Arguing for God
On-demand lecture series for students of A Level Religious Studies
With Dr Peter Vardy and Charlotte Vardy
Re-launches 11th September 2021
Exploring content specified by ALL ENGLISH EXAMINATION BOARDS for AS/A Level in Religious Studies, and aiming to develop higher-level AO2 essay skills, these lectures take students on a “deep dive” into the Arguments for the Existence of God. Through each of the first four lectures, presenters Dr Peter Vardy and Charlotte Vardy explore different arguments and criticisms of those argument in detail, before the final session takes the form of a debate. As always with Candle Conferences, the 45 minute lectures are pacy and engaging, designed to provoke deep thought and further discussion and debate.
Each of the first four lectures is accompanied by an exclusive 10-page .pdf pack of student resources in a digital format, with a detailed overview of the argument including reference to a wide range of scholars and useful quotations, as well as suggestions for extra reading and learning activities.
1) The Teleological Argument
The oldest and still the most persuasive argument for God’s existence begins with observations of purpose or teleology in the universe… but are these observations accurate and are they best explained by an intelligent designer, let alone “what everybody calls God”? This introductory lecture begins by considering different types of argument, their relative strengths and weaknesses, and then goes on to explain and evaluate teleological arguments proposed by Aquinas, Paley and Tennant with reference to Hume and Mill.
2) Cosmological Arguments
Cosmological arguments start with observations of causation and conclude that a Prime Mover, Uncaused Cause or Necessary Being is the best explanation thereof… but is everything in the universe really moved, caused and contingent as Aquinas argues? Also, even if the Cosmological Argument can survive the advent of Quantum science, is it fair to say that the cause of the universe is “what everybody calls God”? This lecture explores the arguments presented by Aquinas and William Lane Craig and evaluates them with reference to Hume, Kant and Russell.
3) The Argument from Religious Experience
Another popular argument for God’s existence starts with the observation that Religious Experiences are a common feature of human experience, reasoning that the best explanation of their occurrence is the existence of God as their object. Nevertheless, Religious Experiences are very diverse and many are subject to plausible naturalistic explanations. This lecture considers which religious experiences have the best claim on being authentic (with particular reference to William James’ arguments) and discovers how common these are, before evaluating the attempt to argue for God’s existence from Religious Experience, such as in the work of Richard Swinburne.
4) The Ontological Argument
Ontological Arguments take a different approach, starting with an a priori definition of God and reasoning that God’s existence is a logically necessary part of that definition. If successful the Ontological Argument has the potential to prove God’s existence in a way that no a posteriori argument could do… but many people struggle to see them as any more than “a charming joke” as Arthur Schopenhauer put it. This lecture considers and evaluates the Ontological Arguments proposed by St Anselm and Rene Descartes with reference to criticisms made by Gaunilo, Aquinas, Kant and Russell, encouraging students to take arguments from reason more seriously.
5) Debate: This house believes that there is no way to prove God’s existence.
The motion will be proposed and then opposed live, before a range of student contributions is played.
Individual student links for the on-demand lecture series must be purchased online and cost £8 each, which includes access to the recorded lectures through a secure page of our website (until 1st July 2022) and the right to print off the 4 10 page .pdf resource packs for personal use only.
Alternatively, a school-licence can be purchased for £80, which includes access to the recorded lectures through a secure page of our website (until 1st July 2022) and the right to print off and photocopy the 4 10 page .pdf resource packs for students within that school or college.
With Candle you get:
○ Up-to-date scholarly content made engaging and tailored to the real needs of A Level students.
○ Sessions and resources designed by practicing teachers with a record of engaging students of all abilities.
○ Easy, secure online bookings with no fees to pay; just print off e-tickets.
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Tel: 0208 133 2241