A Reflection on Philosophy of Religion

The literal meaning of the term ‘philosophy of religion’ means, philosophical reflections on religion. The term “philosophy of religion” was used for the first time in English in the 17th century work of Ralph Cudworth. Cudworth and his Cambridge University colleague Henry More produced philosophical work with a specific focus on religion and so, if one insisted on dating the beginning of philosophy of religion as a field, there are good reasons for claiming that it began (gradually) in the mid- 17th century. However, the scope of the subject even today remains in line with the subject matter treated by Cudworth and More.
What is Philosophy of Religion?
There are different views and definitions with regards what Philosophy of Religion is. Some of them are:
Philosophy of Religion is a branch of philosophy concerned with the philosophical study of religious beliefs, religious doctrines, arguments and history.  It also deals with questions regarding religion, including the nature and existence of God, the examination of religious experience, analysis of religious language and texts, and the relationship of religion and science. It is an ancient discipline, being found in the earliest known manuscripts concerning philosophy, and it also relates with many other branches of philosophy and general thought, including metaphysics, logic, and history. Philosophy of religion can be said to have two branches: the philosophy of religion proper and the philosophical theology.
The Difference between Religious Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion
The line between theology and the philosophy of religion is not always sharp because they share much in common, but the primary difference is that theology tends to be apologetical in nature, committed to the defense of particular religious positions, whereas Philosophy of Religion is committed to the investigation of religion itself, rather than the truth of any particular religion. However, Theologians, distinct from philosophers of religion, often consider the existence of God as axiomatic or self-evident and explain, justify or support religious claims by rationalization or intuitive metaphors. In contrast, philosophers of religion examine and critique the epistemological, logical, aesthetic and ethical foundations inherent in the claims of a religion.
The philosophy of religion differs from religious philosophy in that it seeks to discuss questions regarding the nature of religion as a whole, rather than examining the problems brought forth by a particular belief system. It is designed such that it can be carried out dispassionately by those who identify as believers or non-believers.
The Significance of Philosophy of Religion
The philosophical exploration of religious beliefs and practices is evident in the earliest recorded philosophy itself in the east and the west. Nonetheless today philosophy of religion is a robust, intensely active area of philosophy. The importance of philosophy of religion is chiefly due to subject matter that is alternative beliefs about God, Brahman, and the sacred, the varieties of religious experience, the interplay between science and religion, the challenge of non-religious philosophies, the nature and scope of good and evil, religious treatments of birth, history, and death, and other substantial terrain.
A philosophical exploration of these topics involves fundamental questions about our place in the cosmos and about our relationship to what may transcend the cosmos. Such philosophical work requires an investigation into the nature and limit of human thought. Alongside this, ambitious projects, philosophy of religion have at least three factors that contribute to its importance for the overall enterprise of philosophy.
1.      Philosophy of religion addresses embedded social and personal practices therefore, it is relevant to practical concerns; its subject matter is not all abstract theory. Given facts the vast percentage of the world’s population is either aligned with religion or affected by religion, so philosophy of religion has a secure role in addressing people’s actual values and commitments.
2.      The Breadth of the philosophy of religion as a field of study is another important reason behind the importance of this field. There are few areas of philosophy that are shorn of religious implications.
3.      A third reason is historical. Most philosophers throughout the history of ideas, east and west, have addressed religious topics. It is notable that at the beginning of the 21stcentury, a more general rationale for philosophy of religion could be cited: it has enhanced cross-cultural dialogue. It has also contributed to the enhancement of communication between traditions, and between religions and secular institutions. However, it’ contribution to the field of religious and theology can never been overlooked.
The Questions Asked
There are very many important questions that are raised in the discipline of philosophy of religion; I feel the analyses of same would make us understand importance of this field and its relevance to our daily existence here. In random some of them are:
Is there a God? If there is, then what is he like? What does that mean for us to believe in him? What, if anything, would give us good reason to believe that a miracle has occurred? What is the relationship between faith and reason? What is the relationship between morality and religion? What is the status of religious language? Does petitionary prayer make sense? However, going beyond metaphysics, the philosophy of religion also addresses questions in areas such as epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophical logic, and moral philosophy, etc.  
Major Contributors of Philosophy of Religion
There are very many philosophers in the history of philosophy who has contributed a lot to the development of this discipline. Some of the major contributors so the historical periods are: St Anselm of Canterbury, St Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, St Augustine of Hippo, Rene Descartes, Epicurus, Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, CS Lewis, John Stuart Mill, William Paley, Blaise Pascal, Plato, Bertrand Russell. The modern era too is blessed with very many others such as, Robert Adams, William Lane Craig, Brian Davies, Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, John Hick, Michael Martin, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, etc.

The disciple philosophy of religion has it relevance in the fast growing scientific and pragmatic world culture. It asks us to find rational and philosophical background for our beliefs and faith, which is very important for this century, to put into perspective the empirical and pragmatic views with our faith and religion



How will you define a leader?

In the light of things that happened today, especially during the mansoon matches @KJC (deatils will come soon) I feel like defining a leader as:

A person who has a vision for the people who are under his care and who is able to transform this vision into a mission through various activities. 

May be better framed in negation, leader is a person who is not willing to act to make happy the majority/minority of the members of the group though knowing their demands are wrong and not worth of fighting for. 

Pray that may our political, social and religious leaders may understand this great truth…

Punch: Justification can’t transform evil into good…


Human beings live in society and have a defined moral life. Unlike other animals, we are able to reflect on and make judgments about our own and others actions so as to make moral choices. The choices that we make define ourselves. What choices do we make in a Cyber space, where you are invisible to the other. What are the set of moral and principles that we can follow in situations such as these. However the blind application of the old set values to a new medium (cyber space) becomes the biggest challenge that we face in our age as parents and teachers.

The article titled ‘RESPONSIBLE RELATIONSHIP: A WAY FORWARD IN THE DIGITAL AGE’ is a proposed way forward in such situations. The article bases itself on the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and his concept of relationship and the other.


Attitudes – That need to change

It is Winston Churchill who aptly and wisely said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” The recent happenings in India in relation to the release of “India’s Daughter,” a documentary film directed by Leslee Udwin and that discusses the story of the horrific Delhi gang rape of December 2012, shows light into the attitude of Indian men towards women. Leslee Udwin, the director in an interview to The Guardian revealed that the brutal attitudes of men towards women in India truly shocked her. Anyone who had a look at the documentary will agree with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who commented over some of the comments as ‘really unspeakable’. I feel, being deeply moved by the documentary, it is high time to stop the blame game and to move towards detailed action plans.

The attitude of Indian Men

It is not true that all men are bad, but the few who bear the label are good enough to do maximum harm. Let us take a look at few comments from the documentary that speaks for itself. Continue reading “Attitudes – That need to change”

Guidelines for A Millennium of Technology

The third millennium is going to be . The process of change set in motion by the modern technology is so rapid that the criteria to evaluate its far-reaching consequences are becoming ever complex. Trying to define Technology, in the contemporary world, interestingly, there is only one thing that most people agree about concerning technology: that it is important. Continue reading “Guidelines for A Millennium of Technology”



The humanity is called to face the most arduous and worst challenge after its origin as homosapiens. It is high time that we acknowledge some ecological truth, that we are turning our home, the only life sustaining system known to us, into a wasteland. It is very well notified by the scientific community that the present day crises are human made. The currant environmental stresses have lot to do with the human dealings. The one time cordial man- environmental relationship has marred due to increased human greed, prominence of materialism, individualism and egoism which led to the ruthless use and misuse of nature, irresponsible attitude of technology etc. In fact he anthropocentrism has led the man to the miss conception of the universe as his right to exploit. Continue reading ” ECOLOGICAL IMBALANCES: A CRISIS OF THE THIRD MILLENNIUM”

New Age Spirituality: A Reflection

John Naisbitt says “In turbulent times, in times of great change, people head for the two extremes: fundamentalism and personal, spiritual experience…With no membership lists or even a coherent philosophy or dogma, it is difficult to define or measure the newage1unorganized New Age movement. But in every major U.S. and European city, thousands who seek insight and personal growth cluster around a metaphysical bookstore, a spiritual teacher, or an education center.” 

This is the reality of the world today, the people are seeking for the spiritual experience and they believe that the new age movement can offer them the same. What is the New Age Movement?

It is movement which unlike most formal religions, it has no holy text, central organization, membership, formal clergy, geographic center, dogma, creed, etc. They often use mutually exclusive definitions for some of their terms. The New Age is in fact a free-flowing spiritual movement; a network of believers and practitioners who share somewhat similar beliefs and practices.  It is heterogeneous movement of individuals who are willing to graft some new age beliefs onto their formal religion that they follow. Since they have no formal text and hierarchy the writers who bring forth the liberated ideas become the center of organization. TantraLovers-5006

Recent surveys of US adults indicate that many Americans hold at least some new age beliefs:

  • 8% believe in astrology as a method of foretelling the future.
  • 7% believe that crystals are a source of healing or energizing power
  • 9% believe that Tarot Cards are a reliable base for life decisions
  • About 1 in 4 believes in a non-traditional concept of the nature of God which is often associated with New Age thinking:
  • 11% believe that God is “a state of higher consciousness that a person may reach”
  • 8% define God as “the total realization of personal, human potential”
  • 3% believe that each person is God.

History of the New Age movement:

Historically the New Age teachings became popular during the 1970’s as a reaction against dogmatic Christianity and Hinduism for they failed to give an ethical and spiritual guidelines for the future. Its roots are traceable to many sources: Astrology, Channeling, HinduismGnostic traditions, Spiritualism, Taoism, Theosophy,Wicca and other Neo-pagan traditions, etc. The movement started in England in the 1960’s where many of these elements were well established. Small groups, such as the Findhorn Community in Inverness and the Wrekin Trust formed. The movement quickly became international. Early New Age mileposts in North America were a “New Age Seminar” run by the Association for Research and Enlightenment, and the establishment of the East-West Journal in 1971. Actress Shirley MacLaine is perhaps their most famous current figure.

During the 1980’s and 90’s, the movement came under criticism from a variety of groups. Channeling was ridiculed; seminar and group leaders were criticized for the fortunes that they made from New Agers. Their uncritical belief in the “scientific” properties of crystals was exposed as groundless. But the movement has become established and become a stable, major force in North American religion during the past generation. As the millennium comes to a close, the New Age is expected to expand, promoted by the social backlash against logic and science.titlePic

New Age beliefs:

A number of fundamental beliefs are held by many — but not all — New Age followers; individuals are encouraged to “shop” for the beliefs and practices that they feel most comfortable with:

  •  Monism: All that exists is derived from a single source of divine energy.
  • Pantheism: All that exists is God; God is all that exists. This leads naturally to the concept of the divinity of the individual, that we are all Gods. They do not seek God as revealed in a sacred text or as exists in a remote heaven; they seek God within the self and throughout the entire universe.
  • Panentheism: God is all that exists. God is at once the entire universe, and transcends the universe as well.
  • Reincarnation: After death, we are reborn and live another life as a human. This cycle repeats itself many times. This belief is similar to the concept of transmigration of the soul in Hinduism.
  • Karma: The good and bad deeds that we do adds and subtracts from our accumulated record, our karma. At the end of our life, we are rewarded or punished according to our karma by being reincarnated into either a painful or good new life. This belief is linked to that of reincarnation and is also derived from Hinduism
  • Personal Transformation A profoundly intense mystical experience will lead to the acceptance and use of New Age beliefs and practices. Guided imagery, hypnosis, meditation, and (sometimes) the use of hallucinogenic drugs are useful to bring about and enhance this transformation. Believers hope to develop new potentials within themselves: the ability to heal oneself and others, psychic powers, a new understanding of the workings of the universe, etc. Later, when sufficient numbers of people have achieved these powers, a major spiritual, physical, psychological and cultural planet-wide transformation is expected.
  • Ecological Responsibility: A belief in the importance of uniting to preserve the health of the earth, which is often looked upon as Gaia, (Mother Earth) a living entity.
  • Universal Religion: Since all is God, then only one reality exists, and all religions are simply different paths to that ultimate reality. The universal religion can be visualized as a mountain, with many sadhanas (spiritual paths) to the summit. Some are hard; others easy. There is no one correct path. All paths eventually reach the top. They anticipate that a new universal religion which contains elements of all current faiths will evolve and become generally accepted worldwide.
  • New World Order As the Age of Aquarius unfolds, a New Age will develop. This will be a utopia in which there is worldgovernment, and end to wars, disease, hunger, pollution, and poverty. Gender, racial, religious and other forms of discrimination will cease. People’s allegiance to their tribe or nation will be replaced by a concern for the entire world and its people. (Source: http://www.religioustolerance.org/newage.htm)

These are things spoken and known about the new age, it is also true that we cannot but live with this reality as we live our life today. However, do we need to agree with it fully or not dependence on what each one believes. I from my believe feel that they really lack some solid foundations in what they speak and do. It is commonly said if we don’t stand for something we might fall for everything. A move to accept the good in every other religion to make it a common flat form can also come from a fear to face the evil which is there in every system.

However the decision remains very personal to everyone.

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Why we need to Celebrate Valentine’s Day


February 14th a memorable day for all the young people who are in love, they find it an apt occasion to express their love and concern to their lovers. To exchange cards and flowers, to be together for some time and so on. What is the real meaning of this celebration? Is it still relevant today?

Story of St. Valentine

The story of Valentine’s Day takes us back to the year 270 A.D. and the reign of Claudius II. Claudius II, emperor of Rome, had formerly been a general under Emperor Valerian. When Claudius II succeeded Valerian, he continued to exercise his instinct for war. While in conflict with the Gauls, Claudius II came to the realization that married men are inferior at warfare, due to their personal attachments. Moreover, married men had a tendency to even avoid joining the army. To remedy this situation, Claudius II outlawed marriage.

St. Valentine

Valentine, or Valentinus as he was known, then bishop of Italy outraged at the decree of this warmongering emperor. He refused to follow it. He conducted the marriages in secret risking even his life. Thus Valentine became a haven for young couples hoping to enter the Sacrament of Marriage. He married them in private, until eventually he was captured and imprisoned.

Valentine’s devotion to God and love continued while he was in jail. Despite the overwhelming odds, Valentine took it upon himself to convert the Emperor, in hopes of reversing this unjust decree. But to no avail. Instead, the Emperor became further enraged by became friends with the daughter of his jailer. She was a blind girl who showed Valentine kindness in his captivity. Through his faith and through prayer, Valentine cured the girl of her affliction – an act of love even for the daughter of his captor.

Nonetheless, Valentine was executed on February 14, 270. Before he died, he wrote a letter of gratitude and hope to the jailer’s daughter. He signed it, “From your Valentine.” This sentiment, of course, carries on today and is echoed every year on the anniversary of this saint’s death.

Although there is no perfect history on when St. Valentine’s Day celebrations began, we know that by the Middle Ages, St. Valentine’s traditions were underway.

St. Valentine a True Lover

St. Valentine in imitation of his Lord and Master stood for the value of Love to the last breath of his life. He considered marriage as an expression love with responsibility. Celebrating St. Valentine’s Day is a tribute to St. Valentine, later titled Patron Saint of Lovers. His devotion to God and his commitment to supporting love and marriage set a wonderful example for us. The very celebration of Valentine’s Day whether through cards or flowers or acting as the saint acted in giving love, respecting the others. We are appreciating what god has given us.


St. Valentine taught us about the importance of love and the Sacrament of Marriage.

He believed in these things so deeply that he gave his life for the same. Although, we live in times where marriage and love are not forbidden to us still the Saint raises questions about the value that we give to them today. Often love becomes only a physical attraction for self-gratification, the individuality of the other person is not respected. We tend to treat the other as an object of pleasure.


St. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the preciousness what we have been given to us, the gift of physical attraction, the gift of love, gift of marriage.

Here one commits oneself to the other, a move from the self-centredness to the other centeredness.

The other becomes a value and the reason for my existence, once can go to the extent to say I live for the Other and because of the Other.

When we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day we are appreciating what God has given us.