“I take more intense delight from reading the power and goodness of God from ‘the things which are made’ than from the Bible.” ~John Muir
Welcome to the first page of the oldest and youngest scripture.
This Genesis will lead to Revelation. . .the revealing truth of Reason and honest, open-minded experience that cannot be contained in any printed book.
The Natural Bible is not only an open path. This “Book” is an open-source that organically grows from a naturalistic worldview without reference, concordance or appeal to super-natural sources. Any “authorities” referenced in The Natural Bible draw their knowledge and wisdom primarily through investigations within the natural cosmos and their viewpoints are not only open to question but require verification and common confirmation. A radical authenticity leads each to accept a role in authorship. No one is a spectator on the field study team or merely an observer in the writing of this book.
The alternative to The Natural Bible is no longer justifiable or necessary. In fact, any alternative is not a viable alternative in our time. Why? Any other claimed “holy book” put forth for rational discussion and human collaboration and corroboration must by definition be The Un-natural Bible. This is not only foolish, but unhelpful, unhealthy and nonsensical as well as simply dangerous faced with the complexities of contemporary inter-related communities of all species.
Therefore, The Natural Bible remains open and cannot be closed; it must be read in the open air (in “the light of day” as John Burroughs put it) by any serious, rational person not because it is required for “salvation,” or to connect with a supernatural world or be subservient to a superior being, nor is this book read in order to obtain a fictitious and delusional extra-terrestrial (that is, mystical) knowledge. The book that is wide open before us all must be read, even by the most illiterate person, because it is simply “the cosmos as we know it and will understand it”–open to exploration and discovery, the required text for every enrolled learner in the great universal classroom where we are all students–students who are either alert and delighted in the Universe or apathetic and asleep at our desks.
The Natural Bible is presented in the words of naturalists, philosophers, poets and thinkers from many lands. However, it cannot be forgotten that this “bible,” this book, is The Book of Nature, being written as we speak–as we read. In this profound sense, each of us is fully capable of presenting the “scripture,” “the Word” as we are active participants in the environment (the surrounding circle) of Life and we are fundamentally virescent (greening) creatures. Our virescence in mind and body makes us characters on the page, bound with the red-stream-laced leather of our own throbbing skin, thrown open and out onto the landscape of earth and a spacescape of the stars. We are part; we are particle; we are participant.
The Natural Bible is not static but electric. It is charged with creative energy as well as the power to destroy, even as it is extravagant in an abundant resilience to make all things new, over and over, again and again. Yet, naturally, it contains no promises of an afterlife or a heavenly world beyond. This Book is as green as we are, and as brown and black and red and white. It is the living adventure of the emergent text of our lives.
A few mystics such as Jean-Pierre deCaussade in France spoke of the holy spirit writing scriptures now, today, in our world. Muir echoed this, from a non-mystic perspective, when he said he looked to Nature as his Bible, not to teach us religion or theology but to open us to the wonders of Life in the wide-open classroom and sanctuary of the en-viron-ment: the encircling surroundings of our earthly home.
But why a “Bible” at all? When the Scottish American radical reformer Frances Wright said, in 1829, that “the true Bible is the book of Nature” and called for the re-opening of churches as “halls of science” what was the point? I think the point is as old and as vitally relevant as life on earth. An evolution is in the making and cannot be stopped. Sometimes we have to use some of the old language to communicate the adaptations, the natural selections of new species of knowledge. The old bibles, scriptures from all parts of the globe, pointed to an alternate reality, a super-natural realm or kingdom where the best of our natures resides. Nature and the natural processes of the natural world present us with the original and most revolutionary “living bible” there ever was or could be. Let’s call it a “sacred” book, if we choose; a scripture if we mean something to honor and respect and seek out for “spiritual guidance.” If it makes more sense to refer to this “book” as a textbook instead of a bible, so be it.
This is ultimately and immediately more about a classroom than a church, a creed, a confession or a clergy-generated kind of experience. This is the Word (logos, reason) writ larger than any book or religion could ever hold. And the Natural Bible is not something to believe, as the old worn-out and irrelevant creeds insisted. It is the Universe at face value, its countless faces unfolding page by page at every moment, endlessly interesting, ceaselessly domestic and economical (in the root meanings of those terms). We are at home in this book. It contains, for better or worse, both our fiction and our non-fiction, our poetry and our prose, as well as our music–our cacaphonies and our symphonies. Where will the next lyrics and scores direct us? What will the next chapters open to us? What music halls and libraries are ours to wander! It is quite wonderfully the greatest story yet to be told.