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Philosophy of Religion

If you’re interested in delving into the philosophical issues and arguments surrounding the claim that there’s a God, then this is the course for you.
University of Oxford University Offices Wellington Square Oxford ,OX1 2JD United Kingdom
(4418) 65270000

Course at a Glance

Mode of learning : Online - Instructor Lead(LVC)

Domain / Subject : General/Others

Function : General

Starts on : 29th Sep 2014

Duration : 10 Weeks

Difficulty : Advanced

About the course

As a student, you will be helped to engage in various activities to stimulate personal reflection; be guided in your reading of some important philosophical texts; find challenge and support as you participate in group discussions; and – above all – be encouraged to think for yourself about the issues raised and arguments deployed. By the end of the course, you should feel more (justifiably) confident in the defensibility of your religious beliefs (or lack of them).

Course aims

This course aims to facilitate students in thinking clearly about the following questions: What, if anything, is it that Jews, Christians, and Muslims are agreeing about when they join in claiming that there is a God; and what, if any, prospects are there for rationally defending or attacking this claim?

This course will:

  • introduce students to philosophical thinking in the British Analytical Tradition, particularly as it applies to topics in the Philosophy of Religion;
  • familiarise students with the key arguments for and against the main positions in the debate about the existence of the classical theistic God;
  • enable students to think clearly and for themselves about these issues, increasing their understanding of their own religious beliefs (if any) and those of others.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Teaching methods

There will be guided reading of texts and students will be directed to various online resources, including some interactive ones. The main online teaching and learning activity will be the discussion forums, where students gather in their ‘cyber agora’ to be gadflies to one another (in the nicest possible way). Students will be directed to websites (occasionally as a requirement, otherwise as an optional extra) that have relevant material on a topic-by-topic basis.

Teaching outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be expected to understand the main issues and arguments relevant to the classical theistic concept of God; the main arguments for and against the existence of such a being; and, at least better than they did at the start, their own religious beliefs (or lack of them).

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained or improved their ability (a) to describe the main arguments for and against the main positions in the Philosophy of Religion; (b) to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of these positions and critically to assess these arguments; and thus (c) to defend their own answer to the question of whether or not there’s a God of the sort Jews, Christians and Muslims worship.

Course eligibility

Course Requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following textbook:

  • Mawson, T. J., Belief in God (OUP, Oxford, 2005) ISBN 0199284954 You can, if you wish, purchase this textbook directly from Oxford University Press.
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Course Content

The areas you will cover in this course are:

  • Introduction – Reason and the Philosophy of Religion.
  • The Concept of God
  • Arguing For and Against the Existence of God
  • Conclusion

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