Philosophy of Religion

In this course, we look at the most important classical problems in the Philosophy of Religion, from both a historical and a contemporary perspective. We consider whether we can meaningfully talk about God; how to think about religious belief in general; about whether God exists, and if so, what characteristics God may have. We will also look at the problem of evil, some issues is religious practices, and the connection (if any) between religion and morality.

Current syllabus

Earlier Semesters

2023 Spring syllabus; course site (with slides, etc.)

Assignments, 2024 Spring

Formative paper

Summative paper – BA

Summative paper – MA

Class Schedule, 2024 Spring

Date Topic Readings
15/01 Introduction; how to talk about God
Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, chs. 52–58
Swinburne, The Coherence of Theism, ch. 2
22/01 Religious belief
Clifford, "The Ethics of Belief"
William James, "The Will to Believe"
29/01 Arguments for God's existence 1: The ontological argument
Anselm, Proslogion, chs. 1–5
Gaunilo's reply to Anselm's argument
05/02 Arguments for God's existence 2: The cosmological argument
Aquinas, Summa theologiae I.2.3
Rowe, "The Cosmological Argument"
12/02 No arguments? Wager!
Pascal, Pensées, 233
Martin, "Pascal's Wager as an Argument for Not Believing in God"
19/02 Reading week (No class)
26/02 Divine omniscience and human freedom
Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, V
Pike, "Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action"
04/03 Creation, East and West
Aquinas, Summa theologiae I.45.1-2
Sim, "The Question of Being, Non-Being and 'Creation ex Nihilo' in Chinese Philosophy"
11/03 God and Evil
Mackie, "Evil and Omnipotence"
Stump, "The Problem of Evil: Analytic Philosophy and Narrative"
18/03 Religious practice and mysticism
Marguerite of Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls 131–138
Van Dyke, Hidden Wisdom, ch. 1
25/03 Religion and morality
Kant, Critique of Practical Reason V–VIII
Nielsen, "Ethics without Religion"