Description and Purpose
Religion as a field examines spiritual beliefs, teachings, practices, and worship. Courses in religion feature in-depth study of world religions and religious movements.
Why study religion? Religion opens the mind to a world of possibilities beyond the natural order. The study of religion fosters an appreciation for spiritual inquiry as well as respect for different religious traditions. Religious themes animate much of Western and Eastern intellectual history, literature, and politics. Religious controversies sit behind many contemporary world events and movements. Some detailed knowledge of religious contexts is essential in understanding much of the history of Western ideas and movements. Students in religion courses frequently use the opportunity to inquire into their own beliefs.
The religion courses of the Department of Philosophy and Religion have four main purposes: (1) to discern accurate and credible knowledge about a wide range of religious traditions and expressions, and to recognize the internal diversity within religious traditions; (2) to acquaint students with major methodological approaches (philosophical, spiritual, sociological, etc.) to religious studies so as to understand the richness and complexity of religious phenomena; (3) to explore how religions interact with the experiences and histories of individuals, communities, nations, and regions; (4) to interpret how religious expressions make use of cultural symbols and artistic representations of their times and contexts. Students are expected to command an advanced level of religious literacy, and to practice their intellectual and spiritual adeptness in a contemporary social context.