Nature Is Enough

Religious Naturalism and the Meaning of Life

By Loyal Rue

Subjects: Religion, Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438438009, 175 pages, July 2012
Hardcover : 9781438437996, 175 pages, November 2011

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Table of contents

1. Introduction: What Is a Human Being For?

Part I. The Meaning of Life

2. The Reality of Meaning
Meaning in the World
Meaning in the Mind
The Illusion of Meaning

3. The Emergence of Meaning
What Is Emergence?
Revisiting the Options
Interlude: A Model of Emergence
The Miracle of Meaning

4. Religion Naturalized, Nature Sanctified
Bringing Religion Down to Earth
The Heart of Naturalism
Taking Nature to Heart
Is Nature Enough?
The Promise of Religious Naturalism

5. Confessions of a Religious Naturalist
God and Creation
Sin and Grace
Evil and Suffering
Death and Salvation
Faith, Hope, and Love


Claims that the natural world, as opposed to a supernatural realm, can inspire a religious sensibility and a conviction that life is meaningful.


Nature is enough: enough to allow us to find meaning in life and to answer our religious sensibilities. This is the position of religious naturalists, who deny the existence of a deity and a supernatural realm. In this book, Loyal Rue answers critics by describing how religious naturalism can provide a satisfying vision of the meaning of human existence.

The work begins with a discussion of how to evaluate the meaning of life itself, referencing a range of thought from ancient Greek philosophy to the Abrahamic traditions to the Enlightenment to contemporary process and postmodern philosophies. Ultimately proposing meaning as an emergent property of living organisms, Rue writes that a meaningful life comes through happiness and virtue. Spiritual qualities that combine evolutionary cosmology and biocentric morality are described: reverence, gratitude, awe, humility, relatedness, compassion, and hope. Rue looks at why religious naturalism is not currently more of a movement, but nevertheless predicts that it will become the prevailing religious sensibility.

Loyal Rue is Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Luther College. He is the author of Everybody's Story: Wising Up to the Epic of Evolution, also published by SUNY Press, and Religion Is Not about God: How Spiritual Traditions Nurture Our Biological Nature and What to Expect When They Fail.


"…one can find insightful discussions of, among other things, faith, hope, and love in a godless universe and how one should face death and suffering if one rejects the reality of both God and an afterlife. " — Philosophy, Theology and the Sciences

"Loyal Rue manages the difficult task of being both profound and accessible, and I am grateful. Now when people ask me their most difficult questions concerning the meaning of life I can point them in the direction of this wonderful book. " — Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction

"Religious naturalism is an approach to experiencing and appreciating nature with the awe, reverence, and respect that are usually associated with religion, but without the metaphysical paraphernalia of the latter. In this book, Loyal Rue insightfully sees the meaning in reality, examines the emergence of meaning, and incorporates the dimension of meaning into naturalized religion. He concludes the book with thoughtful personal responses to topics that provoke us all: God, creation, sin, grace, faith, and such, and the meaning of life itself. This is a persuasive and powerful call to religious naturalism, and will become one of the classics in the literature on the subject. " — Varadaraja V. Raman, author of Truth and Tension in Science and Religion