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Religion and Philosophy Course Descriptions

RP132G MYSTERIES AND MIRACLES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: BIBLE I (2). This course surveys some of the most famous and inspiring characters and stories in the Christian Old Testament. Our study will be guided by questions concerning the many moral dilemmas, mysteries, and miracles the Old Testament presents: Where did the universe come from, and why do people die? Did God have a wife? What does the Old Testament say about charging interest, slavery, war, sexuality, and homosexuality? Where did Satan come from? Did other figures in biblical history besides Jesus heal and raise people from the dead?

RP133G FROM THE GOSPELS TO REVELATION: BIBLE II (2). This course surveys the New Testament Christian Scriptures from the Gospels to Revelation, focusing on the mysterious, miracle-working Jesus of Nazareth whom Christians worship as messiah and savior. Guiding our study will be such questions as: What led early Christians to conclude that Jesus was not merely the messiah, but God in the flesh? What did Jesus teach about God and God’s kingdom, about war, treatment of the poor, the sick, the stranger or the immigrant? What does Jesus have to teach about sexual relationships, and was he married, as suggested by gospels that were censored from the Christian Bible? Did Jesus and his followers predict the end of the world?

RP140 INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY (4). This course provides an introduction to philosophy, the field which lies at the heart of all academic inquiry. The course will explore the big questions, including ones we encounter in everyday life (e.g. What do I owe to other people?), ones that are part of philosophical traditions (e.g. Am I as free as I believe?), and ones that are important to other academic fields (e.g. Why should I trust scientific knowledge?). Question asking, critical inquiry and participation in discussion are essential features of this course.

RP231 INTRODUCTION TO QUAKERS (4). An introductory study of the faith and practice of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) with more emphasis on current Friends’ experience than the history of this religious community.

RP236 INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL THINKING (4). Introduction to the attitudes and skills of critical thinking. Emphasis on the identification and analysis of informal fallacies, and some features of formal logic.

RP239 VALUES AND ETHICS (4). A survey of major ethical theories and contemporary moral issues (possible topics include abortion, war and pacifism, sexual ethics, environmental ethics) emphasizing the human experience of moral decision-making in a changing world of competing values. Includes a Service component.

RP240G COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS I: JUDAISM AND ISLAM (2). This course surveys two of the world’s great monotheistic faiths. As much as modern conflict between these two religions might suggest otherwise, Judaism and Islam, like Christianity, trace their roots back to Abraham, the Old Testament patriarch traditionally identified as the first person to worship the one God. In addition to introducing the historical origins and sacred scripture of these two faiths, this course will also explore Judaism and Islam as they are practiced and lived today.

RP241G COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS II: INDIGENOUS AND EASTERN RELIGIONS (2). This course surveys the major religious traditions of India, Southeast Asia, China and Japan. We begin our survey with a consideration of world indigenous (including Native American) religions, whose ancient, nature-and-land-based belief systems continue to shape and find expression in contemporary Eastern religions. Our survey will then study the ancient roots and contemporary expressions of Hinduism in India. We then turn our attention to Buddhism which, after originating in the teachings of the Buddha in the sixth century BCE, spread eastward into China and Japan, where it still exists alongside Daoism, Confucianism, and Shintoism to this day. As an example of interreligious dialogue, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Living Buddha, Living Christ will guide us in tracing the common ground Buddhism and Christianity share, along the way also introducing various Buddhist meditation techniques.

RP336 ECOLOGICAL ETHICS (4). This course will explore the intersections between ecology and ethics. Through both theoretical readings in moral philosophy and topic-based readings on particular environmental issues, students will engage in serious reflection on the obligations that we have toward the natural world. In addition to traditional coursework, students will also undertake a major, hands-on project that explores a substantial ecological issue in the Wilmington and/or tristate area.

RP344 MINDS AND SOULS: GREAT PHILOSOPHERS I (2). This course will provide an opportunity to study a philosopher/s from the Ancient Greek and/or Medieval Period of Western philosophy. Primary source material written by each philosopher will be studied, promoting in-depth interpretation of philosophical writing and comparative analysis with contemporary thinkers. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing.

RP345 PROPAGANDA AND DEATH: GREAT PHILOSOPHERS II (2). This course will provide an opportunity to study a philosopher/s from the Renaissance and/or Modern Period of Western philosophy. Primary source material written by each philosopher will be studied, promoting in-depth interpretation of philosophical writing and comparative analysis with contemporary thinkers. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing.

RP450 TOPICS IN RELIGION/PHILOSOPHY (4). Topics of current interest and concern to students and faculty in the field of religion and philosophy, such as the following: Dreams and World Mythology, Lost Gospels of Jesus, Exploring Christianity, Religion and Food, Indigenous Religions, Philosophy in Dark Times, and Democracy. Course may be repeated when topics vary. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing.

RP 495 SENIOR PROJECT (4). A capstone course for the Peace and Nonviolence and Ecological Ethics Concentrations in the Religion and Philosophy major, the Senior Project provides an opportunity for students to pursue research, a practical project, or a combination of these two. Unlike the RP Internship, the Senior Project involves more traditional library research, though students would also be encouraged to consider internships on or off campus, study, service, or travel experiences abroad, as a basis for their senior paper, which will be completed in close and regular collaboration with Religion and Philosophy faculty. With its more substantial research and writing component, the RP Senior Project is designed particularly for those considering graduate work in the field.