By Donald A. Crosby
An eloquent case for concerning nature itself as religion-as the metaphysical final deserving spiritual dedication.
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Extra info for A Religion of Nature
It contains palpable aspects of order and disorder. It exhibits a teeming diversity of things that are nevertheless sustained in their being by complex networks of interrelation and interdependence. In living beings, both cooperation and competition exist. While predictable in countless ways, it is not so in all ways. It is a seething cauldron of overbrimming creativity and emergent diversity, not just a smoothly running, routinely functioning machine. It is an open arena for the exercise of freedom and the workings of chance, not just an iron cage of causal necessity.
That structure is the requisite “nature,” so to speak, of all changes within or of nature, the eternal, defining essence of nature in all of its guises. Nature fundamentally understood, then, is just this permanent umbrella of possibility within which its changes take place. The latter are notions consistent with the categoreal scheme but not required by it. The derivative notions happen to be pervasive traits of what Whitehead calls the present “cosmic epoch,” which he construes as only one of a succession of such epochs, each with its own distinctive characteristics, principles, and laws, which have emerged in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
Thus, for determinism, in no given situation are persons ever free to act in a manner that departs even in the slightest degree from efficient causes operative in a situation; those causes are, ex hypothesi, sufficient to produce and account for the action. To say that “Jones did x, but she ought to have done y” can have no meaning, because in the causal context in which she found herself—a context that was itself determined by previous contexts, those by even earlier contexts, and so on—Jones had no alternative to doing x.
A Religion of Nature by Donald A. Crosby