Modern Times: A Real Look at Contemporary Issues
Winter/Spring 2016
We will continue to consider the distinct but shared roles that faith and reason play in directing us to a greater understanding of the world, ourselves and God.  

Whereas last Fall's course approached philosophy and theology from a more conceptual and broader framework, this Spring we will begin to take on the direct study of specific topics and particular issues. While the previous course was intended to lay the groundwork for working through some challenging questions this should not preclude any new students from being able to jump right in and engage in this latest course. 

We would invite all adults and teens (high school and above) to join us on Thursday evenings at St. Patrick Catholic Church parish hall.

The first part of this course will be a series of presentations covering many of the issues that have come to the forefront in our society.  Everything from gender and marriage, to economic concerns, to war will be discussed from a Catholic perspective.  The purpose of the presentations is to first identify the core issues that are at stake, (namely the questions of the human person and freedom). From  here we will seek to gain a deeper understanding of who man is and what God’s great purpose for humanity is in light of the Gospel. This will then begin to guide us as we learn to articulate (to ourselves and others) how and why the Church’s position is “good news.”

The second part of the course will take a look at Scripture as God’s revealed word. In particular, we will begin to consider the witness of Biblical Typology as an encouraging reiteration of God’s great plan for creation as continually expressed across the scope of history.

Location: St. Patrick Catholic Church
Time: 6:30 pm

March 3 – Review of the main points of metaphysics and ethics covered in the previous course and an introduction to the main issues that will be covered in this class
Fides et Ratio. parts 1-6

March 10 – Catholic View of Marriage and Family, Indissolubility, Divorce, Annulments

March 31 –Same-sex attraction, Sacramental Marriage, Gender Identity

April 7 - Contraception and Infertility

April 14 – IVF and Other Reproductive Technologies, Stem Cell Research, Cloning

April 21 - Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide, and Other End of Life Issues

April 28 – Philosophy of Art, Pornography

May 5  – Open Topic for questions that came up in previous classes

May 12 – Biblical Typology I

May 19 – Biblical Typology II

*The course pace will be somewhat flexible and the class topics may change or overlap on a weekly basis as driven by discussions. Readings, citations and updated course schedules will be posted regularly at this website.


Our Spring course will begin in March.  The next course will be a series of presentations on many of the moral challenges facing our world.  Within the next few days this website will be updated with all of the information on the topics, the dates of the classes, and the suggested reading.  So, check back again soon!


Natural Theology I
Fundamentals of Theology, Philosophy and Ethics
Fall 2015

Patrick Looby
(315) 528-5346

Julian Malcolm

Overview and Learning Outcomes:
Students will learn basic philosophical and theological vocabulary and acquire a familiarity with the themes of Natural Theology and Ethics. We will begin the first semester with an introduction to the foundations for thinking, (and doing anything else for that matter), namely, the consideration of reality. From here we will consider the traditional arguments for the existence of God and then begin to delve more deeply into the nature of both God and creation and the manner in which they relate to one another. Once we have considered the question regarding who God is, we must consider how then we are to relate to God. This begins our coursework on ethics. The material is designed to reach across a broad range of educational backgrounds and will be applicable to both young adults and adults.

Rubrics of Assessment (for students taking the class for credit)
  1. Weekly Reading of texts is essential to adequate preparation
  2.  Completion of six short papers based on the selected readings.  They are described as follows:  On the basis of the readings indicated under each theme, the student is to write out a brief and concise exposition of that theme. In that paper, the following should be included, when possible: basic terms and their definitions, historical context, theological context, possible approaches, associated problems.  This paper is not meant to be a critical analysis of the readings given.  It is to be a bare-bones exposition.  Students may choose from the eleven themes set aside for these papers beginning with the first for September 17.  These papers should be two pages, double spaced, (no longer).
  3. Mid Term and Final Examinations

Required Texts:
            Traditional Logic

Recommended Texts:
            CS Lewis, “Mere Christianity”
            Ed Feser, “The Last Superstition”

September 10 Class
Topic: Existence and What is: Discerning Objective and Subjective Truth Claims. Does God exist? Do I exist? What or Who is God? What or who am I? What presumptions do we start with when we ask any question?

September 17 Class
Topic: Introduction to Arguments for the Existence of God (Part I) Cosmological Argument
Readings for September 17:
·      Psalm 139
·      1 Corinthians 13: 8-13
·      CS Lewis. “The Invasion” and “The Shocking Alternative” in Mere Christianity p. 26 – 32. online
·      Ed Feser. “Why are (Some) Physists So Bad at Philosophy?” online
·      GK Chesterton “Philosophy for the Schoolroom” Daily News. June 22, 1907. online

September 24 Class
Topic: Introduction to Arguments for the Existence of God, (Part II) Teleological Argument

Readings for September 24:
·      St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I.Q.1. a.1-3. online


October 1 Class
Topic: Introduction to Arguments for the Existence of God, (continued)
Moral Argument, Argument from Desire and Pascal’s Wager

Readings for October 1:
·      CS Lewis. “Hope” in Mere Christianity p. 73 – 75. online
·      CS Lewis. “Introductory” in The Problem of Pain Chapter p. 4 -11. online
·      Augustine Confessions Book I Chapters 1- 3. online
·      Psalm 63

October 8 Class
Topic: Argument for Catholicism
Readings for October 8
·      Gaudium et Spes 22-24, 45. online
·      St. John Paul II. “Why So Many Religions?” and “Is Only Rome Right?” in Crossing the Threshold of Hope. online
·      Grisez, Germain “The Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture” in Letter & Spirit 6 (2010): p. 181-190

October 15 Class
Topic: The Creed, I believe…so what?
            (Question: Is this true and if so, is it worth staking our life on?)

Readings for October 15
·      Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger “Introductory Remarks on the History and Structure of the Apostle’s Creed.” Introduction to Christianity. P 82-90.      
·      Paolo Prosperi. The Martyr as Visible Witness of the Truth, from “The Witness of the Martyrs” in Communio: Spring 2014. p 34-39. online
·      History of the Apostle’s Creed. online           
·      History of the Nicene Creed. online

October 22
Mid Term Break – No Class
MIDTERMS DUE (Credit Students only)

October 29 Class
Topic: Introduction to Moral Theology and Christian Ethics Done Badly, (The will, human       action, etc.)…Or: The Bad Boys of Western Thought: Bacon, Descartes, Rousseau

Readings for October 29
·      Mira, Jeff. “The Consequences of Consequentialism” in Catholic Culture. online
·      Summary of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract Theory. online
·      Summary of Hedonism. online

November 5 Class
Topic: Continued Overview of Ethical Systems that Sound Fun in Theory but We Advise            Against Because They Aren’t Fun in Reality (Hedonism, Consequentialism, Social      Contract theory)
Readings for November 5
·      Manent, Pierre. “Hobbes and the New Political Art” in An Intellectual History of Liberalism. P. 21 – 38.
·      Summary of Baconian Method. online

November 12 Class
Topic: Natural Law. What it is and what it is not.
Readings for November 12
·      Grisez, Germain. The Way of the Lord Jesus, volume one, Christian Moral Principles, Chapter 7. online
·      Sweeney, Michael OP. “Uncommon Sense: St. Thomas Aquinas and John Paul II on Law.” online


November 19 Class
Topic: Natural Law (Continued)

Readings for November 19
·      Fagothy, Austin. “Moral Determinants” in Right and Reason: Ethics in Theory and Practice. Chapter 9. P 101-113. online;view=1up;seq=105

November 26
Thanksgiving Break
December 3 Class
Topic: Science and Religion (Galileo, Darwin, etc. etc. etc. sigh)

Readings for December 3
·      Pacholczyk, Tadeusz. “Are Science and Religion Really Enemies?” online
·      Galileo and the Church from
·      Anthony Esolen. "How the Church has changed the world: The Abbot and the Peas." Magnificat (August, 2015): 206-211.
·      Chesteron, GK. “The Worship of the Wealthy” in All Things Considered. online

December 10 Class
Topic: Close out session

FINALS DUE (For Credit Students Only)


Sponsored by the St. Patrick Church Office of Religious Education

This Fall, we will be offering the first in a series of Theology courses for any adult or high school aged teen who would like to deepen their understanding of the faith.  The 12-week course will take place at St. Patrick Church in Fredericksburg, VA on Thursday evenings from 6:30pm to 7:30pm starting September 10.  The first course will be an Introduction to Natural Theology and Christian Ethics.

If you would like to just attend the lectures we are asking for a $60
donation ($5 per class) to help us with the costs of providing this course.  If you would like to receive a certificate of credit (perhaps for homeschool credit, or for professional development points) then there is a $120 fee ($10 per class) which covers the entire 12 week course.  The credit option will have added work and assessments each week.  Checks may be made payable to St. Patrick Church.  Please write "Theology Course" on the memo line.

The full syllabus can be found HERE.

To register for the course, go HERE.  If you are interested in learning more about the course, send us an email at You may also reach out to us personally by emailing us at or if you have any questions.  Or you can use the comment section to the right.

And follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on the course and participate in the discussions!