Introduction (Full Text)
- It is difficult to say what the philosophy of religion is. One might define it as 'philosophizing about religion'. But people disagree about the nature of philosophy and religion, so this definition has its drawbacks. Philosophy of religion is now a very flourishing branch of philosophy. Thirty years or so ago, specialists in philosophy of religion were a rare breed. But they are now very common, and they publish a lot. Many of them would describe themselves as philosophers of religion. Yet it would be rash to conclude from this that we can easily define 'the philosophy of religion'. It is not, for example, a discipline distinguishable from others as chemistry is from needlework.
- In this book I do not attempt the perilous task of defining 'philosophy of religion'. My intention is to offer an introductory look at some of the topics traditionally thought to fall within its scope. The most prominent of these is the existence of God, so much of what follows is devoted to that issue and to matters which arise in connection with it. I also consider the relationship between morality and religion, the concept of miracle, and the notion of life after death1.
- It is inevitable that my own views will become clear as the book proceeds, for it is hard to discuss any philosophical issue without taking sides, or seeming to do so. But I have tried to write so as to help readers take up some sides for themselves. I have also tried to write on the assumption that readers have little or no philosophical background. This book is therefore a basic introduction for those who are approaching the philosophy of religion for the first time. Its bibliography will, I hope, allow them to take matters further.
- A great deal more than I discuss could be brought in under the heading of philosophy of religion. There are, for example, matters arising from the comparative study of religion and from various beliefs complicated, and space is limited in an introduction. In any case, one has to start somewhere.
- What follows is a very heavily revised .version of a text published by Oxford University Press in 1982. I was asked to provide a second edition of that text, but I have effectively ended up writing a new book, though chunks of the old one remain. …
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