Phl 215, philosophy of religion sandra Emmachild, Professor of Philosophy Fall, 2009 Office Hours

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PHL 215, PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION Sandra Emmachild, Professor of Philosophy

Fall, 2009 Office Hours (Southampton 120):

(#91590) Monday 11-12

Phone: 451-4093; 451-4860 Tuesday 9:30-10:30

E-Mail: Wednesday 3:15-4:15

E-Mail Hours: Tuesday, 8-9 p.m. Thursday 9:30-10:30

Other Hours by Appointment.

REQUIRED TEXT: God and Reason, Miller (2nd Ed.)

Additional Required Readings Online.


This course intends to help the student to 1)understand religious belief as a dimension of human experience;

2)evaluate various philosophical approaches to explain or define such experience; 3)develop critical analysis skills.


1) Examinations: There will be three exams in the course, consisting of both objective (true/false) and essay

questions. The exams will be based on both the readings and the class discussions. In most cases, students

will have some choice in answering questions. Exams are not comprehensive; that is, each exam will contain only the topics assigned for that exam and will not refer back to material covered on prior exams. Absolutely no makeups are permitted. (See “Extra Credit.”)

2) Class Work: All students are expected to keep up with the readings on a daily basis and to contribute to the

class discussions. To that end, students should expect to be called upon and graded regarding both the assigned readings and the class discussions. Students who are unprepared for class will have their final grade lowered; severe unpreparedness may result in failure or dismissal from the course. Preparedness means: 1)The student brings the book(s) to class daily; 2)The student can answer questions without referring to the text or to notes; 3)The student volunteers to answer questions about the content of the reading material; 4)The student presents any in-class assignments on time. Further, students are responsible for obtaining any information and announcements given in class, even if absent. Finally, films, videos or guest speakers may take place during class time. Students are responsible for attending such events.

3) Attendance: Students are permitted two excused absences. Those who exceed this limit may be subject to a decrease in their grade for the course; and in the case of excessive absences, students may be removed from the course. In addition, leaving class early or arriving late, without prior permission, may be regarded as an absence. Finally, students who fail to sign in on attendance forms are presumed absent that day and may not sign in at a later time.

4) Extra Credit: At least four optional extra credit assignments will be given during the semester. Each will be worth 25 points and my be used either as extra credit or to substitute for a missed exam. A student who misses an exam and has not done extra credit will not be given any additional extra credit. Since extra credit is used in many ways, it is each student’s responsibility to discuss with me how her/his extra credit will be used. In no case is extra credit simply “added on” to a grade. It is used primarily to substitute for a missed exam or to “boost” a grade at the end of the semester. In general, students will receive between 1/4 and 3/4 of the points received on an extra credit–rarely does a student receive the full points. Note that regardless of how many extra credit assignments are given, no student may do more than four assignments during the semester. FINALLY, ANY OUTSIDE WORK, INCLUDING EXTRA CREDIT, WHICH IS NOT HANDED IN DURING THE CLASS IN WHICH IT IS DUE, MUST BE DATED AND SIGNED BY A STAFF MEMBER TO SHOW THAT IT WAS HANDED IN ON THE DUE DATE. OTHERWISE, THE WORK WILL BE LATE AND THEREFORE UNACCEPTABLE. NOTE: EXTRA CREDIT ASSIGNMENTS MAY NOT BE EMAILED.


Each exam will count as 30% of the final grade; class participation and preparation will count as 10% of the final grade, although a grade may be jeopardized more severely in some cases (see “Class Work”). In addition, extra credit, absences, lateness and class behavior may affect the final grade, particularly in the case of borderline grades. Note that while being in class regularly and on time will not enhance a grade (these are minimum requirements for remaining in good standing in the course), failure to do so will result in a lower grade. Food and drinks may not be consumed during class time; nor may work for other classes or work due for this class be done during class time. In addition, students may not copy notes from a missed class during class time. And, all beepers, pagers and cell phones must be shut off during class. These and other disruptive or inconsiderate behaviors may affect the grade and/or result in dismissal from the course. Also, no student may receive a “W” after Tuesday, November 24. NOTE: THE COLLEGE MIDTERM DATE IS MON., OCTOBER 21. Finally, students are strongly encouraged to visit the Writing Center before handing in any out-of-class assignments. Some spelling and grammar errors (to be discussed in class) will affect the grade.

DUE DATES: (These days may change, depending on the progress of the class and other circumstances. Students are responsible for keeping up with any changes announced in class, whether present or not. Please make a contact from the class to inquire about any missed information.)

NO SCHOOL: Monday, Sept. 7; Tuesday, Sept.15; Monday, Sept. 28; Wednesday, Nov. 11; Nov. 25-28

EXAM I: Tuesday, Oct. 20

EXAM II: Thursday, Nov. 19

EXAM III: Thursday, Dec. 17

Weeks 1 - 2 Introduction

Terms and definitions given in class.

Chapter 1 - pp. 1-21; “Catholicism and Mysticism Don’t Mix” (ONLINE)

Weeks 3 - 8 Topic I - The Nature and Existence of God

Chapter 1 - pp. 21 - 24: The Nature of God; Aquinas, Boethius, Mackie (ONLINE)

Chapter 5 - pp. 104-107: Proofs, in general; “The God Squad” (ONLINE)

Chapter 2 - pp. 25-43: The Ontological Argument

Chapter 3 - pp. 45-54, 58-64: The Cosmological Argument; Aquinas (ONLINE)

Chapter 4 - pp. 69-75, 84-88: The Teleological Argument

Chapter 5 - pp. 89-98, “ The Moral Argument, Pro and Con” (ONLINE)

Chapter 7 - pp. 143-148: The Pragmatic Argument

Chapter 6 - pp. 107-128: The Religious Experience Argument
Weeks 9 - 10 Topic II - The Problem of Evil

Chapter 8 - pp. 155 - 185

“Little Bessie,” Twain; Selections from The Book of Job; “The Buddhist View of Suffering” (ONLINE)
Weeks 11 - 12 Topic III - Faith v. Reason; Miracles; Science v. Religion

Chapter 7 - pp. 129 - 153 (omit pp. 143-151); Mackie, Gould, Dawkins, “Religion & Science” (ONLINE)

Weeks 13 - 14 Topic IV - Immortality and Life After Death

Chapter 9 - pp. 187 - 211; Badham, Swinburne, Aurobindo (ONLINE)

Weeks 15 - 17 Topic V - Contemporary Theologies

Black Theology, Cone (ONLINE)

Feminist Theology, Daly, Reuther (ONLINE)

Process Theology, Cobb (ONLINE)

Death of God Theology (ONLINE)

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