I was interviewed on Vortex Sarasota a while back (embedded video below). It was a great conversation and I really like the host George Lewis. It was one of the funner interviews I’ve done.
At one point George asks me about spiritualism. And, I don’t understand what he is asking me. I do my best to translate his question into something that makes sense for me and fail. Even though we agree on a lot of things, there is a basic disconnect in our world views. I am a natural materialist, he is a supernatural spiritualist.
For me there is only the natural world that consists of matter and energy. If something happens, it is quantifiable in this world. I have the same feelings of awe and wonder as anyone else. I have feelings of intuition. But for me, these feelings are a result of biochemical processes occurring in my brain. That doesn’t make them any less special or any less amazing. It doesn’t make me feel any less connected to the universe. It is just that I don’t view these things as anything other than a material natural process.
I think what trips people up is the choice of words. People associate the natural materialist world view with capitalistic materialism which refers to the gratuitous consumption of material, which is, for good reason, associated with greed. So they don’t understand how a natural materialist worldview can help people lead such satisfying emotionally fulfilling lives.
Grounding your view of the world as a natural materialist as opposed to a supernatural spiritualist simply means that you accept the world as it is as opposed to hoping that there is something more there. It is a liberating, amazing and inspiring way to view who you are in the universe. On the one hand, you are nothing more than matter and energy combined. On the other, you are you! Matter combined, against all odds and against its tendency towards entropy to create you! If that doesn’t make you feel special, nothing will.
PS – I am a board member for the Spiritual Naturalist Society – check them out at: http://spiritualnaturalistsociety.org/