What “Appreciating” Means


There’s no need to acknowledge a divine being in order to appreciate a sunset or draw inspiration from it.

Even so, we don’t need to get rid of “appreciation” in order to be good humanists either. We can be secular and have a healthy appreciation for nature and its wonders too without falling into the metaphysical pitfalls of religionism.  “Appreciation/Inspiration” needn’t be anathema to us as ideas or ways of approaching the world. They’re as legitimate to us as human beings as far more technical, hardline scientific concepts are, and ultimately more rewarding and relevant for us when compared to the alternative.

The “just-so” of a sunset (or any event in nature for that matter) is as much a cultural statement and a skewing of reality as the poet’s or mystic’s view of the world.  “Appreciation” allows us look past the veil of the “just-so” in the world, the so-called ‘humdrum’ or ‘ordinary’ nature of reality, and to glimpse the universe in ways which make our study of it a far richer one.

“Appreciation” doesn’t need to be ‘canned’ with metaphysics.  Doing so will only rob us of life’s real richness and meaning, whether or not we cut out the nonsense of god and religion.


Posted on March 8, 2012, in Humanism, Science and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Luke Rondinaro

    Thanks Mike for excerpting from and linking to my post. Glad to see it was worth highlighting. In any case, I thought the point was worth making. Too many times in these discussions over religion versus humanism, people end up thinking you somehow have to give up a sense of wonder for nature just to keep in line with secular values or scientific ideals. Not so!

    You don’t have to acknowledge a God to appreciate the magnificence of the universe, nor do you have to embrace a notion of an ‘ordinary” or ‘normal’ world to be a good secularist of the scientific mold. Science doesn’t require us to accept the idea of a ‘just-so’ universe and neither does the philosophy of science.

    Anyway, I’m not even sure Coyne or others are even saying we have to dispense with the idea of ‘inspirational freethought’ Their point is an argument against religious metaphysics and the notion that ‘you have to be thankful to a god-being’ to, in any sort of fashion, respond to the more noumenous aspects of reality. … And you don’t need to, no matter what sort of a corner you find yourself backed into via this discussion with the religious over sacralization and de-/re- sacralization in human affairs.

    The point is, you don’t need to express gratitude to a divine being in order to appreciate nature in all its glories. You can be inspired by the world of nature and the cosmos without having to acknowledge a creator..

    Thanks again for your great posts here. I always look forward to seeing what you put up. … Your Neil deGrasse Tyson video post and remarks were excellent … Hope to see a lot more like it and your “Secularism is the Religion of Humanity” piece.

    Major “likes” for all of this material. Keep up the great work on all of it.

    Best regards!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: