The bullet points below the topic are intended entirely as “springboards” to help write about the topics: you do not have to address all of the points, but they should help if you feel lost or are having trouble getting started. In contrast to papers that you may have written in other classes, philosophy papers are mostly concerned with the “Why?” rather than the “What?” In other words, I’m looking for ability to think critically about the information in your paper and explain and defend your paper’s argument.
TOPIC: A popular idea suggests that religious beliefs, unlike scientific beliefs, should be merely a matter of faith. However, in this class in this class we’ve seen several different approaches to religion, evidence, and reasons. In this paper, tell me what you think. Do you think that religious beliefs require evidence, or should they be matters of faith (c.f. Clifford and James)? Are there good, philosophical or scientific reasons to believe in God? In answering this question, you may want to consider:
• William Clifford’s argument in “The Ethics of Belief” regarding evidence and epistemic responsibility and William James’s counterproposal in “The Will to Believe”
• The three theological arguments and responses that we’ve looked at so far such as the cosmological argument, the design argument, or the ontological argument. Do any of these arguments give us good reasons to belief in god or accept religious beliefs?
• Pragmatic reasons for belief such as Pascal’s Wager, the medical benefits of religious belief, or James’s claims about religion. Do these offer good reasons to believe in God?
Successful paper will do the following:
1. Argue and defend a clear singular position throughout your paper articulated in your thesis statement (rather than merely present a bunch of unconnected information). As a helpful tip, whenever you use a source or cite an argument/fact, ask: “How does this help me prove or challenge my argument?”
2. Have a clear thesis statement that argues a specific point: e.g., “In this paper, I will argue that Freud was correct when he claimed that religion is only wish-fulfillment.” Your thesis statement should come by the end of your first paragraph. Papers without a clear, concise thesis statement will lose points.
3. Your paper should present arguments and/or evidence that supports your thesis statement. This step should be at least 50% of your paper or more. Evidence can come both from course readings, lecture points, or independent research. I am more than happy to help you if you need some direction! Papers without arguments or evidence that support your paper’s thesis will lose points.
4. Your paper should also present counterarguments that challenge your thesis. Counter arguments can either be a new fact that challenge your thesis (e.g., “Critics of Freud’s argument point to Freud’s failure to consider fact X”) or can challenge one of the arguments or pieces of evidence you provide in (3) above (e.g., “This evidence is challenged by Y,” “One objection to my argument is Z”). Papers that do not offer counter arguments for the writer’s thesis will lose points.
5. Your paper should respond to the counter arguments in (4) to show that you understand and have a response to objections to your thesis/arguments (e.g., “A response to this objection is X”). Papers that do not respond to counter arguments will lose points.
6. Your intro should be short, concise, and to the point. No fluff and no more than one paragraph. Remember that your intro paragraph is a vehicle for your thesis. Use it to get to your thesis and then spend your paper developing and defending your thesis.
7. Your conclusion should be short mostly serves to wrap up your paper. It should be no more than one paragraph.
Note: More critical thinking skills and argumentation than number of sources; however, it is still highly encouraged to do further reading into the topic and you must cite the page numbers and sources MLA. For more information on Should Religious Beliefs be a Matter of Faith? check out : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paVXPXoyDdo
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