Existentialism and Religion
Existentialism and Religion
This articles shows different aspects of Existentialism and Religion, and how the two have much more in common than people realize.
What is Existentialism? These days, the term ‘existentialist’ is synonymously used when describing awkward situations, unusual movie plots, or strange life events which are too odd and incomprehensible by the greater part of society. To better explain: a hamburger, an automobile and a home, serve their purpose to us humans. A cook, an engineer and an architect have set formulas, so they understand what they are doing and the full purpose behind their en-devour. So even before a short order cook, starts to make that delicious burger for you, they always make sure all of the ingredients are readily available to the hungry customer. Likewise, though considerably more complicated, is the case with building an automobile or a home. Formulas and rules are always needed beforehand for everything to function in our world. Even the person who invented the hamburger knew, or at least had a good idea of its purpose before hand - ‘pre-existent’ is the key word to describe all of this. Now, suppose no one in this world had never seeing an automobile before. You wake up one morning and find one parked outside your home. You approach the strange apparatus, investigate it, feel it, etc. If you carry on this way, you’d then be acting like an existentialist of sorts.... Human beings are born with preset social laws handed to us by our parents, the country we live in - the world is full with 'status quo', so there’s little for us to create, especially if we decide to do something without a preset purpose in mind. We’re born, go to school, mature to adulthood, reach old age and eventually die - we even need to plan our death and decide whether we want to be buried or cremated, so that we’re not a burden to our love ones left behind. Just about everything has been worked out for us, in an attempt to make our lives easier and more useful. Dostoevsky, one of the great novelists of all times, as well as one of the few writers who delve deep into philosophy and psychology in his works, takes up the subject of existentialism in his controversial novella “Notes from Underground”; the underground man is hemmed by social confines that to him have little meaning. He tries to create a new moral code, but realizes he can’t. He exhibits psychopathic tendencies and ultimately sees the futility behind his relentless pursuit to change the structure of the world in which he lives.
During the past five hundred years or so, some of the major schools of philosophies were introduced by Decartes, Locke, Kant, Hegel and Marx - some say Marx represented the end of philosophy, and from then on after him, science and psychology have taken over where philosophy left off. To counteract each of these great men of philosophy, there were hundreds of detractors opposing their opinions and schools of thought - Kierkegaard took Hegel on....
Kierkegaard was trained in theology and philosophy - he was a Christian; however, he did not always agree with what the church had to say on the matter of his 'personal Christian faith. Kierkegaard is considered to have been an important forerunner of Existentialism, along with Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. Among one of the things which Kierkegaard questioned, was The Book of Genesis. “Fear and Trembling” is one of Kierkegaard’s greatest works, and it’s in this work where he examines the relationship between God and Abraham. Kierkegaard asks, whom was it that told Abraham to sacrifice his son Issac? Abraham heard a voice, but how did Abraham know it was an angel of God, and not Satan, or perhaps even another unknown entity? You've met these types of individuals before, a Jew or a Muslim who may not always agree with what their Rabbi or Imam has to say on the matter of their faith. This individual may be deeply religious, a devoted Jew, a devoted Christian, or a devoted Muslim. They want to understand their God, but on their own individual terms only. They may or may not go to their Synagogue, Church or Mosque on a regular basis. They may not always read The Torah, The Bible or The Koran, but they love their faith and their God, but are esoteric about their belief system. If you meet or know such an individual, he may be a religious existentialist without even knowing it....
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