Henry Nelson Wieman (1884-1975)
University of Chicago Divinity School
University of Southern Illinois
|Alma mater||PhD - Harvard,1917|
|Known for||Naturalistic religion|
|Influences||Alfred North Whitehead, John Dewey, Henri Bergson, Josiah Royce, Karl Barth|
|Influenced||Loyal Rue, Karl Peters, Jerome A. Stone|
|Notable awards||UUA Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Liberal Religion.|
Henry Nelson Wieman (1884-1975) was an American philosopher and theologian. He became the most famous proponent of theocentric naturalism and the empirical method in American theology and catalyzed the emergence of Religious Naturalism in the latter part of the 20th century.
Wieman was instrumenal in shaping thinking about Religious Naturalism. In 1963 he wrote, "It is impossible to gain knowledge of the total cosmos or to have any understanding of the infinity transcending the cosmos. Consequently, beliefs about these matters are illusions, cherished for their utility in producing desired states of mind. . . . Nothing can transform man unless it operates in human life. Therefore, in human life, in the actual processes of human existence, must be found the saving and transforming power which religious inquiry seeks and which faith must apprehend." 
In 1971 - "How can we interpret what operates in human existence to create, sustain, save and transform toward the greatest good, so that scientific research and scientific technology can be applied to searching out and providing the conditions - physical, biological, psychological and social - which must be present for its most effective operation? This operative presence in human existence can be called God..."  In this statement he is redefining God in a way that some Religious Naturalists would latch on to.
His was a naturalistic worldview, and as it was religious, a form of neo-theistic Religious Naturalism. For Wieman, God was a natural process or entity and not supernatural. This God was an object of sensuous experience. His God concept was similar to The All concept of Spinoza and theistic sectors of classical Pantheism and modern neo-Pantheism but with a liberal Christian tone to it. He had been ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1912 but in 1949 while teaching at the University of Oregon became a member of the Unitarian Church. Nevertheless, he was at the extreme edge of Christian modernism, critical of 20th Century supernaturalism and neo-orthodoxy.
Wieman helped start Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science which was prompted by discussions at the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science. Six days after his death in 1975, he was awarded the Unitarian Universalist Association Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Liberal Religion.