While the other section of this journey into the human mind is focusing on rational philosophy. Here we will examine religion. This is another arm of philosophy, many of the great theologians were also great philosophers. The basic difference is that they did not use reason as starting point but God (or whatever deity they believed in). They were unable, unwilling, or forced to not take philosophy that one step further into rational reasoning, instead they used ‘faith’ as a starting point. Religion has had an immense impact on the way we developed and the way we see ourselves, the world around us and even the bigger universe.
For 1500 years the Catholic Church enforced through the secular rulers that the Bible – and in particular the creation story in Genesis – was interpreted literally and if people tried to make different interpretation or had different views they were branded as heretics. But since the Reformation and the Enlightenment the Church had to adjust and had to start to accept the facts that resulted from rational thinking and the facts resulting from empirical science about many aspects of life, the world, and the universe. Over those centuries these internal struggles, discussions and changes also created what we can perhaps call secular Christian values which became the core of many of our democratic values.
I will investigate this fascinating journey. A key message is that whatever the outcome of the thoughts and experiences of our forebears was, humans have always been fascinated by live, the world and the universe. As much as we are intrigued by it today, they were as well.
As humans will never be able to fully understand the cosmos of which we are all a part off, the quest for answers continues. And for the questions we do not have answers, many people will continue to refer to religion and faith. For some this provide a ‘safe house’, console but for others this remains a blockage to progress.
As Spinoza argues, rather than looking for answers from an outside god, the answers are within our cosmos, he calls this Nature (cosmos) of which humans are an integral part and he calls that his God.
Let us explore these journeys in the next chapters.