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Philosophy of Religion: The Existence of God

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Professor John Cottingham (University of Reading) explores some of the classic arguments for the existence of God – and their criticisms. In the first module, we think about some of the Classical antecedents to later Christian arguments for the existence of God, focusing in particular on Plato's concept of the Form of the Good and Aristotle's Prime Mover. After that, in the second module, we explore the three cosmological arguments for the existence of God made by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, as well as some objections to his arguments. In the third module, we turn to Anselm's ontological argument and its criticisms, particularly those of Thomas Aquinas and – much later – Immanuel Kant. Finally, in the fourth module, we turn to the teleological argument for the existence of God, including William Paley's famous watchmaker analogy, before considering some of the possible objections to this argument, including those of David Hume and Richard Dawkins.

About the Lecturer

John Cottingham is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Reading and an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford. He has published thirty books — thirteen as sole author, a further nine editions and translations, plus (either as single or join editor) eight edited collections — together with over 115 articles or chapters in journals or books. His books include Descartes, The Rationalists, Philosophy and the Good Life, On the Meaning of Life, The Spiritual Dimension (Cambridge, 2005), Cartesian Reflections (Oxford, 2008), Why Believe? (Continuum 2009) and Philosophy of Religion: Towards a More Humane Approach (Cambridge, 2014). He is co-editor and translator of the three-volume standard Cambridge edition of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. From 1993-2012 he was editor of Ratio, the international journal of analytic philosophy. The Moral Life, a Festschrift honouring his work on moral psychology, ethics and religion, was published in 2008.