Dr. Bryan S. Rennie
 Professor of Philosophy and Religion

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Resumé/Curriculum Vitae | Brief Biographical Details | Current Research | Courses Taught

Spring 2021:
Patterson Hall Room 336
Telephone: 724 946 7151.
My only e-mail address is brennie@westminster.edu

Department of Philosophy and Religion
School pf Arts and Humanities

2006 - 2009
Former Vice-President and Program Chair
North American Association for the Study
of Religion

Organizer of the North American Undergraduate Conference on Religion and Philosophy, 2008, 2010, 2015.

Most recent publication:

An Ethology of Religion and Art: Belief as Behavior. London and New York: Routledge, 2020.


Why Study Religion?

"I am proud to be involved in a profession, religious studies, which has taken seriously the phenomenological method, banning the ideological or theological determination of descriptive or historical truth." (Ninian Smart, Dimensions of the Sacred, p. 177).

I teach "World Religion" through both philosophy and religious studies, having majored in philosophy as a method for the study of religion. My doctoral work concentrated on theory and method in the study of religion and convinced me that philosophy cannot be adequate as a method for the study of religion without a thorough grasp of the history of religion, just as the history of religion is incomplete without critical philosophical understanding. The History of Religion, like Art History, requires both criticism and content. My publications on the historian of religion, Mircea Eliade, have attracted an international audience and my book from the State University of New York Press, Reconstructing Eliade: Making Sense of Religion, was reviewed, generally favorably, in many of the leading journals in the field. (See reviews.) My most recent monograph proposes a reconceptualization of religion based on the integration of the ethology of art (that is, the study of art behavior as an evolved human trait) and the cognitive science of religion (that is, the study of religion as a natural product of human cognition).

Courses Taught:

Starting in the academic year 2019-2020 the Religion major was replaced by an Interfaith Studies Minor and hence the "REL" course prefix has been replaced by IFS

This semester (Spring 2021):

  • IFS 170 01: Introduction to Religion in the World (TTh. 9:20-10:50)
  • IFS 170 02: Introduction to Religion in the World (TTh. 11:00-12:30)
  • PHI 102 01: Practical Logic (MWF 9:20-10:20)

All Courses:

  • Inquiry 101 - The First-Year Program, Fall Semester
  • Inquiry 102 - The First-Year Program, Spring Semester
  • Honors 201 - Ancient Greek Justice
  • Honors 202 - The Renaissance and The Scientific Revolution
  • PHI 101 - Problems of Philosophy
  • PHI 102 - Practical Logic
  • PHI 104 - Philosophy of Art and Beauty
  • PHI 202 - Foundations of Modern Philosophy
  • PHI 212 - Philosophy of Science
  • PHI 218 - Philosophy of Mind
  • PHI 222 - Philosophy of Religions
  • PHI 297 - The Wisdoms of the World
  • IFS 100 - Understanding the Bible
  • REL 142 - Prophetic Literature
  • IFS 170 - Perspectives on the Sacred
  • IFS 171 - Religion in the Western World
  • IFS 172 - Religions from India
  • IFS 173 - Religion in China
  • IFS 176 - Religion and Art
  • REL 270 - Method and Theory in the Study of Religion