WJEC Religious Studies Philosophy Exam Plan 1

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  • Theme 1 - Arguments for the existence of God
    • Part a - Explain Anselm's ontological argument
      • Anselm has two deductive ontological arguments from his book "Proslogion"
        • God has necessary existence - "Proslogion" Chapter 3
          • God, if he exists, is either a being which cannot be thought of as not existing (God is necessary), or he is a being which can be thought of as not existing (God is contingent)
          • Widens his definition of God as the greatest possible being to now include the idea that once you have understood what it means for God to be the greatest possible being, then, the next logical step is to conclude that God cannot be thought not to exist 
          • ‘God cannot be conceived not to exist’ – Proslogion, Anselm
          • Anselm presents us with the idea that God’s existence is necessary and that this is an integral part of what it means to be God – a unique feature above that of all existent beings (necessary existence)
        • God as the greatest possible being - "Proslogion" Chapter 2
          • For Anselm, faith came first with God definitely existing, that God was the source of all being and the ultimate good
          • Reason was employed to deepen his understanding of what his faith told him
          • Used Psalm 1:14 – “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”
          • This is not theist versus atheist as it appears at first glance but rather, Anselm saw denial as a fool, using a self-delusion in order to live a life of injustice and corruption – ‘fooling’ oneself that God’s punishment could be avoided for such a course of action
          • Denial is not a rejection of a being called God but rather the rejection of having to face up to being accountable to the divine judge, called God, for one’s action in this life – this theme is repeated throughout the Old Testament
          • Anselm states that God is the greatest possible thing that can be thought of by the human mind
          • It is possible for things to exist in the mind and to exist in reality but that the two ideas are not mutually inclusive, however, as God is considered to be the being than which nothing greater can be conceived, then in this case, he exists in both the mind and reality, otherwise he is not the greatest possible being
          • Premise one – Beings exists in both then mind and in reality Premise two – God is the greatest possible being that can be thought of Conclusion – In order to be the greatest thing that can be thought of, God must exist in both the mind and in reality
    • Part b - "'a priori' arguments are not as persuasive as 'a posteriori' arguments for proving the existence of God." Evaluate this view.
      • A posteriori are more persuasive
        • A posteriori are based on evidence and experience, giving us an empirical basis upon which we can prove, with scientific methods, how reliable a claim or argument may be and this appeals to the 21st century mind
        • People readily accept such theories as valid precisely because of the inductive and evidence-based approaches that led to these theories being formed
          • Ability to be readily challenged if alternative evidence, that is equally as likely to be true, is provided, undermining the persuasiveness of the argument
        • People readily accept such theories as valid precisely because of the inductive and evidence-based approaches that led to these theories being formed
      • A priori are more persuasive
        • All you need is an understanding of the language in which it is expressed – this very independence from experience means that they are intrinsically persuasive as they are not tainted by the experience of the individual or unreliable evidence
        • Tend to lead to inescapable conclusions
          • However, they rely heavily on their premises to provide sound arguments so if the premises are suspect, inaccurate or wrong then so will be the conclusion they lead to
        • When we’re talking about deductive arguments, we’re talking about a priori arguments
        • Deductive arguments are often composed of premises that point towards a conclusion that is logically inescapable
        • Deductive proof is the basis for the ontological argument for the existence of God and is a persuasive form of philosophical argument that there is when positing the existence of a divine being
  • God as the greatest possible being - "Proslogion" Chapter 2
    • For Anselm, faith came first with God definitely existing, that God was the source of all being and the ultimate good
    • Reason was employed to deepen his understanding of what his faith told him
    • Used Psalm 1:14 – “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”
    • This is not theist versus atheist as it appears at first glance but rather, Anselm saw denial as a fool, using a self-delusion in order to live a life of injustice and corruption – ‘fooling’ oneself that God’s punishment could be avoided for such a course of action
    • Denial is not a rejection of a being called God but rather the rejection of having to face up to being accountable to the divine judge, called God, for one’s action in this life – this theme is repeated throughout the Old Testament
    • Anselm states that God is the greatest possible thing that can be thought of by the human mind
    • It is possible for things to exist in the mind and to exist in reality but that the two ideas are not mutually inclusive, however, as God is considered to be the being than which nothing greater can be conceived, then in this case, he exists in both the mind and reality, otherwise he is not the greatest possible being
    • Premise one – Beings exists in both then mind and in reality Premise two – God is the greatest possible being that can be thought of Conclusion – In order to be the greatest thing that can be thought of, God must exist in both the mind and in reality

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