PHIL318-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021

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

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 July 2021
End Date: Sunday, 14 November 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 1 August 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 1 October 2021


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?

Not only is philosophy one of the most interesting and challenging subjects, it teaches skills that employers want: thinking outside the box, logic, ethics, and excellent writing and communication skills. At UC you can do either a BA or a BSc in Philosophy, or combine a Philosophy major with the LLB, BCom, or another degree.

BA or BSc students who major in philosophy must normally take at least two 100-level PHIL courses, plus at least three 200-level PHIL courses (including PHIL233), plus at least 60-points from 300-level PHIL courses (including at least one course from this list: PHIL305; PHIL310; PHIL311; and PHIL317). For more information see the BA regulations and/or the BSc regulations.

Learning Outcomes

  • The aim of this course is that you will learn to:
  • Understand and analyse central problems in the philosophy of religion and the ‘science vs religion’ debate

  • Defend a position rigorously by means of logical argument, and anticipate and rebut objections

  • Think independently and assess evidence for conflicting views
  • Communicate clearly and precisely about conceptual problems, and use evidence-based reasoning, both orally and in written reports
    • 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.


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 / Lecturer

Diane Proudfoot

Contact Diane for further information.


Assessment to be arranged.

There is no final examination in this course.

Textbooks / Resources

M. Peterson, W. Hasker, B. Reichenbach, and D. Basinger, Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, 5th edition (Oxford University Press, 2012). Copies are available in UBS and on 3-hour loan in the High Demand Collection in the Library.

D. C. Dennett and A. Plantinga, Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? (Oxford University Press, 2011).

The Meaning of Belief: Religion from an atheist’s point of view by Tim Crane (Harvard, 2017).

Numerous readings, videos, and audio files are also available in Learn.

(*Image: "Earth Eastern Hemisphere" by NASA, available under public domain.)

Course links

Library portal
Philosophy Essay Writing Guide (available to all enrolled Philosophy students)
Course Outline

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,570.00

International fee $7,000.00

* 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 and Creative Arts .

All PHIL318 Occurrences

  • PHIL318-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021