Summaries of classes

Please note that these are summaries, not 'the notes' for the class. These have been prepared by students in the class, and I have posted them here, unchanged, as a ready reference for those who could use a quick idea of what topic(s) have been discussed. But there is no guarantee of accuracy (or even proper spelling)! Caveat lector!



January 5, 2011

What is the difference between religious beliefs & scientific beliefs?

People say the earth was created in 4004 B.C are they bad scientists or is this an example of a religious belief?

Scientists believe that the earth was created about 1.4 billion years ago, is this a scientific belief? What evidence do they have to prove this, should we question “the scientists”?


Philosophy: love of wisdom

Is wisdom and knowledge the same or are they linked?

Is the goal of knowledge to obtain an understanding of the topic at hand?  You should be able to answer the ‘So what?’ why is the fact that you know important, how does it influence the world.


4 Branches of Philosophy:

Ethics: What you “ought” to do.                                                                       

Epistemology: How do we obtain knowledge? Why is knowledge important?                                               

Metaphysics: What is beyond our natural world, or is there anything? Do we have freewill?                               

 Logic: How we reason and arrive at conclusions given particular evidence in the world.


What is the method of Philosophy?

-          Analyze arguments, recognize a philosophers conclusions and their evidence to prove these conclusions.

-          Are they good arguments? Do they agree with philosophical logic? For example, do they equivocate terms?

-          What kind of concepts do they have of the problem at hand?


Is God a big muscular white haired man, is God a vegetable, or can it be a physical rock?  We see that there are many different concepts of God, which one is correct?

-          Philosophers must be critical of any concepts or conclusions that are presented.


Philosophy is speculative:

-          What does it mean to believe in something?

-          What is the purpose of religious languages?

-          Should we be trying to answer these big questions ourselves?

-          We want to understand why these conclusions and arguments are important.

What is Religion?

-          Is it a set of, but not limited to, beliefs, customs, practices, rituals, texts?

-          If this is the case then how would the X-ring ceremony be different from a religion?

-          Buddhists would claim that their belief system is not a religion nor is it a philosophy, even though it fulfills the “requirements” above. 

Can we define religion as the worship in some higher power?

-          If so, why would we worship someone? Why should we worship God?

-          Is this worship a habit? Did we grow up with this worship without stopping and thinking about what we are doing?

-          Should we truly worship someone who tells us to worship them?

-          Should we worship someone because we love them?

-          Does worshiping someone imply some relationship of power?

Religion as an answer:

-          If religion explains where the world comes from and how the surrounding world functions, what does this say about modern science?

-          For example, that the world was created in seven days or any creation story, is this scientific?  Is any creation story valid?


It could be that religion is about objects and your moral code or attitude/disposition towards these objects.

Religion could be about your world view and picture of reality.


Question to think about: “Can religion be discussed?”