God(s) (Spring 2011)
God(s): The Philosophy of Religion
Is there a God? Does the amount of evil in the world give us reason to think that God doesn't exist? Millions of children suffer from painful diseases and malnutrition. Does this give us reason to think that God must not love humanity after all? Or, perhaps, that God isn't all powerful? If God is all powerful, can he create a stone so heavy that he cannot move it? If God knows everything, he knows everything that we will do. But how can we be morally responsible for our actions if God knows what we will do before we do it? Does morality depend on God? If God doesn't exist, is everything permitted? If there is no afterlife, do we have reason to be moral? Is immortality even conceivable? Can you survive the death of your body? It likely depends on what is it that makes you, you. Are you a soul or just a sack of meat and bones? Is immortality the greatest reward, or would we become hopelessly bored in heaven? What is the meaning of life? Does a meaningful existence require God?
These are some of the questions we will explore in this class. Rather than study the variety of religions found across the globe, in the philosophy of religion we ask questions about important religious claims. Our principal concerns are neither sociological nor historical, they are philosophical. This course explores a broad array of important issues including the nature of morality, personal identity, immortality, free will, and the meaning of life.