Philosophy Scholars at Baylor University Receive Grant from the Templeton Religion Trust for "The Nature and Value of Faith" Project

February 5, 2014

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WACO, Texas (Feb. 5, 2014) -- Two philosophy scholars at Baylor University and one at Western Washington University have received a $1.5 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust for the three-year project "The Nature and Value of Faith" to shed new light on faith.
With the support of the Templeton grant, and with additional support from Baylor and Western Washington, the $2.2 million project will sponsor three summer seminars, three annual conferences and six years of postdoctoral fellowships. The project aims to produce multiple monographs, several edited volumes and at least 42 articles on faith in philosophy, theology, biblical studies and religion.
Principal investigator for the project is Jonathan L. Kvanvig, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Baylor and the editor of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.
Co-directors are Trent Dougherty, Ph.D., an assistant professor of philosophy in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences, and Daniel Howard-Snyder, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy at Western Washington University. The grant for the project was signed by Elizabeth Davis, Ph.D., executive vice president and provost at Baylor, on Dec. 19, 2013.
Kvanvig said that being awarded the grant is "a strong affirmation of what is going on in the Philosophy program at Baylor and brings with it important benefits for our faculty and graduate students. Some of the best philosophers anywhere will be involved in the project, and it is deeply exciting to envision working with them on such an important topic."
He said that the grant's purpose is to investigate faith and the many ways it manifests itself in the lives of successful people, both in religious contexts and in ordinary life.
"There is a long tradition in Western thought and culture that thinks of faith as 'believing what you know ain't so,' as Mark Twain put it," Kvanvig said. "The idea for the grant originated in a desire to provide a deeper and better understanding of faith, yielding results that can be shared both within philosophical and theological settings and also in the larger cultural context. It is our conviction that the range of projects and activities that include a dimension of faith are much broader than is presently understood, and that once a better understanding is in place, a deeper appreciation of the value of faith can be achieved."
The grant period is from June 1 through May 31, 2017, and postdoctoral students will be hired to assist with the project, Kvanvig said.
Each year, researchers and postdoctoral students will focus on a different nest of issues and questions broadly grouped under three rubrics: the nature of faith, the value and evaluation of faith and the virtue of faith, he said.
Dougherty, who is editor of the Journal of Analytic Theology, said that "when the three of us (scholars) were tossing this idea around a couple of years ago, we all agreed it needed to be done, and it is incredibly gratifying to see all the planning and hard work pay off.
"Faith is an idea that makes a difference -- to both scholar and layman -- and we are thrilled to be advancing its understanding."
For more information about the project, visit:
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University's oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 26 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.