The European Society for the Philosophy of Religion
invites to its
20th Biennial Conference
from 28th – 31st of August 2014
Main Contributers: Jörg Dierken (Halle-Wittenberg), Steve Fuller (Warwick), Niels Henrik Gregersen (Kopenhagen), Daphne Hampson (St. Andrews), Simo Knuuttila (Helsinki), Klaus Müller (Münster), Taede A. Smedes (Nijmegen), Walter van Herck (Antwerp)
Chairman of the conference: Hans-Peter Grosshans (Muenster) -
Co-organiser: Klaus Müller (Münster)
Presentation of the Subject
The conference will deal with one of the most important controversies of present day philosophy of religion: in recent years religion has been interpreted with a new emphasis as being part of the cultural evolution of the human being. Scholars from social sciences and evolution theories have intensified their research on religion, especially in relation to evolution. Already in 1964 Robert N. Bellah has established this perspective on religion in an article on “Religious Evolution”. He had concentrated especially on the evolution of the religious symbol systems and only hinted to the relation of an evolution of religion with the general socio-cultural evolution of humankind. Research on this dimension of the subject has been intensified in the following decades, especially in recent years. The basic questions are: Does religion result from the evolution of humankind? How has religion contributed and how does religion contribute to the evolution of humankind, to its survival, to its reproduction and to its cultural development? If religion would have been an evolutionary advantage – and still is –, then all religious beliefs and practices may possibly be shaped by an inherent logic of adaptation. And then this logic of adaptation may even be the true regulative of religion. Religion then would have to be described as a natural result of cultural evolution and the evolution of humankind in general. Philosophy of religion has to discuss the consequences, if the mentioned hypotheses would be true. How does the understanding of religion, philosophical reflection on religion and all academic research on religion have to change, if religion is seen as an aspect of the socio-cultural evolution of humankind? Because the whole issue is very controversial within European philosophy of religion today (this is part of its actuality), the conference discusses these questions within a wider horizon, which is expressed in the conference title “Transforming Religion”. This may contribute to keep the discussion open. The term “transforming” is taken up in its ambiguity: Religion is seen on the one side as object of transformation, development and even of evolution; but on the other side religion will also be perceived in its active role in socio-cultural transformations and developments.
The overall subject will be discussed in four sections, each one with a specific focus.
1. Transformation of Religion (in the history of religion). Has there been a development of religion within history? Do religions stand for a solid and substantial metaphysical order of natural and moral reality amidst a world which is permanently changing, or are religions themselves in a process of inner (essential) transformation? How do religions integrate the concept of transformation in their own doctrines? How is religion related to history and change? How does the differentiation of religious symbol systems proceed? Speaker: Prof. Dr. Jörg Dierken (Halle-Wittenberg); Prof. Dr. Simo Knuuttila (Helsinki)
2. Evolution and Religion. In what sense do we have to understand religion as being part of the evolution of humankind (of evolutionary history)? What follows from such an analysis of the origin of religion? What kind of critique of religion emerges from this understanding (for example, a genetic critique of religion)? What is the significance of such a critique for a contemporary concept of religion? Speaker: Prof. Dr. Steve Fuller (Warwick); Dr. Taede A. Smedes (Nijmegen)
3. The Concept of God and Evolution. What are the implications of our understanding of the evolution of humankind, of creatures and of the universe for our reasoning about and conceiving of God? Does it make sense to think of God as evolving? How do process theology and panentheism in general contribute to answering this question? Speaker: Prof. Dr. Niels Henrik Gregersen (Kopenhagen), Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Müller (Münster)
4. Dynamics of change. How can religions contribute to transformations, development and progress in societies? Does religion restrain or promote transformation, development and progress in societies? Can and do religions include a dynamic of their own transformation and development? Speaker: Prof. Dr. Daphne Hampson (St. Andrews), Prof. Dr. Walter van Herck (Antwerp).
Call for Short Papers
Beside the four main sessions there will be short paper sessions. Young and experienced scholars are called to present their ideas to the overall subject of the conference and to its four subsections in a short paper (20 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion). Those who are interested in presenting a paper at the conference should inform the organizers of the conference till 31st of March 2014 about their interest and submit a short abstract of the paper (max. 15 lines) indicating to which session the paper refers. There will be a selection of papers by the organizing committee. If necessary (f.ex. in order to apply to funds) the organizing committee will decide earlier as 31st of March 2013 about the acceptance of a short paper. Proposals for short papers (with abstract) should be sent by e-mail to the chairman of the conference, Hans-Peter Grosshans (
The conference begins on Thursday, 28th of August 2014 at 16.00 and ends on Sunday, 31st of August at 12am. The detailed program will be alway again acutalized here on the website of the European Society for the Philosophy of Religion (www.philosophy-of-religion.org). The eight main papers of the conference are presented for download at the end of May 2014 the latest. Those who register as participants of the conference will be supplied with the internet address and the necessary password.
The Conference will take place in the main building of the University of Muenster (www.uni-muenster.de), the castle of Muenster (address: Schlossplatz 2)
Registration at the conference office: Mrs. Petra Christophersen:
The registration fee is 50 Euro (has to be paid in advance by bank transfer to the following account: Hans-Peter Grosshans, IBAN: DE58401600500083049300; BIC: GENODEM1MSC). This includes coffee and water at the conference and covers the general organization.
Registration will close on July, 31, 2014.
Accomodation and Meals
Participants of the conference are asked to organize their accommodation by themselves.
Arrangements will be made for the opportunity of joint meals at lunch and dinner in a restaurant. A conference dinner is planned.
Some hotels and hostels (all are in walking distance to the Schloss, where the conference is and close to the center as well)
1. The main speaker of the conference (among others) will stay in the "Stadthotel" - see: http://www.stadthotel-muenster.de/ - Some rooms are reserved there for participants of the conference to a price with little reduction (78 or 83 Euro/night incl. breakfast). Those who book there should use the password "Religionsphilosophie". The number of these rooms is finite; therefore early booking may be helpful.
2. Überwasserhof - see: http://www.ueberwasserhof.de/
3. Hotel Agora - see: http://www.agora-muenster.de/
4. Seehotel - see: http://www.agora-muenster.de/ (This hotel has as well a "Gästehaus" - guest house - with low prices especially for students (36 Euro without breakfast)
5. Hotel Busche - see: http://www.hotel-busche.de/ (A small hotel in the very center of town, directly beside the cathedral)
5. Youth-Hostel - see: http://www.djh-wl.de/de/jugendherbergen/muenster (the youth-hostel is very popular; early booking is recommended)
Further possibilities of accomodation see Muenster tourist information: http://www.muenster.de/stadt/tourismus/en/index.html
Information about Muenster
Travelling to Muenster
Muenster has a small airport (http://www.fmo.de) with bus shuttle to the center.
Better flight connections may be to Dusseldorf airport (http://www.dus.com/dus/), which has an own train station with direct trains to Muenster.
For trains to Muenster see: www.bahn.de