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Should Religious Naturalists Promote a Naturalistic Religion?

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Religious naturalism refers here to a view of reality, and it will be contrasted with versions of supernaturalism and of atheistic naturalism. Naturalistic religion refers to certain varieties of religion, especially some inspired by the universality of science and the need for a global ethics. In this essay I explicate why a religious naturalist need not advocate a naturalistic religion. Rather, a religious naturalist can build upon the heritage of religious traditions and be open to, but at the same time be agnostic about, the idea of a nonnatural ground of reality. The religious naturalism I defend has been criticized from various directions: one reviewer in this journal considered it too much indebted to the traditions, and hence “reactionary” and supernaturalistic; another considered it too minimalist in its religion (“virtually nonexistent”) as a consequence of the preference for a too sober version of naturalism. My distinction between religious naturalism and naturalistic religion may answer some of these objections.
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Keywords: Bas Van Fraassen; David R. Griffin; Earth Charter; Gordon Kaufman; Philip Hefner; Wesley Robbins; evolutionary epic; naturalistic religion; ontology; pluralism; reductionism; religious naturalism; ultimate questions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands,

Publication date: 1998-12-01

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