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UCOR 3000 2012

Belief, Morality, and the Modern Mind


Instructor: Matthew Kunz Office Phone: 206.240.7882 Office: Marston 248 Email: Office Hours: Friday after class 12:30-1:30 (office); and by appointment. Classroom: Weter 202 Course Description: This course considers the question, How do I know what is true and how should I act on this knowledge? We will examine some of the most foundational areas of human experience. All convictions involve some kind of assumption, and we will examine the assumptions involved in our beliefs, moral convictions, and rational thought. We will do this so that each of us over the course of a lifetime can be better able to develop convictions that work in the practical, personal, and social world. The course will pay particular attention to the relationship among, and the balance between, religious belief, moral conviction, and rational thought. Is reason a method or a bedrock foundation which can be used to evaluate other ways of thinking? Is religious belief irrational, other than rational, or a form of rational thought? Do moral principles exist separately from human or divine wisdom? Are moral principles moral because god says so or does God say principles are moral because they are somehow independently so? These are just a few of the questions we will address while working toward our goal of developing a coherent personal religious, moral, and rational worldview. Learning Objectives: 1. To examine the foundations of religious belief, morality, and reason with the help of the work of scholars who have done this at a high level before us and learn to develop our own theories of these issues. 2. To understand a series of important issues about religious faith raised by philosophy and science, e.g., faith and reason, Gods design and human reason, creation and evolution, the soul and the body. To understand philosophical challenges to faith concerning: the problem of evil, the nature of the afterlife, and the foundations of morality. 3. To acquire skill in discussing (orally, writing) such questions about religious faith. 4. To gain understanding of and appreciation for the strengths of philosophical alternatives to Christian theism, such as naturalism. 5. To learn to articulate and understand the strengths/weaknesses of a variety of conflicting views regarding religionincluding views with which one disagrees -- in a way that that is charitable and accurate. (Note: being charitable involves putting a view or argument in its best light; and rules out the use of language that impugns motives.) 6. To increase awareness of reputable sources of information and reflection about issues at the intersection of religion, philosophy, and science. Teaching Methods: lecture, class discussion, and writing. 1. Lecture. I will give some lectures about the issues involved in that days readings in order to give you a model for developing your own theories. The views I express are open to criticism, and by the end of the semester you should be comfortable with criticizing my views. I do not lecture in order to give you information that you should repeat on an exam or in a paper. Rather, I lecture to give you some background, and to give you a model of a person who has seriously wrestled with these issues as you should. 2. Class Discussion. I will assume that each of you has done the assigned reading for each class, and I will cultivate class discussions to help you

develop your own theories. I will call on people in class, but do not be afraid. You will learn quickly that my Socratic method involves more carrot than stick and will result in interesting class discussions. In life, you must learn how to express yourself verbally and think on your feet. This class will be a fun and profitable way of doing this. Note that I do not discriminate against introverts. If you have trouble speaking in class, I will adjust, and you can always come see me during office hours. 3. Writing. There will be a weekly short paper, two in class essay exams, and a paper required to pass this course. The specifics of these will be provided below. I endeavor to help you learn to write clearly about difficult issues and to develop your ideas about religious belief, morality, and reason such that they are suitable for expression. A good idea not expressed is not an idea at all. Texts 1. Course Manual on sale in Bookstore. 2. On-line readings for references see the specific assignments below. 3. Some available on Library Reserve, if necessary. Requirements: 1. Two exams. A midterm and a final exam (75 points each). Each will require a bluebook and will be done in class with no books or notes. The exams will be graded on your ability to form arguments and respond to counterarguments. Each exam will consist of three essay questions, and each question must be answered. Each question will be worth 25 points using the following criteria: 10 points for your ability to choose and summarize the best arguments to answer the question; 10 points for your ability to anticipate and respond to counterarguments to your position; and 5 points for clarity of expression and structural mechanics. At least one week before each exam I will provide you with ten possible essay questions out of which I will choose three on the day of the exam. This is a truly rational exercise. If you have a disability which obviates these requirements, it is your responsibility to make arrangements with the Learning Center and for them to contact me. 2. A Weekly Paper. Every Friday a one page paper is due before class on a topic discussed on Wednesday. The paper must be ONLY one page, double spaced, and it must be turned in hard copy in class. If you miss class you will not get credit unless you can demonstrate some emergent reason for missing class. You have two basic options for this paper. Option one is to dissect the arguments in one of the assigned readings for Mondays class. You may simply list the arguments to get credit for the paper. Even better is to both list the arguments and respond to them. I encourage this approach because it is the best practice for the exams. Option two is to do a reflection upon a given reading or topic in class. This option is good because reason is not the only method we use in life and in class. You will see that I use these papers to spur class discussion and as a point of departure for teaching opportunities. With both options, I will tell you which reading(s) you may write upon during Wednesdays class. Each paper is worth 5 points. There will be seven of these papers for a total of 35 points. I will not give many comments, but I will grade each paper as a zero to five point paper. Most good faith efforts are four or five point papers. 3. A Final Paper. On the last day of class a final paper is due. It must be between 1500 and 1800 words, typed and double spaced, on a topic that you clear with me prior to Thanksgiving Day. If you do not clear the topic with me, either during office hours or if you are really clear, through e-mail, then you cannot get

credit for the paper. Like the weekly papers the final paper may be either an argument-response format or a reflection format. Note that even the reflection format must be clear enough to understand. The final paper is worth 75 points. Late papers will be downgraded ten points per day late. 4. Class participation. You should attend every class, participate in the discussions regularly, and be present in class, eg, not reading or discussing something else. You should not leave class for any reason other than emergencies. As above, I do not discriminate against people who have difficulty talking in public. If you think that you have this difficulty you should take advantage of my encouragement and try to overcome it. If you cannot overcome it on your own, you may come see me during office hours to get your participation credit. Class participation is worth 40 points. This is a lot of points. Keep that in mind. Course Evaluation: It is my/our expectation that you will participate in an online evaluation of this course and its instructor(s) in a thoughtful and constructive manner. The evaluation data is used to make improvements in the course, and your feedback is considered when selecting textbooks, designing teaching methods, and preparing assignments. All answers are confidential - your name is not stored with your answers in any way. Also, your instructor(s) cant see the evaluations until final grades are submitted to the University. BONUS: If we reach a 75% response rate before grades are due, I will add 1 point to everyones grade e.g. from 269 (B+) to 270 (A-) make sense? GRADING
Points 279-300 . . . . . A 270-278.99 . . . A261-269.99 . . . B+ 249-260.99 . . . B 240-248.99 . . . B231-239.99 . . . C+


Percentages Points 93-100% 90-92.99% 219-230.99 . . 87-89.99% 210-218.99 . . 83-86.99% 201-209.99 . . 80-82.99% 180-200.99 . . 77-79.99% 0-179.99 . . . . Percentages . . . . . C CD+ D E 73-76.99% 70-72.99% 67-69.99% 60-66.99% 0-59.99%

Note on reading philosophy: for the most part the readings for this course are relatively short. However, it is assumed that you will have read them carefully before we discuss them in class. Here are some suggestions for reading philosophical articles or essays: 1. Preview. Start by skimming the work. Read the first paragraph and the last paragraph. As you skim, try to identify the main points especially the main theses. What is the reading trying to achieve? 2. Spot Theses. As you read look for the main theses. Highlight or underline them. 3. Discern Logical Structure. Stop at each natural break in the reading and ask yourself, What did I just read? What was the point? How does the reasoning go - i.e. what are the central premises and how do they (or not) support the conclusions? 4. Consolidate. When you are done, summarize the central theses and/or the main argument. If you cannot do this, review the piece until you can.


Monday, September 24.

Introduction to the Course. Questions to consider: What is faith? What is reason? What is morality? What is real? What is illusion? Why is this last distinction important? Initial discussion of moral questions.

Wednesday September 26.

Logic and Arguments. Reading: Stephen Layman, How to Deal with Arguments, pp. 1 12. Blackboard. Questions to consider: What is logic? How is being logical related to being reasonable? What are valid forms of argument? Work the exercises in sections B and C at the end of the reading and be ready to do them in class if I call upon you. Moral Question: Please listen to the Podcast of Radiolab, Morality, first broadcast August 13, 2007, found at: Listen to the podcast and take notes with the following questions in mind: Can science describe what morality is? Why or why not? Are moral principles a matter of survival or something else? What do you think of the approach to morality of the scientist featured in the story? The inner chimp? What arguments regarding morality do these scientists make? How do you evaluate them? How are examples of child moral or immoral behavior helpful in understanding how we should think about morality? What are your thoughts on isolating the immoral? Does silence provoke morality?

Friday September 28.

Allegory and Analogy: A Day of Greek Philosophy. Reading: The Allegory of The Cave, Plato, found at Questions to consider: What is the light? What are the fire and shadows? What is Socrates suggesting overall by the allegory? Why does he use an allegory and not an argument (think hard, important question)? What examples can you think of that are analogous to the process of exit and entry from the cave? Reading: Republic Book 10, Plato, found at Note: the whole Book X is optional reading. You need only read about the first five or ten pages to get the gist for class discussion. However, this text is one of my favorites, and I think it is worthwhile read in its entirety. Questions to consider: Why does Socrates think imitators are dangerous and not just less desirable? What does Socrates mean by the thing God makes as opposed to the thing the carpenter or painter makes? What is reality as opposed to illusion for Socrates? What representational poets do we have in our society and, based on Socrates insights, how should be consider them? What implications for the use of screens (TVs, phones, computers, etc.) are there based on Socrates insights? Is God real or an illusion?

Monday October 1.

Views of Faith and Reason. Readings: Romans 1: 18 23, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. Peterson, et al., Faith and Reason: How Are They Related? Course Manual, 43-60. Questions to consider: What is strong rationalism? What is fideism? What is critical rationalism? What are the main strengths and weaknesses of these 3 views?

Wednesday October 3.

Views of Faith and Reason. Reading: Stephen Layman. Does God Exist?, pp. 1 5. Blackboard.

Questions: What is the basic structure of Laymans comparative approach to the question of Gods existence? What is naturalism and what are the distinct arguments in favor of it? Reading: Daniel Howard-Snyder, "Hiddenness of God," in ed. Donald Borchert, Encyclopedia of Philosophy
(MacMillan, 2006), pp. 1-8. (Use the following link:

How strong are the arguments for naturalism?

Friday October 5. Religious Experience. Readings: Isaiah 6: 1-8; William Alston, Religious Experience Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (Library/Databases/Routledge/Religious Experience).
Reading: Stephen Layman. Does God Exist?, pp. 6-8. Blackboard . Questions to consider: Alston presents an argument that defends the claim: religious experience can provide good reason to believe that God exists. What is his main reason for thinking this? He defends his argument against several objections. Is his defense successful, in your opinion? Why or why not? Has Alston overlooked any important objections to his argument? Can religious experience provide a foundation for reasonable beliefs about God?

Monday October 8. Arguments for Gods Existence.

Reading: Stephen

Layman. Does God Exist?, pp. 8 - 21 Blackboard. Questions: What is the basic structure of Laymans comparative approach to the question of Gods existence? Which seems to raise the most compelling challenge to theism why? What are the main arguments in favor of theism? Which seems to raise the toughest challenge to naturalism why? What might be the value of thinking through such a comparative and cumulative case approach even if you think/feel that such arguments wont settle the questions? Is naturalism too simple to explain religious phenomena?

Wednesday October 10: Day of Common Learning, NO CLASS. Friday October 12.
Creation and Evolution. Reading: Daniel Harlow, After Adam: Reading Genesis in an Age of Evolutionary Science. 179 192. Blackboard and: Questions to consider: What does the book of Genesis teach about origin of the universe and the origin of life? Are the early chapters of Genesis in conflict with modern science if so on which points specifically? How does Harlow appeal to the near Eastern myths and their apparent informing of Genesis to suggest how we today are to understand the early chapters of Genesis (e.g. Gen 1 11)? What sort of interpretation of Genesis does he suggest regarding the nature of creation, the historical nature of Adam and Eve, and the meaning of the Fall and Original Sin? If Harlow is right about what kind of text Genesis is, to what extent should this shape our views on the status of scripture generally?

Monday October 15. Readings:

Romans 5: 12 21; Timothy Keller Creation,

Evolution, and Christian Laypeople Ken Ham I Agree with the Atheists! at: Questions: Is Darwinian evolution, especially on human origins, consistent with Biblical teaching and Christian theology if so how, if not, how not exactly? Specifically, what are the main reasons Pastor Keller offers for defending his belief in a historical Adam and Eve

and a special creation of the first humans? What are Ken Hams main reasons for agreeing with the atheists and opposing, among others, the academic Christians?

Wednesday October 17.

Creation and Evolution. Reading: Michael Behe, Darwins Breakdown: Irreducible Complexity and Design COURSE MANUAL, 90 101. Questions to consider: Does Design offer a superior explanatory strategy for explaining the complexity of life than Darwinist alternatives? Is ID Science? What is irreducible complexity? How might it represent a reliable indicator of designedness and how could we tell which designer(s) would be likely candidates? Also (suggested): David Levin, Review: The Edge of Evolution, see: .

Friday October 19.

Science and the Soul. Readings: Matthew 10:28 & Luke 23:35-47; Layman, Body and Soul pp. 1-9. Blackboard. Questions: What are the range of options available, according to Layman, of views of human nature? What are 2 basic differences between dualism and physicalism? Readings: John Seabrook, Suffering Souls New Yorker, Nov. 10, 2008. See:

Monday October 22

Science and the Soul. Readings: 2 Corinthians 4:165:10; Layman, Body and Soul pp. 9 - 22. Blackboard. Questions: Why are the free will and Exclusion arguments sources of difficulty for physicalism even non-reductive? What are the strongest reasons cited by Layman to adopt a dualist point of view? How would you differentiate a philosophical v. theological arguments for such a view of human persons? In the end, how does Layman seem understand the Biblical resources and the Imago Dei? What are the strongest reasons for/against each view?

Wednesday October 24. Watch Film: Into Great Silence.

Available on YouTube in pieces: Also available on Netflix in whole. This film is about Catholic monks who spend their lives directing their souls toward God. What can we learn from them? Is such a life morally commendable? Is there a paradox among the discipline they subject themselves to and the freedom they may achieve? How does a religious experience like Chant shape ones view on the divine? How are aesthetics and the divine related? Were you bored by the film? Would you get bored in a monastery or convent? Also, we will review for the mid-term. Come to class with your questions.

Friday October 26. Mid Term Exam. Bring a Bluebook. Exam is mandatory, no materials other than a pen or pencil and a bluebook are allowed. No leaving the room except for a clear emergency.

Monday October 29.

Divine Providence and Human Freedom. Reading: Davison, Divine Providence and Human Freedom, Course Manual, pp. 217-231. Questions to Consider: What is the difference between compatibilist and libertarian freedom? Why does this matter to the question of Providence, to the meaningfulness of human action? Which model of Providence and Divine Foreknowledge seems most convincing and why?

Wednesday October 31. The Problem of Evil.

Daniel Howard-Snyder, "God, Evil, and Suffering, Course Manual. pp. 76 98. Question to consider: What is the basic argument that states the problem? Do meaningful, loving relationships require free will to commit evil? Does a lawful universe require there to be evil? Must evil exist so that important Higher-Goods can exist?

Friday November 2.

The Problem of Evil. Daniel Howard-Snyder, "God, Evil, and Suffering, Course Manual. 98 - 115.

Monday November 5.

The Foundations of Morality. Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; Layman, Relativism and Subjectivism Course Manual, 7-29. Questions: What is normative relativism? What is emotivism? Why do many people find these views attractive? Can you name one difficulty each view faces?

Wednesday November 7.

Foundations of Morality. Readings: Romans 2:12-16; Craig A. Boyd and Raymond J. VanArragon, Ethics is Based on Natural Law, Course Manual, 299-310. Questions: What is natural law morality (according to these authors), and what are its merits?

Friday November 9.

Foundations of Morality. Readings: Genesis 22:1-14; I Samuel 15:1-3; Janine Idziak, Divine Commands Are the Foundation of Morality, Course Manual, 290-299. Questions: What is the divine command theory? Why does Idziak think we ought to accept it?

Monday November 12Veterans DayNo Class Wednesday November 14. Science, Miracles, and Reason. Readings:
(1) Mark 2: 1-12 (2) Wolfhart Pannenberg, The Concept of Miracle Zygon, vol. 37, no. 3
(September, 2002), pp 759-762. (Click on the link, then on PDF Full Text.) direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=aph&AN=12142343&site=ehost-live (3) David Hume Of Miracles in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: Questions: What is a miracle? Can one reasonably endorse the sciences and yet believe that miracles occur?

Friday November 16. The Doctrine of Hell. Readings: Matthew 25:31-46;

Mark 9:42-48; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; The Craig-Bradley Debate: Can a Loving God Send People to Hell? [Note: you do not need to read the Question and Answer Session at the end of the debate.] Questions: Why does Craig think that infinite (unending) punishment in hell is just? Why does Bradley think that the concept of a God who sends people to eternal hell is inconsistent?

Monday November 19.

Final Thoughts. Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian [Note: scroll down under Articles to find this essay.] By this time you should be able to summarize Prof. Russells arguments and respond to them on your own.

Wednesday November 21. Final Thoughts. McLean v. Arkansas Bd. Of Ed., 529
F.Supp. 1255 (ED Arkansas 1982). Available on Blackboard.

Friday November 23Thanksgiving BreakNo Class Monday November 26. Final Thoughts.
Emmanuel Levinas, The Pact, found at: %20Reader.pdf Scroll down to #13, The Pact.

Wednesday November 28. Catch up day and/or reading to be announced. Friday November 30Final papers are dueReview for final exam. Monday December 3Final Exam, Weter 202, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Bring a Bluebook. Exam is mandatory, no materials other than a pen or pencil and a bluebook are allowed. No leaving the room except for a clear emergency.