Believing Beyond Religion

Secular Transcendence and the Primacy of Believing


  • John Hey University of Derby



secularity, transcendence, faith knowledge, existential conviction, primacy of believing


Theologians have traditionally sought to correlate the transcendent and the secular. I identify three models; the Revelation, the Immanentist and the Ethical. All three I judge to be lacking in some important aspects: the Revelation and Immanentist models because they presuppose a metaphysical transcendence without justification; the Ethical because its exponents either do not explain the significance of human valuing, or because they seek to move back to a more traditional metaphysical concept. The secular transcendence which I am arguing for allows a primacy to believing in the creation of meaning. Such meaning cannot be derived directly from a random and contingent world. We create meaning on the basis of our own self-awareness, the cultural contexts in which we are nurtured, and the natural world. We create an existential reality which we inhabit “as if” it were real, believing it to be so. Such a believing, while wholly secular, recognizes religion as an important tool in the creation of meaning, provided that its epistemological limitations are acknowledged.

Author Biography

John Hey, University of Derby

Formerly head of Religious Studies at the University of Derby.


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How to Cite

Hey, J. (2012). Believing Beyond Religion: Secular Transcendence and the Primacy of Believing. Implicit Religion, 15(1), 81–95.