Philosophy is not an easy term to define. I think of it as a creative form of critical thought that contributes some understanding of existence.

Theology is listed by Britannica as “philosophically oriented discipline of religious speculation and apologetics that is traditionally restricted, because of its origins and format, to Christianity but that may also encompass, because of its themes, other religions, including especially Islam and Judaism. The themes of theology include God, humanity, the world, salvation, and eschatology (the study of last times).”

In other words, theology is religious philosophy. Theologians study the religious belief and the divine.

Popular theologians in history include:

  • Saint Thomas Aquinas
    • Christian
  • Augustine of Hippo
    • Christian
  • Baruch Spinoza
    • Jewish and pantheist
  • Blaise Pascal
  • Philo
    • Jewish
  • Epicurus (and his followers, including the Roman Lucretius)
  • The Founding Fathers of The United States
    • Deist
  • Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire Constantine
    • Christian
  • Emperor of the Roman Empire Marcus Aurelius
    • Pantheist, transcendentalist, and humanist
  • Marcion
    • Gnosticism
  • Martin Luther
    • Christian Lutherism
  • Soren Kierkegaard
    • Christian
  • Desiderius Erasmus
    • Humanist
  • Georg Friedrich von Hegel
    • Absolute idealist
  • Immanuel Kant
    • Critical, or, transcendental, idealist
  • John Berkeley
    • Subjective idealist
  • Ibn Sina (Avicenna)
    • Muslim

The rest of this section, an introduction to some very exceptional philosophy and theology, is stated in terms that are more understandable than the original writings. Yet, it may do well to check out the How to Read Philosophy section before proceeding.

What is the meaning of life. Well, the infographic below is a good start!

Platonism and Confucianism have added a lot to Abrahamic religion, mostly Christianity. Plato and Confucius can be thought of as early theologians, or, pre-cursors of such.

Desiderius Erasmus, the humanist, is a very particular philosopher. His views collide with Epicureanism in several manners. Here is one of his plethora of valuable pieces of wisdom:

Moving on…

In modern times, the word “philosophy” isn’t a very important one. Science has much more ethos (thought more highly of). This was my belief, until I realized that it lead, either directly or indirectly, to the advancement of human society. All important questions were first asked by philosophers.

Even the routine application of science to human society, was largely based on the work of a philosopher named Francis Bacon. He was the main person stating that science could be harnessed to advance society. And it took until the 17th century for someone to hold this opinion.

That said, Robert Boyle had a (more minor) role in modern science. He is regarded as the first modern chemist.

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What about Aristotle? Well, Aristotelian thought has been heavily integrated into our behavior. He was, no doubt, a genius of many kinds, writing in politics, biology, astronomy, ethics, psychology, and more. But Aristotle didn’t think that scientific truth needed experiments to back it up. His four elements theory of nature was much, much less true than atomism, a belief attributed to Democritus and (more so) Leucipuss. The latter is hailed as the “father of atomic theory”.

Both were ancient Greeks. Atomism is the idea that all matter is composed of tiny, indivisible pieces of matter, atoms, that make up everything.

Epicurus picked up the idea of atomism. As an aside, Epicurus is most known, much much more, for his strikingly egalitarian and novel ethics and worldview. We see a snippet below:

Of Epicurianism, the “atomic swerve” idea is that atoms can act in an unpredictable manner, moving in a manner, or, swerving, without one being able to foresee it.

This is strikingly similar to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (1927) of relatively quite recent. This is that, as stated by Britannica, “position and the velocity of an object cannot both be measured exactly, at the same time, even in theory.”

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And yet we know today, speaking of atomism, that there are particles smaller than atoms, and that atoms can be split.

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No doubt, Aristotle was key to the development of science. He was a patron of one kind of scientific manner. This is logic.

There are two kinds of logic: deductive and inductive.

  • Aristotle
    • The Syllogism.
      • 1. Major premise (a categorical statement, or, rule)
        • Example: Waging war is inhumane
      • 2. Minor premise (an individual instance that is included in the rule)
        • Example: The United States was at war with Vietnam
      • 3. Conclusion (the minor premise follows the rule)
        • Example: The United States acted inhumane
    • Deductive logic points out individual instances of a rule that has already been proven.

  • Francis Bacon (and, to a lesser extent, Robert Boyle)
    •  Induction: If many different cases of something abide by a certain manner, then that manner is a truth, or, law
      • Example: there are many, many more instances of smokers, as opposed to non-smokers, developing lung cancer. Thus, smoking makes one more likely to have lung cancer.

Avicenna, a Persian philosopher, is usually thought of as the “father of early modern medicine”. We see a sketch of him below.

More so, another man of the Middle East, Al-Hazan, was the first modern scientist. He lived around 1,000 AD.

Moving on a millennium…

A chemist, Charles Sanders Pierce, was an American who lived in the 19th and early 20th century. He was the first scientist to pose the position of pragmatist. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophypragmatism is

“a philosophical movement that includes those who claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in the practical consequences of accepting it, and that unpractical ideas are to be rejected.”

In other words, pragmatism accepts rules, laws, and otherwise phenomena that lead to greater utility and knowledge, even if it can’t be 100% proved. If it poses utility, and as long as it’s not proven wrong, something is accepted as a pragmatic fact.

Now, science is everywhere. We use it without knowing how it works. Few of us know the complex chemical and physical system that goes into powering our cars, or the electronic properties that run the hardware of our laptops.

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Religion is a touchy subject. In today’s world, there’s a lot of political weight attached to religion.

This is my stance:

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With peace.

There exist current debates that revolve around religion. For instance…

  • Should states be allowed to teach creationism. the idea that God created all of existence about 5,000 years ago?
    • On the other hand, should it be banned, in favor of teaching evolution, that life has evolved for several billion years?
  • Is an abortion the murder of a child?
    • Is it only during the third trimester (period) of pregnancy that a human really exists?
  • If someone uses an illegal drug in the name of religion, is this legal?
    • How does one determine this?
  • Do Jews have the right to inhabit Israel and call it their own, given that Jews were promised Israel by God?
  • Is the Muslim faith a savage one, according to the Koran?

Hopefully, further reading of the various contemporary religions will reveal to the objective reader that there are many, many similarities.

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My purpose here isn’t to convert anyone to a religion, or even a belief system. It’s to get us thinking, and deeply.

  1. Some arguments related to God(s)
  2. Arguments against ideas and existence of God(s)
  3. Major religion belief systems

Things will get a bit technical. If you’re a wandering soul, like myself, hopefully you’ll look up some of these topics in more detail.

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A philosopher, Kierkeggard, spoke of a Leap to Faith. There is no logical justification to find God. You must leap to the belief. How one does so, I do not understand. Perhaps the below graphic clarifies things.

Gregg Henriques

We see above the links between three major philosophical questions. Two bear on ethics and law. The last is bare-bones. So at the metaphysical level (about existence), what exists? This is a very immersive philosophical topic.

At one end of the spectrum lies Idealism.


Idealism

Idealism: the idea that all of existence is mind.

Subjective Idealism was George Berkley’s theory, who came up with it while still in his mere 20’s.

  • Everything in existence is simply part of God’s dream, or, one of God’s ideas. Physical matter does not exist. Things only exist so long as they’re presently being perceived.
  • When people stop paying attention to something, Berkeley argued, it’s foolish to think that that “something” suddenly passes out of existence.
  • Thus, the “something” is constantly perceived by an all-knowing (omniscient), all-present (omnipresent) God. This God chooses what to reveal to each human, and when to reveal it.

Absolute Idealism was an idea developed by a guy named Georg Friedrich Hegel. He looked history, and discovered a consistency. This is what The Dialectic:

  1. A good idea, or thesis, being, is formed. Humanity hold that idea until…
  2. Someone poses an antithesis, an idea that challenged the thesis, nothing. And finally…
  3. The thesis and the antithesis combine to form an idea better than each on it’s own, called a synthesis, becoming

Hegel never coined “thesis, antithesis, synthesis”. But he did first write about this process.

  • The Dialectic encompasses all existence: God.
  • God is continually making changes in the world in order to self-actualize, and promote a state of great peace.
  • But God (humans and their environment) are clumsily moving forward, simply due to naivete.
  • It’s not evil that makes bad things happen in the world, it’s just immaturity.

Critical Idealism was Immanual Kant’s idea.

  • Humans can’t perceive  the real world because our ability to perceive things is limited by our senses.
  • All we know, is what we know according to our means of perception (smell, sight, touch, taste, hearing).
  • True reality, things-in-themselves, remain unknown, because our senses bias what we come across in the world
    • The one way to come in contact with things-in-themselves, is experiencing the sublime, the breathtakingly beautiful.
  • We automatically think that our senses tell us what exists. But we have no way to prove this. As a result, Kant argues, we are forever caught in delusion, a fake reality.

Others, with more recent vindication, believe that all of existence is material

Materialism

This idea isn’t the economic, Capitalist-derived idea that people should accrue material. It’s a perspective on what exists.

Daniel Dennet, Patricia and Paul Churchland, and other contemporary philosophers posit a strain of this belief:

Eliminative Materialism: all that exists is physical matter. There is no mind.

Animism (things that in the past have thought to have minds, whether an animal, plant, fungus, or rock) have been steadily, increasingly explained by science

  1. Thousands of years ago, humans attributed lightning to Zeus (Greek) or the sun to Horus (Egyptian)
  2. Presently, chemistry and physics can account for them
  3. Who’s to say, given the progression of science, that in the future we will be unable to current mysteries with science, too? The trend certainly forecasts that we will.

*The below sources span through this general topic and its offshoot pages*

Sources: David Galezo, Dr. Hayley Clatterbuck, Dr. Travis P. Vandeberg, http://www.theopedia.com, http://nae.net, http://plato.stanford.edu, http://www.islam-guide.com, http://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/, http://www.dummies.com/how-to, http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org, The Big Questions in Science, https://caveoforacle.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/interfaith-and-polytheism/, https://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/beginnersheart/2015/12/a-golden-rule-yule.html, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/259590365997548129/?lp=true, https://mappalicious.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_7909.png,