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Keywords:

  • Terrence Deacon;
  • emergence;
  • Philip Hefner;
  • morality;
  • naturalism;
  • nature

Abstract.

Philip Hefner calls for religion-and-science to shift attention from pure ideas to embodied ideas. He urges scholars to get back to the Baconian idea that science is intended to enhance life; in Hefner's wording, we must give attention to “science-as-enabler-for-changing/improving-the-world.” I believe that this is the realm of overlap between all academic disciplines—what I call the pragmatic overlap. To make his argument Hefner mentions two forms of “conventional wisdom” that need to be rethought. First, he is worried that a “pressure toward naturalism” prevents certain words (such as teleological and transcendence) from having instructive meaning. Second, with this move toward naturalism Hefner believes we dismiss as archaic all valuable implications of traditional religious myths and symbols. He rightly highlights these exceedingly significant concerns. However, narrowing our focus to the implications of naturalism alone misses the root crisis. That crisis can be articulated as: “conventional wisdom” regarding nature is too unsophisticated to account for the phenomenon it depicts, and furthermore, this understanding of nature controls the methodological, metaphysical, and practical versions of naturalism acquiring societal acceptance. Accordingly, an alternative vision of nature is needed to transform our current “conventional wisdom” such that Hefner's worries are addressed.