Naturalism is the understanding that there is a single, natural world as shown by science, and that we are completely included in it.
Naturalism holds that everything we are and do is connected to the rest of the world and derived from conditions that precede us and surround us.
Each of us is an unfolding natural process, and every aspect of that process is caused, and is a cause itself.
So we are fully caused creatures, and seeing just how we are caused gives us power and control, while encouraging compassion and humility.
By understanding consciousness, choice, and even our highest capacities as materially based, naturalism re-enchants the physical world, allowing us to be at home in the universe.
Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust.Naturalism shows our full connection to the world and others, it leads to an ethics of compassion, and it gives us far greater control over our circumstances.
You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time.
They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode.
Stars died so that you could be here today.
Everything we are and do is completely connected to the rest of the world. Our bodies and minds are shaped in their entirety by conditions that precede us and surround us. Each of us is an unfolding, natural process, and every aspect of that process is caused, and is a cause itself.
We are therefore entirely at home in the physical universe.
Some might conclude from this that naturalism reduces human beings to mere mechanisms, mere automatons, but this doesn’t follow. What follows is that the physical universe has produced, in us, marvelously complex and adaptive organisms, with the capacity for self-reflection, wonder, suffering, and joy.
"we are a way for the universe to know itself"Far from mechanizing humanity, naturalism re-enchants the physical world by showing how consciousness and choice don’t involve supernatural processes. They are natural processes, understandable by science. Amazingly enough, physical existence produces all these intricate phenomena quite nicely on its own.
Naturalism is premised on taking science as our way of knowing about the world, not tradition, intuition, sacred texts or pronouncements.
By illuminating the causal connections between phenomena, science inevitably unifies what it discovers into a single, natural, multifaceted whole.
If we take science seriously with regard to ourselves and our behavior, we are led to the conclusion that human beings are fully included in the natural world, and that we are completely physical creatures. More and more, biology and neuroscience show that the brain and body do everything that the soul was supposed to do. Even consciousness and our higher level capacities for rationality and choice are fully embodied, causal processes.