Naturalism assumes that there is no “built-in” meaning or purpose for anything. Human life, indeed every kind of life, and every aspect of material reality are just enormous cosmic accidents. The essence of reality is nothing more than material substances which, over the eons, have evolved to what we see today.
Since there is no ultimate moral purpose or meaning in anything, it is simply up to the creatures who are capable of contemplation to invent their own meaning. To this point in evolutionary history, only man has ended up evolving with a sense of moral values or purpose, so only man needs to deal with this issue. Ultimately, since there is no innate value or meaning, each person has to find their own meaning – something subjective that makes life meaningful and worth living for them. It may be different from individual to individual but that is OK. There is nothing that can objectively be called right, truth, purpose, or meaning.
Animism assumes that any kind of unexplained event happens because spiritual beings or supernatural forces are at work in the natural world. Certainly natural forces are recognized as operating in situations where a natural cause can be readily seen. But in cases where a natural cause cannot be seen, it is automatically assumed to be caused by supernatural power.
Far Eastern Thought
The ultimate end of the most prominent forms of Far Eastern Thought is absorption into an all-encompassing cosmos. No one is able to take seriously any kind of objective reality – whether knowledge or sensory experience. It is acknowledged that there is such a thing as objective reality, but it goes on to assert that the nature of that reality is quite beyond our ability to comprehend. The goal of life, therefore, is to simply recognize that reality cannot be known and to passively live life. This attitude frees a person from all of the suffering that “seems” to be all around. When the state of total passivity is achieved, individuals are freed to simply let life come as it will.
Theism, in a general sense, gives us all the categories necessary to get a handle on truth by providing a framework for understanding both the material and the spiritual aspects of existence. It points to God as creator, gives a basis for natural and spiritual law, and holds out the hope that there is a reason and purpose for our existence.
The big problem with theism, as a category, is that it is so broad. It encompasses several of the major world religions as well as dozens of smaller groups. Many, if not most, of these groups have their own authoritative book which they consider to be an actual revelation from God. Most do not, however, contemplate a God who is interested in intimate interaction with the material world and man, in particular.
Various theistic approaches go in very different directions, some of which contradict one other. This means that not every specific theistic view can be viable. Theism does generally, point us in the right direction, but we need to find the specific view of theism that we can acknowledge as truth.
Relational Revelation is a specialized form of Theism and is the only worldview that allows for a completely coherent and comprehensive understanding of our perceptions of reality, and which has a basis for backing it up. This does not mean that we will get answers to every question that we want answered. There are certainly some things that we long to know which are beyond our human ability to understand.
The pure view, though, does cover all of the bases. There are categories for understanding the part of reality that we interact with physically and for understanding that part which is beyond the reach of the senses. And it does all of this in a way that matches up with the way human beings actually experience life.
© 2006 Freddy Davis