Early Philosophical Essays

Articles in philosophy of religion appear in virtually all the main philosophical journals, while some journals (such as the , and others) are dedicated especially to philosophy of religion.Philosophy of religion is in evidence at institutional meetings of philosophers (such as the meetings of the American Philosophical Association and of the Royal Society of Philosophy).

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Philosophy of religion also includes the investigation and assessment of worldviews (such as secular naturalism) that are alternatives to religious worldviews.

Philosophy of religion involves all the main areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, value theory (including moral theory and applied ethics), philosophy of language, science, history, politics, art, and so on.

There is reason, therefore, to believe that philosophy of religion only gradually emerged as a distinct sub-field of philosophy in the mid-twentieth century.

(For an earlier date, see James Collins’ stress on Hume, Kant and Hegel in , 1967.) Today, philosophy of religion is one of the most vibrant areas of philosophy.

The topic of defining religion is re-engaged below in the section 4, “Religion and Science”.

But rather than devoting more space to definitions at the outset, a pragmatic policy will be adopted: for the purpose of this entry, it will be assumed that those traditions that are widely recognized today as religions are, indeed, religions.

Unfortunately, there is no current consensus on a precise identification of the necessary and sufficient conditions of what counts as a religion.

We therefore currently lack a decisive criterion that would enable clear rulings whether some movements should count as religions (e.g., Scientology or Cargo cults of the Pacific islands).

There are societies dedicated to the field such as the Society for Philosophy of Religion (USA) and the British Society for Philosophy of Religion and the field is supported by multiple centers such as the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame, the Rutgers Center for Philosophy of Religion, the Centre for the Philosophy of Religion at Glasgow University, The John Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Birmingham, and other sites (such as the University of Roehampton and Nottingham University). First: The religious nature of the world population.

Oxford University Press published in 2009 in five volumes, with over 350 contributors from around the world, is scheduled for publication by 2021. Most social research on religion supports the view that the majority of the world’s population is either part of a religion or influenced by religion (see the Pew Research Center online).

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