Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

Revised 1-22-01

 

Department Program: Philosophy Department

Course Number: 270

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Philosophy of Religion

Catalog Description:

270 - Philosophy of Religion - 3 S.H.

Topics will include: Arguments for and against the existence of God; the nature of religious belief, miracles, religious language, faith, and reason; as well as Freudian, Existentialist, and Postmodern approaches to religion. This course also briefly reviews the historical and theological background of the main Western religions. Offered as appropriate.

This is a new course proposal.

 

Department Contact Person for this course: Ed Slowik

 

Email: eslowik@winona.edu

 

Arts & Sciences Core—Humanities

 

 

 

 

PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

PHIL 270

University Studies—Humanities

 

 

The purpose of Humanities...to provide a framework for understanding the nature and scope of human experience. Humanities courses explore the search for meaning and value in human life....

Philosophy of Religion is an in-depth examination of various philosophical issues in the study of religion, particularly as religion is understood and practiced in the Western world. This course introduces students to fundamental questions concerning the relationship between religion and metaphysics (which studies the nature of existence and reality), epistemology (the study of knowledge), and morality. Besides studying positions that have been taken on these issues, the student is also taught the methods by which philosophers of religion investigate these problems and concepts.

 

 

These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

 

1. Identify and understand specific elements and assumptions of a particular Humanities discipline.

The main areas of study in Philosophy of Religion are listed above, but the main emphasis in the course will be on the following issues: arguments for the existence of God, arguments against the existence of God, the nature of religious belief, miracles, religious language, faith and reason, as well as Freudian, Existentialist, and Postmodern approaches to religion. The course also presents the historical and theological background of the main Western religions. All topics covered are in the Humanities discipline.

 

 

2. Understand how historical context, cultural values, and gender influences perceptions and interpretations.

A major focus in Philosophy of Religion is the influence of history, culture, and gender in the interpretation and experience of religion. In particular, the manner by which religious beliefs are expressed within the context of specific cultural beliefs and values forms a major component of the course, and applies to all topics. For example: How does culture influence, or determine, the specific concept of a supernatural being accepted in a religion?

 

 

3. Understand the role of critical analysis in interpreting and evaluating expressions of human experience.

Philosophy of Religion is devoted to the critical analysis of concepts and issues pertaining to all aspects of religious experience, which, moreover, is a particularly human experience. Accordingly, the very foundation and rationale for Philosophy of Religion is the interpretation and evaluation of religion from the standpoint of critical analysis. For example: Does faith need a justification in reason or is an autonomous domain? Critical analysis is thus applied to all topics in the course.

 

 

PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

PHIL 270

Curriculum, Outcomes, Policies, and Requirements

University Studies—Humanities

 

Sample Syllabus

 

 

 

 

Instructor: Ed Slowik/325 Minne Hall/Office phone: 457-5663

 

Office Hours: MWF 10:00-11:00 AM, and 3:00-4:00 PM, and by appointment.

 

Texts:

Philosophy of Religion, 2nd ed., W. Rowe (Wadsworth)

 

God, T. Robinson, ed. (Hackett)

 

Seven Theories of Religion, D. Pals (Oxford)

 

Course Objectives:

This course will cover a wide range of issues in the philosophy of religion, mainly through contemporary readings, but also through various texts with great historical interest. Topics will include: arguments for the existence of God, arguments against the existence of God, the nature of religious belief, miracles, religious language, faith and reason, as well as Freudian, Existentialist, and Postmodern approaches to religion. We will also briefly review the historical and theological background of the main Western religions.

 

Course Requirements:

One in-class midterm (25%), in-class final (25%), a bibliography and outline of the term paper (10%), term paper (30%), and class participation and attendance (10%). The paper is 10-15 pages double-spaced, on a topic checked with the instructor. The due dates of the exams, paper, and bibliography, are provided below. Although not required, I strongly encourage that you give me rough drafts of your paper, since it will greatly increase the chances of getting a good grade. The midterm and final are of the multiple-choice, true/false, and short answer or essay type. The tests will mainly cover the notes I give in class (which are based on the readings), so it is important to show up each day!

 

Schedule:

I hope we can get through all of the chapters I have listed below, but I don't want to force the pace.

Week 1: Introduction; history of religion, Rowe, chap. 1; Robinson, #3.

Week 2: Rowe, chap. 1 & 2; Robinson, #2, 4, 6, 7, 8.

Week 3: Rowe, chap. 2 & 3; Robinson, #1.

Week 4: Rowe, chap. 3 & 4; Robinson, #5.

Week 5: Rowe, chap. 4 & 5; Robinson, #14, 23, 24.

Week 6: Rowe, chap. 5 & 6; Robinson, #9, 10, 11, 12.

Week 7: Rowe, chap. 6 & 7.

Week 8: Rowe, chap. 9, review, Midterm.

Week 9: Rowe, chap. 10, 11, 12; Robinson, #13, 15, 16, 17.

Week 10: Rowe, chap. 12, 13, 14.

Week 11: Robinson, #19, 21, 22.

Week 12: Pals, chap. 1 & 2; Rowe, chap. 8; Robinson, #20.

Week 13: Pals, chap. 2 & 3.

Week 14: Pals, chap. 4 & 5; Robinson, #17, 18; Bibliography due

Week 15: Pals, chap. 5 & 6.

Week 16: Pals, chap. 7, review.

 

 

Course Outline

I. The Idea of God

A. The Attributes of God

B. God and Morality

II. Arguments for God's Existence

A. The Ontological Argument

B. The Cosmological Argument

C. The Teleological Argument

D. The Argument from Religious Experience

III. Arguments Against God's Existence

A. The Problem of Evil

B. The Problem of Religious Language

C. Faith and Reason

D. The Problem of Many Religions

IV. Aspects of Religious Theories

A. Immortality

B. Miracles

C. Human Free Will

V. Theories of Religion

A. Tyler/Frazier

B. Feuerbach/Freud

C. Durkheim

D. Marx

E. Eliade

F. Pritchard/Geertz

G. Alternative Theistic Theories

 

 

All course activities and assignments simultaneously address all University Studies required course outcomes in Philosophy of Religion 270 in the following ways:

 

 

The purpose of Humanities...to provide a framework for understanding the nature and scope of human experience. Humanities courses explore the search for meaning and value in human life....

Philosophy of Religion is an in-depth examination of various philosophical issues in the study of religion, particularly as religion is understood and practiced in the Western world. This course introduces students to fundamental questions concerning the relationship between religion and metaphysics (which studies the nature of existence and reality), epistemology (the study of knowledge), and morality. Besides studying positions that have been taken on these issues, the student is also taught the methods by which philosophers of religion investigate these problems and concepts.

 

 

These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

 

1. Identify and understand specific elements and assumptions of a particular Humanities discipline.

The main areas of study in Philosophy of Religion are listed above, but the main emphasis in the course will be on the following issues: arguments for the existence of God, arguments against the existence of God, the nature of religious belief, miracles, religious language, faith and reason, as well as Freudian, Existentialist, and Postmodern approaches to religion. The course also presents the historical and theological background of the main Western religions. All topics covered are in the Humanities discipline.

 

 

2. Understand how historical context, cultural values, and gender influences perceptions and interpretations.

A major focus in Philosophy of Religion is the influence of history, culture, and gender in the interpretation and experience of religion. In particular, the manner by which religious beliefs are expressed within the context of specific cultural beliefs and values forms a major component of the course, and applies to all topics. For example: How does culture influence, or determine, the specific concept of a supernatural being accepted in a religion?

 

 

3. Understand the role of critical analysis in interpreting and evaluating expressions of human experience.

Philosophy of Religion is devoted to the critical analysis of concepts and issues pertaining to all aspects of religious experience, which, moreover, is a particularly human experience. Accordingly, the very foundation and rationale for Philosophy of Religion is the interpretation and evaluation of religion from the standpoint of critical analysis. For example: Does faith need a justification in reason or is an autonomous domain? Critical analysis is thus applied to all topics in the course.