This section includes brief biographies of some of those thinkers that have contributed most to the philosophy of religion, going back even as far as Plato and Aristotle.
The biggest name in the history of the philosophy of religion is surely St Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas’s comprehensive synthesis of Christian doctrine and Aristotelian philosophy in his Summa Theologica was more than impressive; it was officially deemed miraculous by the Pope, allowing for Thomas’s canonisation.
Other philosophers are particularly remembered in relation to their arguments: Blaise Pascal for Pascal’s Wager; St Anselm for his ontological argument; William Paley for his statement of the design argument: the argument from analogy; Immanuel Kant for his moral argument.
CS Lewis was probably the most influential popular apologist of the last century. Following his conversion, he wrote prolifically; his best works include Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man, and The Screwtape Letters.
Of those who have criticised religion, David Hume is peerless. His Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion is essential reading for anyone interested in the field, containing some of the best statements of both arguments for and arguments against theism. His criticisms of the classic theistic proofs, particularly of the design argument, remain at the centre of modern discussions of those arguments.
More recently, Betrand Russell, though his most important work was on logic and mathematics, has been a prominent critic particularly of organised religion.