The course deals with these main 3 topics: 1) the issue of the existence and nature of God; 2) questions of the nature of religious belief and faith; 3) questions about the meaning, comprehensiveness, and coherence of the doctrines of world religious traditions (a special attention will be given to Islam and Christianity). The questions that will mainly occupy us will be, “What does the phenomenon of religious diversity tell us when it comes to one’s preferring to follow one religious tradition (or no tradition at all) over against another?” “Can one follow a religious tradition on the basis of one’s rational choice and not (only) on the basis of one’s cultural background?” Throughout this course, therefore, we will not only learn to seek intelligibility to our faith and understand how our reasoning might point to the ultimate value(s) but will also attend the to the diversity of beliefs held by different people around the world. Students will be expected to be able to construct convincing arguments as to the truth or falsity of various religious doctrines and then asked how, and if, one could object to those arguments.
Prescribed Text & Materials
There are weekly readings, and PowerPoint presentations which will be made available throughout the course. Also, these are the main sources that we will be using through the course:
Turner, Colin. The Qur’an Revealed: A Critical Analysis of Said Nursi’s Epistles of Light, Berlin: GerlachPress, 2013.
Morris, Thomas V. Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1991.
Schmidtke, Sabine. The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology. Edited by Sabine Schmidtke. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Students successfully completing this course will be skillful in:
- Critical thinking and making convincing arguments;
- Examining and accessing questions of philosophical theology (e.g. “What is the ultimate?” or, “Can the scripture alone be the source of knowledge of God?”)
- Analyzing and assessing theological doctrines in the light of the operations of their own empirical, normative, and rational awareness
- Constructing a dialectical comparison and evaluation of Islamic and Christian theological traditions
Week 1: What is Philosophical Theology and Why It Is Important?
Week 2: Is there sufficient evidence that God exists?
Week 3: The existence of free will and the existence of God: do they cancel each other?
Week 4: The existence of evil and the existence of God: are they mutually exclusive?
Week 5: Is it reasonable to think that there be life after death?
Week 6: Is there really contradictions between the Christian doctrine of the trinity and the Islamic doctrine of Allah’s superb names?
Week 7: Religious diversity and religious belief
Week 8: Is atheism actually a “religion”?