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The Spiritual Task of Religion in Culture: An Evolutionary Perspective

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Abstract:

It is quite impossible to consider human nature within an evolutionary perspective if we leapfrog over culture and establish some direct relation between cosmic and human evolution without taking culture into consideration. Culture holds a significant place within the structures of nature, as the “epic” of evolution portrays nature—cosmic, physical, and biological. Religion emerges within culture, and it plays a role in organizing the human consciousness and in generating the stories, rituals, and morality that constitute the organization of consciousness. Since organization of consciousness determines how culture is conducted, and since we face a global crisis today because of the ways we are conducting our culture, religion's role is critical for the future of culture. Wherever it is attempted, whether in terms of traditional or posttraditional modes, the fashioning of adequate worldviews, rituals, and morality is an essentially religious activity. For both traditional and posttraditional modes, the task is to weave structures of meaning with the sciences of evolution so as to effect the most suitable organization of consciousness.

Keywords: culture; epic of evolution; organization of consciousness; religion; stories

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0591-2385.00172

Affiliations: Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago,

Publication date: December 1, 1998

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