Speculative Naturalism: A Bleak Theology in Light of the Tragic




"Speculative Naturalism: A Bleak Theology in Light of the Tragic"

Abstract

Theological perspective upon the relationship between deity and creature may not be as radically open to a full range of possible value as has once been thought.  If one is seeking a capacious view of deity, creatures, and nature, I contend that not only should one account for continuity, wholeness, healing, salvation, warmth, benevolence, and joy in one’s religious metaphysics, but also for discontinuity, difference, diremption, rupture, trauma, tragedy, melancholy, coldness, and the more “somber” tones of the divine life.  These features seem to be just as important as any strictly positive evaluation of deity in establishing its full range of possible value, even its "fading embers" of value that seem to continually ignite ablaze both wrath and love.  My exploration of this “darker” side of religious naturalism, a “bleak theology” as I am calling it, begins by articulating its opposite in the axiologically positive evaluation of nature and deity found within the “mainstream” of American religious naturalism, especially within the 19th and 20th centuries (including process theology). I then offer some speculative theses about the relationship between deity and the natural world in more somber dimensions, developing my reasoning as to why a darker side of deity ought to be accounted for, and can be accounted for, within a perspective which I call “speculative naturalism,” a “bleak” theology.

 "Darkness and occlusion make out the character of primal time.  All life is at first night; it gives itself shape in the night...Thus too wrath must be earlier than love." - F.W.J. Schelling