Philosophy of Religion Revision AS


  • The origins of western philosophy - Plato (allegory of the cave, theory of the forms) and Aristotle (the 4 causes, Prime Mover)
  • arguments for the existence of God (teleological, ontological, cosmological)
  • Kant's moral argument
  • God's goodness and the Euthyphro dilemma
  • Problem of Evil (Augustinian and Irenaean Theodicies, process theodicy, responses)
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  • Created by: Morag
  • Created on: 29-04-13 13:14
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Theology Revision
Plato lived in Athens in the 5th and 4th Centuries BC
He was the student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle
He was a dualist- believed in the body and the soul
He believed the soul was more perfect than the body
He believed that societies should be run by philosophers
He believed the physical world is a pale imitation of the world of the forms
The allegory of the cave
The prisoners- normal people of society
The prisoner who escapes- philosophers, people that thirst to know the real truth
The people casting the shadows- the leaders of society- shaping the world without knowing the
The shadows/statues- what people believe is reality, what they are told to believe, things people
deem to be important
The cave- a world without knowledge, the physical world/the body
The fire- controlled, dim light- limited knowledge. An imitation of the form of the good
The journey outside- a difficult journey, acquisition of knowledge
The sun- illuminates the true world- form of the good
The journey back into the cave- the desire to educate and inform others of the truth
The world of the Forms
Plato uses the word `form' to describe the true essence of material objects in the world
This idea of the `form' exists in a non physical (yet more real) realm that can only be
understood by the mind. This is called the world of the forms
Plato believed that the forms were interrelated and hierarchical
The highest form
The ultimate principle is the form of the good
The world of the forms
Perfect, eternal, real, a'priori, transcendent, immutable, real
The world of the forms is the philosopher's world. The ordinary person struggles to see past
the illusion of this world because they are confined by their senses. Only the person who
investigates and questions learns the truth behind the illusion. Only the philosopher is
capable of seeing into the world of the forms as he thinks independently of his senses
The physical world
Imperfect, unreliable, insignificant, temporal, illusions, a'posteriori, reality, transient
Recognising forms
We can recognise forms because we are born with a dim recollection of them from our prior
existence in the world of the forms.
There is an inner part of us (the soul) that does not change. It is eternal and, before it became
tied down by a body, it was connected with the real world of the forms.

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Aristotle was an empiricist philosopher, devoted to deepening humanity's understanding of
the world based on experience
Aristotle rejects Plato's theory of the forms
Aristotle was not a dualist- rejects Plato's understanding of the soul
The four causes
Once all the four causes have been established, the complete explanation for the existence of the
item has been found.
Material- the substance something is made from
Efficient- the vehicle that brings the thing into existence (either the person-e.g. designer- or the skill-
e.g.…read more

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Aristotle believed that man's purpose was to live in accordance with their nature- to be
rational, acquire knowledge, make good decisions, love a morally good life and achieve
eudemonia- a state of goodness and happiness which can be achieved in the physical world
The prime mover and the Christian God
In his book `Metaphysics', Aristotle also links the Prime Mover with God and concludes that
God is a "living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal
belong to God; for…read more

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God is seen as a personality, reacting to people and caring about the way they behave
The language of God's goodness
Aquinas stated that there were two types of language that can be used to describe God and
goodness and he dismissed both of these
Univocal language
Language meaning exactly the same thing in all situations
o E.g.…read more

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He uses the example of a perfect island, he argues that just because he can imagine an island
with golden beaches and palm trees etc., it doesn't mean they exist
Anselm's developments
States that there is a difference between islands and God- islands are physical and
contingent whereas God is immutable and perfect
The perfect island is subjective, there is never `the best' island because you could always add
another dolphin or palm tree.
There is a perfect God, in that he is ttwngcbc.…read more

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Denied that existence is a predicate, claiming that it only has a propositional function; it
asserts that there are beings that answer to that description, but adds no further information
about them.…read more

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If things CAN not exist then there must have been a time when they didn't exist and
therefore a time when nothing existed
Things exist now so there must be something on which we all depend which brought us into
This necessary being we call God
It is justifiable to infer a causal connection between two events only after observing
repeated instances of their conjunction.…read more

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The analogy leads to a non-moral God- the design is imperfect (evil and suffering)
The world appears organised but could still be down to a cosmic accident
`the analogy leads to a non-moral God because there is too much suffering in the world'
It is difficult to say that things in nature are cruel because they don't have reason and
therefore cannot be held responsible for the consequences of actions or events in which
they participate
Anthropic principle
FR Tennant developed the Anthropic principle…read more

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After the fall, the harmony god had created between humans and the animal/natural
kingdom was destroyed, the relationships between humans tarnished. The world was no
longer as god intended it to be
Humans still suffer from the effects of the fall. Original sin, which we are all born with, is
inherited from adam and Eve. Evil and suffering is a just punishment from God
However, as well as punishment there is also mercy.…read more

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Without evil we would be ungrateful. Suffering strengthens one and teaches
the value of good when it comes
We cannot know god's intentions- he is omniscient and knows what is best,
we must trust his plan
o Hell, like evil, is not intentionally created by god to make us suffer, it is merely the
result of an absence of god by choice as a result of free will. If you can have evil and
eternity then you can have eternal evil- hell.…read more



oh my goodness gracious, you are an absolute star, this has completely changed my understanding on philosophy and i am bound to get 70/70 now. Tah

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