Friday, February 01, 2008

A brief credo

William James said: "There must be something solemn, serious, and tender about any attitude that we denote religious. If glad, it must not grin or snicker; if sad, it must not scream or curse." This is a mantra that those of use who call ourselves religious naturalists must keep in mind. We try to avoid the smug certainties of the fundamentalists and the angry scolding of the militant atheists. We seek something reflective, and tender, and open to a revelation that occurs not in some distant past but in every moment of the here and now.

We recognize what is beautiful and pure in the various religious traditions; we share with them the Golden Rule, an awareness of Mystery, and the innate human tendency to celebrate and praise. But we find in the evolutionary epic of science a more compelling narrative of who we are and where we came from than what has been on offer in supernaturalist faiths.

We have no need of miracles because we perceive the cosmos as a living miracle, even when it seems cruel and uncaring. All dualisms of natural/supernatural, body/soul, matter/spirit seem to us to fragment a creation that is most luminous in its unity. Like all people, we experience the world as strange and wonderful and sometimes terrible. If asked what is the source of that strangeness and wonderfulness and terribleness we are content to say -- reverently, humbly -- "I don't know."