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Religion Vs. Philosophy

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Religion Vs. Philosophy

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. 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

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