Theology and Philosophy of Religion
The aims of this course are to enable candidates to develop their knowledge and understanding of the nature of religion in the following three key areas:
- Ethics (Moral Philosophy)
- Philosophy of Religion
- Developments in Religious Thought (Judaism)
The course requires candidates to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- Ethical theories (Natural Law, Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics) and how these are expressed and applied to modern day situations or circumstances such as abortion or genetic engineering
- Ethical language and terminology
- Principle theories for and against the existence of God
- The debate between religion and science
- The relationship between faith & reason
- Debates around the meaning and truth of religious language
- Questions and contradictions in the attributes of God
- Religious experiences and miracles and how these could be used to argue for or against the existence of God
- Questions about life after death
In addition students will study Judaism from both the theological and historical perspectives. Students will develop an understanding of:
- Sources of authority in both the Torah and the Talmud.
- Covenant theology as expressed in the Biblical history.
- The principals of Jewish philosophy and particularly the philosophy of Moses Maimonides.
- Concepts of suffering and hope in contemporary and historical Judaism.
- The observation of Halakhah within modern Judaism.
Ethics Ethical Philosophy: Kant and the Categorical Imperative; Utilitarianism, in many forms; Absolute and Relative Morality. The relation between these ethical systems and religious methods of decision making. Practical ethics as applied to two key issues: euthanasia and Capitalism.
Philosophy of Religion: Ancient Greek influences on Philosophy Attributes of God. The main philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God including the work of Aquinas, Paley, Hick and Darwin. Attempts to resolve the problem of evil.
Developments in Jewish thought: Jewish and Oral law through the Talmud and Perkei Avot; the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants and their theological basis; the philosophy of Moses Maimonides; the concept of ‘suffering’ and its role within Jewish life and thought.
Religious Ethics: Free will and human conscience. Are we born with ideas about right and wrong or do we develop these? Do humans have genuine free-will or are our decisions controlled? The different vantage points on the conscience offered by Thomas Aquinas and Sigmund Freud. What does ‘good’ actually mean and can we have a universal understanding of it? Philosophical and religious responses to moral issues surrounding business, sex and relationships and the environment.
Philosophy of Religion: Do humans have a body and a soul and what is our evidence for this? What happens after death? Are religious experiences and miracles genuine? Can God really reveal himself to humans? Can we accurately discuss religion? Can we describe God? Can different religions have genuine discussions with one another?
Developments in Judaism: The concept of identity and conversion within Biblical modern Judaism; The Jewish encounter with modernity and the emergence of the Jewish enlightenment; Zionism and the State of Israel; Gender difference and feminism in modern Judaism; Theological approaches to the Holocaust.
- Two exams: Three papers of 2 hours taken in June.
Entry Requirements: Minimum of 5 Grade Bs at GCSE or above including English Language, Maths and Short or Full course RE. (Negotiable if students have not taken GCSE RE)
Exam Board & Syllabus Names: OCR Religious Studies (H573)