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What is Religious Naturalism? A Preliminary Report of an Ongoing Conversation

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Abstract:

Religious naturalism is an emerging construct that relies greatly on science and yet affirms attitudes and practices that are distinctly religious in nature. This article explores the meaning of the term as it is used by various proponents, contrasts it to some similar constructs (especially straight naturalism and natural religion), and examines some objections andoutstanding issues from within the science-religion community: (1) postmodernist objections; (2) whether religious naturalism is sufficiently respectful of traditional religious expression; and (3) whether religious naturalism seeks to be a descriptive or a prescriptive enterprise or both. Overall, religious naturalism is affirmed as a potentially productive new variant of naturaltheology, one that can preserve religious sensibilities without relying on supernatural constructs while maintaining a basic (though not uncritical) affirmation of other religious traditions.

Keywords: Christian naturalism; IRASnet; Loyal Rue; Philip Hefner; Ursula Goodenough; William Grassie; epic of evolution naturalism; naturalism; postmodernism; religiousnaturalism; straight naturalism; supernaturalism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0591-2385.00275

Publication date: June 1, 2000

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