Consider the three arguments for the existence of God and one argument against the existence of God, as follows:
|The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God|
|1||Either every being is explained by some other being, or at least one being is explained by itself.|
|2||It cannot be the case that every being is explained by some other being.|
|∴||3||At least one being is explained by itself.||1&2|
|The Teleological Argument|
|1||The world itself and the natural things discovered in it have teleological complexity.|
|2||If the world itself and the natural things discovered in it have teleological complexity, then the world itself and each of the natural things discovered in it must have been made for a purpose or end.|
|3||If the world itself and each of the natural things discovered in it must have been made for a purpose or end, then there must be a maker or creator of the world itself and each of the natural things discovered in it.|
|∴||4||There must be a maker or creator of the world itself and each of the natural things discovered in it.||1, 2&3|
|The Ontological Argument|
|1||God is that being than which none greater can be conceived.|
|2||Suppose it is not the case that God exists.|
|3||If it is not the case that God exists, then God is a being than which a greater being can be conceived, one that exists.|
|4||If God is a being than which a greater being can be conceived, one that exists, then it is not the case that God is that being than which none greater can be conceived.|
|∴||5||It is not the case that God is that being than which none greater can be conceived.||2, 3&4|
|∴||6||God is that being than which none greater can be conceived and it is not the case that God is that being than which none greater can be conceived.||1&5|
|The Problem of Evil|
|1||If God exists, then God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnibenevolent (perfectly good).|
|2||If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, then it is not the case that evil exists.|
|∴||4||Either God is not all-powerful, God is not all-knowing, or God is not perfectly good.||2&3|
|∴||5||God does not exist.||1&4|
The four arguments are valid, as we've shown in class. Yet in each case we've shown how it can be argued in response that each argument is unsound by giving further arguments that one or more specific premises in each of the above is false.
To be sure, showing an argument unsound does not give us any reason to think the conclusion in each case is false. These counter-arguments, as we should call them, are like the defense poking holes in the prosecution's argument. The defense, recall, doesn't care about whether the defendant is or is not guilty, since all they have to do is show that the prosecution hasn't succeeded in demonstrating that the defendant is guilty.
Essay II is a study of the counter-arguments we've given in class. In an essay of between 500 and 750 words, explain as best you can each counter-argument and the specific premise against which it was directed. For each counter-argument you've identified and explained, further explain whether you think it's decisive. That is, does the counter-argument close the book, as it were, on the (un)soundness of the argument against which it was directed, or do you think further responses are possible to refute the counter-argument (much as when a prosecution, in closing, explains why the defense has not succeeded in undermining the arguments the prosecution originally gave to show the defendant guilty). Justify your answer in each case.
Clarification: Please bear in mind that I am not here asking you to conduct logical analyses of these arguments. We already did that work in class. Further note that I am not asking you to come up with your own counter-arguments to show the above four arguments unsound. Instead, I am wondering whether and how well you've been paying attention to our discussions in class and how well you understand the points we've been carefully explaining in class. Note that your resources include the readings, your own lecture notes, the lecture videos, and the synopses. Thus most of this essay consists of you explaining what we've already discussed in class. The only point at which I encourage you to contribute your own thoughts is when I ask whether you find the given counter-arguments decisive or conclusive in showing the four arguments above unsound. Remember, we've shown each of the arguments valid in class. We know they are formally correct, and thus truth-tropic. If the premises are all true, so too must the conclusion be true. But are the premises all true? The counter-arguments in question attempt to show particular premises of the four arguments above false, thereby warranting our rejecting the arguments as unsound.