PHIL W10 Peaceable Kingdom. Though stewardship of the animal kingdom is one of the primary responsibilities accorded to human beings in the Christian creation narrative, the question of how best to respect the creatures under our care is one that Christians too often neglect to ask. This omission is unfortunate, given the mounting evidence of fallenness in the social and commercial practices that presently govern our relationships to animals. While large-scale animal farming has increased consumer convenience, this convenience comes at a cost, and not just to animals. Our current food system is also proving to have negative, if unintended, consequences for the environment, local and global commerce and agriculture in both rural and urban communities, and public health. In view of these considerations, the purpose of this course is two-fold: first, to gain insight into the problem through a survey of the theological, moral, environmental, and socio-economic issues surrounding the treatment of animals and the allocation of natural and human resources by our current food system and other industries that use animals; and second, to take the initial steps toward becoming agents of renewal by discerning an array of concrete approaches to addressing these problems (e.g., legislating for less intensive, more sustainable food systems, community supported agriculture, cooking and eating lower on the food chain, exploring “locavorism,” vegetarianism and veganism, animal compassion advocacy, etc.). M. Halteman.
PHIL W11 Moral Expectation in Film. This course focuses on moral expectation and its relation to other moral concepts such as moral duty, moral responsibility, supererogation, collective responsibility, and moral virtue. About eight motion pictures will be shown illustrating these moral concepts. These concepts will also be examined in the context of the Christian life. Learning objectives include knowledge of moral expectation and its relationship to these other concepts and the ability to analyze and identify their presence in the plots of motion pictures and, by extension, how they function in the lives of human moral agents. One previous course in Philosophy is recommended but not required. G. Mellema. 8:30 a.m. to noon.
PHIL W12 Faith, Evidence, and the Holy Spirit. This course explores prominent perspectives in “religious epistemology,” seeking to understand what makes it right and proper to believe—and even claim to know—the things that mature Christians do typically believe, claim to know, and know (and, in their witness, enjoin others to believe and come to know). We will look at arguments—from William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, and others—that there is more than ample “objective evidence” to support the key proclamations of Christianity. We will also look at arguments of Reformed philosophers (Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William Alston, and others) that Christian belief and knowing rests on distinctive sources like an innate “sensus divinitatus” and the internal work of the Holy Spirit attesting to divine revelation. Some attention will also be given to post-modernist approaches to these topics. Students will evaluate how these current accounts of “Christian knowing”—and the underlying general theories of evidence, rationality, and knowledge that they reflect—fit with their ongoing personal journeys and with the historical Christian communities that have been formative for their journeys. S. Wykstra.