Philosophy and religion

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Philosophy and religion

Post  magyar1 on Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:44 pm

There is a difference between philosophy and religion.

Philosophy is the discipline that seeks to understand the causes, or principles, of things according to reason. Its object can be being, existence and nature (metaphysics), knowledge and how and what we know (epistemology and logic), religion, mathematics, natural science, culture, art etc.. A check of a catalog of any large secular or religious university will find courses in many of these divisions of philosophy.

For the most part the great debates of our time are initially philosophical, especially metaphysical and epistemological. Even before any other issue, how people view reality determines how they view everything else. A materialist rejects that anything called spirit or soul exists. To speak of religious belief seems absurd to him. If it can't be measured and tested empirically by science, it cannot be true or real. We see so many of these individuals on the religious forums who stubbornly persist demanding “proof of God”, etc.

An idealist is one who thinks existence is really going on in our head. We can't really know. Everything is subjective. There aren't many authentic idealists, but there are enough "idealists" in the romantic sense of people who don't acknowledge common sense and reality, but have a very subjective view of everything.

The middle way, called realism, is the perennial philosophy of the great thinkers of history, from Aristotle to Aquinas and down to our day. It teaches that we can know reality and that reality is both material and spiritual. In the area of nature, it says that before all the finite contingent causes of the universe (whether the postulated big bang or evolution of one kind or another), there must be an infinite, non-contingent Cause. Religion and theology give that Cause the name "God", philosophy speaks of a First Cause. The perennial philosophy also argues that man's material nature is an insufficient cause of his intelligence and freedom; rather that these are spiritual faculties that while they work in conjunction with man's material nature they in fact transcend it. (Indeed, the more science discovers about the natural intelligence of higher animals, and their genetic, biochemical and other material similarity to man, the more remarkable, transcendent and spiritual man's intelligence appears to be.) So, while many cultural debates seem to be about religion, or more specifically theology, in Europe and North America it is really philosophical differences that set the Catholic position apart from almost ALL others.

As for Religion that is a general term for a body of beliefs. Theology can be more accurately compared to philosophy. Theology is a particular systematization of a religion's beliefs, and the conclusions that can reasonably be drawn from them. So, for example, the Catholic Church's beliefs are drawn from Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, as the sources of what God has revealed about Himself and His Plan of Salvation for mankind. To know precisely what that this "deposit of the faith" is and means, Catholics look to the Magisterium or Teaching Office of the Church, itself established in that Revelation by Christ for this purpose. Theologians take what the Magisterium has defined as revealed (as that is the "data" of Catholic theology), and proposes explanations of it. St. Anselm thus defined theology as "faith seeking understanding". Theologians also use the perennial philosophy as a helpmate in understanding the truths of the faith, which while they concern things that are not testable experimentable, nonetheless cannot be inherently unreasonable. This sets Catholic theology apart from even other Christian theologies.
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magyar1

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It's a good distinction you draw

Post  VicarJoe on Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:19 pm

I have noticed, though, that almost every major political philosophy begins with an a priori answer to the question (phrased in one way or the other): is humankind fallen?

That is to say, a lot of philosophy hinges on a theological assumption, made one way or the other.
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I am a novice at this...

Post  stihl on Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:14 pm

...but I am very interested in this topic and would agree that that it is our philosophy (and everybody as one whether they know it or not), that dictates how you look at the world AND where you are willing to look.

The materialists to want to be able to measure things BUT the realist still depends on observation. The materialist attitiude cuts them off from things that can not be measured, even if they can be observed.

A house keeping note. I am currently on a high speed connection and see that some of the emoticons are rather animated. I may have inadvertantly sent the wrong message with my use of emoticons. moon shooting the moon.
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Magisterium v. theologians

Post  stihl on Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:19 am

Preface:

In your post you explained that the Magisterium goes to Tradition and Scripture to gleen "Catholic data", or the faith and truths revealed. I understand the Magisterium is the teaching office of the Church.

Question:

Is the role of theologians to take the "data" and apply to various subjects in the fashion a philiosopher would take a world view and apply to a subject?

I am thinking in terms of the chatecist. With the catechist, you can take most any subject and see what the Catholic position is when the "data" is applied to that topic. An example, the Bible never mentions abortion but, if you look up abortion in the cathecist you will see the what the Catholic positon is based on faith and truth.

I hope I am being clear. This is about who sets Catholic Doctrine, Magisterium or theologians? Can a person be both?
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Doctrine and Dogma

Post  magyar1 on Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:48 am

Critical reflection on faith is what is known as theology. According to the classic definition of St. Anselm of Canterbury (d. 1109), theology is “faith seeking understanding” (fides quaerens intellectum). But theology is not the only outcome of faith. In the face of perceived threats to the purity and integrity of the faith or to the unity of the faith-community, the pastoral leadership of the Church on occasion chooses among competing theologies to formulate normative rules that might guide the Church’s preaching, catechesis, and formal teaching. These normative rules are called doctrines (literally, “teachings”). Doctrines that are promulgated with the highest degree of solemnity, that is, as definitive rules of faith, are called dogmas (literally, “what is right”). All dogmas are doctrines, but not all doctrines are dogmas [Catholicism, New Edition (HarperCollins, 1994), p. 20; emphasis in text].

Doctrines and dogmas set the boundaries that provide the “rules of the game” for what it means to be a Christian. The Church can no more do without doctrines and dogmas than football or baseball can do without sidelines and rules for playing. This is not merely a matter of maintaining order. At a more basic level, this has to do with establishing and sustaining the values and convictions that comprise the Church’s religious identity as Christian (as opposed to some other possible identity). And it also has to do with articulating what the Church believes is true.
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