Getting Started with Philosophy of Religion

Where does one start with this topic? To me, all these types of serious discussions start with Wikipedia. They seem to always give me a good high-level view of the topic at hand.

Philosophy of religion is “the philosophical examination of the central themes and concepts involved in religious traditions.


The philosophy of religion differs from religious philosophy in that it seeks to discuss questions regarding the nature of religion as a whole, rather than examining the problems brought forth by a particular belief system. It is designed such that it can be carried out dispassionately by those who identify as believersor non-believers

Source: Wikipedia

Editor’s Note: Since I don’t want to keep repeating it several time throughout our discussions, I am shortening the phrase “philosophy of religion” to POR.

In addition to the quote above what I have learned so far tells me that POR is very different from religious studies in that where philosophy generally tries to be both critical and comprehensive, whereas religion is comprehensive but almost always excludes any critical assessment.  Most religions do attempt to offer at least their general view of all of life and the universe and to their answers to most, if not all, of the most basic questions.

The answers offered by religion are rarely subject to the careful scrutiny of reason and logic. Many times religious beliefs defy logic and seem to be unreasonable.  Religion has its basis in belief.  Philosophy, on the other hand, is a critic of all belief and belief systems. 

To sum it up, theological discussions occur within the context of a particular religious tradition, whereas philosophical discussions aim to transcend the boundaries between traditions so as to treat all of them as objectively as possible.


Most of the posts going forward will be gleaned from what others say of the subject. I will try to limit my personal thoughts and feelings about what I have reported until the end of the post and they will be identified as shown above

Summing up my initial feelings about what I said here, I pretty much only have personal experiences with Christianity so that is the framework from which I currently think. I hope, via this series, to be able to broaden my view of spirituality in the coming months.

I don’t know but I suspect that most Protestant denominations pretty much detest philosophers from trying to logically think of what their religion is about. I know many Lutherans think of the Catholic church as the “enemy” and the Pope as almost the anti-Christ. And they think of most outside of Christianity even worse. That is not a good starting point for Coexistence, is it?

I need to spend some time either validating that belief or dispelling these negative feelings.

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