“What you see is what you get”
If you never believed in any kind of deity, naturalism is the most obvious worldview. It starts with the concept that the material universe is all there is or ever will be. There is no transcendent God, no heaven or hell. Matter is the end all and be all of existence. Only what we can observe by the scientific matter is real. We are at the center of everything, and we control our destiny. This is one of the most popular worldviews in existence today. Evolution obviously fits very easily within this worldview.
Here is Naturalism in a nutshell:
The universe is all that existed. Everything that exists is so because of natural processes. Living things and nonliving things are all part of the natural world. We are nothing more than complex organisms, made up of organic matter. Our ability to carry out complex decision-making and thought is just a function of chemistry and physical reactions. We are what we are through natural processes such as evolution. There is no real point to our individual lives other than as part of the overall continuation of the natural processes in the universe.
Obviously, there is neither excitement nor attraction to such a worldview. Many people in our society believe this, although they inwardly hope there is more to life than this.
The Questions that define Naturalism:
- What is prime reality – the really real?
The material universe is all there is and all there ever will be.
- What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?
Reality is whatever can be sensed and detected.
- What is a human being?
A human being is a complex organism.
- What happens to a person at death?
At death, a person ceases to exist. There is no afterlife.
- Why is it possible to know anything at all?
We can only know what we can perceive. Only what mankind can perceive is knowable.
- How do we know what is right and wrong?
Right and wrong is whatever we decide it is. We could decide it’s whatever is legal, whatever causes people the most happiness, or something else.
- What is the meaning of human history?
Human history is the story of our evolution from lower species.
No one remains just a naturalist. Naturalism is difficult to stay with as a worldview. It focuses on the natural world as the beginning and end of everything. It leaves us with nothing to look forward to. We are the product of natural forces. Whatever we do in this life will only affect this life and will one day be remembered no more. If we are good or bad, it doesn’t matter.
Because of that, most people cannot stay with a simply Naturalistic worldview. There is another shoe to drop. If everything in the universe is just material things, then how do we react to this?
We can react negatively or positively. A negative reaction will lead us to the worldview of Nihilism, because nothing really matters.
We want this life to matter for something. Life isn’t just something that happens without consequence. There is a great need in all of us to ensure that our life matters. Our lives are not insignificant, so we look at what that significance might be. The most likely positive reactions are the following worldviews:
- Secular Humanism – Celebrating every person as special
- Marxism – The state is what matters, not individuals (tbd)
- Post-Modernism – We make up our own meaning for existence (tbd)
But the best reaction to Naturalism is simply to realize there has to be something else in this life besides just the physical universe. That would lead us to Christianity.