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Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses Perfect Paperback – March 15, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"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 The Meme Machine and 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

About the Author

Thomas W. Clark is founder and director of the Center for Naturalism and creator of Naturalism.Org, among the most comprehensive online resources on scientific naturalism and its implications. He lectures and writes on science, naturalism, ethics, free will, criminal justice, consciousness, addiction, and related philosophical and social concerns.

Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 103 pages
  • Publisher: Center for Naturalism; 1st edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979111102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979111105
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,325,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

In this book, Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses, Thomas Clark, founder and director of the Center for Naturalism, provides a superb introduction to the worldview known as Naturalism, as contrasted with the supernatural worldview shared by most of the world's religions. The work is not intended as a philosophical or scientific defense of Naturalism, which can be found elsewhere (e.g., Richard Carrier's book Sense and Goodness Without God), but rather a consideration of the implications of Naturalism for our view of ourselves in relation to the rest of the universe and for the promotion of a compassionate and progressive society. Although Naturalism has been variously defined by different authors, at its core is the view that Nature is all there is, that there are no supernatural realms or entities, such as gods, spirits, and ghosts, and that human beings are fully embodied organisms embedded in the causal network of the universe. Moreover, Naturalists are generally committed to an evidence-based, rationalistic epistemology, as exemplified by the sciences. A key implication of Naturalism as a scientifically-informed worldview is that the mind is entirely dependent upon the operation of the physical brain, which is subject to the same basic physical laws as those governing the behavior of inanimate matter. We are fundamentally material beings whose perceptual and cognitive faculties are products of eons of biological evolution. Consequently, humans do not possess a disembodied soul that survives death; all of our choices and decision making processes are fully caused phenomena.

One of Clark's main themes concerns the implications of Naturalism for the question of free will. On this topic, Clark gives a clear, concise, and convincing presentation.
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Comment 24 of 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I was sleeping lightly one evening and was woken by a friend sending me an instant message asking, "Did you know Tom Clark wrote a book?" He included a link to order the book here on Amazon. That was at 4am; I ordered the book before I went back to sleep.

If you're looking for a full blown defense of naturalism against its critics, you won't find it here. That's not because Clark has failed to provide this defense, but because that was never the goal to begin with. What this book includes is a general introduction to what naturalism is and the what implications are that naturalism carries.

Even if you are a naturalist or atheist already, this book provides a convenient presentation of naturalism that is helpful in organizing ideas and seeing the connections between them. Simply because the book is short in length doesn't mean it's low in content! Clark offers insightful discussions of many topics including epsitemology, ethics, free will, and even personal relationships while offering plenty of references for further reading in case something he says spikes your interest.

The way this book discusses the implications of naturalism from a very broad view can even challenge many people who already accept the main tenet of naturalism--that the natural world is all there is. Have you really understood naturalism and how it applies directly to your everyday life, or do you perhaps have fragments lurking in the shadows of your mind from the supernaturalistic worldview you thought you discarded? Reading this book is a good way to address this question.

Also, you can't beat the price. You'll probably spend more than the price of this book on dinner tonight. So, skip the appetizers (they're too expensive anyway) and dessert (you know you need to drop a couple of pounds before you hit the beach next month) and instead treat yourself to this delightful book. You'll be glad you did.
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By A Customer on May 23, 2007
As the author so clearly states, at the heart of naturalism is a commitment to a way of knowing about the world, a way of deciding what exists. This is the best way we have. The way of the scientific method. This is the use of empirical science, of evidence. That's what the bottom line is.... the fact is there is NO evidence that a supernatural domain occupied by supernatural entities exists. Science has brought us to the realization that all that exists, exists within the natural world. As Clark points out, this is an uplifting and liberating understanding that connects us to the rest of the universe. The author convincingly shows that having gone from polytheism to monotheism, the next step is naturalism. It is inevitable. We are propelled towards it by science. I It is certain, that this book is only the first of many to follow that will make it vividly clear.
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I enjoyed this book as an introduction to the worldview of Naturalism. Clark uses website links at the end of sections so that one can further investigate the ideas he presents. I disagree with some of the reviews of this book that it's garbage. It's an introduction, not a concise treaty of everything naturalist. So to claim that it's somehow defective is to confuse its purpose.

For the curious minded this book is a starting place. The further one searches with the links and references the more one comes to understand the ideas in worldview naturalism.

Clark has a tendency to stress the deterministic outlook of this worldview. But determinism is a crucial aspect of worldview naturalism. Clark makes a case for the benefits of determinism, as well as, makes a case for not fearing the implications of determinism and Naturalism as a whole in a very helpful appendix.

For someone that has looked into various religions and found them wanting I particularly enjoyed this short but serviceable introduction. I was persuaded to pursue further investigation into this particular worldview. It is a very pragmatic and useful worldview.

For the atheist or skeptic that relies solely on rational ideas this book helps to broaden the scope of one's understanding.
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