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Copleston vs Russell

  1. Copleston argued that everything in the Universe relies on things outside themselves for their existence.
  2. Nothing in the universe can be the creator of the universe. Therefore the cause must be something external to it.
  3. The cause for the universe must be something self-causing = this is a necessary being. It must exist independently outside of the universe.
  4. God is different from contingent being as he is ‘his own sufficient cause’. Explaining why there is a universe is important.

Aquinas’ Teleological argument


‘The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world.

  1. We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result.
  2. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly.
  3. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer.
  4. Therefore, some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.’

— St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica: Article 3, Question 2)


Freud’s challenge to the moral argument

  1. Freud distinguished between three components of the human psyche (mind):
    1. ID – basic instincts and primitive desires e.g. hunger, lust etc.
    2. EGO – perceptions of the external that makes us aware of the ‘reality principle,’ one’s most outward part and personality
    3. SUPER-EGO – the unconscious mind which consists of:
      1. the Ego-ideal which praises good actions
      2. The conscience which makes you feel guilty for bad actions
  2. For Freud, our moral awareness cannot be of divine origin because of the differing opinions on ethical issues – if it were morality would be absolute and we would all come to the same moral conclusions. Rather, our conscience or moral awareness is the super-ego of the mind, a ‘moral policeman’ developed during child hood (more specifically the third stage which is known as the phallic stage between 3 and 6 years old).
  3. If conscience is the voice of God as Kant believes you would expect it to be consistent. Kant’s concept of an absolute moral code enforced by God does not explain the Yorkshire Ripper who claimed to follow voices in his head(?) or the differing views on issues such as euthanasia and abortion. Conscience is not truly objective and therefore has a human not divine origin.
  4. [Fromm – conscience comes from society]


  1. Omnipotence = All-powerful
  2. This is a quality of God the creator, telling people the limitless power of God.
  3. God also lays the foundation of earth, governing the night and day: “Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know it place” (Job 38: 12)
  4. Gen.1 shows God’s complete power over creation. This is shown by Isaiah 40:22-23 “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers…; who brings princes to naught and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing”.
  5. God’s power is present throughout the creation; the signs are present.

‘Intelligent Design’ and ‘Irreducible Complexity’;


Michael Behe

  1. A single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning
  2. An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway
  3. Mousetrap analogy
  4. Eye was previously thought to be IC – but now we can explain it
  5. Primordial soup – the complexity of RNA

Descartes Ontological Argument


  1. Descartes wanted to doubt everything; Imagined an evil demon was trying to fool him; Only thing he could prove was ‘I think therefore I am’; Needed to prove God to show that the external world exists.
  2. God is a supremely perfect being.
  3. A quality of perfection is existence.
  4. Therefore God exists.
  5. God’s existence is a truth like Maths – it makes no sense to deny it

Kant’s Moral argument [critique of practical reason]

  1. Humans have a moral awareness (an obligation to bring about the summum bonum [via virtue])
  2. The summum bonum must be possible to achieve (ought implies can).
  3. It is not possible for humans to achieve the summum bonum alone.


  1. Happiness must be the reward of virtue
  2. Virtue does not always lead to happiness in this life
  3. There must be an afterlife where this happens.
  • Therefore*
    1. There must be a God who makes it possible.


  1. Omniscience = All-knowing, All-seeing
  2. All knowledge of everything; past, present and future.
  3. He knows the intention of people better than they themselves know. E.g. when Eve eats the fruit of the tree he knew.
  4. God has limitless knowledge of creation and its functions.
  5. Job 38-39 shows omniscience = “…Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? (Job 38: 33)

Paley’s Teleological argument

  1. Things are complex (Paley)
  2. This cannot arise by chance [probability and winning the lottery]
  3. Therefore it must have been made intentionally
  4. Example of finding a watch on a heath

the imagery of God as a craftsman;

  1. God is the skilled builder of the world. In Job 38 God is seen as the designer who laid the foundations of the earth.
  2. In Gen.2 God making Adam from the dust is likened to a potter shaping the clay.
  3. This is a human-like image of God = Anthropomorphic.
  4. God relates to mankind, there is a relationship between man and God that allows him to reward or punish them.
  5. This is different from the sterile power seen by the Greeks.

the concept of ‘creatio ex nihilo’.

  1. Meaning = Creating out of nothing.
  2. Believed that God created the whole universe, along with everything existing, out of nothing.
  3. The belief comes from both Genesis and Job.
  4. This belief replaced the implied idea from Gen.1 that God crafted an order from a pre-existing mass, this raises a question which is biblical? Pre-existing mass or ex nihilo?
  5. The Creatio ex Nihilo = appealing as it fits with Big Bang.

the Theodicy of Augustine

  1. Problem of evil = how can God be omnibenevolent, ominscienct, and omnipotent – if bad stuff happens.
  2. Augustine defined evil as the privation (lacking something) of goodness, just as blindness is a privation of sight.
  3. Instead, evil comes from free will possessed by the fallen angels and humans, who turned their back on God.
  4. Augustine reasoned that all humans are worthy of the punishment of evil [original sin] and suffering because we are “seminally present in the loins of Adam” (this means we all are from Adam as he is the father of man).

The Euthyphro dilemma

  • Either*
    1. Goodness is liked by the god(s) because it is good
  • or*
    1. Goodness is goodness because it is liked by the god(s)

the relation between concepts and phenomena;

  1. Concept = idea (beauty)
  2. Phenomena = the experienced (something beautiful)
  3. The cave
  4. The forms


  1. Literal’ interpretation of Genesis
  2. Young Earth creationists. [4,000BC]
  3. Scientific Creationists
  4. Gap theory Creationists
  5. Progressive creationism (combining evolution and creationism – quote from Augustine)

Darwinism’s criticism of the TA

  1. The world not a result of intelligent design, but a result of chance/natural selection.
  2. Natural selection = the survival of the fittest. He found that things adapted to their environment to survive.
  3. The world just appears to be designed, but what actually happens is the weak die and strong live – this needs no external designer.
  4. Some don’t believe that the deaths of people are designed. In this way Darwin saw no reason to believe there was a first design that should be necessary.

the Big Bang theory

  1. Observations that things in the universe are moving away from each other (blue/red shift)
  2. Extrapolate from this that everything was at one time in the same point
  3. There is evidence of an ‘echo’ from the big bang. – it seems to be supported by further evidence
  4. This seems to provide an alternative explanation for the creation of the universe.

Theodicy of Irenaeus;

  1. Irenaeus argued that God created the world imperfectly so that every imperfect being could develop into a ‘child of God,’ in God’s perfect likeness.
  2. For Irenaeus, God could not have created humans in perfect likeness of himself because attaining the likeness of God requires the willing co-operation of humans.
  3. God thus had to give humans free will in order for them to be able to willingly co-operate.
  4. Since freedom requires the ability to choose good over evil, God had to permit evil and suffering to occur.

[no pain, no gain]


Anselm’s second argument (response to Gaunilo)

  1. Anselm’s second argument counter’s Gaunilo’s response by saying you can’t compare God with an Island, as an island = contingent whereas God = necessary.
    1. Contingent = things that come in and out of existence and are dependent on something for their existence.
    2. Necessary = things that must exist.
  2. Anselm argued that his initial argument wasn’t to prove the existence of contingent island etc, but was to show the greatest thing ever = God.
  3. God cannot be compared to an island, because God has necessary existence but islands don’t.
  4. Therefore his first argument still applies to God, but not contingent things.

J S Mill’s criticism of the TA

  1. Response to Paley’s argument
  2. Bad/disordered stuff is evident in the world – wars, disease, men’s nipples
  3. The world isn’t good/ordered anyway.
  4. It can only imply a disordered God

Hume’s response to the Cosmological Argument

  1. Can be seen as a response to the Cosmological argument
  2. When we say ‘A causes B’, all that we have a right to say is that, in past experience, A and B have frequently appeared together or in rapid succession, and no instance has been observed of A not followed or accompanied by B.
  3. However many instances we may have observed of the conjunction of A and B, that gives no reason for expecting them to be conjoined on a future occasion, though it is a cause of this expectation.
  • (Two clocks, both running next to each other, but one is a second behind the other. One goes hourly bell chimes a second after the other, but there is no reason to believe that one causes the other.)*
    1. [there appear to be particles which just pop in and out of existence]

Aristotle’s four causes

  1. Material cause (a table is made of wood)
  2. Formal cause (a table is shaped liked a table – has legs and a table top)
  3. Efficient cause (a carpenter made the table)
  4. Final cause (the purpose of the table is to place your food on to eat)

Darwinism and various developments of evolutionary theory

  1. Things reproduce
  2. Mutations
  3. Natural selection (survival of the fittest)
  4. No designer needed
  5. People used to think that certain things were irreducibly complex – such as the eye – now they are explained

The form of the Good

  1. For every essence, there is an objective blueprint of perfection. And we recognise attributes and qualities because we recognise their equivalent in the world of the forms.
  2. The highest, and most important form is ‘the form of the good’.
  3. It illuminates all other forms (the sun in the cave)
  4. It is Logos – gives meaning to everything

the concept of ‘Ideals’

  1. The problem of universals – how can one thing in general be many things in particular? What is the essence of a thing that makes it what it is? How do we know what a chair is? What is chairness? (Ship of Theseus type problem.)
  2. Concepts and Phenomena
  3. The cave
  4. The forms

Anselm’s ontological Argument

  1. It is a conceptual truth (or, so to speak, true by definition) that God is a being than which none greater can be imagined (that is, the greatest possible being that can be imagined).
  2. God exists as an idea in the mind.
  3. A being that exists as an idea in the mind and in reality is, other things being equal, greater than a being that exists only as an idea in the mind.
  4. Thus, if God exists only as an idea in the mind, then we can imagine something that is greater than God (that is, a greatest possible being that does exist).
  5. But we cannot imagine something that is greater than God (for it is a contradiction to suppose that we can imagine a being greater than the greatest possible being that can be imagined.)
  6. Therefore, God exists.

the Cosmological argument from Aquinas

[One of the ‘five ways’ in Summa Theologica]

  1. 3 ways = 1) Motion, 2) Cause and 3) Contingency
  2. Motion:
    1. Everything that is moving is moved by something else.
    2. This process goes back, but not forever (no infinite regress), since there would be no first mover.
    3. Therefore there must be a First Mover - God.
  3. Cause:
    1. Every effect has a cause.
    2. Nothing is caused by itself.
    3. There can’t be an infinite regression of causes.
    4. There must be a First Cause – God.
  4. Contingency
    1. All things in nature change.
    2. It is possible for these things not to be, then to come into existence, and then cease to exist.
    3. If this is true, then at some point there was nothing.
    4. If this is true, then there must have been something to bring contingent things into existence, since nothing can come from nothing.
    5. Thus, there has to be a necessary being that caused contingent things to come into existence – God.

Gaunilo’s criticism of Anselm

  1. On behalf of the fool]
  2. Imagine the most perfect island that exists in the mind.
  3. Because it is ‘most perfect’ it has to exist in the mind and reality.
  4. Therefore it must exist, but such an island doesn’t actually have to exist.
  5. So it’s absurd to say that just because you have an idea of something it must exist.

the way the Bible presents God as involved with his creation;

  1. God is the skilled builder of the world. In Job 38 God is seen as the designer who laid the foundations of the earth.
  2. In Gen.2 God making Adam from the dust is likened to a potter shaping the clay.
  3. This is a human-like image of God = Anthropomorphic.
  4. God relates to mankind, there is a relationship between man and God that allows him to reward or punish them.
  5. This is different from the sterile power seen by the Greeks.

Analogy of the cave

  1. People are chained in the cave by the neck so they’re forced to face the wall.
  2. They see shadows on the wall (created by puppeteers and lit by a fire behind them) and, not having ever seen the real objects themselves, believe these shadows to be the real things in themselves.
  3. One man (Socrates) got free and climbed up (a very steep ascent) to free himself.
  4. When he left the cave, the sun (logos) was so bright that it was difficult to see at first.
  5. He went back into the cave to free the other prisoners, but they didn’t believe him and killed him because they were afraid of the truth.

the way the Bible presents God as involved with his creation;

  1. [genesis] Speaks to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
  2. [Gospels-st. Paul] Sends Jesus
  3. [Exodus] Communicates with Moses (guide and 10 commandments)
  4. [Gospels] Angels – Gabriel
  5. Judges people at the end of time


  1. Omnipresence = All-present
  2. God is present in all parts of his creation, sustaining them.
  3. Because God is present somehow, he is aware of everything in the universe.
  4. The presence of God is recurring in Bible – God is present in creation when he moves over the earth (Genesis 1), present in Eden (Genesis 3), present at the foundations of the earth and in the heavens (Job 38).

Kant’s response to Descartes’ Ontological Argument

  1. This is a response to Descartes’ ontological argument (explain Descartes’ argument)
  2. ‘God exists’ is either an analytic or synthetic truth
  3. If ‘God exists’ is analytic, then Descartes/Anselm’s argument is just a tautology and doesn’t say anything about God
  4. If ‘God exists’ is a synthetic truth then it doesn’t work because ‘being [existence] is not a predicate’ (it is not the same kind of word as ‘blue’ or ‘big’)

Natural vs moral evil

  1. Natural Evil: Occurred because of the loss of order in nature due to the first sin which broke natural order, defined by Augustine as the ‘penal consequences of sin’
  2. Natural Evil: Has the divine purpose to develop qualities such as compassion through the soul-making process. When others see people affected by disasters this can also make humankind compassionate = furthers their soul-making.
  3. Moral Evil: Derived from human free will and disobedience
  4. Leads to ‘soul deciding’ and ‘soul making’

Hume’s criticism of Paley

  1. Watch vs nature analogy is weak. (We notice the watch on the heath precisely because it stands out against nature)
  2. Order does not imply an orderer; Effects do not imply cause
  3. Order is a necessity for the world to exist (tautology)
  4. Creator is not necessarily a Christian
  5. We have nothing to compare this universe to

Russell vs Copleston

  1. Russell replied that the concept of cause is one we make up ourselves when we observe things happening.
  2. The explanation for the universe is beyond human understanding.
  3. Because of this it is unnecessary for humans to have a sufficient explanation of the universe that goes beyond the contingent universe.
  4. He then says that the universe doesn’t need a cause. “I should say that the universe is just there, and that’s all.”

Aristotle’s prime mover

  1. The physical world is constantly in motion and change – the planets seem to be moving eternally
  2. Change or motion is always caused by something
  3. Objects in the world are in a state of potentiality or actuality
  4. There exists something that causes the change without being moved and this thing is eternal.
  5. A prime mover is akin to a ‘force’. Gravity, for example is a prime mover – he thought there could be many. [However he did quote the Iliad saying – ‘the rule of many is not good; one ruler let there be’ – the gods in the Iliad, fight amongst themselves repeatedly.