Should religious naturalists promote a naturalistic religion?

Willem B. Drees*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-633
Number of pages17
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


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  • David R. Griffin
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  • Evolutionary epic
  • Gordon Kaufman
  • Naturalistic religion
  • Ontology
  • Philip Hefner
  • Pluralism
  • Reductionism
  • Religious naturalism
  • Ultimate questions
  • Wesley Robbins


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