Philosophy 22

Philosophy of Religion

Title and Number of Course
Philosophy 22, Philosophy of Religion, 3 units

Catalog Description
What is the relation between faith and reason? Does God exist, and if so, what (if anything) can be said about God? Can we reconcile the goodness of God with human and animal suffering? What human experiences (if any) are religious experiences? Religions provide answer to these and many other fundamental questions. In Philosophy 22, we conduct a systematic inquiry into the philosophical foundations of the religious viewpoint.

Recommend eligibility for English 1A

No department requirement, but suggest texts that use primary source reading whenever possible.

Course Objectives
Upon completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. Define philosophical terms central to the study of Philosophy of Religion

  2. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the different concepts of God. outlined in the class, and of the implications of these for our understanding of God’s interaction with the world. (For example, the student should be able to explain how the God of the Cosmological Argument is different from the God of Christianity.)

  3. Explain key arguments of selected scholars concerning existence and non-existence of God, faith and reason, and theodicy.

  4. Assess the arguments of scholars in each of the areas studied.


Course Content

I. Introduction: The nature of Philosophy and the rational methods we use

II. Arguments for God's Existence
Divine Attributes
The Ontological Argument in Anselm and Descartes
The Cosmological Arguments in Aquinas
The Design Argument in Aquinas and Paley
Major Criticisms of Theist Arguments (Hume, Darwin, Freud, Marx, post-modernism)

III. Faith and Reason
Introduction: Opinion, Belief and Knowledge
Belief and Falsification – Flew, Hare, and Mitchell
Faith as Ultimate Concern – Paul Tillich
Will and Belief – William James
Reformed Epistemology – Plantinga

IV. The Problem of Evil
Stating the Problem (Mackie)
Responses to the Problem of Evil
Karma and Evil
Process Theology and Omnipotence

V. God, Language, and Religious Experience
Verification of Religious Language
Models for Theological Discourse
The Metaphorical Use of Language
The Role of Religious Experience
Mystical Experience
The Experience of the Holy (Rudolf Otto)
I and Thou  (Martin Buber)
Intuition and Intellect (Radhakrishnan)

VI. Religion and the Meaning of Life
Life's Goal is to Obey God's Will  (Paley)
Life's Goal is to Achieve Greatness (Nietzsche)
More on Nietzsche and Existentialism
To Know God is to Live  (Tolstoy)
A World Without God (Kolenda)

General Requirements
Completion of required reading and final exam. Other requirements are determined by instructor; these may include completion of one or more papers, other written exams, journal assignments, participation in class discussion, class attendance, etc.

In accordance with Title V regulations, there must be at least one substantial (greater than one paragraph) writing assignment. Generally, evaluation is based primarily on written papers and essay examinations.

Suggested Instructional Methods and Materials
Primarily lecture and discussion. This can be supplemented by films, videos, oral reports, guest speakers, class debates, etc., as deemed appropriate and desirable by the individual instructor. It is suggested that readings include primary source material. Multicultural topics should be introduced where appropriate.

Questions regarding this course? Email the instructor.




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