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 how thinkers thought about religious belief in general; about whether we can meaningfully talk about God; about whether God exists, and if so, what characteristics God may have. We will also look at the problem of evil and the connection (if any) between religion and morality.

2023 Spring syllabus – BA
2023 Spring syllabus – MA

Assignments, 2023 Spring

Class Schedule, 2023 Spring

Date Topic Readings
17/01 Introduction; how to talk about God
Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, chs. 52–58
Swinburne, The Coherence of Theism, ch. 2
24/01 Religious belief
Pascal, Pensées, § 233
Clifford, "The Ethics of Belief"
31/01 Arguments for God's existence 1: The ontological argument
Anselm, Proslogion, chs. 1–5
Gaunilo's reply to Anselm's argument
07/02 Arguments for God's existence 2: The cosmological argument
Aquinas, Summa theologiae I.2.3
Rowe, "The Cosmological Argument"
14/02 Divine attributes 1: Divine omnipotence and divine freedom (guest lecture by Marcin Iwanicki)
Aquinas, Summa theologiae I.25
Howard-Snyder, "How an Unsurpassable Being Can Create a Surpassable World"
21/02 Reading week (No class)
28/02 Divine attributes 2: Divine simplicity
Aquinas, Summa theologiae I.3
Morris, "Simplicity"
07/03 Divine attributes 3: Divine omniscience
Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, V
Pike, "Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action"
14/03 The problem of miracles
Hume, "Of miracles" (Enquiry, sec. 10)
Swinburne, The Concept of Miracle, ch. 3
21/03 God and evil
Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles III.10; De malo 3.1–2
Rowe, "The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism"
28/03 Religion and morality
Kant, Critique of Practical Reason V–VIII
Nielsen, "Ethics without Religion"