About RNA

RNA Directors

RNA Board of Directors

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.

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.

Esther Hopkins was born in 1926, obtained her BA at Boston University, her MA at Howard University, and her Ph.D. at Yale, all in chemistry, and pursued a scientific career at American Cyanamid and at Polaroid. She then obtained a mid-life law degree at Suffolk University and served as an attorney with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). She lives in Oak Bluffs MA with her son and his family, is a member of the UUA, and a lifelong religious naturalist. A detailed biography is here https://www.mvtimes.com/2017/01/27/thirsty-for-knowledge/

Rex Hunt  is a religious naturalist, progressive liturgist, and social ecologist.  He lives in Australia on the Central Coast (Gadigal Country of the Eora Nation) of New South Wales. Forty-seven years ordained, first as a Presbyterian (1972), he is today a retired minister of the Uniting Church in Australia (formed in 1977), where his last placement was at the progressive Church of St James (2000-2009) in Canberra. He served in parish/congregation appointments and was, for nine years, the National Director of Communications with The Assembly, Uniting Church in Australia. He has participated in organizing many conferences on progressive Christianity and has (co)-authored nine books.

Jason D. Keune: MD, MBA, FACS is an Associate Professor of Surgery and Health Care Ethics at St. Louis University, in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the Executive Director of the Bander Center for Medical Business Ethics, an ethics center housed in the School of Medicine at SLU.   He operates at two urban hospitals where he takes call and performs abdominal wall reconstruction and hiatal hernia repair on patients with all varieties of insurance, including Medicaid.  He learned how to meditate as a teenager, encountered Religious Naturalism at the IRAS conference on Star Island in his early 20s, considers the quotidian to be profound, and derives a great deal of spiritual joy from raising his three children and operating and working in the city where he was born.

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.

Thomas Rockwell is Senior Creative Director of Global Collaborations at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s museum of science, art, and human perception. Since joining the Exploratorium in 2005, Tom has led the exhibits and media departments, the development of new galleries for the museum’s move to the waterfront in 2013, as well as the Geometry Playground exhibition and other National Science Foundation supported projects. His interests include exhibiting the human sciences, mathematics, and fundamental physical phenomena, as well as exploring the relationship between science, art, and religion. Prior to coming to San Francisco Tom founded and ran Painted Universe, Inc. where projects included exhibitions such as It’s a Nano World, The Enchanted Museum: Exploring the Science of Art, and illustrations for The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.

Carol Wayne White is Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Bucknell University, specializing in Poststructuralist Philosophies, Process Theism and Philosophy, Religious Naturalism, Science and Religion, and Critical Theory and Religion. She was recently awarded a Bucknell University Presidential Professorship for 2018-2021. Her books include Black Lives and Sacred Humanity: Toward an African American Religious Naturalism (2016), The Legacy of Anne Conway (1631-70): Reverberations from a Mystical Naturalism (2009), and Poststructuralism, Feminism, and Religion: Triangulating Positions (2002). She has published numerous chapters in edited volumes and articles on religious naturalism, process philosophy, and the creative intersections of critical theory and religion. She is currently writing a new book that explores the tenets and insights of religious naturalism expressed in contemporary American nature poets and writers.