Is naturalism just another name for atheism?

wil

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Are there a variety of atheistic belief systems and naturalism is just another one?

A friend recommended I look at www.naturalism.org and I was surprised (from what I know of her) that she indicated that this thought spoke to her so thoroughly...
 
I describe myself a Naturalist. To me Nature IS God ;). But unlike atheists I do not believe that Nature is limited to Its laws of Nature and I do believe it has conscious (the source of all consciousness). It can do anything It wants but choses to enforce Its laws for a reason we may never know (atleast anytime soon). This would mean Nature is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent.

Atheism in many ways does not exist. Unless by atheist you mean denying the existence of a God, then we are all atheists in a sense. Atheists believe in Nature and yet they deny it isn't a God. Why is this? Because atheists are offended and have something against the term God. When most atheists think of God they think of the stereotypical Christian white man God with a long beard sitting on a throne in a different realm taking tabs on what people do :rolleyes:. God does not have to be this primitive.
 
wil said:
Are there a variety of atheistic belief systems and naturalism is just another one?

A friend recommended I look at www.naturalism.org and I was surprised (from what I know of her) that she indicated that this thought spoke to her so thoroughly...

From reading, I opine the description here is a form of "weak atheism", or "negative atheism", professing only a lack of belief in a god or gods. It is considered compatible with agnosticism.

v/r

Q
 
I describe myself a Naturalist
Namaste SB, do you describe yourself as resonating with the tenets proposed by naturalism.org?

I hear you in relation to nature being the three O's

and Q, my favorite quote.."naturalism doubts the existence of ultimate purposes either inherent in nature or imposed by a creator" 'doubt' the existence.... I get the feeling that once science proves it, it will be accepted...until then we wait...

From their site...the Five Tenets of Naturalism

What exists: This version of naturalism, what might be called inclusive naturalism, asserts that the world is of a piece; that everything we are and do is included in the material continuum whose most basic elements are those described by physics. We are the evolved products of natural selection, which operates without foresight or purpose. Nothing about us escapes being included in the physical universe, or escapes being shaped by the various processes – physical, biological, psychological, and social – that science describes. There exist no immaterial souls, spirits, mental essences, or disembodied selves which stand apart from the physical world.

What constitutes knowledge: Naturalism as a world view is based on the premise that knowledge about what exists and about how things work is best achieved through the sciences, not personal revelation or religious tradition. The knowledge we have of ourselves and our place in nature is the achievement of a collective effort to construct a consistent view of the world that permits prediction and control. This effort proceeds by experiment and rational inquiry, and the knowledge gained is always subject to further testing as understanding matures. Wanting something to be true, or having the intense personal conviction that something is true, are never grounds for supposing that it is true. Scientific empiricism has the necessary consequence of unifying our knowledge of the world, of placing all objects of understanding within a single, overarching causal context. Under naturalism, there is just one, inclusive world in which phenomena arise.

The causal view: From a naturalistic perspective, there are no causally privileged agents, nothing that causes without being caused in turn. Human beings act the way they do because of the various influences that shape them, whether these be biological or social, genetic or environmental. We do not have the capacity to act outside the causal connections that link us in every respect to the rest of the world. This means we do not have what many people call free will, the ability to cause our behavior without being fully caused in turn.

The self: As strictly physical beings, we don’t exist as immaterial selves, either mental or spiritual, that control behavior. Thought, desires, intentions, feelings, and actions all arise on their own without the benefit of a supervisory self, and they are all the products of a physical system, the brain and the body. The self is constituted by more or less consistent sets of personal characteristics, beliefs, and actions, but it doesn’t exist apart from those complex physical processes that make up the individual. It may strongly seem as if there is a self sitting behind experience, witnessing it, and behind behavior, controlling it, but this impression is strongly disconfirmed by a scientific understanding of human behavior.

Responsibility and morality: From a naturalistic perspective, behavior arises out of the interaction between individuals with their environment, not from a freely willing self that produces behavior independently of causal connections (see above). Therefore individuals don’t bear originative responsibility for their actions, in the sense of being their first cause. Given the circumstances both inside and outside the body, they couldn’t have done other than what they did. Nevertheless, we still hold individuals responsible, in the sense of applying rewards and sanctions, so that their behavior stays more or less within the range of what we deem acceptable. This is how people learn to act ethically. Naturalism doesn’t undermine the need or possibility of responsibility and morality, but it places them within the world as understood by science. However, naturalism does call into question the basis for retributive attitudes, namely the idea that individuals could have done otherwise in the situation in which their behavior arose.

The source of value: Because naturalism doubts the existence of ultimate purposes either inherent in nature or imposed by a creator, values derive from human desires and preferences, not discoverable absolutes. To the extent that there is a shared human nature, values are common across cultures, but to the extent cultures differ, so will values. There is no finally correct way to behave, nor are there finally justifiable goals, but only the desires and intentions that currently constitute us, all of which may change as human nature and cultures change. Although values do not have a foundation outside ourselves, we cannot escape having them, since they constitute us as motivated creatures.
 
Silverbackman said:
Atheists believe in Nature and yet they deny it isn't a God. Why is this? Because atheists are offended and have something against the term God. When most atheists think of God they think of the stereotypical Christian white man God with a long beard sitting on a throne in a different realm taking tabs on what people do :rolleyes:. God does not have to be this primitive.

Well put, Siverbackman. My reaction to atheism has been much the same, but I've never been able to articulate it as well as you just did; it's been more of a gut feeling: "Atheism seems stupid to me." But you're right, I think; Atheists are threatened or offended by the idea of God. Thanks for expressing that thought. :)

As for Naturalism... well, I started reading the intellectual quotes from the site and got bored. I guess Naturalism doesn't resonate with me. Is it Atheism? I don't know, I lost interest in it before I could form an opinion. ;) :D :p
 
Many religious people categorize Atheism as a single belief structure all on its own, but I challenge that view.

I am a religious person, a Buddhist. I am also an Atheist as I do not believe in God. I think this demonstrates quite well that a person can be Atheist but still believe in something, like naturalism for example.

So I would say that, no, Naturalism is not another name for Atheism, but it can be a subset of Atheism, just like Christianity is not just another name for Monotheism, but it is a subset of Monotheism

Pathless said:
Atheists are threatened or offended by the idea of God.

I can't speak for all Atheists, but I certainly am offended by the idea of God. The existence of the Judeo-Christian type God means that I can never take credit for anything I have achieved on my own, any level of Spiritual or Physical attainment, it is all down to him for making me the way I am and for watching over me and helping me.

It is like me saying that no matter what you achieve, it is all down to me, secretly working behind the scenes to help you out. I secretly helped you get your degree, score the winning goal, run the marathon, save your marriage, it was all me, you could never have done any of it on your own.

That is how I feel about God.

Peace
ATF
 
Awaiting_the_fifth said:
I can't speak for all Atheists, but I certainly am offended by the idea of God. The existence of the Judeo-Christian type God means that I can never take credit for anything I have achieved on my own, any level of Spiritual or Physical attainment, it is all down to him for making me the way I am and for watching over me and helping me.

It is like me saying that no matter what you achieve, it is all down to me, secretly working behind the scenes to help you out. I secretly helped you get your degree, score the winning goal, run the marathon, save your marriage, it was all me, you could never have done any of it on your own.

ATF

Hey ATF,

That's a valid feeling; however, I feel like the Judeo-Christian, or external, idea of God is limited. What about a more inclusive idea of God, where all beings are interconnected and inter-be as (part of) God? Isn't this doctrine found in Buddhism? Of course, if you take the approach that Buddhism is an atheistic religion--which seems like an oxymoron to me, but I understand what you are saying and that atheism is a stance taken by many Buddhists--the doctrine would substitute the word Nirvana, perhaps, instead of God. Yet even in Buddhism, which does place emphasis on individual effort, it is recognized that none of us are isolated or lone individuals working for enlightenment; it's all interconnected and we all inter-be together. So, while we can make individual effort, we really can't do much on our own, strictly speaking. ;)
 
Awaiting_the_fifth said:
...I can't speak for all Atheists, but I certainly am offended by the idea of God. The existence of the Judeo-Christian type God means that I can never take credit for anything I have achieved on my own, any level of Spiritual or Physical attainment, it is all down to him for making me the way I am and for watching over me and helping me.

It is like me saying that no matter what you achieve, it is all down to me, secretly working behind the scenes to help you out. I secretly helped you get your degree, score the winning goal, run the marathon, save your marriage, it was all me, you could never have done any of it on your own.

That is how I feel about God.

Peace
ATF

How ironic. That too is exactly the way I feel about God. Only I am grateful, not offended. ;)

v/r

Q
 
@5 - The existence of the Judeo-Christian type God means that I can never take credit for anything I have achieved on my own, any level of Spiritual or Physical attainment, it is all down to him for making me the way I am and for watching over me and helping me.
to me this is the sunday school, elementary version of G-d. When we get into the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent...there isn't anything that isn't G-d. G-d is defined by being all that is...so saying all the glory to G-d becomes fairly obvious and redundant, but more of an acceptance to what is. Knowing that by accessing source we access all there is is an awesome concept. Inventors know it, they wake up with more knowledge than they had when they went to bed and know that the source of the knowledge was not their brain working, but the connection they made through focus ( an active form of prayer and meditation).. It is always our choice to close the curtains and not let the light in, but whenever we decide to awake...we simply need to open the curtains and realize their is more to spirit than we were taught in elementary school...

I thought Buddhists were not athiests, they just didn't see the need to spend the time discussing, contemplating the nature or existence of G-d.
 
Silverbackman said:
I describe myself a Naturalist. To me Nature IS God ;). But unlike atheists I do not believe that Nature is limited to Its laws of Nature and I do believe it has conscious (the source of all consciousness). It can do anything It wants but choses to enforce Its laws for a reason we may never know (atleast anytime soon). This would mean Nature is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent.
All sounds lovely. But what supports these thoughts?

Silverbackman said:
Because atheists are offended and have something against the term God.
It offends me at times, especially when it is relegated to a superfluous non-idea. When people say 'god' meaning 'everything that I am ignorant of' I can get slightly peeved. Part of the reason I am atheist, is that god is non-congitive word in most cases.

Out of curiosity, is your nature-is-god belief not better characterised as pantheism?
 
wil said:
to me this is the sunday school, elementary version of G-d. When we get into the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent...there isn't anything that isn't G-d. G-d is defined by being all that is...so saying all the glory to G-d becomes fairly obvious and redundant, but more of an acceptance to what is. Knowing that by accessing source we access all there is is an awesome concept. Inventors know it, they wake up with more knowledge than they had when they went to bed and know that the source of the knowledge was not their brain working, but the connection they made through focus ( an active form of prayer and meditation).. It is always our choice to close the curtains and not let the light in, but whenever we decide to awake...we simply need to open the curtains and realize their is more to spirit than we were taught in elementary school...

I thought Buddhists were not athiests, they just didn't see the need to spend the time discussing, contemplating the nature or existence of G-d.

This can be construde as a veiled insult to another's perspective, or it requires further explanation for clarification...

What is the Sunday school part?

v/r

Q
 
Quahom1 said:
This can be construde as a veiled insult to another's perspective, or it requires further explanation for clarification...What is the Sunday school part? v/r

Q
not meant to be vieled nor an insult, simply an analogy. In elementary school we learn addition and subtraction, then multiplication and division...all a foundation so I can go onto calculus and analytical geometry...or balance a check book and keep a budget...

In Sunday School we get this larger than life humanistic view of the anthropormorphic G-d, mirroring Santa Claus in a lot of ways...big white guy with the beard sitting on top of the world keeping naughty and nice lists, dispensing gifts and good or coal, floods or plagues as the need arises...
it is a beginning, a foundation, they don't think we are capable of understanding concepts of spirit or all encompassing thought...so we get almost cartoon versions... as we grow our understanding grows, yes?

However those that leave Abrahamic religions and head for friendlier shores prior to seeing the entire painting develop still feel that our G-d is more akin to Zeus sitting up on a throne...
 
I too am not offended by the idea of God or the term, it's merely I don't use it in the same way as those who profess a belief in the supernatural. God to me is the natural world, it's the loving impulse, it's fairness and compassion, it's empathy, it's loving kindness.
 
wil said:
Are there a variety of atheistic belief systems and naturalism is just another one?

There are a large variety of atheistic philosophies. Naturalism is just one of them, and is usually thought of as only pertaining to metaphysical issues.

I personally regard myself as a naturalist in metaphysics, although unlike many naturalists I think that human individuals have a form of freewill, which places me diametrically opposite the anti-freewill thrust of that website. My views on ethical philosophy differ greatly from what is mentioned at the site, and so I call myself a Eudaimonist after my ethics, rather than a naturalist.


eudaimonia,

Mark
 
Silverbackman said:
I describe myself a Naturalist. To me Nature IS God ;). But unlike atheists I do not believe that Nature is limited to Its laws of Nature and I do believe it has conscious (the source of all consciousness). It can do anything It wants but choses to enforce Its laws for a reason we may never know (atleast anytime soon). This would mean Nature is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent.

Atheists believe in Nature and yet they deny it isn't a God. Why is this? Because atheists are offended and have something against the term God.

Hi, I'm an atheist. Seeing as I'm not completely stupid, I don't simply object to the word God. I'll use the contrast between my view and what is written above as an illustration.

I do not believe in Nature. I believe in nature.

You see Nature as having consciousness, desires, intentions, will, power, etc, and as omnipresent, onniscient, and omnipotent. It is easy to see how you would think of Nature as a God. Nature's resume is thick with Godliness. If Nature went to a job interview for godlike beings, Nature would be hired in an instant.

I see nature (the universe as a whole) as mindless, desireless, intentionless, will-less, etc, and therefore as completely devoid of such qualities as omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. My "nature" wouldn't even get an interview.

Is it easier to see now why I don't view "nature" (the universe) as anything like a God?


eudaimonia,

Mark
 
Namaste Pathless,

thank you for the post.

i realize you are dialoging with ATF, however, i hope you do not mind my interruption. just an aside, i have no feelings towards the idea of a Creator Deity one way or the other, in the sense that i would like or dislike such a notion.

Pathless said:
.. where all beings are interconnected and inter-be as (part of) God? Isn't this doctrine found in Buddhism?

this is an oft misunderstood aspect of the Buddha Dharma. our teachings do not say that everything is part of everything else, we do not teach monism.

Of course, if you take the approach that Buddhism is an atheistic religion--which seems like an oxymoron to me,

Main Entry: re·li·gion
Pronunciation: ri-'li-j&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English religioun, from Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back -- more at [SIZE=-1]RELY[/SIZE]
1 a : the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion> b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : [SIZE=-1]CONSCIENTIOUSNESS[/SIZE]
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.

what part seems oxymoronic with regards to Buddha Dharma, in your view?

but I understand what you are saying and that atheism is a stance taken by many Buddhists--the doctrine would substitute the word Nirvana, perhaps, instead of God.

Nibbana/Nirvana is not a deity of any sort, especially a Creator Deity. Buddha Dharma teaches that such beings as deities exist. it denies that there is a Creator Deity. moreover, such deities are inconsequential in the practice of Dharma and, as such, most Buddhist practice lineages are unconcerned with them.

Yet even in Buddhism, which does place emphasis on individual effort, it is recognized that none of us are isolated or lone individuals working for enlightenment; it's all interconnected and we all inter-be together.

not just humans. all phenomena within the universe arise in mutual dependence upon each other. that does not mean, however, that "all is one".


So, while we can make individual effort, we really can't do much on our own, strictly speaking. ;)

not in the Buddhist view. it is you, and you alone, which determine the outcome of your practice as Buddha Shakyamuni explains in multiple Sutta/Sutras.

metta,

~v
 
Pathless said:
Well put, Siverbackman. My reaction to atheism has been much the same, but I've never been able to articulate it as well as you just did; it's been more of a gut feeling: "Atheism seems stupid to me." But you're right, I think; Atheists are threatened or offended by the idea of God. Thanks for expressing that thought. :)

Are you sure you aren't "projecting"? You seem threatened or offended by atheism, or at least that how I interpret your gut feeling that "atheism seems stupid". I could be wrong about that, of course.

I personally am not threatened or offended by the idea of God. I might be morally offended by certain conceptions of God, e.g. one that would sentence non-believers to eternal punishment. But I'm not offended by the idea that a God exists. I simply don't believe in one for philosophical reasons and lack of evidence. If a benevolent God existed, I would be fine with that.

Naturally, I'm just speaking for myself, and not for all atheists.


eudaimonia,

Mark
 
Silverbackman said:
I describe myself a Naturalist. To me Nature IS God ;). But unlike atheists I do not believe that Nature is limited to Its laws of Nature and I do believe it has conscious (the source of all consciousness). It can do anything It wants but choses to enforce Its laws for a reason we may never know (atleast anytime soon). This would mean Nature is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent.
Atheism in many ways does not exist. Unless by atheist you mean denying the existence of a God, then we are all atheists in a sense. Atheists believe in Nature and yet they deny it isn't a God. Why is this? Because atheists are offended and have something against the term God. When most atheists think of God they think of the stereotypical Christian white man God with a long beard sitting on a throne in a different realm taking tabs on what people do :rolleyes:. God does not have to be this primitive.
There is nothing in the name; it is attributes assigned to the Being, which is more important. What I gather from you post is that you are may be allergic primarily to the Christian concept of God, based on Trinity, and that you don’t accept that? Brian pointed it out in some post in another thread that whatever Atheists he has come across they are found out to be deists but they don’t want to be associated with the Christian, God and Son of God together in One with another one. These are not Brian’s exact words but that is what I understood from his post. SB had confirmed that. Nevertheless, I mention here that Jesus, his mother Mary, and his twelve disciples were from the Jews and in my opinion his belief in God was like that of the Jews and there is no proof from Bible that he himself ever announced any in change in that.
The post is very interesting and informative, I appreciate it.
To me initially, the name is not that important i.e. you may call Him, as Permaishar, Bhagwan, Ahura-Mazda, Jehovah, Allah or God etc, as long as the attributes are the same if one calls Him as Nature, with a capitol T, it doesn’t matter, to me he is a deist/theist ,only if one prefers to be associated with the other deists, but if he is comfortable associating with the atheists, that is his choice which could not be denied to him.
You believe some attributes to your Nature, namely Omnipresent-present everywhere, Omniscient-knowing everything, Omnipotent-having unlimited or very great power, and you do believe that it or now He (Nature) has also conscious rather the source of all consciousness.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908),he was a man of God on him God also revealed his word, has discussed this subject extensively and philosophically in his many books, in the light of many Quranic verses. It may not suit here on this forum to quote from him. So, I want to convey following points in fact originated by him but stated in my words:-
1. The attributes of God or assigned to God are interwoven and interconnected, if you reject one of His attributes that would logically and naturally effect other attributes and one by one you shall have to reject all the other attributes and ultimately left with none. For instance if one believes that God is All-Seeing and All-Hearing (Nature is conscious ,the source of all consciousness, as mentioned by you) then logically and naturally it should be All-Seeing and All-Hearing .Now if some poor Man, in a miserable condition, or in distress calls this deity Nature to address his woes, and he does repeat it for so many days and months, and neither receives any reply from Nature nor his distress is addressed, that Man would logically have to conclude that the Nature has become deaf and dumb, talking is another proof of consciousness, or the Nature has lost any consciousness worth the name, Nature is of no use and finally he shall have to declare that Nature might be dead, why to believe in it? So, one shall have to start making or assigning attributes to God, anew. What a helpless deity in the making? Can it not reveal all its attributes to man like God revealed unto Adam, or to Moses, or to Krishna, or to Buddha, or to Zoroaster, or to Jesus or to Muhammad etc.
2. It is true that on seeing and observing the perfect systems and laws of the Universe, man could reach a stage where he could think logically and morally that there should be a Creator or Controller of this universe. But that is only a conjecture, there may be or may not be, he would be in a state of doubt, sometimes believing and sometimes not believing and wavering. He would never logically reach the stage of certainty that God is, unless God himself reveals through perfect men, called prophets.By His words revealed on Moses, Jesus and Muhammad the certainty stage is is achieved.
Silverbackman Anyway welcome in the theist community.
Thanks
 
Awaiting_the_fifth said:
Many religious people categorize Atheism as a single belief structure all on its own, but I challenge that view.

I am a religious person, a Buddhist. I am also an Atheist as I do not believe in God. I think this demonstrates quite well that a person can be Atheist but still believe in something, like naturalism for example.

So I would say that, no, Naturalism is not another name for Atheism, but it can be a subset of Atheism, just like Christianity is not just another name for Monotheism, but it is a subset of Monotheism



I can't speak for all Atheists, but I certainly am offended by the idea of God. The existence of the Judeo-Christian type God means that I can never take credit for anything I have achieved on my own, any level of Spiritual or Physical attainment, it is all down to him for making me the way I am and for watching over me and helping me.

It is like me saying that no matter what you achieve, it is all down to me, secretly working behind the scenes to help you out. I secretly helped you get your degree, score the winning goal, run the marathon, save your marriage, it was all me, you could never have done any of it on your own.

That is how I feel about God.

Peace
ATF

Hi ATF,

Just out of curiosity, who is this "self" that is offended?

Peace
 
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