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Back to Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences - Unit 1: Historical Foundations

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences - Unit 1: Historical Foundations by Rutgers the State University of New Jersey

377 ratings
103 reviews

About the Course

Throughout history, the vast majority of people around the globe have believed they have, however defined, a “soul.” While the question of whether the soul exists cannot be answered by science, what we can study are the causes and consequences of various beliefs about the soul and its prospects of surviving the death of the body. Why are soul and afterlife beliefs so common in human history? Are there adaptive advantages to assuming souls exist? Are there brain structures that have been shaped by environmental pressures that provide the foundation of body/mind dualism that is such a prominent feature of many religions? How do these beliefs shape the worldviews of different cultures and our collective lives? What is the role of competing afterlife beliefs in religion, science, politics, and war? This course explores several facets of this relatively unexplored but profoundly important aspect of human thought and behavior. The course consists mainly of 70 to 80 minute lectures, typically broken up into 3 segments, recorded from a course offered by Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences. These videos include slides and some embedded video clips. Most lectures are accompanied by slides used during the lecture, also including recommended reading assignment which may provide additional opportunities to reflect on your studies. Due to the lengthiness of this class and natural progression, the online course has been separated into 3 units, this is Unit 1....

Top reviews

Sep 21, 2017

Brilliant course, brilliant lecturers, brilliant topic, extremely well thought-out approach to such a mind-blowing topic. I highly recommend it to anyone with even the vaguest interest in the topic.

Aug 21, 2015

I just started with this course and I am loving it! This not only offers a very fresh perspective on beliefs about souls and an afterlife but is also extremely relatable on a personal level.

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76 - 100 of 102 Reviews for Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences - Unit 1: Historical Foundations

By Guruswamy S

Feb 2, 2019

Could be more crisp. As it is undergraduate course in the university, a bit of extended (out of core point) lectures are given.

I enjoyed and learnt many new things and ideas!!

Big Thanks!!

By louis f d m p s

Sep 20, 2015

I sincerely appreciate the enormous effort and encouragement of Prof. Daniel M. Ogilvie and Prof. Leonard W. Hamilton. A sincere hug and my gratitude.

By Angel B

May 27, 2017

He's talky...but it's an entertaining flow :) and you actually learn a lot. You can tell both of them enjoy teaching this MOOC.

By Cheryl W

Nov 2, 2015

I enjoyed the course. It gave a good historical look at the foundations of religion. I'm looking forward to Unit 2.

By Joy S

Jan 7, 2017

Really liked the funny, old professor who gives most of the lectures. Good info.

By Haley K

Jun 19, 2017

Very enjoyable and relatable. Good mix of reading, lecture, and conversation.

By Aarushi S

Sep 29, 2015

Amazing course touching areas where I also often debated with myself.


Dec 11, 2015

Very Informative and logical. Loved Prof. Daniel Ogilvie lectures

By Nuria A

Sep 3, 2015

A very interesting course.

By Gregory W C

Mar 13, 2016

This is a course for those who have not spent any time delving into comparative religion and testing their own traditional (family taught) belief systems with thoughts of act versus "trut."

By Juan O M

Oct 18, 2015

El recorrido teórico de los autores es muy elemental. Se esperaba mayor profundidad.

By Shawn M

Mar 4, 2016

not bad but not excellent

By Colleen L

Aug 29, 2015

I enrolled in this course hoping to find a balanced perspective about historical foundations for religions and other philosophies. It did include a good amount of interesting material around different systems, but there were a couple of key things that made me lose interest in the course at around week 6 out of 11.

First, I felt that the instructor talks about how he wants people to learn to think for themselves, yet I also felt that he himself preaches. Much of the evidence in his lectures is delivered as an anecdote, which might appeal to some (e.g. I could see that happening to me) and probably made the course more entertaining, but didn't do it for me. I felt that the Wade reading, in contrast, was balanced, cited other sources, and pulled in a variety of perspectives, but when I listened to the lectures, I felt that Professor Ogilvie had a tendency to state points and expect people to believe them.

Second, on a related note -- this course was not shaped for the online medium. I understand that it's cheaper and easier for universities to just use recordings of live lectures, but that meant that the lectures contained quite a bit of anecdotal rambling (e.g. going off on a tangent on how you should never take charge of somebody else's soul). Another, smaller beef I have with the presentation of the course is that when he had students who were raised under different religions come up and speak their beliefs, it took a long time to demonstrate a fairly simple idea -- despite people ascribing to the same "label," the same religion, they can have in fact been taught very different things. In a live university class, having students speak can work because the evidence is being presented by "one of you" ("you" being the students), and has the added benefit of building community in the class. But in an online class, I didn't feel that kinship at all.

I'll make a disclaimer that much of this review is about how I personally felt about the course, and about how it wasn't right for me. Some of what I didn't like, others may like. But overall, despite being initially interested in the topic and why people believe what they do, I didn't feel that the material was delivered in a way that captured my continued interest.

By Catherine H

Mar 5, 2019

The premise of this class is so interesting! However, if you're not willing to scroll through, or listen to, a TON of VERY long anecdotes while looking for actual information....then this is not the class for you. I felt extremely frustrated because I really wanted to learn from this class, but it's just not organized well at all. Some of the lectures contained the EXACT same thing that we just went over in the previous week. Also...I saw there were 3 parts to this class, which is absolutely ridiculous because they could definitely condense them into one class if you took out the hours of filler....

By Pamela C

Jun 28, 2017

Not really what I excepted but others might be interested, good information.

By Albin E M J

Oct 4, 2019

I finished this class a month ago and still haven't gotten a final grade.

By Tina D

Sep 23, 2017

A complete waste of time especially for those of us with a lot more personal research experience and wise years behind us. If zero had been a choice, that's what I would have given this course. Don't even bother to take the course if you're interested in getting true knowledge especially about the soul.

By Tom W

Oct 10, 2015

The false comparison between religion and soul beliefs cloud the validity of the course. Maybe the intent was to only show the worst case "Soul Beliefs" then shoot them down. However, at least to me, the instructor seemed to extrapolate "some beliefs" to "all beliefs".

By susan

Jul 14, 2017

Too slow and not what I thought it would be. I had looked at this before and thought that I would give it another chance.

By Ivette E D M

Nov 14, 2015

It's format needs a good narrator not based on stupid commercials.

By Stevin M

Sep 29, 2019

trash, its not letting go forward to the next assignment.

By Elaine G

Sep 8, 2015

well taught but not what I thought it would be.

By Michael W

Oct 15, 2015

High on opinion and low on scholarship.

By caetana v

Oct 19, 2015

Extremely boring teacher

By Ronald H

Jan 13, 2016

The course was choppy