Course Review | Philosophy of Religion, by Prof. James Hall, Ph.D.


This course consisting of 36 lectures is a fairly comprehensive set of lessons, 30 minutes or so each, dealing with the conceptual intricacies of what could be called Ethical Monotheism, the sort of thinking involved in many sects of the Abrahamic religions of the West and Middle-East. For considerations of lecture time much of the discussion centers around Christian thought.

Topics discussed include the ideas of God as a concept, the notion of transcendence, atheistic arguments from evil, free will theodicies, paradigms, language games, and arguments alleged to definitively demonstrate the existence of the divine as well as those alleged to definitively disprove the same.

Professor Hall from the very beginning lays his own personal leanings and background on the proverbial table, and throughout these lectures shows both commendable honesty and heroic attempts to be objective in his presentation of the material.

He has a good teaching style, with a touch of humor and lots of good analogies and examples in the lessons. I came away from this course impressed by his professionalism as an instructor, but could not help but notice the tendency for special pleading (not his, BTW, but that inherent in the field of philosophy of religion) as regards the argumentation’s use in apologetics in debates I’ve seen or listened to.

That mainly applies to the various theodicies and other theistic arguments, and in much talk of paradigms and language games, though Hall avoided any firm conclusions of his own on these, merely noting the Scottish verdict of “not proved” for the arguments both pro and con the divine.

I enjoyed this course for the conceptual tools it offered, for Hall’s nonjudgmental take on the whole thing, and for the spurring it gave to explore the subject further.

I do think that the arguments discussed could bear updating to account for current usage by modern apologists and the same for the rebuttals made by modern atheists, but much of the subject matter is still relevant and timely, needing only minor tweaks for present day debates and discourse.

In short, I enjoyed this, and there are parts I’ll definitely revisit in future. This course is well worth what I paid for it.

I give this course five tentacles for eldritch philosophical coolness.

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