Develop a compass and search for the meaning of life together
‘Human beings are on a quest for the meaning of life and their purpose in it. They want to know why and to which purpose they are living for (and die for). Religion is a way to receive answers to these questions and to give them tangible substance. If religion works properly, a critical movement arises that continually refines and questions itself. As a philosopher, I strive to keep an open mind and no question is taboo for me. Post-religious interpretation systems give us food for thought about the deepening of friendship collectives, which becomes an important source of spiritual meaning of life, next to religion,’ dr. Annewieke Vroom, Associate Professor of Comparative Philosophy of Religion, believes.
A religious answer is not necessarily better than a non-religious one
‘As a religious scholar, I take a critical stance when examining religion. Indeed, the value of religious systems is determined by their openness to criticism. If we stop questioning ourselves, our worldview, and our religion, we lack depth and quality. I do not believe that only religion can provide the answers to the issues the world faces today. Beyond religion, not ignoring the existance of religion.'
‘It is certainly true that religions do not mix well, so we need people who can spot connections and build bridges. A religious scholar can have an enormous impact if he or she asks existential questions that cut across religious bias. Religious scholars work from different perspectives, such as Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, a secular background, or a mix of existential ideologies. A good understanding of religion is fundamental to a proper critical analysis.’
A combination of disciplines
‘The enormous diversity of students ensures that you can take a sharp look at each other and yourself. The programme itself is diverse as well: we combine various disciplines, such as anthropology, psychology, theology, philosophy, and sociology. It is precisely this unique mix that puts the unilateral importance of meaning into perspective and points to religion’s other functions. We connect and compare worldviews and take a clear and fresh look at religion. Added value is created by collaborative effort.’
Doctor Annewieke Vroom is Associate Professor of Comparative Philosophy of Religion.