By Matthew MacLennan

Scientific approaches ("science" narrowly defined as the "sciences of nature") metaphysically exclude divine effects as appropriate--in other words, science itself is structured to exclude divine action (pragmatically). The problem with the "natural" study of religion is that religion cannot be reduced to its natural causes and effects. This is precisely because divine causes and effects are the source and telos of religious life, with natural causes being more appropriately "effects which follow from divine causes". Science can contribute, because of its structure, studying natural phenomena associated with religion understood as natural phenomena and not as divine phenomena. Therefore, the word "natural" must be defined here as "strictly scientifically natural", suggesting that atheism is a strictly scientifically natural belief (excluding divinity not only pragmatically but substantially), whereas religion, limited to strictly scientific investigation, is "natural" because of its natural effects, but points to something outside of strictly natural explanations. The word "unnaturalness" applied to religion by konrad szocik signified the opposite of only a strictly scientific "naturalness". A more appropriate word than "unnaturalness" would be "supernaturalness". This word is more proper to the object of study (religion) and is not contradictory to "natural" but suggests explanatory plausibility "outside" or beyond the structure of nature, suggesting reality beyond nature. Here is where theology might begin to have significant input.


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Matthew MacLennan



Published: 10 Apr, 2015

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