Tag Archives: theism

methodological indifference

I’m beginning to wonder if so-called ‘methodological naturalism’ ought to be critiqued on purely philosophical grounds (i.e. not as a sneaky pre-apologetic move).

It seems that many people (against the evidence) are under the impression that ‘science’ supports naturalism (All-is-Nature) more than it supports theism (Nature caused and sustained by Supernature).  But if our scientific observations are to be truly objective, then we must admit that when we look at any particular thing or set of things (or any particular process or set of processes) in what we call the world, we do not find accompanying labels or name-tags that tell us “Made by YHWH” or “Purely Natural: No God Required”.  One must go beyond the evidence (though not leaving it behind!) to make such statements.  The theist knows she is doing this, though she will rightfully claim that she has followed reason in doing so.  The naturalist, however, seems to not often admit that they ‘go beyond the evidence’ to their Naturalism.  Why is this?  Do they think the world screams “not made by any God at all”?  If so, why?

I (in all my lack of importance for both science and the philosophy of science) propose a new term: methodological indifference!

brute moral facts?

It’s not every day you see an article in a theological journal by an atheist.

But lo and behold, the latest issue (downloadable here freely) of American Theological Inquiry includes a ‘guest’ article by Erik J. Wielenberg called “Objective Morality and the Nature of Reality”, which is a rejoinder to a theistic critique in a former issue.  He calls his approach “non-natural, non-theistic, moral realism”.  See for yourself, but when he goes on about “brute moral facts” and doesn’t seem worried that they are without any foundation, I just don’t follow him at all (not that I think the fellow he is critiquing has it sussed either).

uncreated thing

Those who hold that all things (the universe/multiverse/whatever) began to exist and were created (by an ultimate Creator or First/bottom Cause), and those who hold that all things (the universe/multiverse/whatever) ‘have always existed in some form/state’ agree on (at least) one point…

…namely that there is indeed an uncreated ‘thing’ which cannot be questioned, caused, created, ‘got behind’, etc.

The former call this uncreated ‘thing’ God – and the latter call it Nature.

‘big question’ essays

Cheers to Bryson for directing me to an essay, which I discovered was one over several over at The John Templeton Foundation.

The essays are comprised answers to ‘big questions’ from a variety of perspectives – theist, atheist and agnostic.  They make for interesting reading whatever your beliefs are.

Two of the ‘big questions‘ essays were of particular interest to me: “Does the Universe Have a Purpose?” and “Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?“.

Some other bits which may be of interest to some readers include:

  • Does Evolution Explain Human Nature?
  • Debates between contributers to the Science/Belief essay (Christopher Hitchens v. Ken Miller; Jerome Groopman v. Michael Shermer; and Steven Pinker v. William D. Phillips).
  • A Brief interview with (physicist/cosmologist) Paul Davies concerning multiverse theory
  • assorted video content (look for it) :)

thanks ian…

Thanks, Ian Luxmoore

…for a friendly, respectful, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable conversation about life, god, the universe, morality and all the rest.

illogical atheism

Ken Perrott recently drew attention to a new book called The Six Ways of Atheism: New Logical Disproofs of the Existence of God by Geoffrey Berg.

At the site related to the book, there are summaries of the (as the site says) “six improved arguments for atheism”.

Now, I’m terribly sorry, but if these are ‘improved’ arguments for atheism, then it would be embarrassing to see the ‘unimproved’ ones! :)  I’ve only taken an intro to philosophy class, and have never taken any classes in logic, etc., but these are poorly stated arguments, which would no doubt be embarrassing to proper atheist philosophers.

I’ve done a quick response in PDF format: 6 atheist arguments – quick response.  Enjoy.

(p.s. – I can give some time to responses to this, but I’m entering another busy semester, so don’t have time for too much.  Yes, I’m aware that these were ‘summaries’ and that the book would ‘unpack’ them further, but I still say they are poorly stated as is.)

blamentations

Blamentations (pronounced: Blah-men-tay-shins; combining the words ‘blog’ and ‘lamentations’). Continue reading

faithful science

Announcing “Faithful Science“…

A one-day Science & Faith conference – coming August 1.

Speakers and topics: Continue reading

the most basic question

The most basic question one could ask is one which is asked and wondered at both by small children and genius level intellectuals.

It has various forms, and is worded differently, but is essentially the same question:

Where did we come from?

Alternate forms include: Why are we (or anything!) here?  How did things come into being?  Why is there something rather than nothing?

It’s the question of the ultimate origin (or original beginning) of everything.

A few things about the question:

First, it is valid to ask this question and to seek at least some kind of answer.  The level of certainty which one has concerning their answer has nothing to do with whether or not it is a valid question.

Second, we are never done asking the question.  Comparison between the various kinds of answers will never be finished.

Third, it is the most basic question.  It is the question where all other questions lead to.

Now, this most basic question has three kinds of answers (each with presumably infinite variations):

  1. Everything* is an illusion.
  2. Everything is eternal.
  3. Everything was created.

Now, I’ll comment on each option in more detail.

  1. Everything is an illusion. This is not a popular view.  Who would want that to be true?  More than this, it immediately raises the question of “If things are illusory, then who/what is having the illusion?”  Descartes famously said “I think therefore I am.”  So things are real.  Option one is neither desirable nor logical.
  2. Everything is eternal (uncreated/uncaused). This view encompasses all views in which the idea of an ultimate ‘beginning’ is rejected.  Cosmology (whether big bang theory or multiverse theory) seems to point ‘back’ spacially, temporally and causally to an ultimate beginning.  Also, even the views that are cyclic in nature would seem to be in need of a prior explanation.
  3. Everything is created (had a beginning / was caused). This view can be split into two: a) Everything is caused/created by a cause/creator other than itself; or b) Everything is caused/created/originated by itself.  More succinctly: a) Created by creator or b) Self-originating.  If it is arbitrary or ad hoc (which I reject) to postulate a Creator, than it is certainly and utterly arbitrary and ad hoc to postulate that ‘Everything’ just had to exist of necessity (by nature).  This leads me and countless others to conclude that the most rational and reasonable position to take (however tentatively or confidently) is the view that Everything was created/caused by a creator/cause other than itself.  This view encompasses all kinds of beliefs in any/all kinds of creators/causes.  Affirming a 1st cause does not instantly commit someone to any particular kind of set of beliefs – only the simple affirmation of a 1st cause.  Pantheism, Panentheism, Deism, Theism, Spinozian/Einsteinian cosmic ‘god’, Mother Nature, etc. are all encompassed here.

This question, again, is the most basic question and is the starting point of theology.  Theology starts with the assumption (and a rational/reasonable one) that the only valid answer for the existence of things is a Creator who is other than the things created.

Theology must be taken one step/level at a time.  It is utter nonsense to reject the general idea of a Creator because of some specific question at a later logical step/level.

That brings things to a natural breaking point, so I’ll finish there.

Can anyone think of a 4th possible ‘kind’ of answer to the question – or another example of one of the three answers given that I did not mention?  Other responses?

***

*The word ‘Everything’ is being used here in the most basic sense, to refer to all existing ‘things’.  Much argument can be had about this usage.  But not here.

god and reality 2

…a somewhat better way to phrase the question (remember, words matter!) about god and reality, etc. would this:

Why does existence exist?

Answering the question by reference to any particular ‘thing’ that exists (a ‘force’, ‘singularity’, ‘multi-verse’, ‘string’, etc.) is to completely not pay attention to the question.  The answer cannot be in terms of any merely-existing thing, but must be in reference to some ‘more-than-existing’ kind of ‘more-than-thing’.  Phrases like ‘ground for existence’ or ‘foundation of the universe’ are appropriate attempts here.

The fact that these are metaphors shouldn’t surprise us.  (After all, even the most ‘technical’ and ‘precise’ terminology is metaphor at bottom anyway…)  It’s quite obvious that the universe doesn’t have a ‘foundation’ like a house; and it would seem obvious that ‘existence’ isn’t on top of some ‘ground’ in the same way that we might be at times.  But it remains that answering a question about why existence exists demands reaching for a category larger (or more ‘foundational’) than existence itself.  If asked ‘what is supporting that house’, could we really be satisfied with an answer that was in terms of house-ness?