How to Develop Your Own Philosophy of Religion
The word "philosophy" comes from two Greek words, "philo" and "Sophia," which mean "love" and "Wisdom." Some great philosophers have called philosophy the art of thinking; others have described it as the systematic study of human thought and feeling. Developing your own philosophy requires much research and thought.
In order to develop your own philosophy, you need to take some time to explore many different philosophies and traditions, and decide which ones work best for you. The best way to do this is to start, as I touched upon in my last post, by making a T chart, and writing on one side, what you believe to be true, and on the other side, what you believe to be false.
The next stage is research, research, research! Delve into as many religions, traditions and philosophies as you can. Write down aspects that you like and discard the rest. Pay attention to how you feel as you are researching. If something gives you the willies, run! Some questions you may want to answer are:
1. What is the nature of God?
Deists say that God is beyond creation.
Pantheism says that God is everywhere, in everything.
Theism says God is both in creation and beyond it.
2. What is the basic substance of the universe?
Monism says that there is one basic mind-matter substance.
Dualism says that everything is either mind or matter.
Pluralism says that there are many basic substances.
3. What is the nature of spirit in the universe?
Animism says that all things in creation have awareness.
Platonism says that there are eternal Ideas or Forms.
Transcendentalism says that one can find spirit in nature.
4. How should one live if there is mainly just Nature?
Cynicism says that one should live by basic biological needs.
Epicureanism says that one should pursue higher, finer pleasures.
Hedonism says that one should pursue pleasure alone.
5. What is the basic nature of Reason?
Empiricism says that people have blank minds that absorb life through experience.
Materialism says that everything is made of matter.
Positivism says that people should live scientifically.
Rationalism says that reason is enough to know reality.
Realism says that reality is completely real.
6. To what extent are people fated or predetermined?
Determinism says that if people are predictable, so is fate.
Fatalism says that all is predictable, no matter what.
Predestinarism says that God predetermines everything.
Stoicism says that one may choose to act or not act.
7. What is real if God, Reason, or Nature aren't enough?
Existentialism says that one must make concrete choices.
Idealism says that reality is a creation of minds.
Skepticism says that one can't find truth, so why care?
Solipsism says, "I am imagining all of reality."
Voluntarism says that willpower is most important.
8. What political attitude is best?
Dialectical Materialism says that materialism and constant resolution of life's opposites are what is real.
Holism says that a group is more important than one human.
Nihilism says that science and revolution are important.
Utilitarianism says that the greatest good is the greatest happiness for the most people.
Utopianism says that a perfect society can be created.
9. How should one treat the existence of God?
Agnosticism says that there is no proof God exists.
Atheism says that there is proof that God does not exist.
Gnosticism says that one can have special Knowledge of God.
Monotheism says that there is one true, central God.
Mysticism says that direct experience of God is possible.
Polytheism says that there are many gods.
Spiritualism says that there are spirit beings that exist.
Once you’ve done your research and have a list of ideas that make sense to you, you can start analyzing your list. Compare your list with other traditions, look for similarities and differences. Examine every aspect of your list. Take things apart, rearrange things, and put them back together until you have created a masterpiece! Do not worry about what anyone else says. This is for YOU! You may share your philosophy with others, or keep it a secret. There is no right or wrong way to think! Now that you know where to start, go ahead and start creating! Happy philosophizing!