What is Naturalism?
Take Your Compass #7 Worldview Basics Part 7
Take Your Compass #7 - What is Naturalism?
Recap: In Compass #1, we looked at the definition of a Worldview, and what the minimal requirements are. In Compass #2, we looked at the most basic questions of life that a Worldview should ask. In Compass #3, we looked at the meaning of truth. In Compass #4, we began to look at the issue of morality, and finished up on morality in Compass #5. In Compass #6, we listed ten common Worldviews, recommended a great book on those Worldviews, and looked at the first on the list, Deism.
Today we are going to look at the major Worldview named Naturalism. It is also known by other names such as Physicalism, Materialism, Secularism, or Human Secularism. It is important to note that the Secular Humanist is a Naturalist, but there are other Humanists that are not Naturalists, Christian Humanists for example.
Naturalism, in practice, has two major forms, Secular Humanism and Marxism. We will deal with Marxism later. For now, we are going to go through the beliefs that are typically common to all the Naturalists.
The Naturalist believes that reality is material. Matter includes everything molecular, and everything is molecular. (That includes energy, chemistry, etc…) Matter exists eternally. Matter is all there is. God does not exist. From this, the Naturalist believes:
The universe is a closed system. Everything inside the system is due to the material in the system, and the material cause and effect in the system. Everything is molecules in motion within a ‘natural’ framework.
Human beings are complex machines that evolved over time, typically via Neo-Darwinian Evolution. Our personality and our psychology are nothing more than molecules in motion. The mind and body are one and the same (aka Mind-Body Monism).
Death is extinction. There is nothing beyond.
Regarding knowledge, humans have developed reason, and it is through reason that humans can understand the universe.
On morality, naturalism borrowed from theism at first, but now has fully separated. The Naturalist believes moral values come from human experience. Morals are ‘natural’ situational, and need no measure or information from out side the material universe. Humans create our morality as we grow and learn. This position is called Moral Relativism or Utilitarianism.
History is simply the ‘natural’ process of cause and effect over time. There is no purpose in history for the Naturalist, but the Naturalist is concerned with making things better in their view (aka a Social Progress view of history).
Regarding ethics, in the sense of what should be, there are no commitments. What should be is chosen or adopted as you go. This is also in accordance with Moral Relativism or Utilitarianism.
Despite the relativism, personal autonomy is an important element in materialism.
In regards to law, the Naturalist believes in Legal Positivism. Justice is what the people in the society determine it is.
In politics and government, the Naturalist is a Progressive. The term Progressive has changed. Today it typically means a belief in social progress via law and regulations that use science, technology, and economics to improve life. This means a very active government, and a heavy hand in economics.
That is Naturalism. Whether it is true or false, Naturalism has developed into a broad Worldview. I do not think the Naturalist has successfully answered the questions of life, but a lot of effort has been spent on it. You can read the “Humanist Manifesto” if you desire. It is essentially a manual for Naturalists.
You can recognize a Naturalist on these three qualities: atheism, evolution, and progressivism. If those three qualities are present, then a Naturalist Worldview is present.
I put ‘natural’ in scare quotes above because I do not think the Naturalist’s view of what is natural is correct. I do not think their view of nature is consistent either. Before we get into the problems of Naturalism, we need look at Marxism.
Next week, What is Marxism?
Thank you for reading!
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” - C.S. Lewis
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