Philosophy and religion


Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?
We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?”
― Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Two years ago, I wrote this post where I argued that those goddites who resort to philosophy to justify their delusions beliefs are not doing philosophy. I am not changing my mind on the above thesis. I still believe that I was right then. You may want to ask what I think of philosophy of religion? It’s a waste of intellect. It is no different from studying theology. You waste both your time and money to learn nothing except what the priest says god says.

The end of philosophy is to arrive at truth, that is, to arrive at what is true/ real. The aim of religion is to have faith, more faith. It is not concerned with what is true, rather with what is believed.

The goddite is not interested in what is true. Religion is based on revelation. If the evidence, or lack of, cannot be found in revelation, it can’t be found anywhere else. The goddite like Platinga, WLC and all those sophisticates who have a modeled a career around apologetics, are not doing philosophy justice. Instead of spending time attempting to answer the big questions of life, they keep us occupied with telling them their arguments in defense of ghosts do not further the cause of ghosts an inch. They remain just where they began, as creations of the mind.

You can skip the whole of this post and watch Carl Sagan. I hope this message hasn’t come too late for most of you.

You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”
― Alan W. Watts

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

48 thoughts on “Philosophy and religion

  1. Superb post, my friend and great video. Ya gotta love Sagan.

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  2. john zande says:

    The greater problem here is religion takes “faith,” which is unjustified belief, and promotes it to the level of virtue. It is a celebration of stupidity, and that can never be good.

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  3. shelldigger says:

    Philosophy, theology, both constructs that deny the answering of questions, and rather keeps digging around hoping for an angle to just keep the argument going. In their favor of course. You will never pin them down and get a straight answer, a straight answer is their death knell.

    A philosopher who actually answers questions, has little future in philosophy. Same for theologians.

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    • “A philosopher who actually answers questions, has little future in philosophy. Same for theologians.” It’s like being a dancer who stops moving his feet. WTF kinda dancing would that be? 🙂

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    • makagutu says:

      Actually my shelldigger friend, I think you are being unfair to philosophy. As a pursuit of truth, it may not give you answers but it may lead to clarification of ideas. Take the example of morality; the Euthyphro is a philosophical dialogue that put paid the argument that morals come from gods. Anyone who argues deities are the source of morals is not well read.

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      • shelldigger says:

        I agree that some good can come from a pursuit of logic. For instance if I built a bridge of matchsticks, asking the question “what will happen if I actually drive a car over it?” is a good pursuit of logic.

        Using philosophy to hide among the ifs, ands, and buts, say to keep ones god an unknowable, untouchable, entity that forever hides within the cracks of knowledge is beyond where philosophy has reached its usefulness. At that point it has become a playground for those forever locked into the playground of make believe. When it gets there, I find philosophy quite a disgusting endeavor. Perhaps I am an old curmudgeonly curmudgeon tainted by years of seeing so called philosophers spouting a great deal of word salad, without saying much of anything usefull. They have become professional squirmers, you can’t pin them down to reality with a 2 ton lead weight. Of what use is that to one with an ability to reason?

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        • makagutu says:

          I can understand your frustration. The problem is that most of the philosophy work most of us come into contact with is dedicated to explaining why a donkey talked to Balaam. In short, philosophy, the pursuit and love of knowledge, was hijacked by the church for its purposes. It has been trying to free itself ever since.

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          • shelldigger says:

            I’d say Balaam might have had his drink spiked.

            I think you may be on to something with the church hijacking true philosophy and turning it into a pseudo philosophy to suit their purposes. Much the same with science today. 🙂

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          • makagutu says:

            That is why the Kalam is considered philosophy.
            At some point men and women with some grey matter reached a point they could no longer believe in talking donkeys. They hijacked philosophy to make their beliefs rational and we had the birth of philosophy of religion

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        • You make good points here, my friend. I enjoy reading philosophy, but, like you said, it gets to a point where I say, shit or get off the pot. I think philosophy is great for providing good hypotheses about the meaning/nature of things, but after a while, it’s time to put your hands in the dirt and work at learning what’s really going on. I do love reading philosophy, however, so I’m not dissing it. Like you, I think it sometimes is nebulous just for the sake of being nebulous.

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  4. A Guy Without Boxers says:

    Outstanding argument, my Nairobi brother. The philosophy of religion isn’t about truth but rather, belief! Great job! 🙂

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  5. Arkenaten says:

    If god belief were (based on) truth/self-evident such philosophy would be completely redundant.
    It allows Dickheads like Crag, Licona and Habermas to get away with the utter garbage they ”preach”.

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  6. fojap says:

    I’ve found The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James to be interesting. Certainly, it’s possible to examine what people believe and why without being a religious apologist, and in that regard can be interesting, much like anthropology.

    In fact, I think many atheists miss the importance of James’ work. People do have religious experiences and that contributes to the strength of their beliefs. I, for one, suspect that they arise from neurological phenomenon that people then interpret according to the tradition they’ve been taught. Still, people find them profound and moving and that’s something we ought to consider.

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    • makagutu says:

      I agree with you on the value of James’ book. His main weakness is he didn’t explore why people have such beliefs. All he did was to document the different varieties of belief.
      And you are right, to the believer, his experience is interpreted as evidence for god.

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      • fojap says:

        I read it years ago, but if I recall correctly he saw it as a starting point for a subject that needed to be explored further. You’re right that it’s very incomplete.

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        • makagutu says:

          I think there have been attempts to do so. Religion and Sex by Chapman Cohen is one such example. You should look at it when you have some time

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          • fojap says:

            This is the first I’ve heard of him. I’ll have to look into it. It sounds interesting.

            It’s often struck me that religions often try to control things that might lead people to ecstatic experiences unmediated by the religious leaders. Sex and dancing both spring to mind. Can’t have too much fun! 🙂

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          • makagutu says:

            Never! You can’t be too happy. If you are happy, you will not give a hoot about hell.

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  7. nannus says:

    “You may want to ask what I think of philosophy of religion? It’s a waste of intellect.” Hm, I thought what you are doing here on your blog most of the time is philosophy of religion 😉

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