The conception of metaphoric process elaborated by Mary Gerhart and Allan Russell illuminates a key mechanism often involved in the most significant advances in science and religion. Attention to this conceptual device provides a productive way to reframe the relationships and dialogues between the fields. The theory has compelling implications for reframing the understanding of theology and its task.
Studies of conceptual and neural mapping in cognitive linguistics, while posing a fundamental challenge for religious belief, also suggest new ways of understanding how people conceptualize God and make theological inferences. This book, inspired by that research and attentive to the distinctive insights of Christian theology, elaborates an innovative explanation of God-talk, better able to credibly address confusion and controversies that trouble the church, academic theology, and broader culture. The first part analyzes both cognitive linguistics' challenge to standard theological depictions (...) of metaphorical, analogous, symbolic, and literal language, and the discipline's promise for providing a more satisfactory account. The second half examines six case studies to illustrate how clarifying the conceptual mapping in God-talk and theological inferences provides a powerful tool for advancing religious understanding. The illustrations include the hypothesis that religion is an epiphenomenon of evolution, the so-called new atheism, Black theology, and controversies between theologians and Church authorities. (shrink)