This course is an introduction to the critical, comparative study of religion. The student will be introduced to the responses offered by the major Western and non-Western religions to perennial problems of human life. Major topics include: characterization of the religious vs. the secular point of view; arguments in favor of the religious stance; arguments in opposition to the religious stance; the relationship of religion to science, ethics, and philosophy; the nature and validity of religious knowledge; the beliefs of major world religions and how these beliefs are expressed; how different religious beliefs affect the culture and history of European, Arabic, African, Native American, and Asian peoples.
Department recommends eligibility for English 1A.
No department requirement. This is standard college class, so there are many acceptable texts and other instructional materials.
I. THE NATURE OF RELIGION 2 weeks The common characteristics of world religions.The relationship of religion to philosophy, art, and science. How philosophy and religion sometimes attempt to deal with the same questions.The possibility of religion apart from "organized religion". II. RELIGIOUS QUESTIONS AND THE ANSWERS 12 weeks PRESENTED BY THE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS. (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, African and Native American religions and others as warranted by instructor preference and class interests) What are the views of the various religions on matters of creation and eschatology? What do people of various religions mean by "salvation"?How do various religions handle the question of life after death?How do various religions approach the relationship between religious beliefs and the conduct of life?How do various religions deal with the problem of evil and suffering?What forms of religious expression (myths, rituals, artifacts, prayers, sacerdotal order, etc.) are characteristic of the various religions?How do the various religions deal with women?How have the various religions influenced the cultures in which they arose? III. PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT RELIGION 4 weeks The mind-body problem Is there such a thing as religious "knowledge"? How to interpret religious discourse. Questions of evidence, confirmability, and meaningfulness.Is faith opposed to reason?The nature and verifiability of religious experienceMarxist, existentialist, psychoanalytic critiques of religion
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.
EvaluationIn 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. |||