Philosophy of Religion

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PHL 240

       Course Name: Philosophy of Religion

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course critically examines various aspects of religious experience and related theological concepts and theories. Topics include relationship between myth and religion; structure and meaning of worship; arguments for and against God’s existence, and relevance of modern science to religious belief.  IAI H4 905

IV.   Learning Objectives

After completing this class, students will be able to do the following:

  1. Define the basic vocabulary needed to discuss the central themes and arguments of the philosophy of religion.
  2. Evaluate religious (or irreligious) positions by critically analyzing the arguments that support them and by assessing their fundamental presuppositions.
  3. Analyze both orally and through written work how specific approaches to the philosophy of religion have emerged in different historical and cultural contexts.  (Students will study representative philosophers from at least four traditions, including non-Western philosophy.)
  4. Recognize the ethical implications of different positions within the philosophy of religion by applying these positions to concrete ethical issues on both the personal and global levels.
  5. Develop their critical thinking skills by identifying problems and comparing alternative solutions offered by different philosophies of religion.
  6. Demonstrate respect for different philosophies and the cultures of which they are a part.
  7. Exhibit values related to teamwork and collaboration, fostered by the pedagogy of shared-inquiry and critical dialogue appropriate to the humanities and philosophy.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

(This is a sample outline of topics.  In your outline of topics please specify the dates on which you will cover specific topics and other important dates such as exams and paper deadlines.)

  1. New Perspectives on the Philosophy of Religion
    1. Does Religious Thinking have a Foundation? Smith and Nishitani
    2. Philosophy of Religion and Pluralism: Bilamoria
  2. Visions and Skepticism of Ultimate Reality
    1. Non-Theistic-Monism: Lao Tzu and Shankara
    2. Arguments for God’s Existence: Avicenna, Udayana and Aquinas
    3. Religious and Anti-Religious Skepticism: Dharmasiri and Hume
  3. The Problem of Evil in Focus
    1. Western Approaches; Theological and Existential: Mackie and Wiesel
    2. Confucian Debates on Human Nature: Mencius and Hsun Tzu
    3. For and Against Religious Civilization: Confucius and Nietzsche
  4. Ponderings on the Afterlife
    1. Jewish and Christian Studies in Contrast:      Lamm and Maritan
    2. The Theory of Rebirth: Aurobindo
    3. Naturalism and the Denial of Immortality: Badham
  5. The Conflicting Commitments of Faith, Reason, Science and Truth
    1. Motivations for Faith: Averroes and Pascal
    2. A Social Critique of Religious Belief: Marx
    3. Cases for and Against Miracles: Swinburne and Hume
    4. East Asian Perspectives on Science and Religion: Hu Shih and Abe

VII.  Methods of Instruction

  • Lectures and discussion
  • Small group work
  • Films
  • Student presentations and debates
  • Guest speakers
  • Field trips may be required

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

(Please include information here about all expectations you have for your students regarding behavior, work, etc.  The following are sample components you may wish to include.  Please be aware that you must require students in this course to produce at least 15 pages of critical written assignments over the course of the semester.  These may be assigned in a variety of ways including journals, response papers, field trip projects, etc.)

  • Essays
  • Standards for written work
  • Quizzes/Exams
  • Attendance
  • Participation
  • Final Project
  • Special policies about make-up exams, late papers, or other matters of concern

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

A text such as Gary E. Kessler, Philosophy of Religion: Toward a Global Perspective might be used.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

(In this section, please present the percentages or point breakdown of their final grade.  The writing assignments should count for at least 40% of the final grade.  An example follows.)
  • Quizzes/Exams……40 points
  • Journal/Essays……40 points
  • Final Project with oral presentation……10 points
  • Attendance and participation……10 points
  • Grading scale: 90-100, A……80-89, B……70-79, C……60-69, D

XI.   Other Course Information

Instructor information
  • Office and office hours:
  • Phone:
  • Email and website:

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.