Go to a coffee shop. Sit by the bar with the glass windows and look out. Look at all the people running to catch a train. All the girls with one too many shopping bags. All the couples too in love to care. Then you’ll see it – a bit of yourself in everyone. And somehow, sitting alone in a coffee shop had never felt so good.
– note to self
Currently, I am in my third year of my undergraduate degree.
My final year.
My final semester.
People weren’t kidding when they said that the three years would fly by.
The term ‘God’ is used in a varied number of connotations. Helmuth Von Glasenapp (1970: p. 15) describes ‘God’ in three ways. Firstly, in the most general sense ‘God’ takes on the meaning of supernatural beings that are prayed to or made images of by humankind. Secondly, in a Judaeo-Christian sense, ‘God’ is the name of the one eternal and supernatural personal being who created the world and, thus, rules over it. Finally, ‘God’ in philosophy takes on the meaning of the Absolute – the impersonal ens realissimum (Latin for ‘the most real being’) – which is the ground that it does not matter whether it (or He) coexists with the world, surrounds the world, or is active within the world. Therefore, despite the various meanings relating to the term ‘God’, this essay will focus on the Judaeo-Christian concept and, in so doing, examine the grounds on which a Buddhist might reject the existence of God.
The Enlightenment refers to the intellectual movement that began in England in the 17th century. The key protagonists were John Locke (1632 – 1704) and the deists, and further developed in France in the 18th century with Voltaire (1694 – 1778), Denis Diderot (1713 – 1784) and other Encyclopaedists (Honderich 1995). Almost every European country, and every sphere of life and thought was affected by the Enlightenment – hence this ‘enlightening’ period has commonly become known as the Age of Reason. In the place of faith, people started to turn to reason and logic to determine what was true and false, and what was moral and immoral. As a result, political thought developed significantly throughout the Enlightenment, whereby the previous central role of religion in society arguably became threatened. Indeed, for many Enlightenment thinkers, religion was “unacceptable in any established ecclesiastical shape or form” (Porter 2001: p. 29). The purpose of my essay, therefore, is to critically discuss the themes of religion and political freedom in the Age of Enlightenment. In particular, I will critically discuss some of the main thinkers of the Enlightenment, including Kant, Locke and Rousseau, and evaluate their political thoughts and how it impacts religion in the Age of Reason.