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Concepts in Religious Naturalism

Note: various Religious Naturalists may define these differently or do not include them in their thinking. Some may seem to be critical of traditional beliefs but not in an abusively way.

nature is real – Basic naturalism starts with this axiom. Acceptance of this begins the process of seeing the world as it is. This leads to the scientific method as the principle way for understanding reality. Consequentially interpretation is objective and devoid of non-naturalism. This process has produced the wellbeing and technology presently enjoyed by humanity. There is humbleness in this scientific viewpoint usually not found in most religious beliefs. Science does not attempt to find absolute truths but uses evidence to establish plausible ideas that are more right than past ones. Traditional religions tend to declare absolute truths that are not based on evidence but on speculations and deeply felt desires. Realness is considered by some as self-evident.

nature is sacred – This postulate provides the religious and spiritual foundation for this paradigm. The sacredness of nature/earth/universe/life is regarded in a similar way as other religions do their holy things. Nature is of the highest value, meriting reverence due to its beautiful, majesty and vastness. It is both the creator and residence of humankind. Proposed in the Sacred Depths of Nature by U. Goodenough. Nature's sacredness is self-declared.

transcendence– a mental state exceeding ordinary awareness focused on the natural world; absorbed in nature; flow; similar to the traditional religious concept  but here refers to the actual world rather than to a non-natural realm; becoming immanent with the world around one's self. A state of beimmanence (coined by J. Robertson)

consilience – the rational synthesis of knowledge using different fields of human understanding; for instance - amalgamating science, philosophy, sociology and traditional religions into one modern religious concept (used by E.O. Wilson)

deep time eyes - viewing and appreciating the 13.7 billion history of the cosmos as told by the Epic of Evolution. (used by M. Dowd)

directionality – guidance to a purpose or destiny leading to reaping what is sown; involves karma - herein defined as self-responsibility, direction, and actions. Defined this way, karma is both a personal and social concept necessary for the maintenance of the cornerstones of wellbeing, stewardship, human destiny, and tolerance. (from P. Brunton’s karma, used by J. Robertson)

ecomorality - (also eco-morality and ecological morality) a religious stance that pertains to the set of ethics governing human interactions with the environment. The intent is to minimize the detrimental effects of civilization on the environment, with a view toward sustainability, to restore harmony between humans and nature, and to provide political and commercial guidelines. It is the basis for stewardship of the environment. (used by U. Goodenough) 

emergence - the appearance of novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self-organization in complex systems; a sense of the sacred as perceived in the workings of entirely naturalistic processes. (used by numerous scientists, S. Kauffman)

Epic of Evolution – the 13.7 history of the universe and all that is. A philosophy of being is enriched by accepting the evolutionary history of the universe and humanity. (used by O. Wilson, L. Rue, U.Goodenough)

eudaemonism - the postulate that a key purpose of one’s life is personal happiness and wellbeing; an ethical goal, the concept that personal wellbeing and happiness are worthy pursuits dates from Aristotle. If we have but one chance at life, which we do, then it is best to enjoy it. This contrasts with those religions that see life as suffering, repression of the positive emotions, sacrifice or punishment in an afterlife. It recognizes that life is a bed of roses, flowers, and thorns. (from Aristotle, used by humanist P. Kurtz)

global ethos – Most religious have a tribal code of morality as part of their teachings. This ethos focuses on worldwide humanity and includes the earth’s ecology. (used by U.Goodenough)

mindfulness – various mental states of personal awareness, interpreting, evaluating, acting consciously and accepting without judgment (tolerance). Observing concerns the ability to notice one's present environment. Interpreting and describing is the ability to put words to one's awareness. Acting consciously concerns the ability to pay attention to what one is doing at a given moment. Accepting without judgment is accepting one's own inner thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness skills are relevant to rightfulness and facilitate reason, spirituality, purpose and well being (from psychology and Buddhism).

Chet Raymo - Religious Naturalist

A physicist discusses spirituality in the woods


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