since 1965  (really?)

Faith & Reasons

This course listing applies to a Spring 2016 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Spring 2016
Interdisciplinary Studies Field 98/198
2-3 Unit(s)

Human friendly URL (OBSOLETE)


About the Course:

Faith & Reasons brings together faculty, scholars, working professionals, and students from various academic interests who are striving to make better sense of the world by inquiring deeper beyond the limits of what is definitively known within the humanities and sciences. The aim of this course is to revisit some of the "big questions" foundational to the pursuit of truth, and philosophically address and reason through them. Questions such as "Does God exist?" to "Why are we here?" will be rigorously explored in way that encourages students and speakers to have meaningful and serious conversations about what are commonly considered "un-answerable" or "controversial" perspectives. Ultimately, this course offers a safe space that allows students and the greater Berkeley community to examine, evaluate, and solidify a coherent worldview.

What makes this course unlike any other decal you may ask? Here's just some reasons:

1.     We’re asking Big Questions that most people have usually given up on trying to answer. But they are important questions because without a sound stance on the metaphysics, our physical realities may be meaningless.

2.     The class is structured upon conversations NOT just between two or more speakers, but more-so between our speakers and YOU. So yes, that means not only are you allowed to have conversations about these big questions with academic experts of various field (from Mathematicians, Philosophers, to Quantum Physicists) but the class is actually going to depend on them.

3.     Every lecture has at least one new speaker from a different Academic Department. Most of our speakers are professors but some are also working professionals and graduate students.

4.     Your voice and your opinions are not only heard but they matter immensely in the course. We strongly value coherent argumentation so we encourage you to speak up if any presented argument made is incoherent or lacking validity and soundness.

5.     The course is heavily graded on participation and attendance (actually that’s all you need to do to pass) and in return, you’ll get 2-3 units!


Schedule of a *“Typical”* Class Day:

15-30 minutes: Students respond to the “Big Question” on the Board,  Thoughts about present questions

*15-30 minutes/Speaker:  Speaker address “Big Question” on the board providing reasonable beliefs of why they believe what they believe based on evidence supported by their academic fields.

40-100 minutes: Audience question/concerns/objections raised to Speaker. Student Responses further explored.

Last 10 minutes: Visual Summary of the most sound views presented to the question/reflection of what to make of the topic.

*Different according to the presentation method speakers opt to do (or whether class is formated as a seminar during that day):

Presentation Methods:

 1. 20min TED talk w/Q&A following: (structure listed above)

The “TED talk” presentation method allows speakers to structure their lecture in a compelling and brief way, focused upon answering/addressing the question which can be formatted in many different ways (a story,  a research discovery, a moving speech, etc).


2. 70 minute lecture-conversation

Lecture-conversations structured similar to typical class lectures but one that engages students in a conversations by gauging them to reason and question the materials being presented, thus allowing them to actively be a part of it.

Video Example:

Michael Sandel’s Justice: What’s the right thing to do? Harvard Lectures series

For Seminars:

Panel of individuals with differing view discussing what to make of the topic; students can engage and ask further questions.


Jan 29

Introduction: The Different Types of Worldviews and not having a definitive one. Sound Argumntation Introduction.


Month of February:

Does God Exist?

Question approach for speakers: Why do you think God Exists (or not exist)? 

*keeping in mind that “God” has not yet been defined.*

Speakers & Subjects:

-Physics: Hitoshi Murayama.

-Karl van Bibber

-Mathematics: Will Johnson.

-Philosophy: Lara Buchak.

-Robert Russell.

-Panel Discussion. (David + Abigail)

March 4 & 11:

What is God?

Question approach for speakers: How do you define God? How did people throughout history define God?

Speakers & Subjects:

-Philosophy: Tim Crockett.

-Stanley Klein.

-Ted Peters.

-Philosophy/Theology: Anselm Ramelow.

March 18:

A Scientific Case for an Intelligent God

Curated by David Kurz.


April 1:

Why do people doubt God?/Our ability to Doubt.

Question approach for speakers: If God really exists, why can people still doubt him - why would he allow the world to doubt him? (The dilemma of free–will/human nature)

Speakers & Subjects

Curator: Abigail Hohenstreet.

-Theology: Scot Sherman.

-Psychology: Brandy Liebscher.

April 8:

Why does Evil Exist?

Question approach for speakers: If God is all Benevolent, why would Evil exist/how can Evil exist/why would God permit its existence/Does it exist/What is “Evil”? 




April 15:

Why are we here?

Why did God choose to create us/humanity in the first place?

Question approach for speakers: What’s the purpose in Life?  -- What is “Flourishing”?

Speakers & Subjects:

Curator: Abigail.

-Political Theory: Bruce Wydick.

-Economics: Stephen Huxley.

-John Walkup.

April 22 & 29:

The Question & Case of Christ. 

Approach:  A critical examination of Jesus of Nazareth as a significant historical and religious figure whose claims pertains heavily to the discourse of theistic worldviews.

Speakers & Subjects:

-Literature: Steve Justice.

-History: Andrei Antokhin.


70% Attendance & Participation

30% Final Paper on Your Worldview (with credible reasons/academic sources for it)

Policy on Participation:

Participation in class is noted and can take the form of asking questions, raising concerns, objections, staying after-class to discuss the topic more, attending discussion, and/or providing a visual summary of what happened in class at lecture. Someone with perfect attendance (no absences) and sufficient participation can skip turning in the final paper to still be able to pass the class.

Note: iClicker is required for attendance and participation

Units Policy:

The course alone is 2-units, but students have the option to add an extra unit (making the course 3 units) by taking a discussion section offered the following days:

-Tuesday 6pm-7pm (Diana Lutfi)

-Wednesday 6pm-7pm (Abigail Hohenstreet)

-Thursday 5pm-6pm (Brooke Butler)

-Friday 6:30pm-7:30pm (Dave Kurz)

How to Enroll:


All are welcomed! To enroll, simply add our CCN# (listed) AND choose the amount of units (2 or 3 units) to your Telebears Registration and ATTEND our lecture meetings (if you're taking it for 3 units, you'll also need to add a discussion session to your schedule listed below):

Tuesday 6pm-7pm (Barrows 186) - Diana Lutfi 

Wednesday 6pm-7pm (Barrows 80) - Abiagil Hohenstreet

Thursday 5pm-6pm (Dwinelle 189) - Brooke Butler

Friday 6:30pm-7:30pm (same in-class location) - David Kurz

The course is also updated on the Online Schedule of Classes/Schedule Builder for your scheduling convinience (simply search for ISF 98/198 the Fridays 4-7pm section). 

We have enough resources to accomodate up to 400-500 students for enrollment! We encourage anyone and everyone (undergrad, grad, faculty, staff, community members) having any sort interest in having fascnating conversations about the world and resolving some of the those big unanswered metaphysical questions that keeps popping up in all academic fields to attend! 

NEW STUDENTS, please fill out this form so we can get to know you better:

Course Contact: dlutfi AT


Time & Location:

Main Lecture[?]
Abigail Hohenstreet
David Kurz
Diana Lutfi
5002050 VLSBF 4p-6:30p1/29full45509 (lower)
45584 (upper)

Uploaded Files:

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Course info last modified February 10, 2016. This page has been viewed 5710 times.

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