Small Interdisciplinary Workshops
1. Divine Hiddenness Workshop (2015)
One of the most important and fertile topics for philosophical research on religious experience concerns the phenomenon of divine hiddenness—the fact that there is neither conclusive philosophical evidence for the existence of God nor widespread vivid religious experience of God or other spiritual realities. The biblical texts speak often and unapologetically of the fact that God “hides”; yet it is hard to see why a perfectly loving being who desires relationships with his creatures (as the biblical texts and the monotheistic traditions based on them say that God does) would withhold his presence from creatures who are suffering and earnestly seeking him. Contemporary philosophers have thus treated divine hiddenness as one of the most important sources of objection to belief in God; yet there are surprisingly many untapped resources for addressing this objection both within well-known medieval writings on mystical prayer and practice (e.g., the anonymously authored Cloud of Unknowing and the writings of St. John of the Cross) and also within contemporary theology. Indeed, the contemporary philosophical discussion of divine hiddenness has (remarkably) been almost entirely unaffected by these two bodies of literature.
The Divine Hiddenness Workshop will be an intensive research workshop that brings together an interdisciplinary group of theologians and philosophers to discuss some of these important but otherwise neglected (by philosophers) texts.
2. UNC-ND Collaborative Workshops (Fall 2015 and Fall 2016)
We will organize two collaborative workshops (Fall 2015 and Fall 2016) that will bring each new crop of research fellows in philosophy, theology, and religious studies into dialogue with our funded scientists in sociology and psychology.
3. Opportunity Workshops (2015 – 2017)
Michael Rea and L. A. Paul will organize several small, intensive research workshops to gather some or all of our residential and non-residential scholars in one place to discuss works in progress and developing research proposals with one another and perhaps with one or two outside experts. We expect to organize up to two of these each year during the 2015 – 2016 and 2016 – 2017 academic years.
2015 Logos Workshop in Philosophical Theology ("Religious Experience")
Religious experience is central to religious faith and practice. It often serves as evidence of belief; it contributes to the development of doctrine; and it, or the desire for it, is often a major motivator for church attendance, mediation, commitment to spiritual disciplines, and other religious practices. Religious experience has received a great deal of attention within both philosophy and theology; but important questions remain unanswered. What is the nature of religious experience? What, exactly is (or should be) its relationship to religious belief and religious practice? If God exists and loves human beings, why aren't vivid unambiguous religious experiences more widely available? What can religious experiences tell us about the nature of God? Might religious experiences be the result, in part, or particular skills or virtues of the people who have them? The Logos 2015 Workshop will be devoted to addressing these and other philosophical and theological aspects of religious experience.
For more details, please visit the project website: the-experience-project.org