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Philosophy of Religion Workshop

ERI Building - Room 149 (1st Floor)
Tuesday 28 June 2016 (14:00-17:00)
A one-day workshop presented by the John Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion


  • 14:00-14:30: Khai Wager, ‘Prospects for Immortality in a Four-Dimensional Spacetime’
  • 14:30-15:00: Elena Kalmykova, ‘Are Religious Beliefs Irrational?’
  • 15:00:-15:30: David Chen, ‘Understanding Spinoza’s Doctrine of the Intellectual Love of God through Neo-Confucianism’s Concept of Jen’
  • 15:30-15:45: coffee break
  • 15:45-17:00: Steve Clarke (Charles Sturt University, Australia), ‘Straight out of Durkheim? On Haidt on Religion’


Khai Wager, ‘Prospects for Immortality in a Four-Dimensional Spacetime’
A common way to distinguish between different accounts of immortality is to sort them into personal and non-personal varieties. I suggest that an analysis of the prospects for immortality in a four-dimensional spacetime indicates an account that is neither personal nor non-personal. Moreover, consideration of this alternative account highlights a significant problem, presented by four-dimensionalism, for proponents of many religious accounts of personal immortality.

Elena Kalmykova, ‘Are Religious Beliefs Irrational?’
In this talk I consider some properties of religious beliefs, devised by philosophers and cognitive scientists, and evaluate the reasons why these beliefs are deemed irrational. Religious beliefs are accused of being 1) insensitive to evidence; 2) semi-propositional (their contents is not completely understood by believers); 3) sensitive to authority. I argue that 2 and 3 are not unique for religion and do not signify any irrationality. Furthermore, apparent insensitivity to evidence is rooted in specific epistemology of religious belief, dealing with unobservable objects. Basing on data of empirical research of beliefs, I propose an alternative approach, rendering religious beliefs properly rational. 

David Chen, ‘Understanding Spinoza’s Doctrine of the Intellectual Love of God through Neo-Confucianism’s Concept of Jen’
The concept of love is one of main threads in Spinoza’s Ethics, from emotional love, through rational love, and finally the intellectual love of God, that is Spinoza’s salvation and is the same as the glory in Holy Bible. On the one hand, Spinoza claims that ‘Strictly speaking God loves no one, and hates no one’ (E5P17 Corollary), and on the other hand, Spinoza claims that ‘the love of God toward men and the mind’s intellectual love towards God are one and the same’ (E5P36 Corollary). So the concept of love is a puzzle in Spinoza. The concept of Jen is one of main threads in Confucianism. Confucius claimed that the man who is Jen loves others. Moreover, the concept of Jen has more complicated and more rich connotations. Jen as virtue is the core of the theory of Ethics in classical-Confucianism, and further Jen as the essence of Heavenly Principle, which was endowed into all creatures and became the essence of all creatures, was developed in the hand of Neo-Confucianism. The salvation (if it is permissible to use this term to referring to the ultimate wish in Confucianism) of Neo-Confucianism is, then, to form one body with Tian [Heaven] and all creatures because Tian is my own father, Earth is my own mother, all creatures are my companions, and all people are my blood brothers. Spinoza has his concept of the idea of God and the concept of conatus in all creatures to support his doctrine of the intellectual love of God. Therefore, Spinoza’s immanent salvation in the intellectual love of God is stunningly similar with the doctrine of Jen in Neo-Confucianism.

Steve Clarke (Charles Sturt University, Australia), ‘Straight out of Durkheim? On Haidt on Religion’
In The Righteous Mind, Jon Haidt (2012) takes aim at ‘New Atheist’ characterisations of religious behaviour, which stress the role of belief in causing religious behaviour and commitment. He contrasts these with the ‘Durkheimian’ account of religion that he favours, which emphasises the importance of participation in religious activities and which takes belief to be a relatively unimportant contributor to religious behaviour and commitment. I examine Durkheim’s (1912) The Elementary Forms of Religious Life and argue that Durkheim did not consider participation in religious activities to be more important than belief in generating religious behaviour and commitment. Durkheim had a more nuanced account of the interplay between religious belief, religious communal activity, and religious behaviour and commitment than Haidt recognizes. I further argue that the original, nuanced Durkheimian account of religion is more consistent with the best contemporary scientific treatments of religion than Haidt’s neo-Durkheimian alternative.

For more information, please contact Professor Yujin Nagasawa: 

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