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Introduction
Philosophy refers to the study of fundamental and general issues concerning matters like existence values, knowledge, language, mind, and reasoning[1]. The various Philosophical approaches include critical discussion, questioning, system presentation, as well as rational argument. According to [2], Philosophers answer such questions like what is real, best ways of living and the best way to be just or unjust. In addition, philosophy helps to verify whether human beings have free will. On the other hand, Philosophy of religion refers to the philosophical study of religion’s meaning and nature. It encompasses the analysis of various religious concepts, beliefs, practices of religious adherents and religious arguments. The range in philosophy has continually increased[3]. This is meant to ensure a more global approach, considering both theistic and the non-theistic religious traditions. The philosophy of religion brings together the entire philosophy main areas and other relevant fields that include theology, sociology, psychology, as well as other natural sciences. The various theories under the philosophy of religion include miracles, the problem of evil as well as suffering, God’s concepts, the religious language and belief, opinions for and contrary to the actuality of God and religious diversity[4]. Philosophy helps in finding answers to some of the most difficult questions in life including whether or not God exists, whether miracles exist and how to evaluate and differentiate real religion from false or untrue religion. This paper presents the critical evaluation of contribution of philosophy to academic field of studies of religion.

How philosophy proves the existence of God

Philosophy continues to contribute significantly to religion in different ways. To begin with, philosophy helps in proving that God exists. Unlike science that has tried to prove the non-existence of a supreme being, philosophy provides many arguments to show that God exists.

Cosmological Argument

The philosophers argue that this is the First-Cause Argument. The argument holds that something must have led to the existence of universe. Some of the earlier proponents of this argument include St. Thomas Aquinas, Plato, and Aristotle[5]. The argument is founded in the assumption that all things have a beginning or a cause. In addition, the assumption also holds that every cause must have a cause, and all the subsequent causes have their causes. Assuming that there exists no end to the regression of the causes, the succession of events would lead to infinity[6]. However, an infinity cause of events is not valid, because a causal loop does not exist nor a causal loop of infinite length. For this reason, there must be some type of cause, which in itself is uncaused. The uncaused being or event would need some form of “unconditioned” or a “supreme” being, which must be God. Based on the first argument, it is clear that the first cause must have been its cause or must have existed without any other influence, because nothing existed before its existence[7]. The first argument has helped to weaken the big bang theory, the theory behind the existence of the universe. Philosopher questions question the cause of the reaction that led to big bang. In addition, the argument has reduced the confusion brought about by the Darwin theory of evolution of man. The theory is detailed on the evolution of humankind from ape species. However, the first argument questions the first cause of the ape species that continue to evolve even to date[8]. There must be something behind that led to existence of the human beings[9]. The thing must be uncaused. The uncaused being is what philosopher calls God because it has neither start nor an end.

Classic ontological argument

Secondly, philosophers provide that the notion of a being that is all-perfect prove the existence of God. St. Anselm articulated the argument in 1070. In this case, St. Anselm argued that because all people have a conception of a being that is overall perfect, of which nothing can be greater than, then it has to exist[10]. In Proslogion essay, St. Anselm conceived a God who has no imperfection. In addition, he perceives a God who possesses the entire conceivable perfection. However, if the being had existed as just an idea in peoples’ minds,  then the being would be less perfect  that if the being actually exited[11]. In that case, the being could not be greater than people, who actually exist and therefore this would contradict peoples’ definition of God- a perfect being. From this reasoning, it is clear that actually God exists.
Rene Descartes also asserted that it is true that God actually exists. In his fifth meditation, Rene Descartes wrote that the conception of a perfect being lacking existence is the same as imagination of a triangle with interiors angles that do not sum to 180 degrees[12]. In this case, Rene Descartes was big innate ideas notion and distinct and clear perception doctrine. Therefore, because people have the idea of a superlatively perfect being, it is clear and true to conclude that the being actually exists[13]. In Descarte’s thoughts, the existence of God was more obvious, self-evident, and logical as the very elementary mathematical truths. According to Descarte, people cannot think of what does not exist of something they lack comparison[14]. Because of the existence of birds, people were able to come up with an idea of airplanes. This argument helps to strengthen peoples’ belief in the existence of a God who is perfect, with no flaws.
In addition, philosophy strengthens the existence of God by holding that the existence of Consciousness proves the existence of immaterial entities. Up to now, there exists no single theory qualia or concerning consciousness and this gives rise to the disreputable Hard Problem. Subjective consciousness is reasonably unlike whatsoever that people usually deal with in their material universe[15]. In addition, the strangeness of cognizance, and peoples’ ability of understanding it, leads to the notion of the subjective dualism, normally referred as the Cartesian dualism. Cartesian dualism describes two very fundamental types of things, that is, material and the mental. According to the dualists, material alone is not capable to produce qualia- the capacity of an individual to poses internal thoughts, feelings, as well as subjective awareness.

Teleological Argument

Also referred as the Design argument helps to prove the existence of God and therefore strengthen people believe in God. According to this argument, there is existence of much intricate detail, purpose, and design around the globe that supposes a creator[16]. The entire incredible and sophistication detail that people experience around the globe cannot have occurred through chance. The most common element of this argument is the watch” argument that was coined by William Paley[17]. According to this argument, after a deep observation of the watch, containing its entire intricate parts, which work in unison in a perfect fashion for purpose of keeping time, an individual must come to a deduction. The most rationale conclusion is that the piece of machinery must have a creator, because it is much complicated to have merely come to existence through some other methods, like evolution[18]. According to the argument, human artifacts are the result of intelligent design because they have a predetermined purpose, the universe looks like the human artifacts, and therefore there is a higher probability that the earth is the outcome of an intelligent design and has a clear purpose. In addition, the argument provides that the universe is highly complex and gigantic compared to human artifacts and therefore there is likelihood that a vastly intelligent and powerful designer created the universe[19]. However, other philosophers rose counter the Teleological Argument. Some of the counter questions include, prove of existence or lack of existence of other universes, proof that there is only one creator and there exists no evidence of a very intelligent creator. David Hume remains among the leading critics of the design argument[20].
According to Hume, the universe does not exhibit significant order because there is numerous indications of disorder including collision of galaxies, supernova, black holes, earthquakes, cosmic radiation, and volcanoes. In addition, Hume holds that the design argument does not provide clear parts to whole concept. The design argument is not clear on how the universe was designed, from parts to whole but instead explains why an intelligent designer must have created the universe[21]. Furthermore, Hume argues that the design analogy fails since there are no other universes or a universe to be compared to earth. The existence of other universe to compare with the earth would help determine whether the creator of the earth was an intelligent creator or not. What is more, Hume holds that the analogy does not prove that only a single God exists[22]. According to Hume, the analogy only focuses on the intelligence of the designer rather than how the universe was designed and the number of creators involved. Moreover, Hume argues that the design analogy does not prove that the creator of the universe was infinite. However, other philosophers have argued against the critiques by arguing that it is clear that the design and the order of the universe is a clear indicator of intelligence of its creator or designer. The fact that there exist no other universes is in itself a proof that God is intelligent since he created the universe from scratch without anywhere to copy from. In addition, this proves the originality of the creator- unlike most of the contemporary designers who design existing phenomena, God created the world from scratch and this proves his intelligence [23].

How philosophy has contributed to the decline of religiosity

Marxism and religion

The various works by Karl Marx have worked in diluting the power and authority of religion in the society. According to Marx, religion is a form of protest adopted by the working class against their poor economic conditions as well as their alienation[24]. In addition, Karl max holds that religious suffering is the expression of real suffering at one hand and the protest of the same suffering at the same time[25]. Furthermore, Marx argues that religion acts as the heart of the heartless world, the soul of the soulless situations and the sign of the oppressed creatures. Abolishing religion as the deceptive happiness of people is the demand for actual happiness. According to Marx, the idea of God’s existence is a man-made invention. Being significantly influenced by Ludwig von Feuerbach’s transformational criticism, Marx held that human beings are the main creators of God and not the vice versa. According to Marx, the only existing intellectual design was in human’s mind, and therefore God cannot exist autonomously void of human prognostication of the entity[26]. In the course of the creation of God, beings became highly self-indifferent and predictable their integrities on the created abstraction of perfection[27]. In addition, people designed the God-pinpointed universe whereby the wickedness and the evil of humanity would be juxtaposed with the wondrous entity. For ending the alienation, and free human beings from the manacles of guiltiness as well as self-squalor, there is need for destruction of God in order to repossess the various virtues people innocently give up to the view of God’s existence[28]. Marx holds that there is need for a world that is centered on human beings instead of one that is only centered on a supreme being.

Theology as Anthropology by Ludwig Feuerbach

Feuerbach’s works also weakens the spread and adoption of religion. Ludwig Feuerbach believed that God did not institute religion rather it is manmade. While drawing on the Hegelian philosophy, he holds that the idea on the process through which religion was discovered was wish-realization. According to Feuerbach, God’s projection is the strongest desire of human beings. He further argues that human beings yearn for a being to satisfy their dreams and desires and in doing so they invent the being[29]. God is a wish by human beings that is fulfilled as well as sustained through an illusion. Furthermore, he argues that Christianity is a fantasy world that is inhabited by people who for a long time have not realized that when they are “are praying to God” they are just expressing their inner fears and hopes[30]. In various occasions, he has rubbished the idea of prayers as irrational thing and a delusion. Prayer is a fictional way of expressing one’s fears, dreams, and hopes to a delusional being, which does not exist. He further holds that prayers are a form of creating a virtual hope among pessimists in the hope that things will change. It shows that people cannot trust their own instincts of living a worth life independently. For this reason, such people have to cling on a supernatural imagination instead of trusting in their capacity to solve their problems.
Ludwig’s philosophy has worked in weakening the growth of religiosity in different parts of the globe. Ludwig places man beyond everything and believes that man created everything including God. The belief that man is the master of creation and he is the force behind the creation of religion has continued to confuse many Christians and reduce the grip of religion. In addition, with this philosophy many people do not take religion as a serious thing because it is fabricated. This has slowed the spread of religion.
 

Conclusion

            Philosophy has contributed greatly to the field of religion. In different ways, it has led to both decline and increase of religiosity in different parts of the globe. The various Philosophical approaches include critical discussion, questioning, system presentation, as well as rational argument. Philosophers answer such questions like what is real, best ways of living and the best way to be just or unjust. Various philosophies prove the existence of a supreme being. To begin with, Cosmological Argument proves the existence of God. The argument is founded in the supposition that all things have a beginning or a cause. The assumption holds that every cause must have a cause, and all the subsequent causes have their causes. Assuming that there exists no end to the regression of the causes, the succession of events would lead to infinity. However, an infinity cause of events is not valid and for this reason, there must be some type of cause, which in itself is uncaused. Furthermore, Rene Descartes also asserted that it is true that God actually exists. In his fifth meditation, Rene Descartes wrote that the conception of a perfect being lacking existence is the same as imagination of a triangle with interiors angles that do not sum to 180 degrees. Therefore, because people have the idea of a superlatively perfect being, it is clear and true to conclude that the being actually exists.

 
 

References

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[1] Grube D. Interpretation and Meaning in Philosophy and Religion [monograph on the Internet]. (Leiden: Brill, 2016)
[2] Yandell K. Philosophy of Religion : A Contemporary Introduction [monograph on the Internet]. 2nd ed, (New York: Routledge, 2016)
[3] De Cruz H. Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy [monograph on the Internet], (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016)
[4] Meier H. Political Philosophy and the Challenge of Revealed Religion [monograph on the Internet]. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017)
[5] Uğurlu A. Zorunlu Nedensellik Bağlamında David Hume’un Kozmolojik Delil Eleştirisi / David Hume’s Criticize for Cosmological Argument in The Context of Mandatory Causality, (Abant İzzet Baysal Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, Güz 2015)
[6] Erasmus J, Verhoef A. The KalAm Cosmological Argument and the Infinite God Objection, (Sophia, 2015), 411.
[7] Feser E. The New Atheists and the Cosmological Argument. Midwest Studies In Philosophy (serial on the Internet, 2013), 154-177.
[8] Lewis T, UPSO eCollections (University Press Scholarship O. Why Philosophy Matters for the Study of Religion—and Vice Versa, (First edition.Oxford: United Kingdom, 2015)
[9] Helen De C, Johan De S. 5 The Cosmological Argument and Intuitions about Causality and Agency. A Natural History of Natural Theology: The Cognitive Science of Theology and Philosophy of Religion, (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2014), p. 85.
[10] Dombrowski D. Rethinking the Ontological Argument : A Neoclassical Theistic Response, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
[11] Aikin S, Hodges M. St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument as Expressive: A Wittgensteinian Reconstruction. Philosophical Investigations, (2014), pp. 130-151
[12] Mander W. Idealism and the Ontological Argument. British Journal For The History Of Philosophy,(2012), pp. 993-1014
[13] Dombrowski D. Rethinking the Ontological Argument: A Neoclassical Theistic Response, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 59
[14] Yandell K. Philosophy of Religion : A Contemporary Introduction, 2nd ed, (New York: Routledge, 2016), pp. 65
[15] Göcke B. Did god know it? God’s relation to a world of chance and randomness. International Journal For Philosophy Of Religion, (2015), pp. 233-254
[16] Ratzsch, D. and Koperski, Teleological Arguments for God’s Existence. [online] Plato.stanford.edu. Available at: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleological-arguments/#AnaDesArgSch1 [2016].
[17] Lewis T, UPSO eCollections (University Press Scholarship O. Why Philosophy Matters for the Study of Religion—and Vice Versa , (First edition. Oxford, United Kingdom: OUP Oxford, 2015)
[18] De Cruz H. Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy, (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016), pp. 26
[19] Ratzsch, D. and Koperski, J. (2016). Teleological Arguments for God’s Existence. [online] Plato.stanford.edu. Available at: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleological-arguments/#AnaDesArgSch1 [Accessed 24 Dec. 2016].
[20] Sudduth M. A Philosophical Critique of Empirical Arguments for Postmortem Survival , (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2016), pp. 23
[21] Van Eyghen H. Religious Belief is Not Natural. Why Cognitive Science of Religion Does Not Show That Religious Belief is Trustworthy, (Studia Humana, 2016, Dec), pp. 34
[22] Ştefan I. Arguments for and Against Abortion in Terms of Teleological and Deontological Theories. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences [serial on the Internet], (Iasi, Romania, 2014), 927-935
[23] Ştefan I. Arguments for and Against Abortion in Terms of Teleological and Deontological Theories, (Iasi, Romania, 2014), 927-935
[24] English.sxu.edu, Karl Marx: Is there a God? | Peter N. KirsteinPeter N. Kirstein. [online] Available at: http://english.sxu.edu/sites/kirstein/archives/30 [2016].
[25] Sayers S, Mackenzie I, Bates D. Marxism, Religion and Ideology : Themes From David McLellan, (New York: Routledge, 2016)
[26] Grelle B. Antonio Gramsci and the Question of Religion : Ideology, Ethics, and Hegemon, [N.p.], (Routledge, 2016)
[27] Breckman W. Democracy Between Disenchantment and Political Theology: French Post-Marxism and the Return of Religion, ([place unknown]: Columbia University Press, 2013)
[28] Chen W. Confucian Marxism : A Reflection on Religion and Global Justice, (Leiden: Brill, 2014)
[29] Uglik J. Ludwig Feuerbach’s conception of the religious alienation of man and Mikhail Bakunin’s philosophy of negation. Studies In East European Thought, (2010, Mar), 19-28
[30] Uglik J. Ludwig Feuerbach’s conception of the religious alienation of man and Mikhail Bakunin’s philosophy of negation. Studies In East European Thought, (2010, Mar), 19-28