Note: Throughout history many similar yet different philosophies and beliefs have been referred to as naturalistic pantheism. I am specifically talking about the beliefs described by the World Pantheism Movement website and that many people are starting to identify as subscribing to.
Naturalistic Pantheism, also called Scientific Pantheism is a particular set of beliefs, which some people may refer to as a religion or life philosophy. Naturalistic Pantheism eschews all traditional religions and their dogma without having any of it’s own. It claims not to have any core beliefs and to be open to and accept scientific evidence and proof while at the same time having a ‘reverence’ for the universe and all existence.
It seems that Naturalistic Pantheism is the choice of educated and perhaps intelligent people who are smart enough to acknowledge that all the current organized religions are absurd, yet still have some sort of need for a spiritual aspect to their lives. If you eliminate all the spiritual aspects of god or worship from naturalistic pantheism then all that remains is the base scientific knowledge and fact. In what possible way is this so insufficient that some people need to re-imagine the universe as a kind of entity? If I can have a deep wonder and respect for the universe without having to do so, surely others can as well? I understand that people have different ways of coping or looking at the world but this is just ridiculous.
It is pointless to ascribe fantasy to the world to make it more appealing. I really have to wonder about the people who feel this is necessary and their general coping skills. Empirical evidence is really all that matters. Anything outside of that is speculation which while interesting should not be enough to base your life around.
Richard Dawkins who famously attacked religion and the concept of a personal god in The God Delusion shares the same basic idea. He mentions many times in TGD that surely the universe is amazing enough, and that it should be enough that we appreciate the beauty of what exists without having to ascribe a fictional creator as being responsible. Naturalistic pantheism would seem to share this view except for the unnecessary aspects of spirituality and reverence.
I would think that Richard Dawkins would be fundamentally opposed to the concept of naturalistic pantheism. Why? Because it is disingenuous. Rather than have a reverence for existence as we understand it to be as science has revealed it to be, naturalistic pantheism paraphrases and reinterprets our current understanding to ascribe a higher meaning. Something that does not exist accept in peoples imaginations and should therefore be dismissed.
It seems that as many organized religions decline in popularity alternative spirituality’s are increasing in popularity. Nonsense such as Neo-paganism, astrology, even magic and now naturalistic pantheism are on the rise. People are starting to understand that the dogma of organized religions is nonsensical and so are looking for crutch to fill their need. Enter the above spirituality’s which are appealing since they don’t directly contradict science. If people have a need to believe in something that isn’t there is no stopping them. Perhaps in a few hundred years when organized religion is largely defunct, instead of it being gone altogether it will have just been replaced by something less fantastic but equally absurd.
I think this is an interesting time in humanities history. Until recently religious people have dominated society. It is only in the last few decades that people are choosing to think for themselves and realizing that most religions simply don’t make any sense. The people who cannot entirely accept scientific evidence and findings and need to place their own unsubstantiated ideas and beliefs on top of them represent the last of a dying breed. These people will probably always be around as part of the diversity of humans in general, but eventually they will be an extreme minority deprived of any credibility.
At the end of the day it is generally impossible to have strong religious beliefs and accept the current scientific knowledge without making significant compromises. abstracting your religion to the point it is practically indistinguishable from the normal workings of the universe is not enlightened, but a crock.
For more information: http://www.pantheism.net/manifest.htm