Theory of Knowledge

Last updated June 2020.

Senior Library collections

The 'God' Part of the Brain

atthew Alper presents a stunning argument: that our brain is hardwired to believe in a God. He offers a scientific explanation that we inherit an evolutionary mechanism that allows us to cope with our greatest terror - death.

The moral landscape

Harris views morality in terms of human and animal well-being and believes that science should be able to tell us what we ought to do to live the best lives possible.

The God delusion

The tension between competing religious beliefs has climbed to a dangerous new level in the world today. Here Dawkins, effectively makes a declaration of war upon mainstream religion which he sees as having a destructive influence on the world.

The end of faith

Delivers an analysis of the clash of faith and reason. This book offers a historical tour of mankind's willingness to suspend reason in favour of religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are used to justify harmful behaviour and sometimes heinous crimes

The Righteous Mind

As America descends deeper into polarization and paralysis, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has done the seemingly impossible--challenged conventional thinking about morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to everyone on the political spectrum. Drawing on his twenty five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, he shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings.

Religion for atheists

All of us, whether religious, agnostic or atheist, are searching for meaning. And in this wise and life-affirming book, non-believer Alain de Botton suggests that religions, far from being nonsensical as atheists maintain, are instead full of good ideas on how to live.

The case for God

Moving from the Palaeolithic age to the present, Karen Armstrong details the great lengths to which humankind has gone in order to experience a sacred reality.

Videos on Religion

Articles on Religion

World Religions


Religion can be explained as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. BBC webpage on religion. 

Find out more from the link below about Atheism, Sikhism, Shinto, Taoism and more....

Religion - Key concepts

Key words - theism, monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, atheism, religious pluralism, agnosticism, humanism

Key concepts

Religious communities and methods of sharing knowledge - In what ways does personal knowledge interact with shared knowledge in religion?

The same religion may be interpreted and applied differently in different parts of the world as it overlaps and is integrated with the culture of the region, with all of its particular traditions, history, and economic and political attitudes and interests...

Knowledge claims - Metaphysical, value judgements, concepts and language definitions, observational claims, predictions

Methods of justification:faith -  In religion, the justifications cannot be demonstrated in a way to convince everyone, using material evidence accessible to the sen ses, or reasoning from universally agreed premises.

Religious perspectives - When we consider the range of beliefs and variety of their cultural contexts, we are clearly in a world where passing events are viewed and thought about in a diversity of different ways. 

Miracles - A miracle can be defined as an extraordinary event which is brought about by God's intervention in the natural order of things(Lagemaat, 2009)

According to the "God of the Philosophers", God is the eternal, all-powerful, (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), all-loving (omniamorous) creator of the universe. 

The philosopher David Hume denied the existence of miracles and argued that it is never rational to believe in them because the weight of evidence must always be against them

Argument from design - according to this, the order and harmony of the universe could not have come about by chance, but must have been made by an intelligent creator. 

The cosmological argument for the existence of God is based not on the order of the universe but on the fact that it exists at all.


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Central idea

Sense perception is the process by which we can gain knowledge about the outside world. Traditionally, there were believed to be five senses: sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing. However, many now argue that there are others such as a sense of heat, sense of pain, sense of movement, sense of balance and the senses of hunger and thirst, or a sense of where our body parts are.
Historically, the view that the senses provide the basis for all our knowledge was challenged by the idea that prior concepts might be needed before any perception takes place at all. Indeed, it is common now to view sense perception as an active process of interpreting the world according to prior expectations, conceptual frameworks and theories. There is, therefore, some disagreement as to whether we directly perceive the world as it is, or whether perception is an active process where we supply much of the content of our experiences ourselves.

"Our senses are an important source of knowledge about the world; but rather than passively reflect reality, they actively structure it."

"Perception consists of two elements, sensation and interpretation, but we are often not consciously aware of the latter element." 

"There are three main theories about the relationship between perception and reality:common-sense realism, scientific realism and phenomenalism."

Religion - Questions for reflection

?? How should we respond to natural explanations for alleged religious phenomena?

?? To what extent do natural disasters bring out the best in people, and to what extent do they bring out the worst in people?

?? What is faith? Is faith rational ?

?? How is the faith of a scientist similar to the faith of a religious believer? How is it different ?

?? What reasons, if any, are there for believing that some religions are superior to others?

?? Is it possible to know God?

?? Where do religious beliefs come from?

?? Are religious beliefs rational?

?? How do we decide between the competing claims of different religious knowledge systems?



'There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it'  George Bernard Shaw

''I believe in God, only I spell it Nature'  Frank Lloyd Wright

'Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction'  William Blake

'Things do not seem the same to those who love and those who hate, nor to those who are angry and those who are calm.'  Aristotle

'Where knowledge ends, religion begins'  Benjamin Disraeli

'Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction' Blaise Pascal