Characteristics & Justification< P>
Necessity and complexity of defending Religious Naturalism as a viable belief requires a lengthy dialogue. It is done here only briefly. To keep our promise of conciseness, that full dialogue is offered at another website.
Is Religious Naturalism a religion? Yes, it is by most all criteria – see US Supreme Court on Religion . Is it naturalistic? Yes, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as: The idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world; the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world.
Natural laws are those we live with daily, In contrast, non-natural laws refer to acts of a deity, witchcraft, and the like. The naturalism that insists that "nature is all there is" is called philosophical naturalism. Methodological naturalism is a different form demonstrated by science. It is a very reliable way of acquiring knowledge. Hypotheses based on non-natural forces are of little value to the scientist because they imply no testable predictions. However, the methodological naturalist is not committed to a denial of God's existence. There are no scientific laws that say God does not exist.
Both philosophical and methodology naturalism are found in Religious Naturalism. Both became persuasive in the 19th century when scientists became more successful in explaining the behavior of nature. Darwin's theory of evolution had particular impact. For some 20th century philosophers nature was the only reality. There was no such thing as 'supernatural'. The scientific method could be used to investigate all reality, including the human spirit.
Extra ordinary claims require extra ordinary proofs. What's nice about Religion Naturalism is that it does not need to make extra ordinary claims. Nature is real is an obvious truth. The claim of sacredness is arbitrary as it is a personal subjective feeling. It is based on personal evaluation and is true only to the person that sees it as such. It is not fixed by any law or rule. However, a strong objective case can be made about its value to all people. Nature is absolutely necessary for existence.
Note - website for the rest of the Justification will be available 5/1/2011
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