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Philosophy of Religion

Changing Conceptions, Modern Conceptions, Bibliography

A well-established discipline in early-twenty-first-century Western philosophy, the subject known as "the philosophy of religion" has not always been easily demarcated with respect to its nature and scope. The reason for this is historical. The long engagement of philosophy with the claims of religion has manifested itself from antiquity to the early twenty-first century in a wide variety of intellectual enquiries. Thus, early-twenty-first-century philosophers of religion address topics and analyze arguments that were earlier conceived as belonging to very different areas of philosophical thought. These topics and arguments once fell under the heads of what ancient Greek philosophers simply called philosophy (philosophia), of what patristic and medieval thinkers referred to as revealed teaching or theology (sacra doctrina and theologia), and of what philosophers in the modern period characterized as natural theology or "natural religion." Many of the questions of early-twenty-first-century philosophy of religion also fall within the traditional purview of subjects such as metaphysics and ethics. In themselves, these titles indicate very different views about how to address the questions that arise from the engagement of philosophy with religion and theology. For this reason it is difficult to sustain the idea that the "philosophy of religion" has always been a recognizable discipline with an unvarying subject matter that has spanned the course of Western philosophical history.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind - Early Ideas to Planck length