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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 Brief review of handouts My comments and your questions about the content of this course. While the Roster is Called….

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philosophy of religion

Philosophy of Religion

Welcome and Orientation

Dr. Elizabeth Shadish

orientation session
Orientation Session
  • Roster and Adds
    • If space permits, I will add at the end of class today
  • Brief review of handouts
  • My comments and your questions about the content of this course
while the roster is called
While the Roster is Called…
  • Review handouts – your first quiz will be on this information.
    • Bring a 10-question Scantron on Tuesday, Feb 19 for this quiz
  • For a good semester - be prepared to talk openly, rationally and respectfully with each other.
course content required material
Course Content – Required Material
  • Textbooks
    • Kessler – Philosophy of Religion: Toward and Global Perspective
    • Judd – Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Religion
  • Research access to materials beyond encyclopedias (either paper or online)
  • Recommended: Instructor-generated and Internet-accessible support materials
assignments and grading individual work
Assignments and Grading – Individual Work
  • ThreeExams (non-cumulative) - taken in class. Bring clean-edged paper or a blue book for these tests.
  • Three 1 – 1 ½ page Reflection Papers – personal views on specific topics in the philosophy of religion (typed, double-spaced)
assignments and grading class oriented work
Assignments and Grading – Class-Oriented Work
  • Debate Team Presentation and Report – each of you will be a presenter in one debate. Some research is required. To be submitted immediately after the debate.
  • Audience Participation Reports – short responses to, and questions about, our various debates.
    • Must be typed/double-spaced, in preparation for debates
questions about logistics
Questions about Logistics?
  • Suggestions:
    • Keep your syllabus handy – we have lots of assignments that can’t be submitted late.
      • One exception – the “NQA” or “No Questions Asked” pass for one debate report.
    • Read actively – think about what you’re reading, ask questions as you read, not your agreements and disagreements with what you’re reading…
thinking philosophically about religion
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
examples of questions
Examples of Questions:

Who is God?

Is There a Life after Death?

Does Religion Oppress Women?

Are All Religions True?

philosophy and truth
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
philosophy and meaning
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?”
consider religious diversity
Consider: Religious Diversity
  • Taoism
  • Buddhism
  • Judaism, Christianity and Islam
  • Ba’hai
  • Unitarianism
  • Wicca
  • Atheism or Science?



Both deal with fundamental issues, and with the meaning of life.


  • Questions all assumptions
  • Seeks wisdom in the context of rational inquiry
  • Accepts fundamental assumptions
  • Seeks wisdom in the context of spiritual growth
answering our questions
Answering our Questions
  • Both readings and debates are designed to help you explore our questions.
  • Remember that tests are not about your views (unless asked)
  • No final or definitive answers are expected – just well-reasoned answers
your resources
Your Resources
  • You will have plenty of help
    • Each other!
    • Professor accessibility
      • SOCS 213B – TTh, 8:00 – 9:30 amOnline (instant email) – W, 4 – 6:00 pm
  • Website with some resources:
so let s get started
So – Let’s Get Started!
  • Be sure that you ask about anything that confuses you early in the class.
  • Keep a dictionary handy
  • Start by reading Sections 1.1 and 1.4 in the Kessler text.

See you next class!