Topics in the Philosophy of Religion
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
06 September 2023
Requisites for this module
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 introduce students to some of the major philosophical debates about the nature of religion.
- To provoke critical reflection on the relationships of religion and philosophy, faith and reason.
- To advance understanding of modern European philosophy, especially German Idealism and its critics.
By the end of the module, students should have acquired or further developed a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:
1. define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
2. seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
3. process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
4. compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;
5. write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
6. be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
7. think 'laterally' and creatively - see interesting connections and possibilities and present these clearly rather than as vague hunches;
8. maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong;
9. think critically and constructively.
Study Abroad students should have already taken two philosophy modules at their home institution.
There will be a two-hour combined lecture and seminar each week and a separate one-hour class. Week 8 is Reading Week.
Kant, I. (1996) Religion and rational theology
. Edited by A.W. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available at: https://doi-org.uniessexlib.idm.oclc.org/10.1017/CBO9780511814433
Hegel, G.W.F. and Houlgate, S. (1998) The Hegel reader. Oxford: Blackwell.
Hegel, G.W.F., Hodgson, P.C. and Brown, R.F. (2006) Lectures on the philosophy of religion: the lectures of 1827. One-volume ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Schopenhauer, A. and Hollingdale, R.J. (1970) Essays and aphorisms. London: Penguin Books.
Feuerbach, L. (1986) Principles of the philosophy of the future. Indianapolis, Ind: Hackett Pub. Co.
Kierkegaard, S. (2009) Concluding unscientific postscript to the Philosophical crumbs
. Edited by A. Hannay. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available at: https://doi-org.uniessexlib.idm.oclc.org/10.1017/CBO9780511626760
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
||Essay (2500 words)
Exam format definitions
- Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
- In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary,
for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.
Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Daniel Watts, email: email@example.com.
PHAIS General Office - 6.130; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Josiah Saunders
Available via Moodle
Of 1358 hours, 18 (1.3%) hours available to students:
1340 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).
* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.
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