Philosophy and World Religions

Faculty: Jerry Soneson

Head of the Department
Associate Professor of Religion

Jerry Soneson

"I have always felt myself caught between my interests in both Philosophy and the Study of Religion. While religion so often structures meaningful pictures of the world, shaping overall understanding and guiding behavior, philosophy is the critical study of these important ideas, symbols, values and practices. As Socrates notes in his trial for his life, 'There is nothing more important to do than to discuss virtue every day, . . . for the unexamined life is not worth living.' In my estimation, it is so important to help students think philosophically about religion in order to help them learn how to live more meaningfully, creatively – and in more reconciling ways – with those who don't agree with them. I can hardly think of a more important task in life."


Bartlett 1089

(319) 273-6221


Ph.D., The Study of Religion, Harvard University

MA, The Study of Religion, Harvard University

M.Div., Harvard Divinity School, magna cum laude

BA, Philosophy and Literature, North Park College, magna cum laude

Research and Teaching Interests:

Philosophy of Religion, Modern Religious and Ethical Thought, American Pragmatism, Religion and Science, Environmental Ethics, The Role of Values in Higher Education

Regularly Taught Classes:Humanities I, Humanities III, Religion and Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, The Holocaust in Literature and Film, The Idea of the University, Religion and its Critics, Environmental Ethics
In Process:"I am currently writing a book on the theology of Gordon Kaufman, a late 20th Century theologian. I am also writing papers on philosophical and theological method, about how to do philosophy and theology, what purposes they serve, and how best to evaluate them."
Selected Publications:


Pragmatism and Pluralism, John Dewey's Significance for Theology, Fortress Press, 1993.

Articles and Book Chapters

"The Legacy of Gordon Kaufman: Theological Method and Its Pragmatic Norms," Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Vol. 48/3, Sept, 2013.

"Defining Theology: A Pragmatic Approach," in Moving Forms of Theology: Faith Talk's Changing Contexts, edited by Israel Selvanayagam, ISPCK, Delhi, India, 2002.

"Religion, Nationalism, and War: A Niebuhrian Response to the Dream of a Better World Gone Awry," Essays in Philosophical Theology, edited by Donald Crosby and Charley Hardwick, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1999.

"Inhabiting the House of History," American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, 18/2, 1997.

"Rorty's Final Vocabularies, and the Possibility of a Historicist Metaphysics," in Pragmatism, Neo-Pragmatism, and Religion: Conversations with Richard Rorty, edited by Donald Crosby and Charley Hardwick, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1997.

"Doing Public Theology: John Cobb's Reconstruction of the Concepts of 'World' and 'God' in the Context of the Environmental Crisis," American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, Vol 15/2, May 1994.

Professional Awards:

1994, University Book and Supply Pre-Tenure Outstanding Teaching Award

1994, UNI Summer Research Fellowship

1985-86, Charlotte Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship

1982-83, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Merit Fellowship