Proofs for the Existence of God
What is the relationship between faith and understanding? Is it possible to have certain knowledge about anything? Does morality depend on the existence of God? Can the order or disorder of the world tell us anything about a creator? Such questions have preoccupied philosophers for nearly a millennia. Not merely a problem for theologians, the question of whether it’s possible to prove the existence of God has stood at the center of some of the most revolutionary developments in the history of philosophy, from the rise of scholasticism, to the emergence of new theories of the self in the Enlightenment, to questions of epistemology, probability, morality, and even possible worlds. What philosophical avenues are opened up by arguments for the existence of God?
In this course, we will examine the canonical proofs for the existence of God in the European tradition, as well as the criticisms of those proofs, all while offering historical, religious, and intellectual context. We will tease out their implications not only for the philosophy of religion, but also for other branches of philosophical inquiry as well. Readings will run chronologically, beginning with great medieval theologians like Anselm and Thomas Aquinas, before turning to key Enlightenment thinkers, such as Descartes, Hume, and Kant, and ending with the tradition’s continuing legacy in the present. How do the arguments and “proofs” for the existence of God resonate today, not only in religious terms, but also in broader philosophical inquiry?
Course ScheduleMonday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
October 19 — November 09, 2020