Philosophy 410, Philosophy of Religion, Spring 2010
MWF 10:00-10:50 AM, Sale Hall ______
Instructor: Dr. Nathan Nobis; email@example.com
Office hours: MWF 2-3 PM and by appoin
Course blog: http://philosophy410.blogspot.com
Email announcement group: http://groups.google.com/group/morehouse-philosophy-of-religion/
Examination of philosophical questions involved in religion and religious beliefs. Prerequisite: PHI 201 or consent of the instructor.
Extended course description:
Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience, the author claims that:
While religion has been at the center of the African-American experience, substantive philosophical questions and issues about theodicy, the epistemological nature of religious beliefs, and even creationism have been avoided.
“epistemological nature” of religious beliefs, i.e., seek to understand whether religious beliefs – theistic and Christian beliefs, in particular – are supported by strong evidence, good reasons and sound arguments or not. We will evaluate “theodicies,” attempts to explain what (if anything) might justify an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good being in permitting certain kinds of evil, especially the evils of racism, slavery, lynchings, and discrimination: we will read many African American thinkers who address this issue and evaluate arguments for the view that the existence of evils like these give good reason to believe that God does not exist. We will discuss many other philosophical issues that arise from religious belief and practice, such as the existence of hell, the nature of reason and faith, surviving death, and how we should respond to religious diversity and disagreements, whether religious belief is “important” in various senses, and many other issues.
Throughout the course our main methods involve (A) getting very clear on what exact claims we are evaluating (e.g., what is meant by ‘God’?) and (B) patiently, carefully and thoroughly finding and evaluating the reasons given for and against the claim in question (as well as the reasons that might be given in response to those reasons). Philosophy courses require questioning assumptions, seeking reasons and evidence and demand intellectual responsibility, i.e., being careful with what you believe because you wish to believe the truth and effectively pursue it, even if this requires changing your own beliefs. This course offers the opportunity to develop these intellectual skills in identifying and evaluating arguments and cultivating an intellectually virtuous outlook based in the requirement for good reasons for belief and action that can be beneficial for everything you do and who you are.
Three required texts, all of which are available used, cheaper online (e.g., at Amazon, Abebooks.com, etc.):
1. A Thinker's Guide to the Philosophy of Religion, Allen S
2. Why Lord? Suffering and Evil in Black Theology, by An
3. A Rulebook for Arguments, by An
tional, bu t no t ordered by books tore: Is God a Whi te Racis t? A Preamble to Black Theology, 2nd ed., by William R. Jones (Beacon 1997).
To succeed in this class, you must be disciplined: are responsible to understand and meet the requirements outlined below and discussed in class:
t tendance: Always come to class, as policy requires. Sign Morehouse College the role shee t: if i tis no tpassed to you, then you need to find i t. An absence is excused only if you ge t the ins truc tor an official Morehouse excuse in wri ting tha the can keep.
tuali ty: Come to class on time. La teness will be penalized on your final grade.
tion: Bring all your books, handou ts and o ther ma terials – including ma terials tha tyou mus tprin toff from the in terne t– and have them ou ton your desk and ready to discuss a t the beginning of class.
- Students who do not bring their materials may be asked to leave, as they are not prepared for class.
the Reading: For every hour spen tin class, spend a tleas t two hours doing the reading and wri ting ou tlines, paraphrases &/or summaries of the readings.
tion for engaged, produc tion discussion, no tpassive lec tures: is a liberal arts college, not a university. Classes are small and thus we are able to discuss issues and arguments and have a more interactive learning environment. The instructor, therefore, will rarely “lecture” in any traditional sense, since lecturing encourages student passivity, disengagement, and not doing the reading. Morehouse College
- For a cri
tique of the educa tional value of lec turing see, “To Lec ture or No t to Lec ture, an Age-Old Ques tion” a thttp://www.morehouse.edu/news/archives/001176.html
- Honesty: Any plagiarism or cheating on any assignment – including any extra credit assignments – will immediately result in failing the course: no exceptions, no excuses.
- “Help me help you”:
- The instructor should be informed of medical, family, or other problems that necessitate missing class or that interfere with your work. In addition, students are encouraged to visit with the instructor during his office hours if they are having difficulty reading or understanding the materials presented in class. If you ever have any questions about anything, please just ask!
Assignments and grading:
1. Weekly wri
2. Two Exams:
Either in class or take-home. All of lecture, discussion and reading content is testable. Study guides will be available with possible questions for each exam to help focus your studying. Exams will mostly be short answer and short essay questions. No electronic devices can be used or accessed during tests, nor can you have any books, bags, notes or hats near your desk: all such materials must be left at the front of the room. You are not permitted to leave the classroom and return to keep working on the test, so please plan accordingly (e.g., visit the restroom before the test).
This provides an oppor
Note: A syllabus is not a contract, but rather a guide to course procedures. The instructor reserves the right to alter the course requirements and/or assignments based on new materials, class discussions, or other legitimate pedagogical objectives.
· ONLINE ARTICLE or HANDOUT: Allen Stairs, “A Right To Be Wrong?” http://brindedcow.umd.edu/philosophy/opinions.html
- HANDOUT: The E
thics of Belief , ,
- ONLINE ARTICLE or HANDOUT: William Lane Craig, "God Is No
tDead Ye t: How curren tphilosophers argue for his exis tence," Chris tiani ty Today, July 2008. A thttp://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/july/13.22.html