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

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Is India a Secular Country?

Looking for the word in the dictionary one will feel that India is not a secuar country. Why? Because secular would mean a tendency, especially a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship. But for India secularism would mean an equal treatment of all religions by the state. It is unlike the Western concept of secularism which envisions a separation of religion and state. The concept of secularism in India envisions acceptance of religious laws as binding on the state, and equal participation of state in different religions.

With the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976, the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation. However, neither India’s constitution nor its laws define the relationship between religion and state. The laws implicitly require the state and its institutions to recognize and accept all religions and respect pluralism. India does not have an official state religion. The people of India have freedom of religion, and the state treats all individuals as equal citizens regardless of their religion. So one is free to believe in the religion which he thinks is best for him. However it also provides equal opportunity to not do so. Yet it is and individuals decision. (http://en.wikipedia.org/)

Then why am I writing this an article in today’s The Hindu struck me very much. It was titled “BJP, Parivar outfits to intensify campaign against ‘love jihad’.” However it sounds quite ok each one has the right express him/herself. The most shoking aspect was written at the end of the news which spoke about a re-conversion of people into Hinduism.

Hindu

 

Certain “Mr Singh” said in December 23rd and 25th they will convert Muslims and Christians into Hinduism. Whatever may be his intention is to make a statement of this kind is quite embarrassing and shocking, especially when the political power India is in their hands.

India become secular only when each one can express him/herself freely in the religion which he/she likes, if there is any encroachment to it I feel the question needs to be asked louder and louder “Is India a Secular Country?” to protect the unique identity we have.

When denial becomes deprival…

denial-resize-380x300This morning I was reading a book written by Fr. Anthony de Mello, namely Awareness.  Thinking with the author I did feel that most often we do lot of renunciations to improve up on our life, be it spiritual, physical or psychological. Or we may be working up a bad habit of ours, but sadly nothing changes for good and often become worse. We get into depression and guilt feeling.

The author says anytime you are practicing renunciation you are deluded. When you renounce something, you are stuck to it forever. When you fight something, you are tied to it forever. As long as you fight it, you are giving power to it. The power you use to fight is the power given to it.

Then what is the way out, the only way to work on ourselves is to grow into a stage of understanding. If we understand then we will drop the desire for what is not good. Until we understand, however we try we hold on to it with knowledge or without.

I feel this answer to many of the struggles that I have when I am working on myself. I am strong only when am ready to be challenged and weakened.

Pope Francis: St. Joseph Helped Jesus Grow in Wisdom, Age and Grace

At Weekly Audience, Reflects on the Role of the Foster Father of Jesus

ROME, – During his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis reflected on St. Joseph, whose feast day is today. The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to St. Joseph’s role as guardian of the Holy Family, a role that is an example to both fathers and educators.

 “Let us look at Joseph as a model of an educator, who guards and accompanies Jesus in his path of growth ‘in wisdom, age and grace’, the Pope said. The Holy Father reflected on these three aspects of the foster father of Christ: wisdom, age and grace.

 Beginning with age, the Pope said that Joseph cared for Jesus, making sure that He did not lack anything for a healthy development. “Let us not forget that the faithful care of the life of the Child also entailed the flight into Egypt, the hard experience of living as refugees to escape the threat of Herod,” he said. St. Joseph’s care of Jesus, the Pope continued, included teaching Jesus his work of carpentry.

Regarding the second aspect, wisdom, the Holy Father said that the Joseph was an example and master of the wisdom of the fear of the Lord. This fear is not based on apprehension of being scared, but on sacred respect and obedience to the will of God.

“Jesus is full of wisdom, because he is the Son of God, but the Heavenly Father relied on the collaboration of Saint Joseph so that His Son would grow ‘full of wisdom.”

In the final aspect of grace, the Pope said that Joseph educated the Child Jesus to grow in grace in a unique way. “In fact,” he noted, “he married the woman who was ‘full of grace’, and he knew well that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“Therefore, in this field of grace, his educational work consisted in assisting the action of the Spirit in the heart and life of Jesus, in tune with Our Lady.”

The Pope went on to say that in this dimension of grace, St. Joseph educated Christ primarily with the example of a ‘just man’, who knows that salvation does not come from the observance of the law, but by the grace of God, of his love and faithfulness.”

Pope Francis gave a special recognition to all the fathers present in St. Peter’s Square, congratulating them “on their day.”

“I ask for you the grace to always remain very close to your children, letting them grow, but close to them. They need you, your presence, your closeness, your love. You are like St. Joseph to them: guard their growth in age, wisdom and grace,” he said.

Concluding his address, the Pope led the faithful in praying the Our Father for all fathers, especially those who have passed from this life. “May St. Joseph bless you and accompany you,” he said. (J.A.E.)

Source: Zenit.org