philosophy journal 16

The following is a journal entry a student submitted in a past semester. Note what makes this a good entry:

  • It is at least 150 words in length
  • It is written clearly and understandably
  • It shows evidence of thoughtfulness

“The design argument for God’s existence is interesting to me but I’m not sure I can fully endorse it. It argues that because there is design throughout the universe, there must be a universal designer, i.e., a god, in turn. However, when considering the endless probabilities and eons that our world has gone through, this argument is somewhat disproved. We know many different “designs” are merely adaptations, and often times we, as humans, tend to “see” a design when there is, in fact, none there (like seeing faces in electrical sockets). The design argument also does not account for entropy found in nature, and the general decline into disorder that can be found in many systems – surely a designer wouldn’t design that? Also, there are the many examples of natural disasters and tragedies that mar our world, and which place the idea of a designer in doubt. I like to relate this problem to what we read in the introduction to Philosophy Made Simple, about the Book of Job in the Bible. Even a believer in God such as Job had trouble understanding how a good and almighty God could be responsible for all the disorder happening in his own life. So again, while the design argument is interesting, I do see some problems with it, and how it could be challenged by a skeptic.”

Select any one of the following topics/questions to write about.

1. The theories of Thales and his contemporaries were “wrong;” yet they were nonetheless important in establishing the method of scientific/philosophical thinking. What are some features of this method, as we see it in the earliest philosophers?

2. The host of the video on the Presocratic philosophers, , Carl Sagan, takes a noticeably hostile position toward religion, implying that religion and science are inevitably enemies. Do you agree that the relationship between religion and science must be hostile? Does the progress of science mean the eclipse of religion? How might they be harmonized?

3. Did anything interest or surprise you particularly in the Carl Sagan video we watched on the first philosophers?

4. In the debate over permanence and change (Heraclitus vs. Parmenides), which point of view do you think is more nearly correct? Does everything change, or are there permanent features of the world?

5. Do you see any possible solutions to any of Zeno’s paradoxes?

6. The Presocratic philosophers believed that the way the world really is, is quite different than the way it appears. Can you think of any examples of the split between appearance and reality? What are some ways in which appearances are deceiving?

7. Write about any topic related to philosophy, inspired by your readings and the classes so far, or by your own experiences, thoughts, current events, etc.

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