Philosophy A2 Exam Paper Questions

June 2009

1a)    Examine the view that religious experiences provide a compelling argument for the existence of God. Discuss the implications of this view for atheism.            [40]

Or

b)    Analyse and discuss the view that there are only two positions one can take about the Ontological Argument: either it is a convincing proof of the existence of God or it is a failure.                                                [40]

2a)    Compare, contrast and evaluate two of the following:

  1. reincarnation
  2. resurrection
  3. immortality of the soul                                [40]

or

b)    ‘A study of religious language presents positive insights into an understanding of religion but also shows the severe limitations of language in this context.’

Analyse and discuss this claim with reference to two of the following:

  1. analogy
  2. language games
  3. myth and symbol                                    [40]

Sample paper for 2009 (version 2007)


1a)    i) Analyse the argument for the existence of God from religious experience. [18]

ii) ‘The argument for the existence of God will result in valid reasons to believe in God.’ Assess this claim.                                        [12]

or

b)    i) Examine the key concepts of the Ontological Argument for the existence of God.                                                     [18]

ii) Discuss whether this argument would convince an atheist.            [12]

2a)    i) Compare and contrast two beliefs about life after death.            [18]

ii) Assess which of these two views may provide a stronger philosophical basis for a belief in life after death.                                        [12]

or

b)    i) Explain what is meant by verification and falsification in the context of religious language.                                                [18]

ii) Evaluate their criticisms of religious language.                    [12]

Sample paper for 2009 (version 2005)


1a)    Analyse the key concepts of religious experience as an argument for the existence of God and evaluate the view that this argument supports the probability of the existence of God.                                                [40]

Or

b)    Examine the major features of the Ontological argument for the existence of God. To what extent do the strengths of the argument overcome its weaknesses?        [40]

2a)    Compare and contrast reincarnation and immortality of the soul. Consider critically arguments against life after death.                                [40]

Or

b)    ‘Religious language raises very difficult if not impossible probs .’ Discuss this statement by examining two of the following: analogy, verification, or falsification.    [40]

Philosophy A2 Exam Papers and mark scheme

2003


1 a) Analyse the key concepts of religious experience as an argument for the existence of God.                                                    [12]

concept of religious exp; analogy between a range of human experiences and religious exp and principles of credulity and testimony; why this may be a reasonable and simple explanation. Accounts of religious exp only will have a ceiling of 8 marks if no focus on thrust of question.

b) Evaluate the view that this argument supports the probability of the existence of God.

[8]

weaknesses of argument such as supposed parallels between religious exp and other types; a consideration of the problems of interpretation as untrustworthy and alternative interpretation; evaluation of responses to criticisms with an understanding of the notion of probability in this context.

2 a) Explain the major features of the Ontological Argument for the existence of God.

[12]

could include a focus on one major example; understanding of the distinctive features of a priori reasoning with clarification of key terms and stages in this argument such as different notions of existence including necessary existence.

(2002 atheist’s understanding of God; difference between existence in mind and reality; necessary existence)

b) To what extent do the strengths of this argument overcome its weaknesses?     [8]

various examples such as the senses of existence and different interpretation of key terms including God, together with an assessment of responses to such criticisms and their strengths or otherwise.

3 “It is wrong to believe anything without sufficient evidence.”

Analyse and discuss this claim with reference to the non-existence of God and critiques of religious belief.                                            [20]

What place does evidence have in belief systems; could use psychological or sociological explanations; critical appraisal of religious belief in history and society in which they lack foundation in evidence. Questions the role of evidence in some arguments for the existence of God including the ontological argument and any rebuttal of religious belief.

4 a) Compare and contrast TWO of the following:

i) reincarnation

ii) rebirth

iii) resurrection

iv) immortality of the soul                                    [12]

Analysis of significant parallels and major differences and emphases with appropriate reference to specific religious traditions and scholars.

b) Consider critically arguments against belief in life after death.            [8]

e.g. behaviourist account of human nature; problems of language and evidence in this debate.

2002


1 a) see above 2003 no 2a                                        [12]

b) To what extent if any is this argument a proof of the existence of God?        [8]

clarify proof and implications in this context, significance of deductive reasoning; weaknesses and strengths such as ideas about definition of God an notions of existence and necessary existence.

2 a) “Religious experience presents a convincing argument for the existence of God.”

Analyse this claim.                                             [12]

Requires argument and not just accounts. Similarities of principle of credulity in empirical context transferred to claims about experience of God including ideas about testimony.

b) Discuss criticisms of this argument.                                [8]

Reasons to doubt notions of credulity and testimony such as their applicability to religion; issues about the interpretation of experience; alternative explanations to religious experiences.

3 a) Compare and contrast arguments for and against belief in life after death.    [10]

contextual beliefs providing a rationale to support the claims of these beliefs, could be Theological and /or philosophical; implications of selected beliefs about God in this context; hick and the replica theory; arguments against could include conceptual problems in belief in life after death including problems of whether language is at all appropriate in this context; difficulties with the supposed incoherence of some concepts associated e.g. with dualism.

b) Define ONE of the following and evaluate its distinctive contributions to debates about life after death.                                            [10]

Clear understanding of the distinctive features of the selected concept, may draw upon selected philosophers; reasons employed to argue the case that the selected term is valid and convincing; evaluation may include the cogency of this term in its belief system.

4 a) Differentiate agnosticism from atheism                            [4]

Could include ideas about the different interpretation of each of these terms.

b) Examine either the verification or the falsification debate and evaluate it as a critique of religious belief.                                            [16]

E.g. logical positivism with selecte4d reference to key contributors; evaluation as critique of religious belief with implications about e.g. the meaningless nature of religious language

with dire consequences for religious belief; no evidence to falsify a belief in a benevolent God with the implications of the meaningless nature of such a belief; implications for agnostic and atheistic language and its supposed meaninglessness in this context; possibly also contentious nature of this as a basis of a theory of meaning.

 


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