This course intends to help the student to understand religious belief as a dimension of human experience and to evaluate various philosophical approaches to explain or define such experience.
1) Evaluate traditional and contemporary arguments in philosophy of religion.
2) Develop the ability to use philosophical language.
3) Distinguish religious claims from mythological and scientific claims.
4) Develop the basic skills of critical analysis.
STUDENT REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE
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 all 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 fouroptional extra credit assignments will be given during the semester. Each will be worth 25 points and may 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.
Each exam will count as 25% of the final grade; class participation and preparation will count as 25% 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 Monday, November 14. Note: The College Midterm Date is Thursday, October 27. Finally, students are strongly encouraged to visit the Writing Center before handing in any out-of-class assignments.
DUE DATES: (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 missed information.)
NO SCHOOL: Monday, Sept.5; Tuesday Sept.20; Thursday, Sept. 29; Wed-Thurs, Nov. 23-24; On Monday, Dec.19. Friday classes meet; On Tuesday, Dec. 20, Thursday classes meet.
EXAM I: Tuesday, Oct. 18
EXAM II: Thursday, Nov. 17
EXAM III: Thursday, Dec. 15
OUTSIDE EXTRA CREDITS (THOSE NOT ONLINE) ARE DUE ON OR BEFORE THURSDAY, DEC. 1.
Weeks 1 - 2 Introduction
Terms and definitions given in class.
Chapter 1 - pp. 1-21
ONLINE: “Catholicism and Mysticism Don’t Mix”
Weeks 3 - 8 Topic I - The Nature and Existence of God
Chapter 1 - pp. 21 - 24: The Nature of God; ONLINE: Aquinas; Boethius; Mackie
Chapter 5 - pp. 104-107: Proofs, in General; ONLINE: “The God Squad”
Chapter 2 - pp. 25-43: The Ontological Argument
Chapter 3 - pp. 45-54, 58-64: The Cosmological Argument
Chapter 4 - pp. 69-75, 84-88: The Teleological Argument
Chapter 5 - pp. 89-98, Handout: The Moral Argument; ONLINE: “The Moral Argument, Pro and Con”
Chapter 7 - pp. 143-148: The Pragmatic Argument
Chapter 6 - pp. 107-128: The Religious Experience Argument