PHIL 2130-25H; Spring 2012
Introduction to World Religions (honors)
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30-10:50am, TLC 1204
Instructor: Mark A. Tietjen (email@example.com)
Office: TLC 2250 (x.96294)
Office hours: T 1 – 2pm, W 8am-noon
Religion is a hot topic for many reasons. It plays an important role in the workings of the world, both globally and locally, and while one of the aims of many religions is to bring about peace in the world, it seems often that religion (or someone acting in the name of a religion) accomplishes the very opposite. Does it make sense to take religion seriously? Does it make sense to subscribe to a religion? Does religion even need to “make sense?”
This course investigates religion through the avenues of comparative religious study and philosophy. In approaching religion comparatively, this course will examine particular religions themselves. What constitutes these religions—their teaching, ethical views, beliefs about the divine? In approaching religion philosophically, this course will raise questions about the reasonableness of religious faith and whether and how God acts in the world.
Students are encouraged to learn sympathetically—to try and see how ‘insiders’ might conceive of their own religion. This is not fully possible, but it is an ideal worth striving for and one that cultivates harmony and understanding rather than stereotype and bigotry. Students are also encouraged to interact personally with the information under consideration. Whatever religion is, it is not first and foremost the subject of study in a college course, but instead a way of living one’s life and understanding one’s place in the world.
· Describe, compare, and contrast the distinct beliefs and practices of the world’s religions.
· Recognize and be able to discuss the historical and philosophical foundations of the major
· Differentiate the various scriptures of the world’s religions based upon content, genre, and
function within the religious community.
· Engage critically one’s own views of religion, belief in the divine, or religious groups.
· Develop intellectual sympathy with those of different religious worldviews.
These course-specific learning outcomes contribute to the departmental learning outcomes of the Philosophy Program by enabling students better to
· Discuss three major historical figures of philosophy;
· Ask philosophical questions and differentiate their types;
· Incorporate a philosophical position in oral and written communications;
· Critically outline and analyze philosophical issues;
Five Response papers (600 words) 25%
Term paper (1500-2000 words) 25%
Mid-Term Exam 25%
Final Exam 25%
Grading Scale. A (90% or above); B (80 to 89%); C (70 to 79%); D (60 to 69%); F (59 or below)
Response papers. Students are to write one response paper on one of each of the following five items: 1) a guest speaker, 2) a reading from the Smith book, 3) a reading from the van Voorst book, 4) a reading from the Kierkegaard book, and 5) due January 17th, answering the question ‘what does religion mean to me?’ (This latter paper can be as formal or informal as the student wishes). In the case of readings (#2-4), response papers are due at the beginning of the class in which we are discussing those readings.
Term paper. Students are to write a 1500-2000 word term paper on a subject of their choosing. Theses must be approved by professor prior to spring break. The paper is due electronically Monday, April 2.
Exams. Exams will cover material immediately preceding them, and they will likely include definitions and short and long essay. No hats, cell-phones, or bathroom breaks are permitted.
1. (FT) Kierkegaard, Sřren. Fear and Trembling. Cambridge University Press, 2006. 0521612691
2. (WR) Smith, Huston. The World’s Religions. Harper SanFrancisco. 0-06-250811-3
3. (AWR) Van Voorst, Robert. Anthology of World Scriptures. Thomson Wadsworth. 978-0-495-50387-3
Course Policies and Structure
Attendance will be kept, and it is students’ responsibility to keep up with their attendance and make sure their understanding of their attendance record coincides with the professor’s.
Absences: Students should obviously attend all classes, but are permitted to miss up to three without
penalty (no questions asked, etc.). Every absence after the third (up to the sixth) will result in a 5% reduction of the final grade. At seven absences a student will be given a failing grade for the class. I will do my best to let you out on time, so do your best to be on time. Students who leave class and do not return will be counted absent. Students who leave class and return should not make a habit of this; if they do, they will be counted absent.
Tardies: Each tardy counts as half an absence. Thus, 2 tardies = 1 absence.
Perfect Attendance: students who have zero absences and zero tardies (and who do not leave class early) will have 2 points added to their final grade.
Texting and other Disturbances: Texting, Facebooking, surfing, IMing, using the cell phone, or
any other class disturbances constitute a violation of the definition of attendance above. EACH TIME you distract yourself in class, expect to be called out and thereafter marked absent; you can accrue more than one absence per day this way. All electronic devices should be in a locked and upright position (turned OFF) for the duration of class. Don’t bring your computer to class; it’s not necessary or useful. If there is an emergency situation where someone is expecting a call, the professor should be notified prior to class and students should receive the call outside the classroom.
Automatic withdrawal: I will withdraw all students on the day of their seventh absence. If this occurs after the W date, that student will receive a WF.
Extra Credit: Students should not plan to rely on extra credit as a way of achieving a desired
grade in this class, though opportunities may be given throughout the course of the semester.
Miscellaneous: Papers submitted in other courses (whether college, high school, etc.) may not be
submitted again for this course.
Cheating and Plagiarism
The Department of English and Philosophy defines plagiarism as taking personal credit for the words and ideas of others as they are presented in electronic, print, and verbal sources. The Department expects that students will accurately credit sources in all assignments. An equally dishonest practice is fabricating sources or facts; it is another form of misrepresenting the truth. Plagiarism is grounds for failing the course.
Jan 10 Welcome and introductions
12 Defining Religion and Scripture WR chp. 1, AWS, chp. 1
17 Hinduism WR chp. 2, AWS chp. 2
19 Hinduism; Guest Speaker TBA
24 Buddhism WR chp. 3, AWS chp. 3
31 Daoism WR chp. 5, AWS chp. 7
Feb 2 Zoroastrianism; Guest Speaker: Pres. Beheruz Sethna AWS chp. 9
9 Judaism WR chp. 7, AWS chp. 10
14 Judaism; Guest Speaker: Dr. Lisa Propst
16 Christianity WR chp. 8, AWS chp. 11
21 Christianity; Guest Speaker TBA
23 Islam WR chp. 6, AWS chp. 12
28 Islam; Guest Speaker: Dr. Farooq Khan
Mar 1 Mid-Term Exam
6 Film: Gandhi
8 Film c’d
13 Film c’d
15 Fear and Trembling: Intro and Preface
27 FT: Exordium
29 FT: Eulogy on Abraham
Apr 3 FT: Preliminary Expectoration
5 FT: Problema 1
10 FT: Problema 2
12 FT: Problema 3
17 FT c’d
19 FT c’d
Final Exam: Thursday, Apr 26, 8:00-10:30 am
*Any part of this syllabus is subject to change at the instructor’s discretion; advance notice will be given should the syllabus change.
**March 2 is last day to withdraw with “W”