If God has reached across the chasm of knowledge that divides us from the ultimate reality, then we must have some means of knowing him.Some people believe that we can encounter the divine through religious experience, whereas others believe it is though faith, though the two are not distinct processes.
There are different opinions and understandings of faith, far too many to go into here. But I believe that faith is a sense that one has been touched by something higher, that a higher being has encountered you in some way.
Here is where we reach a crossroads, for there are assumptions about experience that define your starting point for your rational quest. Do you believe that experience is restricted to material objects accessed through the five senses, for if so you will discount religious experience, or do you believe that there are other modes of experience, such as the religious mode? If so you will be open to what Buber, a well-respected Jewish philosopher, writing in I and Thou, describes as the presence-power of the divine in your consciousness.
If the latter, you are in good company, for you will be in accord with Rudolph Otto, whose seminal work on religious experience, The Idea of the Holy, was the first to treat religious experience philosophically. You will be open to William James, whose pioneering work, The Varieties of Religious Experience, was the first to treat the subject scientifically. This line was continued by Sir Alistair Hardy, a Nobel prize winning biologist, who founded the Religious Experience Research Unit, then at Manchester College, Oxford, who regarded religious experience as definitely non-hallucinatory and having positive effects in the lives of recipients. You will be in agreement with Roger Scruton, one of Britain's leading philosophers, writing in The Soul of the World, who locates religious belief in a response to the experience of the sacred; and you will be in keeping with the many mystics and ordinary people who have undergone a sense that they were guided, inspired and saved by a presence power that makes occasional manifestations in their lives, and which some feel is a constant background presence in their existences.
If you take the path of openness to the influence of God in your life, you will not have solved all your problems. Genuine faith is a stimulus to thought, not a lock on it. For me, my faith is not primarily a body of ideas, but it is a sense that I am influenced by something greater than myself. I find that membership of the church, community of belief, provides me with the conceptual language to think out my commitment. In effect, the formal beliefs, doctrines, are not faith itself, but the ways in which I express and think it out. But as I implied above, faith is a journey, the simplistic understanding of God gained in my Catholic childhood has evolved. I have not rejected, but deepened it. I have never seen God as a "Bronze Age beardy" as one atheist, who probably gained the bulk of his understanding of God from cartoons, described Him, but I now go along with the mystics who regard God as profound mystery, but very real. There is still some way to go.
The Greek influence came not from Pharaonic Egypt but much later from the Byzantine Greek culture of the Eastern Roman Empire. Both
Plato and Aristotle were influential, but the most significant philosopher to be introduced to the west by the Arabs was Aristotle, who was barely known in the west.
The second paragraph under the first subheading, Religion and Rationality, concludes that "Islam at its best hosted a great philosophical tradition derived from Greek thought."
Would that Greek influence have passed by way of pharaonic Egypt? Which Greek philosopher would have achieved the lastingest influence?
The whole history of theology is implied in your response, so much in fact that it would take a series of theological books to respond to all of these points, and so I can but respond to some of them.
On the issue of the concepts Son of Man and Son of God, you might be interested in my article "Who was Jesus?" which touches upon some of these points.
The papacy developed and evolved over many generations as the needs of the church evolved
Philosophy includes logic, so my approach is consistent with your article, or I believe it to be. Notice one interruption of the transitive chain would alter the results.
I approach religion through logic, and have long ago asked several question which have led me to my present beliefs. First, does God exist? Then did God choose his people and reveal more of Himself to them? Then, is Christ God? Then, did God establish his Church through Christ? Then would man be allowed to change that Church, or did God set the precedent of directly making change if He wanted change? Since I did not see man as having sufficient authority I did not delve into different denominations, but others would have to ask even more. The difficult question comes when Rome fell, and the question of who was the real Pope, the Bishop f the City of Rome or the Bishop of the Roman Empire?
So, I used transitivity, and a logical approach.
I respect the idea that not everyone will answer the questions I have asked the same.
One thing I had not understood is how did Jesus Christ claim to be the God by calling himself the son of man, important to a belief in the Trinity. It was answered in a Christology class by a theologian. There are two books that the Jews did not include in what we call the Old Testament, but appear to have been written with the same inspiration. So, they were left out of the Bible. They were forbidden reading to the people, but the religious leaders were required to read them. Therein is the Trinity made known and is how those questioning Jesus concluded the term son of man to mean God. Hence, the greater a person's knowledge the better one can proceed. Certainly knowledge is a key in a proper understanding of complex questions.
Hope I did not get too far from the topic.
Thank you, for your response was the result that I wanted from the article.
This is really good as I feel equipped by now by JP's and your comments to answer criticisms aimed at me .
Thank you very much
Quite right. You have hit the nail on the head when you say that many atheists can tell you much about the God they don't believe in; and often I don't believe in that God either. Too many reject a childish view of God, but do not realize that there are mature, sophisticated views of the deity. Very often people reject a defective image of God, often for good reasons, but throw out the baby with the bath water, to reject God completely.
I certainly hope we can be rational and religious! My father was agnostic, and I always respected his view that there was no way to know for sure if God exists or not. I was an atheist for a while, having decided the world was better off without the kinds of gods people told me about (I'm sure all atheists can tell you a lot about the God they don't believe in!) But it does seem to be as much an act of faith to believe in no God as to believe in God. Certainly it's a choice of starting point as you say, not whether or not rational thought is used to develop the system.