Faith and Reason
This course will study the relation between faith in God and the capacities of human reason. The main topics will be the relation between faith in God and morality, religious experience, the problem of evil, the nature of faith, the traditional proofs for the existence of God, miracles and science, immortality, and religious pluralism.
In all these topics, we will be using the tools of philosophy to discuss belief in God. Sometimes these tools will be taken from the tradition, for example from Plato or Anselm or Aquinas or Kant or Kierkegaard. Sometimes they will be taken from contemporary readings, for example from Plantinga or Hick or Stump. But always the question will be how much we can learn about God’s presence or absence by the use of our own rationality. This is important in our current situation because we live in a pluralist society in which people believe in different gods or in no god at all. Does this mean that people of faith should retreat into a merely private space, or is there a case to be made publicly that theism makes sense of human experience?
One feature of our present situation is the rise of an aggressive new form of atheism in the public domain. People who believe in God need to take these arguments seriously, not only because their own belief is under challenge but because the arguments are finding a large audience in the culture at large. The question of the relation of faith and reason is urgent for our times.
John Hare is Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale University. He has published seven books and about a hundred articles. In relation to the present course, the most important titles are The Moral Gap (Oxford 1996), and God’s Command (Oxford 2016). His interests include Philosophy of Religion, Philosophical Theology, Theological Aesthetics, Aristotle, Medieval Franciscan Philosophy, Kant, Kierkegaard, Contemporary Moral Philosophy, Medical Ethics, and Ethics and International Affairs. He is also a published composer of church music.