SCEN 344/PHIL344 Weekly Papers - 2002
|Current topic||Rubrics||Past Topics|
All of the papers, both full weekly papers and minipapers, which are on topics that are covered before the first hour exam are included on this under "past topics."
1. Insightful ideas presented. . . . . . ._____/5.
shows understanding; reflects critical thought on topic; sufficiently comprehensive
2. Written well (ESWE)*. . . . . . . . . ._____/4.
typos; grammar, punctuation; style; organization
*ESWE is "Edited, Standard, Written English" - a term used by teachers of composition to describe the way that English is expected to be expressed in business and academic writing.
3. Follows the directions. . . . . . . . ._____/1.
on-time, proper length
TOTAL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ._____/10.
5 points -- paper is basically all there and covers the major points (corresponding to grades of 8, 9, or 10 on our usual weekly paper scale).
3 points -- paper attempts to address the issues but misses a major point;
0 points -- paper is either not submitted or is not responsive to the assignment.
This is a FULL weekly paper assignment, due in class Tuesday, Oct 15. The usual conventions for a FULL WEEKLY PAPER obtain. This is not a mini-paper.
We've been talking about the problem of evil. The problem of evil is a problem for theism. Is there something like the problem of evil for atheists?
Atheism: the belief that there are no supernatural beings. Everything that exists is a part of, or a process of the physical universe. (This definition is sufficient for our purposes).
Objectively true value: a moral belief or claim that's true and the truth of which does not depend on any human belief, preference, or attitude.
Now here's the problem -- if everything that exists is a part of, or process of the physical universe, can there be objectively true moral values? That is, we typically believe that the suffering of an innocent person is bad (or evil), that the world would be better if the innocent
did not suffer pointless evil. Can an atheist consistently assert that there are objectively good values and some objectively bad ones? Can an atheist, in other words, consistently assert that pointless suffering is evil?
The paper question: can there be objectively good values and objectively bad values in an atheistic universe? Why or why not.
FULL WEEKLY PAPER #3 due Tuesday, October 8
Consider the following concepts.
DEISM: the idea that God, or a superior being, has created the universe but does not (and has not) intervened in the workings of the universe after creation. so, no miracles and no revelation.
FIDEISM: the belief that religion is based on faith and not on either evidence or arguments or reason.
CLASSICAL THEISM: the belief that God created the universe and has intervened in the workings of nature and in human history. So, there are miracles.
MIRACLE: an event that violates a law of nature and is caused by God.
Write Weekly Paper #4 on the following question(s). All the usual weekly paper conventions are in effect.
Does science (or the scientific attitude) require that a religious person be either a deist or a fideist, but not a classical theist? That is, can one engage in science (or have a scientific attitude) and still think that there are miracles? Why or why not.
MINI WEEKLY PAPER #2 due Thursday September 26
REMINDER: ONLY the mini-weekly papers are one paragraph long and graded on a simple 5-point scale.
If there's time, we're going to do another jigsaw on Thursday. If there isn't time, I'm going to summarize.
There are four short articles at the end of Goid for the 21st Century. Two themes run through these articles:
WONDER -- A sense of wonder, deep appreciation for the beauty and transcendence of what is out there in the Universe, which is illuminated by science.
TWO WINDOWS -- a sense that science provides one window onto the Universe, and religion provides another window onto different parts of the Universe.
These themes are closely related to the different ways of looking at science and religion that are found in Chapter 1 of the Haught book.
If your FIRST name begins with the letters A-K, read the articles by Midgley (pp. 186-188) and Domb (pp. 182-185). Does either of the themes above express a common theme in the two articles? Illustrate your answer with a couple of examples.
If your FIRST name begins with the letters L-Z, read the articles by Ferguson and Hewlett (pp. 175-177 and 178-181). Does either of the themes above express a common theme in the two articles? Illustrate your answer with a couple of examples
Full Weekly Paper # 2 due September 24
Write a two-page paper on the following. Bring TWO COPIES to class on Tuesday and be prepared to discuss it with your group.
When Hume developed his critique of the Design Argument, the design argument was based on rather general understandings of the universe. Now, two hundred years later, the Design Argument has appeared in a different form: namely the Anthropic Principle or Fine Tuning Argument.
Does Hume's critique of the Design Argument, as summarized by Davis, still apply to the Fine Tuning Argument? Why or why not?
Hint: You do not need to address all of Hume's critiques of the design argument, which Davis subdivides into five categories and which, in class, I divided into four. You only need to consider one or at most two lines of reasoning. (As I will make clear in class, I consider that not of all these individual lines of reasoning are of equal weight.)
Full Weekly Paper #1, due September 17
Bring TWO word-processed copies to class and hand in ONE at the beginning of class.
This is a full weekly paper, which should be two double spaced pages long. .
Imagine that the student activities people have decided to sponsor an on-campus debate about the fine tuning issue. You are part of a student group that is trying to put together a list of possible debaters. You as an individual are asked to investigate the views of one particular individual, and report back to your group on "how that individual interprets the evidence for fine-tuning." Write a 1-2 page paper which describes your individual author's beliefs. Imagine that you will have to describe these beliefs in not too many words to other students who will be trying to decide whom to invite to this debate.
The three possible speakers are John Polkinghorne, Owen Gingerich, and Freeman Dyson. The readings for each of them are on electronic reserve.
In a jigsaw assignment, each of you will become an "expert" on one of these authors. We will do a jigsaw activity in class next Tuesday and discuss your papers. It would probably help you participate in this discussion if you brought a copy of your paper to refer to in the discussion.
A random process has led to the following assignments.
If your last name begins with A-F, read the article by Polkinghorne and write a paper on Polkinghorne.
If your last name begins with G-O, read the article by Dyson and write a paper on Dyson.
If your last name begins with P-Z, read the article by Gingerich and write a paper on Gingerich.
First Mini-weekly paper#1 due September 10, 2002
A mini-weekly paper should be one long paragraph or two short paragraphs. It will be graded on a simple 5-point scale and must be responsive to the topic suggested.
You are talking to two friends, Jennifer and Michael. Jennifer has heard that you are taking a course in science and religion and is asking you to suggest a book for her to read.
Michael jumps into the conversation and suggests a recent book by Stephen Jay Gould, Rock of Ages. You do not need to read his book or anything about it to answer this question. While the book is quite long, its thesis can be summarized in two words: "Non-overlapping Magisteria." In simpler words, Gould's view is that science teaches you about the natural world and religion deals with a number of other issues like ethics and the nature of God, and that these two views of the Universe do not overlap.
Based on what you know now in this course, what is your response to Michael's suggestion? Write one paragraph, which should be word-processed and handed in at the BEGINNING OF CLASS on September 10.