Philosophy of Religion
Human beings have always pondered the big questions concerning life, love, suffering, God, why we are here, and what will happen when we die. Philosophy of religion is a philosophical discipline that seeks to contribute to those reflections through sustained critical and constructive examination of the multitude of different answers that have been offered in response to such fundamental existential questions.
One could say that philosophy of religion is the critical study of what people take to be true, real and good when they (we) engage in different religious and secular ways of life, such as Christianity, Islam, new spirituality, naturalism or secular humanism. Hence, it is a research inquiry which is not limited to a particular religion or merely to religions, since an object of study is also secular responses or answers to people’s existential or big questions. What distinguishes philosophy of religion from other forms of religious studies is that it analyzes the central beliefs of these religious and secular worldviews (such as their conception of God or ultimate reality, of human nature and of what constitute a good and satisfying life) and explore how such beliefs can be justified and criticized. So philosophers of religion do not merely try to understand and explain religious phenomena and their secular counterparts but also critically and constructively evaluate their content. In short, they do philosophical research!
The present research activities focus essentially on three topics (although some PhD students work on other issues). First, we study the relationship between faith and reason, between religion and science, and the philosophical debate between advocates of a naturalistic worldview and those of a theistic worldview. Second, different conceptions of God or the divine (such as classical theism, open theism, panentheism, pantheism and apophatism) is analyzed and critically examined. The last strand of research focuses on religious plurality and disagreement, and on the place of religion in the public square of a liberal democratic society. More information about these areas of inquiries can be found under the heading “research programs.”
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