Mikel Burley is Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy at the University of Leeds, UK. 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.
A central concern articulated in recent years by critical voices both inside and outside Western philosophy of religion has been this subfield’s perceived lack of religious diversity. It has been claimed that Western philosophers of religion are too often preoccupied with “the rationality of theism” (Schilbrack 2014, p. 3), a theism detached from the particularities of historically and geographically rooted religious traditions (Knepper 2013). These critical voices have, on occasion, included my own.
In what follows, I wish to do three things. First, I acknowledge a qualification to the kind of critical assessment that I and others have made of Western philosophy of religion. Second, I give due recognition to the difficulties of expanding the subfield in ways that remain identifiably philosophical. And third, I advocate the need for methodological experimentation as a response to these difficulties. Continue reading
Graham Oppy is Professor of Philosophy at Monash 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.
As long as there are both philosophy and religion, there will be philosophy of religion. If there is religion, there will be questions about religion for which there is no expert consensus on either answers or methods to be used in seeking answers. If there is philosophy, there will be discussion of questions of that kind. Discussion of questions of that kind falls squarely in the domain of philosophy of religion.
Some seem to worry that there is no such thing as religion. If they are right, then philosophy of religion does not have a present, let alone a future. I think that this worry is best understood as a complaint against taking particular categories—gods, afterlives, faith, belief—to be essential or pivotal in adequate characterisations of religion. There is justice in this complaint. There are religions that have no truck with gods and afterlives; there are religions in which faith and belief are comparatively unimportant. Moreover, insisting that these particular categories are essential or pivotal in adequate characterisations of religion skews discussion in philosophy of religion. But there is nothing here that would ground error theory about religion; rather, what seems required is better understanding of what is essential or pivotal to religion. Continue reading
Stanley Tweyman is University Professor at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 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.
In an earlier blog, “What does Philosophy of Religion offer to the Modern University”, I argued that the philosophy of religion parts company with all other areas of inquiry when we attempt to understand God through contemplation and meditation, rather than through argumentation. My analysis was developed by reference to the last paragraph in Descartes’ third meditation. In the current blog, I propose to turn, once again, to Descartes’ third meditation,1 with a view to answering the question, by way of illustration, “Is there a future for the Philosophy of Religion”.
In seeking to provide an answer to the question raised in this blog, I want to focus on one concern, namely, is there an experience which we can have which is able to enlighten us about God? To pursue this topic, I propose to examine the philosophy of Rene Descartes on knowing God. I am not suggesting that Descartes has provided a definitive answer to the question highlighted in this essay. But, I do propose to show that he has provided a roadmap, as it were, for focusing on an experience which may be able to enlighten us about God, and as such, to reveal at least one strategy for providing a future for the Philosophy of Religion. Continue reading