Aug 24 • 1HR 3M

Religious Naturalism | Ursula Goodenough

On finding a story to unite humankind

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Rachel Donald
Planet: Critical is the podcast for a world in crisis. We face severe climate, energy, economic and political breakdown. Journalist Rachel Donald interviews those confronting the crisis, revealing what's really going on—and what needs to be done.
Episode details

“There isn't likely to be a future where all critters have no interest in themselves and are only interested in the collective. That's not gonna work. But to temper those two directions so that there is self maintenance, but also a self that joins the community, is, I would say, the goal.”


What if religion wasn’t about God—but about each other?

Religion is a divisive topic at best and the cause of war at worst. It has been used to control, dictate, punish and destroy people throughout the ages. Yet faith, it seems, is a critical aid in humankind’s individual and collective existence. I have always believed that faith is an act of imagination where religion is an act of dogma. That’s why I was curious when Ursula Goodenough, Professor of Biology Emeritus, emailed me a copy of her book, The Sacred Depths of Nature, suggesting we discuss “religious naturalism”.

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During the episode, Ursula introduces the topic as a grand story to unite humankind. We go on to discuss humankind as a symbolic species, the necessity and beauty of symbolism, how we evolve with symbolism, and how we can use story to anchor our existence. We discuss language and mindedness, consciousness and the brain, community and individuals, and the relationship between mystery and knowledge. Ursula also gives her insight into what separates religiosity, spirituality and religion.

© Rachel Donald

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