During the weekly Wednesday Forum held on December 9, 2010, Dr. Phill Enns, the invited speaker, talked about the search for truth. Dr. Enns was once invited by CRCS-UGM as visiting lecturer in 2008; he taught the course “Introduction to Postmodernism.”? He previously taught at Gindiri College of Theology in Nigeria and at Brock University.
In his presentation, Dr. Enns perceived that in Academia today, one hears a great deal of discussion about culture, contexts and perspectives. This sort of discussion, in and of itself, is not mistaken, and in fact has proven to be quite valuable, both as a balance to earlier excesses and providing insight of its own. However, one of the consequences of this discourse, which has arisen primarily out of the social sciences, is the reluctance on the part of scholars to think of themselves as part of a larger project in pursuit of the truth. Dr Enns thinks this is unfortunate.
Instead of arguing why this is unfortunate, Phill Enns, during the forum, instead offered three reasons why people who study religion should take the search for Truth seriously. First, he argued that religious beliefs cannot be studied properly without considering how they should be true. Second, he argued that some religious beliefs are truer than the others, and so the study of religion must include judgments about the truth of religious beliefs. And third, if people are serious about inter-religious dialogue, then this dialogue must be grounded in the search for truth. He concluded that in order for the study of religion to become a discipline that offers knowledge and understanding, it must be committed to the search for Truth.
After presenting his lecture that lasted for only thirty minutes, several questions and comments were addressed to Dr. Enns. For instance one which came from Sita; she commented some points about the differences between culture and religion which is oftentimes confusing but she also disagreed with the identification Dr. Enns said that the definition of religion oftentimes transcends cultural and geographical boundary, while culture sited in the bounded area. Another one came from Saber, a PhD student, who also disagreed if religion and culture is obviously segregated, because by segregating religious in public realm sometimes subordinates the religion itself. Saber also emphasized that finding the real truth is not easy, to decide on a single truth is almost impossible because everyone has their own definition about truth. The forum ended at 2:30 in the afternoon which is earlier than the usual.
Dr. Phill Enns is currently a visiting lecturer at the State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta. Some of his courses include “Global Issues-Religion, Democracy and the Public Sphere”, “Contemporary Philosophical Thought: Jurgen Habermas”, “Introduction to Philosophy”, “Modern Western Philosophy”, and “Logic: Critical Reasoning”. Some of his selected publications include “Interconnection between Islamic and Western Philosophy in the World Today”, published by IAIN Jambi and Reason and Revelation: Kant and the Problem of Authority published by the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion.
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