Philosophy of Religion: Thinking about Faith by Stephen Evans

Introduction

Philosophy refers to a man’s study of the basic problems faced in the daily lives as human beings go about their businesses. As such, philosophy takes a critical look into issues related to the existence of a man, the knowledge people acquire, reasoning, and the values people hold among other issues. This paper focuses on chapter 1 of the book Philosophy of religion: Thinking about faith by Stephen Evans. The paper will specifically define the philosophy of religion and examine how it is different from the other ways of studying religion. In addition, the paper discusses the errors associated with fideism and neutralism, and it might be possible for people to test their beliefs.

 

Philosophy of Religion

Philosophy of religion refers to the efforts that are geared towards critical assessments and investigations into religion. This means that philosophy of religion seeks to find answers pertaining to religious beliefs. Philosophy from its nature revolves around seeking to understand knowledge and wisdom. Philosophy of religion is also concerned with the same, only that it is more specific, because its focus is on religion. As such, philosophy of religion concentrates on seeking the truth in religion. Therefore, philosophers in the field of religion work to establish whether the religious beliefs that individuals hold are true and/or reasonable to be believed .

The Difference of Philosophy of Religion from the Other Ways of Studying Religion

Whereas there are various ways of studying religion, there is a clear deference between them. Philosophy of religion digs deep into the deepest truth of the religious beliefs that people hold. Some methods of studying religion, such as historical and sociological viewpoints, do not exclusively focus on the reasonableness of the beliefs that people hold . History and sociology also take into consideration false beliefs. Theology is yet another method of studying religion. However, it is different from philosophy of religion, because it takes a relatively narrow approach. Whereas theology looks at religion from within, philosophy of religion looks at religion from a more critical angle, seeking to explore the truth conclusively.

The Errors Associated With Fideism and Neutralism

Fideism and neutrality refer to individual positions as far as religion is concerned. According to fideism, every individual has religious beliefs that are inborn. The belief in this case is that an individual should not be neutral to religion, because it will prevent him/her from having rational reflection on issues . This is an error, because the ability to have rational reflections is guided by the ability to reason. Neutralism, on the other hand, is guided by the belief that individuals must be impartial on religious matters for them to think critically. This is erroneous, because it is difficult for people to be neutral on religious matters since socialization and the ability to reason influences people’s stands as far as religious views are concerned.

The Possibility of Testing Our Beliefs

Various scholars and philosophers all over the world have studied religion. However, more questions related to religion remain unanswered including the problem of how religious beliefs can be tested. Individuals who subscribe to fideism believe that religious beliefs can be tested based on what an individual perceives to be supreme . However, this is not possible, because religious beliefs cannot be quantified as it is not tangible. It is not possible for people to observe others and tell how strong their beliefs are, because people’s appearance may be deceiving. This notwithstanding, socialization and individual ability to reason influences people to develop religious beliefs that are either strong or weak, but still they is no reliable way of testing these beliefs.

Conclusion

For a long time religion has held an important position in people’s lives given that religion has guided people’s beliefs as far as matters of faith are concerned. However, despite the fact that religion has always been given respect, contradicting viewpoints have also come about. For instance, there are those who believe in fideism and that all individuals must hold religious beliefs of some kind. On the other hand, some people believe in neutralism. People who believe in neutralism claim that it is possible for individuals to be completely impartial on matters of religions.

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