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- Scientific Explanations of Religion and the Justification of Religious Belief
Religion cannot be reduced to a set of abstract propositions or a conceptual system. It is more than just that, and this more is important, I will claim, for giving an appropriate account of religion and, further, for the question of religious rationality. It consists of the life-directing character religion has.
Religion is to be lived, and a focus merely on the theoretical function of religion cannot convey that. Religion is ultimately concerned with what way of life people should adopt, not what theories of life they should accept.
But it also makes us appreciate the appropriateness of using a virtue-based approach in the epistemology of religion. The notion of intellectual virtue allows us to see a strong connection between excellent believing and excellent behaving. Instead of epistemic rules or procedures, one realizes that religious believing is more about nurturing people with the right intellectual dispositions that foster better cognitive contact with reality.
These beliefs are persuasive, pervasive, and stable. They inform the kinds of attributions that 66 Callahan, Religious Faith and Intellectual Virtue, Philosophy The Role of Intellectual Virtues in the Justification of Religious Belief University of the Philippines-Diliman people make, the meanings they construct, and the ways they conduct relationships. Religion has been identified as a strong source of altruism, volunteerism, and philanthropy. That is why religious materials and religious symbols include ample rational content as well.
These symbols represent human needs and fulfill those needs as well. Symbolic-cultural systems are complex languages of mental representations. Elkins, et al. Philosophy The Role of Intellectual Virtues in the Justification of Religious Belief University of the Philippines-Diliman religion comprises, not only the feeling aspect, but the thinking component as well.
This allows for an integrative epistemic evaluation for the rationality of religious beliefs. Although, it is true that religion can become breeding ground for vicious and careless belief-forming traits. The promotion of excellent intellectual traits in the formation of religious beliefs, on the other hand, brings religion towards epistemic excellence and human flourishing. This cultivates a type of religious epistemology which produces intellectual environments where religious beliefs are produced by reflective, reasonable, and responsible religious believers. So, what is religious belief?
Project MUSE - Plutarch's Epicurean Justification of Religious Belief
Religious belief is an outlook, a mindset, a posture, a commitment, a way of thinking and behaving. Religious belief refers to an attitude towards the world. It is generally shaped by the mythological or spiritual aspects of a religion, and ideas that often relate to the existence, characteristics, and worship of God s. Hence, it is more of like a particular mode of appreciating the world in a different way.
Such religious claims have their meanings based on how they are being used in a particular community. Talk of God makes more sense in the context of religious belief.
Journal of the History of Philosophy
Moreover, religious beliefs emerge from cultural rituals, metaphors, and symbolic narratives. These symbolic and expressive ritualistic practices cater to the human spirit. These practices promote an attitude of wonder at the mysterious nature of life, express symbolic actions, and inspire a spiritual attitude towards the world. Geisler and William D. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, , They are ways in which we grasp the meaning of things that make up our lives in a very personal, basic, immediate, and non-inferential fashion.
This attitude of belief is supported by rational thinking and theological formulations. This is because of the different interpretive lens they are using. One perceives the event using a religious lens, while the other employs a scientific lens. In the said account, Saul of Tarsus experienced what seems to be an encounter with the resurrected Christ, which led to his conversion to the Christian faith. Then, he fell to the ground and heard a voice. The voice introduced himself as Jesus. That climactic event transformed Saul of Tarsus to become Paul the Apostle. From one who persecutes those who follow Jesus, to one who proclaims Jesus.
This light together with the voice, followed by a dialogue with the risen Messiah is a clear account of a Christophany. On the other hand, a neuropsychologist would provide a different explanation to the same phenomenon. Landsborough, "St. Philosophy The Role of Intellectual Virtues in the Justification of Religious Belief University of the Philippines-Diliman marked with experiences such as a bright light, loss of normal bodily posture, a message of strong religious content, subsequent blindness, and perhaps ending in a convulsion.
They are characterized by changes in sensing, perceiving thinking, and feeling. They modify the relation of the individual to the self, body, sense of identity, and the environment of time, space, or other people.
Scientific Explanations of Religion and the Justification of Religious Belief
This means that any healthy person can achieve states of ecstatic trance through ritualized behavior, rhythmic stimulation of the nervous system, or deeply focused meditation. Researchers claim that many societies especially in the Mediterranean world have utilized these altered states of consciousness as part of the advancement of panhuman potential. Some experts claim that such experiences are hard-wired into our brains. That is why, in some communities, people who experienced and entered these states took on special status and ritualized the experiences to help make better sense of their way of life.
Philosophy The Role of Intellectual Virtues in the Justification of Religious Belief University of the Philippines-Diliman But for the non-religious, it is possible that such otherworldly encounters are merely generated by the brain. At the heart of the discussion about rationality and religious belief is the idea that rationality is not limited to merely setting standards for the truth or falsity of isolated propositions.
Instead, rationality includes connecting religious beliefs to a complex web of other beliefs, and connecting these claims to the epistemic agents who generate those beliefs — understanding their context, experiences, practices, culture, limitations, needs, wants, etc. Stenmark explains this type of connection: [Thus] a philosophical discussion of the rationality of religious belief is religiously relevant only if it takes into account the aim and function of religious practice and the situation in which it is pursued. My claim is that a necessary condition for being able to develop appropriate standards for religious rationality, and for being able to assess the extent to which an individual or group of individuals is rationally justified in accepting beliefs of this kind or being involved in a practice of this sort, is that we properly understand the function and nature of religious belief.
In short, the formulation of adequate standards for assessing the rationality of religious belief is not independent of the actual practice of religion… much of the discussion of the rationality of religious belief has been conducted in such way that it is, in fact, irrelevant to whether real people are rational in being religious believers and consequently cannot function as a basis for a recommendation of the appropriate standards for religious rationality.
We reduce religion, and any talk of God, to intellectual arguments and scientific speculations. This is taken from Martin Buber, I and Thou, trans. Ronald Gregor Smith, et al. But it is not real in the way physical objects are real. It is real in its own way, and the way to that reality is by a path of interior discernment and personal orientation, an orientation away from the temporal and towards the eternal. Similarly, belief in God can only be grasped well by those who have participated in the religious practice. The religious person is one who has been drawn into a way of seeing human life which comes to seem appropriate.
Great novelists, poets, and playwrights have the capacity to evoke such ways of seeing… To believe in God is to enter into a community of social practice in which minds are systematically shaped to see and react to the events of their lives in a set of ideal ways… to evoke responses of adoration, thanksgiving, penitence, and concern for the needs of others. He argues that religious believing is like having an ear for music. The evidentialist view argues that only beliefs supported by evidence are rational, i. The atheist Bertrand Russell was once asked, if he were to come before God, what he would say to God.
Canada: Wadsworth Thomas Learning, , Natural theologians champion philosophical inquiry about the existence of God using the sources of evidence from experience, reason, science, and history. The fideist-pragmatist view, on the other hand, argues that there are beliefs without evidence which are still rational, i.
As a non-evidentialist, James would argue that, for practical reasons, it is often better to believe even when there is insufficient evidence. He insists that there are cases when evidence comes only after we made the leap of faith. This view implies that it is rational to believe in God because to act by faith in order to pursue truth is more reasonable than to be paralyzed by the fear of error or lack of evidence.