Philosophy of Religion:
Syllabus



FALL 2021 - DR. KEITH KORCZ

Course Details:

PHIL 331 Philosophy of Religion Section 001
3 credit hours
no prerequisites
Meeting Times: MW 2:30 – 3:45 Meeting Place: Griffin Hall, HLG 503


How To Contact Professor Korcz:

You are supposed to have questions! Because of the pandemic and the fact that our offices are too small to social distance, I won’t have ordinary office hours. Instead, we’ll do the following:

(1) You can email me any time, at keithk@louisiana.edu. I’ll respond to emails from both school and home. This is the best way to reach me.

(2) I’ll be in my office (H. L. Griffin Hall, rm. 563) MW 12:00 – 2:30 if you would like to speak with me by phone. My office phone number is (337) 482-6806.

(3) If you would like to videoconference with me, just let me know and I will arrange it. I have access to Zoom (information about how to use Zoom is available here: https://online.louisiana.edu/student-support/remote-learners#Discuss).

(4) If you would like to speak with me in person, let me know and I’ll arrange a place nearby where we can socially distance while chatting.


Required Texts:

1. William L. Rowe, Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction, Fourth Edition.
Note: There is a copy this textbook on reserve at the Dupre Library Reserve Desk.

 

2. Philosophy of Religion Course Pack.
The course pack is only available via Moodle (https://moodle.louisiana.edu/)


Your Course Objectives:

This course is designed to give you an opportunity to acquire an understanding of:
(1) how philosophy is done, along with some basic logic, critical thinking, and research skills,
(2) how to develop and evaluate philosophical reasoning,
(3) philosophical issues that arise in efforts to clarify fundamental theistic concepts,
(4) the standard philosophical arguments for and against the existence of a theistic god, and the difficulties with them,
and to
(5) help you develop more advanced reading, writing, and note-taking skills.


Achieving Your Course Objectives:

Exams: There will be three in-class exams, the two during the semester each worth 20% of your course grade, and the cumulative final exam worth 25% of your course grade. The in-class exams will consist primarily of short answer and multiple-choice questions. However, all make-up exams will be primarily essay. The exams will cover both lectures and assigned readings (material in lectures and assigned readings will not always overlap). All exams are closed book/closed note. The exams are designed to help you achieve all five course objectives.

Paper: The paper will be 10-12 pages long and completed in two drafts, the first draft being worth 10% of your course grade and the final draft being worth 25% of your course grade. Each draft will consist of two parts. The first part will consist of a critique of an instructor-approved, published article in the philosophy of religion. For the second part, you will present and defend an original argument on your topic. Complete information about the paper assignment, suggested topics, etc., will be provided later on a separate handout. This assignment is designed to help you achieve course objectives 1 through 5.

Reading and In-Class Note Taking: Though not separately counted for points, these are essential to achieving objectives 1 – 5. You should complete each of the readings before they are discussed in class. Some of the readings are difficult, and you may find that you need to re-read them after they have been discussed in class in order to fully understand them. Don’t assume that because something is written, it’s true – maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Try to understand, and then evaluate claims using the reasoning techniques we’ll discuss. I’ll provide lots of examples of this in class.


Grading:

The course grades will initially be determined according to the standard scale, i.e., 90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D, 59% and below = F, and then may be modified as follows:  Course grades might be curved, but, if so, the curve would not be such that any student's grade is lowered. Such factors as improvement over the length of the course, class participation, attendance, etc., may be taken into consideration, especially where doing so may improve a borderline grade. You must complete all course assignments (namely all exams and both drafts of the paper) to receive a passing grade (i.e., a grade other than F, NC or U).


Class Policies:

Pandemic Note: You must wear a mask and social distance in class! (Please, no anti-social distancing!) You must also read the UL Lafayette COVID-19 Syllabus Policies and Guidelines posted on the course web site.

Missing Class: If you must miss class, for whatever reason, it is your responsibility to get class notes from another student. If you wish your absence to be excused, promptly provide me with an appropriate excuse, e.g., illness requiring medical attention, participation in certain university-sanctioned events, dangerous weather, etc. We cover something important every day, so for every five unexcused absences or partial absences, your course grade will be dropped by a letter grade. Skip class, and you won’t pass!
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, if you believe you may have coronavirus, or you have any of the symptoms, do not come to class! I will excuse your absence.

Missing Assignments: If you miss an assignment due date, you must notify me within one week of either the due date or the cessation of a medically documented persistent vegetative state in order to make up the assignment. Missed assignments can be made up for full credit only if an appropriate excuse is promptly provided. An unexcused late assignment will be dropped 2/3 of a letter grade per day it is late.

Classroom: In class discussions, it is perfectly fine to disagree with your classmates or myself, but you should do so respectfully and with reasoning. Philosophy is all about intellectual controversy! However, disruptive or persistent distracting classroom behavior (e.g., use of phones, frequent tardiness or leaving class early, excessive talking, etc.) may result in your being asked to leave (counted as an unexcused absence) or being dropped from the class, at my discretion. On those very rare occasions where you absolutely must arrive late to class, see me at the end of class so I can mark you present.

Ethics Policy: All assignments for this class must be completed individually, and any instance of academic dishonesty (e.g., cheating, plagiarism, furnishing false information regarding absences, etc.) will be sufficient to fail the course.

Unauthorized Websites: Neither lectures nor any class materials may be posted on the internet or otherwise published. Students who rely on internet sites (other than my own, listed below) or search engines for class notes, quizzes, study guides, etc., tend to do poorly in my classes. Such sites are often unreliable, and they prevent you from learning valuable note-taking and study skills. Do not use them. In general, you will get much more out of your education if you do your own work. You learn from the process of learning, not your grade.

University Policies: Be sure you are familiar with all university policies described in the UL Lafayette Undergraduate Bulletin and Code of Student Conduct.


Disability Accommodations:

Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first be registered with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to verify the disability and to establish eligibility for accommodations. Students may call 337-482-5252 or visit the ODS office in the Conference Center/Agnes Edwards Hall, room 126 (the ODS website address is: https://disability.louisiana.edu/). Once registered, students should then schedule an appointment with the professor to make appropriate arrangements. If your needs are not being met for any reason, inform the instructor and ODS as soon as possible so that we may rectify the problem.


Some Helpful Tips for a Healthy and Happy Class Experience:

1. On class evaluations, students often state that they would tell friends planning to take my classes that good class attendance and good class notes are essential to doing well on the exams.

2. I strongly recommend taking advantage of the following resources I have created for you! The course home page (https://userweb.ucs.louisiana.edu/~kak7409/331PhiofReligionHome.html) contains links to useful sites regarding the subject matter of the course, study aids, the on-line syllabus, and other resources.
My How To Survive Your First Philosophy Course pages contain useful information about what I look for when grading assignments, how to study for my exams, reading philosophy, taking notes, doing research in philosophy, etc. This can be accessed from the course home page or my home page.
My home page contains links to all my course home pages, extensive links pages on philosophy, general research, fun sites, and lots of other information. The web address is: https://userweb.ucs.louisiana.edu/~kak7409.
A Moodle page for the course will be activated at the beginning of the semester. You’ll be able to contact each other and download the course pack here (https://moodle.louisiana.edu/).

3. Philosophy differs from other disciplines, and it’s common to have difficulties figuring it all out. If you are having difficulty with course material or assignments, let me know so I can help you out!


Emergency Evacuation Procedures:

A map of this floor is posted near the elevator marking the evacuation route and the Designated Rescue Area. This is an area where emergency service personnel will go first to look for individuals who need assistance in exiting the building. Students who may need assistance should identify themselves to the teaching faculty.

                  

Course Calendar & Planned Reading Assignments


NOTE: Assignment due dates, topics, readings, and procedures are tentative and may change at my discretion. However, we can negotiate due dates for assignments if most students in the class prefer a change.
 
CP = Course Pack, only available via Moodle         Rowe = Rowe’s textbook
ONLINE = See the online syllabus linked from the course home page (URL above)    

1. Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion

ONLINE: "What Is Philosophy?" by Keith Korcz; Rowe: Introduction.

2. The Nature of God

Rowe: Chapters 1 & 10.

Monday, September 6:  Labor Day - No Classes.

3. Faith and Reason

ONLINE: "Faith and Reason" by Keith Korcz; Rowe: Chapter 6 (pp. 91 - 104).

4. Arguments For & Against God's Existence

a. For: The Arguments From Biblical Inerrancy
CP: "The Great Gulf Between Scholars and the Pew" by Michael D. Coogan, "The Evidence for Jesus" by William Lane Craig, selections from The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible by Robin Lane Fox, "The Problem of Apparently Morally Abhorrent Divine Commands" by Wesley Morriston.

b. For: The Arguments From Experience
Rowe: Chapter 5 & Chapter 6, pp. 104 – 110 only.

Exam #1: Wednesday, September 29, in class.

c. Against: The Problem of Divine Freedom 
CP: "The Problem of Divine Perfection and Freedom" by William Rowe.

d. For: The Arguments From Miracles & Prayer
(CP): "The Case of the Weeping Madonna" by Lynn Rosellini; Rowe: Chapter 8; (CP): "David Hume and the Probability of Miracles" by George Mavrodes, "Can Science Prove That Prayer Works?" by Hector Avalos. OPTIONAL: ONLINE: "Of Miracles" by David Hume

Thursday, October 7 – Friday, October 8: Fall Holiday - No Classes.

e. For: The Cosmological Arguments
Rowe: Chapter 2; CP: "The Five Ways" and "God's Perfection" by St. Thomas Aquinas.

Monday, October 18: Advising for SP22 begins.

First Draft Of Paper Due: Wednesday October 20, at the beginning of class.

f. Against: The Argument From Divine Hiddenness
CP: "Divine Hiddenness Justifies Atheism" by J. L. Schellenberg.

g. For: The Ontological Arguments
Rowe: Chapter 3; CP: "A Modal Version of The Ontological Argument" by Alvin Plantinga.

Exam #2: Wednesday, November 3, in class.

h. For: The Design Arguments
Rowe: Chapter 4; CP: "The Teleological Argument" by Robin Collins.

i. For: Prudential Arguments
(CP): "Making Believe" by Margaret P. Battin.

j. Against: The Logical Problem of Evil
Rowe: Chapter 7, pp. 112 - 119.

k. Against: The Evidential Argument Regarding Evil
Rowe: Chapter 7, pp. 119 - 131; CP: "The Problem of Evil" by Richard Swinburne, "Evidential Atheological Arguments" by Alvin Plantinga.

5. Philosophy of Atheism

a. Atheism and Humanism
CP: "Humanist Manifesto II" and "Humanist Manifesto III.”

Final Draft Of Paper Due: Wednesday, November 24, at the beginning of class.

Thursday, November 25 – Friday, November 26: Turkey Days - No Classes.

b. Life After Death
CP: "Problems With Accounts of Life After Death" by Linda Badham; Rowe: Chapter 10.

c. Creationism and Evolution
CP: "Science, Religion, Politics, Law and Education" by Tim M. Berra.

Last Day Of Classes: Friday, December 3.

Wednesday, December 8: Study Day.

Final Exam: Friday, December 10, From 11:00 am – 1:30 pm.



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