Study Notes from Lessons 1-5
Major divisions of Thinking
Metaphysics (Ontology): study of reality. What is real? Deals with the principles of being and the
structure of existence
• Transcendental or supernatural way. Focus on what exists outside the natural realm.
Beyond our senses
• Materialist sense – Only real reality is the material world around us
(1) What does it mean for something to be or exist?
(2) Dogs and ideas exist, but do they have the same sort of
(3) What’s the “ontological status” of a killer bunny rabbit?
Epistemology: Deals with knowledge and human knowing. Problem of knowledge concerns the
relationship between truth and belief.
• Abstract – know that
• Experiential – know how
(1) What does it mean to know something?
(2) Is there a difference between knowledge and true belief?
Logic: deals with principles of reasoning. Deals with right reasoning (modus ponens, syllogisms)
• Aesthetics – questions and value pertaining to art and beauty
(1) What is beauty? In what does it consist? E.g., is a sunset beautiful in the same way
that a painting is?
(2) What is a work of art, and what is the nature of its existence? E.g., what’s the
ontological status of a symphony, or a novel, or a poem?
• Ethics – Questions concerning the rightness or wrongness of our actions, laws,
(1) What does it mean for something to be good? Can “good” be defined?
(2) Is it morally wrong to:
(a) plagiarize a term paper?
(b) sell one of your kidneys?
(c) sell one of your brain dead brother’s kidneys? Why/why not? - Science, time, mind and religion are also divisions of thought
- The problem of the philosophy of religion consists in this tension between reason and
- Non-rational reasoning are instances of mystical experiences, visions
Foundationalism: foundations or basic belief that we all accept in order to justify something/an
Divisions of Religion
Theos (Greek) and Deus (Latin) both mean God
Atheism: No belief in God
Agnostic: Belief of God is something unknowable
Skepticism: Creating doubt and belief that certain knowledge is uncertain. Any knowledge is not
certain to be true.
Naturalism: belief due to reason and experience, unless not
Deism: God created the world but no longer operates it
Monotheism vs Polytheism
Henotheism: Belief in many gods, but one chief God
Pantheism: all things are God and God is all things
Panentheism: God containing all things but distinct from the universe
Anthromorphize: think of God in terms of a person (attributes of a person)
God’s Characteristics according to Monotheism
a. Infinite (eternal, cannot be measured, no beginning/end)
b. Aseity (independent)
c. Creator (God is the creator and separate from the creation)
e. Goodness, Love, Grace (all graceful and merciful)
Belief, Faith, Experience, Reason
a. Belief (cannot claim to believe ‘because’ you believe/ must be a reason)
b. Faith (spiritual openness to prepare for the experience of God
c. Experience (Revalation – prophets bringing scriptures and Mystical Experience) d. Reason (Analysis of the rational/ non-experiential)
(i) Rational Theism: (1)a & (2)a: God exists & His existence can be proved
(ii) Atheism: (1)b & (2)b: God does not exist & His existence cannot be proved
(iii) Non-rational Theism: (1)a & (2)b: God exists & His existence cannot be proved
(iv) [Absurd]: (1)b & (2)a: God does not exist & His existence can be proved
Phenomenology – describing and interpreting religion without making judgements about their
Pluralism: something characterized by multiple different ethinic/religious/social group
Globalization: massive process of social change resulting from growing interconnectedness of
human social, cultural, religious life that is altering human activities around the globe
Secularism: to separate religion from society and guide it by rational humanism
Humanism: humans determine what is good and evil
Five Reasons to Study Religion
1. RELIGION KILLS (religion is sometimes the cause of violence)
2. RELIGION HEALS (motivates to care for others)
3. RELIGION EXPLAINS (helps explain our existence, culture, traditions, practices/
4. RELIGION ENTICES US (the mystery and hard to understand may compel some)
5. RELIGION HAS SUPPORTING ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIP (Scholars have done much
research on it)
Positive Particularism: Religions help maintain cultural identities and tradition, beliefs, ideas
Negative Particularism: Religion encourages discrimination and violence against alternating
MUST Parts for a Religion
1. A transcendental figure (God)
2. Sacred Literature
5. Moral Action The Arbitrariness Problem
• If you believe that “actions are right because God commands them”, then you accept
God as t