Marilyn Brien is a retired science teacher whose religious affirmation is naturalism. She experiences joy in being alive and finds connection in the epic of evolution. She accepts the reality of this world and concedes to mystery that which is unexplainable. Her other interests are genealogy, travel, camping, birdwatching, and gardening.
Joan Hunter-Brody is a retired software engineer who has been passionate about the environment and the science-religion dialogue all her life. She has been a Unitarian Universalist for over 40 years, and a member of the Institute of Religion in an Age of Science for 30. She instituted a “Pay as You Throw” system to encourage recycling in her town, and works constantly to raise awareness about global warming. She feels that religious naturalism offers the best hope for building consensus for this enormous challenge.
Michael Cavanaugh is a Louisiana lawyer who retired early from active practice to concentrate on figuring out the relation between science and religion. That resulted in several journal articles in the primary science/religion journal (“Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science”) and ultimately produced a book (“Biotheology: A New Synthesis of Religion and Science”). If ever he turns his attention away from administrative matters related to Religious Naturalist Association, he hopes to re-write that book as “Religious Naturalism with a Christian Flavor” to radically naturalize the various concepts (aka doctrines) within Christianity. In the years since Biotheology he spent lots of time in IRAS (The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science) where he encountered religious naturalism and many of its proponents – he served 3 years as president of IRAS and also served as one of the 6 members of the joint publication board of Zygon. He also served as Chaplain at an IRAS conference at the Chautauqua Institution where he used the 6 chapel talks to present a naturalized spirituality. At IRAS he and Terry Deacon co-chaired one of the famous “Star Island Conferences” entitled “Is Nature Enough: The Thirst for Transcendence,” in which he delivered a talk entitled “Toward a Consilient View of Ethics and Morality.”
Ursula Goodenough is Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, where she teaches cell and molecular biology and conducts research on algae. The concept of religious naturalism first came to her in the early 1990s in the context of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, where Loyal Rue was an invaluable conversation partner leading to the writing/publication of The Sacred Depths of Nature and Philip Hefner encouraged her to publish her developing ideas in the journal Zygon. She taught a course for 10 years called the Epic of Evolution with a physicist and geologist, and gives RN-related talks to diverse groups.
Edwin (Ted) Laurenson: I practice securities and corporate law in New York City. Raised by a Catholic father and a Christian Scientist mother, I have had a religious naturalist orientation since abandoning theism in my teens, albeit with a mystical streak informed by personal experiences that people with a traditional religious orientation would likely call perceptions of the transcendent. I studied psychology and moral and political philosophy in college and law school and have retained a significant interest in those subjects. After law school I became a Unitarian Universalist and in 1990 found my way to Star Island and the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS), which became an intellectual and personal home and has been an RN incubator. I have served IRAS in a number of capacities, including as president from 2008 to 2011, and co-chaired IRAS conferences on Human Sexuality (1999) and The Mythic Reality of the Autonomous Individual (2009). I was also president of UU congregation in the late 1990s and a founder of the Unitarian Universalist Religious Naturalists.
Todd Macalister designs and writes educational materials on medicine and other topics. When his two boys were at an age when he thought he should share thoughts about religion, he considered his own views as a “deeply religious non-believer” and wrote a book, Einstein’s God. Continuing interest led to study of science and religion at the School of Theology at Boston University and discovery of a growing community of religious naturalists.
Bill Stone is Language/Humanities instructor at Northeast Mississippi Community College. He teaches Public Speaking, Introduction to Philosophy and Introduction to New Testament. Ever since being a former Southern Baptist minister and his dissertation on the rhetoric of the Southern Baptist Takeover, for the past 25 years he has enjoyed relating conservative evangelical religious rhetoric to that of Religious Naturalism.
Gene Troxell completed his undergraduate education in a Jesuit Seminary, studying to be a Jesuit priest. A couple of years after leaving the Seminary he entered the University of Chicago to study for a Ph.D. in philosophy. He rejected Catholicism when he finished his studies. After completing his studies he began teaching philosophy at San Diego State University. He taught there for 34 years and has since retired as Emeritus Professor of Philosophy. While teaching he co-authored a philosophy text called “Making Sense of Things”. He is sometimes identified as the author of an article he published in The Journal of Social Philosophy called “On having a Sense of Responsibility.” He also published on Wittgenstein’s later philosophy. Since retiring from teaching in 2000 he has become active in IRAS and has continued writing about the evolutionary development of ethics as well as about Religious Naturalism and the importance of separating ethics from an authoritarian idea of God.