Is God Dead? The Religion of Philosophers
This course is no longer being offered.
From ancient Greece to modern America, philosophers have wrestled with the question of God's existence and his nature. What are the characteristics of the divine? Why does God allow evil? How should we worship the divine? Does God even exist? In this course we will examine philosophical attitudes toward God from antiquity to modernity, studying the writings of philosophers such as Plato, Augustine, and Descartes.
Though in today's world, philosophers are typically assumed to be anti-religious, agnostic, or atheist, some of the most complex and brilliant arguments about God and the divine have come from the writings of philosophers. This course will survey the writings of many ancient and modern philosophers - including Plato, Augustine, Descartes, and Kant. Students will examine philosophers' interrelated arguments regarding the existence of God, the nature of the divine, the problem of evil in the world, and proper modes of religious worship.
Our approach to this material will be primarily historical. We will attempt to understand various philosophers' arguments as products of particular historical times and places, and we will examine how modern philosophers conceive of the divine in ways quite different from ancient philosophers. Despite this primarily historical bent, however, we will also spend time critically evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of philosophers' arguments about religion and God.
Students will learn to:
1) Appreciate the intimate relationship between philosophy and religion throughout history
2) Demonstrate an understanding of the main philosophical arguments regarding the existence of God
3) Explain how philosophers' views about God's nature affect their arguments about the existence of evil in the world
4) Compare ancient philosophers' views about God with modern philosophers' understandings of the divine
5) Analyze the affects of philosophers' historical situations on their views about God
6) critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of philosophers' arguments regarding God and religion