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Introducing the philosophy of religion
Introducing the philosophy of religion

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In this course, we have thought about the meaning of the words ‘God’ and ‘religion’, and asked what the main questions are in the philosophy of religion, and which of them most interest us. This should have helped you get a sense of the place of definitions in philosophy, and helped you to distinguish questions that are genuinely philosophical from questions that are not (though, of course, they may be interesting for plenty of other reasons). We have done some work on the important exercise of thinking about how philosophical arguments can be made for views we don’t ourselves accept. And we have introduced the notions of evidence and proof, and asked whether and how far they apply to religion.

We have looked at a variety of possible arguments for God’s existence, including Aquinas’s ‘Second Way’. We have seen how his argument differs from various other forms of argument for God’s existence from ‘The way the world is’, such as the cosmological argument and the argument from design, and we have learned how arguments from ‘The way the world is’ are only one variety among several possible forms of argument for God’s existence.

The most important skill addressed in this course is that of identifying an argument in a piece of prose (in this case written by Aquinas) and then representing that argument in the form of premises and a conclusion. You have also seen how representing an argument this way can help us to assess the argument more readily: first, by asking whether the premises are true, and second, by asking whether the inference from the premises to the conclusion is a good, or valid, one.