The concept of “naturalism” is fundamental to most religions – the idea that there are natural orders and moral structures to the world, and that we need to align ourselves with them in order to live well. Naturalism in this context places an emphasis on admiring nature as a means to reconnect with our natural selves — spending time in green spaces, eating natural foods, avoiding synthetic products, working to mitigate pollution, etc.
For most of history, humans didn’t have an option to be “unnatural.” Since there was little technology, there was no escape from the natural world. Everything was made of natural ingredients and we lived in the midst of nature. With the gradual rise of cities and civilization, we slowly moved further away from those natural surroundings, living in stone and then metal and plaster buildings, traveling not on horses but in cars and airplanes. However, throughout our long migration away from nature, many groups have tried to find paths back. The romantics, the troubadours, the hippies, and the environmentalist movement have all sought ways to reconnect with nature and live in a way that is more psychologically and spiritually pleasing.
In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.
— Alice Walker
To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.
— Oscar Wilde,
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson