Differences Between Religion and Philosophy of Religion


When people graduate from educational institutions, they often have an understanding of ground topics, such as literature, science, mathematics; sometimes even philosophy and fundamentals of religion have been covered in the program. However, many would confuse such terms as ‘philosophy and philosophy of religion’. In this report, these concepts will be reviewed in detail in order to understand the difference between them.

Basic concepts


Religion is a definition of relations between human being and divine nature, expressed in the compilation of the processes, customs, traditions, beliefs, and dogmas. Moreover, it is common for religious followers to show features of coordinated behavior, establishing ministers of the church and sacred places.

Every religion is determined by definite elements, which belong to a society of believers; those elements contain sacred books, rules, moral rights and obligations, rituals of adoration and sacrament. An overwhelming majority of the religions are based and evolved on a certain revelation of a prophet, who bears the secrets of life and its ideals. What defines almost every religion in the world is that believers have to put an emphasis on their faith as an essence of their devotion.

All those above said leads to the definition of the concept of belief: the religious faith in the divine nature enlightens the hearts of the believers even if there is no factual proof of such phenomenon. The religions throughout the world are quite different; the more researchers learn about them, the more they expose the disparities and similarities between them (Idinopulos 367).

Moreover, it has to be said that an individual cannot be considered solely religious if he or she doesn’t embody special traditions that are imposed by his or her religion. Nonetheless, lots of people see religion as spiritual center of their lives (Bloom 148)

Philosophy of religion

Before explaining the term ‘philosophy of religion,’ we have to define philosophy itself. As the internet sources designate, “philosophy is the study of the general and fundamental nature of reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language” (“Philosophy” par. 1). However, there is more to this description, that a single line. According to Creel, philosophy is an activity, which goes back to the ancient times, when philosophers were trying the understand the essence of life, the nature of reality, the question of good and evil, etc. (1). There are several branches of philosophy, that individually represent separate issues; one of the philosophical directions is the questioning the existence of divine power, or God itself.

Philosophy of religion is an attempt to identify the answers to fundamental conceptions, concerns and disputes about religious traditions. This branch connects with almost every other prime field of philosophy, such as: metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics and value theory, the philosophy of language, philosophy of science, law, sociology, politics, history, etc. (Taliaferro 1).

Divergence between philosophy and philosophy of religion

Based on what has been said above, certain differences between these two terms can be established.

As to the first aspect, the targeted groups of religion and the philosophy of religion are quite contrasting. It was already mentioned in the report that religions most often unite individuals with the same beliefs, faith, and moral values. The philosophy of religion, on the contrary, includes more overall approach towards both theistic and non-theistic customs. More recent researchers of the subject tend to unify “philosophers from the analytic and continental traditions, Eastern and Western thinkers, religious believers and agnostics, skeptics and atheists” (Taliaferro 3).

The philosophy of religion has several rather different positions regarding the existence of God, whereas the followers of different religions don’t question the presence of divine power. Moreover, the philosophy of religion focuses on religious pluralism, relativism and exclusivism as a part of the question of religious diversity; thus helping to understand the depth and variety of non-theistic religious customs and practices.

Besides, the philosophy of religion observes and investigates the religious relevance of some historical events, common features of the universe, such as the evolution of the living life, laws of cosmos and so on. The religious beliefs, on the other hand, not only do not accept and explain these phenomena, they create their own revelations, that contain the secrets of life according to the given religion (the Bible, for example).

One of the most vivid examples of differences between religion and the philosophy of religion is the attitude towards miracles. David Hume, the researcher of the non-theistic religions, maintained that a miracle is a “violation of the laws of nature” (Hume 91). While the followers of theistic religions claim that a miracle is an event, which requires a direct act of God and divine intervention; the philosophers of religion are of the opinion that everything in the universe has a reasonable and scientific explanation. Recent debates on miracles of the philosophers of religion are mostly focused on probability theory and laws of nature; whereas the believers are not subjected to doubt miracles.


The humanity has been religious for thousands of years while the philosophy of religion is a relevantly new and prospering field. After having a closer look on both, it could be said that they quite differentiate from each other and cannot be compared.

Works Cited

Bloom, Paul. “Religion is Natural.” Developmental Science 10.1 (2007): 147-151. Print.

Creel, Richard. Philosophy of Religion: The Basics, Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2013. Print.

Hume, David. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Second edition, Cambridge: Hackett Publishing, 1998. Print.

Idinopulos, Thomas. “What is Religion?” Cross Currents 48.3 (1998): 366-381. Print.

Philosophy 2015. Web.

Taliaferro, Charles. “Philosophy of Religion.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web. 2007.

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