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PHILOS-220 - Introduction to Comparative Religion - Andrew Jones-Cathcart

Course:Introduction to Comparative Religion
Professor:Andrew Jones-Cathcart
  • Online
Course Length:
  • Applies to All Course Lengths


This course introduces students to the study of comparative religion, which is an attempt to analyze, compare and contrast the key themes and ideas found in the religious traditions of different cultures, historical periods, and ethnic groups. Examples of these traditions include Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zen, Shinto, Zoroastrianism, and the native traditions of Africa, Australasia, and the Americas. In addition to exploring the religious beliefs of these traditions, we will also study the philosophical implications and assumptions found within them. Questions addressed in this course typically include:

  • What is religion? How does religion differ from other concepts and practices such as science, philosophy, and culture?
  • How does myth function within religion? How does myth differ from logos?
  • What is sacred space? How does it differ from profane space?
  • How do life circumstances, such as historical setting, economics, language, and culture, shape--and, in turn, get shaped by--religious practices and beliefs?
  • What is religious experience? How do religious experiences differ from non-religious ones? How, if at all, is it possible to know whether one's religious experiences are "true"?
  • What evidence might be used to support belief in the divine? What evidence might be used to weaken such beliefs? What are miracles? Is there any good evidence for or against the existence of miracles?
  • What are the many ways in which the divine can be understood? To be religious, must one believe in only one god? Must one believe in any god at all? Must there be only one "right" path to god? Or can the divine be approached equally well through a diverse number of faiths?
  • What is the relation between morality and the divine? Can one be moral without god?
  • How do the various religions of the world--including so-called bygone religions that are no longer practiced--compare and contrast with one another? What beliefs and practices overlap in different religious traditions? What differences exist among different religious traditions? How does each tradition understand the natural world and human nature? How does each define concepts such as "soul," self, the afterlife, the divine, morality, and so on?
  • What are the main scriptural and historical sources for the religions of the world, e.g. the Koran, the Bible, the Vedas, etc.?
  • How does the presence of evil in the world affect our perspectives on the divine? Would an all-good, all-powerful god allow evil to exist? Why or why not? (The problem of evil)
  • If god exists, can humans still have free will? Or would the existence of such a being make free choice an impossibility? (The problem of free will)
  • Given the sheer diversity of religious beliefs and practices in the contemporary world, does enough common ground among these traditions exist to allow humans to live in peace with one another, respecting a shared sense of moral values, including a respect for the sacredness of life? Or does religion by its nature lead to inevitable conflict and violence? Is tolerance in a religiously pluralistic world possible or even desirable?

Course Description

Student Learning Outcome

Analyze and assess differing religious viewpoints in relation to how well they address the underlying religious-philosophical problems of reality, self, knowledge, religious experience, ethics, and death.

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Explain the origin, practices, worldview, and goals of each religion studied;
  2. Compare and contrast the different religions studied with regard to historical development, view of God or the Divine, and how each religion's view of what is ultimate about reality informs its teachings, doctrines, and practices; and
  3. Analyze and assess differing religious viewpoints in relation to how well they address the underlying religious-philosophical problems of reality, self, knowledge, religious experience, ethics, and death.

What to Expect in this Course


Although students should usually contact me through the Canvas messaging feature contained within the course, should problems arise please contact me at This e-mail can also be used for messaging me prior to the start of the semester.


Textbook Information

Required Text

Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World's Religions. 7th ed. McGraw-Hill, 2006. 7th edition ISBN: 9780078119217 

Other Relevant Course Information

Note: This is not a complete syllabus, but only an orientation letter. The complete syllabus will be available within Canvas at the start of the semester.

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


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Last updated: 10/09/2021 Sub#: 863