Philosophy and Questioning the Existence of God
The world is full of activities relating to and incorporating philosophy. For this paper, I will be discussing the relationship between philosophy and religion, specifically on questioning the existence of God – defined at this time as an omniscient, omnipotent, and morally good being.
Philosophy has many branches and many uses. It involves questioning the unknown and inquiring about the fundamental principles of many subjects, theories, and thoughts. Philosophy is a form of abstract reasoning in which one formulates clearly outlined arguments with several premises in order to obtain a specific conclusion. Religion is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardour and faith.” It involves questioning the unknown and holding to a set of beliefs. Oftentimes, it involves the belief in a God. When one inquires about the existence of God, they are questioning the fundamental structure of our world and how it came to be today. This is similar to Epicurus’ relationship with the fundamental questioning of death. Epicurus used abstract reasoning to determine that one should not fear death as life, and all it incorporates, is experienced through sensation. As sensation ceases at death, one may no longer experience and thus no longer exists. “When we exist, death is not present, and when death is present, we do not exist.” (Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus, 1) – it is for this reason, Epicurus argues “death is nothing to us, and to know this makes a mortal life happy.” (Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus, 1). This form of reasoning may also be used to question the existence of God. When one examines the Big Bang theory and how the universe may have been created, and the rules of nature that construct our world, they may argue in different ways. One may say that the Big Bang must have been caused by something, some force had to put it into action – this is a way in which one might argue for the existence of an all-powerful God. As God is the only truly omnipotent being, They must be the one that set the Big Bang in motion. It is because of this form of reasoning, that one may use to prove the existence of God, that religion is related to philosophy. Another example of this form of philosophical reasoning is that that Epicurus used to evaluate different types of human desires. Epicurus believed that “A clear recognition of desires enables one to base every choice and avoidance upon whether it secures or upsets bodily comfort and peace of mind” (Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus, 2). He reasoned that all humans have desires some of which are natural and others vain. Of those natural desires there are those that are both necessary and unnecessary. Examples for which the desire for food and shelter is necessary and the desire for wealth unnecessary. As quoted above, Epicurus said that when one is able to recognize the value of their desires they are able to obtain happiness.
In conclusion, even though many people may not recognize it, philosophy is a large aspect of life. If you have ever questioned things such as death, morals, the existence of souls, or the existence of God, you have engaged in philosophical questioning. It is through this examination of any inquiries one may have and through reasoning that one engages in philosophy.
How I engage in Philosophical Activity
Based on my definition of philosophy as questioning fundamentals and abstract reasoning, I engage in philosophical activity outside of class by engaging with those around me in meaningful conversation. Anytime I have a conversation regarding politics, ethics, human rights, or any other of a wide range of topics, if we are inquiring regarding their fundamental basis, or simply attempting to find reason and argue for a specific view, I am participating in philosophical activity. It can in fact be quite a significant part of my day depending on what other classes I have that day or what other people I engage with.