Mikael Stenmark is Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Uppsala University in Sweden. We invited him to answer the question “Is there a future for the philosophy of religion?” as part of our “Philosophers of Religion on Philosophy of Religion” series.
How should we think about the future of the philosophy of religion? What challenges and, we should not forget, opportunities does the philosophy of religion face today and in the foreseeable future? The first thing we must consider is that, looking worldwide, the philosophy of religion is often located within three different academic settings: as a part of a department of philosophy, or religious studies, or theology. Let us call this the philosophy of religion’s “disciplinary setting,” and the challenges and opportunities will differ significantly depending on this type of academic situation. For instance, one risk the philosophy of religion faces in a theological context is being reduced either to systematic theology or theological ethics, but that is, of course, not a challenge it faces within a department of religious studies. Continue reading
John Schellenberg is Professor of Philosophy at Mount Saint Vincent University. We invited him to answer the question “Is there a future for the philosophy of religion?” as part of our “Philosophers of Religion on Philosophy of Religion” series.
Philosophy of religion is going through a period of turmoil in which it is deciding what it wants to be when it grows up. I suggest that we may ease a number of current tensions and find a way forward by noting how a philosopher of religion’s direction of thought might be characterized by either of two importantly different aims. The first is the aim of understanding and rationally evaluating religious practice, bringing such philosophical disciplines as ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology to bear in the examination of religion. Perhaps, for example, one employs theories of metaphysics to illuminate the doctrine of God. Here one’s thinking moves from philosophy to religion. The second aim is the aim of investigating the philosophical potential of religious ideas, considering, as it were reciprocally, whether there is anything that religion might contribute to ethics, metaphysics, or epistemology. For example, one may use arguments for the existence of God to seek to establish a conclusion that, if established, would clearly advance metaphysical discussion. Here, rather differently, one’s thinking goes from religion to philosophy. Continue reading
Keith M. Parsons is Professor of Philosophy at University of Houston, Clear Lake. We invited him to answer the question “Is there a future for the philosophy of religion?” as part of our “Philosophers of Religion on Philosophy of Religion” series.
Late in the fourth century CE the emperor Theodosius I issued a number of decrees making Nicene Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire and effectively outlawing the ancient Greco-Roman pagan religious practices and rites. Perhaps the most symbolically significant act was the disbanding of the order of Vestal Virgins and the extinction of the eternal fire in the Temple of Vesta. The full conversion of the “barbarians” of northern and eastern Europe took several centuries longer. The last European conversion from paganism occurred in Lithuania in 1386, but in Europe as a whole conversion was effectively accomplished, often by force, by the year 1000.1 Continue reading