PHI 212: Philosophy of Religion
Meeting time and place: MW 3:30-4:50pm, Baldy 101
Instructor: James Beebe, Ph.D.
Office: 118 Park Hall
Office phone: 645-0153
Office hours: MW 1:30-3:00
Mailbox: 138 Park Hall
Email address: beebejames(at)yahoo.com
This course will cover a variety of traditional philosophical questions concerning the nature and existence of God. Questions to be covered include: Can the existence of God be proven? If God exists, why isn’t his existence more obvious? Does the existence of evil and suffering make it irrational to believe in God? Does science discredit religion? Is it reasonable to believe that only one religion is true? Could a perfectly loving God ever sentence anyone to eternal damnation? Can religious experience provide one with evidence that God exists? What is the relationship between religion and ethics? What is the nature of omniscience, omnipotence and divine eternality? This course presupposes no prior background in philosophy.
1. To introduce students to the central areas of debate in the philosophy of religion.
2. To introduce students to some of the basic issues and methods of philosophy.
3. To develop students’ analytic reasoning and debating skills.
Texts: Michael L. Peterson & Raymond J. VanArragon (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion (Blackwell, 2004)
William E. Mann (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Religion (Blackwell, 2005)
Short Paper 8%
Argumentative Research Paper 15%
Exams 69% (23% each)
Class Participation 8%
93-100 A 80-82 B- 68-69 D+
90-92 A- 78-79 C+ 60-67 D
88-89 B+ 73-77 C 59 and below F
83-87 B 70-72 C-
Facts About Short Paper:
1. The short paper must be at least 3 typed, double-spaced pages, with 1" margins.
2. The paper will not involve the gathering of any research materials or outside sources. It will simply require reflection upon our weekly reading assignments. I will assign the topic for the paper ahead of time.
Facts About Argumentative Research Paper:
1. The research paper must be between 8 and 10 typed, double-spaced pages, with 1" margins.
2. You will need to pick a topic within the philosophy of religion, investigate it in some depth, formulate a clear thesis for which to argue, and defend that thesis.
Facts About Exams:
The exams will consist primarily of essay questions. They will require you to understand the reading assignments and to be able to critique the positions advanced in it.
Facts About Class Participation:
1. Your class participation grade will not be a free gift. It must be earned.
2. I do not want to lecture all the time. I want to discuss these interesting issues with you.
Further Course Guidelines:
1. Attendance policy: You must attend at least 70% of the class meetings in order to pass this course.
2. You are responsible for any information I send you by email.
3. Students are expected to be honest in their academic work.
Part I: Challenges to Religious Belief
Aug. 25th Introduction to Course
Aug. 27th Derk Pereboom, “The Problem of Evil” (BG)
Suggested Further Reading: James R. Beebe, “The Logical Problem of Evil,” in Jim Fieser & Bradley Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2006) (http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/evil-log.htm)
Sept. 1st Labor Day Holiday
Sept. 3rd William L. Rowe, “Evil is Evidence Against Theistic Belief” (CD)
Suggested Further Reading: Nick Trakakis, “The Evidential Problem of Evil,” in Jim Fieser & Bradley Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2006) (http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/evil-evi.htm)
Sept. 8th Daniel Howard-Snyder & Michael Bergmann, “Evil Does Not Make Atheism More Reasonable than Theism” (CD)
Sept. 10th J. L. Schellenberg, “Divine Hiddenness Justifies Atheism” (CD)
Sept. 15th Paul K. Moser, “Divine Hiddenness Does Not Justify Atheism” (CD)
Sept. 17th Short Paper Due
Philip Kitcher, “The Many-Sided Conflict Between Science and Religion” (BG)
Suggested Further Reading: Alvin Plantinga, “Religion and Science,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2007) (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/religion-science)
Sept. 22nd John Worrall, “Science Discredits Religion” (CD)
Sept. 24th Del Ratzsch, “The Demise of Religion: Greatly Exaggerated Reports from the
Science/Religion ‘Wars’” (CD)
Sept. 29th Exam I
Part II: Arguments in Support of Religious Belief
Oct. 1st William L. Rowe, “Cosmological Arguments” (BG)
Oct. 6th Bruce R. Reichenbach, “Explanation and the Cosmological Argument” (CD)
Oct. 8th Richard M. Gale, “Why Traditional Cosmological Arguments Don’t Work, and a Sketch of a New One that Does” (CD)
Oct. 13th Robin Collins, “God, Design, and Fine-Tuning”
Oct. 15th Elliott Sober, “The Design Argument” (BG)
Oct. 20th William P. Alston, “Religious Experience Justifies Religious Belief” (CD)
Suggested Further Reading: William P. Alston, “Mysticism and Perceptual Awareness of God” (BG)
Oct. 22nd Evan Fales, “Do Mystics See God?” (CD)
Part III: Philosophical Theology
Oct. 27th Hugh J. McCann, “Divine Power and Action” (BG)
Oct. 29th Exam II
Nov. 3rd Brian Leftow, “Eternity and Immutability” (BG)
Nov. 5th Keith E. Yandell, “How to Sink in Cognitive Quicksand: Nuancing Religious Pluralism” (CD)
Suggested Further Reading: William J. Wainwright, “Competing Religious Claims” (BG)
Nov. 10th Peter Byrne, “It Is Not Reasonable to Believe that Only One Religion Is True” (CD)
Nov. 12th Jerry Walls, “Eternal Hell and the Christian Concept of God” (CD)
Nov. 17th Thomas Talbott, “No Hell” (CD)
Nov. 19th Research Paper Due
Janine Marie Idziak, “Divine Commands Are the Foundation of Morality” (CD)
Suggested Further Reading: William E. Mann, “Theism and the Foundation of Ethics” (BG)
Nov. 24th Craig A. Boyd & Raymond J. VanArragon, “Ethics Is Based on Natural Law” (CD)
Nov. 26th Thanksgiving Holiday
Dec. 1st Review for Exam III
Dec. 3rd Exam III
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