Sunday, May 17, 2015

Falsifying naturalism

The threshold for disproving naturalism is exceedingly low. That's because naturalism is a universal negative. It only takes one good counterexample to blow it to smithereens. 

Consider physicalism. If cognition is reducible to brain events, and all mental activity is located inside the head, then the mind can't possible act at a distance or know things at a distance (in time or space). Hence, it only takes a few well-attested counterexamples to falsify physicalism.

Technically, naturalism isn't synonymous with physicalism. It's possible for a naturalist to be a Platonic realist, Cartesian dualist, idealist, or panpsychic. But physicalism is the default position of most naturalists. Most naturalists fight tooth and nail for physicalism. And there's a reason for that. They appreciate what a threat to naturalism it would be to make allowance for knowledge or action at a distance. If the mind can know things or effect things apart from a chain of physical causes, then there's no presumption against God, angels, demons, discarnate souls, miracles, heaven, or hell. They can't afford to make that concession.

There's an abstract atheism that infidel apologists like to project. That atheism is merely nonbelief in God or gods. By the same token, Jeff Lowder likes to compartmentalize things as much as possible, carefully partitioning atheism, naturalism, and physicalism.

That's prudent from a tactical standpoint. Exposing as little of your flank as possible. Making yourself a small target. 

But that kind of abstract atheism is like an experimental lifeform that can't exist outside laboratory conditions. It's very artificial. 

1 comment:

  1. Since naturalism is essentially the idea that the physical world causes the mental world and that the function of our minds simply provides us with an awareness and a subsequent means of identification of what we perceive, naturalism is incompatible with any idea, such as those you mentioned, that posits that the mind in effect holds metaphysical primacy over what exists. Any philosophical outlook that advances such a blatant contradiction at such a fundamental level is sure not to have much relevance to the real world.

    Supernaturalism, on the other hand, is the idea that a creating and controlling mind caused the physical world which in turn caused further minds but oddly enough, minds that were totally unlike the original mind. Since Christians describe human beings as created in this Gods' image would it have been at all surprising if we had at least a rudimentary ability to control physical objects with our minds. Or maybe a better scenario would have been for just those who believed in the right god to have an ability like this with the ability commensurate with their degree of belief. True believers able to alter the identity of objects (water into wine or better yet water into beer) but lesser believers only able to move small objects short distances. Must be just another instance of this god not wanting to be too obvious.

    You're certainly right that naturalism can easily be refuted with the right evidence but that is because naturalism lays its cards on the table for all to see and investigate whereas supernaturalism is like a flimsy house of cards in a room of an ancient castle surrounded by a moat and guarded by legions of soldiers determined to let no one pass to observe the cards.