Philosophy of Religion

Short Answer 1:

  1. Patrick argued that philosophy is important for what two main reasons? How does a person’s philosophical beliefs determine how they understand the world around them? Can you give an example?
  2. What does “orthodoxy” mean and what does Chesterton mean when he says that even the anarchist dynamiter “ought to feel that, whatever else he is, at least he is orthodox”? What does this have to do with his argument that it is a terrible idea to try to be a practical person without first doing philosophy (i.e., thinking about ideals and our philosophical beliefs)? Do you agree – why or why not?
  3. Lewis argued that the most important question that one should ask about a belief isn’t whether it will make you happy, but what instead? How does he argue that simply the intent to be nice, good or happy isn’t enough? What do you think of his argument?
  4. Explain the problem of religious diversity and the two main responses to it. What are the strengths and weaknesses of these two responses? Which do you favor and why?


Short Answer 2:

  1. Explain one of the arguments for the existence of God we discussed in class. Don’t just tell me what the argument is, explain how the argument works. Do you think that this proof would be effective at convincing a non-believer to become a theist? Why or why not? Do you think these arguments are worthless if they can’t convince opponents?
  2. What is a regress in justification? How is foundationalism supposed to stop regresses of justification? (Be sure to explain the difference between basic and nonbasic beliefs!)
  3. What is the evidentialist objection to religious belief? How does this objection relate to foundationalism? What is Plantinga’s response to this objection? Do you side with Plantinga or the evidentialist? Why?
  4. Explain Pascal’s Wager. What is the purpose of this argument? Do you find it convincing?


Short Answer 3:

  1. Søren Kierkegaard described his main task as figuring out “how to be a Christian in Christendom.” What does he mean by this? Explain how this idea ties in with his existentialism and his fideism. Finally, how does he use the story of Abraham and Isaac to oppose the common way of being a Christian at the time?
  2. Why do existentialists tend to focus on “limit situations” (e.g., death, plagues, etc.)? What does this have to do with “the crowd,” the aesthetic mode of life, and Kierkegaard’s choice of the story of Abraham and Isaac?