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Philosophy and Religion

Course Code: PHIL 1170
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Philosophy
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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).

Methods of Instruction

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.

course prerequisites


Recommended:  PHIL 1101, 1102, 1103 or 1152

curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.