Could religious experience and/or witnessing miracles make it rational to believe in the existence of God?

For this topic, you can write about either religious experience, or miracles, or both.)


Suggested Reading:


For religious experience:

“The Argument From Religious Experience” by A. E. Taylor in The Existence of God, edited              by John Hick, pp.153-164.

A general background reference on this topic is The Idea of the Holy, by Rudolf Otto, on                     Short Loans. Taylor’s article makes reference to Otto.

  1. Trueblood “The Evidential Value of Religious Experience” in A Modern Introduction to Philosophy, edited by Pap and Edwards, pp.435-445.

For some recent empirical findings that may have relevance to the issue, students might wish to take a look at the controversy surrounding the “God Helmet”. An introduction to the issue can be found at  Students may wish to explore the issue further themselves.


For miracles:

“The Argument From Miracles” in John Hospers An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis                 [Second Edition] , pp.450-455.

“Of Miracles” by David Hume in Enquiry concerning human understanding



(4) Critically review Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

Recommended Reading:

Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion.

Also useful: Alvin Plantinga’s Review of Dawkins, which can be found at




More detailed Information about marking.

  Fail (0-29)


Pass (50-64)


Credit (65-74)


Dist. (75-84)


Hi. Dist. (85-100)

Very Good

The ultimate criterion in marking is: How good is the student’s answer to the question, with reference to their general writing, their understanding of the primary readings, and their discussion of the issue? This is determined by consideration of more specific sub-criteria, more details of which are provided below:
WRITING (30%), with sub-criteria:

– Referencing, etc

– Presentation

– Structure, etc

Inadequate use of general academic standards. Very many mistakes re sub-criteria Basic use of general academic standards. Quite a few mistakes re sub-criteria Sound use of general academic standards. Some mistakes re sub-criteria Good use of general academic standards. Few mistakes re sub-criteria Excellent use of general academic standards. Very few if any mistakes re sub-criteria
EXPOSITION (50%), with sub-criteria:

– Quantity

– Accuracy

– Active Understand’g

Student displays very little if any understanding of the reading, with significant inaccuracies Student displays basic understanding of the reading, but exposition is marred by some inaccuracies Student displays sound understanding of the reading, with very few inaccuracies Student displays good under-standing, with a competent mode of exposition. Student displays excellent under-standing, with a creative mode of exposition.
DISCUSSION (20%), based on further readings, or original, with sub-criteria:

– Quantity

– Relevance

– Effectiveness

Student has done very little if any extra relevant research or original thinking, and what there is makes very little if any contribut-ion to the issue Student has done some extra relevant research or original thinking, and what there is makes some contribution to the issue Student has done some extra relevant research or original thinking, and what there is makes a competent cont-ribution to the issue Student has done (given the word limit) much extra relevant research or original thinking, and what there is makes a good contribution to the issue Student has done (given the word limit) very much extra relevant research or original thinking, and what there is makes the marker think.



WRITING—NOTE: This refers to the General Presentation of the Essay

– Referencing, etc (quote format, quote page no.s, footnotes, bibliography, TURNITIN): How good is the formatting of the quotes (short quotes in text, long quotes in blocks)? Do ALL citations include page numbers? How relevant are any footnotes? Is there a bibliography, and how well formatted is it? How high is the TURNITIN score, and how indicative is this of poor referencing practices?

– Presentation (length, grammar, spelling, punctuation, expression): What is the paper’s word count, and is within 5% of the word limit? How many errors of grammar, spelling and punctuation are there per page? How good is the essay’s overall expression?

– Structure, etc (introduction; fluency, sectioning, flagging devices; paragraphs): Does the introduction to the essay address the set question, and indicate what the essay will do? How fluent are the transitions between paragraphs? How well does the essay fall into neatly divisible sections? How often does the essay flag to the reader what is happening? How often do paragraphs have topic sentences, and how often does its content focus solely on that topic?

EXPOSITION (of Primary Readings)—NOTE: Exposition of a Primary Reading includes the presentation of a point of view, possibly with examples and justification for that view, and any objections and responses, which that reading itself contains.

– Quantity: How much space is devoted to the Exposition of the Primary Readings?

– Accuracy: How accurately has the student described the contents of those readings?

Active Understanding: How intellectually active has the student been in re-presenting material from those readings? (NB. Avoid passive description of the readings, by, eg, trying to explain the ideas in your own terms).


DISCUSSION (with Other Readings, or of an Original Nature)—NOTE: Other Discussion of an issue includes critical discussion of any readings which is sourced from some Non-Primary Reading; Original Discussion of an issue includes critical discussion of any readings which the student comes up with for themselves.

Quantity: How much space is spent critically discussing the issue, based on other Readings, or on the student’s own ideas?

Relevance: How relevant is the discussion, and how often is a justification for any new claims introduced? Such justifications may include the presentation of new evidence, examples, or arguments.

Effectiveness: Objectively, how good (effective) are the relevant justifications?



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