The Existence of God

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What is it

The question of whether or not God exists is profoundly fascinating and important. What are the proofs of the existence of God? How can one prove that God does not exist? Join us as John and Ken explore issues such as religious experience, the Bible, evil, eternity, the origin of the universe, design, and the supposed connection between morality and the existence of God with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Professor of Philosophy, and Hardy Professor of Legal Studies, Dartmouth College.

Listening Notes

The belief in it something that is reasonable, something that can be defended by proof and evidence? Or is it something that must be accepted solely on faith, irreducible to logic? John notes that there are many different conceptions of God, some of which are more believable than others. The guest on the show, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, introduces the idea that there are necessary components needed to establish a God of the traditional sort, which restrict what God can be like.

John identifies a number of defenses of the existence of God. The first is the a priori ontological defense of God, which is completely logic based. The second thought is that given the way the world is, it could not have been the result of an accident, and this defines the argument from design. Another approach is through personal experience, where someone claims to simply have a feeling about God. Lastly, John mentions the defense that occurs through revelation. Sinnott-Armstrong doubts that any of these are real reasons.

The all knowing, all-powerful, infinitely merciful and benevolent God that exists outside of space and time, as we know Him today, is the focus of the later conversation during this episode. This is the God most familiar to Western society, and the God to whom the most consideration is brought, to determine whether or not it is plausible that He should exist. In response to the existence of this God, a variety of responses and perspectives arise that allow the listener to really explore the nature of His existence, if He does exist at all.

  • Roving Philosophical Report (Seek to 4:30): Rujun Shen hits the streets of Berkeley to find out whether people believe in God or not, and what their reasons for doing so are.

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Professor of Philosophy, Dartmouth College


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