Explanation and Theological Method
Religion, Hans Reichenbach has claimed, ‘is abundant in pictures that stimulate our imagination but devoid of the power of clarification that issues from scientific explanation’.1 Philosophers of science have in general found themselves in agreement with this evaluation of religious discourse. Science, they have almost unanimously claimed, has achieved a generalized theoretical knowledge of the fundamental conditions determining the events and processes of the world whereas religion has simply spotted superficial analogies which it has confused with proper generalizations and consequently erroneously regarded as explanations. It would appear, therefore, that the long and often acrimonious debate as to the cognitive status of religious belief must, upon analysis of the concept of explanation alone, be concluded. Thus it appears also that the philosophers of religion who have argued that religion’s concern lies exclusively in providing humanity with a ‘way of life’, rather than a speculative ‘scheme of things’, must carry the day.
KeywordsReligious Belief Scientific Explanation Religious Experience Empirical World Religious Discourse
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