A major philosopher contemplates a culturally responsible religion
Religion and Cultural Freedom
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E. M. Adams
Citing his personal quest to reconcile the contradictions among biblical religion, democratic liberalism, and modern science, E. M. Adams explores the foundations of religion and its role in the culture. He asks, What would constitute a responsible religion in our time? And he determines that for a religion to be credible, its tents must be reconcilable with scientific beliefs, the historical record, the accepted worldview, and the creative, spiritual, and ethical dimensions of human experience.
In Religion and Cultural Freedom, Adams focuses on Judeo-Christian religion in Western civilization, and draws on literary, historical, ethical, and philosophical examples. Maintaining that religion is logically accountable in its belief system to the culture of which it is a part, he illustrates how, at different points in history, religious beliefs have been altered or reinterpreted in response to cultural tensions and conflicts. This interplay between religion and culture is an essential part of Adams's definition of a responsible religion. While he does not think that religion needs to yield to conflicting sectors in the culture, he insists that it has a responsibility to work for coherence and intellectual respectability within a free culture.
During his discussion, Adams offers a realistic theory of the language of the humanities and lived experience (especially the language of value and meaning) and, on the basis of this theory, he reconstructs the intellectual enterprise and interprets meaning and truth in religious discourse. Interested in what he takes to be a negative turn in religious consciousness and the fate of religion in modern Western civilization, Adams concludes that the time may be ripe for a humanistic revolution that would create a fully accountable and intellectually credible religion.
"Adams makes his case thoroughly, in a clear line of argument that ranges through history as well as theories of religion, metaphysics, morality, and spirituality. Those who reject the claim that science alone can establish what is true, and who see scientific naturalism motivated by dangerous desires for domination will find this work appealing. Those who believe religion should be accountable to the culture, serving the human search for a framework of meaning, will find the goal of this book admirable."
1. Religion and Culture
2. Religion and Cultural Progress
3. Religion and Metaphysics
4. Humanism versus Naturalism
5. Meaning and Truth in Religious Discourse