What Is Religious Naturalism?
What Is Religious Naturalism?
“If religious emotions can be elicited by natural reality — and I believe that they can — then the story of Nature has the potential to serve as the cosmos for the global ethos that we need to articulate.”
Ursula Goodenough, president of the Religious Naturalist Association and author of The Sacred Depths of Nature
“A religious naturalist takes Nature to heart.”
Loyal Rue, author of Nature Is Enough: Religious Naturalism and the Meaning of Life
Naturalism is a view that all that exists and all that occurs is due to natural processes. It includes respect for science as the best way of understanding (based on evidence) what, objectively, is real; and it respects art and age-old wisdom as giving insights into human nature and how things seem and feel.
A Central Story
The modern story of our origins, via a “Big Bang” and evolution, gives ways of understanding ourselves and our world that can be shared by all people worldwide; and serve as a foundation for considering why things are as they are and why we act the ways we do, and how we can learn to do better.
The recognition that all life exists in interconnected ecosystems has profound implications. Ignorance of this situation has led to the dire global crises we face today. The religious naturalist orientation offers the possiblitiy of a better way forward.
As we are amazed and moved by the wonders of our lives and our world, and as we want good lives for our children and those who will follow, we try to notice, appreciate, care, and to act in ways that are good – for ourselves, and for our families and communities, and for the world.
Why “Religious” Naturalism?
“Religious”, as it is used here, is not based on belief in a deity or involvement with an organized religion. It refers to personal attitudes, values, and ways of living that reflect a deep reverence for life, a sense of awe at the wonder of nature, and a desire to act in ways that reflect this.
“If something is in me which can be called religious, then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
Why Religious Naturalism Matters
A Focus on Nature
Focus on nature encourages us to spend time in and learn about the natural world. As this reminds us of the wonders and beauty of life and adds depth to our understanding, it gives spiritual, as well as practical reasons, to enjoy and preserve the natural environments that sustain us.
A Way of Saying We Care
Seeing ourselves as religious naturalists is a way of saying that, in addition to having a naturalist view, grounded in science, we also care; and we try to act in ways that contribute to the well-being of other people, other creatures, and our world.
Something We Can Believe
As increasing numbers are unable to believe supernatural aspects of religions, a naturalist view can give a give a foundation for morals and values, images that can inspire, and reasons for consolation and hope – in ways that fit with what we understand is real.
“Preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”