PHIL318-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Philosophy of Religion: Rationality, Science, and the God Hypothesis

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


Why does the universe exist, rather than nothing at all? Does life imply a designer? Can we show by pure logic that a supreme being exists? Is a person a non-physical soul or only a neural net encased in a skull? Can I survive my death or is belief in an afterlife a trick of evolution? Isn't all the suffering in the world evidence against the hypothesis of a benevolent God? Can human beings tell what is morally right and wrong, or do we need a 'God's-eye'view'? Is science compatible with religion? Is there one and only one true religion? What is 'faith' and what is 'reason' - and who decides?

The philosophy of religion is both one of the most traditional and one of the most vibrant modern areas of philosophy—see what Diane thinks about new developments in philosophy of religion, why the subject is important, and what makes for good philosophizing about religion. We all know the political problems that religions create—find out the philosophical problems.

Learning Outcomes

The aim of this course is that you will:

1. Understand and analyze central problems in the philosophy of religion and in the ‘science vs religion’ debate
2. Defend a position rigorously by means of logical argument
3. Construct a research plan
4. Think independently and creatively
5. Question assumptions and theories
6. Search for different theoretical approaches
7. Communicate effectively and unambiguously, both orally and in written reports
8. Become skilled in using digital sources and systems for research

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Employable, innovative and enterprising

Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.


Any 30 points at 200 level from PHIL, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA or the BSc.


RELS210 and PHIL229

Course Coordinator

Diane Proudfoot

Contact Diane for further information.


Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Textbooks / Resources

The text is Peterson, Hasker, Reichenbach, and Basinger, Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, 5th edition (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012). This book is a very helpful guide to the material covered in lectures.

For the material in the seminar, the texts are: Dennett, D. & Plantinga, A., Science and Religion - Are They Compatible? (Oxford UP, 2010) and Crane, T. The Meaning of Belief (Harvard UP, 2017).

Almost everything you need to know about the course is in the Learn PHIL229/318 website. The site guides you through the topics, in each case starting with user-friendly resources and tasks and moving to more challenging reading. Upload your essays in Learn and receive feedback electronically in Learn too—there is very little paper in this course.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,641.00

International fee $7,500.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All PHIL318 Occurrences

  • PHIL318-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023
  • PHIL318-23S1 (D) Semester One 2023 (Distance)