1806 GOD, EVIL AND TRUTH: KEY ISSUES IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
Professor Anton A. van Niekerk, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Director: Centre for Applied Ethics, Stellenbosch University
This five-lecture course will review key issues in the philosophy of religion. The first lecture will deal with the nature of religion itself and the philosophy of religion. In the tradition of philosophical reflection on religion, the key concept is the notion of ‘God’. Can we accept that this notion refers to something/body that actually exists? The second and third lectures will address this question. First there will be a discussion about the so-called ‘cosmological proof’, most famously developed by St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, but re-introduced in the eighteenth century. Next the so-called ‘ontological proof’, introduced by St. Anselm in the twelfth century and revisited in various developments until the twentieth century, will be critically discussed. Following this discussion of alleged proofs for God’s existence, the fourth lecture will examine the best-known argument for the rejection of belief in God: the argument based on the observance of evil and suffering in the world. Whether religious belief can be verified will be discussed in the final lecture.
1. What is religion and the philosophy of religion?
2. The cosmological proof for the existence of God
3. The ontological proof for the existence of God
4. The reconcilability of evil with an omnipotent and perfectly benevolent God
5. The verifiability of religious belief
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