The book Encountering Naturalism
Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses, by Thomas W. Clark
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Most of us have a worldview, an overarching context for life that helps to shape our beliefs, goals and actions. This book explores the science-based worldview known as naturalism – a comprehensive and fulfilling alternative to faith-based religion and other varieties of dualism.
Taking empirical science as the route to reliable knowledge, naturalism holds that we inhabit a single, natural world; there is no separate supernatural realm. We are fully physical beings whose origins lie in cosmic and biological evolution. We are therefore entirely at home in the universe.
By understanding and accepting our complete connection to the natural world, naturalism provides a secure foundation for human flourishing, an effective basis for achieving our purposes and addressing our deepest concerns. We don’t need belief in the supernatural to sustain us.
Nature, it turns out, is enough.
"This little book takes all those deep questions about life, meaning, purpose and death, and shows how you don't need religion to make sense of them - indeed how the naturalist way of thinking about the deepest issues is kinder and truer."
– Dr. Susan Blackmore, author of Conversations on Consciousness.
"Don't misjudge the importance of Encountering Naturalism by its small size and inexpensive cost. It is packed with insights about naturalism and its implications for free will, for life's meaning and purpose, and for social and political issues. A must read for anyone wanting a fuller and deeper understanding of this important philosophical perspective."
– Dr. William R. Murry, author of Reason and Reverence: Religious Humanism for the 21st Century.
"Encountering Naturalism is a wonderfully readable plunge deep into the implications of a thorough going naturalism. The naturalistic surface -- with its rejection of miracles and mysteries -- is well-mapped; but for anyone who wishes to explore the questions, perils, opportunities, and vistas far beneath that surface, there is no better or more engaging guide than Thomas W. Clark."
– Bruce Waller, philosopher and author of The Natural Selection of Autonomy.
"An excellent and concise companion to the recent spate of books about atheism from the likes of Dawkins, Onfray, Hitchens, Grayling et al. It looks at how we can make sense of the world if we accept that we – human beings – are purely a part of nature, with no supernatural element such a soul. If we really are just a collection of atoms, then what does life mean? Where does morality come from? What does free will mean – and indeed, is there such a thing in nature? It’s written in straightforward language that attempts to help us make sense of our place in the universe. Its insights will have you nodding in agreement, and that little light marked 'eureka' will be flashing continuously as you read. Those who aspire to live in a world where the supernatural exists only in stories will love this book."
– Terry Sanderson, President, National Secular Society, London.
"Encountering Naturalism is a well-written, short (103 pages) book that serves as a very readable, non-academic introduction to naturalism. It's very light on scientific and other technical considerations, focusing instead on other questions readers new to naturalism might have. One aspect of the book that I found particularly interesting, perhaps because it's the sort of thing I haven't paid much attention to, is the way it concentrates on issues concerning our lack of godlike free will and the implications of this lack for our notions of responsibility in justice and even psychotherapy. Since such matters of applied ethics are far outside what I feel competent commenting about, I naturally can't judge Clark's views on responsibility. They seem plausible to me (especially since I think most traditional views of "free will" are barely a cut above superstition), and they don't raise any immediate red flags. And even if I know very little about issues of justice or therapy, I think there are some interesting and important questions here for scientific naturalists. Therefore I recommend Clark's book."
- Taner Edis, author of Science and Non-Belief, The Ghost in the Universe: God in the Light of Modern Science and other books on science and religion. Quoted from the Secular Web's blog, Secular Outpost, 10/5/07.
"I bought a copy of your book, and read it last week. For anyone who may be interested, I'll give it a plug: Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses. I enjoyed it, think I generally agree with it, and will return to it."
- Russell Blackford, author and philosopher at School of Philosophy and Bioethics, Monash University.
John Derbyshire, a thoughtful conservative who writes for the National Review, has kind words about the Center for Naturalism and Encountering Naturalism here.
Interviews, reviews, and other mentions of Encountering Naturalism
- Point of Inquiry interview with DJ Grothe
- Faith and Freethought interview with Richard Spencer
- Skeptiko interview with Alex Tsakiris
- Review by Molleen Matsumura, aka "Sweet Reason"
- Featured at the National Secular Society bookstore (Great Britain)
- Recommended by Taner Edis
- Recommended by John Derbyshire
About the author
Thomas W. Clark is the creator of Naturalism.Org, among the Web’s most comprehensive resources on scientific naturalism and its applications.