• Jeremiah
    213
    What is the difference, if any, between philosophy and religion?

    *Please don't ask me how to define philosophy and religion, as it is a question about your thoughts. If I were to predefined them I would be restricting the terms to my standards; I want it to be more open than that. Simply make sure to explain your position in a plain and easy to understand manner.
  • Bitter Crank
    2.3k
    There is much more ritual in religion than in philosophy.
    Singing is far more common in religion than in philosophy.
    Religion is far less 'open ended' than philosophy
    Religion more readily judges the meaning of behavior than philosophy
    Passion is probably more common in religion than in philosophy, but that depends on the topic and the debaters.
    Religion is more of a going concern than philosophy -- more assets, more adherents, more employment, much better cash flow.
    Professional theologians and philosophers share generally similar education levels.

    Educated religion-shy western Europeans are currently religious outliers.
  • javra
    81
    As concerns modern culture, I’d narrow it down to justified belief contrasted with unjustified faith … though I much prefer BC’s answer.
  • anonymous66
    340
    Can't it be said that religions require a belief in the supernatural, while a belief in the supernatural is not a requirement for philosophy?
  • Bitter Crank
    2.3k
    Most religions require belief in the central supernatural elements. For instance, mono- and poly-theistic religions require belief in god(s). Must one believe in transubstantiation (bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ)? Some? many? believers downgrade transubstantiation to a symbolic transformation. (Among Catholics and Lutherans, the Eucharist isn't considered symbolic. Lutherans, however, limit the transformation to the celebration of the Eucharistic meal. left over bread and wine revert to their original nature.)

    I'm not clear about Buddhism. Anybody?

    The so-called humanistic, ethical "religious" "movements" like secular humanism avoid any supernaturalism.

    All that aside, it is the case that what believers actually hold to be true about the supernatural varies a great deal. For instance, not all Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. Not all Catholics and Lutherans believe in transubstantiation. Not all Christians believe in miracles. Not all Jews believe in God.

    How can this be?

    Membership in the believing group, identity with the believing group, loyalty, abiding interest, etc. are also features of religion, as well as supernatural elements. Some people identify religion as "a good thing" even though they don't really believe any of it. And they don't show up on Sunday (maybe Christmas Eve, though).

    There are priests, pastors, preachers who don't really believe what they are saying. This, however, is likely to lead to intense cognitive dissonance and usually would result in the priest, pastor, preacher departing--either on his own or with assistance.

    Some people are outliers, doubters, disbelievers, skeptics, about a lot. They don't believe in various planks in the religious platform, aren't loyal to their country, don't believe in the law most of the time, doubt the honesty of all politicians no matter what, don't really believe their helping-profession job actually does any real good, don't really believe in the sanctity of the marriage they are in, aren't good soldiers, are likely to steal from the till if they get a chance, and so on.

    Then there are true believers who are faithful down to the last comma and dotted i--and people in between the two extremes.

    That's just life.
  • m-theory
    1.1k
    I would say that philosophy is a much broader subject than religion.
    I would say that all religions are a part of philosophy.
  • aletheist
    711
    Lutherans, however, limit the transformation to the celebration of the Eucharistic meal. left over bread and wine revert to their original nature.Bitter Crank

    Not all Lutherans believe this; in fact, some Lutheran pastors consume all of the remaining elements at the end of the distribution, so that the question simply does not arise. In any case, the more fundamental difference is that Roman Catholics believe that the bread and wine transform into the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation), while Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Christ are sacramentally present "in, with, and under" the bread and wine.
  • lambda
    40
    They're quite similar, to be honest.

    The way many philosophers cling to positions like materialism or realism reminds me of the way most religious fundamentalists cling to figures like Jesus, Allah, Joseph Smith, etc. (minus the occasional terrorist attack)

    Additionally, both pursuits require a tremendous amount of faith. Philosophy requires a large amount of faith in the reliability of your cognitive faculties while religion requires a large amount of faith in the reliability/worship-worthiness of God in light of the tremendous amount of suffering/evil that plagues the world.
  • Bitter Crank
    2.3k
    Thanks for the clarification. I hang around Lutherans, but was raised a Methodist -- they think it strictly symbolic. Pretty much, anyway. But I could be wrong.
  • aletheist
    711
    Pretty much. I am a Lutheran now, but I was baptized Methodist.
  • Bitter Crank
    2.3k
    Joseph Smithlambda

    Have the Mormons been blowing things up lately? Unless you consider Mormon missionaries terrorists, they don't seem to be appropriately grouped with Jihadists.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    There's philosophy of religion, but not religion of philosophy.

    8-)
  • lambda
    40
    Not lately, but massacres in the name of Mormonism have happened. See here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_massacre

    https://mountainmeadowsmassacre.com/

    Not to mention there are still a good amount of Mormon fundamentalists throughout the US who do a lot of really creepy things (polygamy, blood atonement, blatant racism, child abuse, etc.) that generally flies under the radar.

    http://www.salon.com/2015/09/19/americas_little_known_isis_the_fundamentalist_mormon_sect_that_blends_polygamy_child_rape_and_organized_crime/

    Yikes!
  • Bitter Crank
    2.3k
    Mormon Satires:

    Rosalie Sorrels, 1961


    Mormon satirical song based on Adele's Hello
  • Bitter Crank
    2.3k
    Well, there are these r u m o r s of polygamy, child rape and organized crime (Mormons tied in with the Mafia -- Italians and Mormons??? -- very odd) but Mormon is a religion of Peace, so they just couldn't be doing all these horrible things.
  • Wayfarer
    2.4k
    I'm not clear about Buddhism. Anybody?Bitter Crank

    It's a big question, but one I have some knowledge about, so will try and assist. Early Buddhism, as preserved in the so-called 'early Buddhist texts', was certainly not theistic in the usual sense. However the Indian gods are acknowledged as being part of the world in which it is set - for instance, one of those gods appears to the Buddha after his enlightenment and beseeches him to teach. There are many canonical stories which establish the idea that the Buddha is superior to the Vedic gods and is indeed 'teacher of Gods and men', but the existence of such narratives implies that there is a general acceptance of the reality of 'devas' (interestingly, a common Indo-European root which is the source of 'divine'.)

    However Buddhism was transformed over the centuries and in the Mahāyāna, there is the emergence of something very like a theistic religion, with the Buddha being transformed from an awakened human to the Adi-Buddha, the primordial Buddha who incarnates periodically for the salvation of beings. This Buddha is surrounded by a pantheon of 'celestial Bodhisattvas' whose function is very similar to that of the saints of medieval Catholicism. In Tibetan Buddhism, in particular, there are many rituals invoking the assistance or visualisation of the celestial bodhisattvas - although Buddhists will always go to great lengths to differentiate their beliefs from those of theistic religion.

    Furthermore even in strongholds of Theravada Buddhism (the more conservative school purportedly nearer the early forms), village life is of course characterised by belief in nature spirits, 'nats', hungry ghosts, tree spirits, and so on, which are part of Asian life from time immemorial.

    So the early 20th-c idea of Buddhism as being a 'scientific religion' free from the superstition and dogma, is in some respects a projection. That said, however, there is still a big difference between Buddhism and the theistic traditions, in that the emphasis is always put on 'understanding the cause of suffering' - attaining insight into the psycho-physical processes that cause suffering, rather than relying solely on belief in religious doctrine. But some schools of East Asian Buddhism, which emphasise faith in one of the various 'forms' of the Buddha, are at least highly reminiscent of devotional forms of Christianity.

    ---

    With respect to the question in the OP - there are many porous boundaries between the two subjects. But philosophy as defined by Plato and successors distinguishes the knowledge that is obtained by reason from what they disparagingly refer to as 'mere belief' (with which, I dare say, they would categorise a lot of what we consider religion.). We ought not to forget that Socrates was put to death for atheism, among other charges, notably his questioning of the civic deity worship of Athens.

    Plato was intensely religious, in a way, but both he and Aristotle were very different from today's 'theists'. However, there are again many porous boundaries, because Plato was an initiate of the Orphic school, and for that reason a textbook mystic ('mystic' meaning literally 'an initiate in the mystery schools', of which Orphism was one.)

    Plato and his successors would certainly be regarded as 'religious' by today's standards, but then, we're generally highly irreligious and habitually materialist, so anything not materialist will look religious to us. But Plotinus, for instance, whose influence on Christian theology was to become enormous (via Augustine) is nevertheless categorised as a 'pagan philosopher' by the (Catholic) New Advent encyclopaedia. And his arguments, as preserved in the Enneads, are meticulously rational, indeed are one of the fountainheads of rationalist philosophy. But he went to great lengths to differentiate philosophy, as he understood it, from the various religious movements that he encountered.

    Mention should also be made of the splendid work of Pierre Hadot, who sought to show that the original conception of philosophy was soteriological, that is, concerned with salvation from the 'world of appearances' and its vicissitudes by the apprehension of a higher truth - another thing which nowadays 'sounds religious' but which was hitherto the assumed aim of all philosophy.

    So I think to add several more categories to Bittercrank's simple dichotomy of 'believers' and 'others', we also have to consider mystics, Gnostics, neoplatonists, Buddhists, traditional philosophers, and others, who are neither 'believers' in the mainstream sense, nor atheists (who define themselves in opposition to the former.)
  • anonymous66
    340
    We ought not to forget that Socrates was put to death for atheism, among other charges, notably his questioning of the civic deity worship of Athens.Wayfarer

    Socrates did a great job of defending himself against that charge (as described in Plato's Apology).
  • anonymous66
    340
    Can't it be said that religions require a belief in the supernatural, while a belief in the supernatural is not a requirement for philosophy?
    Perhaps I should have typed "Can't it be said that to be considered a religion, a system/institution would have to have supernatural elements? While a philosophy may or may not have supernatural elements?"

    Most religions require belief in the central supernatural elements.Bitter Crank
    Can you give an example of a religion (not people who claim to be followers) that doesn't include supernatural beliefs?

    All that aside, it is the case that what believers actually hold to be true about the supernatural varies a great deal. For instance, not all Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. Not all Catholics and Lutherans believe in transubstantiation. Not all Christians believe in miracles. Not all Jews believe in God.

    How can this be?
    Bitter Crank

    You're concentrating on the people. I'm talking about the institution and/or belief system. . It's still a pretty good rule of thumb. I can't think of any religion that doesn't include supernatural beliefs. But, there are plenty of forms of philosophy that don't.

    There is some question about whether or not Buddhism is a religion or a philosophy. Why? Because some forms of Buddhism don't include concepts of the supernatural.
  • jkop
    402
    Religious people refer to the alleged words of some authority, whose existence is unverifiable, whereas philosophers refer to the explanatory power of argument. Science additionally refers to tests or the best current explanations. There is little or no explanatory power in referring to the will or capacity of a god. That's a major difference.
  • Bitter Crank
    2.3k
    You're concentrating on the people. I'm talking about the institution and/or belief system.anonymous66

    There are no disembodied institutions or belief systems apart from people. No matter the institution or the belief system, it is always peopled (or it is dead).

    Can you give an example of a religion (not people who claim to be followers) that doesn't include supernatural beliefs?anonymous66

    I was thinking of some very small groups like 'ethical societies', secular humanist organizations, some unitarian groups that are just about free of supernaturalism, and the like.
  • anonymous66
    340
    I was thinking of some very small groups like 'ethical societies', secular humanist organizations, some unitarian groups that are just about free of supernaturalism, and the like.Bitter Crank

    What is it about them that makes you consider them to be religions?

    I've been impressed by Alain De Botton. He's written Religion for Atheists, but the gist of his book is that religions have great qualities (like traditions that remind us what is important), he just rejects the idea that God exists.
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