Naturalism

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Naturalism was born in the eighteenth century, came of age in the nineteenth century, and grew to maturity in the twentieth. The appeal of naturalism is that one is asked to believe what appears to be based on facts and the assured results of scientific investigation or rigorous scholarship. Naturalists view their perspective as honest and objective.

 

Naturalism assumes no god, no spirit, and no life beyond the grave. While it disallows that humanity is the center of the universe, it does see humans as the makers of value. Naturalism views humanity’s ability to influence, alter, and control nature as both factually true as well as implying evidence of our special place within nature.

 

Naturalism dominates our universities, colleges, and high schools. It provides the framework for most scientific study. It poses the backdrop against which the humanities continue to struggle for human value as writers, poets, painters and other artists explore its implications. In philosophy Naturalism manifests as secular humanism, in politics it manifests as Marxism. The allure is that it will lead to a social utopia, and even allow humanity to direct the course of its own evolution.

 

Paraphrase: Sire, J. (2009) The Universe Next Door. 5th ed. (pp. 92-93) IVP Academic

 

Survey Questions:

 

- What is Prime Reality? What is really real? – To a Naturalist, the Prime Reality is matter. Matter exists eternally and is all there is. God does not exist.

 

- What is the Nature of the World? - Their is no god. The cosmos exists as a uniformity of cause and effect in a "closed system." Nothing supernatural exists.

 

- What is a Human Being? - Human beings are complex "biological machines"; personality is an interrelation of chemical and physical properties we do not yet fully understand.

 

- What Happens at Death? - Death is extinction of personality and individuality.

 

- Why is it possible to know anything? - Through our innate and autonomous human reason, including the methods of science, we can know the universe. The cosmos, including the world, is understood to be in its normal state.

 

- How do Naturalists know Right from Wrong? - Ethics is related only to human beings. People tend to hold the ethics of whatever culture they are born into.

 

- What is the Meaning of Human History? - History is a linear stream of events linked by cause and effect but without an overarching purpose.

 

- What personal, core commitments are consistent with your worldview? – The Naturalism worldview implies no particular core commitment on the part of the Naturalist.

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