MLAR 7280 Philosophy of Religion - Summer 2011

This course examines various attempts to understand the nature and importance of religious experience and religious beliefs from a naturalistic perspective. We will discuss the ontological, epistemic, and axiological significance of claims about the nature of religious experience and religious beliefs in an attempt to situate these phenomena in a broader naturalistic understanding of the self and the world. After a consideration of the varieties of religious experience as exemplified in the work of William James, we will review arguments by Pascal Boyer and Daniel Dennett to the effect that the origin, development, and diversity of religious belief and religious experience are all phenomena that are scientifically explainable within the naturalistic frameworks of evolutionary biology and cognitive psychology.