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"The Sacred Depths of Nature" is a book by Ursula Goodenough, an evolutionary biologist who, with other scientists and theologians, helped form (or re-form) a religious movement called Religious Naturalism, or RN for short. RN begins with the premise that the greatest story for all of humanity and life on earth, and elsewhere as well, is that we are all of and from the natural processes of the universe. All the way down. Part of what is gained from this knowledge is the principle that we shed ourselves of exclusivity of power and privilege because we are one, we are interconnected, and we should work for the common good of all.
The service begins by introducing Ursula, her book, and its message of religious meaning within nature. In the sermon we explore lessons from nature, and finally apply them to our human condition. I do not pretend that RN answers all of our questions about how we should conduct our lives, or supplies answers to the mysteries of our being. In fact, one of the beautiful things about Religious Naturalism is nurturing the ability to live in the mystery of not knowing everything, which is what a scientist might teach some theologians.
Readings prior to the sermon from Ursula Goodenough - excerpts from “The Sacred Depths of Nature”
"The role of religion is to integrate the Cosmology and the Morality, to render the cosmological narrative so rich and compelling that it elicits our allegiance and our commitment to its emergent moral understandings."
"The Big Bang, the formation of stars and planets, the origin and evolution of life on this planet, the advent of human consciousness and the resultant evolution of cultures - this is the story, the one story, that has the potential to unite us, because it happens to be true."
"And now we realize that we are connected to all creatures. Not just in food chains or ecological equilibria. We share a common ancestor. We share genes for receptors and cell cycles and signal-transduction cascades. We share evolutionary constraints and possibilities. We are connected all the way down.",
Suggested Reading: "The Sacred Depths of Nature" by Ursula Goodenough, "Thank God for Science" by Michael Dowd/Connie Barlow, The Promise of Religious Naturalism" by Michael Hogue.Peace, Rev. Parrish