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Naturalism and Religion

Kai Nielsen (Prometheus Books: January 2001), 350 pages.

Nielsen (philosophy, U. of Calgary) presents a defense of naturalism as the most reasonable way to view humans place in the world. His naturalism is an atheistic and humanistic philosophy, but it is not a scientific or value-free one. He articulates a naturalistic explanation of the functions of religion and argues that truly understanding religion necessitates disbelief. He argues that a consistent atheism does not "rob life of its significance or make social and political commitment arbitrary." After explaining the theory he explains arguments for and against the theory as propounded by various other philosophers, most notably the work of Wittgenstein, which he believes to be the most serious philosophical challenge to secular naturalism. ~ Product Description

Table of Contents

    • Acknowledgments    9
    • Introduction    11
  • Part 1    Articulating Naturalism
    • 1.    Naturalistic Explanations of Religion    29
    • 2.    On Being a Secularist All the Way Down    56
    • 3.    The Faces of Immortality    77
    • 4.    The Meaning of Life    104
  • Part 2    An Examination of Some Accounts of Naturalism: for and Against
    • 5.    Contextualistic Naturalism: Hook, Nagel, and a Miscellany of Their Critics    135
    • 6.    Naturalism Under Challenge    199
    • 7.    An Exchange Between Hook and Nielsen on Naturalism and Religion    234
    • 1.    Kai Nielsen: Religion and Naturalistic Humanism: Some Remarks on Hook’s Critique of Religion    234
    • 2.    Sidney Hook: For an Open-minded Naturalism    260
    • 3.    Kai Nielsen: On the Complexities of Open-mindedness: A Reply to Hook    270
    • 8.    Antony Flew on Atheistic Humanism    298
  • Part 3    The Challenge of Wittgenstein
    • 9.    Wittgenstein and Wittgensteinians on Religion    317
    • 10.    The Hard Face of Relativism: Wittgenstein and Putnam on Religion and Relativism    372
    • 11.    Can Anything Be Beyond Human Understanding?    405
    • Postscript: The Gathering of the Fugitives    429
    • Index    497