Religious beliefs raise a lot of interesting philosophical questions. What, if anything, are religious beliefs founded on? Can compelling rational arguments be given in support of religious beliefs? Or are religious beliefs matters of faith and piety, rather than reason and argument?
In this year’s Philosophy of Religion module, we aim to examine and answer these questions as they pertain to religious beliefs about the existence and nature of God. Is belief in the existence of God a matter of faith or reason, or something else? What are the main arguments for belief in the existence of God, and how good are they? Are beliefs about the nature and existence of God untenable in light of certain observable features of God’s creation, such as the existence of evil? Are they compatible with other widely held religious beliefs, such as the doctrine of hell?
The module is divided into three parts. In the first part – on knowledge – we examine the epistemic status of religious belief in God by reference to a number of theoretical options presented in the contemporary philosophy of religion literature. In the second – on arguments – we study some popular arguments for believing that God exists, including versions of the cosmological argument, the argument from design, and the argument from religious experience. In the third and final section – on problems – we consider some noted challenges to religious belief in God, namely the problem of evil, the problem of hiddenness, and the problem of hell.
By addressing these questions and many others, this modules aims to introduce key themes, ideas, debates and arguments in contemporary philosophy of religion, and to encourage students to formulate, develop and refine their own ideas and arguments about religious ideas and the nature of religious belief.
This module will run in the Autumn term.