Monday, May 11, 2009

Reply to libtard

libtard says: "You seem to be confusing the definition of naturalism as used in scientific inquiry with that of philosophical naturalism. You may wish to refer here. To quote: "Methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism are distinguished by the fact that methodological naturalism is an epistemology as well as a procedural protocol, while philosophical naturalism is a metaphysical position. Although there is variation in the views of modern naturalists, Kurtz's definition captures these two most important aspects of modern naturalism: (1) the reliance on scientific method, grounded in empiricism, as the only reliable method of acquiring knowledge about the natural world, and (2) the inadmissibility of the supernatural or transcendent into its metaphysical scheme."

I am confused about many things but this isn't one of them. I perfectly understand the difference between methodological naturalism and ontological (or philosophical) naturalism. All of this is based on a false premise and that is that there are ANY privileged truth claims. That is, truth claims that do not need to stand on reason and evidence. All truth claims, whether "scientific" (about the "natural" world - which is ALL that exists under ontological naturalism) or "theological" (about the "supernatural" world of God, souls, minds, purpose, design, reason, and so on) must ultimately be grounded in facts about the world explained in a logical way. We live in one universe and that universe is only one way. God either exists or He does not. There is not a "scientific" universe for some and a "religious" universe for others.

All truth claims must be rational, that is internally consistent, and they must explain all the data. Claims that meet these two standards and can also make predictions about the future have superior epistemic status in my book. Now, I can conduct any number of exercises in pure reason that tell me true things about the universe. Kurtz would certainly disagree but he would certainly be wrong. For example, before I measure the sides of any right triangle I can know that the the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other sides. I can know that the universe had a beginning, that time had a beginning. That if I consistently spend more than I make I will be worse off for it. I can know a lot of things without empirical evidence. Empirical evidence will certainly confirm my rational deductions because nothing can contravene reason and be true. I can know, as an exercise in pure reason, that God most certainly exists. He cannot not exist. He is a necessary Being, as opposed to a contingent being.

One of many mistakes Kurtz makes is to ignore the role of reason in the epistemological process. He defines it out of existence by using the phrase "natural world" (What is that, exactly, if it is not the physical, i.e. the empirical world?? And the laws of reason can hardly be considered "physical" by any stretch of the imagination.) and then says, without argument, that God is off the table as far as methodological naturalism is concerned. Well, let's try to be intellectually honest here. If I am claiming that methodological naturalism (an epistemological enterprise) is the only way to "scientific" knowledge and I'm NOT claiming ontological naturalism to be true, then I'm being disingenuous, at best. Otherwise, I am saying that God could exist but science cannot (or merely will not) recognize His existence in studying the natural world. But what could be more irrational? If He exists, then there will be evidence of that. To just say any talk of God is unscientific, therefore, we only accept what we sense, regardless of whether or not God may exist, seems utterly foolish to me.

Kurtz, and others basically say this. Methodological naturalism is the only valid way to understand the natural world. Therefore, the natural world is all that exists. There is no logical connection between the two statements and both of them are patently false. I thought I had beaten that horse to death but apparently not. If you will be specific in your objections, if we can agree on first principles, then we will get somewhere and one of us will have to change his mind. I'm game.

No comments: