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Religion, Belief and Unbelief

A Psychological Study

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Antoon Vergote

This book focuses attention on the central elements of human religious existence. Vergote's primary aim and viewpoint are clear: to examine empirically and to interpret dynamically the psychological factors at work in the field of religion. Vergote consistently adheres to the position that psychology is neither philosophy nor theology and that its task is not to explain religion. In this work he situates religion as a cultural fact and studies how persons orient themselves to it, positively and/or negatively. Rather than emphasise and juxtapose belief and unbelief as alternative positions, he sees them as threads of experiences interwoven throughout the human existence of persons and institutions. In this context he studies motivations and their ambivalences, religious experiences and their ambiguities, conflicts between religious belief and unbelief, and the various expressions and practices of religion.

Belief and Unbelief

Psychological perspectives

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Edited by Jozef Corveleyn and Dirk Hutsebaut

Rationality and Decision Making

From Normative Rules to Heuristics

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Edited by Marek Hetmański

Rationality and Decision Making: From Normative Rules to Heuristics offers a broad overview of both classic and very recent discussions concerning rationality and strategies of individual and group decision making. They are considered from a methodological, ethical, sociological, historical, cultural as well as an evolutionary perspective. Decision making, both rational and irrational, is treated in its complexity as an algorithmic, heuristic and intuitive process. The volume analyzes the theoretical and practical aspects of decision making in individual intentional endeavors and group or institutionalized undertakings. The analyses are mostly theoretical but they also appeal to empirical studies, proposed by philosophers and cognitive scientists who have studied logical, cognitive, biological, social and evolutionary aspects of human rationality.

Contributors include María José Frápolli, Marek Hetmański, Jan F. Jacko, Artur Koterski, Agnieszka Lekka-Kowalik, Sofia Miguens, Ángeles J. Perona, Manueal de Pinedo, João Alberto Pinto, Krzysztof Polit, Marcin Rządeczka, Rui Sampaio da Silva, Joanna Sokołowska, Barbara Trybulec, Marcin Trybulec, Neftalí Villanueva, Monika Walczak, Jan Winkowski, Anna Wójtowicz, Jesús Zamora-Bonilla, and António Zilhão.

In Search of Transcendence

Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, Kazantzakis

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Jerry H. Gill

This book explores the philosophical/religious thought of Soren Kierkegaard, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Nikos Kazantzakis in relation to the concept of transcendence. Each of these thinkers has made a strong impact on Western religious and philosophical thought, but each from a nearly completely different angle as well as from a different national background. This comparative study therefore crosses both national and perspectival boundaries. Each of the three thinkers struggled with the notion of transcendence but in uniquely distinct fashion. The conclusion offers yet a third model, the author’s, for understanding transcendence focusing on the concept of “mediation”.

Wholeness

The Character Logic of Christian Belief

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Richard C. Prust

The notion of a “person” is in deep philosophical trouble. And this has posed a deepening crisis for believers: Christian beliefs are, after all, irreducibly about persons. In response to this situation, Prust proposes a new way to reason about persons, one based on identifying persons as characters of action. Employing a phenomenology of action he calls “character logic,” he develops a powerful new tool for thinking through some of the intractable dilemmas that have long befuddled belief:
• Can we avoid being arbitrary and parochial in claiming that God is the only source of moral value?
• Can we reconcile natural evil in the world with God's absolute power?
• Can we continue to honor the historicity of faith-based claims in the face of critical history?
• Can our personal life be eternal when neither timeless nor everlasting life is conceivable?
• Can we accept our personal mortality and still affirm our destiny as eternal?
Wholeness: The Character Logic of Christian Belief argues that character logic shows us a reasonable way to think about persons, one that puts theology on a new footing and gives affirmative answers to all these questions!

Staging Scripture

Biblical Drama, 1350-1600

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Edited by Peter Happé and Wim Hüsken

Against a background which included revolutionary changes in religious belief, extensive enlargement of dramatic styles and the technological innovation of printing, this collection of essays about biblical drama offers innovative approaches to text and performance, while reviewing some well-established critical issues. The Bible in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries appears in a complex of roles in relation to the drama: as an authority and centre of belief, a place of controversy, an emotional experience and, at times, a weapon. This collection brings into focus the new biblical learning, including the re-editing of biblical texts, as well as classical influences, and it gives a unique view of the relationship between the Bible and the drama at a critical time for both.

Contributors are: Stephanie Allen, David Bevington, Philip Butterworth, Sarah Carpenter, Philip Crispin, Clifford Davidson, Elisabeth Dutton, Garrett P. J. Epp, Bob Godfrey, Peter Happé, James McBain, Roberta Mullini, Katie Normington, Margaret Rogerson, Charlotte Steenbrugge, Greg Walker, and Diana Wyatt.

Edited by Kenneth A. Bryson

Philosophy and Religion is dedicated to a critical study of religious attitudes, values, and beliefs. PAR welcomes a wide variety of philosophical approaches to general and specific topics arising from the whole spectrum of religious traditions.

Philosophy and Religion is a special series in the Value Inquiry Book Series.
Philosophy and Religion is cosponsored by The Centre for the Study of Philosophy and Religion, Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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Kenneth A. Bryson

The religious belief in personal immortality depends on the evidence for the existence of God, an immaterial soul or mind, and human nature. We also need to support the view that God will always want to maintain relationships with us in the afterlife. So, immortality is a hard sell. The suffering of innocent victims suggests that the existence of a loving God is not self-evident. Furthermore, the soul's separation from the body at death raises the troublesome problem of personal identity. How can that be me in the afterlife without my body? The tradition from Plato to Descartes plants the seed of personal immortality in our rational nature. But the deconstruction of human nature suggests that our species is not special. Yet, the belief in immortality lingers.
The first step in the reconstruction of personal immortality is found in systems theory, or belief that the whole individuates the part. This view suggests that we are the outcome of relationships rather than eternal natures entering into relationships. We are the product of relationships taking place at three basic levels. 1. In psyche where being human is the result of a tendency toward good and evil. 2. As social entities where the existence of other human beings individuates us. 3. In being's unconcealment where the intelligibility of things provides a foundation for epistemic life. Heidegger's view of the nothing or horizon surrounding being allows us to identify God as creator entering into personal relationships with us - a view supported by contemporary science.
That will be me in the afterlife, if the relationships that individuate me in my pre-mortem state continue into my post-mortem existence. The reversal in being's unconcealment suggests that human death continues the cycle of personal existence.

Hindu-Christian Dialogue

Theological Soundings and Perspectives

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Mariasusai Dhavamony

Dialogue is an integral part of the mission of the Christian church. The immensity of the ocean of Hindu doctrine and thought presents a significant obstacle to Christians who have been invited by the Roman Catholic Church to “scrutinize the divine Mystery” present in other religions. Many, fascinated by Hindu mysticism, confuse permanent Hindu beliefs with certain current Western religious movements. India’s quest for the divine embodies multiple forms. Its millennia-old methods of meditation and varieties of asceticism often confuse those who are less inclined to experience of an inner spiritual nature. This book attempts to address some of these difficulties and questions. It is the author’s belief that in the Hindu-Christian encounter the Christian believer will also rediscover the originality and newness of the Christian revelation, viz. the intervention of God in the history of salvation whereby God reveals his salvific love in Jesus Christ. Possessing expert knowledge of both Hinduism and Christianity, the author approaches the Hindu-Christian dialogue with sympathy and discernment.