • these objections must be directed at specific premises: they cannot be vague complaints, concerns or rhetorical questions about the arguments.
  • You must explain whether these objections are good objections, i.e., whether they show that the argument is unsound or weak.
  • You need to conclude by explaining whether the argument is sound or strong or not and why, given your previous discussion.
The exam will be in class. It will be from 10-10:50. Any late students will not get any extra time. Students who miss the exam without an approved, written excuse from the dean will fail the exam: there will be no make up exam for them.

Students will be able to use any graded homework they have turned in for this course. No other exam aides will be permitted, however.

Students are encouraged to form study groups to prepare for the exam.

Exams will be graded on the basis of whether the student demonstrates that he or she has excellent, good, fair, poor or very poor understanding of the arguments and the critical discussion of the arguments.

Monday, February 14, 2011

For Wed., we will move on to the next chapter on Cosmological Arguments. Friday, we will likely get to Ontological arguments, so the writing assignment for Monday is those two chapters.

Here is an encyclopedia article on Design arguments:

Design Arguments for the Existence of God

Design arguments are empirical arguments for the existence of God. These arguments typically, though not always, proceed by attempting to identify various empirical features of the world that constitute evidence of intelligent design and inferring God’s existence as the best explanation for these features. Since the concepts of design and purpose are closely related, design arguments are also known as “teleological arguments,” which incorporates “telos,” the Greek word for “goal” or “purpose.”

Design arguments typically consist of (1) a premise that asserts that the material universe exhibits some empirical property F; (2) a premise (or sub-argument) that asserts (or concludes) that F is persuasive evidence of intelligent design or purpose; and (3) a premise (or sub-argument) that asserts (or concludes) that the best or most probable explanation for the fact that the material universe exhibits F is that there exists an intelligent designer who intentionally brought it about that the material universe exists and exhibits F.

There are a number of classic and contemporary versions of the argument from design. This article will cover seven different ones. Among the classical versions are: (1) the “Fifth Way” of St. Thomas Aquinas; (2) the argument from simple analogy; (3) Paley’s watchmaker argument; and (4) the argument from guided evolution. The more contemporary versions include: (5) the argument from irreducible biochemical complexity; (6) the argument from biological information; and (7) the fine-tuning argument.

Table of Contents

  1. The Classical Versions of the Design Argument
    1. Scriptural Roots and Aquinas’s Fifth Way
    2. The Argument from Simple Analogy
    3. Paley’s Watchmaker Argument
    4. Guided Evolution
  2. Contemporary Versions of the Design Argument
    1. The Argument from Irreducible Biochemical Complexity
    2. The Argument from Biological Information
    3. The Fine-Tuning Arguments
      1. The Argument from Suspicious Improbability
      2. The Confirmatory Argument
  3. The Scientifically Legitimate Uses of Design Inferences
  4. References and Further Reading

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Friday we will finish Ch. 2.

Monday we will move onto Ch. 3. A writing assignment on Ch. 3 is due Monday.

Monday, February 7, 2011


For Wed., we will continue our discussion of design arguments from Chapter 2.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Friday and Beyond

For Friday, we will briefly finish up discussion of GD (God Dialogues) Ch. 1. Please bring questions and comments about this material.
Please read this "Bible Quotes" page, which I handed out in class:
Please re-read the William Lane Craig section on "moral arguments" from the handout last week from Christianity Today. The link is below.

We will then move onto GD Ch. 2. A detailed summary of that chapter is due in class (not after class) Monday.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

For Wed. and Beyond

Wednesday we will finish discussing Ch. 1 on moral arguments for God's existence. In addition to re-reading the chapter (which I made available online, due to the bookstore problem), I'd encourage you to read this article on The Divine Command theory of ethics:

For Friday and Monday, we will discuss Ch. 2. A detailed writing assignment on that chapter is due this Monday.