WVC Philosophy 4

Patterns in Comparative Religion

Title and Number of Course
Philosophy 4, Patterns in Comparative Religion, 3 units

Catalog Description
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.

Course Objectives

  1. The student should be able to recognize and explicate the major beliefs of the major world religions and relate these beliefs to the culture and history of European, Arabic, African, Native American, and Asian peoples.
  2. The student should be able to compare and contrast his own religious tradition (if any) to other religions, and thereby acquire perspective on his own views in the context of world religions.
  3. The student should become familiar with the social role of religion in imposing and maintaining cultural values and patterns, sex roles, and class divisions, and thus the role of religion in contributing to ethnocentrism, racism, homophobia, political and cultural imperialism, and the oppression of women.
  4. The student should recognize the irrational and destructive nature of religious discrimination and religious prejudice.
  5. The student should be able to understand and appreciate a variety of religious views, and engage in knowledgeable dialogue with persons of different religious traditions.
  6. The student should begin to be able to formulate and/or clarify his own interpretation of religious questions.

Course Content

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

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.

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. |||


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