- Eupraxia as a Religion of Nature
Many writers advocate the development of new and more naturalistic religions.1 Perhaps these new religions will emerge from religious naturalism. Peters believes that religious naturalism “could lead to a new significant form of organized religion with a structured community, ritual practices, and ways of moral living.”2 However, at the present time, religious naturalism is not a nature-centered religion. The features mentioned by Peters are mainly missing.3
At the present time, the most significant effort to derive a nature-centered religion from religious naturalism is found in Crosby. Over the course of several books, Crosby lays out his metaphysical theory of nature.4 He uses that theory to develop a collection of symbols and practices.5 His theory, along with its symbols and practices, constitutes his Religion of Nature. Crosby’s religious vision is both deep and extensive. Nevertheless, work by other religious naturalists shows that his Religion of Nature contains several opportunities for further development.
Since any further developments of his Religion of Nature are bound to change it, they will yield a Reformed Religion of Nature. But that very phrase marks an opportunity for change. Reformed or not, the name “Religion of Nature” has problems. On the one hand, it is too generic. Pantheists and some neopagans can plausibly claim to have religions of nature. On the other, sentences like [End Page 228] “I’m a Religion of Naturist” hardly roll off the tongue. Rather than “Reformed Religion of Nature,” the name used here is eupraxia, which just means good practice. By continuing to develop and reshape Crosby’s work, eupraxians aim to create a detailed system of practices grounded in eupraxian metaphysics. Of course, eupraxians do not always agree with Crosby. And eupraxia will also be particularly inspired by Peters.6
On the one hand, eupraxia is prospective. It marks one way to develop religious practices out of the work of Crosby and other religious naturalists. It does not refer to some established denomination or sect. On the other hand, eupraxia is not merely an intellectual exercise. Several groups are developing similar ideas and practices. These include the Spiritual Naturalist Society, the Humanistic Pagans, the Atheopagans, and the World Pantheist Movement.7 Many eupraxian ideas and practices are already being socially developed. Rituals similar to those described here are being performed by real people. Will eupraxia succeed? That question can only be answered by the future. At the very least, however, eupraxia can inspire religious naturalists to start working on naturalistic religious practices. Eupraxia, after all, is not the only way to develop a religion of nature.
II. The Ultimate Creative Power
At the root of all existence, Crosby posits an ultimate creative power. He refers to it as natura naturans (“nature naturing”). He says that natura naturans is an “unceasing creative energy.”8 It exists necessarily and eternally.9 It brings our universe into existence. It creates and sustains each thing in our universe.10 It transforms old things into new things. After our universe ends, it will bring others into existence. Its creativity ensures that nature contains an infinite series of distinct universes.11 Since every physical thing is a manifestation of natura [End Page 229] naturans, that power itself is not physical.12 Physical powers are phenomenal, and thereby open to empirical study. But natura naturans is deeper than any phenomenal power.
Eupraxians agree with Crosby that all physical things are generated by an ultimate creative power. Since this power is deeper than any phenomenal power, it is not open to empirical study. But not all sciences are empirical, and this ultimate power is open to mathematical and logical study. To gain greater clarity about this ultimate power, eupraxians follow a well-trodden Platonic path. This is the path of logical abstraction, which reveals the dynamic essences of things, nested like the layers of an onion. All trees share a common essence, treeness, which is the power of being a tree.13 Since all trees are living, treeness contains a deeper essence, which is the power of life. But life contains an even deeper essence, the power of physicality. And...