Understand Philosophy of Religion

coverPeople long to make sense of life; to find some key that will unlock its mysteries and enable them to understand themselves and their place within the universe. Faced with their own fragility and death, they seek courage or comfort. Longing to develop and create, they seek inspiration.

In this human quest for meaning, some take to philosophy, others to the creative arts, and others - in fact the majority of humankind - take to some form of religion. Almost every profound aspect of life - from sexuality to artistic creativity, or from the emotional trauma of prolonged suffering or bereavement to the spontaneous expression of wonder at natural beauty - may become the raw material out of which a religious interpretation of life can be built.

But why? What are religious beliefs, and how do they relate to the rest of our understanding of life? Can they be justified rationally? Are they a mental springboard,

launching us into a deeper exploration and appreciation of life, or a mental prison, closing our minds to reason and evidence? Or are they neither, but only our use (or misuse) of them makes them so?

 … just some of the questions that are explored in this book.

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Here's a quote from one satisfied customer's email, after reading the 3rd edition of this book:

'Having just finished your “philosophy of religion”, from the “teach yourself” series, I wanted to compliment you on a most amazingly thought provoking book.  I bought the book without any knowledge of you or the series and was quite taken by the fact that I could hardly read a page without stopping to think about the ideas being presented.'    

(received from a reader in Oklahoma City, March 7th 2010)

Read, think and make up your own mind...

Given all that we know about the world through the sciences, and all the aspects of life that have been explored over the centuries in literature and the arts, it seems quite amazing to me that the most profound and universal questions of all – whether the world is being created and directed by a personal intelligence, and whether the human self can survive death to live on in some other form – are still matters of debate.  Yet these appear to be the bedrock of the three major Western religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam; religions that continue to have a major impact of the lives of a large proportion of the human species. So can such religious beliefs be justified rationally? That is what the Philosophy of Religion seeks to examine – and it is a worthwhile question for every thinking person to ask, whether an atheist or a believer.  In this book, I seek to unpack these questions and show why some answers may seem more reasonable than others, without pushing any one set of conclusions; not because I do not have my own views, but because your conclusions should be yours alone. The Buddha recommended to his followers that they accept only those parts of his teaching about which they were personally convinced from their own experience. That is wise advice for anyone studying this subject.


This book, of necessity, is limited to examining the major questions raised by the beliefs of the three main monotheistic religions. This, of course, is only a small part of the global issue of religious belief and the lifestyles that spring from it. Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, native religions - all have much to contribute to our understanding of life and spirituality. For those wanting an Eastern perspective, click here.


360 pages

4th edition, 2010

Teach Yourself (Hodder)

ISBN-13: 978-1444-10500-1

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1. Religious experience

2.  Religious language

3.  God: the concepts

4.  God: the arguments

5.  Atheism and humanism

6.  The self

7.  Psychology and religion

8.  Suffering and evil

9.  Religion and science

10.  Religion and society    


Taking it further 



The new, 4th edition of this book has been revised and re-designed, with end-of-chapter checklists, insight boxes and short summaries of the subject. 

Buy it from your local bookshop, or, if you want to buy online, follow one of the links below...


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FREE notes for students...

To download your notes on various topics in the Philosophy of Religion, just follow the 'Notes for Students' link at the top of this page.

Also available in Russian...