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  An informative, knowledgeable, easy to read place for those seriously seeking details about Religious Naturalism. Casual browsers may also find it interesting and enlightening.
 
DEFINITIONS  -  REFERENCES  -  PEOPLE  -  LINKS

  This site started out to be the primary place to research Religious Naturalism. It was expanded to include dissertations on the aesthetics, morality, and spirituality of Religious Naturalists not available anywhere else. Page 2 (Variants) presents the various versions of Religious Naturalism being worked on by respected scholars. Also included is Ursula Goodenough on page 4 speaking on the Epic of Evolution which is the base narrative of Religious Naturalism. The religious thoughts of Albert Einstein on Page 5 are a good jumping off place to get acquainted with this appealing new paradigm for the 21st century.




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  "Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature....The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both” - Carl Sagan

Basic Religious Naturalism

  The standard for Religious Naturalism is that the domain of human existence is real. It is everything. There is nothing beyond it. It is governed by natural laws. The Universe is fundamental having ultimate value because it is all there is. It is reasonable therefore to consider it sacred. A person can have deep feelings for it. This Universe functions by natural laws and so must human societies if they are to do well. Moral codes and human virtues are necessary. 

  Other sources define Religious Naturalism as a paradigm devoid of supernaturalism. This definition is characteristic of all naturalistic beliefs. It does not rule out concepts of God that are fully naturalistic. Whether or not an individual holds a concept of God is not a central theme of Religious Naturalism. A Religious Naturalist is not judged by their god belief or system of theology. The ongoing search for basic truths and understanding is what is paramount in this worldview. It is a belief system dedicated to reason and provable propositions. It is not dogmatic but is exceptionally cosmopolitan and tolerant of other beliefs.

  Religious Naturalism can easily be considered a modern-day third theological path between secular nonbelief and theistic overbelief. Or, more poetically, an objective, scientific path on a physical but spiritual landscape. 

  Religious Naturalism seriously began evolving in the mid-20th century. It is escalating today with several distinct but similar perspectives (see Variants page 2). It has three main sectors; neo-theistic (liberal theism), non-theistic (agnosticism) and not-theistic (soft atheism). All of these are rooted solidly in naturalism.

 Neo-theism attempts by various terms to redefine God in purely naturalistic ways. Non-theism is ambivalent about God in any way or form. The not-theistic branch firmly rules out a concept of a god. Probably about one-third of the advocates for Religious Naturalism use the word God in some manner. However, they use it in a way to denote their deep feelings of mystery, awe, and reverence for Nature. Religious Naturalism is a unique religious paradigm due to this broad spectrum of deity belief and tolerance.

 This tolerance to a naturalistic god belief is allowing many traditionally religious people to get comfortable with Religious Naturalism. At the same time, those who say they are spiritual but not religious have found a home for their concepts of spirituality.

  Philosophical or methodological naturalism is ancient. It was first seen in the works of the Ionian pre-Socratic philosophers. One was Thales in mid 600 BC. He is considered to be the father of science. He first gave explanations for natural events without the use of supernatural causes. Thales' rejection of mythological explanations became an essential idea for the scientific revolution 

  Methodological (scientific) naturalism is concerned with methods for learning what Nature is all about. It is the idea that all scientific endeavors are to be explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events. It is a basic rule of science today. It requires scientists to seek explanations in the physical world based upon what can be observed, tested, replicated and verified. This approach to gaining knowledge is fundamental to Religious Naturalism.

  Religious Naturalism enhances the objective, scientific efforts to gain understanding by adding the subjective elements of being human. It can be called a rationality with feelings, an amalgamation of science, religion, spirituality and the appreciation of aesthetics.

  Taoism basically is a belief that life should be lived in harmony and in accordance with Nature. In this respect, Religious Naturalism is somewhat a Westernized version of Taoism. Owen Flanagan believes that 'Buddhism naturalized' offers a viable philosophy for 21st-century secularists because it is less theistic, and thus more rational than the traditional Abrahamic traditions. Buddhist Naturalism would be another variant of Religious Naturalism.

  As will be seen on the Variant page, Christian Religious Naturalism is in the early stages of development. 

 Religious Naturalism is playing a role today in some other mainstream religious communities and traditions, including forms of Religious Humanism, Reconstructionist Judaism, Unitarian Universalism and Quakerism. Interestingly, Christianity, more than any other tradition, has resisted Religious Naturalists efforts at integration even though its early renderings were by Protestant scholars and Catholic priests.

"The world can no more have two summits than a circle 
can have two centers"Jesuit Priest Teilhard de Chardin



Definitions for Naturalism

    Ursula Goodenough  Naturalism has been defined by many people. Its just a worldview that does not include the supernatural so it is everything else.
  
   Wikipedia  Naturalism commonly refers to the viewpoint that laws of nature (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate in the Universe. Nothing exists beyond the natural Universe or, if it does, it does not affect the Universe. 

   Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy  Contemporary philosophers interpret ‘naturalism’ in a number of different ways. For better or worse, ‘naturalism’ is widely viewed as a positive term in philosophical circles. Few active philosophers nowadays are quick to call themselves ‘non-naturalists’. 
 
   Britannica.com  Naturalism, in philosophy, a theory that relates scientific method to philosophy by affirming that all beings and events in the universe (whatever their inherent character may be) are natural.

   Center for Naturalism  If you don’t believe in anything supernatural – gods, ghosts, immaterial souls and spirits – then you subscribe to naturalism, the idea that Nature is all there is. The reason you’re a naturalist is likely that, wanting not to be deceived, you put stock in empirical, evidence-based ways of justifying beliefs about what’s real.

   Naturalisms.org -  The belief that all religious truth is based not on revelation but rather on the study of natural causes and processes; a scientific account of the world in terms of causes and natural forces that rejects all spiritual, supernatural, or teleological explanations.

   Simply - Naturalism denies there are entities or phenomena outside the scope of natural law.



Definition for Religious

  An adjective applied to one who practices a religion of some kind. Religious Naturalist Loyal Rue writes a religion is not specifically about a deity but is a system of belief. It is founded on a core narrative or myth. A deity concept may or may not be part of its myth (Christianity vs Buddhism). A religion is characterized by ancillary strategies such as: intellectual, experiential, rituals, institutional and aesthetic methods. To these may be added their teachings, participants and resulting social/cultural behavior.

   The US Supreme Court has interpreted being religious to mean a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God in the lives of other persons. The religious belief need not include belief in the existence of a supreme being to be within the scope of the First Amendment. The Court must look to the sincerity of a person's beliefs to help decide if those beliefs constitute a religion that deserves constitutional protection. Society is best served if individuals are free to form their own opinions and beliefs. The Court deliberately avoided establishing an exact or narrow definition of religion.

 

 Definitions of Religion
 
  Webster Dictionary(1b2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; (2) a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices (4) a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
 
   Wikipedia  A religion is a way of belief, cultural system or worldview (paradigm) relating a group of people to a cultural system, spirituality and usually to moral values. Many religions have sacred histories, clergy, symbols, and traditions intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of humanity and the Universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the Universe and human nature. They usually have a pronounced social aspect. There are over 4,200  (perhaps + 14,000) religions in the world. Consequently being religious has very broad application and meaning.

   Britannica  Religion, human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. It is also commonly regarded as consisting of the way people deal with ultimate concerns about their lives and their fate after death. In many traditions, this relation and these concerns are expressed in terms of one’s relationship with or attitude toward gods or spirits; in more humanistic or naturalistic forms of religion, they are expressed in terms of one’s relationship with our attitudes toward the broader human community or the natural world.

   Emil Durkheim  A unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden--beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community 

  Michael Cavanaugh   What are the religious impulses that make me call myself a Religious Naturalist? There are many……the impulse to connect with one another is a religious impulse… the impulses to awe and gratitude, the affirmation of and discipline of emotion, the search for wisdom, the need to manage motivations, uncertainty and our inclination to morality and ethics.

  Religious Naturalism complies with all of the above. To some people ‘religion’ suggests affiliation with an institution or group while for some it suggests a sense of or affinity with what is perceived as sacred.



Definitions of Religious Naturalism 
  Wikipedia  Religious naturalism is an approach to spirituality that is devoid of supernaturalism. The focus is on the religious attributes of the Universe/Nature, the understanding of it and our response to it (interpretive, spiritual and moral). 

  Wkiquotes   Religious Naturalism is a pluralistic paradigm that proposes a spiritual, intellectual approach to life devoid of supernatural assumptions.

  Dictionary of Theology  Religious Naturalism is the philosophical, religious system where a person obtains his or her religious beliefs that are derived by reason and science. Religious naturalists denounce racism and sexism, affirm the need to care for our ecosystem, and assert that we must respect different religious viewpoints…. they affirm biological evolution as the source of our existence. 

  Donald A. Crosby  Religious Naturalism is the view that Nature is metaphysically ultimate and that Nature or some aspect of nature is religiously ultimate. There is nothing beyond, behind or below nature. Nature requires no explanation beyond itself. It always has existed and always will exist in some shape or form. Its constituents, principles, laws, and relationships are the sole reality. 

  Jerome A. Stone  Religious naturalism, a once-forgotten option in religious thinking, is making a revival. Very close to religious humanism, perhaps overlapping it, it seeks to explore and encourage religious ways of responding to the world or at least ways that are analogous to what we traditionally call religious.

  P. Roger Gillette  Religious Naturalism is a religion in that it is a system of belief and practice that demands and facilitates one's intellectual and emotional reconnection with one's self, one's family, one's local and global community and ecosystem, the universe of which the global ecosystem is a part, and (perhaps) the creative source of this universe. It is also a theology, an ethics, and a full-service belief that requires a radical spiritual transformation.

  Rev. William Murry  Religious Naturalism says two things. First, it holds that the natural Universe is all there is. The supernatural does not exist. Second, it maintains that there is religious meaning and value in Nature.

  Alvin Plantinga  A theologian critical of naturalism, comments: "Naturalism is presumably not a religion. In one very important respect, however, it resembles religion: it can be said to perform the cognitive function of a religion. There is that range of deep human questions to which a religion typically provides an answer...... Like a typical religion, naturalism gives a set of answers to these and similar question" 

Religious Naturalism is religious on all accounts. 



   We hope you find your visit here rewarding. Religious Naturalism has the potential to become a major world religion. It combines our knowledge of the real Universe with the spiritual feelings that give richness, value, and meaning to Reality and the human adventure. On the other hand, Religious Naturalism may never become a full-blown organized religion, but if current religions evolve into more factual beliefs, they will use much of the thinking currently being developed today by Religious Naturalists. 

   Donald Crosby, author of three books on Religious Naturalism - "Religious naturalism deserves recognition as an important form of religious faith among the various religious stances and outlooks of the world. It does so especially today when its significance is coming to be increasingly acknowledged, vigorously developed, and actively propounded".

   Loyal Rue, author of 'Nature is Enough: Religious Naturalism and the Meaning of Life', states therein - “I fully expect the day to arrive when Religious Naturalism will prevail as the most universal and influential orientation on the planet. The source of my confidence in this prediction is the epic of cosmogenesis itself. Given a chance, this story is too compelling, too beautiful, too edifying and too liberating to fail in captivating the imagination of a vast majority of humankind

“Religious Naturalism is today one of the outstanding American philosophies of religion” - H.H. Dubs - Religious Naturalism – an Evaluation (The Journal of Religion, XXIII: 4, October 1943)



Loyal Rue - "Nature is the sacred object of humanity's concern"