RNA Newsletter

July 2022

Religious Naturalism: An Open Minded Orientation

Hello good people,

I have been thinking and writing lately about how entrenched belief systems can become and what might help to loosen them enough to allow new ideas to penetrate their seemingly impermeable defences. This led me to thinking about the openness I find within the RNA community and I began to wonder, why are these people so open minded when the minds of so many others are so tightly sealed?

I think it likely that most of us have had the benefit of a good education, with most of us having attended post-secondary institutes. I also think it is likely the case that most of us were raised in relatively supportive households. When these two conditions are met I think the chances for the development of an open mind are significantly enhanced. If so, their absence could inhibit the emergence of open-mindedness in an individual.

So what exactly is an open mind? According to the OpenMind website, an open mind is one that:

– has a basic understanding of its own workings and limitations

– recognizes how differing opinions and beliefs are formed

– has a sense of humility regarding its own beliefs and opinions

– welcomes diverse perspectives

– explores other worldviews

– can manage emotions in difficult situations

– can navigate difficult conversations

The Religious Naturalist Association is a prime example of a community of open minded individuals. I suspect that most of us have acquired these characteristics over the course of our lives. Perhaps we were taught them directly in courses related to critical thinking, or we acquired them through experiences with a diversity of people and views over time. 

Given that the absence of a good education or a supportive family may hamper the development of open-mindedness, I did a search of available online resources, hoping to find some that might provide an effective way for people to learn about the skills and benefits of having an open mind. At the top of the search results list was the OpenMind website mentioned above. While poking around to get a sense of what OpenMind was all about, I was pleased to discovered that it offers a free course covering all of the characteristics of an open mind. It is supported by various foundations such as The John Templeton Foundation and the Einhorn Collaborative. It is also supported by individuals, among whom I recognized the name of Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind and a social psychologist.

Curiosity soon overcame me and I signed up for the course. So far I have only completed Lesson 1: Explore the inner workings of the mind”. I was impressed with the succinct and relevant content in the lesson and the user-friendliness of the presentation. As a person who likes to keep up with recent publications in psychology, I recognized instances where current research was included in the lesson. For example, references to the two thinking modes identified by Daniel Kahneman in his influential book, Thinking Fast and Slow, were included. Each of the eight lessons in the course are designed to take about 30 minutes to complete. 

Discovering a resource like OpenMind excites me because it provides an accessible and FREE tool that offers individuals an opportunity to acquire the skills and information necessary to encourage the development of an open-minded mindset. And, as I am discovering, it is also an excellent way to review and reinforce the core aspects of being an open-minded person.

If you are interested in exploring the topic of open-mindedness further or in just seeing what an up-to-date example of a well designed online course looks like, I recommend giving https://openmindplatform.org a look and sending the link to persons you know who might benefit from it.


ATTENTION: RNAs own JD Stillwater is presenting a webinar on August 4th.

Natures Scripture: Cultural Insights from Natural Reality

Presentation Overview:

At precisely the time when our cultural dysfunctions threaten the existence of life on Earth, the scientific worldview offers a sweeping vista of *how creation works* and how it came to be. In a global civilization on the brink of catastrophe, what if we aligned our norms and values, politics, economics, and religious sensibilities with *how__creation works*? What insights can we glean from nature for shifting our worldview and repairing the world? JD Stillwater points to a few examples that are ubiquitous on Earth and in the cosmos, offering insights that are ripe for informing and enriching human cultures and systems. Well explore fundamental patterns in *how creation works* like inter-connection and wholeness, interdependence, relativity, cooperation, emergence, kinship, mortality, and ambiguity.

Register for JDs webinar HERE


But wait! There’s MORE! Our president, Ursula Goodenough, has an event coming up too!

Shifting Paradigms: How biology reveals the sacred quality of life

Ursula Goodenough and Andreas Weber in conversation with Jeremy Lent 

In this Deep Transformation Network Live Interactive Conversation, Jeremy Lent will discuss with Ursula Goodenough and Andreas Weber how their work expanded from mainstream biology to an exploration of the spiritual dimensions of life’s unfolding miracle of self-organized complexity. We’ll discuss the importance and limitations of reductionist thinking, how deep scientific understandings can naturally lead to a spiritual orientation, and why an ontological paradigm shift is needed to help redirect our civilization from its destructive trajectory.

Event Details

This online event will be hosted by the Deep Transformation Network. It is free and open to all. Following the initial conversation, DTN members will be invited to ask questions and engage directly with Ursula and Andreas.

Date and Time:

Thursday, July 28 2022 at 1:00 pm Pacific

Duration: 75 minutes

Register for Event:


This month’s music selection is Awake by Peter Mayer. Enjoy!


Cheers, Terry