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Nature, Cosmos, and God/Catholic Theological Thinking (CTH 249/REL 280) [M/W 11:20am-12:50am] 2352 N Clifton

, Room 155 Instructor: Dr. Anthony Paul Smith ( Room: Room 129, Munroe Hall (2312 North Clifton Avenue) Phone: 773-325-3259 (room) 773-931-9570 (cell) Office hours: 2:00pm-3:00pm M or by appointment

Course Description This course will examine various religious traditions and their secular outgrowths in order to critically examine the concepts of nature, cosmos, and God. There will be a special emphasis on the place of human beings in the reality of these concepts (i.e. nature-in-itself) and how our conceptions of these realities play a part in our everyday actions. Beliefs regarding "Divine activity" and a purposive cosmos with seemingly natural processes will be carefully studied. We will examine six different creation stories: the polytheistic Babylonian “Enuma Elish”, the monotheistic Jewish story of creation found in Genesis, the Greek philosophical story of creation found in Plato’s Timaeus, the story of a “new creation” found in the Christian scriptures, the Islamic story of creation witnessing to the power and mercy of God, and the modern story of the evolution of life on this planet found in Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Each of these traditions will be introduced and the consequences of their understanding of creation explored through later theological writings. By the end of the course you will have a working knowledge of the three monotheisms’ understanding of these problems placed within a contemporary context. The methodological approach of the class will be largely theological, by which I mean that we will aim to understand each text on its own terms in relation to its understanding of the Divine. However, there will be a strong emphasis on history as well. Learning Outcomes Upon completing the course the student should be able to: • • • engage with multiple religious traditions and understand their similarities and differences with regard to a common concept or problem; identify and explain the central questions and methods of each tradition with regard to nature, the cosmos, and God; be able to identity the central themes and arguments of the texts and state them in a clear and sympathetic way in class discussion; be able to formulate criticisms in a way that is attentive to the original author’s intent and argumentation.

Grade Summary There will be two tests (comprised of short-answer questions and essay


questions), 10-mini essays written for our in-class seminars, and a final paper (minimum of 5-pages, double-spaced). Each exam will count for 25% (for a total of 50%) of your final grade, each mini-essay will count for 2.5% (for a total of 25%) and the final paper will count for 25%. There will be some opportunities for extra credit. It is important that you do not miss a class and especially an exam. Any make-up for the in-class exams will only be given due to extreme situations, and this is done very rarely. You must have prior permission from the instructor to take a make-up. The paper is due via Desire2Learn (click the “Dropbox” tab) or by email by the end of the day (11:59PM) on Wednesday, March 14th. The paper is to be submitted electronically only and preferably as a PDF. Details concerning the paper (its format and content) will be passed out after the first exam. Late papers will not be accepted except for extreme situations. Cheating/plagiarism will be dealt with as the serious infractions that they are, possibly leading to failure; see the Student Handbook for details. Attendance is important but will not be taken every day. It is your responsibility to attend every class. I can guarantee that poor attendance will make it impossible to do well in this class. Cell Phone and Laptop Policy While I understand the addiction to cell phones, especially smart phones, the material we are studying is very difficult and therefore requires your undivided attention. If you are caught using your phone during a lecture you will be given one warning (either verbally or by email). If you are caught a second time or more you will face a reduction of five points for each offense from your highest scoring piece of coursework. Please turn all cell phones off during the lecture. If I can do it, so can you. Laptops are acceptable in the class, but for note taking only. If you appear not to be paying attention because you’re distracted by something nonlecture related on your laptop then I will ask you to read the last line of notes you have just written. If you can’t then you will be given a warning (either verbally or by email). If you are caught a second time or more you will face a reduction of five points for each offense from your highest scoring piece of coursework. Desire2Learn Please make sure that you check the email attached to your Desire2Learn profile. I will be sending weekly emails to that address. All course documents, powerpoints, audio of lectures, and other helpful links will be available on the Desire2Learn course page. I will also be setting up forums where you can discuss the week’s readings. These are not graded, but it will be a helpful resource for those who want to ask questions about the reading. I will check in on these forums and participate. Remarks on Lectures, Readings, Films, and Classroom Discussions We are dealing with adult themes and a range of different belief systems in this class. You will be exposed to different ways of thinking both in the readings, the lectures, and discussions in class. At times you may find yourself offended by one or more of the ideas presented and when you are not offended a fellow classmate may well be. This is ok! While of course verbal or physical abuse is strictly not tolerated, we have to give each


other permission to be offensive (within the bounds of respectful discourse) and to be offended. By remaining in this course you are agreeing to have respectful conversations about a wide range of different beliefs. This goes especially for the films and clips we will watch in class. At times I have chosen material that may be offensive to some. Some films will be rated-R and some clips from TV shows will be rated TV-MA. By remaining enrolled in this class after the first session you are entering into a nonverbal agreement that you understand and accept you will be asked to watch these films and clips.

Required Texts • Course reader: Selections from Scriptures (Available on Desire2Learn) o Enuma Elish o Genesis 1 o 2 Corinthians 5 o Revelation 21 o Selections from the English translation of the Qu’ran. Selections from other texts (Available on e-reserve <> password:REL280) o St. Aquinas, Summa Theologica (Public Domain) o The Brethren of Purity, “The Case of the Animals versus Man before the King of the Jinn” in An Anthology of Ismaili Literature: A Shi’I Vision of Islam (I.B. Tauris) o Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (Harvard UP) o Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History (Princeton UP) o St. Francis, “Canticle of the Sun” o Ibn Khaldûn, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History (Princeton UP) o Plato, Timaeus in Primary Readings in Philosophy for Understanding Theology (Westminster/John Knox Press) o Ibn Sina, Th e Metaphysics of the Healing (Brigham Young UP) o Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed (Hackett)

• David Burrell, Freedom and Creation in Three Traditions (Notre Dame
UP) • Stuart A. Kaufmann, Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion (Basic Books) • E.O. Wilson, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth (Norton)

Outline of Course and Reading Schedule Readings listed are to be read for that class period. If the reading is listed under September 14th, it is to be read prior to the September 14th session of class. To help guide your reading, I will provide two study question per reading assignment (via email) which you should come to class as


prepared as possible to answer; writing out answers beforehand is not required but is encouraged. The schedule and procedures for this course are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances; changes will be announced in class. January 4th January 9th January 11th January 16th Introduction The Contemporary Creation Story Darwin Ch. 14; Wilson, chs, 1-4, 11 Wilson, chs. 13-17 Violence and Creation: The Babylonian Creation Myth Enuma Elish; Eliade ch. 3 The Goodness of Creation: The Jewish Tradition Genesis 1; Maimonides, selections Burrell, Introduction and ch. 1 Creation as Giving Form to Chaos: The Greek Tradition Plato, pp. 16-38 Creation Ex Nihilo: From the Jewish and Greek to the Christian Tradition Burrell, chs. 2-3; 2 Corinthians 5; Revelation 21 The New Creation: The Christian Tradition Aquinas, selections Burrell, chs. 4-5 Test 1 The Power in Creation: The Islamic Tradition Selections from the English translation of the Qu’ran; Avicenna (Ibn Sina), pp. 283-299, 299-318 Burrell, chs. 6-7 The Place of the Human Amongst Other Creatures in the Cosmos: Radical Thinkers from Christianity and Islam Ibn Khaldûn, pp. 33-44, 63-65; The Brethren of Purity, pp. 113-118 Francis, pp. 37-39; Burrell, chs. 8-9 Rethinking Nature, Cosmos and God

January 18th January 23rd January 25th

January 30th

February 1st February 6th February 8th February 13th

February 15th February 20th

February 22nd February 27th


Kaufmann, chs. 1-4 February 29th March 5th March 7th March 12th Kaufmann, chs. 5-6, 9 Kaufmann, chs. 10, 12, 14-15 Kaufmann, chs. 16-19 Test 2