Sociological & Biological Arguments
The Naturalness of Religious Imagination and the Idea of Revelation"In this article the phenomenon of religious imagination is taken as a test case for discussing the relevance of cognitive science to philosophy of religion and theology. With Lakoff and Johnson’s Philosophy in the Flesh, it is argued that all human cognitive faculties are both propelled and constrained by metaphors originating from the movements of self-aware bodies in space; accordingly, religious concepts and images are to be treated on par with all other concepts and images. Pascal Boyer’s Religion Explained is then critically discussed. It is argued that Boyer’s claim of having ‘explained’ religious imagination as counterintuitive blendings of evolutionarily inherited templates is highly problematic. Evolutionary psychology has not yet given any evidence of an evolutionary hard-wiring of religious concepts, and Boyer’s reference to the mind-set of hunterers and gatherers does not catch the complexity of later developments in religious thought. For all, the internal systematization of religious imageries, and the possibility of a religious self-criticism in terms of philosophy is not reflected in Boyer’s theory. Religious imagination may indeed be natural; but its naturalness neither counts for nor against the truth-claims involved in religious images."
Evolution, Purpose and God"A number of biologists maintain that the recent developments in evolutionary biology have profound implications for religion, morality and our self-understanding. The author focuses on the issue whether evolutionary biology has any relevance for a religious understanding of the meaning of life. First, the question about the meaning of life is clarified. Second, the argument of biologists such as Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould and Edward O. Wilson, that evolutionary theory undermines the religious belief that there is a purpose or meaning to the existence of the universe and to human life in particular, is evaluated. The author maintains that this argument has some merit, but that it nevertheless fails both to be a purely scientific argument and to establish the intended conclusion."