It is surprising how a simple statement such as -studying law guarantees success'- can give rise to a long debate that cannot be fully settled, even if all parties bring forth presumed facts in support of their view. In my life, I have been drawn into several such debates, and each experience seemed to invoke the same fundamental question: what makes an idea true or false? This has always created a form of conflict. I didn't know at the time that the most significant realization would emerge from listening to Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. In his persuasion to always follow one's heart, Steve Jobs clearly highlights the presence of conflicts between mainstream ideas and personal ideas. He does so by comparing his parents' expectations for him to go to college and his choice to drop out.
Consequently, the impact of mainstream ideas on my choices and perception of life has been significant. For instance, over the years, media has shaped and defined what I like to eat and wear. However, conflict arises when mainstream ideas, interests, and expectations clash with those of a personal nature. According to Dean Tjosvold (23) conflict doesn't happen on its own; it is perpetuated by the choices we make. Therefore, for someone to resolve a dispute, they must make the right choices and possess the correct skillset.
Based on the speech, one of my fundamental beliefs is that conflict is not always negative, and its existence does not deter my interest and diverge my personal goals. Steve jobs still went to Reeds College but pursued something from his heart. This experience taught me how to find the correct view founded on the issues involved and emotions/feelings at stake.
Does God Exist?
One of the wildly conflicted beliefs in today's society is the question of the existence of God. Coming into class, I considered myself a Christian who was born and raised in the church. Despite having not been baptized, I stemmed from all my beliefs from the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ. As a Christian, I believed that God is an eternal being who not only created but also preserves the whole universe, i.e., all things. I also believed that He is above all physical laws and universal matter and that He is still directly involved in it. Based on my Christian teachings at Sunday school, it is through God's love for humanity that He sent His Son like a human being not only as our savior but also to be the link between humanity and the divine.
Growing up, my firm belief in God and his existence was majorly from the influence of my parents. According to Pearce et al. (270), religion is a vital protector of both children and adolescents against risky conducts and mental health problems. With that being said, I believe that my parents raised me in that regard for my wellbeing. Consequently, Christianity played a significant role in my growth by influencing how I perceive the world during my younger years. Ignorant, at the time, of the complexities of its philosophical analysis, the primary role of Christianity to me was to help me make sense of my day to day experiences through the word of God. I recall one occasion when my brother and I were asked a relatively simple question: If you picked $20 in the school hallway, what would you do? We both ranted on how we would spend the money on new toys and snacks. The Sunday school teacher redirected the same question to us again this time with a simple twist. What if you picked $40 in the school hallway, as a good Christian, what would you do? Despite our answers at the time, it is essential to note that the question was not only meant to challenge both of us but also to ascertain if at all we were conversant with Christian values and how well we could apply them to our daily lives.
However, my view on God's existence has seen some changes and alterations as compared to the one I had during my childhood years. First, As a Christian, I still believe that God exists, just as I did when I was a child, but unlike then, I have come to disagree with some of the rules and teaching of Christianity. Most reasons leading to this arise from the conflicts between the mainstream Christian views and my personal views. My most significant conflict came on the topic of sexuality, whereby the Bible, which stipulates Christian teaching, heavily condemns homosexuality. At the same time, I support all forms of sexuality as a basic human right. Since the Bible is viewed to represent God's will, does it mean that I don't adhere to His teachings, and hence I don't believe in his existence? Do mainstream religious views and beliefs determine an individual's belief in the existence of God, or does it depend on their personal beliefs?
Secondly, the other cause of the shift in my view of God's existence comes from the conflict between science and God. As john Donvan famously stated, three out of five scientists don't believe in God and His existence, but two of them do. The source of the complexity of approaching any question relating the religion and science, is that we all have in my mind a presumed definition of either terms. Based on my observations, the results of science and the beliefs of religion have long resulted in an apparent disagreement, which deemed that by supporting either, I had to dismiss the other entirely. The biggest generator of this personal conflict is the religious creation story based on Christianity and the Evolution theory as per Charles Darwin. As written in the Bible, the creation story holds that God created the entire universe in six days and later rested on the day of Sabbath. The evolution theory, on the other hand, was based on Charles Darwin's belief that all species had a common ancestor and were not attributed to a god's creativity. But this is not my case. As shown above, I believe in God's existence, but also as a student, I've learned the reliability of scientific approaches and results; thus, I also believe in science.
My biggest drive to this conclusive belief was based on a posteriori argument that supports the existence of God based on knowledge from our experiences of the world. This way, I was able to understand how science and religion inter relate fully. Basically, after dealing with the clash between permanent elements of human nature, I mapped our history widely across the centauries and discovered two important facts about religion and science. First, there was always a conflict between the two since the start of time, a conflict that has never been resolved. Secondly, both religion and science have been in a constant state of change, which has been the reason for the continued conflict. A notable fundamental change in their unique relationship is the general Christian belief that the world would end in the lifetime of people living in it then. This belief made a significant influence on the most popular doctrines of religion. It was one that was widely held by the religious theologians who concluded confidently about human experiences of the physical universe off holy books, e.g., the Bible. However, science stated otherwise, and through scientific beliefs, these controversial religious beliefs ended up being wrong since science stipulates that the existence of the universe does not depend on human existence. The opposite is exact.
The cosmology argument has also influenced my belief in the existence of God by providing a way of ascertaining the existence of God by defending the faith. The universe exists, but its purpose of existence cannot be explained even by itself. We are all part of it. But since we live, something else must account for our existence—something within itself. The causes of something's existence can be derived from two things, either from its self, which means that it must precede itself or be caused by another, i.e., depends on another for its existence. According to Aquinas, nothing would exist if its existence depended on itself (Carroll,138). Therefore our existence must be derived from something else, which in turn depends on something else, a cyclical nature that would go to infinity, but there must be a first cause. In my view, that's God.
The other form of argument is based on the a priori argument, i.e., an argument based on knowledge independent of experience but derived solely out of logic. Ontological arguments by Anselm follow this suit. So how exactly does logic support my belief in God's existence? Anslem states that God's existence is a necessary truth; he shows that God is the greatest being to be ever conceived because He exists both in mind and reality. This guides my Christian belief in the existence of God because since I was a child and through my Christian teachings, I was able to know when I was right or wrong based on my mind's ideas of who God is and what He expects of me. Therefore He exists in my mind, and through my actions, He exists in reality.
The Importance of Philosophizing
As a Philosophy student, I not only predict but also feel that philosophy is facing an unprecedented threat in the current generation due to the continued adoption of a significantly growing abrasive culture. The main question that I am always asked by people around me is why I choose philosophy. The issue of the importance of philosophy is closely intertwined with a philosopher's perception of their self-importance. One excruciating observation that I am still contesting with is the increased view of philosophers as "know-it-all" individuals who seem to object every aspect of whatever issue they partake. The truth remains, I am always intrigued by the history and development of philosophy and profoundly believe in its value to the development of various aspects of life. However, since philosophy demands a demonstration of open-mindedness and humility, I am inclined to ask myself the difficult question of my objectivity concerning the importance of philosophy, just as advocated by Bertrand Russell. There are various reasons why I believe that philosophy is essential, and these are also open to debate. Philosophy is freedom. It has offered me the freedom to question every aspect of life and helped me define and shape my ever-changing personal views and beliefs. Just like Bertrand In his essay titled 'Philosophy of Laymen,' I have been able to expand my knowledge on matters such as death, the body and mind, and existence. I believe this is important because, despite the inability to have a conclusive explanation of such phenomena, human life would be impoverished if they were forgotten.
In my personal opinion, philosophizing is a process of acquiring knowledge through analytic processes that are modeled around a specific aim. But this process ought to lead to a better life. In the final chapters of his book “The Problems of Philosophy” Russell states that philosophic life is calm and free, with a peace of mind resulting from an escape from the ties of desire passion and ego (Russell, 105). The process of this escape is can be classified as philosophizing
The importance of the process of philosophizing lies in its theoretical exercise and experience. For instance, in his lessons to the "laymen" readers, Russel shows the importance of the process of philosophizing, stating that there is a need to be aware of emotive issues within a statement since words have the power to invoke different emotions to different people. In this case, philosophizing helps one to not only master such a technique but also know where to apply it in times of crisis and conflict properly.
Carroll, William E. "Cosmology and Creation: From Hawking to Aquinas." Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 15.1 (2012): 134-149. https://www.pdcnet.org/logos/content/logos_2012_0015_0001_0134_0149
Pearce, Michelle J., Todd D. Little, and John E. Perez. "Religiousness and depressive symptoms among ad...
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