Skip Ribbon Commands Skip to main content
Existence of God SG
For practice, put each of the three arguments for God's existence in a 'list' form (listing the premises and conclusion(s).) See Lawhead, Chap 1 (especially pg 7) for basic information on arguments.
I. How does the cosmological argument go? Focus on the argument from motion – the first of Aquinas’ “Five Ways.” (See the pdf and Lawhead 194-97. NOTE: 'motion' here is taken in a very broad way to mean 'change' - specifically the change from a thing's potential to change to its actually changing. For example, an acorn has the potential to change into an oak tree, but not into a tomato. Its growth is a kind of 'motion.' See p. 194.) The first three ways are all interesting. You should ignore the fourth. The fifth way is an earlier version of Paley’s argument – you can ignore it too. Focus on the first way.
What are the main objections to this argument?
NOTE: Aquinas defines motion as any reduction of the potential to change into an actual change. This is crucial for his sub-argument that nothing within the natural order can move itself. (Why? What is that argument?) It also show why the objection to the argument from motion that asks "what moved God?" is a lame objection. God is "pure act" – no potential to change. (After all, if He is already perfect, any change would be for the worse.)
II. How does the design argument go? (See the pdf) Write your homework assignment on this argument!
Take Paley's argument to be an argument appealing to the complexity, order, and purpose of natural objects like eyeballs and squirrels. How is Darwin’s theory an objection to it or problem for this argument? (See the pdf on Darwin's natural selection and then think this through.)
Paley is NOT arguing about the difference between a watch and a stone!! His argument is only partly stated. The rest is left for the reader to infer. After, we don't need a proof that watches have a designer!! (What might we need such a proof for?)
Paley's argument is often taken to be an argument by analogy (that an eyeball is similar to a watch and since a watch has an intelligent designer the eyeball must have one too.) But a careful reading of the text also reveals an argument about 'best explanations' here. (Clearly, the best explanation for a watch is a designer.) And if this is right, then Darwin's theory of natural selection stands as the most powerful objection to it. (Why?)
III. How does the ontological argument go? (See especially 176-77)
What is Gaunilo’s objection to it? (See the pdf and pg 177)
How does Anselm reply to the objection?
NOTE: Anselm gives two versions of his argument. (What are they?) Gaunilo's objections probably apply to both versions. Lawhead gives the steps for each version. Pay close attention to that!
IV. What is the problem of evil? Evil is defined by Augustine and Aquinas as suffering. This includes "sin," negative emotions, animal pain, and essentially any negative experiences. How is the existence of suffering an objection to all the arguments for God's existence? (See pg 150, also the Powerpoint.)
How does Augustine try to solve the problem of evil? (150-51) What are the three explanations of evil he offers? Are they adequate?
NOTE: Any paper on the problem of evil that does not deal with the problem of natural disasters will be incomplete (will not fullt have addressed the problem.
© 2014 Irvine Valley College