Religion Vs. Philosophy
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Religion Term Paper
Philosophy and Religion
"An Idea is more powerful than an army (pg 14, Munroe)."
When first looking at the relationship between philosophy and religion, I found it easier to explain the differences rather than the similarities. I began this paper the same way I do others. This generally involves a profound amount of research on the topic at hand. However, in contrast to the other papers I have done, the definitions of philosophy and religion only raised more questions for me. It was fascinating how the explanations differed dramatically from author to author.
I will begin this paper by reciting some of the definitions that I did find.
The simplest definition states, "In many cultures and times, religion has been the basic foundation of life, permeating all aspects of human existence (pg 12, Fisher)." Another more extensive definition read,
" Religion is not just a social, cultural, political, or ideological factor; instead it finds its power in the personal chambers of the soul of the individual. Within the soul we discover the source of the private motivation that forms perceptions and behavior ( pg 7, Rediscovering the Kingdom)."
Together I believe these two definitions give a very clear example of what religion truly is. Religion cannot be defined as something with a one fixed meaning. It is unique to almost every individual. At times it can be vastly different from its surrounding culture. So it is easy to see why it has caused so many controversial world issues. Religion has existed as long as humans could think and wonder. A vast majority of people have always believed that there is a higher power or a divine being that controls the events that occur in our lives. Unfortunately, though, religion and its many components has commonly raised more questions for people. Why is it that wars and international tensions are, almost always, strongly influenced by a person's religion? A person's religious belief has the potential to get him killed. Why is it that religion creates so much turmoil? It is this question as well as others that create a hunger within people to seek out and ultimately discover the truths of the world, whatever that may be. Inevitably this search leads to a multitude of ideas and theories, or better known as philosophies.
Webster's Dictionary defines philosophy as, "the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group (Merriam-Webster)." Again, however, this definition leaves a lot of thinking room.
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It is my belief that there is nothing more powerful than an idea. Societal norms, government systems and, most importantly, religious beliefs all originally began as a simple idea. "All men by nature desire knowledge (Aristotle)." Although, simple in nature, it is quotes like this by famous philosophers like Aristotle that have created and developed the world we live in.
All philosophers have found themselves asking basic questions like, "Where do we come from?" or "What is man's purpose on earth?" Educated individuals have spent countless hours pondering and attempting to answer these very mysterious aspects of life. Religious individuals tend to turn to a divine being for answers to these questions. Almost every religion tends to have a religious leader or figure whose main agenda is to recruit followers to their belief system. Similarly, philosophers are like leaders as well. They express and teach their beliefs and hope that others will share their same view. Aristotle lectured his ideas and thoughts to many people. They were so profound that it wasn't uncommon for people to center their lives and behaviors around Aristotle's philosophies. This can be closely compared to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who proclaimed to many that he was the Messiah and urged them to follow his beliefs, worship his God and be faithful to his teachings. However, it would be almost insulting to many Christians if we identified Jesus as a philosopher and put him on the same pedestal as Aristotle. This is where the separation of a philosophy and a religious belief become very distinct. To challenge someone's philosophy is considered a reasonable and almost scientific thing to do, but to challenge someone's religion can instigate hostile and sometimes violent reactions.
A very good example of how violent and atrocious religious hatred can be is that of the Holocaust. The Holocaust, which appropriately means "sacrifice by fire," was the horrific annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II. Around 1933 an estimated nine million Jewish people were killed for no other reason but because of their religious belief. Children were no exception either. Even though it is not entirely clear how many children were murdered or died in concentration camps, historians' guess that it could be as high as 1.5 million. Adolf Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany and leader of the Nazi Regime and what began as a very strong philosophical belief of his turned into the slaughter of millions of Jews.
The Holocaust, while one of mankind's worst acts, was unfortunately not the first nor the last horrific act to be done that was based on religious focuses and ideas. Appalling acts such as massacres, mass executions or suicides can all be linked back to specific religious backgrounds. Underneath the noticeable effect of human lives lost is the undeniable loss of peace that human's originally craved when seeking out their religion in the first place. It appears to me that in many cases a strong opinion or idea can be developed into a very rational philosophy. This same philosophy can expand and spread turning into a religion with many followers. People will hopefully find solace in their religious choice and embrace it making it a special part of their lives. When this belief is challenged, hostility occurs and violence is often a method of retaliation.
Religion and philosophy, today, still produce and offer a wide variety of questions. Extremists can be found in both practices as indicated by our extensive history of bloodshed that are based solely on someone's beliefs, but then there are others who believe that their religion and/or beliefs are based on love and understanding. They believe that their religious beliefs will lead to salvation and happiness. This also can be found in philosophy. Philosophers ideally want people to listen to them but the difference is that they also want to learn from people as well and perhaps extend their knowledge. I believe that philosophy and religion go hand-in-hand. On some levels we can find some very exaggerated differences between the two terms, similar to their simple definitions. But after looking deeper into the history of philosophy and religion I find that they are actually very closely related as well.
Fisher, Mary P. Living Religions Western Traditions. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2003.
Hawkins, Bradley K. Introduction to Asian Religions. New York: Pearson Longman, 2004.
Merriam-Webster Online. "Philosophy." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/philosophy (accessed May 28, 2007).
Munroe, Myles. Rediscovering the Kingdom. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2004.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "The Holocaust." Holocaust Encyclopedia. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/index.php?ModuleId=10005143 (accessed May 28, 2007).
Philosophy and Religion Essay
791 Words4 Pages
The many religions of the world exhibit a large amount of different beliefs and philosophies. Some believe in many gods, some believe in just one god and yet there are those that believe in no god. One of the things that I agree with is that you can not love anything else unless you first learn to love and respect yourself. I also think that after one?s physical body is deceased, you become reincarnated. And lastly, I don?t recognize one god or overall being, but rather follow the example made by others. These are some religious elements I follow.
First of all, you can not love anything unless you love yourself. If you go around with self hate and little confidence, it gives you no room for any other…show more content…
When a person dies, their physical body and life comes to an end. I think that their soul or karma continues to strive and find a new inhabitant. I always believed that if you can have a body without a soul, you can have a soul without a body. This is stressed in Hinduism and Buddhism They call reincarnation ?samsara?. I also agree with the fact that if you lead a good life, you will come back as something great in your next life. For instance, if you start an orphanage and spend your whole life devoted to saving children, you will come back as something like a queen or king. On the other hand, if you are a criminal, you will come back as a bug or worm. Hindus also believe in that rule. One thing I disagree with is the fact that anyone can exit this cycle of reincarnation. In Hinduism, they think that at some point you will be released and cease to exist. Sort of like a final death. I think that you will continue this cycle of life and death indefinitely. Those are my points of view on reincarnation.
Last, I do not believe in gods or overall power. In many religions, (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) they are monotheistic and worship one god. There are also religions that worship many gods such as Hinduism and Native American Religions. I do not believe in any god. I think that our life should be based upon the mistakes and accomplishments of past human beings. Even though people do not realize