Naturalism as a religious view

Naturalistic defenses of religion often presuppose what we can call a segregationist view. On the segregationist view, natural science and religion have their separate domains of concern: respectively, Nature, and the supernatural. On the one hand, there’s Nature—the world around us—which we study through practices like physics, biology, chemistry, and so on. On the other hand, there’s religion, which concerns itself primarily with the supernatural—with what, in some sense that requires clarification, lies beyond the ordinary world with which we’re faced on a daily basis.

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Spinoza’s dual perversity

Spinozian religion inhabits a strange space somewhere between secular atheism and traditional Abrahamic religion. For this reason, it can seem equally perverse to people in both camps—and despite all their differences from each other, for similar reasons. That is, in the religious life that Spinoza proposes, we take joy in our finitude: in the fact that we’re inescapably dependent on and vulnerable to a world that is utterly indifferent to us. For many secular and religious persons alike, though, our finitude is anything but a cause for joy, let alone joy of any religious sort.

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