Nature religion

religious movement that believes nature and the natural world is an embodiment of divinity, sacredness or spiritual power

Nature religion is a religious movement that believes the natural world is sacred.

Our scientific account of Nature ... has the potential to unite us, because it happens to be true. ~ Ursula Goodenough


  • To glorify man in his natural and unmodified self is no less surely, even if less obviously, idolatry than actually to bow down before a graven image.
    • Irving Babbitt, "English and the Discipline of Ideas" (1920), Irving Babbitt: Representative Writings (1981), p. 67
  • I admit, indeed that the expressions “Nature is God,” may be piously used, if dictated by a pious mind; but as it is inaccurate and harsh (Nature being more properly the order which has been established by God), in matters which are so very important, and in regard to which special reverence is due, it does harm to confound the Deity with the inferior operations of his hands.
  • To the man whom death’s wing has touched, what once seemed important is so no longer; and other things become so which once did not seem important or which he did not even know existed. The layers of acquired knowledge peel away from the mind like a cosmetic and reveal, in patches, the naked flesh beneath, the authentic being hidden there.

    Henceforth this was what I sought to discover: the authentic being, “the old Adam” whom the Gospels no longer accepted; the man whom everything around me—books, teachers, family and I myself—had tried from the first to suppress. And I had already glimpsed him, faint, obscured by their encrustations, but all the more valuable, all the more urgent. I scorned henceforth that secondary, learned being whom education had pasted over him.

    And I would compare myself to a palimpsest; I shared the thrill of the scholar who beneath more recent script discovers, on the same paper, an infinitely more precious ancient text.

  • Any global tradition needs to begin with a shared worldview — a culture-independent, globally accepted consensus as to how things are. From my perspective, this part is easy. How things are is, well, how things are; our scientific account of Nature, an account that can be called the Epic of Evolution. ... This is the story, the one story, that has the potential to unite us, because it happens to be true.

    If religious emotions can be elicited by natural reality — and I believe that they can — then the story of Nature has the potential to serve as the cosmos for the global ethos that we need to articulate. I will not presume to suggest what this ethos might look like. Its articulation must be a global project. But I am convinced that the project can be undertaken only if we all experience a solemn gratitude that we exist at all, share a reverence for how life works, and acknowledge a deep and complex imperative that life continue.

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