This site presents information and links designed to introduce religious naturalism (RN) to those who are not yet familiar with it. And, for those who respect science as a foundation for understanding what is real, it provides resources for exploring a religious orientation that appreciates the mystery, order, and beauty in the world and the spiritual part of ourselves.
Menu options, shown above and to the right, identify topics that can be examined. And, every week or two, as is shown below, a new featured topic is presented on this home page. The current topic begins at the beginning – to review a modern story of our origins that has a grandeur that matches and, in some views, may exceed the biblical description.
Ways of the world
With a view that the cosmos emerged from events that followed the Big Bang, a naturalist sense of how things occur is grounded in some general principles. These can be seen as core premises, that:
all things are composed of natural substances and act in accordance with natural laws, and
all things are dynamic and interdependent.
Rules of nature bring ordered patterns and cycles. But, some events also include elements of chance.
This view of how things are can spark spiritual perceptions, with a sense of wonder, illusion, and mystery.
World of wonder
A naturalist understanding shows a world of impressive order, with massive power and scope, infinite time and space, and intricate action and interrelation. This can be recognized as magnificent and beautiful, and worthy of appreciation and reverence.
World of illusion
Much of what exists is not as it appears to us to be. Part is tied to limits of our perception. (We cannot hear a dog whistle and, without special tools, we cannot see microscopic objects.) Beyond this, many things are more or different than they appear. (A rock that appears to be motionless and solid is actually an amalgam of activity, with electrons orbiting atomic nuclei.) Beyond this, the matter in a particle is actually energy (as in Einstein’s E=mc2). The empty space we see as air if full of substance. For practical purposes, most things act in ways that fit with how they seem. But, consistent with the Eastern concept of Maya, much in the world is different than it appears, and what we perceive can be seen, in part, as illusion.
World with mystery
Despite attempts to understand, some important things are not yet fully understood. These include fundamental aspects of nature – matter, energy, and time – and consciousness and thought.
With this, a realm of mystery exists beyond what is able to be known. Rather than viewing this as a limit or weakness, many embrace acknowledgement of mystery as humble and realistic. (Imagine – mere humans able to decipher and grasp the forces that guide the cosmos?) As they recognize feelings of wonder and awe that may accompany this sense, some experience a sense of appreciation and reverence.
Tao of Physics, Fritjof Capra
…..Online sample chapters
Nature’s Sacred Undercurrent, Lawrence W. Fagg
…..Electromagnetism and a sacred presence in nature
My Covenent with Mystery, Ursula Goodenough
Ode to a Flower
…..(animated version of Richard Feynman’s description
…..of how scientific understanding can add to perceptions of beauty)
Image: Electron cloud simulation
Courtesy of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Visualization Group, and is
© University of California,
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
For a direct link to the website of the
Religious Naturalist Association
Photo: Pauline Rosenberg