Philosophy of religion exam questions

Past paper questions

June 2019 (AS and A level questions)

  • Critically discuss the theodicy of Augustine.
  • To what extent does Plato successfully explain the relationship between the body and the soul?
  • ‘Aquinas’ Fifth Way does not demonstrate the existence of God.’ Discuss.
  • How successfully does the language games concept make sense of religious language?
  • Critically compare the logical and evidential aspects of the problem of evil as challenges to belief.
  • Analyse Aristotle’s four causes.
  • ‘The world was created by chance, not by God’s design.  Discuss.

June 2018 (AS and A level questions)

  • ‘Conversion experiences do not provide a basis for belief in God.’ Discuss.
  • Critically discuss Aristotle’s understanding of reality.
  • To what extent does Kant successfully criticise the ontological argument?
  • ‘The best approach to understanding religious language is through the cataphatic way.’ Discuss.
  • To what extent does Hume successfully argue that observation does not prove the existence of God?
  • Assess Boethius’s view that divine eternity does not limit human free will.
  • ‘Corporate religious experiences are less reliable than individual religious experiences.’ Discuss.

Other possible questions

  1. Critically compare Plato’s Form of the Good and Aristotle’s Prime Mover [40]
  2. To what extent is Aristotle’s use of the senses to make sense of reality more convincing than Plato’s reliance on reason? [40]
  3. “There is no evidence for dualism!” Discuss [40]
  4. The word ‘soul’ is best understood as a metaphor. Critically evaluate this claim. [40]
  5. Talk about a separate soul rests on a category error! Evaluate this statement. [40]
  6. To what extent are a posteriori arguments are more persuasive than a priori arguments for God? [40]
  7. It is more likely that the universe came about by chance than that God designed it. Discuss this statement. [40]
  8. To what extent does Aquinas provide sufficient explanation for his conclusion “and this is what everybody calls God”? Discuss with reference to the Third Way. [40]
  9. The Cosmological Argument is defeated by the fallacy of composition. Discuss. [40]
  10. Critically assess the view that the Ontological Argument is the most persuasive argument for the existence of God. [40]
  11. “Existence is not a predicate.” Discuss [40]
  12. To what extent does Anselm’s ontological argument justify people in having Christian faith? [40]
  13. The ontological argument fails because it can be reduced to absurdity: it is obvious that perfect islands don’t exist by definition, so God can’t. To what extent is this judgement fair? [40]
  14. There is no way to establish the validity of religious experiences, so they are not a reliable basis for faith in God. Discuss. [40]
  15. Are corporate religious experiences any more reliable or valid than individual experiences? [40]
  16. Religious experience is a good pointer towards the existence of God, but it is not a sufficient basis for belief in God in itself. Discuss this statement. [40]
  17. To what extent does Augustine’s theodicy succeed in defending God against the charge of allowing evil and the suffering it causes? [40]
  18. Why would a perfect God need to put people through a ‘vale of soul-making’? [40]
  19. To what extent is the evidential problem of evil a greater challenge to Classical Theism than the logical problem of evil? [40]
  20. Is it possible to successfully defend monotheism in the face of evil? [40]
  21. The Christian concept of God is incoherent! Discuss. [40]
  22. Critically evaluate the claim that Richard Swinburne provides the most useful understanding of the relationship between divinity and time. [40]
  23. To what extent does Boethius succeed in resolving the problems of divine knowledge, benevolence, justice, eternity and human free will? [40]
  24. God can only do what is logically possible. Discuss. [40]
  25. Critically compare symbol and analogy as approaches to religious language. [40]
  26. The Via Negativa is an unhelpful way of approaching religious language. Discuss. [40]
  27. Meaningful theological discussion depends on the Cataphatic approach to language; it is impossible through the Apophatic way. Critically assess this claim. [40]
  28. Aquinas’ analogical approaches to religious language are too limiting to support religion. Discuss. [40]
  29. A symbolic understanding of religious language renders religious discourse incomprehensible. Critically evaluate this claim. [40]
  30. Critically assess the claim that Religious Language is necessarily non-cognitive. [40]
  31. To what extent can Scripture mean anything if religious language is understood to be non-cognitive? [40]
  32. How far is Aquinas’ analogical view of theological language valuable in the philosophy of religion? [40]

thanks to Charlotte Vardy for many of these example questions