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Dr. Jonkers lectures on religion and truth
Dr. Peter Jonkers, a renowned scholar on the philosophy of religion, culture and the history of modern philosophy, gave the exceptional lecture "Religion and Truth" at American University of Sharjah (AUS) on Sunday, November 20, 2011.
"All religions claim to hold the truth, yet they seem to have fundamental differences between them," argued Dr. Jonkers, who is a professor of philosophy at the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.
He told the audience of AUS faculty, staff and students that from the philosophical point of view, it is implausible to define religion in terms of the doctrinal truths because of all the differences between them. "Therefore, religion has to be defined as a way of life, and not by the absolute truth each religion claims to hold."
"All ways of life are contingent, that is, they are dependent on a place and time. This would explain better the existing differences between religions," Dr. Jonkers stated. "So if I were to be born at a different place or a different time, chances are that I might have held different truths and belonged to a different religion. The same could apply to anyone and that is why it becomes more credible to define religion as a way of life or expressions of wisdom rather than defining it on the basis of truth."
Dr. Jonkers presented a second lecture entitled "The Pope and Islam" the following day and talked about the Pope's appeal to all religious intellectuals living in modern societies. "There is plenty of scope for us [that is: Christians and Muslims] to act together in the service of fundamental moral values," Dr. Jonkers quoted the Pope saying.
Among other things Dr. Jonkers presented an analysis of the Pope's project of intellectual empowerment in the hope that it will be a source of inspiration for Islamic intellectuals. He also discussed the relevance of the insights of religious traditions for the idea of human dignity in secular and pluralistic society.
The lectures were organized by the Middle East Study Center in collaboration with the Department of International Studies at AUS.