A-LEVEL RELIGIOUS STUDIES

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1 A-LEVEL RELIGIOUS STUDIES RST3B Philosophy of Religion Report on the Examination 2060 June 2016 Version: 1.0

2 Further copies of this Report are available from aqa.org.uk Copyright 2016 AQA and its licensors. All rights reserved. AQA retains the copyright on all its publications. However, registered schools/colleges for AQA are permitted to copy material from this booklet for their own internal use, with the following important exception: AQA cannot give permission to schools/colleges to photocopy any material that is acknowledged to a third party even for internal use within the centre.

3 RST3B Philosophy of Religion General Comments Examiners were generally pleased with the responses to the questions this year. In the main, the questions were understood and answered with competence. A significant number of students produced or repeated AO1 material in the AO2 answers thus reducing the quality and extent of analysis and evaluation required for an AO2 response. The majority of students referred accurately to philosophical thinkers and theologians where appropriate and some students discussed contrasting points of view between thinkers very ably. In a significant number of schools and colleges all students answered the same two questions. This seemed to put some students at a distinct disadvantage as they clearly struggled to focus on, and understand the question asked within the topic they had studied. A significant number of students attempted to make links with other elements of the course; where this was appropriate and explained clearly and made relevant it was very effective. However, often there was just a random reference which was not linked to the question being answered. Question 1 Ontological argument and the relationship between reason and faith In part 01, a significant number of students were able to identify the objection and explain where the problems lay in attempting to derive the existence of God from the definitions of God given by Anselm and Descartes. Students demonstrated a sound understanding of the objections particularly from Aquinas, Gaunilo, and Hume. Some of the responses were confused when attempting to explain the objections from Frege and Davies. A common problem was relating the individual objections to the question; often the focus on deriving existence from the definition was lost and the response became an exploration of the objections in general. Many students gave a thorough account of the Ontological argument from both Anselm and Descartes leaving little time to focus on the objection that the existence of God cannot be derived from the definition of God. For part 02, many students used Aquinas objection to demonstrate very ably that, if the definition could be doubted, then the whole argument collapsed and therefore had no value. A significant number of students lost focus on the key objection proving that the argument has no value and discussed how the argument had no value in general. Many students recognised that Anselm s intention had been to strengthen his own faith and therefore it had value for Anselm himself and any other believers who accepted the definition. A number of students analysed why the argument had no value for non-believers, often citing Russell who declared the argument sound but remained an unbeliever. A significant number of students discussed how faith made the argument and the key objection of no value as faith does not require proof. Good answers examined the way in which the argument helped believers to enhance their faith with reason in spite of the objection. Question 2 Religious language Part 03 was not a popular question but there were some very good answers produced. One of the main problems was explaining religious language as non-cognitive. Many students focused on symbolism, analogy and bliks. Where links with non-cognitive language were clearly explained some good answers were produced. However, some students did not link these ideas to the question and as a result lost focus on the question. Students who had a thorough grasp of religious language as non-cognitive were able to explore effectively the non-objectivity of the language, its ethical aspects and its appeal to the emotions. Most understood Wittgenstein s language games and his emphasis on looking for the use of the language rather than the meaning. A significant number of students focused on the idea of games and lost focus on Wittgenstein s approach. 3 of 5

4 A number of students did not focus on language games in part 04 and instead put forward other ways of speaking about God which they considered to be more effective. Occasionally the whole answer was given over to symbolism or analogy. It is acceptable to make comparisons with other ways of talking about God, however the question must be addressed and whether using language games is effective in enabling people to speak meaningfully about God must be the focus of the answer. Some very good responses examined the problem of exclusivity within language games and the dangers of subjectivity when groups interpret language according to their own rules. The evaluation of the effectiveness of language games was often weak. Question 3 Body, soul and personal identity In response to part 05, many students examined Dualism and Materialism very effectively in relation to a person being made up of body and soul. A good understanding of hard and soft materialism was demonstrated. A significant number of students examined the concept of body and soul as put forward by Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Aquinas. These responses demonstrated a thorough understanding of these scholars and their views. A good grasp of the concept of body and soul within Buddhism and Hinduism was also demonstrated. One significant group of students focused their answer on the body and mind only from the basis of philosophy of the mind rather than philosophy of religion which limited the accuracy and effectiveness of the response. A significant group of students also only examined dualism. A number of students repeated AO1 material in their response to part 06 and whether or not the notion of a soul is coherent or not was largely overlooked. The majority of students explained the problem of lack of evidence for the soul, particularly in the light of a scientific understanding of the brain and its workings. Students also explored very effectively, the idea that the metaphysical nature of the soul does not lend itself to scientific or other proofs and thus does not therefore make it incoherent. The evidence of religious belief and scripture was also explored as an argument for the coherence of the soul. Most students were able to evaluate the coherence of the soul effectively. Question 4 The problem of evil 07 The majority of students answered part 07 very well. A sound understanding of Genesis 3 in relation to the Augustinian tradition was demonstrated. The majority of students accurately explained the concept of privatio boni, and the aesthetic argument. Most students focused on the question of the existence of both moral and natural evil in the tradition. However, some students produced Augustine s theodicy only and therefore the answers contained some material that was not directly related to the question. Better answers included the theory of plenitude. However, there was some confusion regarding the scorpion and its sting. Not all students included the role of the fallen angels in relation to natural evil, but most had an excellent grasp of the fall of mankind and the consequences of natural and moral evil. In part 08, students demonstrated a good understanding of why moral evil can be explained through free will, and presents less of a challenge to faith in God. The majority of responses invoked Rowe s evidential problem of evil as a reason why natural evil presents a greater challenge to faith. Some students made the connection between moral evil and natural evil positing the idea that all evil is moral evil because according to Augustine natural evil is a deserved punishment. Many students produced the inconsistent triad, some used it to good effect whereas others simply mentioned it without linking it to the answer. It was clear that some responses had 4 of 5

5 the potential to produce extremely good and detailed answers but the student ran out of time. Most students were able to evaluate to a certain extent. Mark Ranges and Award of Grades Grade boundaries and cumulative percentage grades are available on the Results Statistics page of the AQA Website. Converting Marks into UMS marks Convert raw marks into Uniform Mark Scale (UMS) marks by using the link below. UMS conversion calculator 5 of 5

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