Friday, September 10, 2010

Introducing this blog

This blog contains the work done by groups of students in my Spring 2010, and in the future Spring 2011, sections of PHI 388, in which we examined several answers to the question, "Do we need God for the good life?"

Over the next few weeks, I'll be rolling out, in chronological order, a summary of some prominent answers to this question. Feel free to comment in the comments section, if you're so inclined.

Here's a description of the course:

Is God really a delusion? Does religion truly poison everything? Or do we actually need God to be fulfilled as human beings? Is the best life one in which we always get what we want?  Are our brains hard-wired for religious belief? These are some of the questions that we’ll discuss in this course.

The central question to be explored in the class is “Do we need God for the good life?”  Initially, it might seem that this question only allows for two answers—either yes or no. However, a variety of answers have been given which this course will explore. As we consider these answers, we’ll need to think about many other things, including whether or not God exists, human nature, and what is needed in order to live a truly fulfilling life. For example, is fulfillment found in wealth, power, success, being a good person, or knowing God?  Is it found in some of these? None of these? 

 In order to consider the answers that have been given by prominent thinkers through the centuries, we will read a variety of works that address these issues. This course will draw from the insights of thinkers in philosophy, religion, biology, history, and literature in order to encourage students to think about this question in a deep way. We’ll look at the ideas offered by Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, Friederich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard, Leo Tolstoy, and contemporary philosophers as well.  By the end of the semester, students should have developed, or more fully developed, their own answers to this question, as they consider the past and current debate about these issues. 

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