I've taken an introductory class in the philosophy of religion and I've read

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I've taken an introductory class in the philosophy of religion and I've read some introductory materials about it on the internet. I'm sort of disappointed with the kinds of questions that are considered central to the philosophy of religion because it seems like other questions can be just as central but they aren't mentioned. One of the central questions of the philosophy of religion is whether or not God existence can be proved. While that is undoubtedly an important question "proof" seems to be a high standard even in philosophy and a "succinct" proof that can be written in a formulaic manner is an even higher standard. If you want to argue whether or not Bill Gates is a good man it isn't necessary to prove his existence. You can however attempt to characterize his behavior within a context and from that attempt to evaluate whether he is a good or a bad person. Should not the philosophy of religion, for at least some important strands of religious thinking, work in a similar vein? That is it would involve an empirical and philosophical effort to consider whether or not the world can be evaluated in terms of the existence of some form of deity. This is already done with efforts to disprove the existence of God in the form of the "problem of evil." (Although that has a very succinct persuasive power)

Thanks for your comments/questions. It's perhaps hard to judge what is 'central' to a discipline or a pursuit, particularly one with as long and varied a history as the 'phil. of religion' (broadly construed). In fact lots more ink (or parchment space) has been devoted to questions of God's nature (perhaps) than to God's existence (as well as to the relationship between God's nature/existence of course, a la the ontological argument). [My own book, The God Question, presents the rather long history of discussion of different aspects of God's nature ...] And anyway re: the kinds of things you lean to at the end of your comments: it seems to me that many of the traditional ways of attempting to prove God's existence proceed exactly as you recommend, ie by 'considering whether the world can be evaluated in terms of God's existence.' The classical versions of cosmological and teleological arguments, as well as their more contemporary updates, seem to do precisely that [again my book presents a number of these ...] .... So I suppose what I am suggesting is that your senses that 'proofs of God' are too central and that there should be greater emphasis on (roughly) empirical approaches to God's existence -- are both inaccurate! In fact lots more gets discussed than merely 'proofs' of God's existence, and those proofs that do get discussed DO have a large empirical component ....

hope that's helpful --

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