Introduction

Judith Walker, Tom Flynn

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Who cares about philosophy, anyway? You must, because you have one.

If you’re like most secular humanists, your philosophy owes much to naturalism. Naturalism in ph ilosophy entails the rejection of the supernatural and is rooted in the domain of matter, energy, and their interactions. In Free Inquiry’s pages, Richard Carrier once audaciously suggested that naturalism reduces to the dictum that “everything mental is fundamentally nonmental.”1 Naturalism is the view that the world of everyday physical experience (essentially, nature) is in some important sense all that there is, and that reliable knowledge is best obtained when we query nature using the scientific method. Naturalism asserts that supernatural entities such as God do not exist and warns that knowledge gained without appeal to the natural world and without impartial review by multiple observers is unreliable. It presumes that reality is objective—that truthful propositions about the universe are true for all inquirers and are true regardless of whether any of us want them to be true or not. That’s why when one of us (Flynn) wrote what became the Council for Secular Humanism’s official definition of secular humanism, it was described as “a comprehensive nonreligious life stance that incorporates a naturalistic philosophy, a cosmic outlook rooted in science, and a consequentialist ethical system”.2(emphasis added).

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