Philosophy | Philosophy of Religion
P371 | 1438 | O'Connor


Note: This section is a COAS Intensive Writing Section and also requires
registration in COAS W333.

This course provides a detailed introduction to philosophical theology, the critical
analysis and assessment of theological propositions.  We will begin by
considering the nature of this project (how does philosophical theology differ from
theology proper or from, say, the sociology or psychology of religious belief?")
and why one should care to engage in it (how do faith and reason interact, and
which one should be given primacy?).  We will then focus on the core, traditional
concept of God as an absolutely perfect being.  What attributes are implied by
this concept , and are they consistent with each other?  As we'll see, plausible
candidates include not only the familiar ones of goodness, power, and
knowledge, but also unfamiliar and less easily understood ones - timeless
eternity, simplicity, and necessary existence - which great thinkers throughout
the Western philosophical tradition have held to be in some sense more
fundamental.  In the final part of the course, we'll consider in some detail the
main argument against the existence of such a being - its apparent
incompatibility with the existence of imperfection (specifically, suffering) in
creation --and a number of considerations adduced for its existence.  (The one
we'll consider at greatest length is an argument which takes as its starting point
the question "Why is thee anything at all?)

Written work for the course will include several short essays (2-3 pp), probably
two longer papers (6-8 pp.) and a final essay exam.