Course Ideas

1.  Postmodernism
a. Religious pluralism
b. The emergent church
c. The purpose and work of Christ and the atonement
d. Are subjective experience and relationships the only things that matter to the Christian life?
–What does a relationship with God involve?  More specifically, can one have knowledge as intimacy (a relationship with God) without propositional knowledge of God?
–Does what we believe really matter or does having true belief really matter?

2. Naturalism
a. Metaphysical naturalism/physicalism
b. Epistemic naturalism
c. Naturalism as a quasi-religion

3. The existence of God
a. Preliminary issues: how to think about God; how to think about existence;
how to think about proof.  (I think this last is especially important since
most people believe in a false dilemma–either the arguments prove with
absolute certainty that God exists, or we’re justified in being atheists.)
b. The new atheism
–Is the burden of proof on the theist? Should atheism be the default position unless proven otherwise?
c. Arguments for God’s existence
d. Problem of evil
–the nature of evil; what is assumed?
e. Historicity of the resurrection
f. Bad arguments against Christianity (arguments which point to things like the Crusades, slavery, the inquisition, etc.)
g. Evolutionary accounts of religious belief (What is the evidence for them and more importantly, why should we take them seriously?  They seem to be committing the genetic fallacy.)

4. Ethics
a. Relativism and Nihilism
–What do these things mean?  Where might they be correct?  Where did these
ideas come from?  Why are they wrong with regard to morality and truth?
b. Evolutionary ethics (accounts which try to undermine ethical objectivism by giving an evolutionary account of the origin of moral beliefs)
c. Utilitarianism
d. Divine Command Theory
–the moral argument for God’s existence.  Does the argument work?
e. Natural law

5. Ethics applied
a. Abortion–perhaps the most important social issue of the day.
b. Stem cell research
c. Euthanasia
d. Capital Punishment

6. The Christian mind and the Christian life
a. The value of philosophy
b. how to think about thinking
c. The importance of truth and knowledge for the Christian–Eliminating the
head/heart distinction
d. Rediscovering the virtues and the insights of Aristotle
–For instance, most parents think at some point, some inside their children will turn on and they’ll start living a good life.  Since they know what is right or wrong, apparently, that alleged knowledge will one day kick in.  There is no attempt to form character traits, dispositions, or habits which will naturally incline them toward the good.  This is absurd.  I can know everything there is to know about music theory, but if I don’t practice, I will never become a good pianist.

7. Religion and science
a. Evolution and the existence of God (including the surreptitious
combination of evolutionary theory with philosophical naturalism to generate
the atheistic conclusion).
–How should we understand the opening chapters of Genesis? Aren’t there too many problems in the opening chapters to take them literally?
b. Divine action in the world
c. The methods of science (Should we be provisional atheists?); testability
(Is all of science akin to using the scientific method on rocks or water?);
d. The presuppositions of science–truth, knowledge, uniformity of nature,
the existence of physical world, etc.
e. The demarcation issue; evolution, intelligent design, and public schools.
f. Science and the Bible–can one rationally believe the claims of scripture
in this age of science?  Doesn’t science disprove many empirical biblical
claims?
g. The epistemic status of scientific claims and the epistemic status of
religious claims–doesn’t science prove with certainty while religion is
purely speculative?

8. Christians and college
a. The ideas and argument the Christian student will be exposed to and what
is wrong with them

9. Scripture
a. Inspiration and authority (including the development of the canon, dates
of authorship, etc. in reply to liberalism)
–Is Scripture self-attesting or do we need reasons for thinking the Bible is inspired by God before justifiably trusting the claims of Scripture?
b. Problematic texts (possible contradictions, etc.)
c. Scary Bible passages (the God of the Old Testament appears bloodthirsty,
he seemed to license genocide)
d. Higher criticism and hermeneutics (Is understanding scripture simply a matter of personal interpretation where there is no objective meaning to the text?  If there is an objective meaning, how do we discover it–aren’t we just committing the intentional fallacy?)

10.  Philosophical theology
a. Trinity
b. Incarnation
c. God and justice (how could a loving God send people to hell just for not
believing in him?)
d. Openness of God theology/classical conception of God

11. Religious epistemology
a. The relationship between faith and reason
b. Reformed epistemology
c. The epistemic value of religious experience
d. What is the knowledge of God? Is this knowledge nothing more than knowledge as intimacy or is proposition knowledge relevant.
–Can we get epistemic certainty that God exists?
–Do we have an obligation to be psychologically certain that God exists?

12. God’s relation to creation
a. Semi-deism
b. Compatibilism/Calvinism
c. Omniscience and foreknowledge

13. Political philosophy
a. Separation of Church and state?
–What is the relationship between Christ and culture?
b. What should the Christians attitude toward politics be?
c. Does God care about politics?
d. Which view of the government and the relation of the government to the economy is supported in Scripture–capitalism, socialism, etc.?
–Does Acts really teach socialism?
–Why shouldn’t we seek a theocracy?

14. The nature of persons
a. How should we think about the nature of persons? Should we look to science and genetic structure? (For instance, even if 99% of our DNA is identical to a gorillas, is this relevant, or should we be looking at macro properties?) Do persons even have a nature?
b. What is a person/human? Should we think of humans as function kinds?
–What is the imago dei?
c. How different are humans from the rest of creation? Do they have a special moral status?
–What should be our attitudes toward the treatment of animals?
d. The moral nature of persons–are most people good for the most part?
–Do bad things happen to good people?
–What is our problem such that we need salvation or a relationship with Christ–low self-esteem, or any other psychological malady…?
e. Are we souls?
d. The function of men and women
–Isn’t the Bible misogynist and patriarchal?
–Should we embrace egalitarianism with respect to the roles of men and woman?
–How should we understand the New Testament texts which appear to deny egalitarianism?


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