The trio of substitutes for religion ? Naturalism, Humanism and Democracy (Audio Discussion)

Jun 22nd, 2011 | By | Category: Gallery, Philosphical thoughts

This remarkable podcast interview from, provides a very commonsense view of why naturalism, humanism and democracy are ideals which may replace its holistic counterparts within religious traditions. ‘Religion is as natural for homo sapiens, as natural as art is for human beings’, philosophy researcher John Shook states in this audio interview, but he also defines religion as a ‘non-rational’ repository for human wisdom. He also identifies super-naturalism as the hallmark of religious reasoning while looking for an agent behind most phenomena, and calls for a ‘science of ethics’ for the future, taking responsibility for our destiny. The main question raised in this piece is : ‘Where should people look for when they are looking for an intellectual replacement for religion ?’

Our view : While it is true that super-naturalism is the main reason for the dramatic rise in ‘no religion’ as a category when it comes to religious self-identification, elements of social organization on religious themes go far beyond merely humanitarian and ecological concerns. In atheistic self-identification, spiritual concerns are often largely ignored e.g. instinctive morality, expanding one’s conscious thoughts to far beyond oneself almost to the point of identifying oneself with the cosmos, the essential processes by which one transcends the feeling of being limited in time and space, to having a greater degree of insight into how one’s own mind creates patterns of thoughts. The above are some of the concerns of spiritual disciplines, largely ignored by a materialistic interpretation of our existence.

Super-natural metaphysical views were not necessarily religious : in our species’ cultural history, a supernatural law maker was at the heart of development of science itself, from early Greek thought, Islamic science right to the Renaissance itself ! In this context, the roots of religion and science are indistinguishable, only that religions, by virtue of its focus on ‘maintaining traditions’, have quite often lagged behind in updating their worldviews.

But personal religion and spirituality is well suited to replace that – one can still identify oneself in a cultural tradition when it comes to religion, but replacing all supernatural views with ones synthesized through reason alone. In addition there are religions where supernatural views are not necessary or integral at all ! Replacing religion by any selected collection of views (-isms) ignores the vital process of development and evolution of social consciousness, which are necessary to develop balanced word views for the future.


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