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“Explore the claim that the “proofs” for the existence of God fail to

convince the unbeliever.”


- Remember that any criticisms that you know for any of the
arguments but most notably on the cosmological argument (since
that is the one considered in the part a) should be fitted in here.
- This is what is offered in the Mark Scheme produced by CCEA:
An exploration of the failure of such ‘proofs’ in convincing the
unbeliever may include, e.g.
• Consideration of the limitations of any proofs, lack of verification
• An evaluation of the strengths (and weaknesses) of selected
‘proofs’
• Atheism’s rejection of the Divine and supernatural
• Consideration of the nature of the ‘proofs’
• Exploration of selected atheistic schools of thought,
e.g. Empiricist, Humanist
• Reference to selected theistic and atheistic scholars,
e.g. Tennant, Swinburne, Hume, Kant
• Exploration of the nature of God as lying outside the realm of
scientific outreach

Here is my more detailed suggestion:


For the statement:
- It is true to say that the target audience for any proofs for the
existence of God should be the unbeliever and if this fails then the
proof is inadequate – however it is also important to bear in mind
that the early thinkers: Anslem, Aquinas, et al where largely
writing for fellow academics with a theist perspective.
- It cannot be denied that the arguments have flaws – picked up by
other theologians both then and later. Gaunlio pointed out that
Anslem’s Ontological Argument was inadequate since it was based
on a definition of God: “God is a being than which nothing greater
can be conceived” – but it is possible to imagine a “perfect holiday
island” and for it not to exist – therefore, an imagination of the
“greatest ever possible being” could be possible without its actual
existence. This is a point extended by Kant – who stated that we
need reasons and evidence to believe in God rather than a
definition of what he might be like if he did exist.
- In addition – the Cosmological argument was heavily criticised by
Hume – who argued on the basis that as humans, we cannot side
step the issue of cause by accepting that God is uncaused since the
whole of our experience is based in a cause and effect universe.
- Hume also highlighted the problem of suggesting only one deity –
when in fact there could be a number – equally – there doesn’t have
to be one act of creation – but a sequence of many.
- In relation to the teleological argument – Hume uses the argument
of suffering to show the short comings of a creation believed to be
from an omni-benevolent and omnipotent being – arguing against the
notion of design and purpose on the grounds that there was much
evidence of “bad design.”
- Perhaps most problematic for unbelievers today is the failure to
correspond theistic proofs with science – Big Bang and evolutionary
theory are seen and taught as much more plausible arguments than
God and this is endorsed by evangelical atheists such as Richard
Dawkins in the “God Delusion.”
- Increasingly those who claim a belief in God are perceived as:
fanatical, uneducated and potentially subversive.
On the other hand:
- Any attempt to intellectualise one’s way to belief in God is a un-
starter since faith is the consequence of religious experience –
an act of the Holy Spirit on a person’s life – and not merely an
intellectual conclusion based on evidence.
- Religious belief is much more mystical – as the early mystics
such as Teresa of Avila would testify to. Even the Apostle Paul
(earlier the persecutor of Christians) was an intellectual and yet
it took a vision to convince him of faith in Christ.
- The “proofs” are useful as a point of debate and engagement in
the issues but the next step is one which requires abandonment
to the leading of God on a person’s life – “A leap of faith”.
- It is for this reason that Swinburne argues that the “religious
experience” argument is the most convincing – it has failings in
being subjective but is also has strength in the support of the
“Principles of testimony and credulity” – it is for this reason
that modern evangelism (sharing the gospel) of the Christian
church is done mainly through personal testimony and
relationship of believers with nonbelievers.