Religion and Philosophy

Religion and philosophy both address the fundamental questions of human existence. Who are we? Why are we here? How should we live? Whom or what should we worship, and to whom should we entrust our well-being? What happens when we die? How far can human reason reach and are there other sources of knowledge?

Berry’s religion and philosophy curriculum promotes sympathetic examination of various religious and philosophical approaches to these and other questions. Through such exploration, you can expect to gain a greater understanding of your own heritage and worldview, as well as those of others.

A Wealth of Possibilities
The Department of Religion and Philosophy offers a combined major in the two disciplines, with a concentration in either area. Minors in Religion or Philosophy are also available. If your goal is to structure a strong interdisciplinary major with one of these subjects as its core, Berry can accommodate you as well. A major in Religion and Philosophy consists of 33 credit hours, including the three-hour general education requirement. Because it is a Bachelor of Arts degree, you should be prepared to fulfill the foreign-language requirement for that designation.

Through your coursework, you’ll gain a strong liberal arts foundation that can serve as your springboard to careers in a wide array of fields, including law, government, business, medicine, nonprofit, and of course teaching and religious vocations.

If your goal is a graduate degree in Religion or Philosophy, your Berry education will open doors to both types of programs, as well as to other fields in the humanities. Even in fields that are not directly related to religion and philosophy, the degree will set you apart and certify your ability to think analytically, write clearly and appreciate other people’s points of view.

What’s the Focus of a Religion Major?
The academic study of religion differs from the faithful practice of religion. The goal in the classroom is to work toward a sympathetic understanding of the religious beliefs and practices of others as well as one’s own tradition. At Berry, you can concentrate on the comparative study of varied religious traditions or the Bible and historical Christianity (i.e. Religious Studies or Biblical and Christian Studies.) To put it simply, if the opportunity to analytically study some of the world’s most profound texts—and their impact— inspires you, then this is the major for you.

As you proceed through the curriculum, courses such as History of Christianity, Religious Themes in Contemporary Literature, Science and Religion, Scriptures of the World and Women in World Religions will provide you with the background necessary to engage in the academic study of complex issues while helping to improve both your critical-thinking and writing skills. In the process, you will gain a stronger understanding of a wide variety of religious beliefs.

Although many Religion majors go to work for churches and social-work agencies after graduation, the skills of analytical thought and self-expression you develop will leave you well equipped to handle any entry-level position that does not require specific prerequisites. One recent graduate runs a real estate agency, while another works for a credit agency. Students can also go on to pursue graduate studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, Duke Divinity and Yale Divinity School to name a few.

What Can a Philosophy Degree Do for You?
As a Philosophy major, you will learn how to use reason and logic to try and answer some of the most important and challenging questions asked about human beings and the world. You will find yourself discussing a wide variety of topics, ranging from the nature of God, morality and the mind, to science, art, mathematics, literature, politics and law. As you delve into these issues, you will reflect thoughtfully and critically about the ideas and arguments that shape human life and society.

Berry’s Philosophy curriculum covers all of the major contemporary philosophical questions and problems, as well as the history of philosophy. As you progress through the major, you will be expected to rigorously examine various philosophical viewpoints, read the writings of the great philosophers, and discuss and write critically about them. To deepen your educational experience, the faculty encourages you to combine your passion for the subject matter with other academic interests such as government or mathematics — disciplines that have longstanding ties to philosophy.

Courses such as Critical Thinking, Symbolic Logic, Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, and Modern Philosophy will sharpen your ability to solve problems, think logically, read carefully, and write both clearly and persuasively. These skills are useful and desirable in every field, whether your goal is a career in the computer science industry (which values a strong background in logic) or to continue your education in graduate school or professional school.

Philosophy majors outperform virtually every other major on the assessment exams for law school (the LSAT) and graduate school (the GRE) and outperform marketing, finance and all other business majors on the business management school exam (the GMAT.) Many recent graduates have continued their studies at law schools, medical schools, and graduate programs in Philosophy and other disciplines at such institutions as Vanderbilt University, Boston College, Washington University, the University of Notre Dame and the Medical College of Georgia. Several also have received prestigious scholarships.

Discerning Faculty
The Religion and Philosophy major will bring you into contact with a collection of accomplished faculty members who are well-versed in their craft. Widely published and recognized both on campus and off for scholarly excellence, they will help you make the most of your educational experience. In fact, Berry has miles and miles of trails you can wander as you talk with your professors about the meaning of life.

Outside Activities
If you wish to enrich yourself through outside activities, the department offers an enthusiastic theology reading group, as well as the Philosophy Club. Other events feature dynamic speakers from around the country and other parts of the world on a remarkable variety of topics in religion and philosophy.

More Information
For more information on Religion and Philosophy, visit