Humans as created matter engage with the transcendental. The difference between matter and spirit has been categorised: (a.) material and earthly existence is deemed impure and temporary. (b.) The spiritual existence is deemed of higher ethical quality. What does religion as an activity focussing on the “higher” spiritual realm have to say about the “wordly” existence of created matter? Worldviews and a religious anthropology determine the outcome. Where human existence is viewed as something other than created matter, a different relationship exists between humans and nature as opposed to where human existence is viewed as being wholly part of created matter. This last stance is based on a “comprehensive anthropology”. Feuerbach referred to this as Naturalism. According to a naturalistic understanding, humankind is intrinsically part of nature. From nature comes all meaningful existence. This positive evaluation of nature provides direction for an ethical and responsible relationship between humankind and nature.
This paper was presented at the ASRSA (Association for the Study of religion in Southern Africa) conference in Cape Town April 2014.