1 Book, 1 Film, 1 Podcast: Religion & Philosophy

March 20, 2022

Have you ever wondered what happens when we die? If free will really exists? If life has any true meaning? The generations of thinkers who asked these same questions, the conclusions they came to, and the spread of their ideas down through the generations; this is what, in a nutshell, you can expect from a religion & philosophy class.

Schools often choose to group religion and philosophy together - why is this? The history of religion plays a hugely significant role in the history of philosophy. While philosophy can sometimes be thought of as a somewhat obscure subject with more academic significance than real world meaning, religion would seem to bridge the gap.

The lofty questions asked, and answered, by faiths throughout humanity’s timeline have been translated into the ways in which people live their lives. Religion & philosophy explore the ideas that have been handed down through sacred texts and institutions, governing people’s choices, attitudes and day-to-day existences. So really, studying these two areas in tandem makes perfect sense!

What skills can you gain from studying religion & philosophy? Where to begin? Studying religion provides fascinating insights into a vital part of cultural history, while studying philosophy will not only develop your critical thinking skills but will also teach you to ask questions like a philosopher. Approaching life with curiosity, openness and a problem solving lens is sure to guarantee interesting encounters with the world throughout life. And who doesn’t aspire to be the Descartes quoting guest at dinner parties? Plunge into the following three recommendations and start on your philosophy journey.

Book: Sophie’s World, 1991, by Jostein Gaarder

If you love the idea of learning about philosophy but don’t really know where to start, this is the book for you. Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World is a wonderful work that defies genre and is a page turner right from the start. Part fiction, part non-fiction, it explores teenage protagonist Sophie’s journey of discovery through the history of philosophical thought from Socrates to Freud.

Sophie receives a series of letters from a mysterious sender, each of which introduces her to a new branch of philosophy and takes her further into the depths of what becomes a fascination with this field. Sophie’s World is written smoothly and accessibly, and is a definite must-read for any budding philosophers curious about what the philosophical timeline looks like when viewed as a whole.

The novel Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

Film: Life of Brian, 1979

Though Life of Brian would on the surface seem to be about Christianity, it explores a far wider scope of ideas. A satirical comedy set in Judea in 33 A.D, the film was pretty controversial in its day as many believed it was taking a swipe at religion (which, to be fair, it was, but possibly not for the reasons many thought).

Protagonist Brian’s life coincides exactly with that of Jesus; he’s born on the same day, dies in the same year and, somewhere in between, he manages to build up an accidental following of people who are convinced he’s the messiah. The film explores the concepts of faith, groupthink and political and social movements. If an absurdist deconstruction of religion (with a killer Shirley Bassey-esque opening theme song) sounds right up your street, Life of Brian is highly recommended.

Monty Python's Life of Brian

Podcast: Philosophy for Our Times

The Institute of Art and Ideas is a brilliant organisation, producing numerous events and content tackling the big questions facing today’s society. Its podcast, Philosophy for Our Times, takes on loaded discussion points, such as morality, the digital age and social equality, and asks how we can explore these issues with a more nuanced approach than they are generally given in the media.

As part of this, it calls in the help of various philosophical movements and perspectives: what can we learn from Nietzche about our engagement with social issues? Can Rousseau teach us anything we don’t already know about the economy? Philosophy for Our Times distances itself from the academic, aloof reputation that philosophy has come to be known for and puts philosophical theory to use in tackling the world’s most pressing, relatable problems. Give it a listen - you’ll love it!

Philosophy for our Times Institute of Art and Ideas Podcast

Useful Websites

The Religious Studies Project - The religious studies project aims to inform people about issues and events surrounding contemporary religion. As part of this mission, it has compiled an excellent selection of informative content in the form of essays and audio material. Their podcast in particular is well worth a listen!

A-level Philosophy - This site is specifically built around A-level studies, covering the UK philosophy curriculum. It is aimed at both teachers and students so whether you need help revising for exams or are looking for new ideas for planning lessons, this resource is for you.

Routledge - We love this page for its revision materials. It provides reading lists, flashcards on specific philosophy topics and much more. Check it out!

Need some extra support studying philosophy?

Never scratch your head over Plato again - our philosophy tutors are here to save the day. Book a free trial call now.

Free Consultation
Ella Burgess

Ella is a content writer at Tutor House and explores a range of education centred topics, having previously spent time teaching English while living abroad. A foreign language enthusiast and lover of text art, she is devoted to words in all their forms. She'll happily immerse herself in anything wordy from conceptual art to vintage murder mysteries.

Related Posts

Get in Touch!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form