Thinkers on religion

Thinkers on religion

These thinkers will provide you with brilliant insights into the world, and help you to consolidate your understanding of knowledge & religion.

You can also draw on their ideas to support the discussions within your exhibition commentary, and add depth and authority to the assertions you make about knowledge. To explore them in more detail, consult our Knowledge Heroes resource.

Richard Dawkins (b. 1941)

Dawkins is probably the most famous biologist in the world, best known for his book The Selfish Gene. He has staunch opinions on superstition and religion, which he believes are actively harmful to society. He argues that one’s approach to life should be based on the scientific method.

Lesley Hazleton (b. 1945)

Hazleton trained as a psychologist before becoming a reporter in the Middle East. She has written extensively on the nature and history of Islam, and the difference in terms of its reality, and how it is perceived. She is one of our knowledge heroes, appearing in the BQ lessons to help us to explore the role of doubt in producing knowledge about religion.

Bobby Henderson (b. 1980)

Henderson is the founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which he started up to parody the decision by the Kansas State Education Board to allow the teaching of creationism in science lessons alongside the theories of Darwin. He has much to say on causation and correlation – and pirates.

Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011)

Hitchens was a British-American, left wing, privately educated, militantly atheist, pro-interventionist (for war in Iraq), writer, drinker, and smoker, whose life proved that people can be many things at the same time, and should never be pigeon-holed. His (critical) views on religion are probably the most interesting to us as TOK learners, for example, his assertion that belief in an omnipotent God leads to the totalitarian subjugation of the individual.

Muhammad Iqbal (1877 – 1938)

Iqbal was born in modern day Pakistan, and combined the arts with politics. Known as the ‘Poet of the East’, he was one of the figures who inspired the Pakistan movement, helping to lead to the establishment of the state in 1947.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855)

Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher, poet, theologian, and social thinker. He is interesting to us as one of the first Existentialist thinkers, and for the way in which he combined philosophy with religious faith. He once said: “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.”

Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902 – 1991)

Singer was a Polish-American writer and Jewish thinker. He was strident in his view on language, only ever writing in Yiddish, and believed that it wasn’t possible to ‘know’ God.

Swami Sivananda (1887 – 1963)

Sivananda was an Indian Hindu spiritual teacher and yoga expert. He gained a world-side following, and popularized the pastime of yoga, although for him, yoga was a means to achieve union with God.

Simone Weil (1909 – 1943)

Weil was a French philosopher, political and religious thinker. She was noted for her compassion towards others, and is also remarkable for her thoughts and opinions on Christianity and other religions.

Make full use of this content in the classroom!

Knowledge Heroes enables you to link these thinkers to the course. For each thinker, you’ll find a notable quote, a description of how their ideas relate to TOK, an associated exhibition prompt, and activities and media sources to explore their work. Access the resource here.

Many of the key thinkers make regular appearances in our TOK newsletter. This helps you to make sense of the most important events going on today, and grasp how TOK concepts manifest in the real world. Read a recent edition here, subscribe to the free version here, and gain access to the premium version by joining