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The Case for Naturalism - Comments

godzillatemple's Avatar Comment 1 by godzillatemple

Bravo! Best ten minutes I've spent all day.

Mon, 07 May 2012 17:04:00 UTC | #940332

neurol's Avatar Comment 2 by neurol

I agree 100% and prefer to call myself "naturalist". The only problem with the term is that it means different things to different people. Most might take it to refer to nudists chasing butterflies!?! Oh well, I know what it means: a sense of wonder and appreciation for the enitire natural world through empiric evidence and scientific understanding "free of supernatural and mystical elements". I AM A NATURALIST!

Mon, 07 May 2012 17:10:55 UTC | #940333

ganggan's Avatar Comment 3 by ganggan

I do not agree that "love" and "nice to people" are created by people. They are also given to us by the nature through natural selection.

Mon, 07 May 2012 17:27:45 UTC | #940336

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 4 by Schrodinger's Cat

This is the best I can do in ten minutes to sum up the progress in human understanding that has led us to reject the supernatural and accept that the natural world is all there is.

This whole line of 'reasoning' exasperates me. It has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with the meaning of words. Of course one won't ever find a supernatural phenomenon if one defines everything that happens in nature as natural !

Mon, 07 May 2012 17:35:55 UTC | #940341

Anvil's Avatar Comment 5 by Anvil

Yeah, great talk, Sean. Was the tie a bet?

Anvil.

Mon, 07 May 2012 17:50:41 UTC | #940346

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 6 by ZenDruid

Comment 2 by neurol :

I agree 100% and prefer to call myself "naturalist". The only problem with the term is that it means different things to different people. Most might take it to refer to nudists chasing butterflies!?! Oh well, I know what it means: a sense of wonder and appreciation for the enitire natural world through empiric evidence and scientific understanding "free of supernatural and mystical elements". I AM A NATURALIST!

Nudists are 'naturists'. I suppose there's valid cause to link naturism to naturalism in any case.

Mon, 07 May 2012 18:43:08 UTC | #940362

CEVA34's Avatar Comment 7 by CEVA34

Schrodinger, you are attacking the wrong target. It isn't we who are doing the significant defining - it's the believers. They claim that there are phenomena which are outside nature and, in effect, cannot be examined rationally (not that this stops them discussing the phenomena at great and misty length!).

Mon, 07 May 2012 18:45:36 UTC | #940363

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 8 by Stafford Gordon

So clear, so succinct, so enjoyable, so incontrovertible, yet, as the man says, we are still having this debate, which has now become sterile, because of the intransigence of the religious community. We really must move on.

Just leave the silly buggers to stew say I.

Mon, 07 May 2012 18:52:48 UTC | #940366

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert

I agree that the term "atheist" is failing to convey a lot of the positive positions that many of us are making.

I am happy to call myself a naturalist, but even the word naturalist currently has limitations confined to the methodologies and understanding of the physical sciences. What about ethics or politics? Or economics and art?

Still no term right now really expresses all my attitudes, views and goals, which are anti-religious, anti-authoritarian, pro-freedom and pro-equality.

Mon, 07 May 2012 19:30:22 UTC | #940372

sheepcat's Avatar Comment 10 by sheepcat

no term right now really expresses all my attitudes, views and goals, which are anti-religious, anti-authoritarian, pro-freedom and pro-equality.

I agree with this completly " Atheist" is such a negative term, I much prefer "Humanist" but I am not sure people get where you are coming from with it.

Mon, 07 May 2012 20:17:33 UTC | #940386

Kim Probable's Avatar Comment 11 by Kim Probable

I also really like "humanist" but I see a lot of hate for that from the religious side too. I don't get that one at all.

Mon, 07 May 2012 20:24:06 UTC | #940388

wolfhoundGrowl's Avatar Comment 12 by wolfhoundGrowl

So no-one likes 'Bright' then?

Personally I just use whichever term best fits the context ... sometimes Atheist, sometimes Humanist, sometimes Secularist, sometimes Post-Christian (I used to be a Christian) and very very very occasionally Bright. They all relate to the same system of living but different words are better suited in different situations, to different interlocutors, for different moods.

Oh, I really like 'Infidel' as well, I tend to use that one smugly.

Mon, 07 May 2012 20:30:48 UTC | #940393

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 13 by ZenDruid

Comment 11 by Kim Probable :

I also really like "humanist" but I see a lot of hate for that from the religious side too. I don't get that one at all.

Yeah, that's weird. What have they been told regarding humanism?

Mon, 07 May 2012 20:49:50 UTC | #940405

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 14 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Epistemic naturalism or metaphysical naturalism?

They're both problematic. The former commits you to the non-existence of a priori truths (which means you can't easily get 'method' off the ground in the sciences), and the latter commits you to a really screwy way of talking about things like numbers and concepts.

Mon, 07 May 2012 20:57:43 UTC | #940407

neurol's Avatar Comment 15 by neurol

When we started a group of nonbelievers at our local Unitarian Universalist Congregation, we could not come up with a name, so after several hours of squabbling we settled on "Skeptics Freethinkers Agnostics and Atheists". I prefer "naturalist" over "humanist" because the latter implies concern only for our own species, such a small speck in the whole realm of things. How about "heathen"?

Mon, 07 May 2012 20:58:03 UTC | #940409

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 16 by Peter Grant

http://youtube.com/watch?v=tMjA0VxoTCY The Case for Naturalism By SEAN CARROLL

I am also a naturalist, but I'm not terribly positive about it, nor do I consider it to be a comprehensive worldview. It's simply the best view we have of the world, or are ever likely to have. For me, atheism is not about rejecting "God", but simply lacking any reason to believe in the idea.

Naturalists have a lot more work to do than simply rejecting God; they bear the responsibility of understanding how to live a meaningful life in a universe without built-in purpose.

What I find difficult to understand is how any life could have meaning in a universe were the purpose was built-in.

Mon, 07 May 2012 21:05:14 UTC | #940412

faithless1's Avatar Comment 17 by faithless1

Atheist is a negative term—by definition. I agree it's time for a better "label".

I prefer Rationalist, but like Bright, Humanist and Naturalist, it comes with some baggage.

Mon, 07 May 2012 21:07:01 UTC | #940415

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 18 by ZenDruid

'Freethinker' is a good way to describe a member of the proverbial 'herd of cats'. It suggests flexibility as well as individuality. It seems to me that it is also the least provocative label in the face of religious hostility.

Mon, 07 May 2012 21:30:39 UTC | #940422

ridelo's Avatar Comment 19 by ridelo

Great!

Mon, 07 May 2012 22:14:24 UTC | #940439

Mister Griswold's Avatar Comment 20 by Mister Griswold

Hi Everyone. Please visit http://www.naturalism.org - It's one of the most rational places on the planet. A tremendous resource. Thank you Tom Clark!

Mon, 07 May 2012 22:30:12 UTC | #940443

inleaguewithsatan's Avatar Comment 21 by inleaguewithsatan

The connotation of atheist isn't negative, if anything it is positive to be removed from the restraint of belief and able to objectively participate in rational thinking. How on earth does relabeling yourselves make you exude positiveness? I'm of the opinion that is incredibly petty to require a distinct label for yourselves. Are you attempting to appeal to the mass of religious fanatics? Let me stop you right there if you are, for they will still think you're an unworthy heathen once they understand what your new label implies. You're all thinking about this WAY too much. Explaining what atheism allows for human development is just as easy as defending yourself as a "naturalist" once religious people figure you out.

That said, this was a great video. Science is FAR more positive at its very core than religion ever could be. There are infinite possibilities, most of which are otherwise dispelled by religion. More power is given to the individual, and there's no emphasis on fate or any other supernatural concept. The theories behind the formation of the universe and the small chance of the existence of life on our own planet makes it possible to truly appreciate our world. The vast diversity of organisms and the study of evolution provide insights into deeper realms than religion could ever touch upon. Creationism at its finest is fiction, but the big three Abrahamic religions are downright lazy fiction. While science offers many branching paths, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism offer a singular entity which created EVERYTHING. What a dull philosophy, indeed.

Mon, 07 May 2012 22:41:31 UTC | #940446

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 22 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 7 by CEVA34

Schrodinger, you are attacking the wrong target. It isn't we who are doing the significant defining - it's the believers. They claim that there are phenomena which are outside nature and, in effect, cannot be examined rationally

There's nonsense from both believers and unbelievers on the whole issue, with both camps seeking to define reality in terms of semantics.......as if words alone brought things into or out of existence. Sure it is wrong for anyone to argue a 'supernatural' basis for anything. But then it is equally as wrong to argue that a phenomenon cannot exist solely because it has been labelled 'supernatural'.

Phenomenon X doesn't fail to exist simply because one has shoved it into some impossible category. It fails to exist because it genuinely doesn't exist.

Mon, 07 May 2012 23:10:10 UTC | #940448

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 23 by Red Dog

Comment 3 by ganggan :

I do not agree that "love" and "nice to people" are created by people. They are also given to us by the nature through natural selection.

It seems pretty clear that love and altruism have some basis in natural selection. But I think the point that Dr. Carroll was making is that people do a lot of things in the name of love that make no sense from the standpoint of natural selection. I can give you a real example from my life. I have an adopted daughter that I love as if she was my own. We share no more genes than any other random person I might meet so from the standpoint of natural selection my spending resources on her is a mistake. But even knowing what I know about natural selection I don't think its a mistake at all. That's part of the value judgement I'm bringing into the world that goes beyond what my instincts from natural selection would support.

Tue, 08 May 2012 01:46:00 UTC | #940471

godzillatemple's Avatar Comment 24 by godzillatemple

I prefer "rational thinker", personally...

Tue, 08 May 2012 02:23:45 UTC | #940476

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 25 by Rob Schneider

Comment 22 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Phenomenon X doesn't fail to exist simply because one has shoved it into some impossible category. It fails to exist because it genuinely doesn't exist.

Show me "phenomenon X" and we can talk. The religious simply have assertion X to explain phenomena. I think Carroll's right on the money on this one.

God is an assertion, not a phenomenon.

Tue, 08 May 2012 03:25:50 UTC | #940480

Net's Avatar Comment 26 by Net

“Atheism” is ultimately about rejecting a certain idea

I disagree. It may be about rejecting an idea, but it may also be that the idea of a god is just something that never really occurred to one; much the same as the idea that there may be fairies at the bottom of one's garden ...

Tue, 08 May 2012 04:44:08 UTC | #940484

Chomolungma's Avatar Comment 27 by Chomolungma

inleaguewithsatan:

The connotation of atheist isn't negative, if anything it is positive to be removed from the restraint of belief and able to objectively participate in rational thinking. How on earth does relabeling yourselves make you exude positiveness? I'm of the opinion that is incredibly petty to require a distinct label for yourselves.

I totally agree. There's nothing wrong with defining your beliefs by what you are against. If someone says they are anti-war or anti-racist, no-one says "hey, why do you have to be so negative?"

Tue, 08 May 2012 06:23:56 UTC | #940491

Explorer's Avatar Comment 28 by Explorer

The problem with the term "atheist" is its connotations with Marxism and communism, and all the brutal acts that happened under those regimes. It is Reagan's "godless monster". So it is more of a marketing issue in my opinion, and it is important, if we are at all interested in gaining ground on religionists, to use a term that does not have these negative connotations.

Having said that, even the rather less provocative term, "secularist" is now a dirty word, at least in some areas of religious life in the UK. Semantics do matter, even though they shouldn't.

Tue, 08 May 2012 07:03:04 UTC | #940496

wolfhoundGrowl's Avatar Comment 29 by wolfhoundGrowl

Technically, Atheism simply means 'without gods,' so technically it doesn't have enough meaning to warrant use as an identity- but that's only technically (and we don't live in technicalities.)

In the reality of everday language the term 'Atheist' has come to represent naturalism & secularism. In pop culture the term 'Atheist' actually points to so much more than 'without gods.'

In popular culture 'Atheist' is what religious believers most readily label us humanists who have no gods. They don't talk about us in their literature as humanists, they don't preach in their pulpits against our humanism, and they are not concerned about the rise of a cultural movement of Brights. Fundamentalist Believers are talking about a struggle with 'New Atheism.'

Therefore, there is strong argument to say that we should embrace it [Atheist as a label]. This is where the Brights' movement has made an unnecessary proposal. The Brights movement (a movement of which I am a registrant and who's civic equality aims I do support) claims to be re-branding naturalists in a positive manner in the same way as the homosexual community came to be known as gay. Well, actually, gay was a term given to the homosexual community by the pop culture of the time. It was not a label manufactured by the homosexual community for themselves. Furthermore, gay was actually a term used to talk about sexual promiscuity of all types- pop culture was trying to brand the homosexual community as promiscuous, but the homosexual community took the term, owned the term, and spun it positively in the end.

One may ask what can we spin as positive about the term 'Atheist.' The homosexual community was apparently lucky in that 'gay' technically means happy. Well, what is positive about 'Atheist' is it's allusion to freedom.

Tue, 08 May 2012 09:37:18 UTC | #940508

gordon's Avatar Comment 30 by gordon

I like the word naturalist. Didn’t like bright as it has connotations which to working class can sound snobbish. Agree that describing oneself as an atheist can only describe one area of one’s existence.

Red Dog, I too have brought up three boys from my wife’s previous relationship and I brought them up as my own, despite having to give up some of my ambitions and aims. I would suggest this is not entirely against natural selection as possibly you could unconsciously observe your partners ability to conceive. It is also a mark of the love and feeling for your partner. We went on to have two wonderful children of our own. I am sure your daughter is very grateful and returns your humanity.

Tue, 08 May 2012 10:08:31 UTC | #940513