A taste for the infinite: What philosophy of biology can tell us about religious belief

Zygon 57 (1):161-180 (2022)
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Abstract

According to Friedrich Schleiermacher, religiosity is rooted in feeling (Gef├╝hl). As a result of our engagement with the world, on which we depend and which we can influence, we have both a sense of dependence and of freedom. Schleiermacher speculated that a sense of absolute dependence in reflective beings with self-consciousness (human beings) gave rise to religion. Using insights from contemporary philosophy of biology and cognitive science, I seek to naturalize Schleiermacher's ideas. I moreover show that this naturalization is in line with Schleiermacher's outlook on biology, as he already had evolutionary considerations in mind when he wrote the Christian Faith (1830). While Schleiermacher rejects natural theology in a narrow sense (proofs for the existence of God), his project is natural theological in a broader sense, as it roots religion in experiences that we can examine using naturalistic theories.

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Helen De Cruz
Saint Louis University

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