CCCOnline, PHI 214
Spring, 2010: Essay Unit 1 According to Chapter 1, what is the difference between reflective and unreflective engagement on the matter of religious questions? How does this question help to further
distinguish between religious “believers” and “non-believers”? Is the distinction useful? Why or why not?
Genuine philosophical discussion requires a willingness to consider and engage
perspectives that may be different from our own. When the topic of God arises in conversation, it
can become challenging to keep this goal in mind, since theists and non-theists alike can become
dogmatic in their positions, and unwilling to engage the matter philosophically. However, it is
necessary to make a distinction between reflective and unreflective engagement. The difference
between reflective and unreflective engagement on religious questions is one of a willingness to
participate in philosophical inquiry, of taking the beliefs that one has and holding them up for
critical examination. The usefulness of the distinction is this: Two individuals may have radically
different views about whether or not God exists, but if they share in a willingness to practice
reflective engagement, then the potential also exists for genuine philosophical discussion and
mutually respectful participation in matters that are of “absolute concern.”
Reflective reason is absolutely essential when we wish to engage in the study of the
philosophy of religion, since reflective reason is central to the study of philosophy.
There is not much of a distinction between reflective believers and reflective non-believers
because they are both are open to scrutinizing their belief systems, and are willing to hold those
beliefs up to scrutiny by others. In order to engage in philosophy of religion or on any other
topic in philosophy, we must be able to systematically and thoroughly examine our arguments
and be able to give rational accounts for their ideas and/or beliefs. As Peterson, et al. point out:
Comment [EMH1]: You are encouraged to put your name, course, term, and assignment at the top
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