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    It has come to my attention through other threads that different schools have taught slightly different things, so I was thinking it would be really good to pool our ideas together and create a supreme pool of RE knowledge with which to defeat the demon synoptic paper.

    Here is my contribution:

    1) Conscience and moral responsibility as evidence for the existence of God.
    The Divine Command Theory (Augustine and St Jerome) - moral laws without a divine lawgiver become meaningless and lack authority.
    The Euthryphro Dilemna (Plato) - morality that is merely a divine command is not sufficient - it must have external authority.
    Immanuel Kant's moral argument. The existence of morality infers the existence of God.
    Moral reltaivism/Postmodernism - there are no fixed objective moral laws. Contradicts any sort of divine command theory of morality.

    2) Free will and determinism and an omniscient God.
    Predestination: Clalvin. St Paul. Boethius.
    Criticisms - morality of God - John Hick.
    Pelagianism - Pelagius. Free will.
    Middle ground - Augustine. God knows what we will freely choose.

    3) Free will and the problem of evil
    Problem of evil - God of classical theism inconsistent with the presence of evil and suffering.
    Augustine's theodicy
    Irenaeus' theodicy. John Hick's extension.
    Both classic theodicies rely on free will.
    The freewill defence.
    Process theodicy
    Love - The Peter Vardy analogy of king and peasant girl.

    4) Psychology and Sociology.
    Freud - obsessional neurosis. Oedipus complex - ambivalence towards father figure etc.
    Jung - individuation - integration of archetypes. Religion prevents neurosis.
    Marx - relgion reinforces immoral social class system. Supresses and alienates the people.
    Durkheim - social cohesion.
    Weber - 'disenchantment' with religion. Protestant work ethic.

    5) Relgious language and ethical language.
    This is the one I have trouble with.
    Religious language: Verification/falsification principles, Wittgenstein, Analogy (Aquinas and Ramsey), Symbol (Tillich) and Myth (Bultmann), R.M hare, Braithwaite.
    Ethical language (meta-ethics): logical positivism again, emotivism, intuitionism.
    We havnt learnt anyhting about the relationship between the two (which worries me). Has anyone got any material about the relative worth of religous and ethical language?

    6) Moral behaviour and life after death.
    Kant's moral argument.
    Reincarnation. Hinduism and Buddhism. Plato.
    Heaven and Hell and Divine Judgement.
    There is no way I could answer a question about this at the moment. Which is a shame becasue I love wiriting about the moral argument. Lol.

    Any other suggestions would be gratefully received. Especially about the last two.

    Essay plan for the relation between moral behaviour and life after death (my favourite!)

    Religion is a reason for moral behaviour

    ·All major religions have some kind of rewarding afterlife. Western traditions have developed the idea that there is a single life followed by an eternal afterlife, which is determined by our ethical behaviour in this life.
    ·Heaven is a reward for a life spent following the rules of behaviour promoted by the religion, and hell is the punishment for failing to follow them.
    ·Christianity teaches that there is a link between what we do now and what happens then. Sheep and goats says our actions have an affect, and the Beatitudes says it’s our qualities. Jesus, in Matthew.
    ·We either go to heaven or hell depending on our morality, but some believe we are resurrected because we need a physical body for the punishments of hell.
    ·Behave or be damned sort of approach
    ·Eastern Traditions; Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism teaches of reincarnation and that it’s influenced by karma, ie our moral behaviour. A good life spent fulfilling religious duties will be rewarded by a life that is of a higher standing the next time around.

    Religion is a bad reason

    ·Ayer – following any authority is a bad reason, even if it is God
    ·We should be good because it is good, not because of God
    ·Euthyphro dilemma – does God tell us to do things because they are good or are they good because God is telling us to do them?
    ·Divine command theory says we should do what God says because he tells us to.
    ·James Rachels – to be moral is to be autonomous, and for religious belief to involve unqualified obedience to God’s commands is unacceptable. God therefore can’t exist, as no God that requires a human to abandon his or her moral autonomy is worth worshipping, and one that’s worth worshipping is the only kind that can exist. Things are only worth doing if we believe they are the right things to do.
    ·Augustine – simply because a person does what is right does not make an action morally praiseworthy. Motive must be the love of God and the wish to draw closer to Him.
    ·Religion is immoral; crusades against Muslims and Jews, wars, intolerance
    ·Augustine – God is not the parent of evil, was our free will
    ·Religion may not be the best reason, but it shows us secular reasons – MacIntyre. RC church says we should follow God’s ten commandments but these rules show us our true humanity. Kelly – Christian revelation shows the wonder of wise and loving human living.
    ·Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov; Ivan – without God everything is permitted. Gives us a reason to be good and saves us from moral relativism.

    Self interest is also a reason for behaving morally

    ·Egoism – morality is a means for our own self-fulfilment. Moral acts are those that benefit the agent. Hobbes – something is only moral if it aims at his own greatest good. If there is an afterlife, it can be argued, the only truly moral things we can do are the ones that lead us closer to eternal reward. However, if this excludes acting from self interest we have a logical contradiction. Mackie – egoism is desirable. Frankena – ultimately unacceptable.
    ·Butler – in most cases the same moral choices are pursued if motivated by duty or self interest. But, this wouldn’t be true if there were no afterlife. If there was no judgement, haven or hell, immorality would sometimes be in our best interests. An afterlife existing makes moral behaviour worthwhile from both perspectives.
    ·Pascal’s wager – there’s nothing to lose so you might as well be moral.
    ·Self interest is not always a desire for reward, but can also be a fear of punishment
    ·Marx – fear of eternal damnation used as a form of social control

    Self interest is also a bad reason

    ·MacIntyre – if the motive for doing good is the fear of hell it is a selfish and potentially corrupting act.
    ·Buddhism – enlightenment cannot be attained without denial of the self
    ·Mackie – dualism of practical reason. Is reasonable to be motivated by selfish and selfless things

    Is there even an afterlife?

    ·Yes – near death experiences, regression, sightings, spiritualism
    ·No – dreams, hysteria, drugged hallucination, schizophrenia
    ·Freud – neurosis from wishful thinking
    ·Marx – hope in afterlife discourages social change
    ·Ryle – materialism. Mind and body can’t be separated so there can’t be one
    ·Flew – afterlife is incoherent, mutually exclusive terms
    ·Kant – the moral fabric of the world would fall apart without a belief in LAD
    ·Aquinas – whatever we say about God, the opposite will always be more true. Same could be said for the afterlife. Unfalsifiable!
    ·Hick – we won’t know until we’re dead. Eschatological verification, un-falsifiable.

    There are other reasons for moral behaviour besides an afterlife

    ·Dawkins – we can only live on through ‘menes’ like Shakespeare’s plays, but humans are so special due to the complexities of DNA that we deserve respect.
    ·We should follow absolutes because they prohibit things that are intrinsically bad.
    ·Absolutes like natural law, the 10 commandments, categorical imperatives
    ·The second of which says that we should treat people as ends in themselves. We are duty bound to follow this and any reward should be an unintentional result. Downfall; categorical imperatives rely on God
    ·Humanism – people have intrinsic worth that has nothing to do with God
    ·Christian teaching to love your neighbour as yourself has the same principle as humanism.
    ·Atheists are still moral without God
    ·Durkheim – social solidarity

    There’s no reason at all for moral behaviour

    ·Nihilism, Nietzsche – there is no God so we can do what we like
    ·Existentialism, Sartre – it doesn’t matter what we do as long as our choices are free


    ·If we are to believe that morality does have an influence over our eternal destiny it follows that it will have an influence over our actions. Self interest is bound to be one of our motives even if it’s not our first, so is anyone truly acting morally even when following God’s commands?
    ·But, self interest is not necessarily the same as selfishness. Selfishness is to not take account of the harm you may cause others. But self interest ensures that personal integrity and dignity are affirmed, not selfishness. In this way a Christian has self interest, but that doesn’t prevent altruistic behaviour that maximises the good of others and is genuinely ethical.
    ·Issue is based on the way that a reward for good behaviour can validate it; ethical behaviour does not depend on there being a life after death for it’s validity.
    ·Life after death is therefore a reason for us to act morally, an inevitable one, but not a good one, and if we don’t believe in it there are other reasons for moral behaviour.

    Well, that was less of an essay plan and more of an essay with bullet points and subtitles. But I hope it makes sense and it helps a few people, and if people have suggestions for imporvements I'd be happy to hear them!

    Oops. Just to clarify, I was referring to the parable of the sheep and the goats, and I meant memes instead of menes when I was talking about Dawkins. If that was helpful to anyone I have plans for a few of the other topics as well.
    • Thread Starter

    That was great! really good stuff. Myself and google have a lot of work to do tomorow it seems. Lol.

    Conscience as evidence for the existence of God:

    1. Kant's Moral Argument - our Free Will leads to Kant postulating the Afterlife and God's existence as a way of achieving the Summum Bonum.
    2. Newman's Argument of Conscience as the "Voice of God, and Butler's approach to supplement this.
    3. Aquinas' approach to Conscience - allows us to follow the natural moral law established by divine authority (word of God and reason) - rationalism. The theory of Natural Law underpinned by conscience points to a human teleology towards God and hence conscience as pointing towards God's existence.
    4. Link to Design Argument - conscience as evidence/part of the design we see throughout the world (teleology), existence as moral beings demand a sense of wonder at complexity of aestheticism (Swinburne). We have meaning and purpose as humans (Virtue Ethics/Aristotle).
    5. Irenaeus's Soul Making Theodicy bypasses problem of evil and provides a justification for God's existence.

    Free Will and an Omniscient God
    1. Definition of Omniscient God (all-knowing God) - and exploration of issue of whether FW and an omniscient God is compatible.
    2. Calvin's Predeterminism is founded on the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent God. This appears at first sight to undermine any idea of humans as free (they are predetermined by God's foreknowledge of their actions). Boethius attempts to reconcile this with free will by arguing for "reverse causation" - God sees from a timeless everlasting perspective and thus foresees "X will choose Y" - choice is still made but no interventionism.
    3. The point of view of soft determinism that even with some limiting factors (i.e an omniscient God) this does not entail that our freedom is completely taken away. We are still free if "we could have done otherwise". But to what extent does soft determinism hold? Would an omniscient God take away ALL our freedom?
    4. The link of Free Will to the Problem of Evil (raised by an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent God). Free Will Defence; the theories of Irenaeus, Augustine and Hick and the way they deploy Free Will to solve the problem of evil.
    5. The Problem of Evil as being ever more urgent with an omniscient God and predetermined humans - Wiles' challenge, Ivan Karamazov's argument that Free Will is no replacement for suffering of children - with an omnipotent God who allows suffering, no freedom it suggests a non-existent or malevolent God.
    6. The existence of conscience as a "Voice of God" (Newman, Butler), points to a way in which God can be omniscient/immanent but not necessarily determining human behaviour --> freedom/conscience in terms of autonomy but a clear awareness of God's presence?

    Relation between Ethical and Religious Language
    1. Both are difficult to define
    - How do we speak of a God beyond human experience in our limited language? (Via Negativa, Analogy, Symbols), how do we define God (transcendent, immanent, all-good)
    -How do we pinpoint precisely what is meant by "good" in ethical language: reduced to any particular definition? (Meta-ethics - naturalism v intuitionism).
    Problem of objective truth v subjective opinion in both.
    Also many people speak of God/religion in ethical terms so there is an intrinsic link there - "an all-good God" has notably ethical undertones.

    2. Cognitive v Non-Cognitive Interpretations of both

    Cognitive interpretation of language : Aquinas a good eg:
    Religious language - analogy. Ethical language - Ethical Naturalism (Natural Law)
    Whole philosophy unified.

    Non Cognitive interpretation - impact/function for society
    Religious - Language Games (Wittgenstein), subjective and relativist, Hare's bliks, Don Cupitt, Tillich
    Ethical - collapses into ethical/cultural relativism? Emotivism (Ayer), Intuitionism (GE Moore).

    3. Both ethical and religious language are vulnerable to the challenge of verificationism (Ayer)
    Ethical - reduced to emotivism/near meaningless
    Religious - meaningless - challenge of VP - no sense experience/not verifiable in principle...etc etc.

    Should help!

    (Original post by Super Villain)
    Essay plan for the relation between moral behaviour and life after death (my favourite!)


    Well, that was less of an essay plan and more of an essay with bullet points and subtitles. But I hope it makes sense and it helps a few people, and if people have suggestions for imporvements I'd be happy to hear them!
    Surely there is absolutely no way you will get that all down in time? I reckon in 3 hours you can write about 1500-2000 words, surely that would come to way more?

    Dude - my exam's not 3h!! It's 1.5h. And I checked that and all. Props to Mags for starting this thread - my slacker tendency needs shaping up before my last exam..

    We should really argue something instead of making essay plans, imo.

    So, what's it going to be? Pick one:

    Is the Christian view of embodied afterlife a sensible one?
    Can we talk about God?
    Is psychology an inherently atheistic science?
    Can you do wrong and still go to Heaven?

    Yes that synoptic is 1hr 30 mins (too short!), and is going to be very heavy on our hands.... Even in English we have 2 hours per exam, and there's a lot more to say in Phil than there is in English (IMO).

    Surely there is absolutely no way you will get that all down in time? I reckon in 3 hours you can write about 1500-2000 words, surely that would come to way more?
    Hehe, you're definitely right there. I did get a little over the top in that section, but the more you know the more you can be really selective with the most relevant bits of information when you see what the question is. And besides, the more I try to learn the more I will learn, and if I tried to learn a much smaller amount of information for each bit i'd still forget bits of it, then I wouldn't know very much. I doubt this way works for many people, but it's got me through in the past.

    I've just finished a plan for the bit about freedom and an omniscient God that's quite a bit shorter than the moral behaviour one anyway, so I might put that on here a bit later.

    1.5 hrs!? Yeek. I had a uni one this year that was 3 and I wrote 5 sides- though admittedly you spend the first 45min or so planning the essay at Uni so less writing time. But I would seriously recommend shortening stuff. Be clear and concise and get in deep early on; I think that's where the marks come from. Try to cover too much though and you could end up running out of time half way through and it all falling apart. But obviously, if you've planned and practiced then you know better than me

    Five sides ? Wow! When do your tripos marks come through - best of luck for them. I shall have to cut down on my tendency to write too much it seems. Thanks for your PM - very helpful Calvin, I still need to jot down a few Phil book names . I do precisely that - just cut straight to the point, then it's just me and my argument. I've never practiced or done a synoptic paper (we didn't revise or get taught it this year) so this should be interesting. This module is entirely self-taught, hence my slight apprehension lol....will probably plan some questions from specification paper tomorrow and hope we'll get a nice paper. At least the other 2 modules were good - I get a feeling this paper is going to be nowhere near as nice!!
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