#1: Let’s Begin…Religion in the Making

   whitehead-larger.jpg  The full text is available online at: Mountain Man

Whitehead’s short book on religion is intriguing in that he presents a synoptic view of religion within the larger context of his over-arching metaphysical system.  It’s not just a book about religion, but it’s a book about the very structure of the universe.  It’s about the INHERENT VALUE of the universe.   All Whitehead’s books are complex and difficult (because he challenges the very way we’re used to thinking about the universe), but relatively speaking Religion in the Making is fairly accessible.

From the back cover:  “This classic text in American philosophy by one of its foremost figures offers a concise analysis of the various factors in human nature which go toward forming a religion.”

From Whitehead’s Preface:  “The aim of the lectures was to give a concise analysis of the various factors in human nature which go to form a religion, to exhibit the inevitable transformation of religion with the transformation of knowledge, and more especially to direct attention to the foundation of religion on our apprehension of those permanent elements by reason of which there is a stable order in the world, permanent elements apart from which there could be no changing world.”

I’m using the Fordham Univ. Press 1996 edition of Whitehead’s “Religion in the Making” (RM), with an introduction by Judith Jones, and Glossary by Randy Auxier. The text itself is 147 pages. If you want to access an online version of the book, go to: Mountain Man.

In the Preface, Whitehead (hereafter, “W.”) intimates that his metaphysical system (an explanation of the universe as a matrix of interconnected drops of experience rather than “things” in the traditional sense) is the basis for both science and religion. He refers to “permanent elements” that give a stable order to the world. RM isn’t a book about a particular religion or even various religions and their interconnections, but about how religion arises out of the permanent or fundamental structure of the universe.

Thus, this text isn’t written to convert people to religion, for is it an argument for the existence of God. It’s not even about the desirability to believe in religion as opposed to being an atheist or an agnostic. W.’s view of God doesn’t posit God as controlling the universe, wielding omnipotent power, casting down thunderbolts, and sending millions at a time to damnation with a wave of his judging hand. This book, as Jude says in the introduction, is about metaphysics–the consideration of the fundamental elements of the universe, and about religious or spiritual intuition.

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