Philosophy at A-Levels - do people really turn into atheists? Watch

SexiestNameEver
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I've heard a lot about the majority of people who take philosophy at A-Levels, they start questioning the existence of God and turn into atheists?

I am a strong religious person, I'm thinking of taking it but I'm worried, any opinions/views/answers?

This will help a lot

Sorry to break it to you but I don't know why I'm getting negged, care to explain?
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Optimisticb
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Lol, no philosophy will not convert you into an atheist. However it will make you question the existence of God, for example, who created God? If God is all powerful, why does he not eradicate evil in this world? Questions like this make you think outside the box which is really good, I guess.

I think you should definitely go for it or experience it as a taster session. Some philosophers even support religion, for example Descartes claims that if he doubts the existence of God, he's in fact doubting his own existence. Then you have philosophers like Plato (personally disliked him) and Kant (amazing philosopher). I did it in AS and I must admit I've fallen in love with it ever since. Didn't progress onto A2, due to the 50 mark essay questions.
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SexiestNameEver
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(Original post by Optimisticb)
Lol, no philosophy will not convert you into an atheist. However it will make you question the existence of God, for example, who created God? If God is all powerful, why does he not eradicate evil in this world? Questions like this make you think outside the box which is really good, I guess.

I think you should definitely go for it or experience it as a taster session. Some philosophers even support religion, for example Descartes claims that if he doubts the existence of God, he's in fact doubting his own existence. Then you have philosophers like Plato (personally disliked him) and Kant (amazing philosopher). I did it in AS and I must admit I've fallen in love with it ever since. Didn't progress onto A2, due to the 50 mark essay questions.
That's good, I was getting woried, and how is it? Can you give me some examples of the stuff you studied and what you got in it at AS? And are the essay questions really hard?
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Optimisticb
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(Original post by SexiestNameEver)
That's good, I was getting woried, and how is it? Can you give me some examples of the stuff you studied and what you got in it at AS? And are the essay questions really hard?

It's a good A-level I guess; because my exam board was AQA, I learned about reason and experience. This entails questions about how we acquire knowledge, as Rationalist claim we gain knowledge independent of experience known as a priori, for example mathematical knowledge. Then on the other side of the spectrum, you have Empiricist, who claim knowledge is based on experience known as aposteriori. For example you see one swan that is white, then you see 4,000 swans that are white, then you go to Australia and see a black swan.... POW!!!! Not all swans are white, one had to experience it to acquire the knowledge that not all swans are white . I also learnt about Philosopher Kings who claim that if you're not a philosopher then you're still in the 'cave' - Plato.
The other topic I was taught is why should we be governed. So I learned about what chatacteristics makes a government legitimate, for example popular approval. I also learnt about the beast and ship analogy which is Plato's theory of understanding society. This topic also proposes the question of whether we actually consented (tacit, hypothetical, explicit, etc....)to being governed, for example should those that do not vote obey the laws of the country.

From memory that's pretty much all I can remember. Unfortunately I got a grade B.The exam is 1 hour 30 minutes and you MUST answer two 15 and two 30 mark question. The essay questions are not really hard, you just need to have effective time-management skills.

If you do take it, get prepared to learn some Latin words, ie. 'Cognito ergo sum' translation means 'I think, therefore I am'
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Kousar
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Hey, I'm in my second year studying Philosophy now. And I'm a Muslim. It makes you question and exposes you to sceptical ideas, which is good to be honest. You should know the reason to why you believe
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lightburns
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This happened in my Religious Studies (Philosophy and Ethics) A level class. I was an atheist at the beginning, but there was more doubt at the end in the others. One of my friends has had her faith irreparably damaged I think, but responded to it by flinging herself deeper into her religious customs and rituals, because it formed too much of a cultural identity to lose.

The reason that people said that their faith was being weakened by the course was that this was where religion got its best shot to support that it's correct, yet many quickly see that it utterly fails to do so. To question something that was never questioned, and find that what you have been taught to believe offers no answers... Well, that's going to shake a couple of people.
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SexiestNameEver
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(Original post by Optimisticb)
It's a good A-level I guess; because my exam board was AQA, I learned about reason and experience. This entails questions about how we acquire knowledge, as Rationalist claim we gain knowledge independent of experience known as a priori, for example mathematical knowledge. Then on the other side of the spectrum, you have Empiricist, who claim knowledge is based on experience known as aposteriori. For example you see one swan that is white, then you see 4,000 swans that are white, then you go to Australia and see a black swan.... POW!!!! Not all swans are white, one had to experience it to acquire the knowledge that not all swans are white . I also learnt about Philosopher Kings who claim that if you're not a philosopher then you're still in the 'cave' - Plato.
The other topic I was taught is why should we be governed. So I learned about what chatacteristics makes a government legitimate, for example popular approval. I also learnt about the beast and ship analogy which is Plato's theory of understanding society. This topic also proposes the question of whether we actually consented (tacit, hypothetical, explicit, etc....)to being governed, for example should those that do not vote obey the laws of the country.

From memory that's pretty much all I can remember. Unfortunately I got a grade B.The exam is 1 hour 30 minutes and you MUST answer two 15 and two 30 mark question. The essay questions are not really hard, you just need to have effective time-management skills.

If you do take it, get prepared to learn some Latin words, ie. 'Cognito ergo sum' translation means 'I think, therefore I am'
Ok, apologies for the swearing that's going to occur but ****, two 15 and 30 mark questions? For English one 30 mark question should be answered in 2 hours? I would praise you for telling me this, can you also tell me if you struggled a lot in the exam because I am so bad at time-managment in essay questions? Do people actually get A's for this at AS? Please answer these questions because this may decide my ****ing death!

(Original post by Kousar)
Hey, I'm in my second year studying Philosophy now. And I'm a Muslim. It makes you question and exposes you to sceptical ideas, which is good to be honest. You should know the reason to why you believe
Are you a weaker Muslim?
(Original post by lightburns)
This happened in my Religious Studies (Philosophy and Ethics) A level class. I was an atheist at the beginning, but there was more doubt at the end in the others. One of my friends has had her faith irreparably damaged I think, but responded to it by flinging herself deeper into her religious customs and rituals, because it formed too much of a cultural identity to lose.

The reason that people said that their faith was being weakened by the course was that this was where religion got its best shot to support that it's correct, yet many quickly see that it utterly fails to do so. To question something that was never questioned, and find that what you have been taught to believe offers no answers... Well, that's going to shake a couple of people.
Is it really hard? I mean the essays and can you just tell me your grades and how much you struggled?
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lightburns
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(Original post by SexiestNameEver)
Is it really hard? I mean the essays and can you just tell me your grades and how much you struggled?
I was top of the class in a high-ranking selective school. But I ended up with a B, whilst all the people who routinely got C's and D's in classwork and weren't the sharpest tools in the box got A's and A*'s. So I don't really have an idea how that worked.
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Hal.E.Lujah
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It really just depends on why you believe. If you've been forced into your religion and never been allowed to question it before, you'll probably find yourself losing your religion now that you're given permission to hold it up to scrutiny. If you've chosen your religion and believe in it by choice you won't have a problem with it, though it'll definitely make you think about alot of things in a whole new light.
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TimmonaPortella
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It's not the content of the A level that does it. It's the result of sustained critical thought.
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Suubi
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I studied philosophy at a level and at undergraduate level at Birmingham and I am a catholic. Philosophy has revised my ideas about God not completely eradicated them. I personally think Gods ontological nature is different to how the bible says it is. The classical conception of God is fraught with contradictions and difficulties and needs revising in my opinion to make the existence of God more intelligible. However for some theists this might be a step to far. At the very most all scientific and atheist arguments can say is that there is no evidence for God's existence they can't categorically rule out that he doesn't exist. Where is the evidence that the universe caused itself to exist as Dr Hawking argued.
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Sulphur
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(Original post by SexiestNameEver)
I've heard a lot about the majority of people who take philosophy at A-Levels, they start questioning the existence of God and turn into atheists?

I am a strong religious person, I'm thinking of taking it but I'm worried, any opinions/views/answers?

This will help a lot
Well if you're faith is as strong as you say, then you've got nothing to worry about. In order to become an atheist you have to be open to the possibility that your beliefs may not be as right as you once thought they were.

Questioning ones' own beliefs, which are often preconceived, is a good thing. The outcome is of course unknown, you may find that your beliefs are strengthened, weakened or unchanged, but at the very least you have a greater understanding of them.
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EmilyHelen
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I think the question you need to ask yourself is: 'Would I want to believe in something even if it didn't exist?' If the answer is yes then Philosophy is probably not going to interest you a lot! If the answer is no, then I'd guess you're worry less about losing your faith, per se, and more about the effect that would have on your identity etc. Obviously I can't speak for everybody, but personally, in studying philosophy a-level, I've found that although there have been some uncomfortable moments where I'm not quite sure where my beliefs lie on certain issues, I've never (yet) come close to actually losing my faith. Looking at it from a different perspective: yeah, making it stronger in lots of ways because I understand it more: yeah, but doubting it: not so much.
And I wouldn't worry too much about this being any harder than other A-levels. I'm one of those annoying people who seem to get good grades in everything, but I can honestly say that I haven't found it as difficult as I thought. It is a big step up from GCSE, but once you've worked out what a question's asking you, it's just about selecting the relevant information. I'm doing OCR by the way, and none of it has been over my head - the hardest thing is time management in the exam, but if you practice writing essays this will quickly improve; it's not quite as awful as it sounds at first!
Hope this has helped, and good luck choosing!
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Kousar
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(Original post by Hal.E.Lujah)
It really just depends on why you believe. If you've been forced into your religion and never been allowed to question it before, you'll probably find yourself losing your religion now that you're given permission to hold it up to scrutiny. If you've chosen your religion and believe in it by choice you won't have a problem with it, though it'll definitely make you think about alot of things in a whole new light.
I think this is well stated

And OP, in answer to your question, weaker isn't the word. I've become more open-minded and sceptical. You could call that stronger :P
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Kousar
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(Original post by EmilyHelen)
I think the question you need to ask yourself is: 'Would I want to believe in something even if it didn't exist?' If the answer is yes then Philosophy is probably not going to interest you a lot! If the answer is no, then I'd guess you're worry less about losing your faith, per se, and more about the effect that would have on your identity etc. Obviously I can't speak for everybody, but personally, in studying philosophy a-level, I've found that although there have been some uncomfortable moments where I'm not quite sure where my beliefs lie on certain issues, I've never (yet) come close to actually losing my faith. Looking at it from a different perspective: yeah, making it stronger in lots of ways because I understand it more: yeah, but doubting it: not so much.
And I wouldn't worry too much about this being any harder than other A-levels. I'm one of those annoying people who seem to get good grades in everything, but I can honestly say that I haven't found it as difficult as I thought. It is a big step up from GCSE, but once you've worked out what a question's asking you, it's just about selecting the relevant information. I'm doing OCR by the way, and none of it has been over my head - the hardest thing is time management in the exam, but if you practice writing essays this will quickly improve; it's not quite as awful as it sounds at first!
Hope this has helped, and good luck choosing!
I do OCR What other subjects do you do? Because with me, I always found Philosophy and Religious Studies the least challenging out of my other subjects, Literature and History.
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The_Duck
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I'd like to say no, but it did for me...
However its still an excellent course, and i would advise it.
(Note that i was the only religious person in my year who has converted since the start of the course so it probably wont.)
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Pinkhead
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Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but who cares if it does?

I'd welcome any change that is caused by greater understanding.
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halbeth
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It pushed me towards atheism for sure... although that was quite reactionary.

It certainly set my thinking on the path that's meant I've remained an atheist, mind.

Mind you: it's YOUR mind. The only person who can decide is you. It won't force you to become an atheist, you're the one who makes that decision based upon the arguments that are presented to you.
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shyamshah
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I am studying it now in AS. I would not say that it changes people to become atheists, it definitely helps you question your religion and the existence of God but that is not necessarily a bad thing, it will help your faith get stronger.
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EmilyHelen
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(Original post by Kousar)
I do OCR What other subjects do you do? Because with me, I always found Philosophy and Religious Studies the least challenging out of my other subjects, Literature and History.
I do fairly random subjects: Music, Maths and Further Maths; but I agree, it does seem to be quite a lot easier then the others, maybe I can't compare though without other essay subjects...
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