Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 380: Topics in Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 380: Topics in Philosophy of Religion

The Generic Catalog Description

This course studies various philosophical issues regarding religion. May include issues such as religious concepts, types of religion, divine attributes, free will and providence, problem of evil.  Outcome:  Students will be able to understand and articulate a deeper awareness of philosophical problems and answers regarding key religious issues.

PHIL 380: Philosophy of Religion: Knowledge of God's Reality

Paul Moser

In this course we examine whether, and if so how, human knowledge of God's reality is available. The topics of religious skepticism and religious authority will take center stage, and we will relate these topics to human suffering. We will use the term “God” as a preeminent title connoting a being worthy of worship, and we will focus on some writings of Kierkegaard and others as a source of discussion. In particular, we'll examine a distinction between spectator evidence and authoritative evidence regarding God's reality. This will lead us to examine the roles of reason, the human will, and love in available knowledge of God's reality. We'll consider whether our moral attitudes and our likes and dislikes are centrally important in our receiving available evidence of God's reality. The course will consider three main approaches to knowledge of divine reality: fideism (inspired by Kierkegaard and others), naturalism (represented by Dennett), and evidentialism (represented by Moser). The course will not presuppose any significant familiarity with the central problems of the theory of knowledge or the philosophy of religion. 

Our readings will come from Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Vol. 1, eds. H.H. & E.H. Hong (Princeton UP, 1992); Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (Penguin, 2006); Paul Moser, The Elusive God (Cambridge University Press, 2008); and Paul Moser, ed., Jesus & Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

PHIL 380: Philosophy of Religion: A Philosophical Approach to Christian Ethics

James Murphy, SJ

This course aims at philosophical exploration of Christian ethics, interested in its presuppositions and implications.  It considers the Christian view of the Good and the Right, and explores the philosophical implications of the notions of sin and redemption.  It treats Christian virtues, comparing them with those in secular ethics (e.g.  Aristotle, Hume, Nietzsche).  It seeks to place Christian ethics relative to such normative systems as consequentialism, deontologism, and virtue ethics.   It looks at the role of natural law in Christian ethics, and at the importance of the metaphysics of action.  It explores the metaphysical presuppositions of Christian ethics (e.g. realism vs. idealism), as well as issues of truth, pluralism, and metaethical realism.

The course is thematic, but makes extensive use of the Christian scriptures.  It pays special attention to the document Veritatis Splendor (Splendor of Truth) issued by the Vatican in 1993, of interest since it is an official church statement on moral theory (as distinct from particular moral issues).