It includes study of religious doctrines, scriptures, stories, practices, history, and arguments, that determine and influence the way we live. It is studied in a reasoned and disciplined manner, where every aspect of religion is tested for its trueness.
Many people confuse it with theology. Theology is defensive in nature, and is committed to defend a particular religion, having a firm belief in every aspect of it. Whereas, philosophy of religion is the scientific investigation of it.
For example, theology considers religious scriptures as supreme and authoritative, but in philosophy, such scriptures are the objects of study and investigation. Its ultimate aim is to examine religious claims to establish rational explanations, if any.
Given next are some of the primary and perennial questions and areas that are studied in it:
- God: myth or reality?
- Argument on God's gender: what is God like?
- What does God mean to human beings?
- Who is the creator of this word?
- Are religious beliefs reasonable?
- What is the aim of world religions?
- What is the nature of religious language and experiences?
- What is the value of religious belief, faith and practices?
- Why praise God?
- Is evil a part of God?
- Why does evil exist?
- Can God forgive everything?
Perspectives on the Philosophy
It can be studied from different perspectives by different people. For example, atheist philosophy is different from theist. Since atheists do not believe in God, they don't believe that religion is created by God. They study it as a phenomenon created by human beings.
They tend to focus on it as a man-made belief system, and study the ethics, principles, morals, and identity of a particular religion and people following it. They often neglect its role, what it is, and how reasonable it is. But, an atheist who is non-judgmental, unbiased, and who is concerned about it, can study it well.
Theists tend to study religion as it is. In fact, the theist perspective cannot be coined as philosophy of religion, as mentioned before, rather, it is religious study that glorifies a particular religion. According to theism, God does exists, and hence, the world is created by God, and every human being is born for a purpose.
It tends to restrict human freedom, but at the same time, it affirms our values. Theists do not agree to the atheist perspective, because if man has come from dust and is going to return to it, then in what sense he is important?
The crux is that, it tries to find out the links between faiths and reasons. Our beliefs, faiths, disbeliefs, are nothing but the way we live our life, and the philosophy is nothing but finding out the rationals behind them.