Religion, the Culture of Biomedicine, and the Tremendum: Towards a Non-Essentialist Analysis of Interconnection

Goldberg, Daniel S.
March 2007
Journal of Religion & Health;Spring2007, Vol. 46 Issue 1, p99
Academic Journal
The question of the extent of the interconnection, if any, between religion and the Western culture of biomedicine has received considerable scholarly attention over the past several decades. However, any phenomenological analysis that begins by positing an essence of religion is, if not doomed, deeply flawed from the outset. This paper employs William Alston’s non-essentialist notion of ‘religion-making characteristics’ to assess the extent of the interconnection. The conclusion is that the culture of biomedicine does share many, if not all of these characteristics, and that both religion and medicine overlap in significant ways on, to use Erwin Goodenough’s metaphor, the painted curtain that separates man from the tremendum.


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