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Explain the Copplestone-Russell Radio Debate

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Explain the Copplestone-Russell Radio Debate (33 Marks) Frederick Coplestone (1907-1994) was a Professor in the University of London and one of the modern proponents of cosmological argument. Copplestone was a 20th Century Thomist which means that he followed the teaching of Aquinas and applied it to contemporary theology. He first put his argument forward in the famous radio debate with Bertrand Russell which was broadcast in 1947. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) opposed this argument and rejected the terminology used. Coplestone's argument, like other versions of the Cosmological argument is an a posteriori argument. He argued that there are some things which need not exist- they are contingent, and looked beyond themselves for the reasons for their existence. That is, objects which might not exist had a certain event not happened This means that the existence of some things can be explained by referring to something beyond themselves. They depend on something else for their existence. Coplestone goes on to suggest that the world is the sum total of all objects. ...read more.


However he believed that the statement that God's existence is necessarily true, it is not necessary de dicto true, because God may not exist. It may be false to say that God does not exist but it not a logical contradiction to state that God does not exist; therefore it is not analytical statement. Just has Kant had argued, Russell believed that 'all existential statements are synthetic.' Coplestone's argument also focused on the argument from sufficient reason, this is a complete or to explanation for the way that something is as it is. Coplestone said that God was God's own sufficient reason, that he has aseity and therefore he is self-generating . He argued that things within the universe are not their own sufficient reason but do have cause for their existence and this is God. Copplestone believed that the universe is continent and requires a total explanation for its existence. He thought that the universe is untellable without God. However while Russell agrees that the key turning points in the debate is the principle of sufficient reason., however Russell disagreed that the only explanation is God and that God is an adequate explanation. ...read more.


This means that for an explanation of the existence of the universe is to be found, a person needs to be open minded in order to participate in the debate. If one does not wish to embark on the path which leads to the affirmation of transcendent being, one has to deny the reality of the problem and assert that things 'just are' and that the existential problem in question is just a pseudo-problem. Copplestone recognized that the two were approaching the question from a completely different perspective and, in a way, playing a different game. He made a very significant point at the end of the debate. If one refuses even to sit down at the chessboard and make a move, one cannot, of course, be checkmated. Copplestone highlights the main conclusion of the debate, it is not possible to convince someone of God's existence with this argument if they are not interested in asking how we got here or why we are here. However it is important also to recognise that without asking such questions and seeking explanation one cannot claim victory i.e. that God does not exist either. ...read more.

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