Course Description

PL 30  Philosophy of Religion

 A survey of the living religions of the world followed by an examination of a scientific analysis of religion and then a critical analysis of nature of religion and major conclusions of religious thought. Topics include: ideas of a deity, proofs for the existence of a deity, the existence of miracles, the problem of evil, the existence of souls and the resurrection of bodies, the nature of religious language and the relation of morality to religion. Class discussions concern the issues above and readings taken from works of traditional and contemporary philosophers, including Aquinas, Anselm, Hume, Kant, Russell, Ayer, Flew and Pojman.

Ammerman Campus:

Section 3 credits Professor P. Pecorino

This PL30  Section  will be offered as part of the SUNY Learning Network. After you have registered for this class, visit the Web site http://SLN.suny.ed/SLN to obtain connection and other technical assistance.

All work in this course is conducted online through computers and the internet.  There are NO class meetings with the professor.


Course Description


  To enable a student to:

  • Become familiar with a variety of the worlds living religions and be able to compare and contrast some of their features

  • Have some understanding of the findings and theories of the sciences concerning religion and the current status of the relationship of science to religion

  • Have an understanding of the traditional arguments based upon reasoning for the existence of a deity, a supreme being and the weaknesses and values of those arguments

  • Have an understanding of the traditional arguments based upon experience for the existence of a deity, a supreme being and the weaknesses and values of those arguments

  • Have an understanding of arguments for the existence of a soul and theories of the after life along with an understanding of their weaknesses

  • Have a critical understanding for the nature of religious language

  • Have a critical understanding of the relationship of reason to faith

  • Have an understanding of the relationship of Religion to ethics, the foundations of the moral order for any society

  • Have a critical understanding of what the essence of religion might be

Each module in this course will have its own set of learning objectives.

Course Structure

This class is divided into three distinct parts.

I. History of Religions / Comparative Religion:

This is a brief survey of some of the most significant or largest religions in the world. This is needed in order that all who take this course and desire to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of the religious experience and religious traditions first have an understanding of the variety of religions that exist, their similarities and their differences.











II. Science and Religion

This brief survey is needed in order to provide some knowledge of how the sciences have examined religious phenomena, what conclusions have been drawn and what problems may exist in the scientific approach to understanding religious phenomena.

a. History of Religion

b. Psychology of Religion

c. Sociology of Religion

d. Anthropology and Religion

III. Philosophy of Religion:

This is the central focus of the course. In this portion the student will be introduced to the traditional issues associated with the field of study known as "Philosophy of Religion" as well as to the more contemporary approaches taken by philosophers to the study of religion.

Included in this area there are questions having to do with:

· The existence of god

· The nature of god

· Arguments for the existence of god

· Arguments against the existence of god

· The problem of evil

· Atheism

· Religious experience as noumenal

· Mystical experience

· Miracles

· Religious language

· The value of religion

· Religion and morality and ethics

· Religion and reason

· Religion, Faith and Philosophy and Reason

· The meaning of religion

-the definition of religion




The course is divided into 9 Modules, and each module contains a chapter from the textbook. Modules may last from one to three weeks.

The following learning activities apply to each module:

1. Read the assigned textbook material.

2. Respond to discussion questions submitted by the instructor. At least to 4 questions in each module.

3. Create and submit a discussion question about the material. At least one in each module.

4. Respond publicly to some or all of the questions submitted by other students.

5. Reply to students who respond to your question and responses.

Virtual Seminars/Discussions

In every module you will find a "Virtual Seminar." A virtual seminar is like a class discussion. Here, for each module and topic, you are expected to reply to questions from the instructor, you will ask a "critical thinking" question about some topic in the chapter, get responses from other students, and reply to those responses. Here too, you will answer the questions posed by other students, and they will reply to your answers. You are welcome to keep up this "virtual discussion" as long as you wish. The idea here is for each student to join in and to lead a discussion with the other students about some important issue introduced in the chapter.

This is the heart of this course as far as your instructor is concerned. It is here that the process of philosophy will be in evidence. It is here that you get an opportunity to DO PHILOSOPHY. This is the component of this online course that fosters the dialectical process of inquiry that is the heart of Philosophy. 

Written assignments:

Upon completion of each module there is an essay question. These questions are my way of testing your understanding of the texts and Discussions for that module. You will know what the questions or topics are at the start of each module. You should post your essays during the 2-day "window" that is established for submissions, not before. Unlike your responses to the discussion questions posed by me and the other students, you will submit your essays just to me, not to the whole class. You need to consider these essays as "take-home, open-book essay exams", which require well-organized, thorough responses.

Talk with the Professor

 In the discussion board area there is a "Talk with the Professor" area. Here I will ask questions which each student should respond to. Also, you may ask me questions, which I will respond to. Most often, I expect these questions (mine and yours) will be related to the discussions or the textbook - but nothing is "off-limits."

Ask a Question

Most discussion forums you will be entering will allow you to start a new discussion thread. The button is in the upper left. When you use this button, it creates a discussion thread that the professor and other students can participate in. It is the equivalent of "raising your hand" in the classroom.


These take place in the PRIVATE FOLDER area of the class.  You may ask me a private question at any time using this area. Treat this area as a private office visit. I welcome your comments and feedback, too.


There are a variety of readings. In this online course you are basically reading and writing with lots of thinking in between.

There is a required textbook for this course: it is FREE and available in two sites on the internet.

There are two copies of the online textbook for this course available at:

and another copy at

In the event that you have any need to access the reading and cannot use the SLN website

you might try reading the materials at the sites above. It is for TEXT ONLY not for discussions

or for sending or receiving communications.

Most of the material in the textbook will be made available to you in links to other sites.

These sites will have the message READ in front of it, e.g., READ Dialogue ION

b. There are other textbooks related to this course for those who may feel more comfortable having such a book rather than reading everything online. There are many such introductory books.

Schmidt, Roger, et al; Patterns of Religion, Belmont, CA.:Wadsworth, 1999. ISBN 0534 506 496

Patterns of Religion  by Roger Schmidt, Gene C. Sager, Gerald Carney, Julius J. Jackson, Kenneth Zanca, Albert Muller, Julius Jackson  Our Price: $67.95 Used Price: $43.75

Pojman, Louis P. Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1998. ISBN 0-534-52956-9

Click here to order from:

c.The Instructor’s Lessons, Lectures, Notes, Advice, etc...

d.The Discussion Topics

e.Student Submissions-Discussion Posts and Threads

f.Internet Resources- required are marked as in the online textbook

e.g., READ Dialogue ION

Other links offered in the online textbook are suggested readings and are simply offered as links to materials you might want to look at or read with varying degrees of interest. Some may find these more interesting than the required linked materials!


1. Class Participation & Discussion: 18%

2. Critical Analysis Essays (Written Assignments) : 45%

3. The Quality of Your Discussion Threads: 36%

WORKLOAD: In a fifteen-week semester (Spring and Fall) the workload for this course would be 12 to 15 hours per week.  This includes all the reading, writing, and dialogue with your instructor and fellow students. 

In the SUMMER SESSION with only 8 weeks from May 29th to July 23rd the workload in effect is double that of the regular 15-week semester.  It requires 24 to 30 hours per week to successfully complete this online course. 

This requires a serious commitment on the part of the learner.  You can access the course at any time from any computer with an Internet connection.  However, you must put in the effort, the labor, the work needed to meet the course requirements and obtain a passing grade. 

The course can prove to be a lot of fun for those who take it seriously and keep up with the workload.  For those who are unable to put in the time and fall behind the course could prove to be quite horrible. 


You are encouraged to read the student comments on the course before the course begins.  They indicate that the course is rewarding, some fun, but a great deal of work.

PLEASE consider carefully what time you have available for this course.  If you decide to continue on in the course, I look forward to “seeing” you online.

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