Reflection Paper for Philosophy of Religion Essay Example
Reflection Paper for Philosophy of Religion Essay Example

Reflection Paper for Philosophy of Religion Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1238 words)
  • Published: September 17, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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Religion has been a fundamental aspect of society since its inception, with all ancient civilizations embracing some form of belief in a higher power or the transcendent. These beliefs hold great significance within human societies as they offer individuals hope for eternal happiness. However, as history has unfolded, various faiths and beliefs have emerged, leading to conflicts and incompatibilities.

There are numerous distinctions between religions, spanning from the number and nature of gods worshipped to the endurance of believers, moral codes, and spiritual practices. Paradoxically, while religions often promise a path to heaven or ultimate enlightenment, they have also been catalysts for disputes and conflicts throughout time. Atrocious acts such as wars, inquisitions, jihads, and cultural cleansings have been committed in the name of religion.

In today's diverse society with its plethora of conflicting truths that sometimes overlap or contrad


ict one another, individuals must grapple with these contrasting perspectives. There are three possible stances one can adopt: (1) considering all religions as valid and true (pluralism), (2) categorizing beliefs as either right or wrong (exclusivism), or (3) embracing a combination of these approaches.

Alternatively, one may contemplate the idea of godlessness by rejecting any belief in spirituality altogether. This perspective entails dismissing the existence of God or any form of transcendence.This rejection involves rejecting all theistic concepts formulated in human history. It is important to note that many theologians who were also philosophers throughout history have considered godlessness. With the absence of God in mind, the question arises regarding God's existence. According to Paul Tillich, Being can be understood as God, representing the underlying reality of all existence, whether natural or supernatural. Being does not necessarily refer to

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a personal deity. Tillich aimed to emphasize that Being should be seen as the ultimate concern for individuals in its broadest sense. Moreover, any attempt to define what Being is by associating it with a specific God's name fails to grasp its true essence. Tillich suggests that various specific conceptions of Being recognized in Western culture can be seen as forms of devotion. When we prioritize religious symbols excessively, we fall into mere devotion. It could be convincingly argued that for a religion to qualify as such, it must possess religious symbols and rituals; however, if this is true, then all religions must involve idolatry to some extent. This claim carries both power and distressing implications. On the other hand, one could argue that atheism is actually a form of theism because it encompasses infinite concern. The symbols representing the unknowable "God behind God" serve as intermediaries in our connection with God. God surpasses both existence and non-existence.
This perspective promotes a theistic approach to understanding the diversities within human belief. One advocate of this approach is John Hick, who champions pluralism. According to Hick's theory, all religions are different expressions of the same ultimate reality. However, it raises the question of how all religions can be accurate representations of this ultimate reality. The principle of non-contradiction states that something cannot possess and lack a property simultaneously in the same manner. For example, if one religion claims that God is personal while another claims God is non-personal, it violates this principle and suggests that God is ultimately not personal. Acknowledging that another religion has an equally valid perspective on God undermines justification for believing in specific

theories about God within my own faith. Many religions reject this compromise because they do not truly believe their own perspectives to be completely true. Hick argues that the ultimate world of God is defined by its relationship with believers rather than inherent properties or characteristics; therefore, attributing properties to God only holds meaning when we ascribe them to Him.The theory proposed challenges the notion that any single religion's understanding of the ultimate world is entirely true. It suggests that there are contradictory yet equally valid perspectives on God, diminishing the importance of specific religious beliefs. Moreover, it questions the logic behind a being without properties, as the absence of believers seems to defy the principle of non-contradiction. Furthermore, a being without properties is essentially indistinguishable from nothingness.

Alternatively, one can adopt an Exclusivist view which asserts that only their own religion holds the truth while considering all others false. However, this perspective clashes with other viewpoints in determining which religion truly possesses ultimate truth. Exclusivists believe salvation is attained through faith in their one true religion but encounter exceptions such as individuals who have not been exposed to a particular religious message or virtuous individuals who have heard and rejected it.

To address these issues, some advocate for an "Inclusivism" belief system that acknowledges one true faith while accommodating all individuals mentioned in previous examples. Nevertheless, this approach also faces the challenge of identifying which faith is indeed the true one and diminishes the significance of belonging to those who hear and follow its message.The significance of hearing the message of any specific religion decreases because simply being virtuous grants entry to heaven. This diminishes the

motivation to follow a particular faith. Another approach is to categorize beliefs, considering some as more correct than others. While all beliefs may contain elements of truth, a pluralist perspective suggests that certain beliefs may possess more rational, plausible, and appealing aspects. By establishing a hierarchy among these beliefs, a preference is established. Consequently, there is no reason to choose anything other than the belief at the top of the hierarchy since it represents the optimal path. This inclination towards rationality or determining what should be considered true stems from cognitive mechanisms or epistemological responsibility.
Given how important belief is in personal and societal life, seeking confirmation becomes natural; however, determining the basis for rightness or wrongness in a belief becomes crucial. Since belief is subjective and cannot be grounded through empirical observation, an objective measure for accuracy does not exist. Therefore, evaluating belief relies on personal opinions and values held by individuals.Understanding the wide range of human beliefs in the field of philosophy of religion is comparable to trying to stick gelatin to a wall - just when you think you've got it all figured out, it slips away. Ultimately, we are faced with a conflict between atheism, pluralism, and exclusivism; a struggle between lawlessness and dictatorship. Pure pluralism can lead to anarchy of beliefs, where all beliefs are considered equally true and valid. Excessive exclusivity, on the other hand, can lead to tyranny where only one or a few beliefs are deemed valid.

The response of atheism challenges all theistic assertions by acknowledging that other beliefs exist which cannot be encompassed by one's own perspective, as seen in Hegelian philosophy's thesis and antithesis. It becomes

necessary to find a middle ground through synthesis since faiths cannot be compared using a common standard or treated with prejudice.

Scholars like Hick, Plantinga, and Tillich have attempted to establish stable foundations for beliefs by comprehending various faiths and beliefs comprehensively. However, due to the vast and paradoxical nature of spiritual beliefs, every argument often ends up with contradictions or loose ends. Therefore, firmly holding onto one's belief in every aspect is not feasible.

Consequently, there is no definitive answer that guarantees safety; there will always be a risk of making errors just as there is an inevitable presence of evil in the world.Like numerous philosophical paradoxes, the perplexity of choice remains uncertain in the realm of human belief.

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