If we move outside of philosophy and consider religious studies, someone who specializes in revival movements in nineteenthth-century American Christianity, for example, cannot be expected to know much if anything about Mahayana Buddhism, except, perhaps, if her research involves examining the relations between Buddhist and Christian communities in the United States during that period.

Similarly, it may seem unreasonable to expect analytic philosophers of religion to engage with alternatives to traditional theism, particularly ones found in non-Western traditions. It is indisputable that analytic philosophy of religion is largely an artefact of a Western culture (with roots in North America and Europe) that has engaged primarily with religious concepts in that particular cultural context. Within Western culture in the past two millennia traditional theism has dominated the literature and debates. Yet, some familiar alternatives to traditional theism have emerged.

As our comparison of Johnston’s conception of God with the conception of tian in Chinese philosophy illustrates, some of these examples resemble conceptions of the divine found outside of the Western Abrahamic religious traditions and perhaps open up avenues for taking a more global perspective.


But these cases have been mostly ignored in debates over the metaphysics of the divine amongst analytic philosophers of religion over the past fifty years.