Friends, Four days a week I go to a little gym, so small I am sometimes the only one there. But most days there is at least one other person, which tends to encourage conversation. I’m amazed at how quickly these conversations turn to matters of basic worldview, which of course calls on me to reveal my religious naturalist orientation.
But I have to say I am disappointed about one thing. My conversation partners are almost always sophisticated people, but I am surprised how seldom they have what I’d call a “philosophy of life,” by which I mean a well-articulated worldview which has a foundational aspect, leading to implications for personal decisions and social decisions.
Actually that is not quite right. Usually my conversation partners DO have a clear ability to explain where they are coming from, and maybe my surprise would be better described as about the extent to which various permutations of supernaturalism enter into what is otherwise a pretty naturalistic orientation. One conversant, for example, is very scientific, but is curious about how modern reports of miracle-like events can be explained.
This makes me wonder about your interactions. Do you have the same experience, or do you associate with people who have more cohesive worldviews? I’m also curious as to whether you find yourself being “evangelical” in such contexts, or do you find yourself delving into whatever approach others seem to be taking. For the record, I find myself doing both of those things.
All this feeds into two aspects of our association’s life right now. One is some discussions we are having on RNAnet about the very nature of that forum. It tends to get pretty wonkish, which is thrilling to those who like that sort of thing, but all of us want it to be more friendly to newcomers and more accessible generally, so we are talking about that.
And the other aspect is that, when we have individual conversations about religious naturalism with folks new to the idea, it is great to have a relatively short and well-written book, preferably even a best seller, to recommend or even gift. And we are SO fortunate to have just the thing right now, because our president Ursula Goodenough’s best-selling “Sacred Depths of Nature” is coming out in a new and improved edition (if that is possible). The book’s website here carries a link to the Oxford University Press website where you can pre-order a book; the pre-order option is also available on amazon.
I’d love to hear how you navigate random conversations about worldviews. You can email me at email@example.com
Michael Cavanaugh, Secretary