52 (3):847-863 (2017
Religion and science dialogues that orbit around rational method, knowledge, and truth are often, though not always, contentious. In this article, I suggest a different cluster of gravitational points around which religion and science dialogues might usefully travel: philosophical anthropology, ethics, and love. I propose seeing morality as a natural outgrowth of the human desire to establish and maintain social bonds so as not to experience the condition of being alone. Humans, of all animals, need to feel loved—defined as a compassionate present-with in dynamic dyadic relation such that one experiences the sense of mattering—but that need has an equally natural tendency to be met by creating biased us-and-them distinctions. A “critical” natural ethics, then, is one in which we become aware of and work to undermine our tendency to reify in-group distinctions between “us” and “them.” Religious communities that work intentionally on this can be seen, to some extent, as laboratories of love—or as sites for co-creating knowledge in perilous times.