Is Nature a Religion?

Almost five years ago I taught a course on “the wild spirituality of nature” at the College of Marin in the SF Bay Area.  The main voices we heard were the Two Johnnies:  John Muir and John Burroughs.  It was a great class with insightful discussions.

The two representative quotes below summarize the “nature religion” Muir and Burroughs celebrated.  Maybe what they left us is a map out of traditional religion into something else, when even the words “religion” and “spirituality” will be absorbed by the immense beauty and wonder of Nature itself.


“Wonderful how completely everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us.” ~John Muir, Journals (1875)

“Joy in the universe, and keen curiosity about it all–that has been my religion.”

~John Burroughs, Journals (1910)

Note:  I would not use the word “spirituality” for a class again.  It’s one of those words, like “God,” that has little or no content or meaning, at least for me, any longer.

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