Nonreligious Worldview
Teaching About Religion
in support of civic pluralism
In general, a nonreligious worldview is absent
supernatural interpretations, whereas a
religious worldview permits or often embraces
such conceptions.
Along with religious worldviews, nonreligious worldviews have been present
and important throughout recorded history. A significant proportion of the
world’s people today have a nonreligious outlook on life and the cosmos.

The worldview of nonreligious people simply don't have the major conceptual
elements found in the worldview derived from any religion. A nonreligious
framework for human living is void of any divine entity or deity’s involvement
in human life or of considerations of existence after death. Perspectives on
morality are likewise naturalistic.

As religions are categorized according to various fundamentals, so are the
varied life understandings of the nonreligious outlook. Rather than Buddhist,
Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Moslem, Sikh, Tao, and so on, one finds such
categories as Agnostic, Atheist, Freethinker, Humanist, Materialist,
Rationalist, Skeptic, and so on. Recently the term "bright" has been
presented as a single term that represents all individuals having a
naturalistic worldview.

Behavior and Worldview

One must be cautious about relating conduct to conceptual framework. It is
all too easy to fall prey to attributing false characteristics to individuals.
Holding a nonreligious worldview is not the same thing as
being uninterested in religion.
Many people say of themselves, "I am not religious" or "I do not have a
religion." The individual may actually hold to a religious worldview, however,
with mental assumptions readily characterized as religious ones. Images of
a divine or of spirits or magical forces may populate their minds, and they
may use what are deemed supernaturally revealed dictates to guide their
actions. They may continue to believe in miracles or other metaphysical
events that go along with a religious tradition, or with some blending of
traditions and practices.
Holding a nonreligious worldview is not the same thing as
disliking or "being hostile to" religion.
Nonreligious people are all across the map regarding their stance toward
religion itself and/or any particular worldviews. Many nonreligious people
see much value in religion (for
others). Others may take a rather
dispassionate view. Still others voice merits and drawbacks based on their
observations of extant society. There are nonreligious people who do dislike
religion, of course. Their aversion may grow out of personal experience with
a religion, or it may derive from reasoned analysis (e.g., scrutiny of religion's
history to reach conclusions regarding its intrinsic worth/harm to humankind
at large). It is important to bear in mind that a person's worldview comprises

internal mental conceptions
. These are a framework beneath the
individual's ways of living. Personal worldview and "attitude toward religion"
are separate characteristics.
Holding a nonreligious worldview is not the same thing as
"not practicing" a religion.

It is possible that a person who holds to a nonreligious worldview may still
attend rites and participate in traditions of a familiar religion, or follow its
codes "absent divinity supposition" or other elements of the religious view.
Recall that a worldview is actually an individual’s internal mental framework
of cognitive understanding about reality and life meaning. It serves as a
basis for action with respect to the religion realm, but it does not necessarily
rule outward behavior (declarations or statements or conduct) because
many additional variables (family or societal expectations, material
incentives and penalties, and so on) may enter in as well.

A Religion/Nonreligion Border Zone

Deism is a life stance that was common in this country at one time (many of
our nation’s founders were Deists) but now is rather scarce. Deism seems
to rest in a gray area between religious and nonreligious worldviews.

On the surface, 18th century Deism seems a religious worldview because
the fundamental reasoning entails a transcendent deity (the Creator) who is
apart from/(above) his Creation. However, some scholars view Deists as
having a nonreligious worldview. A dictionary may specify "See
Skeptic" or
Atheist" within the entry for Deist (believer in Deism). Which life
understanding do Deists hold—a religious view, or a nonreligious one?

The dual perspective on Deists derives from the fact that, although they
reason that laws governing nature do presuppose a supreme lawmaker or
divinity, Deists firmly reject claims of supernatural revelation and generally
follow an Atheistic life pattern. The fact that they regard the world’s "creation"
as having been completed and do not believe any divinity is presently
involved in the world or in any human affairs helps somewhat to clarify this

Freethinkers and Study about Religion

In their departure from authority and tradition with respect to conventional
religion, both the Deism of yore and the irreligion of today exemplify what is
termed, “Freethought.” Presentation of the history and social role of
freethought in its varied forms is requisite to providing students with
well-rounded education about religion. Along with any examination of
different religions, some consideration of the position and actions of
doubters and unbelievers is deserving of consideration.

A survey of the nonreligion domain itself makes for interesting study of
human thinking. For the contemporary persons who hold a nonreligious
worldview, there are no divine entities of any sort inhabiting the world in
which they abide. Beyond this commonality, though, there are interesting
philosophical differences among the diverse categories of the nonreligious
named above. Disparity in their concomitant societal position offers
especially fascinating learning about social practices and taboos.

And, if students are to comprehend important underpinnings of the U.S.
Constitution and our consequent government, studying about the freethinking
of the 18th century Deists is of particular import.