CHAPTER VIII

PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION: ITS MEANING AND SCOPE

M. SAEED SHEIKH

The philosophy of religion is not a religious philosophy: it is the application not of the ideas of religion to philosophy, but of philosophy to the facts of religion. Religious philosophy is a way of thinking which is prompted by religion and takes religion as its foundation, whereas philosophy of religion makes religion its object. In religious philosophy, philosophy and religion are supposed to be inseparable, whereas the philosophy of religion has to start with the assumption that they are separable.

HISTORY

Religious philosophy is as old as Plato and Plotinus, but philosophy of religion is essentially a modern phenomenon. With the professional philosophers it began taking its distinctive character only during the 19th century in Germany; the term philosophy of religion came into use only at the turn of the century. The most probable first instance was a work by Immanuel Bergers entitled Geschichte der Religions-philosophie, published in Berlin in 1800. The earliest book in English which used the title The Philosophy of Religion, was that of J. D. Morell, published in 1849.

The credit for first defining the philosophy of religion in the sense in which it is used to-day goes to Hegel. Many consider him the founder of the philosophy of religion, for he saw religion as one of the four fields of human experience to be interpreted and given place in a total philosophy. This standpoint is supported by a quotation from the Encyclopaedia (1817). "The beginning of all philosophical knowledge is the acknowledgement of the four fundamental forms or types of human experience, namely, the scientific, the moral, the aesthetic and the religious. Philosophy consists in seeking the truth implicit in these fundamental forms." This is later reiterated at the very outset of his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion (1832): "It has appeared to me to be necessary to make religion itself the object of philosophical consideration, and to add this study, in the form of a special part, to philosophy as a whole." His claim to being the father of the philosophy of religion, however, is debatable, for his actual philosophy of religion followed upon his philosophy of history with the typical Hegelian premise of a dialectical development of religions towards an absolute religion -- which in fact was to compress the subject within the mould of a particular philosophy. No doubt, he brought the philosophy of religion to a par with other branches of philosophy, namely, moral philosophy, philosophy of art, and the philosophy of nature, each seen as being concerned with its distinctive intrinsic kind of experience. He treated his subject with greater catholicity and sweep than those who came before him in the long tradition of Christian theology. This showed that he was well aware that the philosophy of religion was not the study of any particular religion, but of the religions of all times and places, more specifically, of religion in history.

He missed, however, the fundamental principle of an empirical or critical philosophy of religion, namely, that the facts and experiences of religion are to be interpreted and evaluated primarily with reference to their own field and only secondarily from the point of view of any general philosophy. Moreover, he did not see that the philosophy of religion is an inquiry independent of commitment not only to any positive religion, but also to any preconceived philosophical system, for where the one leads to a religious apologetics or dogmatics, the other may equally lead to an apologetics or dogmatics of a philosophical brand. Any philosophy of religion which starts from the point of view of a system of philosophy and violates the primary principle of internal interpretation, even when favourably disposed towards religion, is not entitled to be called an empirical philosophies of religion, though it may be an idealistic, personalistic or pragmatic philosophy of religion. I may venture to say that the Gifford Lectures of Royce, Haldane, Bosanquet, Pringle Pattison, Jones and Webb, one and all, fall short of the real title of philosophies of religion inasmuch as their starting point is not the phenomenology of religion, but the philosophy of idealism. Idealistic conceptions of religion may not be entirely false; one of these, for example, represents religion to be a kind of devotion to the true, the good, and the beautiful considered as eternal values. All that this implies is included in religion to a great extent. Nevertheless, it is not an adequate conception of religion, for it lacks recognition of what is in religious experience and not arrived at from the consideration of actual religion in human history.

The real pioneers of an empirical philosophy of religion were a set of philosophers in Germany who published their works on the subject in the last quarter of the 19th century. The movement which these works initiated virtually ceased with the impact of the two World Wars. Foremost among these writers was Wilhelm Vatke who lectured on the subject in Berlin from 1839 to 1875 and defined philosophy of Religion as "the philosophical consideration, with free reflection and independent of pre-conceptions, of religion in general, as known in the development of religions in human history." Religion is given in history; it is not generated by philosophical thought , which has the task only of understanding and grasping it conceptually. Without an adequate knowledge of the concrete and varied facts of religion in its historical and psychological manifestations, philosophy leads only to dead formulae. Insisting on religion as sui generis, Vatke developed his philosophy of religion with reference to the psychological, historical and metaphysical. The threefold treatment of the subject by him was adopted by some of his younger contemporaries. Other names belonging to this group are O. Pfleiderer; C.B. Punjer; G. Teichmuller; H. Siebeck; A. Sabatier.

EMPIRICAL PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

It would be necessary to examine briefly certain forms of empirical theology which have been claimed to be empirical philosophies of religion par excellence as they certainly are grounded on some sort of immediacies of experience. Theology in general as contrasted with philosophy of religion is primarily concerned with the idea of God; whereas philosophy of religion cannot start with this assumption for it has to leave open the possibility in history of religions without God.

One form of empirical theology has been called natural theology for it is based upon the immediate experience of the observable facts of the world of nature. So far as natural theology is historically connected with the 17th and 18th century English and French deists, it is hard to distinguish it from rational theology, though this association is no longer acceptable to the contemporary natural or sense-bound theologians. Some form of natural theology has been presented by all kinds of religious thinkers: Jewish, Christian and Muslim for whom nature is the Book of God in which He has revealed His power, wisdom and goodness; the human vocation is to interpret this divine hieroglyphics. "The knowledge of nature is the knowledge of God’s behaviour," Iqbal tells us in his Lectures and continues to say that this is only another form of worship. Whereas a religious person starts from his or her religious experience or belief in God and proceeds to nature, a natural theologian starts from his sense-experience of nature and proceeds to the idea of God. The nerve centre of the latter is essentially some form of teleological argument, which may be as naive as that of Bernardin de St. Pierce who demonstrated: "God made fleas black so that it should be easier for us to catch them, and divided melons into sections so that it would be easier to cut them up in equal portions for the sake of domestic harmony."

But teleological argument becomes really formidable when treated by such eminent natural theologians as F. R. Tennant, who prefers to call his brand of philosophy of religion "philosophical theology" rather than natural theology. As heavy with scholarship as tennant’s main argument may be, it lacks a logical base for as with other natural theologians he leaves God in the final analysis as a mere hypothesis, even if the best of all hypotheses. But if God can be regarded as a hypothesis to explain the facts of sense experience, then these facts in some sense already are religious facts because the function of a hypothesis in science is not to create facts, but to explain them by discovering the law of their behaviour. When the hypothesis works, it may lead to new facts, but these are always of the same order as those already experienced, for valid logical reasoning allows nothing in a conclusion not contained in the premises.

Another form of empirical theology is based not on the immediacies of sense experience, but on the immediacies of moral experience. The writers of this group, regarding moral experience as the revelation of an objective realm of values, make this experience either the central theological fact, or at least one of the central data on which a theology may be constructed. For both Rashdall and Sorley, God is primarily a speculative, conceptual implication of ethics; yet both insist that ethics itself is to be based on moral experience as sui generis. Unless it be asserted that religion is nothing more than morality, it is reasonable to maintain that the concepts associated with religion are likewise to be understood with reference to religious experience as sui generis, whatever application may be made of these concepts afterwards.

The term "empirical theology" is most justifiably referred to in the case of such writers as make the immediacies of their own religious experience as the sole and sufficient basis for theology. It may be going too far to challenge the claims of the writers of this persuasion to be the real philosophers of religion, but there are two kinds of inadequacies to which they usually are exposed. Either they may emphasise particular aspects of religious experience at the cost of others or they may analyse and interpret religious experience with reference to their commitments to a particular religion. Both of these inadequacies are true, for example in the case of Schleiermacher, who otherwise is rightly claimed to be the father of ‘religious empiricism’. Schleiermacher was so impressed with the importance of the part played by feeling in religion that he gave it not merely the predominant but the exclusive place. He defined religious piety as consisting essentially neither in knowledge nor in action, but in determination of feeling.

The root of all religion, he held, was man’s feeling of absolute dependence on some power or powers other than himself. But this dictum, while it emphasises rightly the large part played by feeling in religious experience, overlooks the part played by the cognitive faculty in forming some conception of the power or powers on which we depend and the part played by will in choosing and adopting means for entering into harmony with that Supreme Power or Being. Further, Schleiermacher is not justified in selecting exclusively the Christian religious consciousness for the explication and interpretation of the feeling of absolute dependence. From the standpoint of other forms of the feeling of absolute dependence within Islam and Hinduism, for example, there may be constructed different systems of theology. In the case of Schleiermacher it may be added that his empirical theology was not only circumscribed by his commitment to Christianity but also dominated by a particular system of philosophy, namely Spinozistic pantheism and the developing German idealism.

PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE

Philosophy of religion, to be adequate, cannot be based merely on the religious experience of any one particular individual; nor can it possibly be refuted on the basis of an individual’s lack of that experience. No individual limits the propositions he accepts as truths to those attested solely in his own experience. The experiences of his contemporaries and those of others in the past have to be acknowledged and that there are experts and specialists in every field has to be admitted. The philosophy of religion is essentially a reflection on religion in history. A philosopher of religion in order to do justice to his subject has to recognise this fact and has to study not only his own religion, but all religions without distinction.

Unless I should be judged overhastily to be outlining in what follows a particularly Muslim philosophy of religion I may be allowed to mention that all this has been very well emphasized by the Qur‘an, according to which there is not a nation in the world in which a prophet as not been raised up: "There is not a people but a Warner has gone among them" (35: 24); again: "Every nation has had a messenger" (10: 47). Though the Qur‘an mentions only about twenty-five prophets by name, Biblical or otherwise, it tells us that there have been prophets besides those named therein: "And we sent messengers we have mentioned to thee before and messengers we have not mentioned to thee" (4: 164). The Qur‘an goes further and makes it necessary for a Muslim to believe in all those prophets. In the very beginning it says that a Muslim must "believe in that which has been revealed to thee (i.e. to the Prophet Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee" (2: 4); a little further on: "Say (O Muslims!): We believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to us and in that which was revealed to Abraham and Ismael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus and in that which was given to the prophets from their Lord; we make no distinction between any of them" (2: 136). The injunction to believe in all the prophets without distinction has been repeated in many other verses of the Qur‘an, and in fact to accept some prophets and reject others has been condemned as unbelief: "Lo, those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers and seek to make a distinction between Allah and His messengers, and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and seek to take a course between (this and) that; such are disbelievers in truth" (4:150)

Whatever may be one’s personal religion or private opinion concerning it there is no gainsaying the fact that there is no more widespread and impressive thing in human history than religion; throughout the ages it has occupied a central place in life. In every known period of history some kind of religious beliefs and observances have been in evidence, in tribes and nationalities the most unlike in other respects, too remote from one another to allow the possibility of mutual influence, and pursuing the most divergent lines of practical activity. "In wandering over the earth," Plutarch says, "you can find cities without walls, without rulers, without palaces, without treasures, without money, without gymnasium or theatre; but a city without temples to the gods, without prayers, oaths and prophecy, such a city no mortal has yet seen and will never see." However crude religion in its primitive forms may have been and however gross the superstitions with which it has often been associated, its omnipresence and centrality in the history of the race are the facts to be reckoned with.

Investigators in the fields of anthropology, sociology, the history of religions, the comparative study of religion, the psychology of religion and the study of human life and culture have accumulated an enormous mass of facts about the religious rites, customs, activities, beliefs, sentiments, aspirations of men and communities. These phenomena, if studied according to certain special requirements and with the care necessary for the study of religion, provide the empirical base upon which alone the philosophical structure of the philosophy of religion can later be erected. This base is better described as the phenomenology of religion, but of late it has been more and more named the science or sciences of religion.

Religious phenomena may be studied basically from two points of view, firstly from the point of view of the inner or subjective experience of religious consciousness: the psychological point of view, and secondly from the standpoint of religious experience as externalised in rites, institutions, events and creeds, theologies: the historical point of view. These two points of view cannot be kept absolutely apart for the subjective and the objective are ever intimately intertwined in the unity of life.

In view of the agelong human experience with religion it may seem strange that neither the ancients nor the moderns until very recently have undertaken to inquire objectively and comprehensively into the facts of religion. This is due partly to the lack of an historical sense and perhaps even more due to the fact that religions all along have remained encased within the ‘hallowed theologies’ whnce they always have perceived secular inquiry with suspicion. Some of the theologians even today may be quite shocked by the very proposal of a science of religion. Anyhow a philosophy of religion without a survey of facts as presented by the science of religion may be no more than mere cobweb spinning and the spewings of the thinkers’ own mind; sheer acrobatics of semantics or the ecstatics of love and hate. But there is also the other extreme position, mostly taken up by the naturalists and the humanists who holds that the philosophy of religion consists entirely of its history, psychology and sociology: we read that the historical, psychological or sociological approaches are the only ones.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION

It is of utmost importance that though the history of religion and the psychology of religion makes real contribution towards building up a phenomenology of religion, it is none of the business of these sciences as such to try to arrive at any explanation or evaluation of religious phenomena. Their function is restricted to the simple description of these phenomena as objectively and as faithfully as is possible within the social sciences. Any attempt on their part to explain these phenomena is exposed to the dangers of genetic, reductive or naturalistic fallacies. The psychology of religion may very easily develop into a psychologism of religion and the history of religion into an historicism of religion. A historian of religion does not start with any loyalties towards the naturalistic or the idealistic theories of evolutionary development or any other prepossessions about the nature of history. The method of the sciences of religion has to be purely internal and descriptive, which is possible only when the scientist is able to forget for the time being his own beliefs and describe those of others without any thought of orthodoxy or heresy, edification or peril to faith.

But the whole matter is much more delicate than this: the description of valuations without evaluations requires a subtle kind of objective subjectivity. It is sometimes wrongly supposed that one can understand religion only by becoming irreligious. This is an ordinary concept of objectivity, but the objectivity required for a science of religion is of a wholly different order: it cannot be an objectivity that excludes the element of understanding. It is impossible to understand religion without participating, in some form and in some degree, in the life of religion. We cannot even understand the ordinary behaviour of human beings without in some sense being involved in their experiences. It is still more true that we cannot understand that extraordinary behaviour of religion -- that prayer and praise which men call worship -- unless we participate in their life at least empathically. As A. E. Taylor says, "A philosophy of religion to be of any value, must not come from the detached theorist, holding no form of creed, but contemplating all; it must be fruit of candid self-criticism on the part of men living the life they contemplate, each in his own way, but each alike ready to learn alike from the others and from the outsider" (The Faith of a Moralist). A completely detached theorist, if indeed such be possible, might indeed know much about religion, but not what religion itself is all about.

Just how much must the philosopher or the scientist live the life he contemplates? How much must he share in order to understand and what form of creed must he hold? These are important but difficult questions. However, this much is sure, that if a philosopher or scientist of religion lives the life he contemplates on the highest level of his own religious tradition then he has taken the first necessary step towards the understanding of any other religion. Personal association with others of at least one more religion than one’s own appears to be an almost necessary if inadequate prerequisite for the study of the science of philosophy of religion. Each religion has a character of its own, an inner impulse, a distinctive atmosphere that may be appreciated only from within the community in actual participation. In the psychology of religion, only that individual is likely to be successful who himself has some religious experience with reference to which he may understand the experiences of others.

With this consideration many contemporary exponents of psychology may be considered unqualified for any real work in the psychology of religion. Iqbal is justified in making the rather disheartening remark, "Modern psychology has not yet touched even the outer fringe of religious life and is still far from the richness and variety of what is called religious experience." Iqbal’s statement is true insofar as it indicates that the psychology of religion is yet in its infancy, but this is equally true of the other sciences of religion. The ‘science of religion’ has yet to be born and is one of the most difficult subjects, particularly because of its peculiar paradoxical method, namely, of objectively subjective understanding of the religious phenomena: description of the religious ‘valuations’ through a sort of emphatic participation in them, and yet without evaluating them in the first instance with reference to any external standard. All this requires an involvement without any commitment. An analogous difficulty is encountered by a literary or artistic ‘critic’ whenever he undertakes to write on psychology, history or com-parative study of literature or art.

The psychology of religion as a phenomenological study began its career only at the beginning of this century, by making quite suggestive disclosures about the nature of conversion, varieties of religious experience, the techniques of mystics, types of worship, etc. Due to the confused state of psychology in general and especially to the recent vogue of behaviourism, this subject has been somewhat shelved and further progress seems to have been arrested. The psychology of religion cannot be based on the premises of a secular psychology such as behaviourism, for which ‘the Divine breath’ called human soul is a sheer myth, and man, ‘the great creative mystery’, is no more than an assembled organic machine ready to run as a Jack-in-the-box between stimuli and responses. Similarly, psychology of religion cannot have its moorings in such systems of thought as consider man primarily a ‘theopathic’ animal. However useful psychopathological studies may be , it is no more possible to construct a psychology of normal religion on a foundation gathered from religious pathology than it is to construct a psychology of normal persons from data collected from abnormal persons only. Talking of religion merely in the terms of pathology is itself pathological, for it overlooks the fact that the deep unconscious of the human psyche is an inexhaustible storehouse not only for the abnormal, but also for the supernormal. Erotogenetic theories of religion have extracted quite a blessing out of such coincidences as that of pubescence and the main peaks of the conversion curves, palpably committing the genetic fallacy and forgetting that sex itself may be ‘divinely ordained’.

However, very recently some searchings of heart have been evinced with regard to the scientific status of psychoanalytic methodology and much talk about the ‘Uses and Abuses’ and ‘Sense and Non-Sense’ in psychology is in the air. A distinction has been made between the second hand, ossified, traditional religion, dead and moribund, hanging over the soul, and a first hand religion, spontaneously blossoming from the soul which through its autopsychiatric and psychohygienic function brings a peace and bliss to it that passeth all understanding. Some psychotherapists have found themselves to be involved in a religious situation by being absolutely consecrated to their task of saving souls, on which ultimately rests their own peace of mind.

The most important fact about the psychology of religion as a phenomenological science is that it is to be an existential study of religious phenomena in their experimental actuality. Among the best sources for its data are autobiographies, confessions, self-analyses, letters and other works of the great mystics and other religious leaders. There is no dearth of such literature in the world: in fact it is overwhelming by its super-abundance. Of course there are difficulties of translating the religious symbolism of the past into the thought idiom of the present. More attention, however, must be paid to the religious experience of the living mystics and saints of the world through personal contacts wherever possible. A close study of prayers and hymns, odes and psalms are of great value inasmuch as they give expression to a large variety of experiences. Ritual acts and ceremonies are also important insofar as they are expressions of inner feelings and attitudes and modes for their cultivation. Particular religious emotions are stimulated and expressed in religious rites associated with birth, initiation into religious group, marriage and the disposal of the dead. In short, the richness of the varieties of religious experience should be acknowledged by a psychologist of religion, and nothing should be left unexplored, unshared and unprobed wherever it be found.

THE HISTORY OF RELIGION

Similarly, the richness of religious experience cannot be denied by an historian of religion whose duty it is to give a faithful account of religions of all times and places, whether dead or living. In the early development of this science, undue emphasis was laid on primitive religions and too much delight was taken in moving among golden boughs and totems, divine kings and heavenly twins, collecting specimens for a museum of dead cults and anthropological curiosities. All those early studies, important and useful in their own way, were mostly vitiated by their fallacy of primitivism, i.e., trying to discern the essence of religion by "peering into its cradle and seeking oracles in its infant cries" rather than contemplating the more mature forms it has attained. Later students of the history of religions have occupied themselves predominantly or solely with creeds and articles of faith. The card index cataloguing of dogmas and beliefs and overemphasis on the doctrinal has sometimes led to faulty representations of religions, as if they were no more than the mere moulds of orthodoxies and catechisms of dogmas. Dogmas and doctrines are, of course, important -- without their assistance religions cannot develop -- but they are only external symbols for bringing the basic truths of religion to human understanding. Doctrines have been formulated at different times and in different communities as expressions of religious experience. The historian of religion should return from doctrines to experience; rather than describing meticulously some or several creeds, it is more important to study the nature of the religious impulse itself and of what happens to it under varying cultural conditions as it solidifies into a creed.

For the study of religion the lives of saints, mystics and religious founders, the growth of devotional and liturgical literature; the origin and changes, the elaborations and simplifications of religious practices; and the religious, emotional attitudes and ideals are of far greater significance. There have been few histories of religion with adequate attention to these.

Among most students there has been a concentration of attention on the respects in which religions are similar. The similarities are important; in the similarities one finds some fundamentals, but the variety of experience adds to the spiritual richness of the world. No adequate account of religion can be given in terms of the elements common to all religions; only with attention to differences can justice be done to the evolutions of religion.

The historian of religion should not dismiss the mythological in religions as merely superstitious and primitive. More often than not myths carry profound religious implications. Religious myths and symbols are sometimes the eternal images of psychic reality, and not merely arbitrary imaginative phantasies. Even Plato recognised the significance of mythical language, and his use of it is a part of his greatness as a philosopher. It is out of the tension between the finite and the infinite, most intensely felt in the tension between time and eternity, that the mythopoetic imagination develops its categories of beginning and ending, of ultimate origination and ultimate destiny -- its mythical cosmologies and eschatologies. Thus much more can sometimes be learned from a consideration of the implications of the mythological in religions than from the intellectual formulations of doctrines. Allied with the mythological is the legendary, especially in the stories of great saints and religious leaders. These legends may be of significance in portraying in symbolic form the religious characteristics of religious personages.

These are some of the very general, yet insufficient, suggestions with regard to the kind of work required in psychology and the history of religion. The mere gathering and arranging of material, however, does not constitute a philosophy of religion. We have to interpret and evaluate this infinitely complicated system of arranged facts and experiences and we have to face the question of how far the religious conceptions of mankind correspond to truth. It may be said that religious beliefs, doctrines and creeds are so amazingly varied in character that it is not possible to arrive at any consistent conception of religion in general from the survey of religions in history. The variety and relativity of religious beliefs has sometimes been overemphasised as also has been done in the case of morals. Religion in history may be likened to a pyramid. At the base which corresponds to the particular pronouncements of the different positive religions, we find great variations from race to race and from time to time due to the varied natural conditions under which the religious experience finds expressions. But as we pass from the base to the apex, we find less of the particular and more and more of the universal. The relation of history as such with religion, though very important, is a difficult subject; without subscribing to the view that history and religion are congruent with each other, it may be said that, by and large, history indicates a process of self-criticism with regard to religion. By the expurgation of crude practices and obsolete ideas and rising to the higher levels of religious apprehension there has been a general advance in religions. Take, for example, the development from the naively materialistic views of God to a spiritual conception, from the merely ritualistic and often grossly immoral religious practices to the highest moral idealism, from the tribal and national view of religion to a universal religion, from mere legalism to experiental mysticism. With respect to whatever grows and develops, it is the higher stages that help us to understand and evaluate that which is evinced in the lower.

The philosophy of religion insists that it is the inner religious experience and not its precise formulations in the form of doctrines and creeds that are significant for the formulations are relative to the context of the cultural level and the historical circumstance of the age in which they are made. A discrimination has to be made between the merely local and the temporal and the specifically religious, which can be done only when the history of religions is studied in the light of an insight and understanding gained through the psychology of religion for the basis of their agreement lies in the ‘religious psyche’ underlying all types of religion. It may be said that there is a religion of spirit which represents the transcendental unity of religions, above their empirical diversity. In a sense religions are as varied as the individuals are varied; every individual has his own lonely confrontation with ‘the Divine’. But variety brings richness of experience and diversity does not necessarily mean discord. The future of religions does not lie in a dead uniformity or in an incongruous eclecticism, but in their plurality. All can be members of one family of religions; the Qur‘an has spoken of all the prophets as one community (21: 92). The more one understands the basic truth of one’s own religion, the less one differs with other religions.

 

RELIGION AS META-EMPIRICAL OR

META-PHYSICAL REALITY

 

There is a tendency with the thinkers of a more empirical type to restrict the scope of the philosophy of religion only to the functional character of religion in human evolution and to tracing the practical value of its effects on social life. This, according to them, is the only vindication of the truth of religion that need or can be undertaken. But even the purely empirical study of religion shows that the religious consciousness itself points to a supra-empirical reality as its ground and support; hence its essence cannot be understood merely empirically. Religion strives for an ideal which derives its validity and authority from ‘beyond the veil’ (42: 51), that is, from ‘the beyond that is within’ the world of spiritual values which transcends the empirical world of space, time and events and yet which is immanent within it as constituting its deeper meaning. Without this ground and support, religion is nothing more than a baseless dream, a beautiful illusion with no foundation in objective reality. The inner dissolving into its merely ‘emotive meanings’ or subjective illusion cannot be concealed by its supposed beneficial effects in practice. Religion means to be true as well as effective and effective because true, for it assumes an inseparability of value and existence and of the axiological and the logical. Merely pragmatic and operational notions of truth may work in science, but in religion truth to be true must be true altogether. The religious consciousness in its highest development claims to be in an intimate sense en rapport with the ultimate nature of things. Hence religion more than anything else is a perpetual challenge to philosophy, compelling it to investigate its claims to be a valid interpretation of truth and reality and to examine its assumptions. The philosophy of religion is the response of philosophy to this challenge.