Thursday, July 14, 2011
Religious Philosophy – Final Essay
By Robert Nelson
This course is a rigorous introduction to the field of Religious Philosophy. It introduces the student to the major thinkers in the field along with the major concepts. It begins with an overview of the great thinkers ranging from Marx and Freud to Emile Durkheim and William James. In considers in detail such concepts as religious forms and religious classifications. There is an important lesson on religious tolerance including the five As of awareness, acknowledgment, acceptance, appreciation, and amalgamation. Another great lesson is the one which explores myth as a matter of religious expression. Then there are such concepts as ecclesiasticism, eschatolgy, globalization, and the role of prosylytizing, religious functionality and social function. The lesson which explores the relationship of religions with other religions and the various approaches to that relationships was another great lesson, as was the lesson on the relationship between the human and the divine which explores among other issues the effect of belief on the lives of religious adherents.
As the best teachers, classes, and books always do this course provokes more questions than it provides answers. I am left with a curiosity – a thirst – about the origin of religion in human evolution and an interest in exploring in greater depth many of the authors mentioned in the course. Another area which I intend to explore in greater depth is that of the relationship between science and religion – not in the old tired cliché way we have heard so often but in greater depth around such issues as what light each sheds on such things as ontology, epistemology, and the nature of consciousness.
But for me the very best lesson (and one which raised many of the most important questions) was the one dealing with the future of religion. We discovered in the course how even the active repression of religion has failed to destroy religion in such countries as Russia (the former Society Union), Cuba, and China. But we are left with questions about the future role of religion in societies which are mostly secular as well as to the forms which religions may take in the future.
Over all I found this course enjoyable and I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in exploring the nature and functions of religion. It goes far beyond the simple comparisons of various religions to explore the underlying principles which underlie the form and function of religion in human culture and psychology. It lives up to the expectations one has of a graduate level course.
The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
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