Lecture Notes: by Brian W. Carver

We're going to look at four main styles of arguing for the existence of God and one argument against the existence of God. Now "God" has many meanings depending on who you ask. For the purposes of this course, all of our subsequent readings will mean by "God" the God of Judaism and Christianity. We will call this the Judeo-Christian concept of God, or the God of Theism. Key features of this concept are that:

J-C God is:
1. Omnipotent (his omnipotence is also generally thought to imply omniscience, omnipresence, and necessary existence).
2. Morally perfect.
3. Creator of the universe.

The four types of arguments for his existence will be Cosmological, Teleological (Design), Ontological, and Pascal's Wager. Both the Cosmological and Teleological arguments will appeal to certain facts about the world. The Ontological argument on the other hand, suggests that God's existence can be proven purely from reflection on the concept of God itself. In the Ontological argument no facts about the world are supposed to be needed. The Teleological argument is also called the argument from design and specifically singles out the intricacy of nature as key evidence for God's existence. The Cosmological argument will appeal to other facts about the world.  Pascal's wager is not as much a proof of God's existence as an argument that it is in your best interest to believe in God's existence if you do a cost-benefit analysis.  Finally, the problem of evil will pose an argument against the existence of God, or at least against the existence of the Judeo-Christian conception of God.