Philosophy and Religion

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
PHIL 1170
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course introduces students to the main philosophical ideas involved in major world religions. Some of the following topics will be considered: what religion is, the problem of evil, the nature of mysticism, various concepts of God, types of considerations for accepting spiritual reality, the relation between reason and faith, comparison of eastern and western approaches to religious existence, and an examination of sociological and psychological accounts of religious belief. Students will be encouraged to develop their own philosophical assessment of the issues covered.
Course Content

At least three of A, B, C, D or E

  1. What is Religion? (e.g., Aquinas, Augustine, Robinson, Bultman, Bonhoeffer, Freud, Marx, Durkheim, Dewey, Laing).
  2. Thinking About God
    1. The Idea of God  (e.g.,  Pascal, Kierkegaard, Tillich, Russell, Wieman, Aquinas, Boethius, Anselm, Robinson)
    2. The Meaningfulness of Religious Language  (e.g., Ayer, Berlin, Flew, Alston, Aquinas, Davies)
    3. The different conceptions of God (e.g., Atman, Bhraman, and Ultimate Reality).
  3. Considerations For The Existence of God – At Least Two In Depth.
    1. Ontological Argument, (e.g. Anselm, Gaunilo, Alston, Broad, Descartes, Kant, Schaffer, Malcolm, Hartshorne)
    2. Cosmological Argument, (e.g., Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Tennant)
    3. Teleological Argument, (e.g., Hume, Mill, Broad, Smart, Tennant, James)
    4. Problem of Evil, (e.g., Leibniz, Hume, Plantinga, Moore, Tennant)
    5. Religious and Mystical Experience, (e.g., Eckhart, Stace, H. Smith, James, Broad, Russell, Castenada, Scholem, Sri, Krisna Prem, Martin, Otto, Hick).
  4. Spirituality
    1. What are the Modern Spiritual Crises? (e.g., Heschel, Doestoyevski, Bierman, Tawney, Maslow, Cox)
    2. What is the Current Spiritual Revolution? (e.g., J. Needleman, A. Graham, B. Griffths, R. Woods, A.C.R. Skyner).
  5. One or More of the Following:
    1. Miracles and the Modern Worldview (e.g., Bultman, Hume, Holland, Broad, Swinburne)
    2. Life After Death (e.g., Plato, Quinton, Geach, Penelhum, Hume, Kant, Mctaggart, Price, Russell, Broad, Stevenson, Maritain, S.W. Sellars, Ducasse, Flew)
    3. Predestination, Divine Foreknowledge, and Human Freedom (e.g., Locke, Aristotle, Edwards, Boethius, Pike, Flew)
    4. Faith, Religion and Knowledge (e.g., Aquinas, Locke, James, Clifford, Nakhnikian, L.A. Reid, Kierkegaard, Tillich)
    5. Eastern Approaches to God and Religious Experience, Alternatives to Theism  (e.g., Suzuki, Watts, Wieman, Sri Krisna Prem, Santayana)
    6. The Meaning of Life (e.g., Tillich, Taylor, Britton, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Comte).
Learning Activities

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:  there will be a combination of lecture and discussion.  Guest speakers may be invited.  Students may be asked to present seminar reports.  Discussion of the issues will be encouraged throughout the course.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific criteria during the first week of classes.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

Tests, Quizzes and Short Assignments     20% - 50%
Written Class Presentations, Essays, Essay Exams    20% - 60%
Instructor’s General Evaluation
(e.g., participation, attendance, homework,
improvement, extra credit, group work)
    0% -  20%

Any combination of the following which equals 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Identify and explain principal philosophical questions concerning religion.
  2. Demonstrate an acquaintance with the range of answers which have been provided for these questions.
  3. Compare and connect traditional and contemporary thinking on two or three of these questions.
  4. Apply fundamental techniques of logical analysis and construction to these questions.

Textbook Materials

Texts will be updated periodically. Typical examples are:

  • Kessler, G.  Philosophy of Religion: Towards a Global Perspective.  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1999.
  • Peterson, M.; Hasker, W.; Reichenbach, B.; Basinger, D. Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Stairs, Allen; Bernard, Christopher. A Thinker’s Guide to the Philosophy of Religion. Pearson, 2007.




Recommended:  PHIL 1101, 1102, 1103 or 1152


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for PHIL 1170
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU PHIL 117 (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG PHIL 1140 (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU PHIL 2XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU PHIL 1XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU PHIL 1XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO PHIL 1st (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV PHIL 1st (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC PHIL 202 (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV PHIL 240 (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC PHIL 261 (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU PHIL 1st (3)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023