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Excellent BeautyThe Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World$
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Eric Dietrich

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231171021

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231171021.001.0001

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The Janus-Faced Hominid

The Janus-Faced Hominid

(p.97) Nine The Janus-Faced Hominid
Excellent Beauty

Eric Dietrich

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores the conflict between science and religion as they are internalized within human nature. Like the two-faced Roman god Janus, humanity retains two peculiar aspects of themselves—a desire for rationality and a desire for the supernatural. The clash between these two aspects of human nature could not be deeper or more profound: religions change the evidence to fit their ideas; sciences change their ideas to fit the evidence. These two are radically different approaches to reality and the discovery of any new, countervailing evidence. So, to be Janus-faced is to be truly divided. Yet humanity does not stand at a crossroads, as if we could choose between science and religion once and for all. Rather, we carry in our dual natures both the power of objective rationality and the knowledge of a weird realm longed-for and perceived obliquely.

Keywords:   science, religion, rationality, supernatural, Janus, human nature, dual natures, reality

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