PHIL 59.001 – FYS: Proofs of the Existence of God

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Instructor: Douglas MacLean. This course meets TR 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in CW 105.

Throughout the history of the Western world, philosophers have been concerned to prove that God exists, that God does not exist, or to explain why God’s existence or non-existence cannot be proven. We will critically examine some of the most important of these arguments. Our aim is to focus on some of the philosophical issues they raise, such as: What are these proofs supposed to accomplish, and who is the intended audience? Is it reasonable to believe in God even if one cannot prove God’s existence, and is there necessarily a conflict between reason or science and faith? Why do some philosophers believe that God’s existence is necessary for morality? This class, conducted as a seminar, is an introduction to philosophy and to philosophical reasoning. There are no prerequisites. Every student will hand in one-page written responses to the readings prior to the class in which they are discussed, and students will lead the discussion of the readings and topics. Students will also write four short papers (500-750 words) and one longer paper at the end of the term.