What is naturalism?

“Although there is only one kind of stuff in the universe and it is physical,
out of this stuff come minds, beauty, emotions, moral values –
in short the full gamut of phenomena that gives richness to human life”
Julian Baggini

Naturalism is a view that all substances and beings and all actions and effects occur due to natural processes.

It gives a sense of what is, how things work, and what may be possible (or not).  

A naturalist view includes galaxies, stars, planets, and varied objects and forms of life on Earth. All are composed of particles and energy. All act in accordance with natural laws.

This view does not include supernatural beings or intervention – no fairies or angels, no miracles or magic, and no God as an actual consciousness or being that may cause events in the world.

It gives a framework for considering what may be true.

In naturalism, things considered to be known are based in evidence, with the scientific method as a way to test beliefs. This begins with observation of the natural world, with assumptions and hypotheses that are tested.

If confirmed, ideas may be accepted as true. If not confirmed, ideas are revised. Authority, tradition, and holy texts are not accepted as proof.

Although they may not be familiar with term or in the habit of using it yet, most scientists, and most people who describe themselves as “atheist” or “secular”, hold a naturalist worldview. In Christianity and Judaism, some ways of envisioning God can fit with a naturalistic view.

For more information and other perspectives, see:

Perspectives on naturalism (members of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science)
Naturalism.org (Center for Naturalism)
Naturalism vs. supernaturalism: framing the debate (Center of Inquiry)
Naturalism (Encyclopedia Britannica)
International Society for Science and Religion: Library Project. Naturalism