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This article focuses on recent developments in religious naturalism in the twenty-first century, building on Jerome Stone’s 2008 study of its resurgence in the mid-twentieth century. I introduce religious naturalism as a synthesis of naturalistic ideas that often depart from traditional forms of religious thinking, defining it as a capacious, ecological religious worldview grounded in the observational conviction that nature is ultimate. I also describe different models of religious naturalism, focusing on the key ideas found in the influential publications of contemporary religious naturalists (e.g., Ursula Goodenough, Donald Crosby, Loyal Rue, among others). While acknowledging specific points of emphasis, I also feature shared perspectives among these thinkers, including the rejection of traditional supernaturalism, a challenge to the ontological and epistemic exceptionalisms that have set humans over and against other forms of animal life, as well as against the ecological systems upon which they depend. These insights show religious naturalists reflecting meaningfully on the emergence of matter (and especially life) from the Big Bang forward, and promoting an understanding of myriad nature as complex processes of becoming, including human beings. As a collective, these influential writings show the interdisciplinary nature of religious naturalism, specifically illuminating its unique focus in integrating scientific knowledge with religious meaning and valuing. A final section features a younger generation of religious naturalists who focus on the social, ethical, and political implications of religious naturalism in applying its tenets to such topics as racism, eco-injustice, and democratic valuing in the Anthropocene era.

Source Publication

Bloomsbury Religion in North America


Religious Studies