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The Natural Phenomenon of Religious Faith and Human 'Depth of Meaning'

Crees, Mark (2009) The Natural Phenomenon of Religious Faith and Human 'Depth of Meaning'. Master of Theology (minor thesis) thesis, UNSPECIFIED.


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This thesis explores religious faith from an integrated interdisciplinary standpoint that draws
heavily on Georges Bataille’s religious theory, Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytical framework
(as distilled through the lens of Slavoj Žižek), and Pascal Boyer’s evolutionary model of
cognitive inference systems, in order to recast Paul Tillich’s faith dynamics in terms of a
contemporary critical theory of religion. Focusing on Tillich’s understanding of faith as
engaging with a depth of meaning, a hypothesis is presented that casts religious faith as a
complex natural human phenomenon that functions as a species of generative human ‘depth
of meaning’ engagement within particular hermeneutical frameworks with a focus on the
‘Other’ (transcendence / the infinite) that were born from the communal symbolic-linguistic
system of meaning making that arose with human evolutionary development as a by-product
of several cognitive inference systems and as a result of a lost intimacy with immanence.
This hypothesis is explicated throughout the thesis in defence of a non-religious analysis of
religious faith which is non-reductive and which avoids caricature. Tillich’s understanding of
faith as the central phenomenon in the personal life of human beings is recast as one form of
human ‘depth of meaning’ engagement, with religious faith understood as providing a
mechanism for accepting a certain intra-systematic coherence and a volitional (trust)
commitment to an intra-systematic being (God) or principle deemed extra-systematic but
inscribed within the particular symbolic universe in which the interpretive framework
operates. The historical dialectical hypothesis developed throughout the thesis is tested
against contemporary manifestations of religious faith, particularly of a violent geo-political
nature, and various implications are drawn out that demonstrate the fecundity and importance
of the hypothesis, particularly in terms of a point of departure for further research.

Item Type: Theses (Master of Theology (minor thesis))
Repository Version: Author's Final Manuscript
Keywords: Natural, Phenomenon, Religious, Faith, Human Depth of Meaning
Fields of Research: 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: C - Systematic Theology
College/Association with University of Divinity: UFT-UCTC: United Faculty of Theology - Uniting Church Theological College
Depositing User: Users 4 not found.
Date Deposited: 27 May 2009 06:40
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2011 01:49
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/26

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