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The Problem of Religious Philosophy

 
 
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2008 07:14 pm
This may be a throw away topic, but I was thinking today that a big problem with Religious Philosophy is that it must, at some point, rely on dogmattic truths.

Is the acceptance of dogmattic truths what seperates theology and philosophy? In the title of this Forum, it says "Theology uses documents, philosophy uses reason". I would argue that Theology must use reason in almost the exact same manner that philosophy does, given one major difference: the acceptance of premises that we cannot prove i.e. God exists, God does not Exist.

So I ask, is there a way to do theology without dogmattic premesis.
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Aristoddler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2008 07:23 pm
@de Silentio,
Theology uses faith, not reason.

There is nothing reasonable about the concept that an omnipotent being could create the cosmos, atoms, and the platypus, while at the same time allow his "greatest" creation (mankind) go so far out of control.
So in that aspect, I disagree with you.
I also disagree that this is a throwaway topic. I think it's a good one.

However, I can not answer your question easily. I must sleep on it first, because it is one that requires deep thought as far as I'm concerned.
de Silentio
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2008 07:37 pm
@Aristoddler,
Aristoddler wrote:
Theology uses faith, not reason.

There is nothing reasonable about the concept that an omnipotent being could create the cosmos, atoms, and the platypus, while at the same time allow his "greatest" creation (mankind) go so far out of control.
So in that aspect, I disagree with you.


See, I think that it must use both. Reason is no doubt used in theological discussions. But faith is also used, and that is more or less the point of this topic.

I used the term dogmatics instead of faith because I feel that 'faith truths' are often held by a person the same way dogmatic truths are, and to do theology, I think this must be the case.

To get down to the nitty gritty of my thoughts: What is the validity of theology or religious philosophy if it stems from dogmatically held premises?

Quote:
I also disagree that this is a throwaway topic. I think it's a good one.


Thank You.
0 Replies
 
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2008 12:34 am
@de Silentio,
Discussion of faith, in part, comprises theology. So, in that respect theology relies on faith.

Theology also relies on reason. Unless the theologian has reasoned himself to the conclusion that some aspect of his contemplation should be unreasonable, I imagine he would like to think his thoughts to be reasonable.

It also seems to be true that theology presupposes certain claims to be true. Catholic theology, for instance, makes a number of assumptions to arrive at the Trinity. But theology changes from cult to cult.

Theology is looking at some faith tradition as part of that tradition. Theologians use philosophy to examine their faith tradition, to question and test the various claims of the tradition. Theology is the philosophy of the faith.

So I do not think the acceptance of dogmatic truth is essential to theology, nor do I think this separates theology from philosophy. Theology and philosophy are often times the very same (evident in both eastern and western philosophy).
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2008 06:14 am
@de Silentio,
de Silentio wrote:
This may be a throw away topic, but I was thinking today that a big problem with Religious Philosophy is that it must, at some point, rely on dogmattic truths.

Is the acceptance of dogmattic truths what seperates theology and philosophy? In the title of this Forum, it says "Theology uses documents, philosophy uses reason". I would argue that Theology must use reason in almost the exact same manner that philosophy does, given one major difference: the acceptance of premises that we cannot prove i.e. God exists, God does not Exist.

So I ask, is there a way to do theology without dogmattic premesis.


I suppose that would depend on your standard of proof. What would you require to prove either that God did, or God did not exist? After all, there are some now who would hold that there is enough reason to think that it is unlikely that God exists. That, of course, is not "proof" with mathematical certainty, but, as I just asked, is mathematical certainty what you would require as your standard of proof? After all, we believe many things with confidence for which we do not have proof that amounts to certainty, don't we?
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2008 08:01 am
@kennethamy,
Hi all,

"So I ask, is there a way to do theology without dogmatical premesis."

So, I ask you, is there a way to do philosophy without honestly challenging the premesis in question?

dogmatically: Characterized by assertion of unproved or unprovable principles.

dogmatically: In a narrow-minded dogmatic manner

and my own, dogmatical as in, an insult to reason.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2008 09:28 am
@de Silentio,
Everything we talk about, even in hard core science, very quickly requires evidence that we did not produce or collect ourselves. So we need to have some degree of faith in the fidelity of the science we cite. So from a rhetorical (and epistemological) perspective we're always sublimating faith-based beliefs, even in the most rational of discussions.

With religion, though, we add in people's emotional attachments, the implications for morals and ultimate truths, and of course fallacies like appeal to authority (i.e. invoking textual sources as sacred), which make it an extremely sensitive hot-button topic.
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2008 09:55 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Everything we talk about, even in hard core science, very quickly requires evidence that we did not produce or collect ourselves. So we need to have some degree of faith in the fidelity of the science we cite. So from a rhetorical (and epistemological) perspective we're always sublimating faith-based beliefs, even in the most rational of discussions.

With religion, though, we add in people's emotional attachments, the implications for morals and ultimate truths, and of course fallacies like appeal to authority (i.e. invoking textual sources as sacred), which make it an extremely sensitive hot-button topic.


Aedes,

That is a pretty good summation, though it is somewhat manipulative in its desire to place science, logic and reason on the same level as pretense, wishful thinking and deceit. It is true that our suspension of disbelief in much of what becomes common knowledge is a matter of convinence, but if at anytime it is challenged, no one is terribly surprised, no one is accused of having no character. The question to, still remains, can one do philosophy without the ability to challenge dogmatic premises, to challenge premises in general. People can attempt to do a soft-shoe around this question, but it will return time and time again, ignorance is no match for truth in the long-run.

"With religion, though, we add in people's emotional attachments, the implications for morals and ultimate truths, and of course fallacies like appeal to authority (i.e. invoking textual sources as sacred), which make it an extremely sensitive hot-button topic." quote Aedes

I agree for the most part, yet if you suggest to the religious that faith and its traditions of belief are emotionally grounded, ones emotions the foundation upon which this structure rests---once again they are offended. So, according to many religious people, their faith, their belief is rational, even though these same people will tell you that in order to reach belief, one must leave reason behind--------say good night Gracie!! This is an unfair imposition upon reasonable thinking, there is no ability here on the part of believers to be honest. Religious philosophy should be considered an oxymoron= [Conjoining contradictory terms].
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2008 01:18 pm
@de Silentio,
I don't place science and reason on the same level as witchcraft. There IS a traceable chain of evidence in science, for instance. But at the level of the individual discussion, many truths need to be assumed without direct knowledge or evidence, even in science. I have to trust that the research underlying my medical practice is accurate, for instance, even though my experience is all anecdotal and I did not generate any of the primary data.

As for emotions -- if I challenge you as to how you KNOW that cell membranes are composed of phospholipids (for instance), that will not evoke the same reaction as if I challenged someone as to how they KNOW that Jesus was the son of God (for instance).

In other words, the stakes are higher for religious belief -- people are more willing to live or die (rhetorically) on a point made out of faith if it's religious -- whereas with science and logic, I'd imagine most people would be content to shrug and admit lack of knowledge.
de Silentio
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2008 01:30 pm
@de Silentio,
Quote:

But at the level of the individual discussion, many truths need to be assumed without direct knowledge or evidence, even in science.


It's true that truth have to assumed in both science and theology, but there seems to be a definite qualitative difference between the two types of truths that we assume. Science seems to have the weight of evidence behind it, while faith does not. I think I can say the same for philosophy, especially philosophy after Kant, with his aim to eradicate knowledge claims that are beyond human reason. Science and philosophy seem within this realm of possible human knowledge, while religion does not.
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2008 01:33 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
I don't place science and reason on the same level as witchcraft. There IS a traceable chain of evidence in science, for instance. But at the level of the individual discussion, many truths need to be assumed without direct knowledge or evidence, even in science. I have to trust that the research underlying my medical practice is accurate, for instance, even though my experience is all anecdotal and I did not generate any of the primary data.

As for emotions -- if I challenge you as to how you KNOW that cell membranes are composed of phospholipids (for instance), that will not evoke the same reaction as if I challenged someone as to how they KNOW that Jesus was the son of God (for instance).

In other words, the stakes are higher for religious belief -- people are more willing to live or die (rhetorically) on a point made out of faith if it's religious -- whereas with science and logic, I'd imagine most people would be content to shrug and admit lack of knowledge.


Aedes,

As I stated once to a christian friend of mine who was frustrated with me for rejecting the scripture------are you stupid he says. He insisted he had knowledge, to which I replied, if you had knowledge you would have no need of faith. That the religious tend to be emotional is not news, they will not admit to being emotional nor irrational, as they continue to feed their unicorns. I am thinking about going into the unicorn feed business, O'lord, I want to be a televangelist.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2008 05:33 pm
@de Silentio,
I don't think it's accurate to generalize about all religious people as denying irrationality.

The project to marry religion with reason died with the advent of modern philosophy, esp with the likes of Descartes, Spinoza, Kierkegaard, etc, and moreover the masters of irrational thought like Freud and Jung. In this day in age it's OK to believe in something without that belief well-founded in reason.
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2008 06:49 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
I don't think it's accurate to generalize about all religious people as denying irrationality.

The project to marry religion with reason died with the advent of modern philosophy, esp with the likes of Descartes, Spinoza, Kierkegaard, etc, and moreover the masters of irrational thought like Freud and Jung. In this day in age it's OK to believe in something without that belief well-founded in reason.


Aedes,

I could not agree more, but, it is entirely accurate to generalize about all religious people, for it is a characteristic all humanity shares in. The difference is, the amount of reason and reality within the mythology itself. Mythologies have informed peoples in the past about the nature of their world and existence, it is nolonger up to the task, but perhaps, a new more realistic myth will be created.
0 Replies
 
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2008 06:49 pm
@de Silentio,
What would you all say to someone who had an experience, or experiences, that led them to conclude "rationally" that something spritual exists beyond realm of our normal empircal understandings? Personally, I think that if you would immediately judge him to be irrational without weighing the situation unbiasedly... that would be materialistic dogma. If you go into a situation already assuming that your beliefs about the nature of the universe are so well grounded in reality that they can not be challanged, then you can't blame someone else for doing the same thing.

As an aside, I want to thank Aedes for (I believe) attempting giving the "religious" a fair shot. There are a lot of unblinkingly dogmatic religious folks out there, and too ofthen the seem to have the loudest voices. It's nice when people can look past some of that...
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2008 07:40 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
NeitherExtreme wrote:
What would you all say to someone who had an experience, or experiences, that led them to conclude "rationally" that something spritual exists beyond realm of our normal empircal understandings? Personally, I think that if you would immediately judge him to be irrational without weighing the situation unbiasedly... that would be materialistic dogma. If you go into a situation already assuming that your beliefs about the nature of the universe are so well grounded in reality that they can not be challanged, then you can't blame someone else for doing the same thing.

As an aside, I want to thank Aedes for (I believe) attempting giving the "religious" a fair shot. There are a lot of unblinkingly dogmatic religious folks out there, and too ofthen the seem to have the loudest voices. It's nice when people can look past some of that...


NeitherExtreme,

The strongest means by which the human psyche can be transformed is through personal experience, but, if an individual wishes to convince others as to the truth of that spiritual insight, he must be willing to explain his transformation. If he is unwilling to explain, and prefers proclamations, I prefer not to be his listening post. I should not be expected to listen to him in a public forum supposedly devoted to open and honest dialogue. If you or anyone else who comes to a forum like this, surely knows that your statements are going to be scrutinized, that is what a philosophy forum is about. All I ask is that believers be accountable for their statements, now I suspect that might be a death blow to their case, but, that is not my problem. I suspect that is the reason they are not accountable, they cannot afford to be.
0 Replies
 
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2008 08:30 pm
@de Silentio,
boagie, I hope I have always attempted to be accountable for anything I've posted here. I don't think I've resorted to quoting "proclamations", nor complained when my ideas are honestly scrutinized.
ogden
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2008 08:40 pm
@de Silentio,
Philosophizing, being the act of questioning, reasoning, and rationalizing is valid in religious matters as in anything else. The answers or beliefs that stem from religious philosophy don't have to meet the same criteria as those found in science. I mean scientific answers must progress within the scientific method.

Science often creates hypothetical answers and beliefs to unfalsifiable questions; pushing the envelope by making guesses and piecing together partial truths into bigger or more accurate understanding. I think theology reaches for truth in a similar maner but religion is averse to doubt, and science thrives on inquirey and doubt. Where religion says 'do not question the text', science encourages testing. The more a scientific theory is tested the stronger it becomes (assumng the theory holds).

Seems to me that one of the great things about human cognition is our ability to make inferences and theorize about all the possibilities and relations of everything, and it is our great weakness to become entrenched in those beliefs, even in the face of reason and empirical observance.

Science is not immune from dogmatically adherent zealots. And I am quite sure that scientific beliefs have emotionally charged influences. The people who put their lives and money into science get very attached to their beliefs just like in religion. Religious beliefs just seem to be more personal.

It is always foolish to consider knowledge to be entirely immutable. So it is never wrong to question, and it is never wrong to theories. It is however, wrong to adopt theory or belief as immutable fact, in science or theology. As for questions that are unfalsifiable, no answer can be wrong until the proposition becomes falsifiable.

Now logic is useful but it is not always used to discover truth, it may be used in debate simply to win an argument, leaving the truth far behind.Wink
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2008 09:20 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
NeitherExtreme wrote:
boagie, I hope I have always attempted to be accountable for anything I've posted here. I don't think I've resorted to quoting "proclamations", nor complained when my ideas are honestly scrutinized.


NeitherExtreme,

No that has not been my experience of you, but then it was not meant to be taken personally, it is though a generality with foundation. I find it the norm with believers, whether it be in this forum or in my private life. In some ways being a christian is a very vulnerable position, even paranoiac. I have one friend who avoids dialogue on much going on in the world which involves new knowledge. It is as if, he is waiting for another Darwinian type disaster to fall upon him, not really a great testimony to christianity.
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de budding
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2008 03:33 am
@ogden,
ogden wrote:
. It is however, wrong to adopt theory or belief as immutable fact, in science or theology.


Theory could never be adopted as immutable fact in science. Facts precede theory; a scientific theory is always rooted in fact and only exists out of the questioning nature that- seems I think, a lot of people are saying is missing from the religious train of thought. A theory is a testable model, designed to withstand or crumble under questioning scrutiny.

ogden wrote:

Now logic is useful but it is not always used to discover truth, it may be used in debate simply to win an argument, leaving the truth far behind.


You should post that on boagie's 'Bits Of Wisdom Which Deserve Quotation' thread. And I would insist that via such means would be the only way religion could enter the arena of debate.
0 Replies
 
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2008 07:08 am
@de Silentio,
Quote:
I could not agree more, but, it is entirely accurate to generalize about all religious people, for it is a characteristic all humanity shares in. The difference is, the amount of reason and reality within the mythology itself. Mythologies have informed peoples in the past about the nature of their world and existence, it is nolonger up to the task, but perhaps, a new more realistic myth will be created.


That humanity seems to have a general need for religion does not mean that we can generalize about all religious people, especially in the way you have.

You suggest a new, more realistic myth, yet religion changes all of the time; religion is constantly evolving to meet the needs of practitioners. Some tradition may not meet your particular needs; that's fine, find another tradition, or maybe you have no need for any tradition. But to generalize that all religious traditions should be replaced with something more "realistic" is to have absolutely no sensitivity regarding the value of faith traditions to other people around you.

Quote:
No that has not been my experience of you, but then it was not meant to be taken personally, it is though a generality with foundation. I find it the norm with believers, whether it be in this forum or in my private life.


I think you are confusing something common to most would be intellectual issues with something particular to religious belief. The bottom line is that most people could not give a good account, to your rational standards, as to why they vote Democrat (or what have you). To expect people who do not even understand their politics to a reasonable degree to understand their religion to a reasonable degree is silly.

So what? Most people do not care about being reasonable with regards to religion. These failings do not translate to a total failure of rationality in religion as a whole.
 

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