Philosophy of Religion

Chapter  1. OVERVIEW

Section 1. Introduction

We are going to think philosophically about a number of questions and issues related to religion.  The purpose here is neither to convert believers into non-believers nor the other way around.  The objective is to demonstrate and encourage applying philosophical thinking to matters of great importance.  Religion is certainly of great importance.  Philosophy is based upon reason and religion is based upon faith.  With many of the issues we are about to examine the philosopher will attempt to give reasons and to look for reasons in support of beliefs.

Some of the issues raised here may be disturbing to the belief systems of some.  In life it is possible to live and live well based upon beliefs.  It is possible to respond to some of the questions raised by philosophical reflection by simply declaring, “Well, I believe that…..”  Now that response will probably be accepted by many people in many situations, in Philosophy however, the “I believe, that’s why!” response is not acceptable.  Philosophers need to have reasons for holding to a belief in particular after that belief has been called into question.  Many philosophers believe not only that they need reasons to believe or to continue to hold a belief but also that the beliefs which they hold must be reasonable and adhere to the criteria for reasoning.

There are many ideas that people have concerning all things and religion in particular which may not be exactly true or not true at all.  Be prepared for that possibility concerning issues related to God, Religion, and Souls and other ideas that are common to our cultural heritage.

Concerning Religion there are many questions that Philosophers have been dealing with for some time.  The very meaning of “Religion” is subject to philosophical reflection, speculation and criticism.  After that the meaning and value of Religion are an important matters.  For the religions of the West with their belief in the one god, the idea of god has come to inspire a great deal of very careful thinking.  This text will cover some of the ideas generated by that thinking over the course of centuries.

This text and course examine many questions and issues related to religion.

Here is a simple listing of what is to be considered in this text and course:

1.    What is Philosophy of Religion?

2.  What is Religion? What are the characteristics of Religion ?

3.  What are the religions of the world?

4.    What is God? What are the Attributes of deity (god) ?

5.    Arguments for God's Existence:   Are there any rational reasons to believe?

6.    The Problem of Evil - Rational arguments for disbelief: how can God exist and ther be evil in the world?

7.    Souls and the afterlife: What proof is there that souls survive death?

8.   Faith vs. Reason - Are there other ways to find a basis for belief?

9.    Religious Language: Do religious beliefs need to be based on truth? Should religious claims be subjected to scientific verification?

10. Morality and Religion: Is there any other basis possible for a moral foundation to support a social order?

11. What is the essence of Religion?   

The objective of this work is to arrive at a critical, informed and accurate understanding of what religion is, what it is about and what value it may have in the contemporary world.  It is designed to foster critical thinking concerning topics related to religion.  It is designed to be challenging and hopefully of those who respond to the challenge it will prove to be rewarding of the effort.

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

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