HomePAMISULU: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theology and Philosophyvol. 1 no. 1 (2011)

Becoming-Religion: A. N. Whitehead and the Process Metaphysics of Religion

Kenneth Masong



Twentieth century philosophy is characterized by a “re-/turn” to religion. The use of the term “re-/turn” largely characterizes our shifting attitudes toward religion. For Whitehead, to rethink religion necessitates a rethinking of the metaphysics that underlie one’s concept of religion. The novelty of Whitehead’s theory of religion lies on the process metaphysics that it presupposes. For him religion, like the whole of reality, is inherently developing, evolving, and he captures this succinctly in his book Religion in the Making (1926). Far from providing an apologetic of religion, Whitehead himself is critical of religion. Nonetheless, the religious spirit, despite the deposition of critics and distortion by fundamentalists, remains present in humanity’s pilgrimage to a better world to come. The realization of religion’s role, however, necessitates reflexivity to its own inherent dynamism as fomenting the hope of adventure of the human spirit. This paper will also argue that “dogmatism”, the reification of religious intuitions, lies at the root of the prevailing decadence of religious influence. Ultimately, religious dogmatism stifles the spirit whereby religion contributes hope for a better world. This is central to Whitehead’s critique of religion. In conclusion, a strengthened reflexivity and a cautioned appreciation of religious intuitions that do not reify into dogmatism bring to bear the dynamism inherent in religion; that it needs to go beyond itself in the adventure of the religious spirit: a becoming-religion.