Philosophy Of Relgion Essay, Research Paper
Philosophy of Religion
In this essay I will attempt to defend the sociological theory of religion attacking John H. Hick s view of a non proven verdict of the subject. I will defend the theory, and explain how it is philosophically interesting. In the 3rd chapter of John H. Hick s book Philosophy of Religion, Hick explains the sociological theory of religion and then makes 3 points damaging it.
In order to focus my analysis, I shall center my essay upon a discussion of the following 5-step argument, assumed here to be valid, but not necessarily sound, making the issue of soundness the key issue:
(1) The first point that Hick makes in damaging the theory of sociological religion is the assumption that the theory fails to account for: God loves all human beings and summons all men and women to care for one another as brothers and sisters. On the contrary, society tends to serve and act as God would in this situation. Society is almost always pro world peace and would favor the idea of loving everyone, but instead replaces the love for respect, which seems to be more realistic. The realistic view that this provides seems to be philosophically interesting because it doesn t pose unrealistic images of loving everyone, rather loving and respecting the group as a whole. Christianity follows this same belief in their code of morals known as the 10 commandments containing the commandment love thy neighbor .
The sociological theory of religion also promotes love for everyone , but in different ways. Instead it says that caring for the group is the most important concept not just an individual. Within these boundaries, it s not important to love different individuals separately, rather love the group (society) and try to better it:
This is philosophically interesting because it gives an explanation to the theory that God loves everyone and Everyone should love everyone else. Within the boundaries of the sociological theory, the society is the one who in fact is the supposed God . Society is the one that loves everyone and tries persuading to all the same. It is not god that people turn to, rather society and society is proven to have been there to turn for eternity. Is it possible to have a god? And is it possible if there is a God, for him to love everyone? If there is something other than society, why hasn t he shown himself and helped us along this journey? Society, though, has been around for us to lean on and turn to for support, not God.
(2) The second point that Hick brings up states the theory of sociological religion lacking any thought to prophets and their role with God. According to Hick, within the sociological boundaries, a prophet can t be possible. A prophet can not get information from God outside society, because within society nobody stands out or is above anyone else. The fact that the sociological theory states that anyone above the group is not necessarily part of the group is philosophically interesting. It s philosophically interesting because finally a group has denounced the theory of prophets and higher beings that walk the same earth we walk on. Is there anyone above us or the group, besides God? Wouldn t God prefer us to better each other as a whole rather some individual with divine claims of moral deity?
The sociological theory doesn t denounce the idea of anyone leading or taking authority of the group. Within society, someone must always stand out. Maybe not religiously towards god, but there must be some sort of leader. This is something that Cupit denied in his book After God, in his chapter titled Innocent Religion . In this chapter he explained that religious groups should come together and have no higher power or authority.
(3) The sociological theory though, doesn t make any claims that higher powers, authority or prophets exist. They are probably not discussing the subject because it doesn t matter which person is above another. It is society that is the most important. It is society where individuals can come to and feel the presence of god. It is society where others feel support: In the way in which the individual is carried and supported in all the major crises of life by the society to which he or she belongs. This is philosophically interesting because sociological theory doesn t claim any connections to higher beings like other religious groups thrive on.
(4) The sociological theory states that the only moral obligation is to society, which in fact is the most important element of this religion. Is it so harmful to look out for the group, rather than yourself? This is philosophically interesting because for a change it s not a person who is being characterized as the one who should be worshipped, rather society. It is society for whom we turn to and worship because it is a direct reflection of our accomplishments and defeats. It is society that we are so proud of (for the most part) and therefore should do everything in our power to improve. Is it so immoral to try to better society as long as it doesn t harm anyone else? Is it so wrong, to think that the idea of prophets is ludicrous, and there is no room for them within society? Why are prophets so important and possible? Are the prophets the ones, who have been leading the crusade against the sociological theory of religion?
Hick poses another claim about the prophet vs. the sociological theory, and how can it explain the ethical progress that has come about through the insights of pioneers morally in advance of their group . Why must society explain how certain people are above the group? Why can t the ones that oppose the sociological theory, accept the beliefs, just as the society accepts the individual, for who is included directly in the society and is much more than a worshiper. Society, however, doesn t accept the individual that goes against the group and chooses his/her own path. The person, who is supposedly the prophet, will then in turn go about to start another group of religion. These are not prophets rather rebels starting controversies, trouble, and problems within the society. They re not the ones bringing change and good, rather chaos, which can directly destroy the society.
(5) Another important feature that the society brings upon others is the banishment of loneliness and isolation . Society doesn t want anyone to feel isolated or lonely. It doesn t however try to make people feel that if they don t take part in society, immediate isolation will follow. Fear of this does occur in all human societies: if people don t follow the group, they will be thought of as weird or different. Society, though, doesn t prey upon the individuals, making them dependent on the group. It s just a human characteristic to cling to others, looking for support, and avoiding isolation. It is called love and this love always betters the group.
The sociological theory is philosophically interesting for many reasons. It turns the once focus and worship of a God , towards a different direction, which is the group. It is the group or society for which we have built upon and improved, so why shouldn t we worship it? Is it totally wrong for us to worship something that we can relate to, observe everyday, and be completely included in? Is it really rational for us to worship something mysterious, something that doesn t show, and something that we really can t relate too?