God, Faith, and Reason

University of Utah

Spring 2014

COURSE DESCRIPTION

The course examines the meaning and limitations of some of the central concepts and beliefs in the philosophical and public discourse on the question of God's existence. The debate, issues, and arguments are as old as human civilization. The course looks at the contemporary and early modern versions of this debate that are informed by developments in science and philosophy.

The main issues cluster around whether God exists and how we claim to know about it. If one were to rationally believe that God exists, such belief needs to be supported by good arguments. The course looks into a host of arguments to examine the validity of such belief claims.

The course also examines the role of faith. It analyzes the epistemic status of theistic faith, explores what differentiates faith from dogma, and defines blind faith vs. reasonable faith. One important goal of the course is to examine how faith and reason interact when it comes to believing in God.

Beliefs about God have a significant impact on people's private and public lives. As the course examines the topic of God, faith, and reason, it seeks to investigate how one's belief about God may relate to morality and to one's search for meaning in life. These are the two most common arenas where how one stands on the issue of God's existence makes an important difference.

In addition, the course explores the role of religion in the public sphere in a liberal democracy. This is a contentious issue made especially acute in recent years.

The course focuses primarily on Judeo-Christian religious thought, though it looks into other religious traditions as needed.