why should one study religion from a philosophical perspective

Religion is usually studied from a spiritual perspective, allowing no interpretation other than the acceptance of the religious tenants and texts as fact. This means that religious study is often done from a perspective blinded to science and philosophy, both of which are not necessarily linked to religion and spirituality in any significant sense. To study religion from a philosophical perspective allows a view of the ideas behind religion without contradicting the religion itself; it is unnecessary to approach the study as explicitly critical, although a critical approach is often more informative. A philosophical approach to religion also allows a more objective approach to religious history, examining the morality and ethics behind major religious incidents. By examining religious history from the outside, the specific events can be examined and defined with modern ideas and ideals. It also creates improved dialogue about the roles of religion in society and government. This can lead to religious reform if leading figures embrace the study, and resistance if they do not. Finally, more than one religion can be compared and contrasted, allowing a broader range of opinion and thought about the entire concept of religion. Religious beliefs are often rooted in dogma based on centuries of continuation; examining religion as a concept allows questions about the nature of God, spirituality, and religious morality that cannot be asked under other perspectives.
Reasons that I study religion: to understand more about different types of religious sensibilities about which I have only heard, and about some that I have never heard of.

By delving into different forms of religions by way of studying religious scholars and thinkers, and those who truly made a difference in world religions like Martin Luther, Origen, Zoroaster, Mohammed, and the Patriarchs of the Old Testament, to name a few, one establishes a point of view that forever changes the way one thinks about living, life, history, mythology and one's own place in the world, along with never taking anything that is read at its face value. It makes one think more deeply and profoundly. Studying religion has helped me in my other studies; it has helped me read literature on a deeper level, even reading for pleasure, outside of academia. Studying religion rounds out all other studies; it enriches everything else that one views or holds an opinion about. It centered me personally, and it has made me think in a broader scheme on many levels. Hunter College I decided to study religion because, as a freshman at Reed, I couldn't make up my mind about whether to major in philosophy, history, English, anthropology, or in a foreign language so I opted to study what draws on all of these.

As a student of Islam in particular, I have had the freedom to explore so many facets of Muslim religious culture, from modern Arab short stories to Iranian cinema, from Javanese wayang kulit theater to African-American liberation theology. All of these things literature, film, theater, cultural studies and more are part and parcel to studying religion. In short, then, studying religion gives me an extraordinary freedom to explore human culture from myriad perspectives. Despite the secularist narratives that often dominate our thinking about modernity and the contemporary world, I believe there are few human experiences that are beyond the purview of religiosity. Religion truly pervades how we define and conceive ourselves as human beings. Reed College My undergraduate studies as a religion major at the University of Vermont have been invaluable in my post-graduate life. I am scheduled to enroll in law school during the fall of 2004. I have found that many law schools are interested in recruiting students from diverse undergraduate majors. A background in religious studies is all the more attractive to these schools because religion is becoming such an important factor in current lawmaking, U. S. politics and foreign relations. Studying religion made me well prepared for future academic study and for the workforce by sharpening my analytical skills while encouraging an open mind and curiosity in the world around me.

University of Vermont, Class of 2003 In an increasingly pluralistic world, it is absolutely necessary to have knowledge of faith traditions other than one's own. A religious studies (course/concentration/major) allows the student to critically engage the beliefs and practices of various traditions. These opportunities for engagement open the possibility for transformative learning experiences. One benefit of a religious studies degree is that it is almost always interdisciplinary. The phenomenon we describe as religion is difficult to separate into its own neat category. Religion is intricately interwoven with all facets of life, thus the approach of study is naturally discursive. So for those of us who have broad interests that defy specialization, religious studies allows us to have our cake and eat it too. In my religious studies classes, I have studied art, architecture, history, literature, music, philosophy, poetry, psychology On a more practical level, religious studies students have the opportunity to develop skills in textual analysis and in written and oral communication. Millsaps College, Class of 2003 M. Div. Candidate, Vanderbilt Divinity School

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