Religious philosophy is philosophical thinking that is influences and directed as a consequence to teachings from a particular religion. It can be done objectively, but may also be done as a persuasion tool by believers in that faith. Religious philosophy is predominantly concerned with the concept of god, gods, and/or the divine.
Due to historical development of religions, many religious share commonalities with respect to their philosophies. These philosophies are often considered to be universal and include beliefs pertaining to concepts such as afterlife, souls, and miracles.
Each religion has unique philosophies that distinguish them from other religions, and these philosophies are guided through the concepts and values behind the teaching pertaining to that belief-system. Different religious philosophies include:
- Aztec philosophy
- Buddhist philosophy – Elaboration and explanation of the delivered teachings of the Buddha
- Chinese philosophy
- Christian philosophy – Development in philosophy that is characterised by coming from a Christian tradition
- Hindu philosophy – Various systems of thought in Hinduism
- Islamic philosophy – Philosophy that is characterised by coming from an Islamic tradition
- Jain philosophy
- Indian philosophy
- Jewish philosophy – All philosophy carried out by Jews, or in relation to the religion of Judaism
- Sikh philosophy
- Taoist philosophy
- Zoroastrian philosophy
Religious philosophy should not be confused with philosophy of religion, which is instead the philosophical discussion and examination of the nature of religion as a whole entity.
Many philosophical commonalities have arisen amongst religions due to core historical foundations. For example, Abrahamic religions, which encompass Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i Faith, Yezidi, Druze, Samaritan and Rastafari, share philosophical commonalities, although differ in their presentation of these philosophical concepts through their respective religious texts.
There are also philosophical concepts and reasoning in religious teachings that were conceived independently from one another, however, are still similar and reflect analogous ideas. For example, the argument and reasoning for the existence of an omniscient god or multiple gods can be found in several religions including Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. Another example includes the philosophical concept of free will; present in monotheistic religions as well as in polytheistic religions.
Many religious concepts are considered to be ‘cross-culturally ubiquitous’ as they are ‘cognitively natural’. They are considered to be intuitive, meaning that they arise without much direction, instruction, or coaching in early stages of our intellectual development, and do not necessarily arise from cultural influence. Such religious concepts include beliefs concerning ‘afterlife, souls, supernatural agents, and miraculous events’.
Religious philosophy influences many aspects of an individuals’ conception and outlook on life. For example, empirical studies concentrating on the philosophical concept of spirituality at or near the end of life, conducted in India, found that individuals who follow Indian philosophical concepts are influenced by these concepts in their ‘perception of spirituality’.
Considerations concerning medical care, death, diet, and pregnancy differ amongst followers of various religions due to their respective philosophies.
An individuals’ religious philosophy is important in the consideration of their medical care and medical decisions, improving quality of their medical treatment. Particularly, in the case of palliative care, understanding different religious philosophical foundations allows for the proper spiritual care to be obtained by the patient. Religious philosophy is also a necessary consideration in the psychotherapeutic treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Consideration of organ donation post-death is related to an individual’s religious philosophy.
Islamic philosophies forbid the ‘violation of the human body’, however simultaneously place importance on selflessness –
‘And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely’ (Qur’an 5:32).
Organ donation is generally endorsed. Objections to organ donation in Islamic religion is mainly originated on cultural foundations rather than religious philosophical ones, with their altruistic principle allowing for exceptions in regard to medical intervention, for example; involving porcine bone grafts.
Christian philosophies generally endorse organ donation although reasoning and opinion differ amongst sects. Christian theologists reference the Bible in regard to organ donation, particularly
‘Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: Freely you have received, freely give.’ (Matthew 10:8)
‘Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:13).
Jewish philosophies hold great importance on the intact burial of the deceased persons due to halakhic foundations. However, much like Islam, altruism in the form of saving a life, known as pikuach nefesh in Jewish law, overrides all other commandments and prohibition– ‘Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.’ (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin 37a). Organ donation is endorsed by most Jewish scholars.
Consideration of euthanasia is influenced by an individual’s religious philosophy. For example, religions such as Christian Science, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh-day Adventist do not allow for or practice euthanasia.
Many religions hold philosophical value toward life of all forms and are thus completely against abortion such as in Bahai’I, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witness, Roman Catholicism. However abortion is tolerated in specific cases, such as rape or when the mother’s life is in danger, by religions such as Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism.
Use of birth control is rare in religions and faiths like Bahai’I but is generally accepted in other religions such as Buddhism, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Hinduism.
Many religions follow dietary habits. For example, a vegetarian diet is adhered to by individuals who follow Buddhism, Hinduism, Seventh-day Adventist. Fasting of various forms (exclusion of specific foods or food groups, or exclusion of food for certain periods of time) are undertaken by individuals who follow philosophies of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Eastern Orthodox, Islam, Roman Catholicism.
Some religions, like Islam, require for food to be invoked in God’s name.
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Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia