Topics in the Philosophy of Religion
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
02 September 2019
Requisites for this module
BA VV15 Philosophy and History,
BA VV16 Philosophy and History (Including Placement Year),
BA VV51 Philosophy and History (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV5C Philosophy and History (Including Year Abroad),
BA VV5X Philosophy and History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VV56 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics,
BA VV57 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Placement Year),
BA VV58 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV59 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VV5P Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Year Abroad)
Our aim in this module is to take up a close study of the so-called problem of evil. Roughly, the 'problem of evil' is the objection to belief in a supremely wise, powerful and good God on the grounds of the existence of evil in our world. For how can there be such a God, given the appalling evils we suffer, both natural and human?
Drawing both on classic texts in the history of philosophy and on contemporary debates in the philosophy of religion, we shall critically examine various formulations of the problem of evil, and the main lines of response put forward. In the course of this study, we shall also advance our understanding of many of the most central concepts in the philosophy of religion, including the following: God, faith, theodicy, trial, free will, resignation, spiritual trial, sin and redemption.
The aims of this module are to:
develop knowledge and understanding of classic texts in the history of philosophy pertaining to the problem of evil;
develop knowledge and understanding of current debates in the philosophy of religion pertaining to the problem of evil;
explain and critically discuss the central concepts that inform the discussion of the problem of evil, including the following: God, faith, theodicy, trial, free will, resignation, spiritual trial, sin and redemption;
explain and critically assess various formulations of the problem of evil, and the main lines of response put forward.
By the end of the module, students should have acquired or further developed a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:
• define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
• seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
• process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
• compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;
• write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
• be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
• think 'laterally' and creatively - see interesting connections and possibilities and present these clearly rather than as vague hunches;
• maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong;
• think critically and constructively.
Study Abroad students should have already taken two philosophy modules at their home institution.
1 x 2-hour lecture and 1 x 1-hour seminar each week. Week 8 is Reading Week.
- J. L. Mackie. (1955) 'Evil and Omnipotence', in Mind: Oxford University Press. vol. 64 (254) , pp.200-212
- Alvin Plantinga. (1975) God, freedom, and evil, London: Allen and Unwin. vol. Essays in philosophy
- Dews, Peter. (2008) The Idea of Evil, Malden, MA: Blackwell.
- Diogenes Allen. (1980) 'Natural Evil and the Love of God', in Religious Studies: Cambridge University Press. vol. 16 (4) , pp.439-456
- John, Hick. (1990) 'An Irenaean Theodicy', in A John Hick Reader, London: Palgrave Macmillan UK., pp.88-105
- Søren Kierkegaard. (no date) Kierkegaard's Writings, XIX: Sickness Unto Death.
- Holland, R. F. (1980) Against empiricism, Totowa, N.J: Barnes & Noble Books.
- William L. Rowe. (1979) 'The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism', in American Philosophical Quarterly: University of Illinois Press. vol. 16 (4) , pp.335-341
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||Reading Quizzes TOTAL
||Essay (3500 words)
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Daniel Watts, email: email@example.com.
Dr Thomas Joseph Stern
University College London
Available via Moodle
Of 27 hours, 27 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).
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