Religious naturalism

Religious naturalism (RN) combines a naturalist worldview with perceptions and values commonly associated with religions.[1][2] In this, "religious" is understood in general terms, separate from established traditions, in designating feelings and concerns (e.g. gratitude, wonder, humility, compassion) that are often described as spiritual or religious.[3][4][5] Naturalism refers to a view that the natural world is all we have substantiated reason to believe exists, and there is no substantiated reason to believe that anything else, including deities, exists or may act in ways that are independent of the natural order.[6][7]

Areas of inquiry include attempts to understand the natural world and the spiritual and moral implications of naturalist views.[8] Understanding is based in knowledge obtained through scientific inquiry and insights from the humanities and the arts.[9] Religious naturalists use these perspectives in responding to personal and social challenges (e.g. finding purpose, seeking justice, coming to terms with mortality) and in relating to the natural world.[8]

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The interconnectivity of nature is a key postulate in religious naturalism.


Naturalism is the "idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world".[10]

All forms of religious naturalism, being naturalistic in their basic beliefs, assert that the natural world is the center of our most significant experiences and understandings. Consequently, nature is considered as the ultimate value in assessing one's being. Religious naturalists, despite having followed differing cultural and individual paths, affirm the human need for meaning and value in their lives. They draw on two fundamental convictions in those quests: the sense of Nature's richness, spectacular complexity, and fertility, and the recognition that Nature is the only realm in which people live out their lives. Humans are considered interconnected parts of Nature.

Science is a fundamental, indispensable component of the paradigm of religious naturalism. It relies on mainstream science to reinforce religious and spiritual perspectives. Science is the primary interpretive tool for religious naturalism, because, scientific methods are thought to provide the most reliable understanding of Nature and the world, including human nature.

"Truth is sought for its own sake. And those who are engaged upon the quest for anything for its own sake are not interested in other things. Finding the truth is difficult, and the road to it is rough."[11]

Therefore, the seeker after the truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration, and not to the sayings of a human being whose nature is fraught with all kinds of imperfection and deficiency. Thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency.[12]


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A religious attitude towards nature

Religious naturalists use the term "religious" to refer to an attitude – of being appreciative of and interested in concerns that have long been parts of religions.[13][14] These include:[15]

  • A spiritual sense (which may include a sense of mystery or wonder or feelings of reverence or awe in response to the scope and power and beauty of the natural world)
  • A moral sense (with compassion, desire for justice, and attempts to do what is right – with respect to other people, other creatures, and the natural environment)

As the source of all that is and the reason why all things are as they are, the natural world may be seen as being of ultimate importance.[16]

As in other religious orientations, religious naturalism includes a central story – a modern creation myth – to describe ourselves and our place in the world. This begins with the Big Bang and the emergence of galaxies, stars, planets, and life, and evolution that led to the presence of human beings. As this gives insight into who we are and how we came to be, religious naturalists look to the natural world (the source of our intelligence and inclinations) for information and insights that may help us to understand and respond to important questions:

  • Why do we want what we want?
  • Why we do the things we do?
  • What we might try to point ourselves toward?

and to try to find ways to minimize problems (in ourselves and in our world), become our better selves, and relate to others and the world we are part of.[17]

When discussing distinctions between "religious" naturalists and "plain old" (secular) naturalists, Loyal Rue said: "I regard a religious or spiritual person to be one who takes ultimate concerns to heart."[18]

He noted that, while "plain old" naturalists are concerned with morals and may have emotional responses to the mysteries and wonders of the world, those who describe themselves as religious naturalists take it more "to heart" and show active interest in this area.[19]


Core themes in religious naturalism have been present, in varied cultures, for centuries. But active discussion, with use of this name, is relatively recent.

Zeno (c. 334 – c. 262 BCE, a founder of Stoicism) said:

All things are parts of one single system, which is called Nature ... Virtue consists in a will which is in agreement with Nature.[20]

Views consistent with religious naturalism can be seen in ancient Daoist texts (e.g., Dao De Jing) and some Hindu views (such as God as Nirguṇa Brahman, God without attributes). They may also be seen in Western images that do not focus on active, personal aspects of God, such as Thomas Aquinas' view of God as Pure Act, Augustine's God as Being Itself, and Paul Tillich's view of God as Ground of Being. As Wesley Wildman has described, views consistent with RN have long existed as part of the underside of major religious traditions, often quietly and sometimes in mystical strands or intellectual sub-traditions, by practitioners who are not drawn to supernatural claims.[21]

The earliest uses of the term, religious naturalism, seem to have occurred in the 1800s. In 1846, the American Whig Review described "a seeming 'religious naturalism'",[22] In 1869, American Unitarian Association literature adjudged:"Religious naturalism differs from this mainly in the fact that it extends the domain of nature farther outward into space and time. ...It never transcends nature".[23] Ludwig Feuerbach wrote that religious naturalism was "the acknowledgment of the Divine in Nature" and also "an element of the Christian religion", but by no means that religion's definitive "characteristic" or "tendency".[24]

Lao Tzu, traditionally the author of the Tao Te Ching

In 1864, Pope Pius IX condemned religious naturalism in the first seven articles of the Syllabus of Errors.

Mordecai Kaplan (1881–1983), one of the great rabbis of the 20th century and the founder of the Jewish reconstructionism movement,[25] early advocated religious naturalism. He believed that a naturalistic approach to religion and ethics was possible in a desacralizing world. He saw God as the sum of all natural processes.[26]

Other verified usages of the term came in 1940 from George Perrigo Conger[27] and from Edgar S. Brightman.[28] Shortly thereafter, H. H. Dubs wrote an article entitled Religious Naturalism – an Evaluation (The Journal of Religion, XXIII: 4, October, 1943), which begins "Religious naturalism is today one of the outstanding American philosophies of religion…" and discusses ideas developed by Henry Nelson Wieman in books that predate Dubs's article by 20 years.

In 1991 Jerome A. Stone wrote The Minimalist Vision of Transcendence explicitly "to sketch a philosophy of religious naturalism".[29] Use of the term was expanded in the 1990s by Loyal Rue, who was familiar with the term from Brightman's book. Rue used the term in conversations with several people before 1994, and subsequent conversations between Rue and Ursula Goodenough [both of whom were active in IRAS (The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science) led to Goodenough's use in her book "The Sacred Depths of Nature" and by Rue in "Religion is not about God" and other writings. Since 1994 numerous authors have used the phrase or expressed similar thinking. Examples are Chet Raymo, Stuart Kauffman and Karl E. Peters.

Mike Ignatowski states that "there were many religious naturalists in the first half of the 20th century and some even before that" but that "religious naturalism as a movement didn't really come into its own until about 1990 [and] took a major leap forward in 1998 when Ursula Goodenough published The Sacred Depths of Nature, which is considered one of the founding texts of this movement."[30]

Biologist Ursula Goodenough states:

I profess my Faith. For me, the existence of all this complexity and awareness and intent and beauty, and my ability to apprehend it, serves as the ultimate meaning and the ultimate value. The continuation of life reaches around, grabs its own tail, and forms a sacred circle that requires no further justification, no Creator, no super-ordinate meaning of meaning, no purpose other than that the continuation continue until the sun collapses or the final meteor collides. I confess a credo of continuation. And in so doing, I confess as well a credo of human continuation[31][32]

Donald Crosby's Living with Ambiguity published in 2008, has, as its first chapter, Religion of Nature as a Form of Religious Naturalism.[33]

Loyal Rue's Nature is Enough published in 2011, discusses "Religion Naturalized, Nature Sanctified" and "The Promise of Religious Naturalism".[34]

Religious Naturalism Today: The Rebirth of a Forgotten Alternative is a history by Dr. Jerome A. Stone (Dec. 2008 release) that presents this paradigm as a once-forgotten option in religious thinking that is making a rapid revival. It seeks to explore and encourage religious ways of responding to the world on a completely naturalistic basis without a supreme being or ground of being. This book traces this history and analyzes some of the issues dividing religious naturalists. It covers the birth of religious naturalism, from George Santayana to Henry Nelson Wieman and briefly explores religious naturalism in literature and art. Contested issues are discussed including whether nature's power or goodness is the focus of attention and also on the appropriateness of using the term "God". The contributions of more than twenty living Religious Naturalists are presented. The last chapter ends the study by exploring what it is like on the inside to live as a religious naturalist.[35]

Chet Raymo writes that he had come to the same conclusion as Teilhard de Chardin: "Grace is everywhere",[36] and that naturalistic emergence is in everything and far more magical than religion-based miracles. A future humankind religion should be ecumenical, ecological, and embrace the story provided by science as the "most reliable cosmology".[37]

As P. Roger Gillette summarizes:

Thus was religious naturalism born. It takes the findings of modern science seriously, and thus is inherently naturalistic. But it also takes the human needs that led to the emergence of religious systems seriously, and thus is also religious. It is religious, or reconnective, in that it seeks and facilitates human reconnection with one's self, family, larger human community, local and global ecosystem, and unitary universe (…) Religious reconnection implies love. And love implies concern, concern for the well-being of the beloved. Religious naturalism thus is marked by concern for the well-being of the whole of nature. This concern provides a basis and drive for ethical behavior toward the whole holy unitary universe.[38]


Due to the high importance placed on nature, some religious naturalists have a strong sense of stewardship for the Earth. Luther College professor Loyal Rue has written:

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.[39]


The literature related to religious naturalism includes many variations in conceptual framing. This reflects individual takes on various issues, to some extent various schools of thought, such as basic naturalism, religious humanism, pantheism, panentheism, and spiritual naturalism that have had time on the conceptual stage, and to some extent differing ways of characterizing Nature.

Current discussion often relates to the issue of whether belief in a God or God-language and associated concepts have any place in a framework that treats the physical universe as its essential frame of reference and the methods of science as providing the preeminent means for determining what Nature is. There are at least three varieties of religious naturalism, and three similar but somewhat different ways to categorize them. They are:

  • A kind of naturalism that does use theological language but fundamentally treats God metaphorically.
  • A commitment to naturalism using theological language, but as either (1) a faith statement or supported by philosophical arguments, or (2) both, usually leaving open the question of whether that usage as metaphor or refers to the ultimate answer that Nature can be.

The first category has as many sub-groups as there are distinct definitions for god. Believers in a supernatural entity (transcendent) are by definition not religious naturalists however the matter of a naturalistic concept of God (Immanence) is currently debated. Strong atheists are not considered Religious Naturalists in this differentiation. Some individuals call themselves religious naturalists but refuse to be categorized. The unique theories of religious naturalists Loyal Rue, Donald A. Crosby, Jerome A. Stone, and Ursula Goodenough are discussed by Michael Hogue in his 2010 book The Promise of Religious Naturalism.[43]

God concepts[44]

  • Those who conceive of God as the creative process within the universe – example, Henry Nelson Wieman
  • Those who think of God as the totality of the universe considered religiously – Bernard Loomer.
  • A third type of religious naturalism sees no need to use the concept or terminology of God, Stone himself and Ursula Goodenough

Stone emphasizes that some Religious Naturalists do not reject the concept of God, but if they use the concept, it involves a radical alteration of the idea such as Gordon Kaufman who defines God as creativity.

Ignatowski divides RN into only two types – theistic and non-theistic.[30]

Shared principles

There are several principles shared by all the aforementioned varieties of religious naturalism:[45]

  • All varieties of religious naturalism see humans as an interconnected, emergent part of nature.
  • Accept the primacy of science with regard to what is measurable via the scientific method.
  • Recognize science's limitations in accounting for judgments of value and in providing a full account of human experience. Thus religious naturalism embraces nature's creativity, beauty and mystery and honors many aspects of the artistic, cultural and religious traditions that respond to and attempt to interpret Nature in subjective ways.
  • Approach matters of morality, ethics and value with a focus on how the world works, with a deep concern for fairness and the welfare of all humans regardless of their station in life.
  • Seek to integrate these interpretative, spiritual and ethical responses in a manner that respects diverse religious and philosophical perspectives, while still subjecting them and itself to rigorous scrutiny.
  • The focus on scientific standards of evidence imbues RN with the humility inherent in scientific inquiry and its limited, albeit ever deepening, ability to describe reality (see Epistemology).
  • A strong environmental ethic for the welfare of the planet Earth and humanity.
  • Belief in the sacredness of life and the evolutionary process

The concept of emergence has grown in popularity with many Religious Naturalists. It helps explain how a complex Universe and life by self-organization have risen out of a multiplicity of relatively simple elements and their interactions. The entire story of emergence is related in the Epic of Evolution – the mythic scientific narrative used to tell the verifiable chronicle of the evolutionary process that is the Universe. Most religious naturalist consider the Epic of Evolution a true story about the historic achievement of Nature.[46][47][48] "The Epic of Evolution is the 14 billion year narrative of cosmic, planetary, life, and cultural evolution—told in sacred ways. Not only does it bridge mainstream science and a diversity of religious traditions; if skillfully told, it makes the science story memorable and deeply meaningful, while enriching one's religious faith or secular outlook."[49]

A number of naturalistic writers have used this theme as a topic for their books using such synonyms as: Cosmic Evolution, Everybody's Story, Evolutionary Epic, Evolutionary Universe, Great Story, New Story, Universal Story. 'Epic of evolution' is a term that, within the past three years(1998), has become the theme and title of a number of gatherings. It seems to have been first used by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson in 1978. 'The evolutionary epic,' Wilson wrote in his book On Human Nature, 'is probably the best myth we will ever have.' Myth as falsehood was not the usage intended by Wilson in this statement. Rather, myth as a grand narrative that provides a people with a placement in time—a meaningful placement that celebrates extraordinary moments of a shared heritage. The epic of evolution is science translated into meaningful story."[50]

Evolutionary evangelist minister Michael Dowd uses the term to help present his position that science and religious faith are not mutually exclusive (a premise of religious naturalism). He preaches that the epic of cosmic, biological, and human evolution, revealed by science, is a basis for an inspiring and meaningful view of our place in the universe. Evolution is viewed as a spiritual process that it is not meaningless blind chance.[51] He is joined by a number of other theologians in this position.[52][53][54]

Notable proponents and critics


Support for religious naturalism can be seen from two perspectives. One is individuals, in recent times, who have discussed and supported religious naturalism, per se. Another is individuals from earlier times who may not have used or been familiar with the term, "religious naturalism", but who had views that are compatible and whose thoughts have contributed to development of religious naturalism.

People who have been supportive of and who discussed religious naturalism by name include:

People from earlier times, who did not use the term, religious naturalism, but who had compatible views, include:


Religious naturalism has been criticized from two perspectives. One is that of traditional Western religion, which disagrees with naturalist disbelief in a personal God. Another is that of naturalists who do not agree that a religious sense can or should be associated with naturalist views. Critics in the first group include supporters of traditional Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religion. Critics in the second group include:

Prominent communities and leaders

Religious naturalists sometimes use the social practices of traditional religions, including communal gatherings and rituals, to foster a sense of community, and to serve as reinforcement of its participants' efforts to expand the scope of their understandings. Some other groups mainly communicate online. Some known examples of religious naturalists groupings and congregation leaders are:[57]

Religious Naturalism is the focus of classes and conferences at some colleges and theology schools.[68][69] Articles about religious naturalism have appeared frequently in journals, including Zygon, American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, and the International Journal for Philosophy and Religion.[70]

See also


  1. ^ Jerome Stone, Religious Naturalism Today, SUNY Press 2008, page 1
  2. ^ Michael S. Hogue, The Promise of Religious Naturalism, Rowman & Littlefield 2010, pages xix-xx
  3. ^ Varadaraja V. Raman, Book-jacket review of Loyal Rue's "Nature is Enough", SUNY Press 2012
  4. ^ Loyal Rue, Nature is Enough, SUNY Press 2012, page 114
  5. ^ Michael Cavanaugh, "What is Religious Naturalism?", Zygon 2000, page 242
  6. ^ Loyal Rue, Nature is Enough, SUNY Press 2012, page 91
  7. ^ Wesley Wildman. Religious Naturalism: What It Can Be, and What It Need Not Be. Page 36
  8. ^ a b Ursula Goodenough, NPR 13.7 Blog, November 23, 2014: What is religious naturalism?
  9. ^ Michael S. Hogue. Religion Without God: An Essay on Religious Naturalism. The Fourth R 27:3 (Spring 2014)
  10. ^ Oxford English Dictionary Online naturalism
  11. ^ Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haytham) Critique of Ptolemy, translated by S. Pines, Actes X Congrès internationale d'histoire des sciences, Vol I Ithaca 1962, as referenced in Sambursky 1974, p. 139
  12. ^ (Sabra 2003)
  13. ^ Loyal Rue, Nature is Enough, State University of New York Press, 2011. Page 91
  14. ^ Varadaraja V. Raman. Back-cover review of Loyal Rue's "Nature is Enough"
  15. ^ Ursula Goodenough. Religious Naturalism and naturalizing morality. Zygon 38 2003: 101-109.
  16. ^ Donald Crosby. Living with Ambiguity: Religious Naturalism and the Menace of Evil, SUNY Press, 2008, page ix-x
  17. ^ Loyal Rue, Nature is Enough, State University of New York Press, 2011. Pages 93-96
  18. ^ Loyal Rue, Nature is Enough, State University of New York Press, 2011. Page 110
  19. ^ Loyal Rue, Nature is Enough, State University of New York Press, 2011. Pages 110-111
  20. ^ Sharon M. Kaye; Paul Thomson (2006). Philosophy for Teens: Questioning Life's Big Ideas,. Prufrock Press Inc. p. 72. ISBN 9781593632021.
  21. ^ Wildman, Wesley. Religious Naturalism: What It Can Be, and What It Need Not Be. Philosophy, Theology, and the Sciences. 1(1). 2014. Pages 49-51.
  22. ^ George Hooker Colton; James Davenport Whelpley (1846). The American Review: A Whig Journal, Devoted to Politics and Literature. p. 282.
  23. ^ Athanasia. American Unitarian Association. 1870. p. 6.
  24. ^ Ludwig Feuerbach; George Eliot (1881). The Essence of Christianity. Religion. Trübner. p. 103.
  25. ^ Alex J. Goldman - The greatest rabbis hall of fame, SP Books, 1987, page 342, ISBN 0933503148
  26. ^ Rabbi Emanuel S. Goldsmith - Reconstructionism Today Spring 2001, Volume 8, Number 3, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation retrieved 4-1-09
  27. ^ Perrigo Conger, George (1940). The Ideologies of Religion. p. 212. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  28. ^ Brightman, Edgar S (1940). God as the Tendency of Nature to Support or Produce Values (Religious Naturalism). A Philosophy of Religion. p. 148.
  29. ^ Stone, Jerome A (1991). The Minimalist Vision of Transcendence. p. 9. ISBN 9780791411599.
  30. ^ a b Ignatowski, Mike (June 25, 2006). Religious Naturalism. Kingston. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  31. ^ Goodenough, Ursula (2000). The Sacred Depths of Nature. Oxford University Press. p. 171. ISBN 0195136292.
  32. ^ "Video Interview - Speaking of Faith". Krista's Journal. April 7, 2005. Archived from the original on October 11, 2008.
  33. ^ Crosby, Donald A (2008). Living with Ambiguity. SUNY Press. p. 1. ISBN 0791475190.
  34. ^ Loyal Rue. Nature is Enough: Religious Naturalism and the Meaning of Life. SUNY Press. 2011.
  35. ^ Religious Naturalism Today: The Rebirth of a Forgotten Alternative
  36. ^ When God is Gone Everything is Holy – The Making of a Religious Naturalist, Chet Raymo, 2008, p 136
  37. ^ Chet Raymo - When God is Gone Everything is Holy, Soren Books, 2008, page 114, ISBN 1-933495-13-8
  38. ^ Gillette, P. Roger. "Theology Of, By, & For Religious Naturalism". Archived from the original on 2009-11-14. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
  39. ^ Loyal D. Rue - RELIGION is not about god, Rutgers University Press, 2005, page 367, ISBN 0813535115
  40. ^ Robinson, Rev. Edmund. "2029 Presentation of Skinner Award-Winning Social Justice Sermon". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  41. ^ Crosby, Donald A. A Religion of Nature. ISBN 0791454541.
  42. ^
  43. ^ The Promise of Religious Naturalism – Michael Hogue, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Sept.16, 2010, ISBN 0742562611
  44. ^ Rev. Dr. Jerome Stone's Presentation. "3062 Religious Naturalism: A New Theological Option". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  45. ^ "Introduction, page xviii" (PDF). Taylor's Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature.
  46. ^ How Grand a Narrative– Ursula Goodenough
  47. ^ " Epic, Story, Narrative – Bill Bruehl
  48. ^ How Grand a Narrative – Philip Hefner
  49. ^ "The Epic of Evolution". Taylor's Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. 2004.
  50. ^ Connie Barlow - The Epic of Evolution: Religious and cultural interpretations of modern scientific cosmology. Science & Spirit Archived 2006-05-23 at the Wayback Machine
  51. ^ "Thank God for Evolution".
  52. ^ Eugenie Carol Scott, Niles Eldredge, Contributor Niles Eldredge, - Evolution Vs. Creationism: An Introduction, University of California Press, 2005, page 235, ISBN 0520246500 - [1]
  53. ^ John Haught - God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution, Westview Press, 2008 ISBN 0813343704
  54. ^ Quotes of Berry and Hefner
  55. ^ Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Houghton Mifflin 2006, pages 14,15,19
  56. ^ Loyal Rue, Nature is Enough, SUNY Press 2011, pages 116-122
  57. ^ Jerome A. Stone – Religious Naturalism Today: The Rebirth of a Forgotten Alternative, State U. of New York Press (Dec 2008), pages 10, 11, 141,ISBN 0791475379
  58. ^ "Religious Naturalist Association". Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  59. ^ "Spiritual Naturalist Society". Retrieved February 22, 2018. Serving Religious and Spiritual Naturalists.
  60. ^ "Unitarian Universalist Religious Naturalists". Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  61. ^ "Religious Naturalism Facebook Group". Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  62. ^ "World Pantheism: The online community for naturalistic Pantheists". Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  63. ^ Jerome A. Stone – Religious Naturalism Today: The Rebirth of a Forgotten Alternative, State U. of New York Press, page 10 (Dec 2008)
  64. ^ Jerome A. Stone – Religious Naturalism Today: The Rebirth of a Forgotten Alternative, State U. of New York Press, page 221 (Dec 2008)
  65. ^ A Jewish Perspective Archived 2009-01-17 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 2/15/2010
  66. ^ "Ian Lawton". Center for Progressive Christianity. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  67. ^ "Ian Lawton's Page".
  68. ^ "Religious Naturalism Resources". Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  69. ^ "International Congress on Religious Naturalism". Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  70. ^ Template:Cite web name=web search "journal article religious naturalism"

Further reading

  • 2015 – Donald A. Crosby – More Than Discourse: Symbolic Expressions of Naturalistic Faith, State University of New York Press, ISBN 1438453744
  • 2015 – Nathan Martinez – Rise Like Lions: Language and The False Gods of Civilization, ISBN 1507509901
  • 2008 – Donald A. Crosby – The Thou of Nature: Religious Naturalism and Reverence for Sentient Life, State University of New York Press, ISBN 1438446691
  • 2011 – Loyal Rue – Nature Is Enough, State University of New York Press, ISBN 1438437994
  • 2010 – Michael Hogue – The Promise of Religious Naturalism, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Sept.16, 2010, ISBN 0742562611
  • 2009 – Michael Ruse & Joseph Travis  – Evolution: The First Four Billion Years, Belknap Press, 2009, ISBN 067403175X
  • 2008 – Donald A. Crosby – Living with Ambiguity: Religious Naturalism and the Menace of Evil, State University of New York Press, ISBN 0791475190
  • 2008 – Michael Dowd – Thank God for Evolution:, Viking (June 2008), ISBN 0670020451
  • 2008 – Chet Raymo – When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist, Sorin Books, ISBN 1933495138
  • 2008 – Kenneth R. Miller – Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul, Viking Adult, 2008, ISBN 067001883X
  • 2008 – Eugenie C. Scott – Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction, Greenwood Press, ISBN 978-0313344275
  • 2007 – Eric Chaisson – Epic of Evolution, Columbia University Press (March 2, 2007), ISBN 0231135610
  • 2006 – John Haught – Is Nature Enough?, Cambridge University Press (May 31, 2006), ISBN 0521609933
  • 2006 – Loyal Rue – Religion Is Not About God, Rutgers University Press, July 24, 2006, ISBN 0813539552
  • 2004 – Gordon Kaufman – In the Beginning... Creativity, Augsburg Fortress Pub., 2004, ISBN 0800660935
  • 2003 – James B. Miller – The Epic of Evolution: Science and Religion in Dialogue, Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2003, ISBN 013093318X
  • 2002  – Donald A. Crosby – A Religion of Nature – State University of New York Press, ISBN 0791454541
  • 2000 – Ursula Goodenough – Sacred Depths of Nature, Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (June 15, 2000), ISBN 0195136292
  • 2000 – John Stewart – Evolution's Arrow: The Direction of Evolution and the Future of Humanity, Chapman Press, 2000, ISBN 0646394975
  • 1997 – Connie Barlow – Green Space Green Time: The Way of Science, Springer (September 1997), ISBN 0387947949
  • 1992 – Brian Swimme – The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era, HarperCollins, 1992, ISBN 0062508350

Reading lists – Evolution Reading Resources, Books of the Epic of Evolution, Cosmic Evolution

External links

Chet Raymo

Chet Raymo (born September 17, 1936 in Chattanooga, Tennessee) is a noted writer, educator and naturalist. He is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Stonehill College, in Easton, Massachusetts. His weekly newspaper column Science Musings appeared in the Boston Globe for twenty years. This is now a daily blog by him. Raymo espouses his Religious Naturalism in When God is Gone Everything is Holy – The Making of a Religious Naturalist and frequently in his blog. As Raymo says – "I attend to this infinitely mysterious world with reverence, awe, thanksgiving, praise. All religious qualities."

Raymo has been a contributor to The Notre Dame Magazine and Scientific American.His most famous book is the novel entitled The Dork of Cork, which was made into the feature-length film Frankie Starlight. Raymo is also the author of Walking Zero, a scientific and historical account of his wanderings along the Prime Meridian in Great Britain. Raymo was the recipient of the 1998 Lannan Literary Award for his Nonfiction work.

Raymo espouses a scientific skepticism for his beliefs:

"For the Religious Naturalist, darkness and silence are not the paradox, they are the resolution. The apophatic tradition ends in effective negation (God is not this, God is not that, God is not). Not only do we fall silent in the face of the Word, the Word itself dissolves into silence. We too walk a fine line; not between skepticism and faith, but between skepticism and cynicism. We try to stay firmly on the side of skepticism, open to whatever winds of wisdom blow our way, and as for knowledge of the world, we cherish the scientific way of knowing -– tentative, partial, evolving".

Donald A. Crosby

Donald Allen Crosby (born 7 April 1932) is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Colorado State University, since January 2000. Crosby's interests focus on metaphysics, American pragmatism, philosophy of nature, existentialism, and philosophy of religion. He is a member of the Highlands Institute of American Religious and Philosophical Thought (HAIRPT) and has been a leader in the discussions on Religious Naturalism.

Henry Nelson Wieman

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. His grandson Carl Wieman is a Nobel laureate, and his son-in-law Huston Smith was a prominent scholar in religious studies.

Ian Barbour

Ian Graeme Barbour (October 5, 1923 – December 24, 2013), was an American scholar on the relationship between science and religion. According to the Public Broadcasting Service his mid-1960s Issues in Science and Religion "has been credited with literally creating the contemporary field of science and religion."In the citation nominating Barbour for the 1999 Templeton Prize, John B. Cobb wrote, "No contemporary has made a more original, deep and lasting contribution toward the needed integration of scientific and religious knowledge and values than Ian Barbour. With respect to the breadth of topics and fields brought into this integration, Barbour has no equal."

Jerome A. Stone

Jerome A. Stone is an American author, philosopher, and theologian. He is best known for helping to develop the religious movement of Religious Naturalism. Stone is on the Adjunct Faculty of Meadville Lombard Theological School; is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at William Rainey Harper College; is in Preliminary Fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association; and is a member of the Highlands Institute of American Religious and Philosophical Thought (HIARPT) and the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS).

Julian Huxley

Sir Julian Sorell Huxley (22 June 1887 – 14 February 1975) was a British evolutionary biologist, eugenicist, and internationalist. He was a proponent of natural selection, and a leading figure in the mid-twentieth century modern synthesis. He was secretary of the Zoological Society of London (1935–1942), the first Director of UNESCO, a founding member of the World Wildlife Fund and the first President of the British Humanist Association.

Huxley was well known for his presentation of science in books and articles, and on radio and television. He directed an Oscar-winning wildlife film. He was awarded UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for the popularisation of science in 1953, the Darwin Medal of the Royal Society in 1956, and the Darwin–Wallace Medal of the Linnaean Society in 1958. He was also knighted in that same year, 1958, a hundred years after Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace announced the theory of evolution by natural selection. In 1959 he received a Special Award of the Lasker Foundation in the category Planned Parenthood – World Population. Huxley was a prominent member of the British Eugenics Society and was its president from 1959 to 1962.

There is a public house named after Sir Julian in Selsdon, London Borough of Croydon, close to the Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve which he helped establish.

Karl E. Peters

Karl E. Peters is a Professor Emeritus of Religion at Rollins College, Winter Park, FL, and former adjunct professor of philosophy, University of Hartford, Hartford, CT and adjunct professor of religion and science, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago. He also is the former editor and then co-editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, and is a founder, organizer, and first President of the University Unitarian Universalist Society in central Florida. His scholarly research and teaching focuses on issues in science and religion, including the concept of God and evolution, epistemology in science and religion, world religions and the environment, and religious and philosophical issues in medicine.

Peters has been for many years a member and lecturer at the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science where he has been active in the development of Religious Naturalism. He has six times served as co-chair of the annual conference.

2014 - Science and Religion in a Globalizing World

2011 - Doing Good, Doing Bad, Doing Nothing: Scientific and Religious Perspectives

2005 - Varieties of Spiritual Transformation: Scientific and Religious Perspectives

1997 - The Evolution of Morality

1992 - Global Ecology and Human Destiny

1986 - Free Will: Is It Possible and Is it Desirable?

1978 - The Future of the Child: Religious and Scientific PerspectivesPeters' current focus in on developing a Christian Religious Naturalism.

Loyal Rue

Loyal D. Rue (born 7 June 1944) is an American philosopher of religion. He is professor emeritus of religion and philosophy at Luther College of Decorah, Iowa. He focuses on naturalistic theories of religion and has been awarded two John Templeton Foundation fellowships. He has been for many years a member and lecturer at the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS).

Metaphysical naturalism

Metaphysical naturalism (also called ontological naturalism, philosophical naturalism, scientific materialism and antisupernaturalism) is a philosophical worldview which holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences. Methodological naturalism is a philosophical basis for science, for which metaphysical naturalism provides only one possible ontological foundation. Broadly, the corresponding theological perspective is religious naturalism or spiritual naturalism. More specifically, metaphysical naturalism rejects the supernatural concepts and explanations that are part of many religions.

Michael Dowd

Michael Dowd (born November 19, 1958) is an American Progressive Christian minister, author, and eco-theologian known as an advocate of Big History, religious naturalism, sustainability, climate activism, and the epic of evolution.His evangelizing to some 2,000 audiences starting in April 2002 provided material for Thank God for Evolution in 2008. The book was endorsed by six Nobel Prize-winning scientists. On April 2, 2009, Dowd at the United Nations addressed the lack of an evolutionary worldview which he maintains has resulted in a global integrity crisis. Overcoming this crisis, he says, requires a deep time view of human nature, values and social systems. He maintains a Christian perspective and accepts the theory of evolution.

Dowd expanded his outreach program with the founding of in 2010. Thirty-eight religious leaders from diverse backgrounds joined him in an audio seminar introduction. In spite of their dissimilar religious orientations and backgrounds, they hold many perspectives in common; such as valuing Big History (deep time), a global ethos, and realistic expectations grounded in an understanding of scientific (Evidence of common descent), historical (History of the world), and cross-cultural facts (cultural evolution) as "divine communication". This program has drawn both rebuttals and praise from Christian sources.

Naturalism (philosophy)

In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world." Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws."Naturalism can intuitively be separated into an ontological and a methodological component," argues David Papineau. "Ontological" refers to the philosophical study of the nature of being. Some philosophers equate naturalism with materialism. For example, philosopher Paul Kurtz argues that nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles. These principles include mass, energy, and other physical and chemical properties accepted by the scientific community. Further, this sense of naturalism holds that spirits, deities, and ghosts are not real and that there is no "purpose" in nature. Such an absolute belief in naturalism is commonly referred to as metaphysical naturalism.Assuming naturalism in working methods as the current paradigm, without the further consideration of naturalism as an absolute truth with philosophical entailment, is called methodological naturalism. The subject matter here is a philosophy of acquiring knowledge based on an assumed paradigm.

With the exception of pantheists—who believe that Nature is identical with divinity while not recognizing a distinct personal anthropomorphic god—theists challenge the idea that nature contains all of reality. According to some theists, natural laws may be viewed as so-called secondary causes of God(s).

In the 20th century, Willard Van Orman Quine, George Santayana, and other philosophers argued that the success of naturalism in science meant that scientific methods should also be used in philosophy. Science and philosophy are said to form a continuum, according to this view.

Philip Hefner

Philip Hefner is a professor emeritus of systematic theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Progressive Christianity

Progressive Christianity is a "post-liberal movement" within Christianity "that seeks to reform the faith via the insights of post-modernism and a reclaiming of the truth beyond the verifiable historicity and factuality of the passages in the Bible by affirming the truths within the stories that may not have actually happened." Progressive Christianity represents a post-modern theological approach, and is not necessarily synonymous with progressive politics. It developed out of the Liberal Christianity of the modern-era, which was rooted in enlightenment thinking.Progressive Christianity is characterized by a willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice and care for the poor and the oppressed, and environmental stewardship of the earth. Progressive Christians have a deep belief in the centrality of the instruction to "love one another" (John 15:17) within the teachings of Jesus Christ. This leads to a focus on promoting values such as compassion, justice, mercy, and tolerance, often through political activism. Though prominent, the movement is by no means the only significant movement of progressive thought among Christians.

Progressive Christianity draws on the insights of multiple theological streams including evangelicalism, liberalism, neo-orthodoxy, pragmatism, postmodernism, Progressive Reconstructionism, and liberation theology. The concerns of feminism are also a major influence on the movement, as expressed in feminist and womanist theologies.Though the terms Progressive Christianity and Liberal Christianity are often used synonymously, the two movements are distinct, despite much overlap.

Spiritual naturalism

Spiritual naturalism, or naturalistic spirituality combines mundane and spiritual ways of looking at the world. Spiritual naturalism may have first been proposed by Joris-Karl Huysmans in 1895 in his book En Route – "In 'En Route' Huysmans started upon the creation of what he called 'Spiritual Naturalism,' that is, realism applied to the story of a soul. ...".

Coming into prominence as a writer during the 1870s, Huysmans quickly established himself among a rising group of writers, the so-called Naturalist school, of whom Émile Zola was the acknowledged head...With Là-bas (1891), a novel which reflected the aesthetics of the spiritualist revival and the contemporary interest in the occult, Huysmans formulated for the first time an aesthetic theory which sought to synthesize the mundane and the transcendent: "spiritual Naturalism". Long before the term spiritual naturalism was coined by Huysmans, there is evidence of the value system of spiritual naturalism in the Stoics. "Virtue consists in a will that is in agreement with Nature".

Theistic rationalism

Theistic rationalism is a hybrid of natural religion, Christianity, and rationalism, in which rationalism is the predominant element.

According to Henry Clarence Thiessen, the concept of theistic rationalism first developed during the eighteenth century as a form of English and German Deism.

The term "theistic rationalism" occurs as early as 1856, in the English translation of a German work on recent religious history.

Some scholars have argued that the term properly describes the beliefs of some of the prominent Founding Fathers of the United States, including George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, and Thomas Jefferson.Theistic rationalists believe natural religion, Christianity, and rationalism typically coexist compatibly, with rational thought balancing the conflicts between the first two aspects. They often assert that the primary role of a person's religion should be to bolster morality, a fixture of daily life.Theistic rationalists believe that God plays an active role in human life, rendering prayer effective.

They accept parts of the Bible as divinely inspired, using reason as their criterion for what to accept or reject.

Their belief that God intervenes in human affairs and their approving attitude toward parts of the Bible distinguish theistic rationalists from Deists.Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713), has been described as an early theistic rationalist. According to Stanley Grean,

Ursula Goodenough

Ursula W. Goodenough (born March 16, 1943) is a Professor of Biology Emerita Washington University in St. Louis where she engaged in research on eukaryotic algae. She authored the best-selling book The Sacred Depths of Nature, and has presented the paradigm of Religious Naturalism and the Epic of Evolution in numerous venues around the world. She contributed to the NPR blog, 13.7: Cosmos & Culture, from 2009 to 2011. She currently serves as president of the Religious Naturalist Association.

Varadaraja V. Raman

Varadaraja V. Raman (born 28 May 1932) is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has lectured and written Indian heritage and culture and authored numerous books, book reviews and articles on science and religion. He is considered expert in the Hindu religion, espectially as how it relates to modern science. In 2005 he was elected Senior Fellow of the Metanexus Institute. In 2006 he was the recipient of the Raja Rao Award which recognizes writers who have made outstanding contributions to the literature of the South Asian Diaspora. On 18 May 2007, Navya Shastra, a reformist Hindu organization, conferred on him the title Acharya Vidyasagar in recognition of his contributions to Hinduism.

He has guided our endeavors as an advisor and friend. His sagacious interpretations of Hindu culture are profoundly attuned to a timeless spiritual sensibility. At the same time, he unapologetically rejects outmoded practices that have no place in the modern world ... In ancient India, a man like Professor Raman was called an acharya, a teacher of profound truths, a guide on the spiritual path, and someone an entire community looked up to. We at Navya Shastra are honored to proclaim Professor Raman

Willem B. Drees

Willem Bernard "Wim" Drees (born 20 April 1954) is a Dutch philosopher. He is the editor-in-chief of Zygon, Journal of Religion & Science. As of 1 November 2014 he is a humanities professor of philosophy at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

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