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Volume 1, Issue 1, Spring-Summer 1998

Kai Nielsen
Pages 45-62
DOI: 10.5840/philo1998115

Naturalism and Religion
Must Naturalistic Explanations Explain Religion Away?

There are, it is argued, conceptually and empirically adequate naturalistic explanations of religion that explain religion without explaining it away and without leaving out anything needed fully to comprehend religious phenomena. Moreover, naturalistic explanations arc sometimes also critiques of religion. This article concerns itself with a subspecies of such explanations through articulating and defending some naturalistic criticisms of the truth-claims of religion. The rationale is displayed for naturalistic thinkers going from truth-claim analyses to functional analyses and the central naturalistic explanations of the roles and functions of religion are distinguished and related. It is shown how these analyses dovetail and, particularly when supplemented by an error-theory of religious belief, constitute a comprehensive and adequate explanation of religion.

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