This list of questions is roughly sorted into easy, medium and hard for each topic. These questions are taken directly from the specification and are therefore all potential questions that could come up in the exam.
Find revision notes for OCR religious studies here.
Ancient Philosophical influences (Plato & Aristotle)
Critically compare Plato’s rationalism with Aristotle’s empiricism.
Does Plato or Aristotle make more sense of reality?
Assess Plato’s understanding of reality
Does the world of Forms exist?
‘What we perceive are merely shadows’ – How far do you agree?
Is Plato right that there is more to reality than we observe?
Critically discuss the ideas expressed in Plato’s analogy of the cave.
Analyse Aristotle’s four causes.
Aristotle’s belief in the Prime Mover.
‘Aristotelian teleology is false’ – Assess this view
‘The true reality is accessible only by reason’ – Assess this view
Evaluate Plato’s purpose for the analogy of the cave.
Do the senses provide the best understanding of reality?
Critically compare Plato’s form of the good with Aristotle’s prime mover.
‘Aristotelian teleology is outdated’ – How far do you agree?
Critically compare Plato’s hierarchy of the forms with Aristotle’s four causes.
Soul, mind and body
Assess the approach of Materialism to understanding the mind.
Are the mind and the body separate?
Are Plato’s views on the soul correct?
How successful is Descartes’ substance dualism?
Does the soul exist?
Should the soul as a spiritual substance be rejected?
Can consciousness be fully explained by physical interactions?
Can the mind/soul and body problem be resolved?
Assess materialist critiques of dualism
Assess dualist arguments against materialism
Is the soul an essential and immaterial part of a human?
‘The soul is only temporarily united with the body’ – Assess this view
Is the soul the form of the body?
‘There is a soul but it cannot be separated from the body’ – How far do you agree?
Are the mind and body distinct substances?
Critically compare Descartes and Aristotle’s view of the soul.
‘Discussion of the mind-body distinction is a category error’ – assess this view.
Is the concept of the soul best understood metaphorically or as a reality?
Assess the philosophical language of soul, mind and body in Plato and Aristotle’s work.
‘The soul is the way the body behaves and lives’ – Assess this view.
Arguments based on observation
Can the teleological/cosmological arguments overcome their criticisms?
Assess the teleological/cosmological argument
Can God’s existence be established by observation?
Can evidence of God’s existence be observed?
Are there logical fallacies in the teleological/cosmological arguments that cannot be overcome?
Can teleological arguments be defended against the challenge of ‘chance’?
Do Cosmological arguments jump to the conclusion of a transcendent creator without sufficient explanation?
‘Hume’s criticisms of the teleological/cosmological argument succeed’ – How far do you agree?
‘Aquinas’ first three ways show that we should believe in God’ – How far do you agree?
Assess Paley’s design argument
Is a posteriori a more successful form of argument than a priori?
Is God’s existence better proven by a priori or a posteriori argument?
‘A priori argument is stronger than a posteriori’ – Assess this view
Assess Aquinas’ 5th way
Does evolution disprove the teleological argument?
Arguments based on reason
Assess Anselm’s ontological argument
Does the ontological argument justify belief?
Are there logical fallacies in the ontological argument that cannot be overcome?
Can existence be treated as a predicate?
Assess Kant’s criticisms of the ontological argument
Is a posteriori a more successful form of argument than a priori?
‘A priori argument is stronger than a posteriori’ – Assess this view
Are Gaunilo’s criticisms of the ontological argument the most effective?
Assess whether Kant or Gaunilo’s critique poses the greater challenge to the ontological argument.
Are religious experiences just illusions?
‘religious experience justifies belief in God’ – How far do you agree?
Are religious experiences evidence of God?
‘Religious experiences are union with a greater power’ – assess this view
Do religious experiences prove God’s existence?
Assess whether testimony and witness is sufficient to validate religious experiences
‘Mystical experiences are of God’ – how far do you agree?
Assess whether religious experiences are the product of a physiological effect
Are corporate religious experiences more reliable than individual experiences?
How successful are the views and main conclusions of William James?
Does the influence religious experiences have show they have a supernatural source?
‘Conversion experiences are more reliable than mystical experiences’ – How far do you agree?
The problem of evil
Assess Augustine’s theodicy
Assess Irenaeus’ theodicy
Can monotheism be defended in the face of evil?
Assess Hick’s sole making theodicy
Does the logical problem of evil succeed?
To what extent does the evidential problem of evil challenge belief?
Does Augustine’s use of original perfection and the Fall solve the problem of evil?
‘Augustine solves the logical problem of evil’ – Assess this view
‘Hick cannot solve the evidential problem of evil’ – How far do you agree?
Assess Hick’s reworking of the Irenaean theodicy
‘natural evil enables human beings to reach divine likeness’ – How far do you agree?
Is the logical or evidential problem of evil the greater challenge to belief?
Is it easier to show that God’s existence lacks evidence than that it is logically impossible?
The nature or attributes of God
Is the concept of God coherent?
‘The divine attributes of God conflict with each other’ – Assess this view
What is the relationship between divinity and time?
‘If God is omniscient, humans can’t have free will’ – Assess this view
Is Swinburne correct that God is everlasting/temporal?
Assess Boethius and Anselm’s view on God’s relationship with time.
Does God know future human actions?
‘God is limited by divine self-limitation’ – how far do you agree?
Does God have divine foreknowledge?
Assess Boethius’ claim that God is eternal/atemporal
Assess Anselm’s four-dimensionalist approach
Religious language: Negative, Analogical or Symbolic
Assess the apophatic way (via negative)
Assess the cataphatic way (via positiva)
‘God can be talked about symbolically’ – How far do you agree?
Is symbolic religious language comprehensible?
‘Analogy is more effective than symbol for talking about God’ – Assess this view
Does Tillich capture religious language better than the apophatic way?
Critically compare analogy and via negative as methods of approaching religious language.
Is God a symbol?
Does Tillich get around the issues surrounding the cataphatic way?
Religious Language: Twentieth Century Perspectives
Assess logical positivism
Assess Wittgenstein’s views on language games.
‘Words must have a verifiable connection to empirical reality to be meaningful’ – Do you agree?
Assess Flew’s views on religious language
Critically compare Aquinas’ cognitivism with Wittgenstein’s non-cognitivism.
Is verificationism an accurate theory of meaning?
Is religious language non-cognitive?
‘Hare’s account of religious language is correct’ – Assess this view
Assess Mitchell’s contribution to the falsification symposium
Which was the most convincing point of view in the falsification symposium?
Is religious language a form of life?
To what extent is Aquinas’ analogical view of religious language valuable in the philosophy of religion.
Should non-cognitive approaches influence interpretation of religious texts?
Does natural law provide a helpful method of moral decision-making?
Assess Aquinas’s natural law ethics.
Can judging something as right or wrong be based on whether it achieves its telos?
Does human nature have an orientation towards the good?
‘Ethics can be derived from human nature’ – How far do you agree?
Assess Aquinas’ claim that there is a tier of natural law between human and divine
How ethical are the primary precepts?
Is the universe designed with a telos?
Does the doctrine of the double effect justify an action?
If human nature is sinful, can natural law theory work?
Is Aquinas’ account of the four tiers of law correct?
‘Situation ethics provides a helpful method of moral decision-making’ – How far do you agree?
Can judging something as right or wrong be based on the extent to which, in any given situation, agape is best served
Is Fletcher’s understanding of agape really religious?
Does Fletcher’s view of agape reduce to wanting the best for the person involved in a given situation rather than a religious view.
‘The rejection of absolute rules makes situation ethics entirely individualistic and subjective’ – Assess this view
Assess Fletcher’s six propositions
Assess Fletcher’s four working principles
Does Kantian ethics provide a helpful method of moral decision-making?
Can judging something as right of wrong be based on the extent to which duty is best served?
‘Moral decision-making without empathy and love is wrong’ – Assess this view
Are categorical imperatives our duty?
To what extent is Kantian ethics is too abstract to be applicable to practical moral decision-making?
Is Kant correct to base morality on reason?
Does utilitarianism provide a helpful method of moral decision-making?
Can moral judgement be based on the extent to which, in any given situation, utility is best served
Is it possible to measure good or pleasure and then reach a moral decision?
Assess act utilitarianism
Assess rule utilitarianism
Assess whether rule utilitarianism successfully improves act utilitarianism.
Critically compare act and rule utilitarianism
Assess whether natural law is helpful for dealing with the issue of euthanasia
Assess whether situation ethics is helpful for dealing with the issue of euthanasia
‘euthanasia can be the loving choice in some situations’ – assess this view
‘euthanasia goes against God’ – How far do you agree?
Can euthanasia ever be justified?
To what extent is euthanasia morally good?
Should a person have complete autonomy to choose euthanasia?
Is quality of life a basis on which euthanasia might be justified?
‘Life should never be ended because it is sacred’ – Assess this view
‘The religious concept of sanctity of life has no meaning in twenty-first century medical ethics’ – How far do you agree?
Critically compare sanctity of life with autonomy as principles for judging the issue of euthanasia
Is there a moral difference between active and passive euthanasia?
Critically compare the morality of voluntary with non-voluntary euthanasia
How useful is utilitarianism in dealing with issues in business ethics?
Assess whether Kantian ethics applies successfully to business ethics
What does it take for business to be ethical?
Does the principle of utility lead to ethical business?
‘the categorical imperative leads to ethical business’ – Assess this view
Is Corporate social responsibility just ‘hypocritical window-dressing covering the greedy profit motive of business.
Can human beings flourish in the context of capitalism and consumerism?
Assess whether corporate social responsibility makes business ethical
To what extent is whistle-blowing ethical?
Assess whether globalisation encourages or discourages the pursuit of good ethics as the foundation of good business.
Is good ethics good business?
Should whistle-blowing be considered good ethical business practice?
Assess whether ethical terms such as good and bad have an objective factual basis that makes them true or false in describing something.
Do ‘good’ and ‘bad’ reflect only what is in the mind of the speaker?
Is the word ‘good’ meaningless?
‘Ethical naturalism is true’ – Assess this view
Does common sense suggest that people just know within themselves what is good and bad?
Critically compare relativism with absolutism
Critically compare Aquinas and Freud’s view of the conscience
Are the workings of God present in the conscience?
‘Freud makes more sense of the concept of guilt than Aquinas’ – Assess this view
Does a theological approach to conscience work better than a psychological approach?
Critically compare Aquinas and Freud’s views on the process of moral decision-making.
Does conscience exist at all or is it an umbrella term for culture, environment, genetics and education?
Is conscience merely an umbrella term for the psychological factors involved in moral decision making?
Are secular views on sexual ethics superior to traditional religious views?
‘Secular sexual ethics are an improvement on traditional religious views’ – How far do you agree?
Assess religious views on sexual ethics
How useful is natural law in dealing with issues in sexual ethics?
How useful is situation ethics in dealing with issues in sexual ethics?
How useful is Kantian ethics in dealing with issues in sexual ethics?
How useful is utilitarianism in dealing with issues in sexual ethics?
Do religious views on sexual ethics have a continuing role today?
Are normative theories useful for issues within sexual ethics?
Should sexual behaviour be entirely private or a matter of public norms and legislation?
Assess Aquinas’ on sexual ethics
Should sexual ethics be judged based on the loving thing to do in each situation?
How successful is the categorical imperative applied to sexual ethics?
‘Issues in sexual ethics should be judged based on the principle of utility’ – Assess this view
Can premarital sex ever be ethical?
Can extramarital sex ever be ethical?
Can homosexuality ever be ethical?
To what extent are traditional religious views on sexual ethics relevant today?
‘Developments in religious views on sexual ethics have had a significant impact’ – Assess this view
Have religious view on sexual ethics changed for the better?
Augustine on Human Nature
Are Augustine’s teachings on a historical Fall and Original Sin wrong?
Assess Augustine’s teaching on human nature
Are Augustine’s teachings on the historical Fall correct?
‘Augustine’s views on Original Sin are false’ – How far do you agree?
Is Augustine correct that humans can never be morally good?
Is Augustine’s view of human nature pessimistic or optimistic?
Is Original Sin the explanation of human sin and social corruption?
‘There is nothing we can do to deserve God’s grace’ – Assess this view
‘There is no distinctive human nature’ – Assess this view
Assess Augustine’s interpretation of Genesis
How convincing is Augustine’s view of God’s grace?
Death and the afterlife
Does God’s judgment take place immediately after death or at the end of time?
Is heaven the transformation and perfection of the whole of creation?
Is heaven a place/state/symbol
Is hell a place/state/symbol
Who goes to heaven?
Is purgatory a place/state/symbol
Is purgatory a state through which everyone goes?
Are heaven and hell eternal?
Assess limited election
‘Everyone goes to heaven’ – Assess this view
Is election unlimited?
Are all people called to salvation?
Is hell eternal?
Is heaven eternal?
What does the parable of the sheep and the goats suggest about the afterlife?
Knowledge of God’s existence
Can God be known through reason alone?
Is faith sufficient for belief in God?
Assess natural knowledge of God’s existence
Assess revealed knowledge of God’s existence
Assess whether the Fall completely removed all natural human knowledge of God
Is faith in God’s revelation in Jesus required to know God?
‘Human sin and finitude prevents natural knowledge of God’ – Assess this view
Can God be known through his creation?
Does God’s creation reveal his beauty, goodness, design and purpose?
Is natural knowledge of God the same as revealed knowledge?
Is belief in God’s existence sufficient to put one’s trust in him?
What is the human intellect capable by itself of discovering about God?
The person of Jesus Christ
Was Jesus only a teacher of wisdom?
Was Jesus more than a political liberator?
Was God’s relationship with Jesus very special or truly unique?
Did Jesus think he was divine?
Does Jesus’ resurrection show that Jesus was the Son of God?
“Jesus’ miracles show that he was divine” – assess this view.
“Jesus’ is most defined by his challenge to political authority” – evaluate this view.
Christian moral principles
Is the principle of love sufficient to live a good life?
Is the Bible a comprehensive moral guide?
Are Christian ethics personal or communal?
Does the Bible reveal God’s will?
‘Christian ethics should combine the Bible, Church and reason’ – How far do you agree?
What is the implication for Christian ethics of Jesus’ command to love?
Are Christian ethics distinctive?
Christian moral action
Does Bonhoeffer put too much emphasis on suffering?
Assess Bonhoeffer’s teaching on the relationship of Church and State
‘Bonhoeffer’s views on the cost of discipleship are too extreme’ – How far do you agree?
Is it possible always to know God’s will?
How relevant is Bonhoeffer’s theology today?
Should Christians practise civil disobedience?
Assess Bonhoeffer’s views on the role of the Church.
Religious pluralism and theology
‘Pluralism is true’ – Do you agree?
If Christ is the ‘truth’ can there be any other means of salvation?
‘All good people will be saved’ – Assess this view
Are there multiple equal paths to salvation?
Is Christianity the one path or merely one path to salvation?
‘Christianity fully offers the means of salvation’ – How far do you agree?
Does theological pluralism undermine central Christian beliefs?
Would a loving God ultimately deny any human being salvation?
Is Christianity the normative means of salvation?
“The doctrine of anonymous Christians is false’ – How far do you agree?
Religious pluralism and society
Has inter-faith dialogue contributed practically towards social cohesion?
Assess the methods and aims of the scriptural reasoning movement
Should Christian communities seek to convert people from other faiths?
Should Christians have a mission to those of no faith?
Does mutual study and interpretation of different religions’ sacred literature benefit society?
‘Scriptural reasoning relativizes religious belief’ – Assess this view
How should Christians respond to inter-faith dialogue?
What is the best way to develop contemporary multi-faith societies?
Have Christian communities responded well to the challenge of encounters with other faiths?
How might understanding of different and conflicting religious truth claims be promoted?
Gender and society
Should official Christian teaching resist current secular views of gender?
Have secular views of gender equality undermined Christian gender roles?
Assess Christian teaching on the roles of men and women in the family and society.
How successful have Christian responses to secular views about gender been?
Is motherhood liberating or restricting?
‘Christian teaching on the gender roles in the family and society is sexist’ – How far do you agree?
‘Traditional Christian views on gender roles are more successful than secular views’ – Assess this view
Is the idea of family entirely culturally determined?
Has Christianity successfully adapted to changing views on family and gender?
Gender and theology
Is Christianity essentially sexist?
‘A male saviour cannot save women’ – How far do you agree?
Critically compare Reuther and Daly’s feminist theologies
Critically compare Reuther and Daly’s attitude towards Christianity
Is Reuther or Daly more convincing regarding sexism and patriarchy in Christianity
‘Only women can develop a genuine spirituality’- Assess this view
Can the Christian God be presented in female terms?
‘if God is male then the male is God’ – Assess this view.
Is Reuther or Daly more convincing regarding sexism and patriarchy in mainstream Churches
Critically compare Reuther and Daly’s views on the maleness of Christ and God.
The Challenge of Secularism
Does Christianity cause personal and social problems?
Should Christianity be a significant contributor to society’s culture and values?
‘Christianity is infantile, repressive and causes conflict’ – How far do you agree?
Are spiritual values just human values?
If we get rid of religion will there be no basis for morality?
‘Christianity significantly defines today’s culture and values’ – How far do you agree?
Would society be happier without Christianity?
Is Christianity the result of wish fulfilment?
Can Christianity learn and develop from secularism?
Assess the views and goals of secular humanism
Is Christian belief a personal or public matter?
‘Christianity has no place in education or schools’ – Assess this view
‘Society has improved because religion was divorced from political power’ – How far do you agree?
Liberation Theology and Marx
Should Christian theology engage with atheist secular ideologies?
Is it right for Christians to prioritise one group over another?
‘Christians have nothing to learn from Marx’ – How far do you agree?
Should Christians have a preferential option for the poor?
Does Christianity tackle social issues more effectively than Marxism?
How appropriate is liberation theology’s use of Marx to analyse social sin?
Should the Church concern itself with ‘structural’ causes of social sin?
‘The Gospel demands that Christians must give priority to the poor’ – Assess this view
‘Christianity has nothing to say about capitalism’ – Assess this view
Has liberation theology engaged with Marxism fully enough?
Should orthopraxis occur before orthodoxy?