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Academic Program > Major and Minor Fields of Study > Religion and Philosophy

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Religion and Philosophy

Chair Steven S. Naragon, Robert C. Bowman, Katy Gray Brown, Steven D. Crain

RELIGION

The academic study of religion is a scholarly discipline involving historical, critical, analytic and constructive methodologies to understand religious phenomena for example: texts, beliefs, doctrines, practices and world views. It provides excellent background and thinking skills for various academic pursuits, career goals and community leadership. The discipline is important to students preparing for church-related vocations.

The aims of this department are to help students: (a) acquire a sympathetic understanding of the Bible, the Christian faith, and other world religions, (b) articulate and reflect upon the core claims that distinguish the Christian tradition, (c) become acquainted with the major methodologies and issues in the study of religion, (d) prepare for graduate study, and (e) understand a world in which compassion reveals the divine.

Baccalaureate Degree
Major in religion, 36 hours: REL 101, 102, 111, 465; PHIL 201, 316; three courses selected from: REL 311, 312, 415, 435; two courses selected from: REL 205, 210, 222, 223; three hours from departmental courses and with departmental approval.

Majors must successfully complete the senior comprehensive evaluation. Details are available from the department chair.

Minor in religion, 24 hours: REL 101, 102, 111; three courses selected from: REL 311, 312, 415, 435; six hours from religion courses and with departmental approval.

Courses REL

101 INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT - 3 hours
A survey of the literature, history and religion of ancient Israel using selected portions of the historical and prophetic books of the Old Testament as primary sources. Introduction to the methods and results of modern biblical scholarship. Fall. C-4RL.

102 INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT - 3 hours
A survey of the literature, history and religious faith of first century Christianity using the New Testament as a primary source. Introduction to the methods and results of modern biblical scholarship. Spring. C-4RL.

111 CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS - 3 hours
Introductory explorations of how Christians throughout their history and across different cultures have understood and practiced their faith in response to the life and teachings of Jesus and the challenges of human existence. C-4RL.

131 THE JEWISH FAITH, CULTURE AND PEOPLE - 3 hours
A broad introduction to Jewish religious beliefs, festivals, calendar, art, music and literature. C-3GC.

205 RELIGIONS AND WAR - 3 hours
An examination of the role of religion as a factor influencing social and political conflict. Theoretical principles are applied to contemporary cases in which religion functions as a cause and/or mediating force in occurrences of war. Fall.

210 JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM - 3 hours
Study of the origins, development and interaction of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, including contemporary relationships among these faiths.

222 THE CONFUCIAN AND BUDDHIST WORLDS - 3 hours
Key historical developments in the civilizations of East and Southeast Asia, stressing broad cultural and religious themes, along with political and philosophical perspectives, including the variations in forms of Buddhist life, the pluralistic and non-disjunctive thought patterns of Taoist naturalism, and the new divergent social and religious movements of nationalism.

223 RELIGIONS OF INDIA - 3 hours
A study of the ancient roots and contemporary forms of the religions and philosophies native to India such as Vedanta, Hinduism, early Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, including their interactions with religions of foreign origin such as Islam and Christianity.

225 FEMINIST AND WOMANIST THEOLOGIES - 3 hours
An exploration of the critique and vision brought to contemporary theology by women’s perspectives represented in texts by feminist and womanist theologians and in women’s fiction and essays. Prerequisite: one course in religion or permission of instructor.

228 THE BRETHREN HERITAGE - 3 hours
A critical study of the history, practice and teaching of the Brethren in relationship to major social and intellectual currents and to other religious movements, including both those Christian groups that profess a creed and those which identify themselves primarily in a non-creedal fashion.

241 JESUS AND THE GOSPELS - 3 hours
A study of the ministry and significance of Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament gospels. Some or all of the gospels will be examined and compared. C-4RL.

245 THE HEBREW PROPHETS - 3 hours
An introduction to the content and message of the prophetic literature of the Old Testament. Historical, social, literary, and theological features of the texts are explored. Attention is given to the role of the prophets as agents of change in their societies. Prerequisite: REL 101. C-4RL.

266 RELIGIOUS CLASSICS - 3 hours
A study of outstanding classics of faith from many areas. Seeks critical appreciation of the ideas, faith stances, and aesthetic qualities of the works studied.

311 ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL CHRISTIANITY - 3 hours
The encounter of Christianity with the classical, Islamic, and barbarian worlds from the first to the 14th century, dealing with sectarianism, heresy, creedal orthodoxy and Catholicism. Prerequisite: ENG 111.

312 REFORMATION AND EARLY MODERN CHRISTIANITY - 3 hours
The relationship of Christianity to major cultural and intellectual movements, from the Renaissance and Reformation through the Enlightenment. Prerequisite: ENG 111. C-4RL.

415 CHRISTIANITY IN THE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURIES - 3 hours
An examination of movements, major schools, and the makers of modern theology, from 1820 to 1970.

435 CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN THOUGHT - 3 hours
A study of the present religious situation, including important developments to Christian theology and the relationship to other world religions and world views and to major social and political events.

465 SENIOR SEMINAR (W) - 3 hours
Advanced study of topics in religion and philosophy, focusing on the research and evaluation of the current literature. Prerequisite: Senior standing or permission of instructor.

475 INTERNSHIP IN MINISTRY - 4 hours
Supervised ministry with a mentor, ministry techniques, and an applied project. Discussion of ministry formation, maintaining ministry, case studies, the minister as evangelist, and the church in the 21st century. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

380 or 480 SPECIAL PROBLEMS - 1-4 hours
A student who has demonstrated ability to work independently may propose a course and pursue it with a qualified and willing professor. The department chair and the vice president and dean for academic affairs also must approve. A set of guidelines is available at the Office of the Registrar.

385 or 485 SEMINAR - 1-4 hours
An in-depth consideration of a significant scholarly problem or issue. Students pursue a supervised, independent inquiry on an aspect of the topic and exchange results through reports and discussions.

PHILOSOPHY

Philosophy is a broad discipline that includes the study of the fundamental questions of being, knowledge, action and the good as well as a conceptual examination of other disciplines (such as in the philosophies of religion, art, psychology or science). The study of philosophy enhances one’s analytic skills and consequently provides an excellent background for a variety of academic and career goals. It also encourages growth in self-understanding and a coming to terms with oneself and one’s place in the universe.

The aims of this department are to help students to: (a) understand and appreciate the major philosophical traditions, (b) develop a philosophical understanding of one’s own, (c) prepare for graduate work in philosophy and related fields, (d) wrestle with the ultimate questions of human existence.

Baccalaureate Degree
Major in philosophy, 36 hours: PHIL 201, 215, 230, 330, 465; REL 222 or 223; three courses selected from: PHIL 316, 318, 320, 423; one course selected from: REL 111, 415, 435; six hours from departmental courses and with departmental approval.

Minor in philosophy, 24 hours: PHIL 201, 230; three courses selected from: PHIL 316, 318, 320, 423; nine hours selected from departmental courses and with departmental approval.

Courses PHIL

201 INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY - 3 hours
An introduction to the philosophical tasks of (a) reflective thinking about life and the universe as a totality; (b) critical examination of presuppositions, words and concepts; (c) examination of ways in which we gain knowledge; (d) the quest for criteria which determine our value judgments of the good and the beautiful. Fall. Spring. C-4PH.

215 ETHICAL DECISION MAKING - 3 hours
A study of ethical principles and their application to practical decision making in such areas as sex, criminal justice, economics and euthanasia. Spring. C-4PH.

230 LOGIC - 3 hours
A study of various deductive logics (categorical, propositional and predicate), inductive logics and common informal fallacies. The aim of this is to improve abilities: (1) to identify arguments from other kinds of discourse and separate what is relevant to an argument from what is not, (2) to evaluate arguments in a reasoned and constructive way, and (3) to construct your own arguments, such that they are clearly stated and free of fallacies.

316 ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL WESTERN PHILOSOPHY - 3 hours
A study of Western philosophy from the Presocratics to William of Ockham. Prerequisite: ENG 111; PHIL 201. Fall, odd years.

318 17TH AND 18TH CENTURY WESTERN PHILOSOPHY - 3 hours
A study of Western philosophy from Hobbes and Descartes to Kant. Prerequisite: PHIL 201. Spring, even years.

320 19TH CENTURY WESTERN PHILOSOPHY - 3 hours
A study of Western philosophy from the German Idealists to Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Prerequisite: PHIL 201. Fall, even years.

330 PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION - 3 hours
A philosophic approach to the problems of religion with emphasis on ways of knowing, religious language, the theistic hypotheses, basic conceptions of God, the nature and destiny of humanity, and the problems of freedom and evil. C-4PH.

423 20TH CENTURY WESTERN PHILOSOPHY - 3 hours
A study of Western philosophy from C.S. Peirce to Sartre and Quine. Prerequisite: PHIL 201. Spring, odd years.

427 PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE - 3 hours
A critical analysis of the sciences and their methods that explores why – and to what extent – the sciences provide knowledge about reality. Topics include the demarcation of science from nonscience, inductive inference, the nature and justification of scientific theories, realism versus anti-realism, scientific change and revolution, comparison between natural and social sciences, and the relationship between the sciences and other methods of human inquiry. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing.

444 PHILOSOPHY OF CIVILIZATION (W) - 3 hours
The ideas of philosophers, historians, and political analysts as to how society may best be ordered, what causes the development and breakdown of civilization, and the highest ideals on which human life may be built. The nature of historical analysis and the role of the individual, both as thinker and actor in historical development. Prerequisite: ENG 111. Fall.

465 SENIOR SEMINAR (W) - 3 hours
Advanced study of topics in religion and philosophy, focusing on the research and evaluation of the current literature. Prerequisite: Senior standing or permission of instructor.


380 or 480 SPECIAL PROBLEMS - 1-4 hours
A student who has demonstrated ability to work independently may propose a course and pursue it with a qualified and willing professor. The department chair and the vice president and dean for academic affairs also must approve. A set of guidelines is available at the Office of the Registrar.

385 or 485 SEMINAR - 1-4 hours
An in-depth consideration of a significant scholarly problem or issue. Students pursue a supervised, independent inquiry on an aspect of the topic and exchange results through reports and discussions.