.. d. While they didn’t believe in a God, per say, their One is in the same spirit as Western religions’ God. That most everything, natural or manmade has some intrinsic beauty is not in dispute. But is an ugly object evil, from Satan or some other corollary of God? This, unfortunately, Trueblood doesn’t delve into.
Historical and religious experience is another vast factor in the philosophy of religion. To quote Martin Buber, “All religion is history” With only very minor exceptions, most historical manuscripts have been written, preserved, etc. by religious characters. As far back as the Sumerian civilizations, it was the priests who recorded everything. In the Middle Ages of Europe, were it not for monks, all of the Greek and Roman manuscripts would have been lost, and no new records would have come about. Coincidentally, many of the religious leaders of the Middle Ages were philosophers, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, etc.
Only in the Renascence did the fields of History, Religion, and Philosophy once again diverge, yet to this day, their paths cross more often than not. The Holy Bible, in many places is just a collection of ancient history, and reads like a lecture. Only the prophecies and slanted views found in it prevent it from being the first history textbook. The codependency of separate religions and history is also illustrated by the Hebrew and Christian faiths: The Christian faith has developed largely at the expense of the Hebrew faith, and has no independent foundation, and the Hebrew faith is stagnate, with no definitive end. The Christians even registered the Hebrew Canon as part of the Bible, providing the faith with some tenuous roots, although the true development of Christianity is somewhat vague. The next two sections of Philosophy of Religion deal with problems encountered by those attempting to be faithful to a religion.
Trueblood considers Dialectical Materialism, i.e. Marxism to be one of the greatest challenges. Marxism and the Nazi movement of the 1930s and ’40s are both, technically, religions, but they act as a severe detriment to Christianity or other theistic beliefs. Both of these movements are atheistic, embracing manmade values, mainly economic: although the similarities stop there. Another challenge pointed out in this section is That of Freudian psychology.
Trueblood considers this a threat almost as severe as the aforementioned blight of Dialectical materialism. Freud and others like him, including Ludwig Feuerbach, consider the idea of Gods to be nothing more than personified wishes. Feuerbach contends that each segment of belief is an attempt to objectify the thinker’s wish. Freud himself felt that the Christian God was the manifestation of man’s desire for a father figure to be feared, and depended upon, thus we view natural occurrences as coming from a central parent. I personally don’t agree with Trueblood on this point: many people see Freud’s views as anachronistic, not a viable explanation of man’s desire for God, and certainly not a challenge to religious faith.
The third challenge to religious faith, according to Trueblood, is Logical Positivism. While Marxism and Nazis point-blankly scoff the idea of God, and Freud writes it off to psychological instability, this third attack simply views religion and metaphysics as “worthless and idle undertakings.” Positivism restricts knowledge and fact as sense experiences, basic definitions only elaborated on as the subject of personal whims. Positivists feel there is a definitive answer to every question, and only one answer, is right. It is a very dogmatic and intolerable school of philosophy. I fully agree with Trueblood that this is a serious challenge to religious faith, perhaps more so than dialectical materialism.
With no room for opinion, there can be no room for free-thinking, thus no expansion of religious thought. Indeed, this attitude is a threat to not only religious freedom, but to intellectual expansion. Should logical positivism ever come into widespread acceptance, than the world would take on an Orwellian shape, with all religions a thing of the past. There are many enduring problems that religion faces, that don’t come and go like political fads or philosophical sects. The central of these problems is science vs.
religion. It is impossible, as mentioned at the beginning of this paper to compartmentalize the two. As fast as one theologist finds a new biblical text proving creation, geologists pull up a fossil of man a few more hundred thousand years older. Fortunately, however the Genises/geology dogmatism has relaxed, with both sides able to find a happy median. But the great strides in medicine have sparked an enormous amount of confrontation, with people unsure of where science and chance ends, and miracles begin.
Of course, what is miracle? Could not have God influenced the doctor, pulling his hand in the right way as the delicate incision was made? There are a million what-ifs in medicine, and one must draw the line, and have faith in his fellow man instead of chalking every successful recover up to divine intervention. If everyone waited for a miracle, nothing would ever get done, and then the need for miracles would be even greater, according to Trueblood. I fully agree with Trueblood on this point. The remainder of Philosophy of Religion deals with such topics as evil, God himself (or her/its self), freedom, and immortality. I didn’t feel these topics are necessarily an important part of the book.
They are impossible to validate, and Trueblood gives them a slanted approach. He only spends two pages on the religious significance of freedom, and doesn’t even mention the value of the freedom of religion. I didn’t agree or disagree with anything in the last section of the book; I just felt it was redundant. As a whole, Trueblood has done a very good job with Philosophy of Religion and I truly enjoyed reading it. It is very unique, the first book I’ve ever seen that strictly explains the motives and processes behind religious thought, without attempting to justify one sect, or judge, positively or otherwise a personal religious belief.
It was very insightful, and has helped to clear up questions I’ve had about religious thought. Perhaps if more religious leaders understood the why’s of their beliefs, there would be less intolerance and fanaticism, and religions could cohabitate in the world they feel they are protecting from evil. Bibliography 1) Stumpf, Samuel Enoch. Philosophy: History and Problems. New York: McGraw-Hill, inc., 1971, 1994. 966 pp.
2) Trueblood, David Elton. Philosophy of Religion. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957. 324 pp. Note: all footnotes, unless otherwise noted from Philosophy of Religion.
Preface: xi-xv p. 11 William Temple, as quoted, p.9 p. 33 p. 36 p. 63 von Hugel, as quoted p.
69 p. 71 p. 94-95, 102 pp. 118-119 as quoted p. 131 Stumpf : timeline p. 132 pp.
138-139 p. 162 p. 177 p. 179 p. 181 pp. 189-190 p.
192 p. 206 p. 209 pp. 209-210.