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Philosophy of Religion

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Introduction

Philosophy in religion seeks to address questions that arise in different world religions. These include questions as to whether God exists and the meaning of his existence to humans. These questions are often inevitable when examining religious beliefs. Arguments that seek to explain existence of God have existed for as many years as religion has existed with answers varying in accordance with one’s beliefs. Classical arguments seeking to answer these questions have been changing over time with some explanations having been abandoned. Other arguments that relate to religious issues get refined over years. However, fundamental issues arise up to date. The question of existence of God arises due to incoherencies in traditional religious doctrines concerning his nature, form, and perceived challenges of his justice. Some of the issues that arise include contradictions in doctrines and beliefs. For instance, there is a belief that God contradicts his forgiving nature, where sins and his forgiveness cannot be reconciled. Alternatively, the question arises: if there is a belief that his will is omnipotent and he is omnipresent then how can he allow evil to exist? Therefore, questions often arise where the doctrines appear to contradict the reality.

Christian Religion Philosophy

Christian philosophy is based on a belief that there is a high universe. This belief in the existence of higher universe is helpful to humans and helps them act accordingly (Quinn & Taliaferro, 2000). Humans and the higher universe have a communion, and real work is done to maintain this communion with the results being visible to the physical world. According to Quinn & Taliaferro (2000), the higher universe can be defined in several ways that include cosmic law, emptiness, or impersonal power. They argue that the higher universe can be described as “an impersonal power or force” since Christians consider it to mean God (Quinn & Taliaferro, 2000). God is omnipresent, his will is omnipotent, and his love for the mankind is unlimited.

In Christian philosophy, these beliefs are prominent and distinguish Christian philosophy from other philosophies. This philosophy also includes the belief that God redeemed the world through Jesus. Christian philosophy has a difficulty explaining the realistic existence of the higher universe as well as the meaning of religious text (Quinn & Taliaferro, 2000). In religion, philosophy deals with questions that seek to determine whether God exists, what is his form, and what is the extent of his omnipotent will. Among other divine beliefs and attributes that are present in Christianity, it also seeks to explain properties attributed to God, such as his timelessness, consistency, and his miracles. Philosophers seek to explain logically how these attributes can or fail to exist.

Among other difficulties that Christian religion philosophy encounters is the issue of evil. Since God is omnipresent, the question of why he lets evil to exist and destroy human beings that he unquestionably loves is often an issue among philosophers. if to take into account the belief that God only seeks good in human beings, then why does evil exist? This question or philosophical argument is not unique to Christianity alone. In other religions the issue also arises. There are also issues that make Christian doctrine explain God’s grace, justices, and love. In Christian theism, God’s salvation is based on historical events and people. In non-Christian theism such beliefs also exist and they become difficult to accept at their face value (Quinn & Taliaferro, 2000). Since their existence hinges on historical facts, this renders such beliefs inaccessible. Hence, there are difficulties in merely accepting such beliefs because generations that hear these facts were not present to experience firsthand what they hear about. In other words, faith, rather than logic, forms the basis of Christianity. Similarly, it is difficult to explain Christian theism philosophy through such concepts as atonement, incarnation, trinity, sin, and sanctification.

Christian theism and other religions have unique resources that provide materials for handling problems that may be encountered. In discussing evil, rationality helps form assumptions that establish the connection between rational agents, rights, and obligations that uniquely unites them together. Satisfactory answers to evil problems are derived from its consequences that associate evil with necessities such as pleasure, friendships, and knowledge. Quinn & Taliaferro (2000) argue that in pursuit of pleasure, friendships, and knowledge people commit evil. Its existence, therefore, can be attributed to human's need to pursue satisfaction that can be attained from getting knowledge, experiencing pleasure, and in the process of making friends. This implies that although God has the power to stop evil by giving mankind freedom to pursue happiness in life, evil is inevitable. “God escapes the network of rights and obligations in virtue of his transcendence” (Quinn & Taliaferro, 2000).

Christian theism differs from other forms of religious systems, such as Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Taoism, or eastern philosophies in a number of ways. These differences include their main principles, concepts, values, and beliefs. In Christianity, the main principle is driven by the Devine element and by a philosophy that relies on a belief that life has a beginning and an end. Buddhism refers to religion and philosophy that includes various norms, beliefs, and practices that are found in the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, referred to as Buddha. Eastern philosophies, on the other hand, foster the belief that life is recurrent and it is a journey that leads towards reality beyond human surrounding. The two philosophies also have a different outlook on the purpose of living (Quinn & Taliaferro, 2000). Eastern philosophies believe that humans should seek liberation from themselves. Christian philosophy fosters self-dedication with the goal being personal happiness and success. The other difference between the two approaches is what happens around the universe. In eastern philosophies, various events in the world are seen as interconnected as opposed to the Christian view that has unsystematic approach to events. Eastern philosophies are also largely based on human search for the inner being in order to find the inner peace, while Christian people search for outer forces.

The main value in eastern philosophies is the ability to gain control of the inner being for full self-development and happiness. Christianity, on the other hand, encourages achievements and success in faith, careers, and wealth among others through outer activities. In Christianity, individualism is the key, while eastern philosophies foster collectiveness and responsibility before the society. They also differ in terms of improvement, where Christian philosophy towards improvement aims to achieve goals or to succeed. Once the goal is reached, improvement is completed (Quinn & Taliaferro, 2000). Eastern philosophies have a cyclic outlook for improvement. It is seen as a continuous process that never ends and is not limited to any goals.

Proofs That God Exists

In the common world, God is described as a supernatural creator of the universe and is depicted as the one overseeing the universe. He is considered the highest most powerful immortal being. Different cultures exist in the world having their own unique features. They all have different names that refer to God. Due to extreme diversification of cultures in the world as well as due to the physical absence of God, some people have turned to the belief that God does not exist. Saint Tomas Aquinas, a firm believer in God discusses five ways to prove that God exists (Craig, 2001).

He first manifests the argument of motion, where it is evident to our senses that things in the world are in motion. This is to simply mean that things have a potential to change and there is nothing that does not change. He claims that for one thing to be in motion, it takes another thing to put it into motion. He provides an example of wood since wood is potentially hot and fire makes it to be actually hot. Then wood moves wood and actually changes it. In this case, he also explains that both potential and actual motions cannot exist at the same respect but only in different respects. He also says that what is actually hot cannot be potentially hot, but it can at the same time be potentially cold. One thing cannot be the mover and at the same time be the one being moved, meaning that a thing cannot move itself. He gives an example of a thing claiming that it cannot move itself unless it is moved by the hand (Aquinas, 1945).

This is to say that in order to achieve moving things in the world, they must be moved. With these arguments, we arrive to the first mover, who has not been moved by any other mover, and this mover is believed to be God. In his second argument, which is similar to the first one, he gets it from the nature: the nature of efficient cause. He argues that in the world of sense, we find that there is an order of efficient cause in which there is no known thing found to be the efficient cause of itself, for if there was, it would be prior to itself, which is then impossible. In this case, we cannot go to infinity because the cause is because of an intermediate cause. The intermediate cause is a result of an ultimate cause, regardless of whether there are several intermediate causes or only one. Taking away the cause would mean taking away the intermediate and any other cause, and so there will be no effect. An event or circumstance cannot change itself, but can only have the effect to change something else (Aquinas, 1945).

Therefore, it is important to admit the first efficient cause, which everyone names God. The third argument is taken from the notion of the chain of causes: calling it the way of possibility and necessity. This means that all things in the world do not exist by themselves, but owe their existence to some other pre-existing thing. It is natural that things are found to be generated and then to be corrupted. Thus, it is possible for them to be and not to be. However, it is not possible for what is in existence. Therefore, things in existence cannot be present and that at one time there was nothing that existed. All that exists today is because of something that pre-existed. With this, if nothing existed, it would be impossible for the present to exist (Aquinas, 1945).

Based on these previous arguments, it is possible to conclude that initial existence is something with its own necessity. It does not depend on anything other but itself, but brought others to existence by their necessity. This is why I would support this notion as it all leads to God.

In his fourth argument, he discusses perspectives of gradation and differentiation found in existing things. The variance of things in that in some aspect no matter their resemblance there will always be the good, the better and ultimately the best. He further argues that a thing is considered the best according to its more near resemblance (Aquinas, 1945).

Therefore, in accordance to all differentiations, there must be something ultimate to all beings with the cause of initial perfection, and it is the thing we call God. The reasons discussed by St. Aquinas can be scientifically proven. For example, his first argument about motion can be referred to as a simplified version of the law of inertia (Lawhead, 2001). St. Aquinas has argued in a philosophical way to prove that there is always potential energy that must be influenced by another to be active energy. He has used arguments about a supreme being who is the source of energy that runs our day-to-day life. Moreover, based on all his arguments, I would say that there is God.

Conclusion

Philosophy in religion seeks to address questions that arise in all forms of religious systems. Fundamental beliefs in religious systems may differ, but philosophical issues remain the same. Therefore, it is not uncommon to encounter similar questions regarding religious issues. Questions such as whether God exists and the meanings of his existence to humans are often the most common. They are inevitable when examining religious systems.

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