Jerome Stone provides a comprehensive literature review and a compelling case for religious naturalism. Nature offers ‘minimalist transcendence’, for example, of awe, wonder, gratitude and reverence. George Santayana’s differential between facts and ideals generates scope for hope and aspiration, and hence for moral transformation, which is a role for prayer. ‘Gods are the representation of our ideals’ (p25). Piety is retrospective ; spirituality is prospective, (p34). We create deity (p40). Dewey’s God is ‘the furtherance of good in human life’ (p50). We can appreciate the ‘power and possibilities inherent in the nature of things’ (p54). Emergence challenges dualism and reductionism. Spirit opens up interpretive prospects (p218).
However, nature is morally ambiguous and insufficient. Nature may be a source of power rather than of goodness. ‘Right and wrong are determined by human interests’ (p27). Religious naturalism has to include human consciousness and conscience. In a secular atheist world, we need a new concept of human created religion to nurture and sustain the human spirit and human spirituality.