This bibliography contains important representatives from most aspects of the entire field of the academic study of religious naturalism. It is far from complete, as a result, and slightly uneven. But it is extremely useful nonetheless.
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Abram, David. 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. 1st edition. New York: Pantheon Books.
Ames, Edward Scribner. 1929. Religion. New York: H. Holt and Company.
Anderson, Victor. 1998. Pragmatic Theology: Negotiating the Intersections of an American Philosophy of Religion and Public Theology. SUNY Series, Religion and American Public Life. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press.
Anderson makes the case that pragmatism and naturalism, as articulated in 20th century American philosophy, can be successfully integrated with theology and can make a powerful contribution to public life. Anderson first looks at arguments against the public legitimacy of theology presented by Richard Rorty and Jeffrey Stout. He then looks to William James, John Dewey, and Josiah Royce as mediating figures between Rorty and Stout’s theological hesitancy and his own attempt at rapprochement between pragmatism and theology. The latter part of the book examines theologies that have stemmed from pragmatic impulses, including those of the Chicago School theologians, D.C. Macintosh, and H. Richard Niebuhr. Anderson concludes with his own attempt to synthesize pragmatism and theology into a successful public theology.
Anton, John Peter. 2005. American Naturalism and Greek Philosophy. Amherst, N.Y: Humanity Books.
This book explores the role that Greek philosophy has played in the development of American philosophical naturalism primarily through looking at key naturalist thinkers who have integrated Greek thought within their work. The seven naturalist thinkers treated in this volume are George Santayana, Frederick J.E. Woodbridge, John Dewey, John H. Randall, Herbert Schneider, Ernest Nagel, and Justus Buchler. Two additional essays treat more generally the influence on American thought of Platonism and Aristotelianism.
Barlow, Connie C. 1997. Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science. New York: Copernicus.
Barlow writes about the religious celebration that one can experience when immersed in the wonder of studying the ecological biodiversity and geophysiology. Barlow takes a spiritual approach to science that is consonant with works of similar authors such as Brian Swimme, Ursula Goodenough, and Thomas Berry.
Bateson, Gregory. 1991. A Sacred Unity: Further Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Edited by Rodney E Donaldson. 1st ed. New York: Cornelia & Michael Bessie Book.
Bateson, Gregory, and Mary Catherine Bateson. 1987. Angels Fear: Towards an Epistemology of the Sacred. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
Beilby, James K., ed. 2002. Naturalism Defeated?: Essays on Plantinga's Evolutionaryargument Against Naturalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
A collection of responses to Alvin Plantinga’s argument that philosophical naturalism is self-defeating since mere adaptive behavior, considered apart from any creative design, can never guarantee true belief. Responses fall into four categories: 1) Science and Evolution 2) Skepticism 3) Conditional Probabilities and Confirmation Theory 4) The Nature of Epistemic Defeat. Plantinga provides an introduction and final remarks.
Bernhardt, William Henry. A Functional Philosophy of Religion. Denver: Criterion Press,, c1958.
Berry, Thomas. 2000. The Great Work: Our Way into the Future. 1st edition. New York: Bell Tower.
Berry calls for the recovery of a relationship of intimacy between humans and the earth they inhabit. Berry asks his readers to participate in the “Great Work” of communing with the earth as a fellow subject to be cared for rather than exploited. If nurtured, this communion of mutual benefit promises to draw humanity into a deeper experience of the natural world’s profound mystery and grace. Berry offers interesting reflections on the North American landscape and on the ecological insights of its indigenous cultures, as well as on the creative spontaneity, or “wildness,” at the root of nature that demands humanity’s respect. Berry also provides practical suggestions concerning how ecological nurturing must be supported by educational institutions and by economic reform.
Berry, Thomas. 2009. The Sacred Universe: Earth, Spirituality, and Religion in the Twenty-First Century. Edited by Mary Evelyn Tucker. New York: Columbia University Press.
This is a series of essays from Thomas Berry, collected from a thirty-year time span, all addressing the relationship between religion, ecology, and spirituality. The book is ultimately a call to the world’s religious traditions to recover a sense of the deep connection that human spirituality has with the evolving life of the natural universe.
Blum, Edward J, and Jason R Young, eds. 2009. The Souls of W.E.B. Du Bois: New Essays and Reflections. 1st ed. Macon, Ga: Mercer University Press.
Buchler, Justus. 1990. Metaphysics of Natural Complexes. Edited by Kathleen Wallace, Armen Marsoobian, and Robert S Corrington. 2nd ed. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Buchler presents his own unique naturalist metaphysics, what can be characterized as “ordinal” naturalism. Buchler’s system is built around the notion that reality can be understood in terms of “natural complexes.” Natural complexes can be physical entities as well as mental ideas. In general, a natural complex is any organized multiplicity. Buchler builds upon his understanding of natural complexes in order to construct a metaphysics that addresses a wide range of philosophical concerns. A key concept in Buchler’s work is that no natural complex has ontological priority over other complexes. Rather, there is an ontological parity between complexes in that all complexes are as real as any other by virtue of being ordinally located.
Burhoe, Ralph Wendell, ed. 1971. Science and Human Values in the 21st Century. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
This book is a series of essays from five different authors, including Burhoe, that deal with the relationship between science and religion, human values, and world culture. All of the authors argue that religion has a positive role to play in the promotion of human values, although all embrace scientific openness and advance. The other four authors are Harold K. Schilling, Langdon Gilkey, O.H. Mowrer, and Robert L. Sinsheimer.
Burhoe, Ralph Wendell. 1981. Toward a Scientific Theology. Belfast ;: Christian Journals Limited.
Cavanaugh, Michael. 1996. Biotheology: A New Synthesis of Science and Religion. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Cavanaugh attempts to construct a new theological worldview that is thoroughly informed by the insights of evolutionary biology. The first part of the book gives an overview of evolutionary biology and the emergence of thought, language, and culture. Part two examines traditional theological concepts and scriptural interpretations and explores how these might be re-imagined and reconstructed in the light of science. Part three looks at how Cavanaughs’ construction of “biotheology” might be incorporated at the existential level through a consideration of topics such as free will, morality, salvation, and happiness. Part four examines how biotheology might be applied in politics, economics, education, and religious practice.
Clark, Thomas W. 2007. Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses. Somerville, Mass.: Center for Naturalism.
This book is a short and easily accessible introduction to naturalism as a worldview. It begins by offering a succinct summary of the central tenets of naturalism coupled with a historical overview of the roots of naturalism. It then moves on to address many of the positive implications that a naturalist worldview can have for society and for one’s own existential wellbeing.
Cohen, Jack. 1958. The Case for Religious Naturalism; A Philosophy for the Modern Jew. New York: Reconstructionist Press.
Following in the footsteps of Mordecai Kaplan, Cohen attempts to provide a naturalistic reconstruction of the Jewish religion. Religious naturalism is for Cohen the locus by which the Jewish religion can find a sense of its own continuity through social-historical change. According to Cohen, a naturalist approach to the Jewish religion allows Jews to value being a part of a special historical group of people that is striving to produce better human beings while also acknowledging what the Jewish religion shares in common with all other traditions of religious engagement in the world.
Comte-Sponville, André. 2007. The little book of atheist spirituality. Translated by Nancy Huston. New York: Viking Press.
Corrington, Robert S. 1992. Nature and Spirit: An Essay in Ecstatic Naturalism. New York: Fordham University Press.
Corrington attempts to develop a philosophy of nature that is attentive to the challenges of phenomenology and which avoids the tendencies of what he calls "descriptive naturalism" (Peirce, Dewey) to downplay "nature's spiritual and self-transcending" potencies. Corrington offers as an alternative to such descriptive naturalism his notion of "ecstatic naturalism," which is informed by phenomenology, depth psychology, and pragmatism.
Corrington, Robert S. 1994. Ecstatic Naturalism: Signs of the World. Advances in Semiotics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Corrington develops a naturalistic metaphysics that gives emphasis to the semitoic and presemiotic characteristics of nature’s own self-transforming dynamic. According to Corrington, semiosis runs infinitely deep within the processes of nature “naturing” itself, but this world semiosis springs from potencies that are pre-semiotic and pre-formal. Corrington attempts to give philosophical articulation to how semiosis and pre-semiosis are inextricably intertwined within nature’s unfolding.
Corrington, Robert S. 1997. Nature's Religion. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.
Corrington draws upon Charles Peirce’s semiotic theory as well as the insights of phenomenology and psychoanalytic theory in order to give an account of nature that is richly spiritual in import. This is a further development of Corrington’s theory of “ecstatic naturalism” in which he tries to more adequately respond to past criticisms of his work that fault him for unnecessarily inserting the notion of an “abyss” between the activities of "nature naturing" and "nature natured".
Craig, William Lane, and James Porter Moreland, eds. 2000. Naturalism: A Critical Analysis. Routledge Studies in Twentieth Century Philosophy. Volume 5. London; New York: Routledge.
This work is an attempt to provide philosophical critiques of naturalism from all the major branches of philosophy (epistemology, metaphysics, and axiology). A final section looks at how naturalism competes as a cosmological model and at how naturalism fares against the Intelligent Design argument. Most of the articles are analytical philosophical arguments. The overarching goal of the book is to discredit naturalism as a philosophical option and to bolster the claims of philosophical theism.
Crosby, Donald A. 2002. A Religion of Nature. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
This work can be seen as an attempt to recover a sense of what is religiously significant about nature, set in contrast to other works in theology and ecological ethics that focus on humanity’s place within nature as opposed to what is religiously ultimate about nature itself. Crosby gives a personal account of his own conversion to a type of religious naturalism. He answers several objections to religious naturalism and speculates about the viability of religious naturalism as a religious tradition.
Crosby, Donald A. 2008. Living with Ambiguity: Religious Naturalism and the Menace of Evil. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Crosby addresses how to cope with the moral ambiguity of nature within a religious naturalist framework. Crosby calls upon humans to “rely upon one another” and to open themselves to the “healing powers of the nonhuman parts of nature” in order to respond more effectively to the problems of natural and moral evil in the universe.
Davaney, Sheila Greeve. 2000. Pragmatic Historicism: A Theology for the Twenty-First Century. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press.
Davaney develops a historicist framework for doing theology that sets itself apart from postliberal and revisionist modes of historicism, opting instead for what she calls "pragmatic historicism." Davaney examines theologians who might be identified as pragmatic historicists such as Gordon Kaufman, William Dean, and Linell Cady. She also treats pragmatic historicists who have worked outside of theology, such as Jeffrey Stout, Richard Rorty, and Cornell West. This text is valuable for students of religious naturalism in that religious naturalism and historicism stem from a lot of common literature and might be seen as close scholarly cousins.
De Caro, Mario, and David Macarthur, eds. 2004. Naturalism in Question. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
This book is an appeal for a broader, more inclusive vision of naturalism that avoids the unnecessary restrictions of scientific naturalism that have developed over the past century. It includes a broad range of philosophical articles covering topics such as ontology, philosophy of mind, agency, and ethical normativity. The common theme running throughout is that strict scientific naturalism does not give an adequate interpretation of the full scope of human experience.
Deacon, Terrence William. 1997. The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain. 1st edition. New York: W.W. Norton.
Dean, William. 1986. American Religious Empiricism. SUNY Series in Religious Studies. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press.
Dean surveys the various modes of American religious empiricism (pragmatist, socio-historical, cosmological) and ultimately argues for a thoroughly historicist approach to theological empiricist inquiry. This is a useful text for students of religious naturalism who seek to understand the development of American empiricism, from which so many varieties of religious naturalism have sprung.
Dean, William D. 1994. The Religious Critic in American Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Dewey, John. 1958. Experience and Nature. New York: Dover Publications, c1929.
Dewey, John. 1959. Art as Experience. New York: Capricorn Books, c1934.
Dewey, John. 1991. A Common Faith. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, c1934.
Dewey discusses the difference between “religion” and being “religious,” arguing that though there are many religions in the world (none of which has a monopoly on religiosity), to be “religious” is a universal trait accessible to anyone who pursues an “ideal end against obstacles and in spite of threats of personal loss because of conviction of its general and enduring value.” Dewey presents this vision of religiosity as an alternative to any interpretation of religion that demands a supernaturalist framework in order to be religious. In the latter part of the book, Dewey goes on to show how faith divorced from supernaturalism is superior to supernaturalist religion. This kind of faith, according to Dewey, is understood as the “unification of the self through allegiance to ideal ends, which imagination presents to us and to which the human will responds as worth of controlling our desires and choices.”
Dillard, Annie. 1999. For the Time Being. 1st edition. New York: Knopf, Distributed by Random House.
Dowd, Michael. 2008. Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World. 1st edition. New York: Viking.
Drees, Willem B. 1996. Religion, Science, and Naturalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Drees provides a historical and thematic survey of the complex relationship between religion and science and also argues for a thoroughly naturalist understanding of religion that is deeply rooted in evolutionary biology and neuroscience. But Drees is careful to stress that a naturalist understanding of religion does not compromise religion’s importance as that which responds to the awesome mystery of the universe.
Eames, S. Morris. 1977. Pragmatic Naturalism: An Introduction. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Eames attempts to give an introductory guide to the insights of the American philosophical movement associated with the works of Charles Peirce, John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, and William James, what Eames calls the movement of "pragmatic naturalism." Eames structures the work according to four primary topics: nature and human life, knowledge, value, and education.
Eddy, Beth. 2003. The Rites of Identity: The Religious Naturalism and Cultural Criticism of Kenneth Burke and Ralph Ellison. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
This book makes the case that literary theorist Kenneth Burke should be seen as significant influence on the work of Ralph Ellison, particularly with respect to Ellison’s understanding of personal identity. Eddy places both Burke and Ellison squarely with the traditions of religious naturalism and pragmatism. Eddy provides close readings of both Burke and Ellison and recommends the anti-essentialist approach to personal identity that can be found in both.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. 2003. Nature and Selected Essays. Edited by Larzer Ziff. Penguin classics. New York: Penguin Books.
Foster, George Burman. 1909. The Function of Religion in Man's Struggle For Existence. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
Frankenberry, Nancy. 1987. Religion and Radical Empiricism. SUNY Series in Religious Studies. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Frankenberry provides a survey of empiricism in philosophy and treats with special emphasis the radical empiricism of the early American pragmatists, the “Chicago school” theologians, Alfred North Whitehead, and Abhidharma Buddhism. This text is useful to students of religious naturalism in that it engages in depth the empirical philosophy that was central to the shapers of religious naturalist thought.
Goetz, Stewart. 2008. Naturalism. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub.
Goetz and Taliafero critique what they call “strict” philosophical naturalism, which holds that “nature is all that exists and nature itself is whatever will be disclosed by the ideal natural sciences,” for not being able to give an adequate answer to why humans experience things such as personal agency, pleasure and pain, and consciousness. They also question the primacy in current debate of “broad” philosophical naturalism, which rejects “that there is anything in the world that cannot (ultimately) be accounted for in terms of the sciences,” for not being able to persuasively demonstrate why an appeal to theism should be unacceptable within philosophical inquiry.
Goodenough, Ursula. 1998. The Sacred Depths of Nature. New York: Oxford University Press.
In what has become a contemporary classic of religious naturalist literature, Goodenough offers devotional meditations on the wonders of nature, using detailed scientific accounts of natural processes as her starting point. Goodenough reflects on the mysteries of physics, evolutionary biology, sexuality, cellular composition, and more, stirring up rich insights that lead one to consider humanity’s deepest religious questions in a whole new light.
Gottlieb, Roger S., ed. 2004. This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment. 2nd edition. New York: Routledge.
Griffin, David Ray. 2000. Religion and Scientific Naturalism : Overcoming the Conflicts. SUNY Series in Constructive Postmodern Thought. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Griffin, David Ray. 2004. Two Great Truths: A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith. 1st edition. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
Griffin critiques definitions of naturalism that he sees to be either too minimal (naturalism as mere non-supernaturalism) or overly restrictive (naturalism as sensationist, atheistic, and materialist) and attempts to provide a more holistic alternative that is capable of being synthesized with the Christian faith. Griffin defines his own understanding of naturalism, which draws heavily upon process thought, as “prehensive,” “panexperiantilist,” and “panentheistic.” Griffin provides interesting reinterpretations of classical Christian doctrines that line up with his own naturalist worldview.
Gustafson, James M. 1981 and 1984. Ethics from a Theocentric Perspective. 2 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Gustafson, James M. 1996. A Sense of the Divine: The Natural Environment from a Theocentric Perspective. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2008. Between Naturalism and Religion: Philosophical Essays. Translated by Ciaran Cronin. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Habermas looks at the tension between religion and secularity in the West and explores both the strengths and limitations of post-metaphysical reasoning in our contemporary context of religious resurgence. This is a series of essays that have been written for a variety of occasions and therefore do not form a systematic whole.
Hammond, William D. 1996. Ecology of the Human Spirit: Fourteen Discourses in Reverential Naturalism. Voices of Liberal Religion. Minneapolis: Rising Press.
Hardwick, Charley D. 2008. Events of Grace: Naturalism, Existentialism and Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hardwick draws upon the naturalist theology of Henry Nelson Wieman, the non-reductive physicalism of John Post, and the existential insights of Martin Heidegger and Rudolph Bultmann in order to formulate a naturalist understanding of theism that Hardwick calls “valuational theism.” Valuational theism is the notion that “God” is what is valued as the creative source of grace in the world, grace that can only be recognized in an existential mode of “seeing-as” within a non-reductive physical universe.
Haught, John F. 2006. Is Nature Enough?: Meaning and Truth in the Age of Science. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Through a series of essays on topics including “intelligence,” “purpose,” “morality,” “suffering,” and “death,” Haught offers his critique of naturalism and suggests as an alternative that there is always more to reality than what can be explained by naturalistic accounts. Haught accuses the naturalist worldview of being “insufficiently attentive” to the full depth of human experience, which is resistant reductionist accounts.
Hogue, Michael S. 2008. The Tangled Bank: Toward an Ecotheological Ethics of Responsible Participation. Princeton Theological Monograph Series 89. Eugene, Or: Pickwick Publications.
Hogue comparatively analyzes and critiques the philosophies of Hans Jonas and James Gustafson in order to highlight the importance of both “responsibility” and “participation” within an ecotheological ethic. At the heart of Hogue’s work is an urgent concern for the environmental crises of our time, which are the most threatening in world history due to the unprecedented power over nature that humanity is able to wield. According to Hogue, if these crises are to be addressed effectively, humanity must be able to take responsibility for its moral choices as well as appreciate the intertangled character of its existence within the ultimate order of things.
Hook, Sidney. 1963. The Quest for Being, and Other Studies in Naturalism and Humanism. New York, NY: Dell Publishing Co, c1961.
This book is a series of essays from Sidney Hook arguing for a worldview that is pragmatic, humanist, naturalist, and empiricist. Hook argues that philosophers should abandon the presumption that they have unique access to metaphysical truths and simply strive to be faithful to the findings of the social and natural sciences. Hook thinks that philosophers can submit to the sciences in this way and still perform a useful task of projecting a “vision of human excellence” through providing critical conceptual reflection upon human experience.
Huxley, Julian. 1967. Religion Without Revelation. New edition. London: Watts, c1927.
Inbody, Tyron. 1995. The Constructive Theology of Bernard Meland: Postliberal Empirical Realism. AAR Studies in Religion; no. 69. Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press.
Johnston, Mark. 2009. Saving God: Religion After Idolatry. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
Johnston shows how the denial of the supernatural can itself be a salvific religious orientation, one that appropriately redirects one’s focus away from potentially idolatrous conceptions of God and self-concerned preoccupations with one’s own soul toward what one can do about the large-scale defects of life that humanity must take responsibility for in the here and now.
Johnston, Mark. 2010. Surviving Death. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kahn, Jonathon Samuel. 2009. Divine Discontent: The Religious Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kahn interprets W.E.B Dubois as a pragmatic religious naturalist, connecting Dubois’ religiosity with his sense of racial piety. The book concludes with a forward vision of what pragmatic religious naturalism for the African American community might look like in this post-Dubois era.
Kaplan, Mordecai Menahem. 1985. Dynamic Judaism: The Essential Writings of Mordecai M. Kaplan. Edited by Emanuel S Goldsmith and Mel Scult. New York: Schocken Books: Reconstructionist Press.
Kaplan, Mordecai Menahem. 1994. The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Religion. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, c1962.
Kauffman, Stuart A. 2008. Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason and Religion. New York: Basic Books.
Kauffman works to “present a new view of a fully natural God and of the sacred” by giving a scientific account of the “creativity” that is discoverable within natural processes. Kaufmann rejects that life can be reduced to physics alone, showing through reflections on biology, neuroscience, economics, quantum mechanics and more that the universe bespeaks a mysterious creativity at work that is worthy of humanity’s religious devotion.
Kaufman, Gordon D. 1993. In Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Kaufman makes the case that traditional theological symbols need to be creatively reconstructed so that humans can better adapt to the severe global ecological challenges that they face and create a more sustainable, more humane world order. Most importantly, Kaufman calls for the reconstruction of the symbol of God, so that God is not understood as a cosmic being with specific purposes that hinder humanity’s adaptive potential but rather as the serendipitous creativity within nature that promotes human progress and flourishing.
Kaufman, Gordon D. 2004. In the Beginning-- Creativity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
Kaufman explores with greater depth the concept of "creativity" that he utilizes in his previous theological work "In Face of Mystery." Chapter one looks at the impact that an evolutionary/ecological worldview should have on the construction of theology. Chapters two and three look at how God might be conceived as "serendipitous creativity." Kaufman includes an epilogue in which he personally reflects on how the themes of God and human responsibility have impacted him in his own theological development.
Kaufman, Gordon D. 2006. Jesus and Creativity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
King, Barbara J. 2007. Evolving God: A Provocative View of the Origins of Religion. 1st edition. New York: Doubleday.
Lamprecht, Sterling Power. 1967. The Metaphysics of Naturalism. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Lamprecht defends the merits of metaphysical inquiry within a philosophically empiricist framework. This potential for metaphysics has implications for Lamprecht with respect to philosophical naturalism’s compatibility with religion. Lamprecht takes naturalism to be itself a metaphysic that has significant bearing on all other scientific inquiry, promoting within inquirers both the virtue of piety toward nature’s contingencies as well as the virtue of courage in the face of nature’s creative possibilities.
Leaves, Nigel. 2006. The God Problem: Alternatives to Fundamentalism. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Polebridge Press.
Levinson, Henry S. 1992. Santayana, Pragmatism, and the Spiritual Life. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Loomer, Bernard. 1987. The Size of God: The Theology of Bernard Loomer in Context. Ed. William D Dean and Larry E Axel. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press.
Margolis, Joseph. 2010. Pragmatism's Advantage: American and European Philosophy at the End of the Twentieth Century. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Margolis overviews and analyzes the pragmatist, continental, and analytic philosophical traditions and argues for “pragmatism’s advantage,” albeit a pragmatism that represents a rapprochement of all three traditions. This work is relevant to religious naturalists for the way in which it attempts to give a robust account of humanity’s uniqueness and impressiveness within a thoroughgoing naturalist framework.
Mathews, Shailer. 1931. The Growth of the Idea of God. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
Meland, Bernard Eugene. 1934. Modern Man's Worship; a Search for Reality in Religion. New York: Harper & brothers.
Meland, Bernard Eugene. 1947. Seeds of Redemption, New York,: The Macmillan Company.
Meland, Bernard Eugene. 1962. The Realities of Faith; the Revolution in Cultural Forms. New York: Oxford University Press.
Meland, Bernard Eugene. 1976. Fallible Forms and Symbols: Discourses on Method in a Theology of Culture. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Murry, William R. 2006. Reason and Reverence: Religious Humanism for the 21st Century. Boston, MA: Skinner House Books.
Since Murry finds religious humanism often to be too anthropocentric and religious naturalism to be an insufficient source of value and morality, he attempts to combine the two into what he calls a “humanistic religious naturalism.” He explores the histories and central tenets of both humanism and naturalism and concludes that a viable humanistic religious naturalism must include five characteristics: 1) “the affirmation that human beings are an integral part of nature” 2) an affirmation of “humankind’s responsibility to preserve and sustain the natural world” 3) taking seriously “the implications for religion of the remarkable discoveries of the modern natural and human sciences” 4) a recognition of “the importance of both reason and reverence” 5) an affirmation of “those values that help to make our live more fully human.”
Nielsen, Kai. 2001. Naturalism and Religion. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books.
In this massive and comprehensive volume, Kai Nielsen presents a thorough articulation and defense of a philosophically naturalist worldview. Nielsen includes an exchange between Sydney Hook and himself on the merits of a more open-minded naturalism (Hook) versus a more thoroughgoing atheistic naturalism (Nielsen). Nielsen credits Wittgenstein at the end of the volume with having the strongest argument for why a naturalistic worldview might be rejected, but he ultimately concludes that Wittgenstein’s views are not enough to undermine his own approach.
Patton, Kenneth L. 1954. Man's Hidden Search: An Inquiry Into Naturalistic Humanism. Boston,: Meeting House Press.
Peacocke, A. R. 2007. All That Is: A Naturalistic Faith for the Twenty-First Century: A Theological Proposal with Responses from Leading Thinkers in the Religion-Science Dialogue. Edited by Philip Clayton. Theology and the Sciences. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
In the last year of his life, Arthur Peacocke wrote the central essay of this book, “A Naturalistic Christian Faith for the Twentieth Century: An Essay in Interpretation,” as a final articulation of how he had come to understand the reconciliation between religion and science. Peacocke reinterprets the Christian faith in a way that is “emergentist,” “panentheistic,” and “naturalistic,” taking time to explain what each of these perspectives entails. The second half of the book includes responses to Peacocke’s work followed by short replies from Peacocke. Philip Clayton, who writes the introduction, also edited the book.
Peden, Creighton, and Larry E Axel, eds. 1993. New Essays in Religious Naturalism. Highlands Institute Series 2. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.
This is a series of essays on religious naturalism that stem from the conference on American religious thought held by the Highlands Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought. The essays mostly center upon the work of “Chicago school” religious naturalists such as Bernard Loomer, Bernard Meland, and Henry Nelson Wieman. Considerable attention is also given to the thought of Gordon Kaufman who has appropriated a good deal from the Chicago school in his own theological formulations.
Peters, Karl Edward. 2002. Dancing with the Sacred: Evolution, Ecology, and God. Harrisburg, Pa: Trinity Press International.
Peters delivers a series of short but insightful essays that give articulation to his own unique construction of religious naturalism. Peters draws upon principles from Darwinian evolution and from non-equilibrium thermodynamics in order to poetically imagine a vision of the divine in which evolutionary flux, unpredictability, and creativity are all valued for their “dance”-like characteristics.
Phenix, Philip Henry. 1954. Intelligible Religion. New York: Harper.
Post, John F. 1987. The Faces of Existence: An Essay in Nonreductive Metaphysics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Pratt, James Bissett. 1939. Naturalism. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Quine, W. V. 1980. From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays. 2nd edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Raman, Varadaraja V. 2009. Truth and Tension in Science and Religion. Center Ossipee, N.H.: Beech River Books.
Raymo, Chet. 1998. Skeptics and True Believers: The Exhilarating Connection between Science and Religion. New York: Walker and Co.
Raymo makes a distinction between “Skeptics,” who “accept the evolving nature of truth and are willing to live with a measure of uncertainty,” and “True Believers,” who “seek simple and certain truths, provided by a source that is more reliable than the human mind.” Though religious faith is often associated only with “True Believers,” Raymo, who identifies himself as a “thoroughgoing Skeptic,” wants to show that skepticism is compatible with spirituality. This book is an easy to read exploration of how scientific skepticism can be integrated within a life of spiritual sensitivity and wonder.
Raymo, Chet. 2008. When God Is Gone Everything Is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist. Notre Dame, ID: Sorin Books.
Raymo gives an account of his journey from being a traditional Roman Catholic to becoming a religious naturalist. Peppering personal and literary anecdotes all throughout, Raymo reflects on various topics including prayer, the mind/body problem, genetic complexity, and the virtues of epistemic humility within a context of ever-expanding empirical inquiry. Highly recommended as an introductory volume to religious naturalism that can appeal to a wide public audience beyond the confines of academia.
Rea, Michael C. 2002. World Without Design: The Ontological Consequences of Naturalism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Building upon the notion of “research programs” from Lakatos, Rea attempts to argue that naturalism as a research program should be rejected based upon its unattractive consequences, namely that it entails, according to Rea’s argument, the rejection of realism about material objects and realism about other minds. Rea explores as an alternative to naturalism the prospect of formulating research programs based upon intuitionism and supernaturalism.
Reich, Lou. 1998. Hume's Religious Naturalism. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Reich critically examines David Humes Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion as well as his essay “Of Miracles” in order to argue that Hume is better identified as a religious naturalist rather than as an atheist skeptic.
Ritchie, Jack. 2008. Understanding Naturalism. Stocksfield [England]: Acumen.
This is an overview of naturalism as it is understood in the context of contemporary analytic philosophy. Topics include the naturalized epistemology of W.V. Quine, naturalized philosophy of science, supervenience, physicalism, and theories of meaning and truth. Ritchie ends up ultimately arguing for what he calls a “deflationary” naturalist approach to these questions that eschews overarching metaphysical interpretations (such as realism or anti-realism) in favor of sticking close to the details of science.
Rue, Loyal D. 2005. Religion Is Not About God: How Spiritual Traditions Nurture Our Biological Nature and What to Expect When They Fail. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Rue sets out to “construct a satisfying general account of religion” that refuses to invoke “supernatural principles of explanation.” The book is divided into three parts. The first part is focused on grounding the nature of religion within an evolutionary framework. The second part is an exploration of particular religious traditions with respect to how they have responded adaptively to specific human needs. Rue looks at Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism and treats each according to their historical context, myths, emotional appeals, ancillary strategies, and contributions to personal wholeness and social coherence. The third part asks questions about the future of religion and argues that the viability of religion will lie in its ability to reorient humanity’s values in such a way as to respond effectively to massive impending global crises.
Ryder, John, ed. 1994. American Philosophic Naturalism in the Twentieth Century. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books.
This is a compilation of essays on American philosophical naturalism in the twentieth century with contributions from both classic and contemporary authors. The essays are divided into nine sections, each section covering different issues pertinent to philosophical naturalism including but not limited to materialism, experience, scientific method, logic, epistemology, ethical theory, humanism, aesthetics, and religion.
Santayana, George. 2009. The Essential Santayana: Selected Writings. Edited by the Santayana Edition (Group). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
This is a collection of the essential works of George Santayana, who is one of the key founders of American pragmatism and considered to be a foundational figure of religious naturalism. Santayana has much to say about the values that arise from human experience within a naturalist metaphysics. The work includes autobiographical material followed by essays on a variety of topics including skepticism, ontology, art, religion, spirituality, ethics, politics, literature, and culture.
Schleiermacher, Friedrich. 1999. The Christian Faith. Edited by H. R Mackintosh and James Stuart Stewart. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
This is a classic reconstruction of systematic theology in which Schleiermacher develops his interpretation of God as the “whence” from which springs our “feeling of absolute dependence.” Schleiermacher is considered the father of modern liberal theology because of his emphasis on human experience as the starting point for critical theological reflection. In this respect, his influence on the development of religious naturalism is unquestionable, making his work a must read for those interested in the field.
Sellars, Roy Wood. 1918. The Next Step in Religion; an Essay Toward the Coming Renaissance. New York: The Macmillan Company.
Sellars, Roy Wood. 1928. Religion Coming of Age. New York: The Macmillan Company.
Sellars, Roy Wood. 1969. Evolutionary Naturalism. New York: Russell & Russell, c1922.
Sellars attempts to develop what he calls an “adequate naturalism” that thoroughly appreciates all of what nature has to offer within an emergent evolutionary framework. Sellars rejects the reduction of naturalist philosophies to only what can be explained by the laws of physics. Rather, Sellars turns more emphatically to the science of evolutionary biology and seeks to call attention to novelties in nature that emerge from physical properties but nevertheless cannot be reduced to those properties.
Shaw, Marvin C. 1995. Nature's Grace: Essays on H.N. Wieman's Finite Theism. American Liberal Religious Thought. Volume 2. New York: P. Lang.
Shea, William M. 1984. The Naturalists and the Supernatural: Studies in Horizon and an American Philosophy of Religion. Macon, Ga.: Mercer.
Shea explores the interaction between American naturalism and religion, primarily through examining how religion comes into play within the philosophies of four American naturalists: George Santayana, John Dewey, Frederick J.E. Woodbridge, and John H. Randall. In light of these examinations, Shea’s final chapter looks at how the “supernatural” might be understood and related to within a naturalist framework.
Shook, John R, and Paul Kurtz, eds. 2009. The Future of Naturalism. Amherst, N.Y: Humanity Books.
This is a series of essays focusing on philosophical naturalism. Many of the essays deal particularly with the close relationship that naturalism has with the American philosophical school of pragmatism. As noted in the introduction, the essays “consider a wide variety of challenges for naturalism, proposing improved defenses and novel developments for naturalism.” The work is divided into three parts. The first part tries to circumscribe a viable definition of naturalism. The second part looks at the potential contributions of pragmatism. The third part looks at potential contemporary applications of naturalism.
Singer, Beth J. 1983. Ordinal Naturalism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Justus Buchler. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press.
Skinner, Clarence Russell. 2005. The Essential Clarence Skinner: A Brief Introduction to His Life and Writings. Ed. Charles A Howe. Boston: Skinner House Books.
Snyder, Gary. 1990. The Practice of the Wild: Essays. San Francisco: North Point Press.
Snyder, Gary. 1992. No Nature: New and Selected Poems. 1st ed. New York: Pantheon Books.
Snyder, Gary. 1995. A Place in Space: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Watersheds: New and Selected Prose. Washington, D.C: Counterpoint.
Spretnak, Charlene. 1991. States of Grace: The Recovery of Meaning in the Postmodern Age. 1st edition. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Spretnak seeks to show how various wisdom traditions can still be mined for rich, spiritual insight even within a deconstructive postmodern framework. Spretnak explores Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Goddess spirituality, and the Semitic traditions of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, looking to each for symbolic expressions of grace and for unique religious emphases such as mind, nature, the body, and social justice.
Stone, Jerome Arthur. 1992. The Minimalist Vision of Transcendence: A Naturalist Philosophy of Religion. SUNY Series in Religious Studies. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Stone, Jerome Arthur. 2008. Religious Naturalism Today: The Rebirth of a Forgotten Alternative. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Stone gives the most comprehensive survey to date of the literature on religious naturalism. Stone identifies two key phases in religious naturalism’s history, its early phase rooted in early 20th century American philosophy and its contemporary phase of rebirth. The classical roots of religious naturalism prior to the 20th century are only briefly considered. Stone treats both the early and contemporary phases by surveying key thinkers and showing how they have handled specific issues important to religious naturalism. Two issues that are particularly important to Stone are the nature of the object of religious orientation and the nature of religious language.
Swimme, Brian. 1984. The Universe is a Green Dragon: A Cosmic Creation Story. Santa Fe: Bear and Company.
Swimme, Brian. 1996. The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos: Humanity and the New Story. Ecology and Justice. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books.
This book aims to ask basic existential questions that are important to humanity (Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going?) from the perspective of contemporary science. It can be seen as an attempt to integrate scientific perspectives on cosmology with ancient wisdom traditions that have also concerned themselves with cosmological questions. It is an effective and accessible introductory volume aimed at a broad readership.
Swimme, Brian, and Thomas Berry. 1994. The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth To the Ecozoic Era--a Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos. 1st ed. San Francisco, Calif.: HarperSanFrancisco.
Aiming to draw their readers into a deeper reverence for and celebration of the awesomeness of the natural world, Swimme and Berry give a sweeping dramatic account of the narrative of the universe. The authors call attention to our contemporary era, what they call the Ecozoic Era, as an unprecedented moment in natural history with respect to humanity’s expanded participatory role. The ultimate intention of the book is to call readers to appreciate this expanded role, and to embrace it responsibly with a sense of adventure and wonder.
Thoreau, Henry David. 2008. Walden, Civil Disobedience, and Other Writings: Authoritative Texts, Journal, Reviews and Posthumous Assessments, Criticism. Edited by William John Rossi. 3rd edition. A Norton Critical Edition. New York: W.W. Norton.
Tillich, Paul. 1951, 1957, 1963. Systematic Theology. 3 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, c1951-1963.
Tillich, Paul. 1969. What Is Religion? Translated by James Luther Adams. 1st edition. New York: Harper & Row.
Tillich, Paul. 2000. The Courage to Be. 2nd edition. Yale Nota Bene. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Welch, Sharon D. 2000. A Feminist Ethic of Risk. Rev. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, c1990.
White, Carol Wayne. 2008. The Legacy of Anne Conway (1631-1679): Reverberations from a Mystical Naturalism. Albany: State University of New York Press.
This book is an attempt to recover insights into the work of Anne Conway, a seventeenth century philosopher who offered important critiques of mechanistic naturalism in her time. The first part of this book focuses on Conway’s historical setting in seventeenth century England, her late conversion to Quakerism, and her key work The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy. The second part focuses on Conway’s contemporary relevance, showing how her work can be seen as a precursor to twentieth century process and religious naturalist thought as well as identifying Conway’s importance to postmodern and feminist religious scholarship.
Whitehead, Alfred North. 1925. Science and the Modern World. New York: The Macmillan Company.
Whitehead, Alfred North. 1938. Modes of Thought. First printing. New York: The Macmillan Company.
Whitehead, Alfred North. 1979. Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. Edited by David Ray Griffin and Donald W Sherburne. Corrected edition. Gifford lectures 1927-28. New York: Free Press.
Whitehead, Alfred North. 1996. Religion in the Making. New York: Fordham University Press, c1926.
This is a series of lectures delivered by Whitehead at the King’s Chapel in Boston in 1926. All of the lectures focus on the evolving nature of religion. Whitehead, like William James, argues that religion is primarily a “solitary” affair and that the essence of any religion only decays as it becomes increasingly socialized and dogmatized. Pure religion is rooted in the solitary feelings of individuals. Whitehead shows how religions that hold too tightly to concrete dogmas and identities are doomed to fail since true religion is about tapping into eternal ideals that present to the world inexhaustibly novel possibilities.
Wieman, Henry Nelson. 1926. Religious Experience and Scientific Method. New York: Macmillan.
Wieman, Henry Nelson. 1946. The Source of Human Good. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Wieman locates the source of human good within natural processes and calls upon humanity to take responsibility for the nurturing of this good through responsible interaction with nature while also recognizing that the creative source of good is itself beyond human control and manipulation. Wieman distinguishes between “created good,” which is the good that humanity is able to control, and “creative good,” which is the transformative source of all created good that humanity must not seek to control but must rather give itself over to. Wieman makes clear that humanity’s ultimate loyalty must be to creative good. If humanity focuses only on created good without recognizing its generative source, then created good becomes qualitatively demonic.
Wieman, Henry Nelson. 1958. Man's Ultimate Commitment. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Wildman, Wesley J. 2009. Science and Religious Anthropology: A Spiritually Evocative Naturalist Interpretation of Human Life. Ashgate Science and Religion Series. Burlington: Ashgate Pub. Ltd.
Wildman offers here what he calls a “spiritually evocative and yet thoroughly naturalist interpretation of human life.” Wildman’s central claim is that human beings are to be interpreted as homo religious, meaning that “religious behaviors, beliefs, and experiences-understood sufficiently broadly-constitute human nature not only historically, culturally, or circumstantially, but also ontologically, essentially, and inescapably.” Wildman builds his case first by establishing a naturalist mode of inquiry that is both multidisciplinary and comparative and then by surveying anthropological data from the natural and social sciences, including but not limited to evolutionary biology, sociology, neuroscience, psychology, gender studies, and ecology.
Wildman, Wesley J. 2011. Religious and Spiritual Experiences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming.
Wilson, Edward O. 1998. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. 1st edition. New York: Knopf; Distributed by Random House.
Through looking at how the sciences have been methodologically unified throughout history, Wilson explores ways in which the sciences might be further united with the humanities, allowing for a uniform approach to inquiry that might serve to expand the possibilities for insights into the nature of reality.