Philosophy of Religion

Yale-NUS College, Fall 2019

Key Information

Module Description

In this module, we will examine some central philosophical issues concerning religious belief and practice. Much, but not all, of our focus will be on topics relevant to the intersection of the great Abrahamic religions -- Judaism, Islam, and Christianity -- especially classical theism, the view that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent creator of the cosmos.

Topics may include the problem of evil, petitionary prayer, and religious experience. Most reading assignments will draw from contemporary Anglophone philosophical sources (esp. journal articles), supplemented with some literature.

Questions and Topics

The module will revolve around some questions in the philosophy of religion, including:

Policies and Assignments

Guiding Principles

In this module, as in all others, I will aim to both challenge and exercise care for students.

This module will -- as one might expect for a 3000-level module -- be pitched somewhere between a 4000-level philosophy module intended exclusively for majors and an introductory 2000-level philosophy module or PPT. Students who have never taken a philosophy module can expect to find topics and readings challenging. Several units within the module will make substantive use of formal reasoning skills introduced in QR (probabilistic reasoning in a Bayesian framework). It will benefit many to brush up on Bayes' Theorem before the third week of this module.


Your grade for the module will be determined by the following activities (click for details):

Class Attendance

You may miss up to two class meetings without penalty. Beyond that, each unexcused absence will count against your Engagement grade. You may ameliorate up to one unexcused absence with an additional Prep.

Academic Integrity

I tend to be an easy-going professor. Exceptions to this rule tend to involve intellectual fraud. Avoid intellectual fraud, and cite your sources. Talk with me if you have any questions on this matter. Consider yourself warned; there will be no further warning.


If you have a condition that interferes with your ability to participate in this module, you may be entitled to accommodation. Please contact your Assistant Dean of Students to secure such accommodation.

Schedule and Readings

You need not purchase any books for this module. If you have trouble accessing the readings, or if printing them imposes difficulties, email me.

Tuesday 13 August
Welcome! Read the syllabus before coming to class
Friday 16 August
The logical problem of evil Mackie -- Evil and Omnipotence

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Tuesday 20 August
The free will defense Plantinga -- The Free Will Defense (pp. 29-64)

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Michelle, Mitchell
Friday 23 August
Arguments from particular evil Rowe -- The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism;
Adams -- Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (sections I-III)

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Charles
Tuesday 27 August
More theodicy and defense van Inwagen -- The Problem of Evil

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Joseph F, Tiffany
Friday 30 August
The evidential problem of evil Draper -- God, Evil and the Nature of Light

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Joseph H
Tuesday 3 September
Fine-tuning Collins -- The Fine-Tuning Argument

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Saksham
Friday 6 September
Fine-tuning Sober -- The Design Argument (focus on pp.133-139; skim the rest);
Weisberg -- Firing Squads and Fine-Tuning
Preps: Joshua, Jun Hong
Tuesday 10 September
Petitionary prayer Stump -- Petitionary Prayer

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Reza, Jay
Friday 13 September
Petitionary prayer Thornton -- Wanting to Change the Mind of the Being Who Knows Best

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Cassandra, Hoon Hee
Tuesday 17 September
Atheistic prayer Kleinschmidt -- Atheistic Prayer
Preps: Muhammed Ali, Izzah, Jia Qi
Friday 20 September
Prayer Gross -- Meditation and Prayer: A Comparative Inquiry;
Tanaka -- Christian Prayer Seen from the Eyes of a Buddhist
Tuesday 1 October
Religious disagreement Feldman -- Reasonable Religious Disagreements

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Ayrton
Friday 4 October
Religious disagreement King -- Religious Skepticism and Higher-Order Evidence
Preps: Mitchell
Tuesday 8 October
Religious disagreement Plantinga -- Pluralism: A Defense of Religious Exclusivism
Preps: Charles, Michelle
8 October: Narrow Paper Due
Friday 11 October
Religious agreement Bogardus and Urban -- How to tell whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Joseph F, Tiffany
Tuesday 15 October
Religious agreement Smith -- The Common Consent Argument for the Existence of Nature Spirits

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Saksham, Izzah
Friday 18 October
Faith Jackson -- Belief, credence, and faith
Preps: Joshua, Jun Hong
Tuesday 22 October
Faith Buchak -- Faith and steadfastness
Preps: Joseph H
Friday 25 October
Faith Jeffrey -- Does hope morally vindicate faith?
Preps: Reza, Jay, Marcus
Tuesday 29 October
Applied topics: Islamic Theodicy Mobini -- An Islamic Theodicy
Preps: Muhammed Ali, Hoon Hee
Friday 1 November
Applied topics: Talmudic theodicy Lebens & Goldschmidt -- The Promise of a New Past

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Cassandra
Tuesday 5 November
Applied topics: Thinking -- human and divine Magical thinking -- Bailey
Friday 8 November
Applied topics: God and gender Rea -- Gender as a divine attribute

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Michelle, Ayrton
Tuesday 12 November
Applied topics: God and morality Antony -- Good Minus God;
Heathwood -- Could Morality Have a Source?

Optional Reading (click to expand)

Preps: Marcus, Jia Qi
Friday 15 November
Review No assigned readings
26 November: Wide Paper Due