Baylor profs to study nature, value of faith

Philosophy scholars receive a $1.5 million grant to dispel antiquated notions of faith held by some academics and intellectuals. 

By Jeff Brumley

Philosophy scholars at Baylor University have received a $1.5 million grant to investigate religious beliefs in order to “shed new light on faith,” according to a news release about the three-year study.

The gift from the Templeton Religion Trust will finance “The Nature and Value of Faith” project, which will investigate the variety of ways faith manifests itself in the lives of successful people — in and out of specifically religious contexts.

The overall aim is to debunk a common Western notion that faith is belief in non-existent things, the study’s lead investigator said.

“The idea for the grant orginated in a desire to provide a deeper and better understanding of faith,” said philosophy professor Jonathan Kvanvig in the Baylor report. Their conviction is that faith is “much broader than is presently understood, and that ... a deeper appreciation of the value of faith can be achieved.”

kvanvigThe intended audience the study hopes to educate about religion are international scholars and “especially younger scholars,” Trent Dougherty, assistant professor of philosophy and a co-director of the study, told ABPnews/Herald.

One of the primary avenues of communication will be through scholarly articles to be published in peer-review journals, he said.

They also hope to attract interest from pastors and “intellectually active lay people” through the use of social media, websites and blogs, Dougherty added.

The total fund for the project is around $2.2 million thanks to additional money from Baylor and Western Washington University, where study co-director Daniel Howard-Snyder is a philosophy professor.

Kvanvig and his team intend to produce several monographs and edited volumes and no less than 42 articles on philosophy, theology, biblical studies and religion, the Baylor release said.

“Faith is an idea that makes a difference — to both scholar and layman — and we are thrilled to be advancing its understanding,” Dougherty said in the university article.