PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION[1]

Briercrest College

PHI455

                                                                                                       

 

Joel L. From, Ph.D.                                                                                              Office: Room # 132

Fall 2010                                                                                                               Office Hours: By Appointment

3 Credit Hours                                                                                                      Office Phone: 756-3203

<jfrom@briercrest.ca>                                                                                       Home Phone: 756-2847

Web-page: www.joelfrom.com

 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

 

An exploration of philosophical concerns arising out of theism in general and Christian theism in particular. Topics include faith and reason, the divine attributes, religious language, life after death, religious diversity, and the philosophical analysis of theological doctrines.

 

 

COURSE TEXTBOOKS:

 

Peterson, Michael et al., ed. Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.  ISBN: 9780195335996. [Hereafter, R&RB]

 

Peterson, Michael et al., ed. Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.  ISBN: 9780195335996.  [Hereafter, PR]

 

Course Package: Each student is required to purchase a Philosophy of Religion course package from the bookstore. Course packages will be distributed in class after add/drops.

 

Class Notes:  Each student is required to purchase a voucher for the Philosophy of Religion class notes at the bookstore. These notes will be distributed throughout the term.

 

Quick Reference Format Guide 2010-2011: Each student is required to have access to a copy of the current Briercrest College Format Guide.

 

 

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

 

A.         To familiarize students with some of the major debates in contemporary philosophy of religion.

 

B.        To develop students’ abilities to assess formal philosophical arguments.

 

C.        To increase students’ awareness of the relation between philosophical issues, other disciplines, and the questions of everyday life.

 

D.        To develop students’ philosophical research, writing, peer-review, and public defense competencies.

 

 


COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

 

A.         Each student will read the Required Readings prior to the relevant class session. Students will be assigned a grade for their class participation. Your instructor reserves the right to give unannounced quizzes on the required readings if necessary.

             Value: 15%

 

B.         Each student will participate in a semester-long project involving philosophical research, writing, peer-review, and (possible) public defense.

 

Each student will produce a thesis-defense paper (10-12 pages in length) on a philosophy of religion problem by November 4, 2010. Late papers will be not be accepted. Students should bring two copies of their drafts for their peers in addition to a copy for their instructor.

 

Each student is expected to produce a 3-page evaluation of the argument contained in two peers’ drafts. By November 16th a copy of each peer’s evaluation should be returned to its author and to your instructor. Late papers will be not be accepted. By November 25th your instructor will provide an evaluation of your draft and your peer-to-peer evaluations. Students are expected to revise their final papers in light of these evaluations.

 

Your instructor will select up to three essays for oral defense. Students may decline to do this if they wish. Up to 5 bonus marks will be given for these presentations. The defenses will occur on November 30, December 2 and 7, 2010.

 

Each student will submit a final draft of his or her paper no later than 5:00 p.m. on December 8th. These drafts must be responsive to the issues raised orally and/or in the written comments of your evaluators.

 

The grade for this project is itemized as follows:

 

Assignment

Value

Due Date

 

 

 

First Draft

25%

Nov. 4

Evaluations

15%

Nov. 16

Oral Defenses

(5%)

11/30, 12/2, 12/7

Final Draft

15%

Dec. 9

 

 

C.         Each student will build a portfolio of his or her work in the class. Your portfolio must accompany each draft submitted to your instructor. Submissions without portfolios will not be accepted.

 

D.         Each student will write a Final Exam (as scheduled by the Registrar) worth 30% of the final grade.

 

 

COURSE POLICIES:

 

Students are expected to be aware of the policies that govern all course work at Briercrest College. Please refer to Academic Handbook - http://www.briercrest.ca/documents/college/college-academic-handbook.pdf. In particular, please note the following policies:

 

Attendance: All students missing more than 2 full weeks, from the first day to the last day, of a particular class will receive an automatic fail “F” (0%).

 

Final Exams: Students are allowed 3 hours to write each final exam. They must write their final exams as scheduled. ALL final exams are mandatory; failure to write one will result in an “F” (0%) for the course.

 

Late Assignments:

  • All assignments are due at the beginning of the class period on the assigned day.
  • Due to the nature of the course, late assignments will not be accepted. They will receive a grade of “0”.

 

Academic Integrity and Honesty:

Please refer to the policy on pages 7-9 in the Academic Handbook (see the link above).

 

Learning Disabled or Special Needs Students:

Any student with a documented disability who needs accommodations should discuss them with the course instructor after contacting the Academic Services Office, in person, or by email at academicservices@briercrest.ca.

 


COURSE OUTLINE, READINGS, AND CLASS NUMBERS:

 

Unit

Section Title

Required Readings[2]

Class

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

R&RB, Chapter 1

1, 2

 

 

 

 

Unit 1.

Faith and Reason

R&RB, Chapter 4

2

 

 

James, PR, 110-18

Kierkegaard, PR, 118-22

Evans, PR, 123-30

4

5

5

 

 

 

 

Unit 2.

The Divine Attributes (Selected)

 

R&RB, Chapter 5

 

 I.

Introduction

 

 

 

  II.

Necessary Being

Findlay, “God’s Necessary Existence”[CP]

Hick, PR, 133-38

 

6

7

 III.

Omnipotence

Aquinas, PR, 143-46

Geach, “Omnipotence” [CP]

 

8

9

IV.

Timelessness

Boethius, PR, 155-58

Wolterstorff, PR, 159-67

9

10

 

 

 

 

Unit 3.

Religious Language

R&RB, Chapter 12

11

 

 

Aquinas, PR, 427-30

Ayer, “The Elimination of Metaphysics” [CP]

Alston, PR, 447-67

 

11

12

13

Unit 4.

Life After Death

R&RB, Chapter 11

14

 

 

Price, PR, 500-09

Hick, PR, 529-39

14

15

 

 

 

 

Unit 5.

Religious Diversity as Pluralism

R&RB, Chapter 14

16

 

 

Hick, PR, 607-18

16

 

 

Twiss, “The Philosophy of Religious Pluralism” [CP]

17

 

 

 

 

Unit 6.

Philosophy and Theological Doctrines

Peterson, et al., “Philosophy and Theological Doctrine . . . “ [CP]

 

18

  I.

The Incarnation

Morris, “God in Christ.” [CP]

18

 II.

The Atonement

Quinn, “The Traditional Understanding of the Atonement . . .” [CP]

Porter, “Swinburnian Atonement . . .” [CP]

 

19

19

III.

Petitionary Prayer

Stump, “Why Petition God?” [CP]

20

 

 

 

 

Unit 7.

Class Presentations

 

21-23

 

 

Summation

R&RB, Chapter 16

24

 

 


BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 

Adams, Marilyn M. “Cur Deus Homo? Priorities Among the Reasons?” Faith and Philosophy 21 (April 2004): 141-58.

 

Adams, Robert M. “Divine Necessity.” The Journal of Philosophy 80 (November 1983).

 

________. “Kierkegaard’s Arguments Against Objective Reasoning in Religion.” Reprinted in God Matters, 209-18.

 

Alston, William P. “Aquinas on Theological Predication: A Look Backward and a Look Forward.” In Reasoned Faith, 145-78.

 

________. Divine Nature and Human Language. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989.

 

________. “Hartshorne and Aquinas: A Via Media.” Unpublished Essay, July 1981.

 

________. Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.

 

________. “Philosophy of Religion, Problems of,” s.v. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 6. Edited by Paul Edwards. New York: Macmillan/Free Press, 1967.

 

The Analytic Theist: An Alvin Plantinga Reader. Edited by James F. Sennett. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

 

Anderson, Pamela Sue. A Feminist Philosophy of Religion: The Rationality and Myths of Religious Belief. Oxford: Blackwell Pub., 1998.

 

Augustine. The Confessions of St. Augustine. Trans. Edward B. Pusey. New York: Random House, 1949.

 

Ayer, A. J. “The Elimination of Metaphysics.” In Language, Truth and Logic. London: Victor Gallancz, 1936. Reprinted in Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies. E. D. Klimke, ed. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1983, 235-46.

 

Clark, Stephen R. L. From Athens to Jerusalem: The Love of Wisdom and the Love of God. Oxford: Clarendon, 1984.

 

De Vries, Hent. Philosophy and the Turn to Religion. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

 

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Paul Edwards. 8 vols. New York: Macmillan/The Free Press, 1967.

 

Evans, Stephen C. “Critical Dialog in the Philosophy of Religion.” In Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, 3rd ed., 123-30.

 

Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God. Edited by Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.

 

Findlay, J. N. “God’s Necessary Existence is Impossible.” In Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, 97-103.

 

Flint, Thomas, and Alfred Freddoso. “Maximal Power.” In The Existence and Nature of God. Edited by Alfred Freddoso. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 1983.

 

Geach, Peter T. “Omnipotence.” Philosophy. 48 (April 1973). Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion. 3rd ed. Edited by William L. Rowe and William J. Wainwright. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1998, 63-75.

 

God Matters: Readings in the Philosophy of Religion. Edited by Raymond Martin and Christopher Bernard. New York: Pearson Education, 2003.

 

Hasker, William. God, Time, and Knowledge. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989.

 

Hartshorne, Charles. Creative Synthesis and Philosophical Method. London: SCM Press, 1970.

 

Hick, John. God has Many Names. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1982.

 

________. An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

 

________. “The Logic of God Incarnate.” Religious Studies 25 (1989).

 

________. “Necessary Being,” Scottish Journal of Theology.  Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion, 14-27.

 

________. “Religious Pluralism and Salvation.” Faith and Philosophy 5 (October 1988).

 

MacDonald, Scott. “Christian Faith.” In Reasoned Faith, 42-69.

 

Mavrodes, George. Belief in God. New York: Random House, 1970.

 

________. “The Gods Above the Gods: Can the High Gods Survive?” In Reasoned Faith, 179-203.

 

Mitchell, Basil, ed. Faith and Logic: Oxford Essays in Philosophical Theology. London: Allen & Unwin, 1957.

 

Morris, Thomas V. “God in Christ: The Possibility of Rational Belief.” In Anselmian Explorations: Essays in Philosophical Theology. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987, 215-29.

 

________. The Logic of God Incarnate. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986.

 

________. Our Idea of God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991.

 

Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis. Edited by Steven Katz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

 

Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology. 2 vols. Michael Rea, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

 

Peterson, Michael et al. “Philosophy and Theological Doctrine: Can Philosophy Illumine Religious Belief?” In Michael Peterson et al., eds. Reason and Religious Belief, 2nd ed., 302-23.

 

Peterson, Michael et al., eds. Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion.  2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

 

________. Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

 

________. Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

 

________. Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

 

________. Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

 

Philosophy of Religion. Edited by William Rowe and William Wainwright. New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1973.

 

Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom and Evil. New York: Harper & Row, 1974.

 

________. The Ontological Argument. New York: Doubleday, 1965.

 

________. “Reason and Belief in God.” In Faith and Rationality. Edited by Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.

 

________. Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

 

Porter, Steven L. “Swinburnian Atonement and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution.” Faith and Philosophy 21 (April 2004): 228-41.

 

Quinn, Philip L. “Abelard on Atonement: ‘Nothing Unintelligible, Arbitrary, Illogical, or Immoral about It’.” In Reasoned Faith, 281-300.

 

________. “The Traditional Understanding of the Atonement Must Be Modified.” In Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, 560-68.

 

Quinn, Philip L. and Kevin Meeker, eds. The Philosophical Challenge of Religious Diversity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

 

Readings in the Philosophy of Religion. Edited by Kelly James Clark. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2000.

 

Reasoned Faith: Essays in Philosophical Theology in Honor of Norman Kretzmann. Edited by Eleonore Stump. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993.

 

Sennett, James F. Modality, Probability, and Rationality: A Critical Examination of Alvin Plantinga’s Philosophy. New York: Peter Lang, 1992.

 

Smith, John E. “Faith, Belief, and the Problem of Rationality in Religion.” In Rationality and Religious Belief. Edited C. F. Delaney. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979.

 

Stump, Eleonore, and Norman Kretzmann. “Eternity.” Journal of Philosophy 79 (1981): 429-58.

 

________. “Why Petition God?” American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (April 1979): 81-90.

 

Swinburne, Richard. The Coherence of Theism. rev. ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

 

________. The Concept of Miracle. London: Macmillan, 1970.

 

________. The Existence of God. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.

 

________. Faith and Reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

 

________. “God and Time.” In Reasoned Faith, 204-22.

 

Taliaferro, Charles. Evidence and Faith: Philosophy and Religion since the Seventeenth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

 

Thiselton, Anthony C. A Concise Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Religion. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005.

 

Twiss, Sumner. “The Philosophy of Religious Pluralism: A Critical Appraisal of Hick and His Critics.” The Journal of Religion 70 (1990): 533-68.  Reprinted in The Philosophical Challenge of Religious Diversity, 67-98.

 

Wielenberg, Erik J. “Omnipotence Again.” Faith and Philosophy 17 (January 2000).

 

Wierenga, Edward. The Nature of God. New York: Cornell University Press, 1989.

 

 

 

 

COURSE PACKAGE

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

Ayer, A. J. “The Elimination of Metaphysics.” In Language, Truth and Logic. London: Victor Gallancz, 1936. Reprinted in Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies. E. D. Klimke, ed. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1983, 235-46.

 

Findlay, J. N. “God’s Necessary Existence is Impossible.” In New Essays in Philosophical Theology. Edited by Antony Flew and Alasdair MacIntyre. London: Macmillan, 1973, 97-103.

 

Geach, Peter T. “Omnipotence.” Philosophy. 48 (April 1973): 7-20.

 

Morris, Thomas V. “God in Christ: The Possibility of Rational Belief.” In Anselmian Explorations: Essays in Philosophical Theology. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987, 215-29.

 

Peterson, Michael et al. “Philosophy and Theological Doctrine: Can Philosophy Illumine Religious Belief?” In Michael Peterson et al., eds. Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 302-23.

 

Porter, Steven L. “Swinburnian Atonement and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution.” Faith and Philosophy 21 (April 2004): 228-41.

 

Quinn, Philip L. “The Traditional Understanding of the Atonement Must Be Modified.” In Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings. Edited by Michael Peterson et al. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, 560-68.

 

Stump, Eleonore. “Why Petition God?” American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (April 1979): 81-90.

 

Twiss, Sumner. “The Philosophy of Religious Pluralism: A Critical Appraisal of Hick and His Critics.” The Journal of Religion 70 (1990): 533-68.

 

 

Sample Paper:

 

St. Pierre, Joshua. “Projection and Practicality.” Unpublished Manuscript. December 10, 2008.



[1]Course content, requirements, and examinations are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances.

[2]The abbreviations on this page are as follows: R&RB = Reason and Religious Belief; PR = Philosophy of Religion; and [CP] = Course package.