File Name: faith religion and theology a contemporary introduction .zip
Religious studies , also known as the study of religion , is an academic field devoted to research into religious beliefs, behaviors , and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives.
Religious diversity is the fact that there are significant differences in religious belief and practice. It has always been recognized by people outside the smallest and most isolated communities.
Traditionally, faith and reason have each been considered to be sources of justification for religious belief. Because both can purportedly serve this same epistemic function, it has been a matter of much interest to philosophers and theologians how the two are related and thus how the rational agent should treat claims derived from either source. Some have held that there can be no conflict between the two—that reason properly employed and faith properly understood will never produce contradictory or competing claims—whereas others have maintained that faith and reason can or even must be in genuine contention over certain propositions or methodologies.
Traditionally, faith and reason have each been considered to be sources of justification for religious belief. Because both can purportedly serve this same epistemic function, it has been a matter of much interest to philosophers and theologians how the two are related and thus how the rational agent should treat claims derived from either source.
Some have held that there can be no conflict between the two—that reason properly employed and faith properly understood will never produce contradictory or competing claims—whereas others have maintained that faith and reason can or even must be in genuine contention over certain propositions or methodologies.
Those who have taken the latter view disagree as to whether faith or reason ought to prevail when the two are in conflict. Other thinkers have theorized that faith and reason each govern their own separate domains, such that cases of apparent conflict are resolved on the side of faith when the claim in question is, say, a religious or theological claim, but resolved on the side of reason when the disputed claim is, for example, empirical or logical.
Some relatively recent philosophers, most notably the logical positivists, have denied that there is a domain of thought or human existence rightly governed by faith, asserting instead that all meaningful statements and ideas are accessible to thorough rational examination. This has presented a challenge to religious thinkers to explain how an admittedly nonrational or transrational form of language can hold meaningful cognitive content.
Faith and reason are both sources of authority upon which beliefs can rest. Reason generally is understood as the principles for a methodological inquiry, whether intellectual, moral, aesthetic, or religious.
Thus is it not simply the rules of logical inference or the embodied wisdom of a tradition or authority. Some kind of algorithmic demonstrability is ordinarily presupposed. Once demonstrated, a proposition or claim is ordinarily understood to be justified as true or authoritative.
Faith, on the other hand, involves a stance toward some claim that is not, at least presently, demonstrable by reason. Thus faith is a kind of attitude of trust or assent. As such, it is ordinarily understood to involve an act of will or a commitment on the part of the believer.
Religious faith involves a belief that makes some kind of either an implicit or explicit reference to a transcendent source. Revelation is either direct, through some kind of direct infusion, or indirect, usually from the testimony of an other. Religious faith is of two kinds: evidence-sensitive and evidence-insensitive.
The former views faith as closely coordinated with demonstrable truths; the latter more strictly as an act of the will of the religious believer alone. The former includes evidence garnered from the testimony and works of other believers. It is, however, possible to hold a religious belief simply on the basis either of faith alone or of reason alone.
Moreover, one can even lack faith in God or deny His existence, but still find solace in the practice of religion.
The basic impetus for the problem of faith and reason comes from the fact that the revelation or set of revelations on which most religions are based is usually described and interpreted in sacred pronouncements, either in an oral tradition or canonical writings, backed by some kind of divine authority.
These writings or oral traditions are usually presented in the literary forms of narrative, parable, or discourse.
As such, they are in some measure immune from rational critique and evaluation. In fact even the attempt to verify religious beliefs rationally can be seen as a kind of category mistake. Yet most religious traditions allow and even encourage some kind of rational examination of their beliefs. The key philosophical issue regarding the problem of faith and reason is to work out how the authority of faith and the authority of reason interrelate in the process by which a religious belief is justified or established as true or justified.
Four basic models of interaction are possible. Here the aims, objects, or methods of reason and faith seem to be very much the same.
Thus when they seem to be saying different things, there is genuine rivalry. This model is thus assumed both by religious fundamentalists, who resolve the rivalry on the side of faith, and scientific naturalists , who resolve it on the side of reason. Here the aims, objects, and methods of reason and faith are understood to be distinct. Compartmentalization of each is possible. Reason aims at empirical truth; religion aims at divine truths. Thus no rivalry exists between them.
This model subdivides further into three subdivisions. First, one can hold faith is transrational , inasmuch as it is higher than reason. This latter strategy has been employed by some Christian existentialists. Reason can only reconstruct what is already implicit in faith or religious practice.
Second, one can hold that religious belief is irrational , thus not subject to rational evaluation at all.
This is the position taken ordinarily by those who adopt negative theology, the method that assumes that all speculation about God can only arrive at what God is not. The latter subdivision also includes those theories of belief that claim that religious language is only metaphorical in nature. This and other forms of irrationalism result in what is ordinarily considered fideism: the conviction that faith ought not to be subjected to any rational elucidation or justification.
Here it is understood that dialogue is possible between reason and faith, though both maintain distinct realms of evaluation and cogency. For example, the substance of faith can be seen to involve miracles ; that of reason to involve the scientific method of hypothesis testing.
Much of the Reformed model of Christianity adopts this basic model. Here it is understood that faith and reason have an organic connection, and perhaps even parity. A typical form of strong compatibilism is termed natural theology. Articles of faith can be demonstrated by reason, either deductively from widely shared theological premises or inductively from common experiences.
It can take one of two forms: either it begins with justified scientific claims and supplements them with valid theological claims unavailable to science, or it starts with typical claims within a theological tradition and refines them by using scientific thinking.
Many, but certainly not all, Roman Catholic philosophers and theologians hold to the possibility of natural theology. Some natural theologians have attempted to unite faith and reason into a comprehensive metaphysical system. The strong compatibilist model, however, must explain why God chose to reveal Himself at all since we have such access to him through reason alone.
The interplay between reason and faith is an important topic in the philosophy of religion. It is closely related to, but distinct from, several other issues in the philosophy of religion: namely, the existence of God, divine attributes, the problem of evil, divine action in the world, religion and ethics, religious experience and religious language, and the problem of religious pluralism.
Moreover, an analysis of the interplay between faith and reason also provides resources for philosophical arguments in other areas such as metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology. While the issues the interplay between faith and reason addresses are endemic to almost any religious faith, this article will focus primarily on the faith claims found in the three great monotheistic world religions: Judaism, Islam, and particularly Christianity.
This rest of the article will trace out the history of the development of thinking about the relationship between faith and reason in Western philosophy from the classical period of the Greeks through the end of the twentieth century.
Greek religions, in contrast to Judaism, speculated primarily not on the human world but on the cosmos as a whole. They were often formulated as literary myths. Nonetheless these forms of religious speculation were generally practical in nature: they aimed to increase personal and social virtue in those who engaged in them.
Most of these religions involved civic cultic practices. Philosophers from the earliest times in Greece tried to distill metaphysical issues out of these mythological claims.
Once these principles were located and excised, these philosophers purified them from the esoteric speculation and superstition of their religious origins. They also decried the proclivities to gnosticism and elitism found in the religious culture whence the religious myths developed. None of these philosophers, however, was particularly interested in the issue of willed assent to or faith in these religious beliefs as such.
Both Plato and Aristotle found a principle of intellectual organization in religious thinking that could function metaphysically as a halt to the regress of explanation. In Plato, this is found in the Forms, particularly the Form of the Good. The Form of Good is that by which all things gain their intelligibility. Aristotle rejected the Form of the Good as unable to account for the variety of good things, appealing instead to the unmoved mover as an unchangeable cosmic entity. Both thinkers also developed versions of natural theology by showing how religious beliefs emerge from rational reflections on concrete reality as such.
Both of these schools of thought derived certain theological kinds of thinking from physics and cosmology. The Stoics generally held a cosmological view of an eternal cycle of identical world-revolutions and world-destructions by a universal conflagration. Absolute necessity governs the cyclic process and is identified with divine reason logos and providence.
This provident and benevolent God is immanent in the physical world. God orders the universe, though without an explicit purpose. Humans are microcosms; their souls are emanations of the fiery soul of the universe. The Epicureans, on the other hand, were skeptical, materialistic, and anti-dogmatic. It is not clear they were theists at all, though at some points they seem to be. They did speak of the gods as living in a blissful state in intermundial regions, without any interest in the affairs of humans.
There is no relation between the evils of human life and a divine guidance of the universe. At death all human perception ceases. The orders of the world soul and nature follow after Nous in a linear procession. Humans contain the potentialities of these creative principles, and can choose to make their lives an ascent towards and then a union with the intuitive intelligence.
The One is not a being, but infinite being. It is the cause of beings. Thus Christian and Jewish philosophers who held to a creator God could affirm such a conception. Plotinus might have been the first negative theologian, arguing that God, as simple, is know more from what he is not, than from what he is. Christianity, emerging from Judaism, imposed a set of revealed truths and practices on its adherents.
Many of these beliefs and practices differed significantly from what the Greek religions and Judaism had held. For example, Christians held that God created the world ex nihilo , that God is three persons, and that Jesus Christ was the ultimate revelation of God. Nonetheless, from the earliest of times, Christians held to a significant degree of compatibility between faith and reason. The writings attributed to St. Paul in the Christian Scriptures provide diverse interpretations of the relation between faith and reason.
Here he champions the unity of the Christian God as the creator of all. It reflects a sympathy with pagan customs, handles the subject of idol worship gently, and appeals for a new examination of divinity not from the standpoint of creation, but from practical engagement with the world.
However, he claims that this same God will one day come to judge all mankind. But in his famous passage from Romans , Paul is less obliging to non-Christians.
It has been commonplace in epistemology to give careful attention not just to epistemology as a general enterprise but also to explore in detail the epistemology of particular academic disciplines. The level of scholarly engagement within and around epistemology and theology has grown sufficiently to permit and justify a volume on the epistemology of theology. As a result, this Handbook provides a critical and constructive investigation of appropriate epistemic concepts and theories in or related to theology. It focuses on standard epistemic concepts that are usually thought of as questions about norms and sources of theology e. However, no uniform epistemological or theological approaches are synonymous with the epistemology of theology. Instead, this Handbook includes a broad range of perspectives and methodological assumptions.
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This article addresses the relationship between experience and belief, focusing on the role of science in the debate between secular Humanism and Christianity. It suggests that the possibility of appropriating experience to belief — taking action to bring experience into line with belief — distinguishes spiritual belief from systematic belief in which the object is independent of beliefs about it ; but that the boundary between these two forms of belief is itself a matter of metaphysical belief. Understanding science and religion, Humanism and Christianity in relationship to systematic and spiritual belief-structures helps to bring clarity to the debate. What should we do when our experience contradicts our beliefs? For John Wesley it was attentiveness to his experience that led him to change beliefs he had inherited about cherished Christian practices — for example, beliefs about instantaneous justification, field preaching and lay preachers. Like Wesley we are constantly faced with questions about when we should adapt our beliefs to our experiences, when we are justified in ignoring experiences that contradict our beliefs, and when we feel called to change the world as we experience it in order to shape it to our beliefs.
Faith, Religion & Theology: A Contemporary Introduction. Author's Response - Volume 17 Issue 2.
This chapter examines ways that disasters have led to reflection within Christian theology. First, the chapter will examine accounts where God is stated to have sent disasters as a judgement for human sin. This will require a broad overview of some central theological positions. Then, the chapter will examine historical and contemporary claims that disasters can be blamed on human sin. This will lead to a review of theodicy, theological arguments developed to justify why God could allow evil and suffering, which could include disasters.
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