God, Time and Change
Biennial Conference of the European Society for Philosophy of Religion
Venue: University of Leeds, UK
Date: 3–5 September 2020
This conference investigates the impact of time and change, as two facets of human experience and cognition, on conceptions of God, the divine and ultimate reality. While being a rich source for metaphysical speculation, questions about time and change also provoke discussion of what it means to be human, thereby having profound ethical and social implications. Reflection on time and change in relation to God, the divine or ultimate reality forms the philosophical core of many religious traditions, both theistic and non-theistic. The question, for instance, of whether or not temporality and change should be conceived as inherent attributes of God has been a focus of debate within philosophy of religion since antiquity. Time and change continue to be topics of ongoing research within many academic disciplines. The conference brings current philosophical and scientific theories of time and change into conversation with perspectives from the philosophy of religion. Encouraging diverse philosophical approaches, this conference invites papers that explore these issues within any of the following sub-themes.
Sub-theme 1: Time and Change in Philosophy and Science
In an attempt to provide a theory that fits with our actual experience of time, some philosophers and scientists have argued that only the present is real. Given such approaches, can we retain the view of ourselves as beings that persist through time? Might an understanding of persons influenced by Asian philosophy be a better fit with recent theories of time? Do some contemporary views of time or change/causation require us to alter traditional religious conceptions of God, the divine or ultimate reality? Can recent scientific or philosophical theories of time, or of change, help us to answer questions within philosophy of religion? Are some recent scientific or philosophical views of time or change incompatible with, or supportive of, established conceptions of God, the divine or ultimate reality? How might arguments about the existence of God, or concerning human persons, be affected by current thinking about time and change?
Sub-theme 2: Religio-Philosophical Questions concerning Time and Change
In what ways are conceptions of God, the divine or ultimate reality shaped by temporal experience structured by causality? How do philosophical ideas of ontological independence and necessary existence interact with religious perspectives concerning time and change (especially those involving the idea of creation)? Should temporality be conceived as an attribute of God, the divine or ultimate reality? Alternatively, can the view that God, the divine or ultimate reality, is non-temporal and unchanging be supported? Are understandings of time and change logically prior to conceptions of God, the divine or ultimate reality? What properties might something non-temporal and unchanging possess? What might it mean for something to exist necessarily and permanently? Is timelessness a perfection? Could a timeless being or ultimate reality be causally active? How can something eternal be related to something finite? What can be said about freedom, determinism and foreknowledge in relation to different theories of time or change?
Sub-theme 3: Religious Life, Language and Experience
In what ways does the experience of time and change impact religious life and understanding? Why might someone hold that to exist in time, and to experience change, is inferior to being timeless and unchanging? Might the opposite be true? Is it possible to have a meaningful relationship with a timeless and unchanging God, or with an undifferentiated changeless ultimate reality? How might eternity and human happiness be related? Might we experience temporality and change post-mortem? In what ways do religious philosophies address the existential problems posed by human finitude? How does belief in karma or rebirth affect understandings of the meaning of life and the significance of death? Is it possible to experience timelessness, and if so, what role does it play in religious experience? How do conceptions of time and change affect the language people use about God, the divine or ultimate reality? Can something which is timeless and changeless be adequately described without resorting to negative language?
Sub-theme 4: Ethics, Society and Politics
What are some of the ethical, social or political implications of different conceptions of God, or of ultimate reality, in relation to time? Does the view that God, the divine or ultimate reality, has causal powers impact ethical, social or political theories? Prophecy can be regarded as an attempt to relate the will of an eternal God to the ethical, social and political realm, what philosophical questions does this phenomenon raise? Are teleological linear conceptions of time linked to particular ethical, political or social theories? How might the idea of an end of time, found in some forms of theism, influence attitudes to social movements, for instance, environmentalism? Is there a theoretical connection between a cyclical conception of time and certain ethical, social or political perspectives? How do religious/liturgical calendars relate to secular time, and in what ways do they impact social organization?
Prof. Robin Le Poidevin, Professor of Metaphysics, University of Leeds, UK
Prof. Lubos Rojka, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion, Gregorian University, Rome
Prof. Dr. Heiko Schulz, Professor for Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion, Faculty for Protestant Theology, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany
Prof. Marcel Sarot, Professor of Fundamental Theology, Tilburg University, Utrecht, Netherlands
Prof. Marius Timmann Mjaaland, Professor of Philosophy of Religion, University of Oslo, Norway
Dr Jessica Frazier, Lecturer in Hindu Studies and Philosophy of Religion, Trinity College, University of Oxford and Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Oxford, UK
Prof. Jayne Svenungsson, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Lund, Sweden
Prof. Carla Canullo, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Macerata, Italy
About the ESPR: The European Society for Philosophy of Religion provides a forum for researchers employing different approaches to the philosophy of religion. See http://www.philosophy-of-religion.org
The conference website: http://godtimeandchange.com
Prof. Victoria Harrison (University of Macau)
Dr. Tyler McNabb (University of Macau)
Prof. Mark Wynn (University of Leeds)