Essential Features OF RN
Religious naturalism to me is a worldview, or more accurately a group of somewhat similar worldviews. The essential features these various worldviews all have in common are outlined below:
rejection of supernaturalism, superstition, and magical thinking
a respect for evidence and the scientific method
openness to experiencing, and placing a high value on, those emotions that are often termed 'religious' --- emotions such as wonder, awe, love of existence, agape, compassion, empathy etc.
ethical concern for other people and for non-human animals
appreciation of and concern for the ecosphere
rejection of racism, sexism, tribalism, jingoism etc.
concern for future generations, and a sense of responsibility to the future as well as to the present
appreciation of interconnectedness of all phenomena, and the need for an intellectual integration of all levels of explanation - what E.O. Wilson calls consilience
Thus Religious Naturalists can be Quakers, Buddhists, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, Pantheists etc. provided that their version of Christianity, Judaism, Agnosticism, Pantheism etc. is one that rejects belief in magic, miracles, belief in an afterlife, and argument from authority.
I originally posted the following comments to the Religious Naturalism website. Since Pantheism (Natural Pantheism of the WPM sort) is a ‘booth’ of Religious Naturalism, I feel it is appropriate to present it here. Religious Naturalism and Pantheism are interchangeable words in what follows.
RN, as a form of naturalism, must accept and welcome real physically confirmed explanations; however the nuts and bolts of these explanations exist on a different level than does RN. They are objective ones rather than subjective and RN is a subjective evaluation of existence. RN is not physics, it is philosophy/religion/worldview --- i.e. a synthesis of 'metaphysics', 'epistemology', 'aesthetics', ‘ethics’ and 'wonder'.
RN --- to me at least --- is about our cognitive, emotional, aesthetic, and ethical relationships ---- to ourselves, to each other, to other life forms, to the ecosphere, biosphere, planet, and the universe as a whole. It is our way of being and self-knowledge, and wonder --- a way of experiencing, framing, and celebrating our peculiar position in this amazing Universe.
The peculiarity of our religious outlook is that we are conscious, feeling, semi-rational beings ---- evolved and ever-changing structures of matter/energy/information. But we are entities who do not exist independently. We exist as self-aware nodes in an amazing web of interdependent, self modifying, self-creating relationships with everyone and everything else.
Religious Naturalism is our way of thinking about, feeling deeply about, wondering about, and celebrating this web, and our peculiar position within it. And it is our guide to acting ethically and rationally as part of this magnificent web. I invite you to examine it in more depth as a means for your own enlightenment and joy in living a more rational life.
What might 'spirituality' mean in a Religious Naturalist context? Is this usage not an oxymoron? How can one be 'spiritual; when one does not believe in 'spirits'?
No. I don't think using the term 'spirituality' is oxymoronic in a Religious Naturalistic context. I think one can talk about the 'human spirit' without implying anything supernatural thereby. In this sense there are concerns which, since they are common to various religions and philosophies of life --- both theistic, and non-theistic, ARE properly termed spiritual; for these are concerns which address the needs of the human spirit.
It seems to me that Pantheistic spirituality (specifically), and Religious Naturalistic spirituality (more generally) necessarily encompasses six interrelated criteria
1. meaning and value in one's own life
2. quality and depth of interpersonal relationships
3. sense of interconnectedness with all life (human and non-human), with the natural world, and with the environment
4. wonder and awe about this amazingly complex and magnificent Universe
5. deep appreciation of existence
None of these requires a belief in the supernatural. None of these is contrary to the findings of science. But all are vital concerns to the Religious Naturalist. And all are legitimately termed 'spiritual'.