More Than Discourse

Symbolic Expressions of Naturalistic Faith

By Donald A. Crosby

Subjects: Religion, Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438453743, 198 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438453750, 198 pages, August 2014

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Table of contents

Part I. Functions and Types of Religious Symbols
1. Symbols of Living Faith
Back to the Pelican
Some Types of Religious Symbolization
Symbols of Evil
Major and Minor Religious Symbols
2. Works of Art and Religious Symbolism
Artistic Symbolization
Similarities and Differences between Aesthetic and Religious Symbols
Interrelations of Aesthetic and Religious Symbolizations
3. Master Religious Symbols
Symbols of Religious Ultimates
Cosmogonic and Cosmological Symbols
Symbols of Religious Paths of Life and of Obstacles Lying in Their Way
Symbols of Exemplary Human Lives
4. How Religious Symbols Work
The Necessary Role of Religious Symbols
Ways in Which Religious Symbols Function
Doctrinal Expositions of Religious Symbols
The Error of Literalism
Part II. Symbols of Religion of Nature
5. Master Symbols of the Ultimacy of Nature and of its Cosmogonic and Cosmological Roles
A Symbol of Religious Ultimacy of Nature
A Cosmogonic and Cosmological Symbol for Religion of Nature
6. Master Symbols of the Saving Path of Life and of an Exemplary Traveler on the Path
The Path and Its Obstacles and Misdirections
An Exemplar of the Saving Path of Religion of Nature
7. The Truth of Religious Symbols
Religious Symbols and Truth
Secular Symbols and Truth
8. Symbols and Symbolic Practices for Religion of Nature
Prayer and Meditation
Symbols of Sacrifice and Self-Giving
Other Symbols of Religion of Nature
Works Cited

Discusses the role of symbols in religion and suggests particular symbols appropriate to religious naturalism.


Religious life involves more than prosaically stated beliefs. It also encompasses attitudes, emotions, values, and practices whose meanings cannot be adequately captured in verbal assertions but require effective expression in forceful images, portrayals, and enactments of a nonliteral sort. Indeed, the world's religious traditions are each marked by rich and distinctive symbols. In More Than Discourse, Donald A. Crosby discusses the nature of symbols in religion and investigates symbols appropriate for religious naturalism or what he terms Religion of Nature. This is a religious outlook that holds the natural world to be the only world; it is sacred but without any supernatural domain or presence underlying it. Warning against a too-literalistic approach to any religion by either its adherents or its critics, Crosby discusses the nature and roles of religious symbols, how they work, and their particular kinds of truth or falsity. A set of criteria for evaluating the effectiveness and meaning of religious symbols is provided along with explorations of specific symbols Crosby finds to be highly significant for Religion of Nature.

Donald A. Crosby is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Colorado State University. He is the author of several books, including The Thou of Nature: Religious Naturalism and Reverence for Sentient Life; Faith and Reason: Their Roles in Religious and Secular Life; Living with Ambiguity: Religious Naturalism and the Menace of Evil; and A Religion of Nature, all published by SUNY Press.