Episode 53 :: Tom Clark :: Encountering Naturalism

Tom Clark

Tom Clark speaks with us about his book Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses.

How do we as secular Buddhists clarify that line between what we experience in the “real world”, and what we may tend to discount as mysticism? Secular practice does have that inclination away from the supernatural. We may have experiences which seem to indicate that mystical interpretations about reality are correct, but when we critically examine these conclusions, we see that may not be so. Correlation is not causation, and my meditative experience of Manjushri doesn’t mean Manjushri is a living being. The brain we rely on can be innocently mistaken, and that means the person we conventionally view as ourselves, can conditionally also be innocently mistaken.

But what do we call this realm of the real? What is the world view and term that captures our leanings? The scientific method is a method. Critical thinking is a tool. Skepticism is an ideological stance. The world view and term I’ve started to use with more frequency is naturalism. And as we’ll hear about in today’s interview, is in perfect alignment with a secular Buddhist practice.

Tom Clark is founder and director of the Center For Naturalism, a non profit advocacy organization in the Boston area devoted to educating the public about naturalism, policy development, and community building. He is the editor of the popular online website, Naturalism.Org, which is among the web’s most comprehensive resources on scientific naturalism, its implications and its applications. He is also the author of Encountering Naturalism.

So, sit back, relax, and have some hot chocolate. It’s snowing again.

:: Discuss this episode ::


“Naturalism is an empirically plausible conjecture about reality.” — Tom Clark

“If you want to convince me of something, you have to use standards of evidence that would convince anyone in everyday affairs. You can’t suppose there’s something special about your domain of discourse that allows you to use canons of evidence that don’t apply to every day things.” — Tom Clark






Web Links


Music for This Episode


Chikuzen Shakuhachi Series

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from the Chikuzen Shakuhachi Series, Volume 1, courtesy of Tai Hei Shakuhachi. The tracks used in this episode are:

  • Track 8 :: Tamuke