PHIL2321: Philosophy of Religion

Matthew Daude Laurents, Ph.D.



Spring, 2011

Contact Information

Office Rio Grande Campus, 3105
ACC email
Instructional email
Instructional Web

Course Description

Students will be introduced to the philosophical analysis of the nature of religion and religious experience with an emphasis on such themes as rationality and religious belief, the existence and attributes of God, and the problem of evil.

There are no course prerequisites for Philosophy of Religion, but Introduction to Philosophy or World Religions is highly recommended. A passing score or the equivalent on the reading and writing portions of the TASP is required.

Required Texts/Materials

Robinson, Timothy. God. Second Edition, Hackett Publishing (ISBN 0-87220-641-6)

Hick, John H. Philosophy of Religion. Fourth Edition, Prentice Hall (ISBN 0-13-662628-9)

Handouts and additional readings will be posted to the instructional web.


Birkenstein and Graff. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (ISBN-13 9780393924091)

Instructional Methodology

The class will consist predominantly of discussion of the readings, led by me and by class members, including using of collaborative tools available in Blackboard. There may also be group work and group presentations to the class, which will be posted online.

The major forms of individual assessment will be writing assignments (essays, etc.). I may also use online forms to gather information about your progress in the coursework. Course assignments must be submitted by email or via the Blackboard classroom.

Course Rationale

Religion has been and continues to be one of the principal forces that have shaped human societies and history. For this reason, exploration of the central concepts of religion sheds light on the dynamics of religious tradition and faith. This exploration affords a deeper understanding of culture and history.

PHIL2321 Objectives

Departmental Course Objectives

  1. Students will become acquainted with basic concepts and central problems of the philosophy of religion.
  2. Students will become acquainted with the views of various philosophers with respect to these problems.
  3. Students will (further) develop the fundamental philosophical skills of critical reading, thinking, and writing, and learn how to apply these skills within the field of Philosophy of Religio

Coursework and Grading Policy

Your grade for this course will be based on collaborative and written work demonstrating the pursuit of the objectives of the course. (See the Coursework Guide for a more detailed explanation of the written work.)  These are the components of the course for grades up to a B, along with their approximate weight in the course grade:

Component Approximate Weight
Reading Journal/class discussion 30%
Research proposal 20%
Argument Analyses (4) 13%
Analytical Essays (2) 37%

See the Grading and Evaluation page for a detailed breakdown of the components of the grade.

To earn an A in the course, you must submit and earn an A on a 1500-word research paper on the question and topic that you developed for your project. You must have an A average on prior written work to be eligible to submit the A essay.

Due dates for written work are posted on the Coursework Calendar page for your course. Please note that I will not accept work after the stated due date, except by prior agreement. All written work done outside of class must be submitted electronically (by email or posted in the Blackboard classroom). Please see the Orientation for further instructions.

I expect everyone to participate in class discussion. Class participation should be informed. By this I mean that everyone should participate after having read and thought about the assignments. Religion can be a difficult subject for open discussion, and people sometimes have wildly differing views of which topics are offensive. Consequently, the conventions of respect and responsibility discussed in the Course Policies are of particular importance in this course. If you do find some aspect of the class discussion offensive, please discuss the matter with me, bearing in mind that people do have different levels of tolerance for critical investigation of religious topics. "Respect" does not necessarily mean "agree"; however, to the best of our ability, we will approach the topics of our discussion from the perspective of philosophical inquiry.


Review the Course Policies page and the instructions in the online Orientation. The Course Policies and the Orientation are to be considered part of this syllabus.

Course Outline

This is a very brief overview of the course content:

  1. Why study the philosophy of religion?
  2. Concepts of God
  3. Arguments for the existence of God
  4. Criticisms of arguments for the existence of God
  5. Arguments against the existence of God
  6. The Nature of Religion
  7. Alternative Strategies
  8. Conclusions

You will find a complete course calendar in the online classroom.

Proceed to the Orientation

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This page was last updated 01/17/2010 08:30:26 PM by mdaude.