Philosophy of religion is a branch of philosophy concerned with questions regarding religion, including the nature and existence of God, the examination of religious experience, analysis of religious language and texts, and the relationship of religion and science. It is an ancient discipline, being found in the earliest known manuscripts concerning philosophy, and relates to many other branches of philosophy and general thought, including Metaphysics, Logic, and History. Philosophy of religion is frequently discussed outside of academia through popular books and debates, mostly regarding the existence of God and problem of evil.
The philosophy of religion differs from religious philosophy in that it seeks to discuss questions regarding the nature of religion as a whole, rather than examining the problems brought forth by a particular belief system. It is designed such that it can be carried out dispassionately by those who identify as believers or non-believers.
As a part of metaphysics
Philosophy of religion has classically been regarded as a part of metaphysics. In Aristotle's Metaphysics, he described first causes as one of the subjects of his investigation. For Aristotle, the first cause was the unmoved mover, which has been read as God, particularly when Aristotle's work became prevalent again in the Medieval West. This Prime Mover, first cause, argument later came to be called natural theology by rationalist philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Today, philosophers have adopted the term philosophy of religion for the subject, and typically it is regarded as a separate field of specialization, although it is also still treated by some, particularly Catholic philosophers, as a part of metaphysics.
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