Jerome A. Stone's short talk on religious naturalism given to seventh and eighth graders

As I mentioned in a post a few days ago Jerome A. Stone has published a new book called  Sacred Nature: The Environmental Potential of Religious Naturalism. A few words from his conclusion (p. 138) struck me as being worth quoting here for two reasons. The first is that I hope they will encourage a few of you to explore religious naturalism further and, possibly, get Stone’s book for yourself. The second is because his words pretty much sum up my own position and I’d like to say thank-you to him for penning such a succinct text.


At the church where I am a member, every other year, the curriculum for the seventh and eighth graders involves the study of other faith traditions with visits to neighboring synagogues, churches, mosques, and meditation halls. But, when it comes to agnosticism and atheism, I am invited to visit the class as a representative of these viewpoints. Now the attention span of even the best seventh and eighth graders being what it is, I give a very short talk. It goes like this:

“An agnostic is someone who is not sure whether God exists or not. And I am an agnostic. But when it comes down to it, for all practical purposes, I guess I’m really an atheist. An atheist is someone who doesn’t think there is a God. But atheism is a pretty negative position, so I like to think of myself as a humanist. A humanist is someone who places a high value on humans. But in this day of environmental catastrophe we must value more than just humans. We need to place a high value on our home planet Earth and all of its habitats. So most of all I like to think of myself as a religious naturalist.”