Skepticism, Atheism, and Religious Faith (RS 3MM3)
Fall 2007


Assignment due in class on October 15* from members of Group 1

*Since part of the value of the text preparation assignment is that it will prepare you to be an active participant in tutorial and in class, it may only be submitted in class on the day it is due.  If you have to miss that day's class, please contact the instructor or TA to make alternate arrangements.

Please read 

  • Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy. An Inquiry Into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation to the Rational (1917), trans. John W. Harvey,  chaps. 1-5 (pp. 1-30), 8 (pp. 50-59) [coursepack / book on reserve / book available for purchase] 

and address the following two questions in 3-4 well-written paragraphs (spanning 2-3 pages). Since this is your first reading of this text, and since we have not yet discussed it in class, you are not being asked to supply definitive answers but preliminary, thoughtful responses based on close attention to the text. Your answers may also include 1-2 important questions raised by your reading for further discussion.  

What are "the rational" and "the irrational" for Otto, and how does he relate these opposing concepts to religion?

Otto writes of the word "holy" that it contains "a clear overplus [better translation: surplus - D.H.] of meaning" and that he intends to "isolate" this surplus of meaning (5).  How does he go about doing this?  That is, what features of "the holy" does he go on to identify, and what evidence or argument does he use to back up his claims? 

In preparing this assignment, please follow the citation guidelines in 

Your assignment should be printed double-spaced and with one-inch margins, using a 10-12-point font.  Please number and staple the pages you hand in. 

Please keep a copy of your assignment to refer to in our class discussion.



posted October 2, 2007