Premises and Conclusions

Directions: In a thesis-driven essay of a few paragraphs, choose two of the following prompts, and evaluate the logic. Remember to identify the premises and conclusions of the argument in question (you may need to recall supporting details from your reading, since the following are extracts from the reading). Give specific arguments for why you find these premises and/or conclusions convincing, or whether you think they fail to persuade.  

  1. “This mechanism being observed… the inference, we think, is inevitable, that the watch must have a maker… Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater and more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.” 

-William Paley 

  1. “… A rational noetic structure may very well contain belief in God among its foundations… a Christian ought not to believe in God on the basis of other propositions; a proper and well-formed Christian noetic structure will in fact have belief in God among its foundations… one can rationally accept belief in God as basic… one can know that God exists even if he has no argument, even if he does not believe on the basis of other propositions…. One needs no arguments to know that God exists.”  

-Alvin Plantinga 

  1. “…from the standpoint of religious faith, the only reasonable hypothesis is that this historical picture represents a movement of divine self-revelation to mankind… [Religions are] all, at their experiential roots, in contact with the same ultimate reality, but their differing experiences of that reality, interacting over the centuries with the different thought-forms of different cultures, have led to increasing differentiation and contrasting elaboration…” 

-John Hick 

  1. “Our passional nature not only lawfully may, but must, decide an option between propositions, whenever it is a genuine option that cannot be decided on intellectual grounds; for to say, under such circumstances, ‘Do not decide, but leave the question open,’ is itself a passional decision—just like deciding yes and no—and is attended with the same risk of losing the truth.” 

-William James 



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