Supernatural Explanations and Inspirations


  • Stephen R. L. Clark University of Liverpool



I propose, in partial response to the rich essays by Millican & Thornhill-Miller and Salamon that religious traditions are too diverse to be represented either by a cosmological core or even (though this is more plausible) an ethical. Religious sensibility is more often inspirational than explanatory, does not always require a transcendent origin of all things (however reasonable that thesis may be in the abstract), and does not always support the sort of humanistic values preferred in the European Enlightenment. A widely shared global religion is more likely to be eclectic than carefully ‘rational’, and is likely to be opposed by a more overtly ‘supernatural’ project founded in revelation.


Athanasius, De Incarnatione Verbi Dei, ed. by Richardson Alan, 2nd. ed. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1944.

Bloch, Ernst. The Principle of Hope, ed. by. N. Plaice, S. Plaice & P. Knight. Oxford: Blackwell, [1959] 1985.

Chesterton, Gilbert K. Heretics. London: Brodley Head, 1905.

—. Orthodoxy. Thirsk: House of Stratus, [1908] 2001.

Clark, Stephen R. L. “World Religions and World Orders.” Religious Studies 26, no. 01 (1990): 43–57. doi:10.1017/S0034412500020199.

—. “Global Religion.” In Philosophy and the Natural Environment, ed. by Robin Attfield and Andrew Belsey, 113–28. Royal Institute of Philosophy, supplement 36. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994.

—. “God, Reason and Extraterrestrials.” In God, Mind and Knowledge (The British Society for the Philosophy of Religion Series), ed. by Andrew Moore, 171–86. Ashgate, 2014.

Durkheim, Émile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1915.

Harrison, Victoria and Harriet Harman, eds. Atheisms. London: Routledge, forthcoming.

Hornung, Erik. Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many, trans. John Baines. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1982.

Hume, David. Dialogues concerning natural religion and other writings, ed. by Dorothy Coleman. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007.

Lash, Nicholas. The Beginning and the End of ‘Religion’. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996.

Miskotte, Kornelis H. When the Gods are Silent, tr. by John W. Doberstein. London: Collins, 1967.

O’Donnell, James J. “The Demise of Paganism.” Traditio 35 (1979): 45–88.

Salamon, Janusz. “Atheism and Agatheism in the Global Ethic Discourse: Reply to Millican and Thornhill-Miller.” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7, no. 4 (2015): 197–245. doi:10.24204/ejpr.v7i4.94.

Sprat, Thomas. History of the Royal Society. 3rd ed. New York: Elibron, [1722] 2005.

Thornhill-Miller, Branden, and Peter Millican. “The Common-Core/Diversity Dilemma: Revisions of Humean thought, New Empirical Research, and the Limits of Rational Religious Belief.” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7, no. 1 (2015): 1–49. doi:10.24204/ejpr.v7i1.128.

Tully, R. B., Hélène Courtois, Yehuda Hoffman, and Daniel Pomarède. “The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies.” Nature 513, no. 7516 (2014): 71–73. doi:10.1038/nature13674.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig, David Pears, and Brian McGuinness. Tractatus logico-philosophicus. Routledge classics. London, New York: Routledge, 2003.



How to Cite

Clark, Stephen R. L. 2017. “Supernatural Explanations and Inspirations”. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (3):49-63.



Discussion and Replies