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Rationalism and religion

Updated April 5, 2019
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Rationalism and religion essay

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We are the Perfection of Imperfectness The question of the co-existence between rationalism and religion has been argued by many philosophers, such as Descartes. The compatibility between rationalism and religion has brought up many different ideas and thoughts. I do not think that both can be compatible. In English, the word rationalism derives from the Latin word ratio, which means reason.

We define rationalism as a system of though that emphasizes the role of reason in obtaining knowledge. When we associate rationalism and religion together we claim that the fundamental principles of religion are self-evident and that revelation is not necessary. I do not think that any religion is a religion without its revelation. When we think back on every religion’s history, we find a “book” that basically paves the path for the religion’s followers. If we did believe that the principles are innate then we would have no common understanding of what the essence of religion is.

As I mediate the question of compatibility, I will dissect my own religion, the religion of Islam, as well as rational views on God. In Islam, the religion does not allow one to ask questions about the religion. Therefore, any rationalist view of the religion would be going against the religion. Many rationalistic views come from ones own interpretation of the Koran. According to Abdullah Ibn Abbas, “He who speaks about the Koran on the basis of his personal opinion only, will find his abode in hell fire.” Because of the strong faith of many in Islam, rationalistic views are often condemned.

An important element of my argument would be the topic of faith. Many rationalists in the religion believe that faith does not have to be “physically” shown. Those who demonstrate their rational beliefs do not “physically” believe. Rationalists can just think of God and say that they are one with God. They question why they must “physically” show their faith.

A general concept of Islam is holding prayer five times a day. When a rationalists questions this fact the religion answers that it’s a commandment from God and the prayer is considered to be a continuos and daily discipline for Muslims. When we pray, we recite the Koran that has God’s genuine words and directions. We also offer thanks and blessings to God. The prayer itself is considered a supplication to God. God has proscribed laws that we should adhere to, and praying is one of them.

Yet, the role of reason denies the compatibility between rationalism and religion. In Islam, no other activity is to take priority over God. The word Islam means “submission” and the word Muslim means ” one who submits.” Islam places emphasis on obedience to God. In Islam there are followers who are classified as the “doubters and deniers.” They believe that since we are predestined for heaven and hell, why bother practicing the faith. They deny the mainstream practice. These followers can be classified as rationalist.

They question many topics and “deny” what answers are given. “And who is more unjust than he who forges a lie against god or (he who) gives the lie to his communications; surely the unjust will not be successful.”(Koran, 6:21) This verse from the Koran exemplifies evidence to counter the motivation of a rationalistic view of “doubting” Gods words. A question I cannot answer is that, why the thought of rationale exists, when it comes to the subject of religion. What more physical proof is there than God’s words in the Koran.

I would classify a rationalist as a “physical believer.” My definition of a “physical believer” would be one that questions anything that cannot be physically seen, touched, heard, smelt, or tasted. The existence of God is a question that has no definite answer. Descartes, a philosopher, who also explored this question, had his own opinions. He thought that since he is subject to doubt, he is imperfect.

Hence, he is not the cause of existence. I agree, since there is religion, there is an existence of God. But I disagree on how this thought was derived. The existence of God is the foundation of all religions. “The universe exists because God wills it to exist, it functions because God wills it to function, and God provides the sustenance and the energy which everything in the universe requires for its existence.” (www) I derive the existence of God by his words that come from the Koran or the Bible.

If we have religion that guides us, than that path is the one created by God. I think that at times our “imperfectness” enables us to realize that God is existent and our minds get the best of us. We question subjects that should not be questioned. Someone had once said, “everyone has a purpose in life,” and we do but we don’t know why. “There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error.

An he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is hearer, knower.”(Koran, 2:256) In this verse I feel it elucidates, that a religion is error free. There should be no questions just the existence of God and his words. There will never be compatibility between rationalism and religion as long as we have the “physical believer.” Those who question the unanswerable will never ameliorate the intervening of the rationalist thought and the teachings of a religion. It is like an ongoing question, a point will be made and then another question will arise from that point.

In my opinion, I feel that the rationalist thought is wrong, as I tried to present in the religion of Islam. As for the existence of God, I can only state from what I know and have been thought, that He is existent, being told from His words in the Koran. I can see where a philosopher such as Descartes, can perceive his views, I just can not agree fully with them. I see a big difference in those who “doubt” and in those who question in terms of rationalistic ways of thinking. Those who “doubt” do not believe, and those who question do not understand.

Those who do not understand, derive a system of though to complicate what they don’t understand. I am convinced that rationalism and religion are not compatible. I am not sure why?

Rationalism and religion essay

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Rationalism and religion. (2019, Apr 05). Retrieved from