DISCUSSION TOPICS

PHILOSOPHY of RELIGION

Distinguish Philosophy from Religion?  Upon what is each based?  What is the relationship of Philosophy to Religion?  What are objectives or goals of Philosophy of Religion?

RELIGIONS

Do all religions have a belief in a Deity?  Do they need to have a belief in a Deity in order to be a religion?    

Do all religions have a belief in a soul?  Do they need to have a belief in a soul in order to be a religion?

What appear to be the most characteristic features of a religious tradition?

Is religion a more important phenomena than a belief in a deity?

SCIENCE and RELIGION

What is the current status of the relationship between religion and science?  What is the contemporary scientific view of religion?

CONCEPTION OF GOD 

What exactly should our conception of a deity be?  Is it possible for a deity to have all the qualities associated with the god of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition:  Supreme, All powerful, All good, Eternal, All Knowing, etcÖÖ

What do you think of god or the idea of a god?

Does a deity or the Supreme Being have ethnic background? A physical body? skin color? sexual organs? sexual orientation? 

Why is the idea and existence of a deity important in Western Civilization?

ARGUMENTS for the EXISTENCE of GOD

Are the convincing arguments based upon reasoning for the existence of god?  Are they without flaws or weaknesses?

Of what value are the arguments for the existence of god that are based upon reason to the believers in god?

Of what value are the arguments for the existence of god that are based upon reason to the non-believers in god?

RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES

Are we to believe the reports of those humans who claim to have encountered the deity or an emissary of the deity?  Why or why not?  Are the reports trustworthy?  Do they prove anything about the existence of the deity? 

MIRACLES

For the Jews belief in a Supreme Being was supported by the miracles associated with Moses.  For the Christians belief that Jesus is god is supported by the miracles associated with him.  For the Islamic peoples the miracles associated with the rise and spread of Islam are supportive of their faith as well.  Are these events really miracles?  Are there really miracles?  Are there really events that break the very laws of nature and for which there could be no other possible explanation other than the Supreme Being, the author of the laws of nature, being responsible for those events? 

MIRACLES

To accept some event as being a miracle we must satisfy two conditions: 

1.     The event must violate the laws of nature

2.     There must be clear and indisputable evidence which compels us to accept that the event took place just as reported 

Why is it so difficult to satisfy both conditions at the same time?

EVIL 

God made the universe.  God made all the angels.  God made everything.  God made Lucifer and knew in advance everything that Lucifer would do.  God made Lucifer and allowed him to do those evil things.  God makes humans, knowing in advance all that they are to do.   God knows in advance that humans will surrender to temptations or to the actions of the devil (Lucifer) and do evil.    Is God then responsible for what Satan (Lucifer) and humans do that are called evil? 

Consider this situation: I ask some human being, say Susan, to baby sit for a group of eight children aged 3 to 7.  I ask Susan to watch them for 5 hours.  They are playing in the very large ballroom of a mansion.  In the ballroom are a large number of toys, electronic games and small rides for children.  Some workers had been removing paint from the iron windows and left cans of paint at the far end of the ballroom where the windows are.  There is also paint remover, thinners, flammable liquids and a blowtorch they have been using to get the old paint off of the window frames.  I instruct Susan to keep the children at the end of the ballroom far away from the paintersí materials.  I return five hours later to find the mansion on fire, Susan out in front with three of the children.  The other children were trapped inside and burned to death.  I ask her what happened and she said she stepped out of the ballroom for a break and when she returned it was on fire.  I ask her how she could do such a thing and she replies that she only stepped out for five minutes and she warned the children before she did stepped out of the room not to touch the materials at the end of the ballroom near the windows.  She told them that it was very dangerous.  They touched those things anyway.  She claims it was not her fault,  that she warned them, that she didnít know exactly what would happen.  Now, if some human made those claims there are few rational adults who would not think that the person who was left to watch the children was responsible for the harm that came to them.  Most people would think that Susan should have known.  If this is what we would think about Susan who would have at best a knowledge of what would most probably happen if the children were left alone, then what should we think about GOD, who is supposed to know everything about the past, present and future and is all powerful as well?  Is God responsible for EVIL? 

 

EVIL

Was it correct for God to punish Adam and Eve and all humans thereafter for an action taken by Eve and then Adam.  After all GOD knew in advance that the devil (serpent) was going to tempt them.  GOD knew that Eve would take the fruit from the forbidden tree and eat of it.  GOD knew this.  GOD made the serpent, the humans, the tree and all other things.  GOD knew all that would happen.  Why would GOD punish all humans for what GOD knew in advance GODís creatures would do?  

Since GOD made Lucifer and knew what Lucifer would do and since GOD does not stop Lucifer, why isnít GOD responsible for the evil?  Why is it acceptable for GOD to punish others for what GOD could stop?   

SOULS and the AFTERLIFE

What proof is there that humans have non-physical souls or spirits that survive after death?

Are the proofs without problems?

What proof is there that humans will be resurrected into their own bodies?  Is it possible for humans to be resurrected and not replicated?  How?

REASON and FAITH

Is it necessary for religious beliefs to make sense?  Do religious beliefs need to satisfy the criteria for reasoned discourse?  Do the religious belief systems need to be consistent and without contradiction?

Do religious beliefs need to be verified?

Should religious beliefs be subject to scientific method for verification?

Does it matter whether or not religious beliefs and religious tales are true or not?

Is the criteria for truth applicable to religious beliefs and tales?

Is the criteria for truth appropriate for religious beliefs and tales?

 

MORALITY

Is religion necessary for society?  Is it possible for a society to sustain itself and have a moral order without a religious foundation for such an order?

Has there ever been a human society without a religion as the foundation for a moral order?

Do people need to believe in a god?  Why or why not?

Do people need religion?  Why or why not?

 

 CONCLUSION

What does "Religion"  now mean to you and why?

Is it any good at all for anyone?  For everyone?

What has it meant to others through time?   

Is religion necessary for human life ? 

Is it part of what makes the species what it is?

© Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2001. All Rights reserved.

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