Wednesday, May 20, 2009

nearing the end of this ever so tedious bit on naturalism

"Why are you failing to differentiate or trying to equate ontological naturalism and methodological naturalism? That's an honest question."
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>



Frankly, I am beginning to wonder if that's an honest question or not. I find it hard to imagine that you have actually read and considered anything I've written. My last post was obviously about ontological naturalism and not about methodological naturalism. I am trying to get you to COMMIT to a point of view, that is to take a stand behind some truth claim, whatever it may be, and BACK IT UP. Presumably with your methodological naturalism or however you would like to do it. But I will give you the benefit of the doubt and give this one last shot.



I do not equate ontological and methodological naturalism. The first is obviously ontological, that is, about what exists and the second is epistemological, that is, about what is true about what exists, including if it does exist. I perfectly understand the difference, as I have previously, and in painful detail, noted. What you apparently fail to grasp, or will not grasp, or will not even think about for more than two seconds so you could have a chance to grasp, are the following:


  • There are no privileged truth claims, scientific, religious, or otherwise. This means that EVERY truth claim ultimately stands or falls on reason applied to evidence. I have explained this time and again in this blog. I will not answer it again so don't ask me "why?"
  • Ultimately, the only way to know what is true is by the application of reason to evidence. (If you are calling this methodological naturalism then we have a point of agreement. Although that is not what methodological naturalism is, because methodological naturalism doesn't give place to the undeniable and sovereign role of reason in matters of truth.)
  • Issues of ontology must be settled epistemologically. If you get the ontology wrong, you are finished in your quest for truth. What exists is a CONCLUSION, not an assumption. Ideally, that conclusion is based on reason and evidence. One is either a materialist/physicalist/naturalist, a dualist, or an idealist. For the record, I am a dualist. I believe that both the material and abstract worlds are "real."
  • Ontological naturalism can stamp its feet all it wants but screaming ever louder "there is no God" doesn't make it any less false.
  • A commitment to ontological naturalism entails a commitment to methodological naturalism. Ontological naturalism denies the existence of anything that is "outside" of nature. This obviously includes God but less obviously includes souls or minds, mathematics, reason, moral law, economic law, physical law, law of any kind and many other things.
  • Do I really need to disabuse you of the notion that ontological naturalism is false? Just in case, I will by means of the following thought experiment. Let's define "nature" as all that exists in space/time. That is about as broad as I can make it so you should have no problem with that definition. I will also assume that it is wrong to be rude to a waiter. If this is true, then it is wrong right now. It is wrong today. Therefore, it must be wrong yesterday, since yesterday was once today. It must be wrong tomorrow, because tomorrow (Thursday) will eventually be "today" (now Wednesday). Therefore, this moral law, which says it's wrong to be rude to waiters, is independent of time. It's also wrong to be rude to waiters in Houston, New York, LA, and in Paris. If there were waiters on the moon, or on Alpha Centauri, it would be wrong to be rude to them there, too. Therefore, this moral law is also independent of location, or space. Therefore, a reasonable person, such as yourself, would deduce that this moral law exists independently, i.e. outside of space and time and therefore exists independently, i.e. outside of nature. Notwithstanding the fact that it also exists THROUGHOUT space and time. Therefore, the idea that nothing exists outside of nature, ontological naturalism, is the biggest crock of bullshit ever foisted upon an unsuspecting and unthinking public. And if being rude to a waiter doesn't do it for you, morally speaking, then substitute holocaust or polluting the environment. I'm sure there is something you think is intrinsically and always wrong.
  • A commitment to methodological naturalism (or more accurately, empiricism), while it does not entail ontological naturalism, makes no sense apart from ontological naturalism.
  • The role of reason in the search for truth is supreme (argue/reason with me about this point and you will eventually get it).
  • Reason leads inexorably to God. This is anathema to ontological naturalism. It may be permitted in some construals of methodological naturalism, but in general, it is not. Reason applied to evidence also leads inexorably to God. If all cats are mammals and Felix is a cat then Felix is a mammal. If everything that begins to exist needs a cause (true by definition) and the universe began to exist (true by reason AND evidence) then the universe needs a cause. Case closed. Now we can discuss the nature of that cause but that a cause is needed is irrefutable.
  • There is an inherent dishonesty in naturalism of any stripe. Ontological naturalism is nonsense as shown by its inability to account for anything that matters to human beings. Morality, for one, say, as we saw above.
  • Methodological naturalism has pretensions of intellectual respectability but does not explicitly acknowledge the role of reason in the quest for truth. Therefore, when reason inevitably leads to God, as it does, and for good reason, the methodolical naturalists fall back on the idea that reason is now incompetent to conclude about God because that is outside of nature. And once again they demonstrate either their intellectual degeneracy by confusing premise and conclusion or their moral degeneracy by knowingly espousing what they know to be a lie.
  • Intellectual integrity means accepting the authority of reason in matters of truth. If you do not have this then I am wasting my time and if I do not have this then so are you.
  • It's a major failing of mine, ask anybody who knows me, that I am not very patient with people who care nothing for getting at the truth. Until this last post of yours, I had thought you to be one of those who was interested. But now, I think not. I'm happy to be proven wrong, however.
  • You have two options here. Either specifically address the arguments I have made or make arguments of your own about how things are and how you know that they are. Otherwise, we're done here.

9 comments:

libtard said...

Yeah I didn't think we'd get any furthur (sic).

"A commitment to methodological naturalism (or more accurately, empiricism), while it does not entail ontological naturalism, makes no sense apart from ontological naturalism."

Its funny because the vast majority of scientists, people like Einstein, would completely reject that notion. You know, like the people who made this blog technically possible.

This is the "capture Australia" (to use a Risk metaphor) strategy of ID argument:

-equate ontological naturalism with methodological naturalism (which underpins science).

-deride ontological naturalism as false, and thus methodological naturalism.

-allow introduction of the supernatural into the methodology of science. QED! Profit!

These arguments have been made much more eloquently by Stephen C. Meyer.

And a response has been made much more eloquently than mine by Steven D. Schafersman.

(I notice there are not a lot of comment on your blog. I have commented in a very civil manner and quite frankly will continue to do so on other topics, provided you wish some discourse and for the tone of the discussion to remain calm. Sometimes a critical perspective can be a very enlightening thing, even if it only strengthens your convictions.)

libtard said...

"Ontological naturalism is nonsense as shown by its inability to account for anything that matters to human beings. Morality, for one, say, as we saw above."

This is actually a rather interesting point. Animals exhibit certain forms of morality. For example, monkeys will 'punish' members of their tribes who steal or otherwise misbehave through exclusion or violence. Many animals will protect the young of not only their own, but also those of their own kind from predators. Animals that live in groups almost certainly have some sort of rudimentary 'codes' that have to govern individual behavior subjugate to the welfare of the group. There's observations of unique features in animals, like the ability of sheep to remember individual other sheep's faces for as long as 50 years (!), that suggest that the very basics of morality are an extension of group/pack dynamics.

Ilíon said...

typical DarwinDefender: "Why are you failing to differentiate or trying to equate ontological naturalism and methodological naturalism? That's an honest question."

One might ask of the Darwinist:

"Why are you failing to differentiate or trying to equate ontological/philosophical designism and methodological designism?"

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

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Thanks,
Peter

RkBall said...

"Ontological naturalism is nonsense as shown by its inability to account for anything that matters to human beings."

So true. This point is not sufficiently recognized/emphasized in apologetical circles.

Tom: do you happen to know of any writers who make this point, any references or books?

Tom said...

Not explicitly. I am toying with putting together a paper on naturalism and information, which destroys naturalism completely and irrefutably. The thing to remember, I think, is that naturalism only has the laws of physics in its explanatory "toolkit." There are a lot of things that physics cannot explain. Morality, for one. But they then just say "well there is no real morality."

I've shown that it is impossible for physics to explain language and therefore information and the great thing about this particular argument is that it is impossible to deny. To deny language and information is to use language and information. Checkmate. Game over.

p.s. And the coolest thing about this is that it is the Logos (Word, Thought, Language, Information, Logic) that destroys naturalism. As well He would. :-)

Ilíon said...

One book that may address RkBall's question is (the very late) Arthur Balfour's "The Foundations of Belief" (which may be downloaded in several formats here)

Ilíon said...

"I've shown that it is impossible for physics to explain language and therefore information and the great thing about this particular argument is that it is impossible to deny. To deny language and information is to use language and information. Checkmate. Game over."

True. But then, those people don't mind asserting self-contradictions and absurdities ... as witness Daniel Dennett and the Churchlands on consciousness.