What is faith? What is evil and why does it exist? Is there an afterlife?
Philosophy of Religion is a course that examines these and many other questions associated with religion. The class consists of readings from several philosophers, from ancient Socrates to modern-day Antony Flew, paired with thorough in-class discussions. Professor Dennis Holden presents each reading as a logical argument, simplifying the somewhat complex theories.
The course, not to be confused with religious studies, is an “introduction to a philosophical examination of religion,” as described by the college catalog. Instead of learning about various religions and their specific cultures, students discuss religious concepts and the arguments for and against them.
Students particularly enjoy the thought-provoking topics and discussions. “It definitely forces you to understand various people’s arguments that might be contradictory to your own,” said student Tim Lipuma.
Tired students flow into a 7:30 a.m. class each Tuesday. Holden plays music to wake up his students and prepare them for discussion.
Most class sessions begin with small group discussions regarding that day’s reading. The class then moves into a discussion-driven lecture, which further explains the reading. Holden leads the lecture-discussion hybrid, usually taking the position of the writer, while students present potential counter arguments. “I like the way that [Holden] is able to defend any side of the argument, and it forces you to keep thinking,” Lipuma said.
Because of the amount of clarity that’s provided in class, attendance plays a large role in students’ understanding. “One thing that’s important for me is physical presence in the classroom,” said Holden. Having the arguments presented out step-by-step and hearing the class-wide discussion brings a sense of simplicity to the mentally strenuous topics.
For students pondering greater questions, Philosophy of Religion provides not answers, but a logical evaluation of religious concepts.
“You can’t go into it with a one-track mind, you have to be flexible, willing to understand other arguments.” – Tim Lipuma, Biopsychology