Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

Do we need God to be good? In the absence of religious rules and precepts, is there something remaining in us to guide us toward moral choices? Or are we, at core, bad? This book considers if humans' sense of morality comes from within rather than above--as a product of our evolution. Mixing ape studies with moral philosophy, the well-known primatologist Frans de Waal uses chimpanzees and bonobos to gain insight into our sense of right and wrong now and in the past. In this course we will consider both perspectives--whether religion is necessary or unnecessary as a basis for moral behavior, and whether or not humans' morality is inborn without the need for dogma or precepts to guide our behavior. How This Course Will Help Prindle reading courses are designed as opportunities for DePauw students to think through thorny ethical questions. Our central question is: Can a world without religion be moral? At the end of the course, you should be able to read articulate and defend a position on this question and related moral questions. This course is also designed to help you sharpen your critical reading skills, practice clear verbal communication of your ideas in class discussion, develop your presentation and discussion leadership skills, and improve your ability to write persuasively.

Student Outcomes

At the end of the course, students will be able to . . . - articulate and defend a position on the question of whether or not human goodness is a product of our evolutionary past or a result of contemporary religious practice. - Generate and compose original discussion questions that require critical thought. - Plan, lead, and facilitate a class discussion.