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Philosopher Loyal Rue is regarded by many of us as a key figure in the development of the religious naturalist orientation. In his first book, Amythia, he lifted up the tragic absence of a common planetary Mythos and suggested that our understandings of Nature could serve as its foundation.


That we are star-born and earth-formed are no less important to self-understanding than the many features we recognize to be exclusively human.

There is no promise for the future of the biosphere apart from a story that can inform us about how things really are in the physical world, and which things ultimately matter for sustaining the viability of natural and social systems. We have no hope…apart from a story that can unite diverse cultures with a vision of their shared natural history, their shared problems and their common destiny. We shall be doomed…unless we embrace a story that can move us to enlarge the scope of our interests and affections to include all humans, all species of life, and the biosphere itself… [W]e must articulate a common story, a narrative of origins, nature and destiny that can give us a shared orientation in nature and history.


Loyal offers us two versions of this story:


The universe is a single reality – one long, sweeping spectacular process of interconnected events. The universe is not a place where evolution happens, it is the evolution happening. It is not a stage on which drama unfolds, it is the unfolding drama itself. If ever there were a candidate for a universal story, it must be this story of cosmic evolution….The story shows us in the deepest possible sense that we are all sisters and brothers – fashioned from the same stellar dust, energized by the same star, nourished by the same planet, endowed with the same genetic code, and threatened by the same evils. This story, more than any other, humbles us before the magnitude and complexity of creation. Like no other story it bewilders us with the improbability of our existence, astonishes us with the interdependence of all things, and makes us feel grateful for the lives we have. And not the least of all, it inspires us to express our gratitude to the past by accepting a solemn and collective responsibility for the future. – From Everybodys Story


During the course of epic events, matter was

distilled out of radiant energy

segregated into galaxies

collapsed into stars

fused into atoms

swirled into planets

spliced into molecules

mutated into species

compromised into thought, and

cajoled into cultures.

All of this is what matter has done as systems upon systems of organization have emerged over thirteen billion years of creative natural histories. – From Religion is Not About God: How Spiritual Traditions Nurture our Biological Nature and What to Expect When They Fail


Loyal also offers important philosophical/theological insights to the RN orientation:

Before we can make any progress in a discussion of the religious naturalist orientation it will be necessary to clarify our terms. Many individuals – theists and non-theists alike – will balk at the word religious because they take it to imply conformity with institutionalized teachings and practices. And many naturalists balk at the word spiritual because they take it to imply belief in some supernatural being or metaphysical substance. I wish to be clear about rejecting both these usages in favor of a single definition that treats religious” and spiritual” as equivalent terms. I regard a religious or spiritual person to be one who takes ultimate concerns to heart. The important difference between religious (spiritual) persons and nonreligious (nonspiritual) persons is a matter of attitudes. Attitudes are valanced beliefs, that is, beliefs that are infused with appraisals of value and existential meaning, beliefs that have non-trivial consequences for the way a person relates to something or someone. The difference between a religious theist and a nominal theist is that the former takes God to heart. Likewise, a religious naturalist differs from a nonreligious naturalist by virtue of his or her suite of attitudes: the religious naturalist takes nature to heart. – From Nature is Enough: Religious Naturalism and the Meaning of Life.

There is nothing in the substance of Everybody’s Story to rule out belief in the reality of a personal deity. At the same time, such a belief is not an essential part of Everybody’s Story. There will be theistic versions of the story, and there will be nontheistic versions as well. Those who take the theistic option will have at their disposal a range of images that may be used to arouse motivational systems. But I have confidence that Everybody’s Story, unadorned by theological imagery, has the potential to arouse us to serve its imperatives. Let us see. — From Everybodys Story

Religious Naturalists will be known for their reverence and awe before Nature, their love for Nature and natural forms, their sympathy for all living things, their guilt for enlarging the ecological footprints, their pride in reducing them, their sense of gratitude directed towards the matrix of life, their contempt for those who abstract themselves from natural values, and their solidarity with those who link their self-esteem to sustainable living. 

Religious naturalists treat the integrity of natural systems as an absolute value, implied by the principle that any vision of the good presupposes life, and that life presupposes the integrity of natural systems…. Nature is the sacred object of humanitys ultimate concern. Nature is the ultimate ground of natural facts, and eco-centric values are therefore justified by the claim that Nature is sacred. — From Religion is Not About God