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Philosophy of Religion. Welcome and Orientation Dr. Elizabeth Shadish. Orientation Session. Roster and Adds If space permits, I will add at the end of class today Review of Handout: accessing and using ETUDES-NG My comments and your questions about the content of this course

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Philosophy of Religion

Welcome and Orientation

Dr. Elizabeth Shadish

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Orientation Session

  • Roster and Adds

    • If space permits, I will add at the end of class today

  • Review of Handout: accessing and using ETUDES-NG

  • My comments and your questions about the content of this course

  • A brief look at our class website

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While the Roster is Called…

  • Read through in particular the “Navigating the Course” section of your handout. It gives you a good sense of how the course works.

  • For a good semester - be prepared to talk openly, rationally and respectfully with each other.

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Navigating our Course Website

  • The Syllabus Link

    • Contains our definitive source of course information

    • Scroll down for course objectives, policies, grade scale, and other such important course information

  • The Modules Link

    • Coordinated with our Syllabus Topics

    • Contains resources to help you approach and understand your readings and assignments

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Online Learning – Personal Readiness

  • Technical requirements for success

    • Reliable computer access

    • Firefox and a few other software needs

    • Comfortable with email, attachments and navigating the Internet

  • Personal Requirements for success

    • Independence and initiative

    • A willingness to ask questions

    • Self-directed and responsible

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Online Learning – Course Content

  • Our two required textbooks

    • Kessler – Philosophy of Religion: Toward and Global Perspective

    • Judd – Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Religion

  • Instructor-generated and Internet-accessible support materials

  • Research access to materials beyond encyclopedias (either paper or online)

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Assignments and Grading

  • Discussions – conducted in small groups, in a Discussion Board Forum. You will be assigned to your small group shortly after the add period is over.

  • Quizzes and Exams (non-cumulative) - taken in the “Test Center.” These are timed, but may be “entered” twice.

  • Individual papers - submitted through the “Digital Dropbox.”

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Thinking Philosophically about Religion

  • We are not:

    • Systematically covering world religions

    • Promoting or debunking religious beliefs and practices

  • We are:

    • Questioning and analyzing religious beliefs and practices

      • For their reasonableness

      • For their truth

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Deals with fundamental issues

Is concerned with the meaning of life__________________

Questions all assumptions

Seeks wisdom in the context of rational inquiry

Deals with fundamental issues

Is concerned with the meaning of life__________________

Accepts fundamental assumptions

Seeks wisdom in the context of spiritual growth

Philosophy and Theology

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Philosophy and Meaning

  • If you don’t understand a concept or belief, you can’t begin to question it fairly.

  • Determining meaning = providing a workable and reasonable definition

  • Example:

    • “What is the nature of religion?”

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Consider: Religious Diversity

  • Taoism

  • Buddhism

  • Judaism, Christianity and Islam

  • Ba’hai

  • Unitarianism

  • Wicca

  • Atheism or Science?

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Philosophy and Truth

  • Aquinas: faith is superior to reason and argument (with regard to religious doctrines)

  • Three reasons to seek evidence that religious doctrines are in fact true:

  • We are rational beings who naturally seek to exercise our minds

  • Many argue that at least some aspects of religious doctrine can be supported by reason

  • The contemporary appeal of evidentialism

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Your Resources

  • You will have plenty of help

    • Class Modules

    • Professor accessibility

      • [email protected]

      • SOCS 213B – MW, 12 – 1 pmOnline (instant email) – Th, 4 – 5 pm

  • Website sign-up:


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Your Login Information

  • User ID: first_last. Password: birthday month and year in numeric format

  • Go to ECC’s website to review login information for ETUDES-NG:


    • Under “academics,” click on the Distance Education link

    • Scroll down to “Etudes Login Directions”

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Troubleshooting your Login

  • If you can’t login using the procedures described on the Distance Ed page, go back to the ETUDES-NG portal.

    • Click “reset password”

    • Provide your email address (probably your ECC email address)

    • NG will tell you your attempt was successful; check your email for your new password.

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After Logging In…

  • Stay in “My Workspace” if you want to:

    • Change your password

    • Change the email address NG will use.

  • Click on your class tab at the top of the page to enter our class homepage.

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So – Let’s Get Started!

  • Be sure that you ask about anything that confuses you early in the class.

  • Use the Student Lounge in the Discussion area to raise interesting issues or challenges related to thinking about religious beliefs and practices. Who knows – maybe we can work them into our class discussions!