Last week I attended a conference at the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame. The conference intentionally brings analytic philosophers and theologians together to discuss issues of relevance to both. And the hope is that the discussions will be mutually sharpening as each group brings its own resources and perspectives to bear on the issues.
It was a fascinating experience. Although I enjoy enjoy philosophy, I’m not a philosopher. And it’s not often that I get to sit and talk with people who study and teach philosophy for a living. At times, I was thoroughly confused. Concepts like four dimensionalism, stage theory, phenomenology, fundamentality, and thin/thick particulars are a little outside my normal frame of reference. But most of the time I was intrigued to watch the interplay of philosophy and theology as we all wrestled with what it means to be a “human person.” Overall it was a great experience, and one that I would repeat without a second thought.
In my next post, I hope to reflect more generally on the nature of the philosophy/theology relationship itself. But today, I’ll just offer a few observations from the dialog that I got to be a part of last week. And, since the conference focused specifically on analytic philosophy as a resource for theology, my comments reflect only that branch of the philosophical tree.
As with many such interactions, we need to note both the baby and the bathwater, appreciating the former and guarding against the latter.