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World of Religion Syllabus

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York University
College of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies
Department of Humanities
AP/HUMA 1860 6.00
The Nature of Religion:
An Introduction
Term Y Section A
Course Director: Dr. Jason C. Robinson
Y: Fall/Winter 2014-2015

Office: 126 Founders CollegeOffice Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment | Email: jasonro@yorku.ca
Class Time: Tuesday 4:30-6:30 | Classroom: Curtis Lecture Halls (CLH) C |

Tutorial Leaders and Times | Type | Day | | Start
Time | Duration | | | Location | Instructor | | LECT 01 | T | | 4:30pm | 120 | | | CLH C | Jason Robinson | jasonro@yorku.ca | TUTR 01 | T | | 7:00pm | 60 | | | ACE 012 | Jason Robinson | jasonro@yorku.ca | TUTR 02 | T | | 7:00pm | 60 | | | SC 220 | Cristiana Conti | menrua19@yorku.ca | TUTR 03 | T | | 7:00pm | 60 | | | SC 223 | Irfaan Jaffer | irfaanjaffer@gmail.com | TUTR 04 | T | 8 | :00pm | 60 | | | ACE 012 | Cristiana Conti | menrua19@yorku.ca | TUTR 05 | T | | 8:00pm | 60 | | | BC 325 | Irfaan Jaffer | irfaanjaffer@gmail.com | TUTR 06 | T | | 8:00pm | 60 | | | MC 215 | Janet Melo-Thaiss | janetmt@yorku.ca | | |
Note: This is an approved LA&PS General Education course
Course credit exclusions: AP/HUMA 1865 6.00, AP/HUMA 2800 9.00 (prior to Fall 2014), AP/SOSC 2600 9.00 (prior to Fall 2014).
PRIOR TO FALL 2009: Course credit exclusions: AK/HUMA 1860 6.00, AS/HUMA 2800 9.00, AS/SOSC 2600 9.00.
Camtasia Recording
This course may incorporate audio and video recording through Camtasia. Such recording is meant to capture the audio and video of the course director but there may be unintentional recording from other sources, e.g., loud voices in the audience. Camtasia recordings are made for distribution to York University students only.
Table of Contents Course Calendar Description 3 Course Overview 3 Learning Objectives 3 Learning Outcomes 3 Performance Expectations 4 Evaluation 4 Required Texts 5 Text Editions 6 About the Readings 6 Moodle 6 Schedule of Dates, Readings, and Assignments 6 Performance Expectations 10 Dual Character of Course 11 Tutorials 11 Tutorial Participation 11 Why Tutorials and Tutorial Participation? 12 Essays 12 Submission 13 Late Submissions 13 Format 13 The Role of Quotations in Essays 14 Essential elements that should be present in all papers: 14 Essay Topics 15 Basic Essay Structure 17 What is a Research Paper? 17 Why Write a Research Paper? 17 Plagiarism 18 Online Exam 18 Technical Problems: 19 Alternative Assignments 19 Other Course Related Information 19 Class Cancellations 21 What is in a Grade? 22 York Grading Scheme 22 Definitions of Grading Descriptions 23 Grading 23 Re-grading 24 Grade Appeal Timeline 24 Grade Appeal Procedure 24 Grades Release Dates (Grade Reports and Transcripts) 24 York 25 York as a Secular University 25

Course Calendar Description
Explores the nature of religious faith, religious language (myth and symbol) and clusters of religious beliefs through an examination of the primary texts of several major world religions. Methodologies for the study of religion will also be examined.

Course Overview
This course is a critical study, based on classical and contemporary readings, of such issues as: the basis of religious claims, the meaning of religious discourse, the relationship between faith and reason, the nature and existence of God, the nature of religious experience, and the problems of evil and human destiny.

We will critically examine the nature and various expressions of religious questions about human life, death, suffering, and the afterlife. One of our main goals is to better appreciate religion as it exists in a modern global society. We will examine many different views and ideas in this course. What is sacred? What role do myth, ritual, and scripture play in people’s lives today? Should we (I) care about the transcendent?

Note: There are a number of ways one might engage in a “disciplinary” study of the “nature” of religion, e.g., sociology of religion, comparative study of religion, history of religion, and so on. This course takes a broad “philosophy of religion” approach. This is not a philosophy course per se but you may expect it to feel very philosophical in nature. This means that we will be asking big questions and focus on argumentation, critical thinking, and reflective (personal) analysis. While we will discover many facts in class, thereby generating a great deal of knowledge about religion, you should expect a lot of thought-provoking discussion and controversy that asks you to think philosophically (radically/deeply) about religion and the supernatural.

Learning Objectives * The purpose of this course is to provide students with a sense of the main topics and questions in the (philosophy) study of religion. * Students will examine and analyze important topics and questions about religion as they relate to the contemporary world. * We will be asking both specific and broad questions, such as:
What is the nature of religion? What is religious experience, language, truth? In what ways are these things relevant to my own life? May we genuinely study religion from a rational/logical approach or must we suspend logic and reason to a degree? * This is a “big questions” course meant to encourage your reflection and personal involvement with continuing problems and questions.
Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to: * identify many of the key questions that have occupied scholars of religion throughout the centuries; * better articulate and recognize persistent questions about the nature and role of religion that you may (or may already) have to work through in your own life; * appreciate the general historical and social context for the study of religion; and * engage in dialogue about religion as an informed and conscientious citizen.
Performance Expectations
Students are expected to: * attend class on a regular basis and engage in critical dialogue on the issues relevant to the given week; * come prepared for discussions having read the relevant materials and thought about the issues; * learn how to identify parts of arguments and critically examine arguments; * defend their own views and consider the views of others in light of ongoing class discussions; * show that they have thoroughly read and considered all of material covered in the course by fulfilling the course terms of evaluation (exams, essay).

Students are therefore responsible for: * knowing the material presented in lectures, readings, videos, and online notes; * participating in course discussions and developing critical-rational skills necessary for academic thinking and dialogue.

Evaluation |

Assignment | Weight | Due Date | Tutorial Participation | 10% | Regular participation is mandatory. Merely being present in tutorials does not constitute earning a grade. | “Online” Exam One | 20% | Covers all course materials to this point. Available online Oct. 21st at 6pm for 24hrs. | Essay Assignment One | 25% | Nov. 11th or Nov. 25th.
If you hand your project in on either date you will receive a mark without late penalty.
However, if you hand your paper in after the first due date, you will not receive any comments on your assigned grade.

Note: If you hand your paper in on the second date it will not be returned, for there will be no comments on it. | “In Class” Exam Two | 25% | Covers all course materials to this point. Unlike the first exam, this one will be written during regular classroom hours on Feb. 24th. | Essay Assignment Two | 20% | Due at the beginning of the last class, March 31st, handed in personally “and” uploaded to Moodle’s dropbox. The “beginning of class” means the first 15 minutes of class. NOTE: These papers are NOT handed in during tutorials. These are accepted in our lecture class only.
No exceptions, no extensions.***This project will not be returned.• Assignments not submitted properly will be considered late and may be rejected unless accompanied by adequate justification. | *Bonus Mark | 1% | A 1% bonus mark will be given to every student who completes the student course evaluation at the end of the year (last two/three weeks of class). There will be an email and link circulated by the university for students to access this evaluation.
The 1% bonus mark will be awarded when confirmation has been received by your tutorial leader no later than the last tutorial. No bonus will be given after that date. |

Required Texts
There are two texts for this course: 1) Understanding Religion in a Global Society, Richter, et. al., eds., Wadsworth, ISBN 978-0-534-55995-3.

This text has a companion website that will be of significant use: Link Here or copy and paste from here: * http://www.cengagebrain.com/cgi-wadsworth/course_products_wp.pl?fid=M20b&product_isbn_issn=9780534559953&token= * It is expected that you will do the online exercises for your own benefit. While there is no grade associated with the exercises they are designed to help you perfect your academic skills such as research and critical inquiry. * In fact, the online resources provide access to selections of primary texts that are highly recommended.

***Please DO NOT email your course director or tutorial leader answers to the online exercises.

2) Classical and Contemporary Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, 3rd edition, by John H. Hick.
Published by Prentice Hall in 1989, ISBN 0132307340.

Looking for the course texts? Consider some of these sources:
Hick text: $94.00 (used from $26.00) http://www.amazon.ca/Classical-Contemporary-Readings-Philosophy-Religion/dp/0131369040
Richter text:
$132.00 (new) http://www.amazon.ca/Understanding-Religion-Global-Society-Richter/dp/0534559956
$66.00 (used) http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/usedbooks/Understanding-Religion-in-Global-Society-Richter-R%C3%A4pple-Modschiedler/0534559956-rare.html?ikwid=understanding+religion&ikwsec=Home
From US: $75.00 (used??) http://www.abebooks.com/9780534559953/Understanding-Religion-Global-Society-Richter-0534559956/plp
Note: Students have reported getting one and/or both of these texts for as little as $1 and/or $2 at places like abebooks.com.

Text Editions: There is currently only one edition of the Richter text.
Other editions of the Hick text may or may not be similar to the 3rd edition we are using. Your course director cannot recommend or reject the use of earlier editions. The official edition for this course is only the 3rd.
About the Readings * We shall be reading challenging literature that considers big questions. This means that some, perhaps most, of the material will be difficult to understand. Readings will require extra time and effort on your part to interpret “before” class. * The readings are not long but some are “deep,” especially in the Hick text. * Your course director will explain the material as best possible, but if you do not read it before class, explanations will be far less useful, for you will have no basis for reflection, correction, relation, etc. * Again, readings are to be done “before” class. The quality of course learning relies heavily upon this basic agreement.

Moodle * Moodle http://moodle.yorku.ca/ will be used for this course. * The materials stored on Moodle are for your eyes only.
None of the material on Moodle should be reproduced for or shared with others outside of this class, whether in an online format or otherwise. * The materials on Moodle should be considered copyrighted—as either the intellectual property of your instructor, the university, or that of the relevant copyright holders noted. * Having trouble with Moodle? Start here: http://moodle.yorku.ca/students/index.htm

Schedule of Dates, Readings, and Assignments
*Readings and schedule may be adjusted during the term. If the schedule changes students will be given notice in class. It is the student’s responsibility to remain aware of such changes.

Weeks | Topics and Questions | Readings (done before class), see course text. | Assignments | Week One
Sept. 9th Introduction to Course | Intro to Course | | | Week TwoSept. 16th | Part I The Major Divisions of Thinking (study)
Part II Reason, Nonreason, and Foundationalism; The Problem of the Rational Study of Religion
Part III The Concept of God, His/Her/Its Nature, and Attributes
Part IV The Nature of the Dispute over the Existence of God | Lecture Notes Only | | Week ThreeSept 23th | Religion in a Global Society
Part ISection A Why Study Religion?Section B Transitioning: From the Pre-industrial to NowSection C The New World
Part IISection A What is Religion?Section B Attempted Definitions of Religion | URGS Chapters 1 & 2
(read before class) | | Week FourSept. 30th | The Absolute, The Ultimate, The Holy
Part I The Feel of Religion
Part II Approaching the Absolute
Part III Exclusivism, Inclusivism, Pluralism | URGS Chapter 3 | | Week FiveOct 7th | Arguments for (and against) the Existence of God Part IPart I Introduction to St Anselm
Part II St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument
Part III Plato and St Anselm’s “Necessary Existence” Argument
Part IV Gaunilo’s Criticisms | Hick 500-501, 28-36 | | Week SixOct 14th | Arguments for (and against) the Existence of God Part IIPart I Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas
Part II Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways
Part III Hume’s Criticisms of the Design Argument

Review for Exam | Hick 37-42 | | Week SevenOct 21st | No class scheduled
No tutorial scheduledOnline Exam Oct. 21rd | | Online ExamOpens Tuesday Oct. 21st at 6pm.
Covers all materials to date including Week Six.Exam available online for 24hrs. | Week EightOct 28th | Origins Part IOrigins and FoundersWhere does religion originate?Origins Part IIPart I Sociological Criticism of ReligionPart II The Psychological Criticism of Religion
Part III Feuerbach: Subject Projects Object (God) | URGS Chapter 4No readings for Sociological Criticism (only notes) Hick 149 – 163 (Feuerbach) on Psychological Criticism | | Week NineNov. 4th | World Scriptures, Myths, Stories Part I Why Scripture?Part II Authority and CanonPart III From Where? | URGS Chapters 5 & 6 | | Week TenNov. 11th | Suffering and Evil Part I Part I Introduction to the Problem of EvilPart II Possible/Impossible SolutionsPart III Religion and SufferingPart IV Karma and ReincarnationPart V Buddhism and Suffering | URGS Chapter 7 | Major Paper DueDue in tutorials (at beginning of tutorials only!)Nov. 11th “and” uploaded to Moodle dropbox. | Week ElevenNov. 18th | Suffering and Evil Part IIPart I Who is St. Augustine?Part II St. Augustine’s Ideas in a NutshellPart III The Beatific Vision and the Problem of the WillPart VI St Augustine on the Problem of Evil Part V The Problem of Evil and God’s Foreknowledge | Hick 19-27, 516-518 | | Week TwelveNov. 25th | Catch-up and Review Week | | OR Major Paper DueDue beginning of tutorials Nov. 25th “and” uploaded to Moodle dropbox. | Winter Break | Week ThirteenJan. 6th | Religion, Morality, and Ethics In the Global Age Part I An Introduction to the Ethics of ReligionPart II Law, Religion, and MoralityPart III Ethical and Religious Relativism | URGS Chapters 10 & 14 | | Week FourteenJan. 13th | We will likely be continuing with part of Week Thirteen, then onto Week Fourteen
Religion, Art, and Ritual | URGS Chapters 8 & 9 | | Week FifteenJan. 20th | Religious Experience | URGS Chapter 11 | | Week SixteenJan. 27th | Existentialism Introduction to Existentialism, Kierkegaard & Non-Rational TheismReligion, Personality, and the Individual
Part I Introduction to ExistentialismPart II The Spirit of the Times: Alienation and Estrangement Part III Kierkegaard “The Father of Existentialism” and Non-Rational TheismPart IV Dinesh D'Souza Debates Daniel Dennett | Hick 164-168URGS Chapter 13 | | Week SeventeenFeb. 3rd | Paul Tillich & the Existential Approach | Hick 251-263 | | Week EighteenFeb. 10th | William James on Mysticism & Religious Experience William James & “The Will to Believe” | Hick 169-195Hick 196-212 | | Week Nineteen(Feb. 17th Reading Week)Feb. 24th | In Class ExamThis exam is likely to be in another room. The location will be announced in class prior to the exam. | | In Class Exam[NOT ONLINE]Covers all course materials since the last exam, up to Week Seventeen | Week TwentyMarch 3rd | J.H. Randall, Jr. on Religious Belief & Religious Language | Hick 313-333 | | Week Twenty-OneMarch 10th | Creationism and Evolution | Lecture Notes Only | | Week Twenty-TwoMarch 17th | Satan | Lecture Notes Only | | Week Twenty-ThreeMarch 24th | Catch-up Week | | | Week Twenty-FourMarch 31st | Final paper due.
No tutorial scheduled for last week. | No tutorial scheduled for last week. | Essay Two Due beginning of class “and” uploaded to Moodle dropbox. No extensions. |

Performance Expectations
Students are expected to: * attend class on a regular basis and engage in critical dialogue on the issues relevant to the given week; * come prepared for discussions having read the relevant materials and thought about the issues; * learn how to identify parts of arguments and critically examine arguments; * defend their own views and consider the views of others in light of ongoing class discussions; * show that they have thoroughly read and considered all of material covered in the course by fulfilling the course terms of evaluation (exams, essay).
Students are therefore responsible for: * knowing the material presented in lectures, readings, and online notes; * participating in course discussions and developing critical-rational skills necessary for academic thinking and dialogue.

Dual Character of Course * Each class will typically have a large lecture component as well as an open discussion component. * The readings (course text, online notes, etc.) are only part of the whole-course-experience. * Class discussion and dialogue make the course readings relevant, connected, and living. * Ignoring either side of the course will significantly reduce the benefits of your university education. * Discussion and debate is an essential part of the course so students should expect a great deal of both. * Sometimes discussion will lead off into areas that may not seem on topic. * Generally speaking such sidetracks are important and related to the issues at hand. * If the connections are not clear, please ask. * Also, students will be given plenty of time to express their own views and beliefs. Patience and understanding on behalf of others is important. * Mutual respect is expected of all participants in this course.
Tutorials
* You will meet in groups of 25 with your tutorial leader once a week. * In tutorials you may ask questions about the lectures, discuss the course readings, seek clarification about the assignments, receive feedback on your assignments, and develop the critical skills necessary to succeed in the university. * It is your responsibility to do the readings ahead of time and bring questions; read over your lecture notes and identify issues you would like to clarify and explore; and to identify questions about the assignments.
Tutorial Participation * Tutorial participation is required and graded (at the end of the year). * You will be graded on your participation in tutorials (not merely attendance).

Tutorial leaders are making qualitative judgements of your performance based on key criteria: Are you informed of the relevant course content?
Are you able to critically discuss materials presented in that day’s class?
Have you done the readings? Can you respond to questions about the readings?
Do you offer discussion and critical evaluation of concepts and ideas (from the text and class lecture)?
Do you contribute meaningfully and consistently to tutorial conversations? Are you able to help others understand difficult ideas (this requires advanced understanding on your part)? Participation involves far more than mere attendance. However, as a general guideline, no student will earn full participation marks unless they have met the following “minimum” attendance criteria: If you miss: 1 class = A+(10%); | 3 = A(8%); | 5 = B(6%); | 7 = C (4%); | 9 = D(2%); | 2 = A(9%); | 4 = B+(7%); | 6 = C+(5%); | 8 = D+(3%); | 10= E/F(0%); | Note: merely being present in (every) tutorial does NOT guarantee you an “A” grade. * Being present is merely a preamble or precondition for your participation (contribution) that may earn you an “A” grade. * It is possible to be present in every tutorial and yet fail your participation grade. * In summary, you must be present “and” you must contribute in a sustained and meaningful manner throughout the year. * When in doubt regarding the quality of your participation, consult your tutorial leader. * The time in tutorials is limited so you should not expect a “re-teaching” of lectures. * Tutorials are meant to clarify difficult concepts and to delve deeper into the material. * If you miss a class it is your responsibility to seek out missed information from fellow students, but not during tutorial. While there may be time set aside to review a lecture in tutorial, a comprehensive review of a missed lecture would be impractical (and unfair to other students).
In short, tutorials are not meant to be “make-up” lectures. * Attendance will be taken at the beginning (within first three minutes) of each tutorial. * If you are more than 3 minutes late or if you leave early, you will be marked as absent. * If a student misses a tutorial s/he will be marked as absent. While such an absence may be for various reasons it is the course policy NOT to negotiate about absences.
(the exceptions being hospitalization, a death in the family or documented critical illness) * If a tutorial is missed the grade cannot be earned another way.

* Do NOT ask your TA/tutorial leader to switch your tutorial groups.
Why Tutorials and Tutorial Participation? * The large lecture format has many positive elements but it is not ideal in certain respects. To compensate for the large lecture format tutorial groups provide a very important opportunity for your individual learning. * One of the more important aspects of tutorials is the opportunity to connect with others in an educational experience. Tutorials offer students the opportunity to create and sustain personal conversation and dialogue about important ideas and questions. * Moreover, the group benefits from the contributions of the individual. Making a commitment to attend tutorials will support your own learning experience as well as benefit the group. * Tutorials are opportunities to explore elements and ideas of the course that we cannot fully engage in the lecture, thereby making tutorials essential.
Essays
* You are expected to write two, 2300-3000 word essays (excluding endnotes) for this course. * Remember that the success of an essay is often proportional to the amount of work and effort you put into it, not merely by the amount that you write.
What matters is the quality and care of your writing and the thought behind it.

Note: As a general rule, students want more direction/instruction on writing papers than they are given. * At no time will you be told “exactly” how to write a paper. * You are given ample instruction on the core requirements of a paper, but a paper is considered an “independent” project for which “you” determine the best materials, presentation style, approach, tone, content, etc. * Expectations are clearly outlined here, e.g., an expectations of research and argumentation, but no absolutes or specifics on how these will be executed—that’s your job (we realize it isn’t an easy one). * Be sure to plan ahead so that you may ask questions in class about how to do the paper before it is due.

Submission * You must submit papers to me (i.e., your tutorial leader) in person, as well as to the MOODLE “dropbox.” * Your paper will only be considered received when the hard copy is in my personal possession (or your tutorial leader’s possession) and has been submitted to MOODLE. * You may submit one file only, so be sure it is the right file. * Make sure the file is in Microsoft Word format (doc. or docx.) or Rich Text Format (RTF). * The purpose of uploading your paper to MOODLE is to check for potential issues of academic misconduct. MOODLE matches your paper against all of those in this course as well as countless other papers. * Students are presumed innocent of academic misconduct unless there are indications otherwise. Matching software is utilized by instructional staff only “after” such indications become evident, not before.
Late Submissions See “Late Penalties, Missed Assignments, Etc.” below.
Format
Failure to follow any of these will result in a lower grade. * Make sure you describe your topic at the beginning of the essay, so that we know what to expect.
(Have a thesis statement. If you don’t know what that is, make an appointment with the writing and resources centre to get some help with such matters. They are very helpful and welcoming people.) * Create a title page and title for your essay.
The title page style is up to you but it should have your name, student ID, date of submission, and title of paper.
Use only your legal name as it appears on university documents, i.e., do not use short-form or abbreviated names. * Give the word count on the title page. * Present a clear thesis statement. * Every idea, argument or fact that is not your own, i.e. derived from another source must be correctly referenced using APA or MLA or Chicago style.
Resources to Assist in Writing Style
Chicago and MLA styles are the most common styles in Liberal Arts/Humanities courses.
Chicago http://www.libs.uga.edu/ref/chicago.html
MLA http://www.libs.uga.edu/ref/mla2009.pdf
APA http://www.libs.uga.edu/ref/apastyle.pdf * MLA is typically best. Getting the MLA Handbook is a good idea. * If you use MLA it asks you to void endnotes. Use endnotes anyway! Just bend the rules. * You do NOT need a Works Cited or Bibliography page. * Use endnotes rather than footnotes. Google “how to make endnotes” or try here http://www.douglas.bc.ca/__shared/assets/WR7_60_How_to_Make_Footnotes_or_Endnotes45957.pdf or http://facstaff.bloomu.edu/hickey/ENDNOTE%20FORM.htm#How to Make numbers or http://www.aresearchguide.com/7footnot.html * Compiling extra material (bibliographic, comments, etc.) at the end of a paper makes it easier to calculate the total number of pages used. Endnotes “do not” count as part of the total page limit. Only the main body of your essay counts. * You may use the personal pronoun “I” but avoid “you” and “we” (too general). * Avoid contractions, e.g. “don’t” or “can’t”. Use “do not” or “cannot”. * Use standard-size (8 ½x 11) paper,
1" margins on all sides (“normal” setting in MS Word 2007 and newer), page numbers (wherever), and
Times New Roman font - 12 pt.
Double-space your paper (not spacing of 1.8, 2.2, etc., I can tell), with your name and student I.D. somewhere obvious. Do not put extra spaces between paragraphs. * Print on one side of the page only. * Submit only typed papers using only black ink or toner (no coloured text). * Do not use ringed binders or other booklet like covers. * I cannot accept unstapled papers (and I do not bring a stapler to class). * Always keep a copy of your paper!
The Role of Quotations in Essays * Avoid quotes (large or small) unless central to your discussion. * If you quote something, discuss it at length. * Avoid using quotes to deliver basic ideas or arguments that you could easily say yourself, in your own words. * Quotes should NOT do the talking for you. You are the writer (the speaker), it is your voice the reader is hearing.
Essential elements that should be present in all papers:
(a) a sustained treatment of the major issues (rather than sporadic comments on minor issues),
(b) an argument for or against a specific view (including a counterargument to whatever position is taken),
(c) clear evidence of research (e.g., journal articles, book reviews),
(d) some connection between the material researched and a contemporary problem or issue it addresses (e.g., potentially solves), and
(e) clear evidence of your own views and opinions being challenged (i.e., stating what you think, and then producing questions that challenge your views—in short, show that you are interacting with and thinking about the material sincerely). * These are not merely opinion papers but research and critical discussion papers. Supply evidence for every claim you make. * Avoid most “common” online materials (e.g., blogs, non-academic sites, anonymous websites). Good online material will be found, first and foremost, through a library’s subscription to online content.
There is a lot of good material online but you need to be discerning. Is it peer-reviewed? Is it written by an academic? Is it accepted by other academics? * Avoid using lecture notes.

Essay Topics * Your two essays may be written on any two of the topics listed below OR any topic from the course accepted by your tutorial leader.
Topics
#1 Explain the Problem of Evil.
Why is this perceived to be a serious problem for theism?
Are there solutions to the problem?
What are the implications if we can or cannot solve the problem?
Be creative in your response. * You need to explain clearly what the problem of evil is and why it is a problem. * This question involves explaining the main tenets of theism with a focus on one particular form (e.g. Christian or Muslim theism). * Consider how theists may attempt to resolve the problem (e.g. Hick's version of the Irenaen Theodicy) and assess whether the attempt is successful. * Go beyond the class lectures and text to research other options that you find more persuasive. * Be critical, clear, and argumentative (giving reasons or “whys” for your position). * Do not merely repeat what you have learned in class but find out more on your own.

#2 Write on “nothing.” * How is the concept or notion of “nothing” important to philosophy in general and the philosophy of religion in particular? * Does “nothing” serve a discernable role that we should take seriously? E.g., of what significance is it for Aquinas? Hint: You may want to begin by looking online at things such as this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing * Suggested starting strategy: offer a brief etymological background for the term and its various uses throughout history; compare and contrast closely related concepts; explain what you find interesting, annoying, shallow, deep, etc., about “nothing”; respond to the claim that it is merely a “mental game” to keep philosophers and theologians employed and does not have any meaningful use at all. * You are free to interact with the material as creatively as you see fit, but do so with clarity and precision.
Note: while it is helpful to consider specific philosophers (e.g., Martin Heidegger, who is well-known for having lectured and published on “nothing”), be sure to include your own thoughts and reasons on the matter.

#3 Write a “critical” review that challenges some of the major assumptions in Bill Maher’s movie “Religulous.” * This is not merely an opinion piece but a well thought out, critical, and researched work. * You are not merely picking ideas out of the sky, but researching them and backing them up with clear reasoning and argumentation. * Maher makes numerous historical and theological claims. Does he make mistakes? Is he clearly biased in some regard? How, why? * Is his reasoning clear or flawed? In what ways? * Does he accomplish what he sets out to do? If so, in what ways? * Are there inconsistencies, errors, fallacies of reasoning in Maher’s approach that you can fix? If so do so.

#4 Faith is crucial both in Kierkegaard’s and Tillich’s views. What does each mean by ‘faith’, and what role do they assign to faith? * Explicate relevant passages from each and compare and contrast them. * Critically examine each depiction of ‘faith’ to determine whether either is problematic. * It will be helpful to read more about their notions of ‘faith.’ * E.g. look up Kierkegaard’s account of the Abraham story in his Fear and Trembling * Note: whether you are religious or not you need to adopt a critical stance. *
#5 Write on the “absurd.” Is the concept or notion of the “absurd” important to philosophy in general and the philosophy of religion in particular? * Does the “absurd” serve a discernable role that we should take seriously? Why or why not? * After you consider the notion in general, focus on one or two particular uses of it (e.g. “absurdism” in Kierkegaard) and tell me what it says about life and truth. Do you agree? Tell me why it is right or wrong. * Suggested starting strategy: offer a brief etymological background for the term and its various uses; compare and contrast closely related concepts; explain what you find interesting, annoying, shallow, deep, etc., about the “absurd”; respond to the claim that it is absurd to appeal to the absurd as a basis for our life-decisions.

#6 Freud distinguishes between religious illusion and delusion. James discusses religious experience and postulates specific criteria for recognizing genuine mystical experience. Is it really possible to distinguish religious experience from religious delusion? * Explicate the relevant passages from each * Critically examine the implications of claims to religious experiences in light of James’ and Freud’s views * A current example(s) or case relating claims to religious experience will greatly help to examine implications * Note: whether you are religious or not you need to adopt a critical stance.

A Few General Points on the Essay Topics: * Consider using subheadings to help organize your papers. * You will have to be very selective in what you discuss in your papers, so pick important ideas. * Part of thinking critically is learning how to see what is relevant and important, and what is not. * Do not simply repeat course materials but draw clear connections between course materials and what is most important. * This is a creative exercise and one that will require a great deal of time and, of course, personal reflection.
Basic Essay Structure * Introduction: state what will happen in this essay * What the topic is about * E.g. what the author argues * What you intend to persuade/convince the reader of * The thesis you will argue for and the main points of how you will arrive at that * Main Body of the essay: division into clear paragraphs * Each paragraph should address a specific argument that is made by the author, or examined, or provided by you with the help of your research * There need to be clear transitions of thought between paragraphs * The main body of the essay needs to have a logical build up or structure that leads the reader to the main conclusion that proves the thesis * Obvious objections to one’s argument must be considered and answered * Conclusion: the concluding section needs to prove the thesis to be correct. This is not a mere restatement, but a pulling together of all main points argued in the essay.
What is a Research Paper?
A research paper offers your reader the concise (focused, narrowed) results of your lengthy research. More than merely a “presentation” of stuff you’ve found elsewhere, however, it will also offer at least one clear argument (minimum), i.e., providing reasons for why your reader should be persuaded that what you are saying is true, probable, good, well-considered, etc. A research paper will take your reader on a journey. When that journey is over, hopefully he or she will agree with what you think.
A research paper brings together the information and ideas you have discovered through research as well as your own ideas and beliefs—thereby creating a new product that is more than merely a parroting back of another person’s work. The stuff you find needs to be processed, considered, thought through, debated (all by you), and then creatively and forcefully delivered through your writing. By doing so you will demonstrate that you understand the concepts and ideas at hand.
The more sources you read and explore the better your own ideas and reflections will be, for you will be better informed and more thorough in your treatment. Research alone is insufficient. Personal opinion is insufficient. Reasoning and argumentation without either research or personal opinion are also insufficient. Woven together well, these elements are the backbone of a research paper.
Why Write a Research Paper? (1) To increase your awareness and knowledge about a particular topic; (2) to challenge your preconceptions and beliefs regarding a particular topic and its relationship to other important issues; (3) to allow you the opportunity to gain valuable experience expressing your ideas and thoughts through a written medium (one of the most important mediums human beings may experience); (4) to encourage the development of researching skills, i.e., the ability to find relevant concepts and arguments; (5) to help you learn how to (a) arrive at your own educated and reasoned conclusion (one not forced upon you, but one you create/arrive at) and (b) communicate effectively by first organizing and structuring your ideas in a well-considered manner.
Plagiarism
* Your course director has a zero tolerance policy on plagiarism. * In cases of confirmed academic misconduct the assignment or test in question will receive a 0%. There are no make-up assignments or tests in this case.
No alternative forms of grade improvement will be made available. * Additionally, in confirmed cases of academic misconduct formal charges of said conduct will be filed with the school. * Academic misconduct may result in a failing grade in the course. Other penalties may be applied by the student’s home faculty.

Online Exam * Note: A lengthy review of the course materials relevant to the exam will not be given. Instead students must come to class prepared with questions of interest/concern. A complete (or half) course review beyond only a most superficial level would prove impossible, thereby making any such attempt frustrating at best. * In short, if students would like a review in some form I will expect any outstanding questions to be presented to me in class so that I might answer them (which I’m very happy to do, even if it takes a whole class). This approach will offer a much more focussed and in-depth review. * The exam will be accessible through Moodle for a 24 hour period, after that the window is closed and it will not be re-opened. The exam will become available to you at 6pm on the day indicated. * Please pay careful attention to the schedule. If you miss the exam, only extreme and documented emergencies will qualify you for alternate consideration. * Given that you have a 24 hour period in which to complete the exam—which can be done almost anywhere in the world—technical problems will not be accepted as grounds for re-consideration. * Do the exam earlier rather than later. Most technical problems can be fixed in a few hours, so doing your quiz when it is first available is the most rational course of action—just in case there are glitches on your system. * The exam will be timed. Once the time limit has been reached you will be unable to change your answers or answer more questions. The time limit will make the exam very challenging, so you must prepare for the exam thoroughly. * You can expect true/false, multiple choice, and perhaps other kinds of questions. * Questions will reflect course lectures and text readings covered up to that point. * Exam questions are randomly generated by a database of questions, so no two quizzes are the same.
(Even I do not know what the questions will be) * I recommend becoming familiar with Moodle prior to your first exam. * The instructor reserves the right to request students rewrite (the same or similar) online exams or online quizzes in person, in hard copy, if academic misconduct is suspected. * If a student takes longer to write an exam than is allowed, 10% of the grade will be reduced for every 5 minutes in excess of the allotted time (beginning at 1 minute over).
Technical Problems: * Please do not email your course director for help with technical issues.
You must resolve those on your own. * If you experience a technical problem it is most likely your browser.
Try a different browser or update your current one. * It is recommended that you become familiar with Moodle prior to your first quiz.

Note: * The wording on exams will be in modern English, as well as formal and academic in tone. * If you are unfamiliar with the academic tone please be sure to familiarize yourself with academic sources in order to better prepare for the kind of wording you will experience on the quizzes/exam(s), i.e., the formal rather than merely the vernacular (ordinary). * There will be no verbal tricks such as double-negatives on the exams. However, there may be challenging phrasing that requires a process of elimination, i.e., Which of the following is NOT a major theory attributed to Aristotle? Alternative Assignments * There are no alternative assignments or make-up assignments for this course. * Only extreme and documented sickness may justify alternative arraignments. * If you fail to notify your course director before the assignment due date you will nullify any claim to alternative considerations. * The exception to this rule is extreme illness that prevents you from being reasonably expected to contact your instructor, i.e., hospitalization.
Other Course Related Information

I Late Penalties, Missed Assignments, Etc.

If you miss an assignment or exam you will need to support an extraordinary circumstance by which to justify alternative consideration.

Medical Justification * Consideration requested based on medical grounds must include an Attending Physician's Statement form. Attending Physician's Statement (APS) form (bottom of page) http://www.yorku.ca/laps/council/students/petitions.html * Only original medical documentation is acceptable. This form is to be completed and signed by your physician. * *The form must be fully completed, especially the area indicating whether the illness and/or medication prescribed would have SERIOUSLY affected the student’s ability to study and perform over the day(s) of the exam or assignment. * ***Typically only “Severe Incapacitation” justifies alternate consideration.

Non-medical Justification * In some limited circumstances non-medical reasons may justify consideration but these must be supported by the following: death certificates, obituary notice, automobile accident reports, airline/bus ticket/receipt for emergency travel (with date of booking on ticket), etc. Airline/train/bus ticket/receipts for emergency travel must indicate destination, departure, and return dates. * ***Having to work, forgetting, or conflicts with other courses (which should be avoidable) are not considered valid excuses for missing an assignment or exam.

* For all submitted coursework that is late there will be a 10% per day reduction in grade.

Final Papers/Assignments * Assignments are to be handed in at the beginning of class. * The “beginning” of class means the first 15 minutes. * No assignment/paper will be accepted before the due date. * Assignments will be accepted at the beginning of class only. Failure to arrive on time will count as late or incomplete on the assignment.

II Important Dates
Important University Sessional Dates (you will find classes and exams start/end dates, reading/co-curricular week, add/drop deadlines, holidays, University closings and more. http://www.registrar.yorku.ca/enrol/dates/index.htm III Students with Special Needs
York University is committed to making reasonable accommodations and adaptations in order to make equitable the educational experience of students with special needs and to promote their full integration into the campus community. Please alert the course instructor as soon as possible should you require special accommodations.
See Counselling and Disability Services here; http://www.yorku.ca/cds/

IV Academic and Research Misconduct
Students are expected to be aware of and abide by University regulations and policies. Academic misconduct is an act by a student, or by students working on a team project, which may result in a false evaluation of the student(s), or which represents a deliberate attempt to unfairly gain an academic advantage.

Students may be required to submit their written work in electronic form and have it checked for plagiarism.

The University takes academic integrity very seriously: in addition to the strategies presented on this site, please visit an overview of Academic Integrity at York University from the Office of the Vice-President Academic. http://vpacademic.yorku.ca/academicintegrity/index.php

V Turnitin
This course employs turnitin as a means of matching text. Instructors requiring the use of text-matching software in a course are obligated to provide alternative methods for assessing the authenticity of a student's work for students who elect not to use the text matching service software.
The university recommends the following alternative methods: * Submitting multiple drafts * Submitting a detailed annotated bibliography * Submitting photocopies of source documents * Taking an oral examination directed at issues of originality * Responding in writing to questions directed at issues of originality * Providing a written report concerning the process of completing the work * More than one of the above * An alternative system for verifying authenticity, approved by the Departmental Chair or Dean of a Faculty * Should a student wish to opt out of submitting work to turnitin he or she must advise the instructor at the beginning of the term so that alternative methods may be employed in a timely manner.

Why Turnitin?
There are many reasons to use turnitin such as its level of sophistication, speed, and scope of comparison. Most students that accept the use of turnitin (at other institutions using turnitin) seem to do so because it ensures a level playing field in determining grades for their work and it helps support the perceived quality of their degree, i.e., it helps maintain the status and social recognition of your degree. This is a complex argument with some problems but the basic reasoning is popular—the more uniform and thorough the hunt for academic misconduct is, the more reputable the degree and institution will be, thereby benefitting the student and the university.

VI Email
Please use email sparingly if/when possible. Most questions may easily be answered by looking at the course syllabus. * Having said that, it is important that you email your course director whenever you experience a problem or if you have a question for which you cannot find the answer!
Do not hesitate to get in touch. When in doubt, email!
Only use your official university email account to send me emails. This is the only reliable platform from which to send emails. Hotmail, Google, etc., should not be used for university business.
Also, just so that no one thinks I am avoiding his or her email, I do not check email on weekends.
Class Cancellations
It is important to check your email (the one registered with the university, and therefore with Moodle) before class. If there is a class cancellation due to instructor illness, etc., you will be notified by email.

If your course director is 10 or more minutes late, please check Moodle email (email sent from Moodle) because I may be stuck in traffic and unable to get to class.
VII MISC
The Senate Academic Standards, Curriculum and Pedagogy (ASCP) provides a Student Information Sheet that includes: * York's Academic Honesty Policy and Procedures / Academic Integrity Web site * Access/Disability * Ethics Review Process for Research Involving Human Participants * Religious Observance Accommodation * Student Code of Conduct
Additional information: * Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities * Alternate Exam and Test Scheduling

Services for Mature and Part-time Students
The Atkinson Centre for Mature and Part-time Students (ACMAPS) maintains and strengthens York University’s ongoing commitment to welcome and to serve the needs of mature and part-time students. For further information and assistance visit:http://www.yorku.ca/acmaps

What is in a Grade?
York Grading Scheme
Except for courses taken under the pass/fail option, courses in the undergraduate Faculties represented in this publication are graded according to the following scale. The grade point values are used to compute averages. For information regarding the pass/fail option regulations, refer to the grading information available in your Faculty’s section of the Undergraduate Calendar.
Note: only courses taken at York University are included in the grade point averages. The percentages indicated are not part of the official grading scheme and are meant only to be used as guidelines. The letter-grade system is the fundamental system of assessment of performance in undergraduate programs at York University. Grade | Grade Point | Per Cent Range | Description | A+ | 9 | 90-100 | Exceptional | A | 8 | 80-89 | Excellent | B+ | 7 | 75-79 | Very Good | B | 6 | 70-74 | Good | C+ | 5 | 65-69 | Competent | C | 4 | 60-64 | Fairly Competent | D+ | 3 | 55-59 | Passing | D | 2 | 50-54 | Marginally Passing | E | 1 | (marginally below 50%) | Marginally Failing | F | 0 | (below 50%) | Failing |
Note: all of the above-noted grades are used to calculate averages and credits.

Definitions of Grading Descriptions
A+ Exceptional. Thorough knowledge of concepts and/or techniques and exceptional skill or great originality in the use of those concepts/techniques in satisfying the requirements of an assignment or course.
A Excellent. Thorough knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with a high degree of skill and/or some elements of originality in satisfying the requirements of an assignment or course.

B+ Very Good. Thorough knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with a fairly high degree of skill in the use of those concepts/techniques in satisfying the requirements of an assignment or course.
B Good. Good level of knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with considerable skill in using them to satisfy the requirements of an assignment or course.

C+ Competent. Acceptable level of knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with considerable skill in using them to satisfy the requirements of an assignment or course.
C Fairly Competent. Acceptable level of knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with some skill in using them to satisfy the requirements of an assignment or course.

D+ Passing. Slightly better than minimal knowledge of required concepts and/or techniques together with some ability to use them in satisfying the requirements of an assignment or course.
D Barely Passing. Minimum knowledge of concepts and/or techniques needed to satisfy the requirements of an assignment or course.
E Marginally Failing.
F Failing.

Definitions of Pass and Fail
Passed courses
A passed course is one in which the student has achieved a grade of D or better.
Failed courses
There are two failing grades on the Undergraduate Grading Scheme: E (marginal failure) and F (failure).
Grading
* Final grades cannot be increased, no matter how close to a higher grade bracket, for non-academic reasons. * The grading scheme/requirements as set out in the syllabus cannot be adjusted in any manner without the university’s approval. * Assignments/course work cannot be reweighted, e.g., making a test or final exam worth more because a previous text or assignment was done poorly or was missed.
Re-grading
* If a student wishes to appeal a grade he/she should first consult the course director regarding a review of the material in question (to see if a mistake has been made, etc.). * Non-academic considerations are irrelevant to grade reassessment. * Your course director may only accept academic rationales for grade reviews. * Non-academic examples: I need to maintain a grade average (e.g., for the honour roll, for a scholarship); I received the same grade as someone I know who did not put nearly as much effort into their work; I was preparing for this paper but my parents scheduled a last minute vacation, etc. * Also, it is important to note that if fault is found with an earlier judgment (the course director’s or a TA’s) the revision in grade may mean an increase or a decrease in that grade.
Grade Appeal Timeline * All grade appeals are expected within two (2) weeks of the release of the grade. * In extreme circumstances, e.g., documented and critical illness, the student may request a review up to 21 days from the release of the grade. * The exception to this timeline is any final assignment submitted at the end of the term. Your course director must submit all grades to the university shortly after the last class or final exam.

Grade Appeal Procedure
Should you wish to have your paper or exam re-graded, whether it was marked by your course director or a teaching assistant, I require the following:
(1) Submit a clearly articulated minimum of 250 words, in hard copy, explaining your specific reasons for asking for re-evaluation and indicating the specific grade you believe is warranted.
Be sure to clearly identify why your grade should be modified given the specific requirements of the university’s grading scheme, i.e., why a D should be a C, a C and B. You will need to use examples from your work and you will need to show some justification for a change.
Note: it is important to know that reasons such as: I get higher grades in my other courses (or discipline), I have never written a paper/exam before, I worked hard on this paper/exam, I pay tuition, etc., are not likely to help your case.
(2) In relevant situations you may need to explain why you believe that a resolution attempt with a teaching assistant (who graded your work, took participation, etc.) has been unsuccessful; and finally
(3) Submit a clean (unmarked) copy of the original material in question (as well as the original if you have it).

Grades Release Dates (Grade Reports and Transcripts)
Grades submitted by an instructor are subject to review by the teaching unit in which the course is offered and by the Faculty Council or Faculty Committee on Academic Policy and Planning. Final course grades may be adjusted to conform to program or Faculty grades distribution profiles. Normally, grades appear on grade reports and transcripts as soon as they are submitted to the Registrar’s Office. York Grading Scheme and Feedback Policy
The Senate Grading Scheme and Feedback Policy stipulates that (a) the grading scheme (i.e. kinds and weights of assignments, essays, exams, etc.) be announced, and be available in writing, within the first two weeks of class, and that, (b) under normal circumstances, graded feedback worth at least 15% of the final grade for Fall, Winter or Summer Term, and 30% for ‘full year’ courses offered in the Fall/Winter Term be received by students in all courses prior to the final withdrawal date from a course without receiving a grade.

20% Rule
No examinations or tests collectively worth more than 20% of the final grade in a course will be given during the final 14 calendar days of classes in a term. The exceptions to the rule are classes which regularly meet Friday evenings or on Saturday and/or Sunday at any time, and courses offered in the compressed summer terms.

Final course grades may be adjusted to conform to Program or Faculty grades distribution profiles.

York as a Secular University
(from http://www.registrar.yorku.ca/calendars/2011-2012/about_york/index.htm )
From its inception in 1959, York University was created as a secular institution. York’s Mission Statement emphasizes its multicultural nature, and the value it places on tolerance and diversity. It also emphasizes a commitment to testing the boundaries and structures of knowledge and to cultivating the critical intellect. It is in this context that the university is governed and its curriculum developed and delivered.
What this can mean in practice is that those who have strong commitments to various faith communities or political ideologies may find their beliefs challenged by others and/or they may find that material presented in the curriculum criticizes or offends some of their values. This is to be expected in a pluralistic society. The university is a reflection of our society and more: it is a place where knowledge and beliefs are subject to critical assessment.
York University is committed to providing a place of study and work which upholds the democratic and pluralistic values of Canadian society. The university’s policies and procedures, including its academic rules and regulations, are designed to be fully in compliance with all legal requirements, specifically the Ontario Human Rights Code, in providing accommodation for the observance of significant religious occasions by its faculty, staff and students. This position is reflected in the Senate Policy on Sessional Dates which confirms the university’s respect for such observance and its commitment to accommodation in the scheduling of examinations. It is the responsibility of students, faculty and staff to comply with Senate policy in both requesting and providing such accommodation. For further information go tohttp://www.yorku.ca/yorkweb/regobs/.
(Emphasis mine)

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