February 11th, 2005


Philosophy and Religion

These notes are derived from a lecture I gave to my daughter's High School Philosophy Club donkey's years ago. Unfortunately, I can't get this text editor to use my cool symbols (I used the Greek letters phi for Philosophy and omega for Religion).

1. Philosophy is NOT the same as Religion.

People get confused by this and are constantly arguing about one with methodologies and data from the other.

2. Philosophy is to OS as Religion is to Software.

Philosophy is the Operating System of the Mind: how one answers Philosophy's questions PRECONDITION what answers are possible to Religion's questions.

Religion is like the programming in the machine: for some, one program among many others run by the same OS; for others, the shell program (like Windows) through which most all other programs are run.

3. Philosophy and Religion ask different questions.

Philosophy asks 3 questions: What is real? What is true? What is good?

The three areas of philosophical inquiry are thus Reality, Knowledge, and Value.

Religion asks (at least) 3 questions: Who/what is God/god? What do I owe God/god? What is my ultimate destiny?

The three areas of religious inquiry are thus The Sacred, Morality (as distinct from Ethics -- see below), and Destiny.

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Philosophy of Religion

Having chosen one's philosophical outlook and one's religious affiliation, the interplay between the two may be called your Philosophy of Religion.

Each of the standard philosophical families looks at Religion in a different way. Members of the same Religion may have different philosophical outlooks and find difficulty in communicating. Members of different Religions with the same Philosophy may be surprised at how alike they perceive themselves to be.

Herewith are summaries of the five philosophical approaches to Religion.