Hillsdale College

Experimental Philosophy of Religion

Bringing the human sciences to bear on philosophy of religion.

“It used to be commonplace that the discipline of philosophy was deeply concerned with questions about the human condition. Philosophers thought about human beings and how their minds worked. They took an interest in reason and passion, culture and innate ideas, the origins of people’s moral and religious beliefs. On this traditional conception, it wasn’t particularly important to keep philosophy clearly distinct from psychology, history, or political science. Philosophers were concerned, in a very general way, with questions about how everything fit together. The new movement of experimental philosophy seeks a return to this traditional vision.

- Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols, “An Experimental Philosophy Manifesto” (2008), pg 3
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Our Goal

Our goal is to “Launch” a new area of research: experimental philosophy of religion.  The central mechanism for achieving this aim is a major funding initiative, through which interdisciplinary teams of academics were invited to conduct research on the project theme.


Though the tools and conceptual resources of experimental philosophy have been fruitfully applied to longstanding debates within epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics, relatively little work has been done connecting experimental philosophy to philosophy of religion or philosophical theology. This project aims to take this next step.

News and Updates

Nick Byrd, one of our sub-grantees, has an article forthcoming in the Review of Philosophy and Psychology entitled, "Great Minds Do Not Think Alike: Philosophers’ Views Predicted By Reflection, Education, Personality, And Other Demographic Differences.”

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Blake McAllister, Ian M. Church, Paul Rezkalla & Long Nguyen have an article forthcoming in the Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy series (edited by Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols) titled, "Empirical Challenges to the Evidential Problem of Evil.”

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Ian Church is writing a chapter for the forthcoming Compact Compendium of Experimental Philosophy (Walter de Gruyter) edited by A. M. Bauer & S. Kornmesser, entitled, “Experimental Philosophy of Religion.”

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Ian Church,  Isaac Warchol,  and Justin Barrett have published an article in Theologica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology titled, “The Context of Suffering: Empirical Insights into the Problem of Evil.”

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Ian Church, Rebecca Carlson, and Justin Barrett have published an article in the Journal of Psychology and Theology titled, “Evil Intuitions? The Problem of Evil, Experimental Philosophy, and the need for Psychological Research.”

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Ian Church gave a talk at the library’s Our Faculty’s Ongoing Research Lecture Series on October 15th, 2021. This lecture summarizes some of the research that led to the “Launching” project.

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