Philosophical Doctrine of God and Philosophy of Religion

The field of “Philosophical Doctrine of God and Philosophy of Religion” is concerned with the validation of reason in the range of religious speech of transcendence or of God, namely, without taking recourse on religious revelation. The philosophical doctrine of God (the so-called “natural theology”) as part of specific metaphysics traditionally inquires whether God exists (an Deus sit) and what he is (quid sit). The first question critically discusses the reasons for the supposition of God and whether they can survive in the forum of reason. The second question examines the qualities attributed to God, such as omnipotence, omniscience or all-goodness, and inspects their reasonable validation.


Depending on the particular concept, the philosophical question on God can become part of the discipline of the philosophy of religion. However, the latter’s sphere concerns a wider topical field and can encompass the entire system of a religion with forms of rituals and practice in addition to particular religious convictions. A closer look reveals that there are no generally accepted definitions of the peculiarity and the tasks of a philosophy of religion owing to the difference between the concepts of philosophy and religion. Considerations of a philosophy of religion refer to the following aspects: a development of a reasonable concept of religion, an analysis of the relationship between faith and reason, a conceptual clarification of religious language, a reflection upon religious plurality and interreligious dialogue, an analysis of the validity of arguments for or against the existence of God (the latter aspect in the sense of a criticism of religion), an examination of the efficiency and dangers of religious convictions in a secular state, etc.


It is possible to differentiate between three grand traditions within a philosophy of religion: the transcendental tradition originating in Kant and developing the concept of God as a postulate from specific premises; the phenomenological tradition originating in Husserl and Heidegger and emphasizing the religious act; the analytical tradition particularly discussing the reasonableness of religious faith in close reference to the natural sciences.


The Faculty of Theology in Paderborn presents and discusses explosive aspects of the topical and methodological sphere of the philosophical doctrine of God and the philosophy of religion in lectures and seminars. A methodological emphasis lies on an analytical philosophy of religion; as regards content the emphasis lies on up-too-date questions on challenges of religious plurality, and on naturalistic and philosophical criticism of religion.

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About Pieper:

Josef Pieper (1904-1997) was professor of philosophical anthropology at the University of Münster/Germany; he was a member of several academies and received numerous awards and distinctions, among them the International Balzan Prize for outstanding achievements in the field of humanities. [more...]


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Philosophical studies are among the main institutional focuses of the Faculty of Theology in Paderborn in cooperation with the University of Paderborn. [more...]