Investigation of the oft-made claim that "religion
causes much of the world's violence," exploring
the best arguments for and against this
proposition framed by maximalist claims that
religion is inherently prone to inspiring
violence, and minimalist claims that religion is
either peaceful or subordinated to other (e.g.,
economic or political) concerns. Consideration of
various definitions of "religion" to see how it
might motivate a range of behaviors both peaceful
and violent. Attention given to pervasive
religious phenomena (such as sacrifice,
conversion, holy/just war, and apocalypticism)
that might inspire violence, as well as
theological and ethical frameworks that may
counteract violence. In a multi-stage, guided
research project, students will pursue case
studies of specific instances of violence
apparently related to religion, thereby testing
and employing the analytical lenses developed in
the course.