PHIL 117
Arguing about God Spring 2018 Division II; Writing-Intensive;
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“Faith is a fine invention,” according to Emily Dickinson’s poem, “when gentlemen can see; but microscopes are prudent in an emergency.” This introduction to philosophy will see how far the microscopes of reason and logic can carry us in traditional arguments about the existence and nature of God. We will closely analyze classical arguments by Augustine, Avicenna, Aquinas, Anselm, Maimonides, Descartes, and others. Pascal’s wager is a different approach: it argues that even though proof of the existence of God is unavailable, you will maximize your expected utility by believing. We will examine the wager in its original home of Pascal’s Pensees, and look at William James’ related article, “The Will to Believe”. The millennia old problem of whether human suffering is compatible with God’s perfection is called “the problem of evil”. We will examine this issue in Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, classic sources and contemporary articles. Students should be aware that, in the classic tradition, this class resembles a logic course.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3381
Requirements/Evaluation: frequent short papers
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: first-years and sophomores
Department Notes: meets 100-level PHIL major requirement
Distributions: Division II; Writing-Intensive;

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