God and Philosophy: a series of 10 discussions about the question of god. Text: God and Philosophy, by Anthony Flew, Prometheus Books, 2005

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God and Philosophy: A series of 10 discussions about the question of god.

Text: God and Philosophy, by Anthony Flew, Prometheus Books, 2005.

This series will explore the fundamental question that has bedeviled philosophers and theologians for thousands of years – does the entity known as “god” exist. Depending on the answer to that question we will then explore what consequences flow from that in the dimension of ethics, politics, economics, science and culture. In short this will be a critical examination of theological beliefs. Following the procedure adopted by Flew, we will first discuss what the concept of “god” actually means as no progress will be possible without a preliminary agreement of definitions. As this term can mean many things to many people we will limit our investigation to the traditional Christian usage. Other preliminary issues to be dealt with are the various objections to the validity or relevance of our undertaking. One objection that comes up at the very beginning of our enterprise is the contention that the attainment of sure knowledge, or even probable knowledge, is not possible in this realm. Still another obstacle to progress in our investigation is the equally contentious claim that whatever be the answer to our metaphysical inquiry, it is a matter of complete indifference to Socrates’ question of how I should live my life. This last attitude is a peculiarly modern one that is common in contemporary culture. Yet practically no one prior to the last century would have considered that one’s answer to the god question has no consequences.

Once we have cleared the way to enter into the substantive issues of our topic we will then go through a systematic exploration of all the major arguments and some of the minor ones that have been adduced in the history of philosophy to support one side or the other. We hope to draw some definite conclusions at the end of the semester and answer the question that has eluded so many for so long.

Schedule of sessions:

  1. Introduction: What is this god? A consideration of some preliminary issues, Flew, Chapter 1. Pages 23-37,October 19.

  2. Is the idea of god self-contradictory? Can god be both a person and incorporeal? Flew, Chapter 2, pages 39-54, October 26.

  3. How can god be the creator, the good and allow evil to exist in the world? Flew, Chapter 2, pages 55-68, November 2.

  4. The argument from design: Can we prove that god exists by looking at the order of the world? Flew, Chapter 3, pages 69-84, November 9.

  5. The ontological argument: Does the very idea of god imply his existence?, Flew, Chapter 4, pages 85-106, November 16.

  6. The argument for a moral compass: Do we need god in order to be good?, Flew, Chapter 5, pages 107-129, November 30.

  7. The argument from a personal experience of god, Flew, Chapter 6, 131-144, December 7.

  8. Historical evidence and miracles, Flew, Chapter 7, 145-162, December 14.

  9. Appeal to authority and reliance on faith, Flew, Chapter 8, pages 163-182, December 21.

  10. The limits of reason when it considers the god question. Flew, chapter 8, pages 183-195, Jan 4.

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