The Contemporary Relevance of Religion
What is faith today? What does it mean to be a Christian in a secular age? In today's world, the act of continuing to identify with an ancient religious tradition can seem outdated. Modern Western society demands that we answer the invidious question, 'Do you believe in God, or Science?' But what happens to religion and faith when we force them to fit within the frame of a scientistic culture, one in which all of reality is reduced to what may be discovered through the quantifiable methods of the physical sciences alone, while everything beyond that is understood as mere wishful human projection on an otherwise meaningless cosmos? In this picture, faith becomes readily understood as a form of intellectual assent to propositions whose scientific warrant is dubious at best. But must we accept this picture, this way of framing the situation? As a student of the reformational philosophical tradition, I have always resisted this understanding of religion and faith. The reformational tradition has taught me that Christianity, if it is anything at all, is a holistic pattern of living, and not simply a matter of intellectual believing. More than that, Christianity remains a live option for those living in a scientistic culture because it can still fuel our ability to imagine relevant alternatives for contemporary human existence than those our scientistic culture affords. My work in the philosophy of religion takes up Wittgenstein's challenge to speak an old language that yet belongs to a newer world. In so doing, I hope we may retrieve redemptive possibilities for our current existence, possibilities that our current culture has trouble envisioning.
My Research Foci
Ronald A. Kuipers, PhD
Director, Centre for Philosophy Religion and Social Ethics
Associate Professor, Philosophy of Religion
BA (The King’s University College), MPhil (The Institute for Christian Studies), PhD (VU University, Amsterdam)
Ronald A. Kuipers specializes in the philosophy of religion, in conversation with the intellectual traditions of American pragmatism, critical theory, and hermeneutics. His research and teaching focus on the continuing social and political relevance of religious life patterns in pluralistic Western societies, and asks how this cultural context shapes the different ways that religion comes to expression today. He is the author of Critical Faith: Toward a Renewed Understanding of Religious Life and its Public Accountability (Rodopi, 2002), and, most recently, Richard Rorty (Bloomsbury, 2013), a volume in Bloomsbury's Contemporary American Thinkers series.