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Introducing the philosophy of religion
Introducing the philosophy of religion

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Questions about religion and God: a survey

The philosophy of religion means asking philosophical questions about religion – about systems of belief in and worship of God such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism, Jainism, and the like. We should add that philosophy of religion also means asking philosophical questions about God (or about the gods).

So what are the philosophical questions that are worth asking about religion and God?

Activity 2

Listen to the audio recording ‘Introducing the philosophy of religion’. In this recording, I introduce some of the themes of this course. (Note that the recording makes reference to ‘Book 2’, but you can ignore that for the purposes of this activity.)

In the middle of what I say, you will hear a number of people whom we stopped in the street to ask what big questions they had about God and religion.

If we’d asked you that question, what would you have said? Spend five minutes writing down the questions that you most want to ask about religion and God. What are the burning issues, for you? Be as frank as you like – no one else is going to see them!

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Introducing the philosophy of religion
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Here are some of the questions about religion and God that you might have found yourself writing down. (Don’t worry if you didn’t come up with just these questions – there isn’t a single right list here.)

  • A.Does religion only cause trouble in the world?
  • B.Does God exist?
  • C.Could the world exist if God didn’t exist?
  • D.If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world?
  • E.Does religion depend on fear and brainwashing?
  • F.Are all religious people hypocrites?
  • G.Were Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King hypocrites?
  • H.Can you be a good person without being religious?
  • I.What difference does it make whether or not there is a God?
  • J.Are all religions basically the same?
  • K.Is religion something you can argue about, or just a matter of blind faith?
  • L.Is the world designed? If so, does that mean it must have a designer?
  • M.Can miracles happen?
  • N.Can we experience God?

When you were listening to the audio, you might have noticed that I say that some of the questions that we got from people in the street ‘aren’t philosophical questions’.

What about the questions in the list (A –  N), or the questions you’ve just written down yourself? Are all of these philosophical questions about religion, or some other sort of question – historical, perhaps, or biographical, or statistical, or something like that?