Roy Clouser's contention in The Myth of Religious Neutrality is that anyone's understanding of anything is strongly affected by their religious beliefs.

Chapter 4 of the book unpacks this by looking at the connection between our theories about any specific aspect of reality and our theories about the whole of reality (which are closely linked with our religious beliefs).

It gets a bit technical, but the essence is this:

  • When we formulate a theory to explain something specific, we do so by focusing on a narrow set of related properties possessed by the things we are trying to understand. This involves making hypotheses: guesses about some entity that might exist, or some way in which different properties relate.
  • The sorts of hypotheses we are willing to consider will be strongly dependent on the bigger theories we have: theories not about just one or two sets of properties that things might have (such as physical properties or aesthetic properties), but theories about how all of the different sets of related properties relate to each other. (A set of related properties is also known as an aspect of experience, or simply an aspect.) These bigger (philosophical) theories are expressions of what we believe about what is "unconditionally and non-dependently real". That is, they are expressions of our religious beliefs.

The rest of the book will develop this further (and I'm looking forward to seeing how it works in practice). But if the above points are correct, it can be seen that religious beliefs (which we all have) will always have a strong influence on what we believe about any area of reality.