Re: Religion and science

Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Fri, 16 Aug 1996 10:35:27 -0400

In message <> writes:

> If I understand Clyde Davenport correctly, he suggests that the
> religious may to varying degrees regard the natural and
> supernatural as unseperate, because they see into, or act, in
> both arenas. He sees this propensity in religions such as
> Christianity (at least in its medieval varieties) as well as
> shamanistic religions. He further suggests that the very idea of
> the separation of natural and supernatural is under the influence
> the scientific world view, and that this separation is possibly
> specious.
> I am a little uncertain of what is
> meant by separation. I would agree that for the religious the
> natural and supernatural may be apparent in daily life and thus
> unseparated in experience. However, the natural and supernatural
> are indeed separate in the manner in which a person is informed
> of them.

May I offer here the notions of emic and etic, or (if you prefer) folk and
analytic models. For any given culture/society we as analysts may be able to
etically separate behaviors and beliefs regarding the "natural" from those aimed
at the "supernatural"; the emics, or worldview, of the culture/society in
question may not include our etic division, or indeed might include it but not
make the division in the same place. So, for example, Yanomami shamans who take
drugs to help them contact the hekura spirits are not, from their emic
perspective, practicing "religion" as opposed to "science." They are practicing
human life, as defined by their culture.

Ronald Kephart
University of North Florida