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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Philosophy of God: Online High School Classes

Many people who reject the traditional arguments for the existence and attributes of God have a very poor understanding of them. This is can even be true of many people who support them. Three main questions explored in this course will be: How is it possible to prove the existence of God? Exactly how does St. Thomas argue that God exists? How do God's attributes (unity, perfection, goodness, and so on) follow from these proofs? 

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Class dates: January 10 to April 11, 2013 (no class on 3/7 nor 3/28)
Total classes: 12
Starting time: 4:00 pm Eastern (3:00 Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: none
Suggested grade level: 12th grade or advanced 11th grader
Suggested high school credit: one full semester
Fee: $160 for all 12 classes
Instructor: Dr. Jean Rioux
Course description: Natural Theology (also called Philosophy of God or Philosophical Theology) is that part of philosophy which addresses what we can know of divine things using unaided reason. Learning what we can of the existence and attributes of God is our primary objective. To do that well, however, we must first acquaint ourselves with the method of natural theology, especially insofar as it differs from that of revealed theology. While the focus of this course is upon coming to know God and His attributes, we will be looking at some arguments against the existence of God (atheism) or against our capacity to know God through reason (agnosticism|fideism). There is a good amount of fairly difficult reading required for this class. Weekly homework will consist of your careful responses to one or two summative essay questions on material covered in a previous class.

Course outline (week by week):
January 10 What is Natural Theology?; Plato, Meno 96d-100b; Summa Theologiae I 1 1 and 8; Summa Contra Gentiles I 1-9
January 17 The Logic of Existence; Aristotle, Posterior Analytics II.1-2; Aristotle, Posterior Analytics I.13
January 24 Ontological Arguments; Anselm of Canterbury, Proslogion 2; Gaunilon, Pro Insipiente; René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy V; Summa Theologiae I 2 1; Summa Contra Gentiles I 10-11
January 31 Fideism and the Wager; Blaise Pascal, Pensées III: Of the Necessity of the Wager; Summa Theologiae I 2 2; Summa Contra Gentiles I 12
February 7 Other Forms of Agnosticism | Atheism; David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 8; Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity 1
February 14 Other Forms of Agnosticism | Atheism (continued);  Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity 1; Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not A Christian
February 21 Teleological and Cosmological Arguments, Summa Theologiae I 43 2, Summa Contra Gentiles I 13
February 28 Teleological and Cosmological Arguments (continued); Summa Contra Gentiles I 13; Summa Theologiae I 2 3
March 7 No class today
March 14 Teleological and Cosmological Arguments (continued); Summa Theologiae I 2 3; John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding IV 10; William Paley, Natural Theology 1-2; Michael Behe, Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference
March 21 Teleological and Cosmological Arguments (continued); William Paley, Natural Theology 1-2; Michael Behe, Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference
March 28 No class today
April 4 Understanding God’s Nature and the Divine Attributes; Summa Contra Gentiles I 14-102 (skim readings, selections to be announced)
April 11 Understanding God’s Nature and the Divine Attributes Summa Contra Gentiles I 14-102 (skim readings, selections to be announced) 
Course materials: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book I: God, University of Notre Dame Press (click on the book title for ordering information). Selected Readings in Natural Theology, provided FREE as a downloadable pdf by the instructor.
Homework: Weekly homework will consist of students' careful responses to one or two summative essay questions on material covered in a previous class. Most of students' out-of-class time will be devoted to a careful reading of the assigned material, but they should expect to spend an hour or so writing up their weekly essays.


click on course title to register 

Instructor's biography: Dr. Jean Rioux is a professor and chair of the philosophy department at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he has taught for 26 years. A graduate of Thomas Aquinas College, he completed his graduate work in philosophy at the Center for Thomistic Studies in Houston, earning his M.A. Ph.D. in 1990. Specializing in the thought of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, Dr. Rioux has published textbooks in logic and natural philosophy, as well as articles on the philosophy of mathematics in the Thomist and the Aquinas Review. He came to Benedictine with a love for the study of primary texts, as well as a keen interest in what computers might bring to that study. His contributions to the philosophical life of Benedictine College range from Great Books Sequences in philosophy and theology to 3D software for students of logic. He and his wife, Maria have been designing their own curricula and educating their nine children at home for over 20 years.

Equipment requirements: Classes are online, live and interactive. Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone.
Misc: Dr. Rioux will be available via email or phone in between classes for questions and comments.
Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.
Homeschool Connections does not provide record keeping services.


click on course title to register 

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