I recently (as in yesterday) began studying Arts at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, which is a great place. It shares facilities and campus grounds with a few different institutions, including the main school of theology in the country; in other words, it’s quite religious and specifically quite Catholic. None of this is a problem (NUIM itself is strictly secular, even if it houses a lot of religious students), but I was a little bit worried when I signed up for Philosophy and discovered that my ‘Philosophy of Religion’ module would be taught by a Catholic priest.
Thankfully the class seems to consist of a lot more than ‘This is why Catholicism is right’, and it was very refreshing to hear someone talk frankly about topics like religion, agnosticism and atheism, which were never really brought up at secondary school (or if they were, in a way that ensured nobody was ever offended). I’ve been reading through this book (which I bought from the campus bookstore at a price that was only mildly extortionate), and here again I was surprised and gratified at how objective a tone the author takes.
What struck me most about it, though, was how the author presents the most common arguments for the existence of God (ontological, cosmological and teleological) in a way that far surpasses anything most theists I’ve met online could manage. One chapter is even apparently going to address my latest pet peeve, which is seeing theists make the leap from ‘some sort of god exists’ to ‘my particular God exists, to the exclusion of all others’. Fun times.
Since it’s related to the subject of the blog, I’ll post my thoughts on the course as it continues.