Universidad Panamericana | The Modern Experience of the Religious by Dr. Nassim Bravo
The Modern Experience of the Religious by Dr. Nassim Bravo

Dr. Federico Nassim Bravo Jordán is one of the most outstanding figures within the area of Humanities at Universidad Panamericana at the intercampus level, for at the end of 2021 he inaugurated the line of research on philosophy of religion at the Institute of Humanities.

With a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree in philosophy, Dr. Nassim has consolidated a professional career for more than 20 years in the field of philosophy.

During my educational years, I became very interested in the academic and philosophical study of religious beliefs. I read several modern writers who reflected on religion with great enthusiasm: Jacobi, Schelling, Schleiermacher, Hegel and, especially, Kierkegaard,” he states.

He also shares with us a brief background on his most recent work, the book called The Modern Experience of the Religious, coordinated by Nassim Bravo himself and Jon Stewart, published by Brill in 2023.

The Modern Experience of the Religious by Dr. Nassim Bravo

The Modern Experience of the Religious

Unlike theology, which studies religion in a rational fashion, but starting from certain dogmatic contents that are not questioned, philosophy of religion tries to comprehend and examine the issues of the different religious traditions: why are human beings drawn to believe in a divinity? What are the implications for freedom of believing in an omnipotent God? What is the origin of evil? Can there be a religion without gods (such as Buddhism or Confucianism)?

When I began this line of research, I was particularly intrigued by the question of how religion is experienced in modern times. When experimental science began to make great advances and discoveries, a number intellectuals thought this heralded the end of religions. But not only is religion not over, but its scope and outreach has increased almost everywhere in the world. So, I was wondering how people live their spirituality in a context where the validity of religious beliefs is often questioned,” he says.

“With this in mind, I contacted an old friend, Professor Jon Stewart, author of such books as Hegel’s Interpretation of the Religions of the World: The Logic of the Gods (Oxford University Press) and A History of Nihilism in the Nineteenth Century: Confrontations with Nothingness (Cambridge University Press), and proposed that we put together a book to explore this question. He accepted and we immediately started inviting authors to share their ideas on the subject with us,” he adds.

Main reflections inspired by great philosophers

The starting point of the book is a historical moment: the Enlightenment of the 18th century. Enlightenment thinkers, such as David Hume, Voltaire or Immanuel Kant, thought that society would be best guided exclusively by reason. Given that science has been so successful, should we do it all in the scientific way? This, of course, questioned the continuity of the more traditional forms of religiosity, which were often based on faith and the observance of authority figures. Is it possible to continue to believe in a world where scientific reason predominates?

The fact is that people continued to believe, but in many cases religious traditions had to adjust to the new modern times. It is not the same to be a believer in medieval Europe as in the 21st century. From this premise a series of questions arise which we try to answer in the book: What role should religion have in a secular or pluralistic society? How can human beings be in relationship with God? Is institutional religion compatible with modern values such as civil liberties, democracy, pluralism or environmentalism? The authors reflect on some of these questions from their area of expertise.

A global overview within society

According to history, and despite everything, religious traditions may change, but they will not disappear, even in the most difficult or adverse circumstances. This seems to indicate that religiosity is something natural in humanity, which in turn suggests that, if we want to understand human beings, their institutions, their relationships, their behavior, etc., it is essential to pay attention to philosophy of religion.

“We only need to take a glance at the news to see the role of religion in the world’s major events. A good understanding of the dynamics of religious beliefs and traditions helps us to better explain human behavior. Ideally, it would also help us improve society,” he adds.

Several Western European countries look with distrust at the massive arrival of migrants from North Africa, mostly practicing Islam, which contrasts with the eminently Christian European culture. In the United States, radical libertarians, often atheists, must establish alliances with evangelical voters in order to boost the candidates of the Republican Party.

Buddhists in Tibet and the Uighurs of Xinjiang, a largely Muslim community, yearn for separation from China, one of the world’s most secular countries. In the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, religious motives are constantly invoked, deliberately or not, from both Islam and Judaism.

With this in mind, I am currently coordinating a special issue of the journal Filozofia (Bratislava, Slovakia) entitled Philosophy of Religion Today, in which I continue to explore these kinds of questions. This special issue will be released in October 2024,” states Dr. Nassim.

It is worth mentioning that professors from Universidad Panamericana, such as Gustavo Esparza, Eduardo Charpenel, Fernanda Rojas and Luis Xavier López Farjeat, but also from other parts of the world, such as Lee Barrett, Daniel Conway, Peter Sajda and Jaroslava Vydrová, agreed to participate in this work. After months of hard work, The Modern Experience of the Religious was published in 2023 by Brill.

If you are interested in purchasing and getting to know this work, visit: https://brill.com/display/title/64130?language=en