Analyze the question “Are religious claims true?” from a philosophical approach by explaining basic concepts related to the subject and describing how key thinkers have approached the issue.

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ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

The problem with this debate is not based on rhetorical semantics like "supernatural claims" or "physically impossible claims" which are scientific rather than religious. The fundmental problem is that we have no one relgion on which to base this discussion. The world is full of religions-Christianity, Hinduism, Buddahism, Wiccan, etc. Different religions have different claims. hav

For the record, however,medical professionals have been and will continue to be perplexed by (physically impossible-if you will)medical events and healings  that their scientific minds cannot explain in terms of science. Some things can only be explained by faith, but that's what faith is.

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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I think that it is difficult to answer this question in that many of the religious beliefs are based upon faith. We have these beliefs based on the faith we have in God, as someone else has stated some of the beliefs will not be revealed to us until our death.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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People often do things in the name of religion which would turn the stomachs of those observing...the bloodbath of the Spanish Inquisition, the murders of Protestants by Queen Mary, the torture and destruction of thousands of lives across the centuries...it is disheartening.

However, the Bible is true.  The stories are not just stories, but truths which are proven by other, contemporary recordings of history.  Jesus existed and his name is recorded in Roman documents as well as other scrolls written by historians of the time.

The places, dates, and people in the Bible have been researched and proven to exist outside of and seperate from the Bible.  All this simply serves to give credence to the writings.

Christian and non-Christian scholars have proven that the Bible is not a work of fiction.  It is not the ravings of a collection of many lunatics who wrote its books over generations.  Those who chose to believe are not crazy, or any less likely to understand math or science. 

Faith is at the crux.  Regardless of religion, one must prove faithful in many arenas of life---love, work, relationships.  Without it, much of our world would fall to shambles.  We must have faith that our spouse loves us and respects us and will not hurt us by being unfaithful, etc.  We must have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow and that our jobs will be there as long as we work hard and are honest with ourselves and our bosses.  Even in times of hard economy, if we are victims of downsizing, we must have faith that another job will come along. 

missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

When a religion has implications that span scientific research, historical reality, philosophical explanation and has hard evidence, a religious claim can be considered truth, particularly if the claims of the religion's premises are true.

Although I certainly agree with many of the posters above. Religion is often used to explain those things we cannot explain on our own. Likewise, it is used to provide hope.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I think if you want a philosophical answer, then we need to agree on the term 'religious claims'. I would suggest that religious claims may be re-termed as 'supernatural claims'. These claims would typically include the existence of God, the efficacy of prayer, the virgin-birth, etc.

In fact, it is possible to actually re-re-term a lot of religious claims as 'physically impossible claims'. Eg. The claim that a woman had a baby but was a virgin is an impossible claim and only suspension of universal laws can surmount the impossibleness of it.

Supernatural claims are not only claims of truth. They are claims of the suspension of other truths.

In modern philosophy, no well-educated person would attempt to define supernatural claims as fully true and on a par with maths or science.

I have to agree with elfgirl. By re-re-terming certain 'religious claims' as physically impossible claims relegates to a level of truth that is not on par with math and scientific claims.

The word 'claim' is troublesome in any discipline: from science to religion. But it does fit this discussion because a claim, in this sense, is an explanation of phenomena. Some explain structure of the world with physical laws; others explain those physical laws as part of a divine plan. Clearly, scientific claims have more weight because they have physical evidence.

But, as one of the other poster's noted, although a religion is largely a system of belief based on faith or based upon spiritual hypotheses, a 'religious claim' can be said to be true within that religious/philosophical framework. These claims still do not hold the weight of e=mc^2, but within an isolated metaphysical context, (pick a religion), it is true within that structure. I only mention this caveat because if we're talking about truth, it is always imperative to not privelege one system over another. And that being said, I would still choose science for practical explanations of phenomena. Science explains phenomena - to an extent. Religious claims seem to try to explain the unexplainable - with unprovable claims. Ironically, religious claims are hypotheses which have no physical experiments available to test them.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I guess the problem with considering religious questions is that we have no absolute proof, and therefore, until after death, we are going to be unable to definitively "prove" the truth of one religious claim over another. A variety of postmodern thinkers invite this uncertainty, saying that all religions are but different paths up the same one mountain of religious experience, and yet critics of this view would argue that this ignores the blatant theological differences and incompatibility between the various religions.

readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This is a great question and there are no perfect answers. Here are a few points to consider. First, all claims are circular in a sense. For example, if someone says logic is true, and someone asks how can you proves this, then that person would have to say, "logic proves logic; it is logical." So, when it comes to ultimate presuppositions, all thoughts are the similar; everything is circular. Second, religious claims within its religious worldview of framework are true claims. The problem is when two different claims of thoughts are pitted against one another. Someone must be wrong. Therefore, the question is who is wrong and right? We are at an impasse. In my opinion, the theory or claim that explains the most may be the better claim.

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EternalTwilight | Student | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

This question is a very difficult one that almost everyone puzzles over at some point. It is true that some marvellous miracles have happened as a result of faith. However, you won't really know until you pass away, and by that time, it is almost impossible to communicate with the living.

This is, of course, only if communication is possible amongst the dead.

 

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elfgirl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

medical professionals have been and will continue to be perplexed by (physically impossible-if you will) medical events and healings  that their scientific minds cannot explain in terms of science. Some things can only be explained by faith, but that's what faith is. - ask996

You have presented the religious claim which is generally called the 'God of the gaps' argument. It states that because we don't understand everything, the areas we don't understand are the best explained with 'religious claims'. It is a false, circular argument proudly based on ignorance.

I agree that there are many events that science doesn't understand (although I disagree that they are physically impossible events). The fact science does not understand some areas does not give you ownership of those areas. Science doesn't know everything, but hey, guess what, neither do you. 'God', in your gap argument is just a synonym for 'nobody knows'

Religion says,"Nobody knows, so we have swallowed this unproven bronze-age book. We have all the answers we need, looking for more is pointless and uncomfortable."

Science says,"We dunno, yet, but we're still looking"

Religion forcefully claims things it can never prove then has the cheek to throw out its chin and claim 'blind acceptance' is noble because it is called faith. Stubborn ignorance is nothing to be proud of. 'Faith' doesn't 'explain' anything.

elfgirl's profile pic

elfgirl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

@7... Do these contemporary Roman documents confirm that Jesus walked on water?

...thought not.

And by the way, aside from impossible 'religious claims', the Bible is full of historical bloopers. For example, Nazereth did not exist at the time of Jesus's birth, despite the Biblical claim that his family came from there. So that is an example of a religious claim which is clearly not true.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSzQC1zKesU

elfgirl's profile pic

elfgirl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

I think if you want a philosophical answer, then we need to agree on the term 'religious claims'. I would suggest that religious claims may be re-termed as 'supernatural claims'. These claims would typically include the existence of God, the efficacy of prayer, the virgin-birth, etc.

In fact, it is possible to actually re-re-term a lot of religious claims as 'physically impossible claims'. Eg. The claim that a woman had a baby but was a virgin is an impossible claim and only suspension of universal laws can surmount the impossibleness of it.

Supernatural claims are not only claims of truth. They are claims of the suspension of other truths.

In modern philosophy, no well-educated person would attempt to define supernatural claims as fully true and on a par with maths or science.

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