A critical thinking class should be a requirement for all college students, regardless of age. Have You Ever Had to Write a Devil’s Advocate Paper? There are several essential components to a Devil’s Advocate paper. Understanding these elements and fulfilling their requirements ensures a passing (and often exceptional) grade, while failing to meet these requirements will often detract from a potentially valid and important premise. While a Devil’s Advocate position paper can be about any issue, most critical thinking classes narrow the scope down to one or two options. In my class, we could write on either affirmative action or the existence of God. We were able to choose either topic, and further choose our position on the topic, but we were expected (via the rubric) to follow the template we were provided and make sure that all of the elements were adequately provided. To make a difficult subject even more challenging, our paper had to be brief – at most three pages.

This meant that we had to be succinct and direct and not waste a lot of space beating around the bush with irrelevant or unimportant aspects. Both of these topics could easily turn into twenty-page papers, and being confined to even a handful was an added challenge that forced us to think in ways that we often are not exposed to. I will explain the required template, and provide an example from the paper that I then submitted as a way of demonstrating the requirements. The thesis portion of the paper clearly defines the writer’s position and thesis statement. The existence or non-existence of God is a question that has plagued mankind since the beginning of time. Throughout history, humankind has posited gods to explain the seemingly unexplainable. An atheist, depending on their particular position, either claims that no gods exist – or more commonly lacks a belief in any proposed deity due to a lack of convincing and impartial evidence. We were asked to provide two or three reasons behind our position. The study of theodicy – or the problem of evil – is a central theme in understanding why many atheists have recognized their position of unbelief.

Theodicy is only relevant to a handful of proposed gods – most commonly the Abrahamic religions that propose that a God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. Since this encompasses the major religious players in the Western world especially, theodicy is a pivotal point of contention between atheists and theists who follow the Abrahamic religious traditions across the globe. The argument from design verses the argument from a purely naturalistic standpoint has long been a contentious issue between atheists, agnostics and theists. Is the universe seen today different from what would be expected if a divine force was behind its inception? The problem arises when attempting to determine if this universe was fine-tuned at all. It is simply not possible to extract a formula by which to determine random chance verses structured and intentional design from an ultimate designer – especially if such a designer is still a force that interacts with the natural world. Even if such a designer were possible, it becomes impossible to determine which one, since countless faiths embrace creation stories that form the bedrock to their particular religious beliefs. What Is Critical Thinking?

How often do we truly think about what the opposition truly says, believes or thinks when we find ourselves in disagreement? It is all-too common to firmly hold onto our positions solely because they’re our positions, without taking the time to think through what the other person is actually arguing for. In regards to the problem of evil, Christian denominations counter theodicy with the notion of free will. They claim that in giving His creation free will, the Abrahamic god has allowed His creation to choose their paths for themselves – with potentially eternal consequences. The fine-tuning argument is a proposition that is put forth by many believers of many differing faiths. They argue that it is simply improbable that the universe that exists today occurred by chance, without the hand of an invisible designer behind it. Because of the earth’s placement in the galaxy and the relatively low probability of life, theists argue that chance is improbable and therefore the argument from design is valid.

To bolster their claim, theists point to their creation story as further proof that not only was the earth designed, but it was created – often specifically for humanity. The fourth section is designed to respond to the common objections that the opposing side may raise, further explaining, justifying and demonstrating the reasons behind the position that you argued for in the first two sections. Now you can fully pick apart what you argued for in section three, and you can explain why the objections do not logically follow the premise that you’re arguing for. For the free will argument, it’s easy to see that it’s an argument of convenience, rather than one of significance. As long as a choice is present, free will still exists. That does not mean that every option has to be available in order to maintain a sense of choice. Removing one or two of the options from the table does not negate the fact that a human being still maintains a choice. In addition, free will does not account for natural disasters that are, at least from a Abrahamic perspective, acts that God certainly has power over.

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