On "Religious" 02/05/2010
I would like to talk about the "religious" part of the name Religious Naturalism. This is inspired by a short article in the latest issue of Quest, the monthly newsletter of the Church of Larger Fellowship, Unitarian Universalists. I have encountered a misunderstanding that to be "religious," one must believe in something supernatural. I have countered the misunderstanding by citing non-theistic religions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.
This article from Quest pointed out another common misunderstanding that Unitarian Universalists are often too non-religious. The author rightly points put that, in fact, Unitarain Universalists "take religion and religious concerns very seriously indeed. Too seriously to fake it, and sometimes too seriously to put into words."
The author goes on offer excellent definitions of the term "religious": "By religious I mean something descriptive of a primal attitude of reverence. By religious I mean an orientation sensitive to an unnamable sacred quality at the heart of our existence, that mystery that animates every cell in every living thing."
He further explains: "to be religious means paying attention to and having concern for the deeper questions of meaning and purpose and value in life. What are these religious questions? Theologian James Fowler identifies them as the basic questions of faith the world over, across time, across cultures, across the spectrum of our humanity. What commands and receives your best time and energy in life? What causes, dreams, goals, and institutions are you pouring out your life for? As you live your life, what powers do you fear or dread? What powers do you rely on and trust? To whom or what are you committed in life or in death? What are the hopes and purposes of your life?"
Yes, these are the questions Religious Naturalists ask, and they make Religious Nautralism undoubtedly religious.
Brian Hines' blog "Church of the Churchless" expounds very well the viewpoint of a post-Christian naturalist.
His latest post "Evolution shows the grandeur of life" is, in my opinion, a beautiful statement of Religious Naturalism (although he has never identified himself as such). This simple sentence says it all:
"I've been reading a few pages [of Richard Dawkins' latest book The Greatest Show on Earth] every day before I meditate. Now, I find more inspiration in science books than in spiritual books. Reality is uplifting."
The day is November 24, 2009.
From the HUUmanists email list:
Remember that today is a holy day to Humanists, Unitarian Universalists, and all others who hold sacred our rapidly increasing knowledge of our own precious human nature, and especially its relation to the rest of the universe. One hundred fifty years ago today, on November 24, 1859, Charles Darwin opened the gates of heaven with his publication of "On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life," and suddenly a great light shone down upon us all. Our understanding of ourselves has grown rapidly ever since, is growing today, and will continue to grow forever. Humanity will never be the same again.
Amen and hallelujah!
Spinoza was born on this day in 1632.
Happy Birthday to you, Spinoza. Another reason for a Humanist celebration.
Spinoza is best known for his Ethics, a monumental work that presents an ethical vision unfolding out of a monistic metaphysics in which God and Nature are identified. God is no longer the transcendent creator of the universe who rules it via providence, but Nature itself, understood as an infinite, necessary, and fully deterministic system of which humans are a part. Humans find happiness only through a rational understanding of this system and their place within it.
How do Religious Naturalists/Religious Humanists read the Bible and pray? God = Nature; God = Love 10/18/2009
How do Religious Naturalists read the Bible and pray? God = Nature
How do Religious Humanists read the Bible and pray? God = Love
I am turning from Christianity to Religious Naturalism and Religious Humanism. Naturalism believes that everything belongs to Nature as understood by science; Humanism believes that the final authority is in human. Both Naturalism and Humanism are non-theistic. The New Zealand Presbyterian theologian Lloyd Geering points out that the term "God" is a symbol which has meaning only in the pre-scientific worldview: a personal highest being who has created and is taking care of the world, and loves human. Since Enlightenment, the Western worldview has drastically changed and now the Universe is understood to be impersonal, running according to physical laws. This causes the term "God" to lose its meaning for modern people.
I still go to Christian churches occasionally. Today, I go to my old church, an Anglican church. When the word "God" is uttered while reading the Bible or saying a prayer, I have difficulty in dealing with that word. Today, right during the worship, I figured out the following solution:
When a Religious Naturalist reads the Bible or says a prayer, when the term "God" is encountered, (s)he can replace it in his/her heart by the term "Nature." Then the integrity of intellectual conscience can be maintained. Naturalism understands the "God" of the Bible as follows. Human projects to an external being "God" his/her own feelings of praise, awe, and gratitude towards Nature. Human then personalizes "God" in order to make "Him" an appropriate subject for interpersonal relationship (a familiar mode of relationship since everyone's infancy) and worship (affirmation of worth).
When a Religious Humanist reads the Bible or says a prayer, when the term "God" is encountered, (s)he can replace it in his/her heart by the term "Love" or "benevolence." Then the integrity of intellectual conscience can be maintained. Humanism understands the "God" of the Bible as follows. Human projects to an external being "God" his/her own highest values and meaning of life. Human then personalizes "God" in order to make "Him" an appropriate subject for interpersonal relationship and worship. Christians often say that Jesus is "Son of God" or "God Incarnate." In fact, the core of Jesus is Love or benevolence. Jesus is really "Son of God' or "God Incarnate" in the sense that Jesus fully expresses Love in his life to the extent that Jesus is experienced as "Son of Love" or "Love Incarnate." "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8,16).
Which word to use, then? "Nature" or "Love"? Does this imply that Naturalism and Humanism are two conflicting theories, one worships Nature as God, the other worships Love as God? My present thought is that: In the realm of Nature, "God" symbolizes Nature; in the realm of human relationship, "God" symbolizes Love. I worship both Nature and Love.
Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life (BBC) 10/06/2009
Universalist Herald 08/19/2009
I came across an article about Religious Naturalism in the latest issue (July/August 2009) of Universalist Herald. I have scanned it for you: http://uurn.webs.com/Universalist Herald.jpg
Universalist Herald, the "oldest continuously published
liberal religious periodical in North America," can be reached at www.universalist-herald.net