Research in Philosophy of Religion

The Global Philosophy of Religion Project

  • Grant project
  • Funded by the John Templeton Foundation
  • Yujin Nagasawa

The Global Philosophy of Religion Project is a major initiative that aims to make the philosophy of religion a truly global field. It is supported by funding totalling £2.15 million from the John Templeton Foundation and the Dynamic Investment Fund (DIF) at the University of Birmingham.

The project aims to diversify the philosophy of religion by promoting research by scholars from underrepresented regions, with a particular focus on Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. It also aims to promote research addressing underrepresented religious traditions, with special attention to traditions that are broadly construed as theistic, such as African traditional religions, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism, as well as Christianity. The project's ultimate goal is to advance the philosophy of religion by engaging the best scholars from all regions and traditions.

The project will organise funding competitions for small collaborative research projects involving underrepresented regions and traditions, and will offer translation and language support for philosophers of religion worldwide. Additionally, it will produce a variety of open-access publications for academic and non-academic audiences and convene conferences, workshops and seminars that are designed to stimulate multi-regional and cross-religious engagement.

The Pantheism and Panentheism Project

  • Grant project
  • Funded by the John Templeton Foundation
  • Yujin Nagasawa and Andrei Buckareff (Marist College, USA)

This project builds upon another project sponsored by The John Templeton Foundation from 2011-2013 on "Exploring Alternative Concepts of God." It was the first project focusing on work by analytic philosophers on alternative conceptions of the divine to traditional theism. While this project is larger, its scope is more narrow, focusing on pantheism and panentheism and some challenges facing both approaches to thinking about the metaphysics of the divine. The project runs from January 2017 through September 2019.

The project will include workshops at the Rutgers Center for Philosophy of Religion and the John Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion, public lectures at Marist College and the University of Birmingham, and a competition for stipends to support proposals by analytic philosophers and analytic theologians working on problems related to pantheism and panentheism. 

Death, Immortality and the Afterlife

  • Grant project
  • Funded by the Analytic Theology Project at the University of Innsbruck
  • David Cheetham and Yujin Nagasawa

The goal of the project is to create an opportunity for theologians and philosophers to present issues on death, immortality and the afterlife that are characteristic of their respective interests and develop ideas that are both philosophically rigorous and theologically coherent. Philosophers will address metaphysical and ethical issues about death, such as personal identity and post-mortem survival, moral puzzles concerning death, metaphysical models of the soul, and the relationship between justice and immortality, while theologians will address theological issues about death, such as scriptural accounts of immortality, the meaning of the ‘image of God’ and the purposes of human existence, the resurrection of Jesus, and the importance of eschatology and hope for theological coherence. 

Exploring alternative concepts of God

  • Grant project
  • Funded by the John Templeton Foundation
  • Yujin Nagasawa and Andrei Buckareff at Marist College

The aim of this project is to organize the first major initiative to shed light on, explore, and evaluate alternatives to the classical concept of God, which are often overlooked in contemporary debates among analytic philosophers on the nature and existence of God.

The concept of God according to traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic theism minimally includes the following theses: (i) There is exactly one God; (ii) God is an omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect agent; (iii) God is the creator ex nihilo of the universe and the sustainer of all that exists; and (iv) God is an immaterial substance that is ontologically distinct from the universe.

Alternative concepts of God exclude at least one of (i)-(v).

A number of prominent philosophers and scientists—such as Nicholas of Cusa, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith, T.H. Green, Samuel Alexander, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking—have expressed sympathy with alternative concepts of the divine. However, voices raised in defense of these concepts tend not to be taken seriously in philosophy of religion. This project aims to attract further attention to alternative concepts of God and to thoroughly consider their merits and demerits.