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Religion is an important force in human life and human history. This remains the case despite periodic announcements by "secularist" thinkers that humanity has finally come of age and has no more use for religion. Most human beings are still vitally concerned with such questions as "Is there a God?" "Why does God allow suffering?" and "What happens to a person at death?" These and other questions posed by the great religions of the world are grounded in some of the deepest human hopes and fears.

The philosophy of religion can perhaps be best defined in a preliminary way as the attempt to think hard and deeply about such fundamental questions as these. In saying that philosophy of religion focuses on these questions, I mean, of course, to say that the answers given by religions are also to be the object of attention. Philosophy of religion is therefore critical reflection on religious beliefs.