Once a Philosopher(P) and a Religious cleric (R) met at a coffee house and got into a discussion :
P : Either you can have a philosophy or a religion. Having both & together, are incompatible.
R: Religion though is a matter of belief but at some level it is also a philosophy. So by being religious you have both: a philosophy as well as a God connect who gives you that philosophy.
P: Philosophy is always based on the rabid questioning process. To advance itself it questions every source of authority like political, social, natural so if religion at some level is also a philosophy then will it allow debate or questioning of authority.
R: Religion is a word of God whose aim is for you to lead a virtuous life by distinguishing between good and evil. So it is a philosophy with a purpose. It is not a random thought system which you can debate and improve upon.
P: Apart from the questioning process which is its core process, philosophy is concerned with big questions about life, death, meaning, conduct and organization of human affairs. It entertains various points of views and allows space for varied framing and answering. Can you say the same thing about diversity and coexistence of various thought streams in religion.
R: Presence of various thought processes is confusion. It is not uncommon to have these confusions if you think mind is the arbiter of truth and is the only way possible to know the answers. There are ways of picking knowledge, an intuitive approach for example, that can bypass the entire mental/rational knowledge framework. Then there is word of God that answers all the questions for you. So to assume rational questioning as the only instrument of truth is a very narrow view.
P: Philosophy is a very value driven conception with human good as its highest purpose. Can you say that religion exists to serve people.
R: Religion exists to serve god and his will, not people’s. Its purpose is to ensure that people follow the right path to their salvation and not merely what is good for them in the short run of their temporal lives.
P: Religion gifted dogma ( that cannot be questioned), orthodoxy ( that seeks adherence) and metaphysics( that cannot be proved) which lead us down the dark ages of ignorance and violence and it was not until rational enlightenment was achieved that industrial revolution/human rights/life span enhancements… were achieved by the human race. That conclusively proves that philosophical thought has been instrumental in all of human advancement and not religion.
R: Philosophy might have contributed to mental liberation and technological advancement but has it contributed to human happiness. Look around and would you say humans are substantially happier today than say they were 500 years ago and when you factor in the mental, social and environmental costs of this progress do you think philosophy has made a major contribution.
P: Yes I think overall it has contributed to improving the human lot though when you factor in all the costs I will have to concede that the gains have not been very substantial. However look around and see if all the sectarian violence, religious conflicts, faith divisiveness has contributed to human happiness and if religion’s net contribution to human life, on balance, is only negative.
R: Religion’s contribution is positive as many people have found peace and salvation in it however I will concede that unfortunately what you are saying is also true. Most people are illiterates when it comes to understanding the true message of their religions. They get sucked into the power politics of religions and end up deviating substantially from what the true religion recommends.
P: Overall, we need a more sustainable philosophy.
R: Overall, we need a more humanistic religion.