African American Religious Naturalism and the Question of the Human

Authored by: Carol Wayne White

The Routledge Handbook of Religious Naturalism

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138292079
eBook ISBN: 9781315228907
Adobe ISBN:


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In the contemporary era, religious naturalism features a synthesis of ideas and viewpoints that depart from traditional forms of religion. These perspectives include rejecting supernaturalism in any form and following the dictums of science in understanding reality, including human life and culture. With other religious naturalists, I am convinced that any truths we discover and any meaning in life we uncover are revealed to us through the natural order (Stone 2008: 1). In this chapter, I embrace these tenets of religious naturalism within the context of African American cultural and intellectual life. I offer a naturalistic view of humans that becomes the focal point for challenging exclusionary and outdated conceptions of humanity embedded in the logic of white supremacy. I present humans as highly complex organisms, owing the lives we have to the emergence of hierarchies of natural systems. Rejecting any notion of a supernatural reality beyond nature, I rely on current developments in science to help describe humans’ processes of transformative engagement with each other and with the more-than-human worlds that constitute our existence.

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