Public interest in religious debate in the UK and the USA has recently been fed by a series of books of popular polemic against theism, religion and the discipline of theology itself. A small industry has grown up around these works - by authors such as Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens - complaining not just about their theological illiteracy but also about their tendency to conflate religious belief with fundamentalism, and their contribution to a public atmosphere of anti-pluralist hostility to the expression of “faith positions.” To counter these positions a group of philosophers and theologians was invited to reflect in an exploratory and confessional spirit on their attitudes to religion, and upon the status and sources of their various religious, and spiritual sympathies, their secularism or agnosticism.
The invitation was to speak with honesty from experience and to rise about the rancour of recent public debate. The speakers tacked essential issues, about belief and non-belief, feminist theology, agnosticism, humanism, spirituality and transcendence and their relation to our understanding of moral life.
A version of a paper by the late Peter Lipton was read by John Cornwell; other speakers included Stephen R.L. Clark, Nicholas Lash, Daphne Hampson, Morny Joy, Sir Anthony Kenny, Clare Carlisle, James Mackey, Michael McGhee, Pamela Sue Anderson, Richard Norman, Anthony O’Hear, Gordon Graham, Simon Olive, and Harriet Harris.
The proceedings are published as Philosophers and God
edited by John Cornwell and Michael McGhee, Continuum (2009)