The title, deliberately provocative or just kidding, speaks to the difference between the two disciplines. The former trying to figure things out. The latter assuming Christianity or whichever favored religion, has it already figured out and the object is to figure that out.

In other words philosophy seeks to penetrate mystery through reason. Theology through the structure of an existing (sacred?) text or mythology. Both exercise intuition and imagination but one in a more constricted language.

Feature: Capitalist, Climate, Military, Nuke Threats vs The Activisit

Superficially, theology seems, as the title teases, the lesser vehicle because it excludes and assumes so much. But going deeper the difference may dissolve and amounts to merely a personal preference for a certain kind of language. Theology deals with concepts like sin and the soul and philosophy uses ethics and consciousness. You could say that by the soul, theology means consciousness, that by struggling with ethical dilemmas philosophy examines sin. Theology concerns itself with salvation, philosophy with awareness. In this notion of equivalence the creation of the world by Godis a metaphorical phrasing of the big bang and the void out of which it sprang. One could argue, I would, that philosophy carries less baggage to obscure the project but others might find that theology works for them. Whatever gets you through the night, whatever it takes to arrive at enlightenment, salvation or presence. A rose by any other name.

Fundamentalist religion and philosophy continue this equivalence, or deny it, on a “lower” level where adherents, “believers” and “atheists”, dismiss each other as delusional. The rub is that on this level one can get hurt. Inquisitions, interrogation, prison, torture and execution seem to flourish to the degree that intolerance, fear and ego rule. Democracy has evolved as a hopeful way to steer clear of violence and domination by allowing citizen input into what sort of system we will live in and providing non-violent conflict resolution apparatus, the courts for example, for settling differences. The uncompromising fundamentalist forces, like the in-your-face Michigan militia and the billionaire’s funding them, make this difficult. History could be seen as an on-going struggle between these factions, democracy and authoritarianism.


Image credit: the political cartoon caption "Capitalist, Climate, Military, Nuke Threats vs The Activisit" was created by the author, © Tom Ferguson; the feature image is from Dallas' Thanksgiving Square called "The Spiral of Life" - the photo was taken by Steve Grant via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.

Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson

Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:

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