The Existence of God

Course at IAP-PUC, First Semester 2009, Mondays and Wednesdays 15-16.20h (unless announced otherwise) by Daniel von Wachter

Contact: - replace "ABCD" by "von-wachter"

Content of this page

Descripción del curso

This course will address the question whether there is a God. The core text of this course is: Swinburne, Richard, 2004, The Existence of God (Second Edition). Although also some ancient texts will be studied, the aim of this course is not primarily to interpret old texts but to consider the evidence for and against the existence of God and to train to find and defend rationally true answers to philosophical questions.


General Objectives: Develop and defend an answer to a philosophical question, in writing and orally.

Special objectives:

Method: This course is a combination of group sessions and Oxford-style tutorials, i.e. one-to-one sessions in which an essay of the student is discussed. There will be one two-hour group session per week with lecture and discussion. The tutorials will be arranged additionally. The number of participants of this course may be limited. All participants are required to do the essential readings every week.

Evaluación: Essay writing during the course of the semester. Topics and dates to be arranged.


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Notes for the sessions

Go to the next session.

Lunes, 9/3/2009


The nature of God.

Popular arguments against the existence of God. The old atheism. The new atheism.

Miercoles 11/3/2009

Before we enter into the proper philosophical debate we shall look at the popular debate. Today we shall watch a video of the popular debate about the existence of God between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox from 3rd October, 2007.

See on this: Read around in the internet. Ask yourself: Which are the most influential arguments in this popular debate? Which are, in your view, the best arguments?

Lunes, 16/3/2009

Miercoles, 18/3/2009

The task for this class

Lunes, 23/3/2009, y Miercoles, 25/3/2009

Advice on working techniques:

Monday, 30/3/2009

For this session

No session on Easter Monday, 12th April.

Wednesday, 15/4/2009

For this session: Study EG, chs. 3-4. Further read chs. 5-6. Make sure you master chs. 1-2.

Monday, 20th April, 2009

For this session: How does one assess correctly evidence for theism? (Answer in writing in 1000-2000 words. Use the information in EG and ITAG.)

Wednesday, 22.4.2009

For this session: Make sure you master EG, chs. 1-6.

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Monday, 27.4.2009

Until Monday 27.4.2009, write an essay (around 2000, max. 3000 words) answering the question:
Question: Is the existence of the universe evidence for the existence of God? (Discuss the Leibniz as well as the Kalam version.)
We shall arrange tutorials for this in which you will have to defend your essay.

Wed. 29 April

Please bring Craig's article on the cosmological argument.

Topics: The principle of sufficient reason;

Monday, 4 May


Wed. 6 May: Discussion about the cosmological argument

Mon. 11.5.2009

Read the texts for your essay on arguments from design. See below.
For this session study in particular EG, ch. 9.

Wed. 13.5.2009

Tutorial for DM.

Mon. 18.5.2009: Deadline for your essay about arguments from design

Tutorials about your essay about arguments from design. 15.00h, EC, 16.00h EK.

Mon. 1.6.2009: Deadline for your essay about moral arguments

Mon. 16.5.2009: Deadline for your essay about religious experience.

Literature for the essays which you shall write

The cosmological argument

Question: Is the existence of the universe evidence for the existence of God? (Discuss the Leibniz as well as the Kalam version.)

Arguments from design

Is the order of the universe evidence for the existence of God?

Answer this question after reading these texts:

Further texts:

The Moral Argument

Is morality evidence for the existence of God?

(Distinguish: Is the existence of moral facts evidence ...? Is the existence of man with a moral sense and a conscience evidence ...?

Answer this question after reading:

The epistemic value of religious experience

Does religious experience make belief in God rational?

(Work out what exactly the question is. Define the kind of "religious experience" which can make belief in God rational.)

Answer this question after reading:

Further texts

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The most important texts:

Internet Resources

Search the internet for "philosophy of religion" or "existence of god".

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) entries:

Philosophy of religion anthologies

All of these have texts on the existence of God. There are many more. Search in the library catalogue for "philosophy of religion" to finde more anthologies and introductions.

Introductions into the philosophy of religion

Texts on the existence of God

Defenders of theism:

Defenders of atheism:

Further texts:

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