What is this thing called Philosophy of Religion?: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

What is this thing called Philosophy of Religion?

1st Edition

By Elizabeth Burns


232 pages

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What is this thing called Philosophy of Religion? grapples with the core topics studied on philosophy of religion undergraduate courses including:

  • the meaning of religious language, including 20th century developments
  • the nature of the Divine, including divine power, wisdom and action 
  • arguments for the existence of the Divine
  • challenges to belief in the Divine, including the problems of evil, divine hiddenness and religious diversity
  • believing without arguments
  • arguments for life after death, including reincarnation.

In addition to the in-depth coverage of the key themes within the subject area Elizabeth Burns explores the topics from the perspectives of the five main world religions, introducing students to the work of scholars from a variety of religious traditions and interpretations of belief.

What is this thing called Philosophy of Religion? is the ideal introduction for those approaching the philosophy of religion for the first time, containing many helpful student-friendly features, such as a glossary of important terms, study questions and further reading.


"Writing in crystal clear language, Elizabeth Burns provides an insightful, concise, and classroom-ready treatment of every question central to philosophy of religion. Each chapter captures the classical ideas and the contemporary challenges to belief in God. A reliable guide."

Kevin Schilbrack, Appalachian State University, USA

"Burns has accomplished her goal in this book of defining, in graspable terms, what the philosophy of religion entails. (…) Burns’s slim volume provides a valuable synthesis of the philosophy of religion."

Nathan 'Jack' Read, Ryokan College

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 – What is philosophy of religion?

Chapter 2 – Ways with words: The meaning of religious language

Chapter 3 – Religious language: Twentieth-century developments

Chapter 4 – Personal and impersonal interpretations of the Divine

Chapter 5 – Divine Power

Chapter 6 – Divine wisdom

Chapter 7 – Divine action

Chapter 8 – Petitionary prayer

Chapter 9 – Arguments for the existence of the Divine: Cosmological arguments

Chapter 10 – Arguments for the existence of the Divine: Design arguments

Chapter 11 – Arguments for the existence of the Divine: Moral arguments

Chapter 12 – Arguments for the existence of the Divine: Arguments from religious experience

Chapter 13 – Arguments for the existence of the Divine: Ontological arguments

Chapter 14 – Arguments against belief in the Divine: The problem of evil

Chapter 15 – Arguments against belief in the Divine: The problem of divine hiddenness

Chapter 16 – Arguments against belief in the Divine: The problem of religious diversity

Chapter 17 – Voluntarist theories of religious belief

Chapter 18 – Reformed Epistemology

Chapter 19 – Life, death and hope

Appendix 1 – Defining the Divine

Appendix 2 – List of further reading on the varieties of religious belief

Appendix 3 – List of anthologies and their contents by topic

Appendix 4 - Glossary


About the Author

Elizabeth Burns was a Reader at Heythrop College, University of London, UK where she taught philosophy of religion from 2000—2017 and was, for five years, Dean of Undergraduate Studies. She is now a Reader and Programme Director of the University of London International Programmes in Theology at the central University of London and Director of Taught Programmes at the Cambridge Theological Federation, UK.

About the Series

What is this thing called?

The Routledge Philosophy What is this thing called? series of concise textbooks have been designed for use by students coming to a core area of the discipline for the first time. Each volume explores the relevant central questions with clear explanation of complex ideas and engaging contemporary examples. Features to aid study include text boxes, chapter summaries, study questions, further reading and glossaries.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Religious