Philosophical Perspectives on Religion, Ethical and Moral Values (3)


By following the various laws, the believer seeks to lead a virtuous life and sustain their socio-political and economic challenges. Religion provides an ethical framework from which human beings can lead their lives. Religions are coherent systems of beliefs and practices that arise from particular worldviews. Such worldviews incorporate a distinction between that which is ordinary and mundane and that which is spiritual or transcendent. There is no universally accepted definition of religion. Religion is conceived and defined differently by different people. Religion means one thing to the theologian, another thing to an anthropologist or sociologist, another thing to the psychologist, a different thing to the Marxist, etc. Religion has distinguishing features that distinguish it from other human activities as a human activity. The concept of deity is essential to the concept of religion. Hence, where a deity’s belief is lacking, there can be no religion since religion is essentially a relationship established between man and a deity, that is, a transcendent personal being believed to exist.

According to Stephen Prothero, (2010), each religion articulates:

  • a problem;
  • a solution to this problem, which also serves as the religious goal;
  • a technique (or techniques) for moving from this problem to this solution;
  • an exemplar (or exemplars) who chart this path from problem to solution.

 For example, in Christianity

  • the problem is sin;
  • the solution or goal is salvation
  • the technique for achieving salvation is faith in Jesus Christ and good works;
  • the exemplars who chart this path are the saints in Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy and ordinary people of Faith in Protestantism

In Buddhism

  • the problem is suffering
  • the solution or goal is nirvana
  • the technique for achieving nirvana is the Noble Eightfold Path, which includes such classic Buddhist practices as medication and chanting and
  •  the exemplars who chart this path are arhats (for Theravada Buddhists), bodhisattvas (for Mahayana Buddhists), or lamas (for Vajrayana Buddhists)

 Prothero also identified Eight Rival Religions in the World:

  1. Islam: The Way of Submission
  2. Christianity: The Way of Salvation
  3. Confucianism: The Way of Propriety
  4. Hinduism: The Way of Devotion
  5. Buddhism: The Way of Awakening
  6. Yoruba Religion: The Way of Connection
  7. Judaism: The Way of Exile and Return
  8. Daoism: The Way of Flourishing

He also refers to Atheism as the Way of Reasoning

African God of wisdom is called Ifa or Orunmila in the Yoruba language. Ifa is a significant influence in West Africa; it has originated several new world religions, such as Santería in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Candomblé in Brazil (Soboyejo, 2017, 31). Ifa is the medium with which individual strengths are expounded and expressed the different attitudes in harmony (Soboyejo, 33). Many religious practices include giving alms to the poor, fasting, charity forms like helping the needy, and offerings. Religious ethics deals with what religious people ought to do and believe. And how they should conduct themselves in this world (Ayantayo, 2017, 21). While describing Christian ethics, Barth (1939,146) says that man unaided cannot discover moral truth.

Africanism affirms negritude: a total attitude of response to a situation. Before the advent of Milesian philosophers, African mythological-theological perspectives explain events. The reasons for rainfall, the rainbow, and the alternating nature of day and night, were given mythological explanations. Certain gods or other supernatural beings were believed to be behind the happenings and the universe’s nature (Bejide, 2017).

So, in a sense, religion describes a system based on belief in a creator, which is rules-based and exists at an appropriate time and place to satisfy the people’s deepest needs. According to (Aderibigbe & Aiyegboyin, 1997), Emile Durkheim defines religion as: “A unified system of beliefs and practices which unite into one moral community called a church all those who adhere to them.” Bouquet (1941, 16) defines religion as “a fixed relationship between the human self and some non-human entity, the sacred, the supernatural, the self-existent, the absolute or simply, God.”



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