Thinking About Religion
Volume 13 (2018)

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Søren Kierkegaard and John Dewey on Faith and Self-Unification

Wesley Dempster
Western Governors University

Traditionally, theists have seen faith as a kind of virtue (perhaps the supreme virtue), while atheists have regarded it as a vice (specifically, an epistemic vice—a failure to proportion our belief to the evidence). In this paper I compare and contrast the views of two important philosophers who are seldom mentioned in the same breath: the Danish existentialist Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and the American pragmatist John Dewey (1859-1952). Despite approaching the question of the value of faith from seemingly very different perspectives, I hope to demonstrate that Kierkegaard and Dewey converge on a novel and interesting conception of faith. Although Kierkegaard was a Christian and Dewey rejected all forms of supernaturalism, both thinkers present faith as a passionate, non- or supra-rational commitment that unifies the self and opens new possibilities in the living world. Given the deep and sometimes bitter divisions between religious and secular culture, it is important to highlight areas of agreement, especially ones that might provide a foundation for further productive cross-difference communication.

Notwithstanding their contrasting theological and philosophical perspectives, there is enough overlap between Kierkegaard’s Christian existentialism and Dewey’s naturalistic pragmatism to make a comparative analysis of their views on faith fruitful. To begin, existentialism and pragmatism have two fundamental points in common, as identified by one of Dewey’s most famous students, Sidney Hook (1902-1989). First, both existentialism and pragmatism agree that existence is prior to essence. “In other words,” writes Hook, “both movements are anti-Platonic, and take their point of departure from the givenness of experience, of man in a world of time” (Hook 1959, p. 159). We do not discover who we really are, for there is no “real self” to discover other than the self we create through the choices we make. Second, existentialism and pragmatism both understand the human self as “a creature who has problems and who is aware of the fact that he has problems” (Hook 1959, p. 160). For both Kierkegaard and Dewey, then, faith is important because of the crucial role it plays in helping us cope with problematic situations and, at the same time, in fostering the ongoing process of creating a unified self by providing us with something beyond the contingency of our own transient beliefs and desires to guide our choices.

With these broad agreements in view, there is a key disagreement between existentialism and pragmatism worth noting. Existentialist thinkers tend to overemphasize the individual self, abstracting it from its social and physical environment, whereas pragmatists—rightly, on my view—recognize that the self is and must be defined, and continuously redefined, within the context of its multifarious and ever-changing relationships. By engaging in a comparative analysis of thinkers who approach faith from overlapping but crucially different perspectives—not only theistic versus naturalistic, but also existentialist (Kierkegaard) versus pragmatist (Dewey)—we stand both to deepen and to complicate our understanding of the role of faith in shaping not only ourselves, but also our communities.

Naturalistic philosophers who, like Dewey, take the moral psychology of faith seriously open the door to rewarding engagement with theists like Kierkegaard, who have written extensively, and with great insight, on the subject. In this paper, I first explicate a Kierkegaardian[i] existentialist view, which I then place in conversation with Dewey’s social pragmatist approach to faith. In the end I argue that although the Kierkegaardian conception of faith is excessively individualistic, we should allow for the possibility that, in exceptional cases, faith sets apart the single individual in a way that Dewey’s emphasis on the social self does not fully take into account. Kierkegaardian and Deweyan conceptions of faith thus can supplement and enrich each other.

Existentialist Individualism in Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling

Let us begin by examining the conception of faith expressed in Fear and Trembling (1843), which Kierkegaard wrote under the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio (or John the Silent). The book offers a nuanced account of the phenomenology of faith, centering on the Biblical story of Abraham, in which God tests Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Silentio is astonished, not by Abraham’s willingness to kill his son, but by the fact that this does not destroy his hope, embodied in Isaac, that his progeny will become the “great nation” God promised (Genesis 12:2). If Abraham kills his only son (born when he was one hundred years old), it seems unreasonable to hope for any descendents, let alone many.

Silentio notes that Abraham’s story usually is told without invoking the “fear and trembling” he must have felt when called to kill Isaac. Abraham’s anxiety is a consequence of incommensurable demands placed on him by morality and faith. “The ethical expression for what Abraham did,” Silentio explains, “is that he meant to murder Isaac; the religious expression is that he meant to sacrifice Isaac—but precisely in this contradiction is the anxiety that makes a person sleepless” (Kierkegaard 1843, p. 30). Too often Abraham’s story is told without attention to the fact that, within the framework of ethics, Abraham is a would-be murderer; the happy ending, in which Isaac is spared by God’s grace, is emphasized, while Abraham’s willingness to violate the ethical prohibition against murder is glossed over. Silentio understands moral principles as universal—they are absolute and apply to everyone, everywhere, and always. From this perspective, Abraham’s willingness to kill Isaac, and thus exempt himself from the universally held prohibition against murder, is morally unjustifiable—hence Silentio’s insistence that faith transcends justification (Kierkegaard 1843, p. 33).

There are different ways to make exceptions of ourselves, however. In several of Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous works, including Either/Or (1843), Stages on Life’s Way (1845), and Fear and Trembling, three hierarchically-ordered ways of life are distinguished: the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. The aesthetic way of life is the lowest whereas the religious is the highest. By living a sensuous life, gratifying our own urges without regard for universal moral principles, we locate ourselves beneath the ethical, in the aesthetic level of existence. Those who organize their lives around the satisfaction of their own hedonistic desires fail to heed the authority of the moral law. On the other hand, if we recognize and respect the claim that universal moral principles have on us, yet assert our individuality by relating ourselves to an authority even higher than the ethical, then we locate ourselves above the universal, in the domain of religious faith.

The conflict between the competing demands of the ethical and the religious causes anxiety. Insofar as Abraham’s actions transcend the universal, they cannot be justified in the language of morality—or indeed any language. There are no words, according to Silentio, for what Abraham intends to do other than that he would murder Isaac. On this view, faith isolates the individual from all others, including her religious community. If true, faith has no social utility. Indeed, Silentio paradoxically suggests that it is narcissistic to expect faith to serve a social function. The person of faith, claims Silentio, “is assigned solely to himself; he feels the pain of being unable to make himself understandable to others, but he has no vain desire to instruct others” (italics mine, 80). So Abraham conceals his intention to kill Isaac, even from his wife, Sarah.

Silentio insists that even if Abraham tried to communicate, he would not be understood: “Abraham cannot speak, because he cannot say that which would explain everything ... that it is an ordeal such that, please note, the ethical is the temptation” (Kierkegaard 1843, p. 115). Because Abraham respects the ethical, feels the weight of its authority, he is “tempted” by it. Silentio thus gives us the means to distinguish between Abraham and a mere murderer. Unlike Abraham, the murderer does not respect, and thus is not tempted by, the ethical.

Abraham’s faith involves two stages, or “movements,” Silentio tells us. First, there is a movement of infinite resignation, in which Abraham resigns himself to the loss of his son. Silentio claims that he himself could have made this movement. “I would have said to myself: Now all is lost, God demands Isaac, I sacrifice him and along with him all my joy” (Kierkegaard 1843, p. 35). But resignation is not sufficient for faith. Someone who makes this movement but goes no further Silentio terms a “knight of infinite resignation.” By contrast, “the knight of faith” makes the movement of infinite resignation and the movement of finitude—a turn away from the universal and toward the particularities of her own life. Silentio claims this second movement is beyond his own capacity, whereas Abraham makes both movements, resigning his claim to Isaac while continuing to care intensely for him. This places Abraham in a position to receive Isaac selflessly, seeing him not as a rightful possession but as a gift from God.[ii]

Importantly, Abraham’s faith is not directed toward heavenly rewards but toward finite, worldly goods: “He did not have faith that he would be blessed in a future life but that he would be blessed here in the world. God could give him a new Isaac, could restore to life the one sacrificed” (Kierkegaard 1843, p. 36). Silentio goes so far as to suggest that, because for God all things are possible, genuine faith is sufficient for the satisfaction of our wholehearted desires—regardless of how improbable.

While the knight of infinite resignation remains aloof from worldly affairs, the knight of faith is deeply invested in the finite—so much so that she bears “a striking resemblance to bourgeois philistinism” (Kierkegaard 1843, p. 38). Like a bourgeois, the knight of faith “belongs entirely to the world” (Kierkegaard 1843, p. 39). But the bourgeois’ relationship to the world is superficial. In contrast to the knight of faith, the bourgeois naively claims dominion over her worldly possessions. The knight of faith, though, “has felt the pain of renouncing everything ... and yet the finite tastes just as good to him as to one who never knew anything higher” (Kierkegaard 1843, p. 40). So although the knight of faith might be mistaken for a “tax collector,” her experiences—unlike a superficial, bourgeois tax collector’s—are deeply infused with both anxiety and joy.

For Kierkegaard’s Silentio, as for Dewey, faith places us in a right relationship to the world, which, significantly, is necessary for the unification of the self. In Fear and Trembling, Silentio asserts that the knight of faith has “the power to concentrate the whole substance of his life and the meaning of actuality into one single desire” (Kierkegaard 1843, pp. 42-43). He explains that if a person does not do this, “his soul is dissipated in multiplicity” (Kierkegaard 1843, p. 43). It is only by properly relating ourselves to God that we can unify the finite and the infinite—the concrete and the universal—and become whole. The knight of infinite resignation despairs because, though she relates herself to the infinite, she does not relate herself back to the finite. The knight of faith, though, unifies the finite and the infinite within herself, thus making herself whole.

Social Pragmatism in Dewey’s A Common Faith

For Kierkegaard’s Silentio and for Dewey, faith essentially involves, not blind acceptance of handed-down beliefs, but rather an active relationship between the finite and the infinite—or, in Dewey’s terms, actuality and possibility. This implies two broad areas of overlap between a Deweyan and a Kierkegaardian conception of faith. First, they agree that institutional religion, with its emphasis on sectarian dogma, is largely destructive of genuine faith. Second, they agree that faith plays an important role in the formation of a unified self. For Silentio, as we have seen, faith is a passion that concentrates the substance and meaning of our lives into a single desire, which harmonizes the spiritual and material aspects of our being. Similarly, Dewey claims that faith arouses intense emotions that “are actuated and supported by ends so inclusive that they unify the self” (Dewey 1934, p. 22).

One of Dewey’s main concerns in his only monograph on religion, A Common Faith (1934), is to distinguish between “religion” and “the religious.” He wants to discard the noun, “religion,” which he views as tangled up in untenable metaphysical commitments, while maintaining a central role for the religious aspects of human experience, which “lend deep and enduring support to the process of living” (Dewey 1934, p. 15). According to Dewey, the adjective, “religious,” can be applied to any set of conditions that “effect an adjustment in life, an orientation, that brings with it a sense of security and peace” (1934, p. 13). Such readjustments can be brought about in many different ways: “sometimes by devotion to a cause; sometimes by a passage of poetry that opens a new perspective; sometimes as was the case with Spinoza—deemed an atheist in his day— through philosophical reflection” (Dewey 1934, p. 14). Dewey urges us to see the ideals that traditionally have been bound up with supernaturalism, which often have effected such adjustments in life, as having emerged from relationships between living human persons. By relocating value within the natural experiences of human communities, Dewey helps reorient us toward the collective project of improving actual material and social conditions and away from the divisive project of defending sectarian dogmas.

Kierkegaard, too, distinguishes between religion and the religious. In Fear and Trembling, Silentio expresses the distinction in terms of an opposition between the “Church-related hero” and the knight of faith. Likewise, in The Sickness Unto Death (1849), Kierkegaard’s pseudonym Anti-Climacus expresses the distinction in terms of an opposition between Christendom and Christianity. In Christendom, religion has become mere routine (Kierkegaard 1849, p. 103). Anti-Climacus, however, argues that a Christian, especially a pastor, should be like a lover, and a lover would never try to demonstrate her love with reason. Yet pastors “defend” Christianity with reasons, observes Anti-Climacus, and thereby demonstrate why the majority of Christians lack genuine faith—they lack passion (Kierkegaard 1849, p. 104).

For religion, faith involves assent to a body of propositions that constitute the tenets of a particular Church. Dewey, however, distinguishes between believing that certain propositions are true, and the moral conviction that some ideal end should guide us. “Conviction in the moral sense,” he writes, “signifies being conquered, vanquished, in our active nature by an ideal end; it signifies acknowledgment of its rightful claim over our desires and purposes” (Dewey 1934, p. 20). Such convictions have a religious character insofar as they give us organizing principles to live by, which in turn structure and unify the self.

Because our identities are largely formed by the different groups we identify with and the sometimes conflicting roles we play across our personal, professional, and public lives, many of us have more than one identity—more than one “self”—within us.[iii] For Dewey, self-becoming is an ongoing process of integrating these often inconsistent identities. As he explains elsewhere, “There is no one ready-made self behind activities. There are complex, unstable, opposing attitudes, habits, impulses, which gradually come to terms with one another, and assume a certain consistency of configuration” (Dewey 1922, p. 138). Dewey suggests that the individual who fails to achieve integration and instead “builds up barriers between different systems of likes and dislikes” exhibits signs of mental illness: “Their character,” he tells us, “is marked by stigmata resulting from this division” (Dewey 1922, p. 39).

Like Kierkegaard’s Silentio, Dewey insists that faith is necessary for organizing our identities into a coherent unity. “The self,” writes Dewey, “is always directed toward something beyond itself and so its own unification depends on the idea of the integration of the shifting scenes of the world into that imaginative totality we call the Universe” (Dewey 1934, p. 19). The drive to make ourselves whole motivates us to concentrate our energy toward realizing the ideals that give our lives purpose, meaning, and direction. Dewey thus defines religious faith as “the unification of the self through allegiance to inclusive ideal ends, which imagination presents to us and to which the human will responds as worthy of controlling our desires and choices” (Dewey 1934, p. 33).

As Victor Kestenbaum argues, Dewey’s view of faith as commitment to ideal ends, though naturalistic, involves a wager on the transcendent—here “transcendent” does not denote a higher ontological sphere, but rather “meanings or senses which can only be obscurely glimpsed from our local and finite habitations” (Kestenbaum 2002, p. 179). For example, Dewey says, regarding the ideal of a whole self, that the “idea of a whole, whether of the whole personal being or of the world, is an imaginative, not a literal, idea” (Dewey 1939, p. 18). We may not fully grasp what it would be to realize such an ideal, but we can, through imaginative projection (aided by symbolic articulations), ever more closely approximate to possibilities obscurely glimpsed therein. As we transform our reality, we can, from improved perspectives, refine and re-imagine our ideals. When we imaginatively construct ideals by which to pattern our lives, we do so out of a faith which Dewey terms “religious.”

Is Faith Common?

Despite the broad areas of commonality discussed above, Dewey and Kierkegaard’s Silentio sharply disagree on an important point. Whereas Silentio thinks that faith places the individual in relation to a supernatural Deity and isolates her from her community, Dewey articulates a vision of faith embedded within a thoroughly naturalistic and social view of human persons.

Recall that, on Silentio’s view, faith is not “common”—it is rare and private. By contrast, for Dewey genuine faith is necessarily public. “A religious attitude,” he writes, “needs a sense of a connection of man, in the way of both dependence and support, with the enveloping world” (Dewey 1934, p. 53). The “enveloping world” includes not only our natural environment, but, more significantly, our social relationships. “Whether or no we are ... all brothers,” writes Dewey, “we are at least all in the same boat traversing the same turbulent ocean. The potential religious significance of this fact is infinite” (Dewey 1934, p. 84). Dewey observes “a strong reaction in some religious circles today against the idea of mere individual salvation,” which he takes as a sign of “growing awareness of the emptiness of individuality in isolation” (Dewey 1934, p. 78). He argues that our ideal ends “assume concrete form in our understanding of our relations to one another and the values contained in these relations” (Dewey 1934, p. 87). Whereas Silentio offers a solitary and, I would argue, gloomy notion of faith that isolates individuals from each other, Dewey offers a compelling vision of faith that has the power to unite diverse individuals in common cause.

Despite his rejection of supernaturalism, Dewey’s conception of faith, like Silentio’s, hinges on belief in God. The phrase “belief in God,” however, means something very different to Dewey than it means to Silentio. Silentio’s belief in God is metaphysical, whereas Dewey’s is normative. Dewey “believes in” God in the same way one might believe in justice, as a guiding principle that does not exist independently of our conception of it.[iv] For Dewey, the word “God” does not signify a supernatural Other, but rather an ideal, coherent, and comprehensive set of values that we deem worthy to control our desires and attitudes; it denotes a dynamic relation between the possible and the actual. On his view, “God” represents the unification of “ideal ends that at a given time and place one acknowledges as having authority over his volition and emotion” (Dewey 1934, p. 42).[v]

Because our world is imperfect, we can imagine a better one. Nevertheless, our ideal world should be rooted in, and partly constrained by, actual conditions. Given Dewey’s rejection of an omnipotent deity, he must reject the notion, held by Silentio, that, with faith all things are possible. Yet, within limits set by natural laws and material conditions, what seems impossible today may become possible tomorrow. Thus Dewey stresses that “God” is an “active relation between ideal and actual” (Dewey 1934, p. 51). So the unification of our ideals is a process that evolves over time rather than a fixed state to be achieved once and for all.

Even if Dewey is right to say that faith should be directed, not toward a transcendent Being, but toward certain ideal ends, we still might wonder why we should name these ends God? As a pragmatist, Dewey argues that the name is useful. He observes that militant atheism, which rejects religious language, is “affected by lack of natural piety,” and the sense that we are “living in an indifferent and hostile world” (Dewey 1934, p. 53). Consider the militant atheist Richard Dawkins, who writes, “There is more than just grandeur in this view of life, bleak and cold though it can seem from under the security blanket of ignorance. There is deep refreshment to be had from standing up and facing straight into the strong keen wind of understanding” (2003, p. 13). As a counterpoint to the cold wind of Dawkins-style atheism, Dewey suggests that religious language “may protect man from a sense of isolation and from consequent despair” (Dewey 1934, p. 53). Religious language, understood poetically rather than literally, is not a security blanket of ignorance, as Dawkins suggests, but a pragmatic tool for cultivating the sense of natural piety necessary for properly orienting us toward humanly important issues.[vi]

I am unsure, however, as to whether Dewey is right that the term “God” is useful for his purposes, as its meaning may be inextricably tied to its historic use denoting a supernatural Being. Theists may well view Dewey’s appropriation of the word as a hostile gesture rather than as the olive branch he intended it to be. As Dewey no doubt would agree, though, the matter can only be determined through experimentation.

Faith and Moral Progress

Dewey argues that our faith should be directed to ends that, though glimpsed only obscurely, can be seen by anyone. This places faith squarely in the universal. Kierkegaard’s Silentio, by contrast, insists that faith is above the universal. If Silentio is right, then, contra Dewey, there can be no “common faith.” Let me suggest that we can resolve this conflict by interpreting Abraham not as the archetype of faith, as Silentio does, but rather as representing an a-typical instance of it. Abraham, on the view I am positing, illustrates the possibility that faith in an ideal might constitute us as single individuals by relating to some part of ourselves that is not socially given. We should acknowledge that if Abraham represents a real possibility for faith, then faith indeed could isolate the individual in a way that Dewey does not address. It is important to see, however, that, from our present-day perspective, Abraham’s actions could be justified by the mythico-historical significance of his covenant and the fact that its validity was predicated on Abraham’s fidelity to God, reaffirmed in his willingness to kill Isaac. Abraham’s singularity thus has been dialectically absorbed into an evolving universal. Abraham is intelligible to us, even if he was not intelligible to Isaac, Sarah, or even himself.

Arguably, moral progress depends on single individuals whose defining commitments conflict with the ethical as understood within their own culturally and historically situated communities. After all, if the ethical is expressible only in terms already intelligible to everyone, and nobody ever placed herself above the morality of her place and time, there never could be pressure on communities to refine or re-imagine their moral ideals. This insight could be incorporated into Dewey’s model of faith, however, by conceptualizing the irreducible singularity of individuals as an embryonic part of the raw material that comprises actuality. As Dewey would argue, though, whatever interior, subjective core an individual might possess ultimately can have significance only if given social expression. If there is no language for such expression, one must be invented.

Conclusion

On the one hand, if we uncritically accept the individualistic notion of faith Kierkegaard presents through his pseudonym Silentio, we restrict the religious to the individual’s private experience, thus condemning the knight of faith to “the dreadful responsibility of loneliness” (Kierkegaard 1843, p. 114). On the other hand, if we uncritically accept Dewey’s more communitarian notion of faith, we may be ignoring the fact that the religious is, at the most basic level of analysis, the experience of individuals relating themselves to “God” (or to an ideal). Whether it is because, as individuals, our faith locates us in opposition to existing norms, or because striving together for shared (though obscure) ideals entails risk, faith no doubt involves an element of anxiety. Kierkegaard reminds us not to forget the personal dimension of religious experience, while Dewey reminds us not to reject its social dimension. The religious, as both Kierkegaard and Dewey see clearly, is a synthesis of the actual and the possible. As Dewey points out, however, effectively working toward such a synthesis—in the world and in ourselves—requires a shared commitment, a common faith that can unify not only ourselves, but also, and at the same time, our divided community.

Bibliography

  • Dawkins, Richard. A Devil’s Chaplain. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
  • De Botton, Alain. Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide to the Use of Religion. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012.
  • Dewey, John. A Common Faith. Yale University Press, 1934.
  • Dewey, John. Human Nature and Conduct. New York: Carlton House, 1922.
  • Eshleman, Andrew. “Can an Atheist Believe in God?” Religious Studies. Vol. 41., No. 2 (2005): pp. 183-199.
  • Hook, Sidney. “Pragmatism and Existentialism.” The Antioch Review. Vol. 19, No. 2 (1959): pp. 151-168.
  • James, William. Psychology: The Briefer Course. New York: Dover, 1892 [2001].
  • Kestenbaum, Victor. The Grace and Severity of the Ideal: Dewey and the Transcendent. The University of Chicago Press, 2002.
  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Fear and Trembling. In Kierkegaard’s Writings, VI. Howard Hong and Edna Hong (trans., ed.). Princeton University Press, 1983 [1843]. pp.1-124.
  • Kierkegaard, Søren. The Sickness Unto Death. In Kierkegaard’s Writings, XIX. Howard Hong and Edna Hong (trans., ed.). Princeton University Press, 1980 [1849].
  • Mooney, Edward F. Knights of Faith and Resignation: Reading Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. New York: State University of New York Press, 1991.


[i] Throughout this paper, I try to avoid directly attributing to Kierkegaard himself the views Kierkegaard represents through his pseudonyms, in acknowledgement of the fact that the relationship between Kierkegaard, the man, and his various pseudonymic creations is unknown. Nevertheless, I think it is fair to say that the views I discuss are “Kierkegaardian,” as it seems reasonable to assume that they must bear some significant relationship to their human author.

[ii] Edward Mooney offers some insight into how Abraham, as a knight of faith, is able to both give up Isaac and get him back, with joy. Mooney writes,

The knight of faith can both renounce and enjoy the finite [i.e., worldly goods] because he sees, and knows in his bones, that renouncing all claim to the finite is not renouncing all care for it. He is at home and takes delight in the finite ... because he cares; yet this is a selfless care, for he has given up all propriety claim.   (1991, p. 54)

Abraham’s double movement, then, consists in resigning his claim to Isaac while continuing to care intensely for him. This places Abraham in a position to receive Isaac selflessly, seeing in him not a possession but a tangible sign of God’s grace.

[iii] As Dewey’s fellow classical pragmatist, William James, observes: “We do not show ourselves to our children as to our club companions, to our customers as to the laborers we employ, to our own masters and employees as to our intimate friends. From this there results what practically is a division of man into several selves; and this may be a discordant splitting” (1892, p. 47).

[iv] For example, I can “believe in” justice without holding the ontological belief that, say, the Platonic Form of Justice exists.

[v] Dewey subscribes to a form of non-realism about God. Andrew Eshleman helpfully defines religious non-realism as “the view that religious discourse about a sacred reality may be interpreted as asserting truths about human experience or expressing and/or promoting essentially human desires, attitudes, values, and ideals rather than as an attempt to refer to a supernatural Other” (Eshleman 2005, p. 184).

[vi] Dewey is less concerned with whether we use the word “God” than with whether secular society is willing to experiment, pragmatically, with religious practices. On a similar note, Alain de Botton has recently written a book, Religion for Atheists (2012), in which he argues that atheists should look to religious traditions to learn how to create institutions, spaces, and practices that promote, on an emotional level, a sense of community and a commitment to shared values. Traditional religions have long histories of experience that, as de Botton notes, atheists have largely ignored. By co-opting the community-building wisdom of religions, secular humanists could contribute to the building of a stronger society, organized around a set of commonly held ideals.

 


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