Religion and Philosophy
The Study of Religion and Philosophy
The programs offered by the Religion and Philosophy department investigate the ongoing human pursuit to understand and construct the meaning and purpose of our existence and how we should live. Foundational to this quest is an understanding of the world we live in and the forces immanent and transcendent that give rise to our experiences and allow us to formulate our purpose.
What exists? What is existence? What is truth? Does the divine exist? Who or what is God?
The philosophical and religious traditions we study span from ancient civilizations to modern ones, and from one end of the globe to the other. Drawing on critical methods and sources, each tradition’s understanding of the human condition has individual and communal as well as local and global implications. We carefully observe these traditions as they develop over time and the ongoing interplay between practitioners of traditions and new human experiences.
What does it mean to be a human being? What is the difference between right and wrong? What is the best kind of life to live? What do we owe each other? What do we owe the world we live in? How ought we orient ourselves toward the divine? Can human life be meaningful and how?
In the tradition of the Liberal Arts, our programs focus on critical thinking skills and the skills of persuasion, written and oral. We also engage in frequent self-reflection on our own path of learning as we sift through the centuries of human attempts to answer these fundamental questions. And so we continue to investigate our ancestors’ responses and to consider their insight for ourselves as we seek to make our own way in the world and live out a purpose that brings us meaning.
Religion and Philosophy Majors & Minors
The department's faculty members come to Roanoke from prestigious institutions that include Harvard, Princeton, Yale, the University of Chicago and many others. Religion and philosophy majors receive individual attention from the faculty and work one on one with them in small class settings and independent research projects. Our professors are also active scholars, publishing both articles and books in their areas of expertise. Recent examples include Dr. Brent Adkins' Death and Desire in Hegel, Heidegger, and Deleuze, True Freedom: Spinoza's Practical Philosophy, Rethinking Philosophy & Theology with Deleuze: A New Cartography (2013) with Paul Hinlicky, Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus: A Reader's Guide and Critical Introduction, and A Guide to Ethics and Moral Philosophy; Dr. Jennifer Berenson’s Flavius Philosotratos’s Heroikos and Philostratus’s Heroikos: Religion and Cultural Identity in the Third Century C.E.; Dr. James Peterson's Changing Human Nature: Ecology, Ethics, Genes, and God, and Genetic Turning Points; Dr. Melanie Trexler's Evangelizing Lebanon: Baptists, Muslims, and the Question of Cultures; Dr. Ned Wisnefske's God Hides: A Critique of Religion and a Primer for Faith, The Ought, and Could God Fail?: The Fate of the Universe and the Faith of Christians.
There are many ways religion or philosophy majors can get experience outside the classroom, including:
Excellent Graduate School Preparation and Placement
Students who have graduated from Roanoke's religion and philosophy programs have gone on to graduate study at institutions such as Loyola University; Princeton Seminary; Luther Seminary; University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and others.
Activities and Organizations for Philosophy and Religion Majors
Getting involved in campus activities provides a way to connect with others of like interests. Students can participate in a variety of programs, including the film series, and speakers sponsored by the Benne Center for Religion & Society. Theta Alpha Kappa, the Religion honor society, and Phi Sigma Tau, the honor society in Philosophy, recognize academic excellence.