The Ontological Argument 1

Anselm (book= 'Proslogian')- started from a theistic stance responding to Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 where it says,'The fool says to himself,''There is no God.'' ' - the fool must have an idea of who God is.

Premise 1= God is that which nothing greater can be thought. A real, existent being would be greater than an imaginary being. Therefore the concept is surpassd by an actual existent God.

Premise 2= God is that which nothing greater can be thought, because God usunsurpassable in every way, God must have a necessary existence. Therefore God exists necessarily.

Gaunilo's criticisms (book= 'In Behalf of the Fool)- argued that we can use Anselm's method to define anything into existence as long as it is 'the most excellent' or 'the greatest.'

Lost Island- if a friend told him about an the most perfect island and told him it was real, then according to Anselm's ontology it must exist.

Anselm's reply- you cannot compare God with a lost island. Islands are contingent, whereas God is necessary. The argument only applies to God.

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The Ontological Argument 2

Anselm's argument was described by Schopenhauer as a 'slight of hand trick' and 'a charming joke.'

Aquinas' criticisms (book= 'Summa Theologica') - did not accept Anselm's definition of God. God will always remain unknowable to the finite human mind. He believed that we don't all share the same understanding of God.

Descartes Ontological Argument (book= 'Meditations') - all triangles have 'three angles equal to two right angles' so triangles are immutable. God is also immutable as he has all perfections. A perfect God would have to exist. Described God as a 'supremely perfect being.'

Kant's criticisms (book= 'Critique of Pure Reason') - ''existence is not predicate.'' - an analytic doesn't make it real, so stating God exists doesn't mean he does. If you don't have a triangle in the first place, it cannot have three sides. If God doesn't exist in the first place then he cannot be perfect.

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The Ontological Argument 3

Norman Malcolm's reply to Kant (paper= 'Anselm's Ontological Arguments') - ''God's existence is different from the existence of anything else, becuase other things exist contingently whereas God exists necessarily.''

God's existence is either logically necessary or logically impossible by using the statement, 'God necessarily exists.'

1. either this statement is impossible (but it can't be because that would make it a contradiction.)

2. or the statement is probable (but if God is necessary then this cannot be the case.)

3. or the statement is true (it is the only alternative left.)

Platinga's Ontological Argument - There is an infinite number of possible worlds. In one of the worlds there must be a greatest possible being with maximal excellence. The greatest possible being must be the greatest possible being over every world, or it would not be the greatest possible being.

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The Cosmological Argument 1

Plato (book= 'Timaeus') - argued that everything must be created by some cause.

Aristotle - behind a series of cause and effect there must be a unmoved mover.

Aquinas (book= 'Summa Theologica') - The Unmoved Mover- all things must be set in motion by an unmoved mover- God.

Revelation 22:13- ''I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.''

2. The Uncaused Causer- every effect has a cause and this cannot just be an infinite regress. ''Nothing comes from nothing. The universe exists so something must hae made it and that can only be God.''

3. Contingency or Necessity- the world is full of contiingent beings which depend on other things for their existence. Contingent beings need something else to bring them into existence- a necessary being that doesn't depend on anything- God.

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The Cosmological Argument 2

Russell's criticism of The Uncaused Causer (book= 'A History of Western Philosophy') - there is a self contradiction within the argument. The child who asks, ''Who made God?'' is thinking of this objection.

Aquinas' response- there was never a period when nothing existed because of an overlapping chain of contingent beings.

Genesis 1:1- 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.'

Hume's criticism of Contingency or Necessity (book= 'Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion') -  just becaause humans have a mother does not mean the universe has a mother.

Leibniz (essay= 'Philosophical Essays') - Principle of Sufficient Reason- if something exists, there must be a reason why it exists. If this statement is true, there must be a reason why it is true. If something happens, there must be a reason why it happens. The reason and explanations behind all these statements is that God created the universe.

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The Cosmological Argument 3

Hume's criticism of Leibniz - The Fallacy of Composition- we cannot prove everything has a cause. God is a cause of a very different kind. We have no experience of direct cause so it is not necessary for the whole universe to have a cause.

Anscombe's response - analogy of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. We can imagine the rabbit coming into being without a cause nbut this is impossible because the rabbit came from it's parents. Similarly, the universe comes from God.

Russell and Copleston Debate 1948- Copleston built on Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason. But Russell didn't counteract any of Copleston's arguments.

''I should say the universe is there and that is all.''- Russell

''If one refuses to even sit down at a chessboard and make a move, one cannot, of course, be checkmated.'' - Copleston

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The Teleological Argument 1

Aristotle - created the four causes. The final cause is the completion of purpose.

Aquinas (book= 'Summa Theologica') - his fifth way is that everything in the world has a purpose, ''Things that are inanimate do not have a purpose itself: they are directed to their goal by God, they cannot move without aid of the 'guiding hand,' '' - analogy of an archer shooting an arrow.

Flew criticism - there is no clear evidence to prove and show that thngs are directed towards some purpose.

Darwin (book= 'The Origin of Species') - created the Theory of Evolution which suggests that we evolved due to natural selection. This would be a wasteful process if the earth was designed.

Dawkins- ''Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fufilled atheist.''

Behe criticism (book= 'Darwin's Black Box') the cilliated cell system and other biochemical processes cannot be explained by Darwinian ideas- there must be a God- irreducible complexity.

Further Criticisms- there is a huge leap between microevolutionary organisms and macroevolutionary organisms and this leap is the same as looking at the design of the world and concluding that God designed it.

Humans have an altruistic nature which shows that we don't live to survive e.g. soldiers dying.

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The Teleological Argument 2

Paley (book= 'Natural Theology') - if you found a rock, you wouldn'y question it's design. If you found a watch it would be evident that it has been designed- intricate, has a purpose. Like the watch, the universe is so complex that it must have a designer and that designer is God. DESIGN QUA PURPOSE.

Mill's disagreement (book= 'Three essays on Natural Religion') - God designed a flawed universe  if he did design itm as it has been created with evil like natural disasters and disease.

Hume (book= 'Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion') - ''Order is evident but so is chaos! Natural disasters? Cancer?''

Brownlee's counterargument - argues that humans have inhabited places where natural disasters occur using their own free will.

Dawkins (book= 'The Blind Watchmaker') - female digger wasp lays her eggs in a live animal and the egg feeds on the animal while it is still living and kills it. World cannot be designed- evil.

Augustine's counterargument - the problem of evil in our universe is due to the fall when man sinned. Original Sin.

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The Teleological Argument 3

F.R.Tennant - The Anthropic Principle - argued that the world is just perfect to host humans. If we were 1cm closer to the sun or further away then we wouldn't survive on earth and the universe wouldn't exist. The earth must have been designed.

Swinburne - modern teleological argument- he argues that God caused evolution and created the first simple celled organism,

Ockham's Razor - the idea of a single God is simpler than the idea of many Gods- analogy of the 10 card shuffling machine.

Aquinas continued-- the universe is so ordered and complex that something must have designed it- all processes work in harmony. e.g. sun and moon setting and rising everyday. DESIGN QUA REGULARITY.

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Religious Experience 1

William James (book= 'Varieties of Religious Experience') -  looked at religious experience objectively, did not speak of God but of 'higher aspects' of the world.

''The relation goes from heart to heart, from sould to soul, between man and his maker.''

Qualities of Religious Experience:

1. Ineffability- experience in impossible to express in normal language.

2. Noetic Quality- reveals a truth to the person.

3. Transcience- experience doesn't last more than a few hours.

4. Passivity- the peron experiencing feels the experience is being controled from outside themselves.

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Religious Experience 2

Swinburne (book- 'Is there a God?) - sees no reason why religious experience should be treated any differently to an ordinary perceptual experience.

Principle of Credulity- if 'x' is present, then 'x' is probably present. It is reasonable to believe that the world is as we experience it to be, unless we have some specific reason to question religious experience.

Principle of Testimony- numbers strengthen the validity of the experience- if there are more testimonies, experiences of other are probably what they report them to be.

Flew's response - ''If a leaky bucket will not hold water that is no reason to think ten can.''

Dawkins (book- 'The God Delusion') - tells the story of his friend who was camping and claimed to have heard 'the voice of the devil' but in fact he was hearing tje call of the Mountain Shearwater (or 'Devil Bird') - this shows arguments for religiious experience are based on ignorance.

Lash (book- 'Easter in Ordinary') - in adopting a framework which includes God, we learn within that framework so if we had an experience it would automatically be a religious experience.

Marx - religion is ''the opium of the people'' - it is a distraction. Religious experiences are deluded.

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Religious Experience 3

Mystical experiences= having had one, they feel they have reached an understanding of spiritual truth that cannot be reached through reason. e.g. Teresa of Avila.

Happold (book- 'Mysticism, A Study and Anthology') - Mystic understands that this physical world is only part of reality, it comes from 'Divine Ground.' Humans know the 'Divine Groumd' through intuition. The purpose of humanity is to discover this 'eternal self'- spiritual part within him.

Numinous experiences= experience of awe and wonder in the presence of an almighty and transcendent God.

Otto the Numinous (book- 'The Idea of The Holy') - 'mysterium tremedum' - is both awe inspiring to the point of produciing fear, is fascinating, we are drawn into the experience. ''It is the emotion of a creature submerged and overwhelmed by its own nothingness. In contrast to that which is supreme above all creatures.''

Persinger - conducted a studdy and created feelings which ar similar to those experiences during a religious experience. He claimed that religious experience can be explained by the natural world through the effects of magnetism.

Russell- ''If you eat too little, you see visions; and if you drink to much, you see snakes.''

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Religious Experience 4

Corporate Religious Experience= is when several different people all have the same experience at the same time.

TORONTO BLESSING- people affected by the holy spirit. This caused laughing, uncontrollable weeping, rolling on the floor e.t.c.

+ = effects produced are life changing. For example, Heidi Baker and Rolland Baker planted 10,000 churches throughout Africa and Asia after attending the Toronto Blessing. Their organisation, Iris Global, provides food for 10000 children each day.

+ = more testimonies, more believable.

- = may just be a mass hysteria, people may be copying others.

- = AJ Ayer - impossible to verify the existence of God due to religious experiences being unverifiable.

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Ancient Philosophical Influences 1

Heraclitus - idea that everything changes,''You cannot step into the same river twice.''

Parmenides - nothing changes because only one thing exists, an eternal,immovable sphere.

Plato combined the ideas of these two philosophers with his doctrine of two worlds.

A.N. Whitehead - ''The whole history of Western Philosophy is merely a series of footnotes to Plato.''

Plato (book= 'The Republic') - was a rationalist and a dualist. Made suggestions about The Forms.

The Forms are ideal, eternal single ersions of things found on earth. The forms are found in the realm of the Forms which is wholly spiritual. Plato suggested that the world we live in the world of appearances but the real world is the world of the Forms. Our souls have been to the realm of Forms (via Reincarnation) so we know the bluepring of the original form of everything e.g. a chair.

Form of Beauty = an unseen reality which is transcendent, pure, unchangind, pure and ultimately real.

Form of The Good = the highest form. Creates aspects such as courage,justice and wisdom. Analogy of The Sun-- the sun orivudes energy for nourishment and growth. Similarly the Form of The Good provides order and structure which is the source of existence for all things.

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Ancient Philosophical Influences 2

Analogy of The Cave-

1. Group of prisoners - lived in the cave somce birth. Are bound so that they can only see straight ahead. Watch shadows that are reflected onto the wall and believes that they are real as it is the only thing that they have ever seen.

2. Prisoner escapes - forced to look at the fire and statues to see that they are reflecting the shadows onto the wall. Sees reality.

3. Prisoner is dragged into the world above - he is able to see real objects themselves- are more real than the shadows.

4. Prisoner's eyes fully adjust to the brightness - looks at the sun and realises it's the highest form, understands it is the cause of everything. Prisoner reaches enlightenment.]

5. Prisoner returns to the cave - shares the information he has with the prisoners but they don't believe him and want to kill him - ignorance.

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Ancient Philosophical Influences 3

Waterfield - suggests that the prisoners attraction to the shadows from the firelight rather than the real world represents the way in which culture, tradition and upbringing limit peoples ability to see the world in any other way than how they were brought up.

Strengths of Plato - it recognises why we all seethe same elements in something. It helps us to understand the imperfections of this world. It encourages us to question in order to learn and not accept things at facevalue.

Criticisms of Plato - the forms could be ideas preserved in people's minds. It seems unlikely tay everyting in existence has ideal forms, can you have an ideal slug or ideal cancer?? People may argue that ideas of justice or beauty are not Forms but ideas in people's minds that they pass onto others. The existence of another world cannot be proved. It is no help formaking sense of the wrld in which we live in.

Richard Dawkins - called the passing on of ideas 'memes.' He compared bad ideas (such as the idea of The Forms) spreading from one person's mind to another to a virus.

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Ancient Philosophical Influences 4

Aristotle's arguments against The Forms (book= 'Metaphysics') -

1. If Forms explain particular things there must be forms of forms which leads to infinite regress.

2. The Forms are no use explaining what things are because Forms are not individual things. They do not explain why things change.

3. Are there Forms of ordinary man-made objects? If not, how do these thins exist without a Form?

4. There will be Forms of the same thing. Form of an animal- could be dog or human.

5. How do all Forms exist apart from individual things?

Aristotle - ''Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth.''

The actuality is always present in the potentiality. Aristotle thus concluded that the same entity has an actual being and the potential being of another entity.

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Ancient Philosophical Influences 5

Aristotle's Four Causes (book= 'Metaphyics) -

1. Material Cause - what something is made from e.g. a chair is made from wood and glue.

2. Formal Cause - the chracteristics of an object e.g. a chair has a straight back, seat and four legs.

3. Efficient Cause - how the object was made e.g. a chair is made by a carpenter.

4. Final Cause - the 'telos' or purpose of something e.g. chair's purpose is to be sat on.

Prime Mover -

Aristotle notices that there is an ongoing continual change in the universe. Things are moving from potential to actual. The Prime Mover is the first of al substances and it depends on nothing else- exists necessarily. It is immaterial and transcendent. It set all things into motion. The Prime Mover is the thing that everything moves towards by attraction or desire. Aristotle's God is unconcerned with the world,''thinks about thinking.'' - a demiurge.

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Ancient Philosophical Influences 6

Strengths of Aristotle  - the idea of the material, formal and effiecient causes is very accessible to many observers. Explains why things came to be. Dismisses Plato's idea of a non physical realm which is not accessible via our senses. Explains the problem of evil and suffering.

Criticisms of Aristotle - the Prime Mover is irrelevant because it has no interaction with the universe. It is difficult to comprehend an infinite series of causes. Why do inanimate objects such as chairs have a 'telos?' The prupose has been given to it by the maker of the chairrather than the chair having it's own purpose.

Dawkins - argues that throuh the process of natural selection it is difficult to argue that things have a telos, There is no purposeful design behind evolution.

Russell - argued that the uniiverse simply exists and does not have a cause.

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Soul, Mind and Body 1

Plato (book- 'Phaedo') - was a dualist. He believed the soul and body were separate. "...the soul is in the very likeness of the divine, an immortal, and intelligible, and uniform, and indissoluble, and unchangeable," 

  • He divided the soul into three parts: Reason, Emotion and Desire/ Appetite (RED) - he used the analogy of 2 horses pulling a chariot. Reason is the chariotier, guiding and directing the horses of appetite and emotion so that they don't run off. 
  • "For the body is a source of wndless trouble to us by reason of the mere requirement of food."
  • Plato believed the soul is unchanging and eternal. It existed prior to its incarnation into the body. The soul has access to the world of forms.
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Soul, Mind and Body 2

Criticisms of Plato-

  • The immortality of the soul as proposed by Plato depends on accepting the rest of his beliefs on the world of forms. 
  • Nietzsche - stated that, "Life is not the opposite of death; it is an exception to death and a rare one at that.
  • Peter Geach - questions what it means for the disembodied soul to see the forms, given that seeing is a process that is linked to the body and experience through one's senses.

 Aristotle (book- 'De Anima') - Aristotle thought the soul was a substance, 'real thing' or 'essence'. For him, the soul was the formal cause of the body- the soul gives shape to the matter which is in the body, the soul is the principle of life or activity in the body. Aristotle gave the analogy of the shape made when soft wax is pressed with a stamp. The shape is inseparable from the wax, just as the soul is from the body. Soul can be split into 3: the vegetative soul (shared with all living things), the appetite soul (passions, appetites, emotions) and the intellectual soul (rational, reflective, memory).

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Soul, Mind and Body 3

Dawkins (book- 'Selfish Gene') - argues the soul is a "mythological concept" invented by ancients to explain the mysteries of consciousness. The soul is "not an explanation but an evasion"- Dawkins holds a materialist view (no afterlife). Dawkins in his book 'River Out of Eden', "Life is just bytes and bytes of digital information."

Freud - religious beliefs in ideas such as immortality of the soul are wish fufilment.


  • People can hide their feelings and mimic the behaviour of another emotion- are these not aa conscious decision of a person? More than just a chemical response?
  • Dawkins theory does not explain emotions- according to his theory, emotions would be a mistake as they get in the way of genetic progress.
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Soul, Mind and Body 4

Descartes (book- 'Le Monde') - was a substance dualist- "I think therefore I am". His argument as follows:

  • I can clearly and distinctly concieve the mind without the body and the body without the mind.
  • If I can clearly and distinctly understand two things then they must be. Therefore the mind and body are two distinct things.
  • The mind is characterised by one sort or property- thought.
  • Physical things are characterised by extension.
  • Two different kinds of things understood in terms of two radically different kinds of properties.

Flew - argues the talk of an afterlife, where the soul lives is nonsensical. He compares it with 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' - the cheshire cat slowly disappeared until there was nothing left but its grin- an idea which appeals to our sense of humour because it obviously would be impossible for their to be a grin on its own without a face to put it on.

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Soul, Mind and Body 5

Hick (book- 'Resurrection of the Person') - rejected substance dualism. Hick believes that whem we are talking about the soul, we are really describing mental characteristics of our personality. Hence to talk of the soul is a way of expressing the value of human beings. Believes human beings are a 'psycho-somantic unity' - unity of the physical body and the soul. Created a replica theory- the idea that God can create an exact copy of us in the afterlife.


  • If you believe that God is omnipotent, this theory is plausible.
  • Hick's theory challenges the conflicting claims argument- everyone goes to heaven.
  • The theory does not depend on dualism.
  • The theory is plausible in terms of logics.
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Soul. Mind and Body 6


  • Vardy - challenges Hick, is a replica the same person? Hick doesn't successfully get over the continuity problem.
  • Williams - argues Hick's portrayal of an endless life of replications would be a meaningless, boring life.
  • Logical possibility does not equate to factual possibility.
  • In Hick's theory, evil is a necessary thing willed by God- Iranaeus argues that evil can never be worth the suffering of an innocent child.

Gilbert Ryle (book- 'The Concept of Mind') - GHOST IN THE MACHINE - Ryle suggests that dualism teaches that there is a mysterious ghost-like substance that rattles around inside the body. Ryle used the example of a cricket match- if someone watching asked where the 'team spirit' was, as if it was something extra to be found in the observable elements of the game. In the same way, he thought that the mind could not be considered as something separate from the body.

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