Sunday, July 17, 2016

Naturalism is not an argument against God


Jeff Lowder of the secular outpost writes against a highly conservative Christian apologist named Anna Marie Perez.[1] He is especially incensed by her comment:

Atheism is a religion. Atheists act like Dracula confronting a cross when faced with the fact that their beliefs rely solely on faith. They hate the word faith, even though it’s all they’ve got. They try to make the claim that their religion is based on science, although actual science doesn’t support their claims any more than science can prove the existence of God. When they are called out for having faith, they’ll say something like, “An absence of belief isn’t faith,” yet their claim of an absence of a belief is a lie.
Lowder quips, "Atheism is a religion in the same sense that baldness is a hair color." Very droll.  Of course he doesn't believe atheist is a religion. I find this a lot, the answer is logical and simple. it's not a religion it's a religion substitute. What are they doming with it? They are replacing God in their lives with a concept called "atheism" that concept sways that here is no God and other concepts that help make that one work for them. Therefore it's a religion substitute. In some way it can resemble religion but it's not one.

Then he turns to her use of the term "faith."

 If she’s defining the word “faith” the same way as the Biblical book of Hebrews does (“confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”), then she’s wrong to assume that “atheists,” without qualification, hope that no God or gods exist and that there is no afterlife. Yes, there are some atheists who hope for those things, but there are other atheists who hope for the opposite, and many more atheists who are indifferent. But if she’s defining the word “faith” to mean “belief without evidence” or even “belief against the (weight of the total) evidence,” then she’s mistaken.
I would like to deal with that issue at greater length but I don;t have time,I will point out however that faith does not mean accepting things without evidence, Faith is a complex concept it can't defined by one verse from the Bible. Look it up in Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology.[2] Nor will it do to use an ordinary dictionary, There is really no excuse for not using the Westminster (as often a these people argue with Christians). That would be like teaching a philosophy class and never using Flew's Philosophical Dictionary.[3]

"Let’s start with some definitions:

naturalism (N) =df. The physical exists and, if the mental exists, the physical explains why the mental exists.
supernaturalism (S) =df. The mental exists and, if the physical exists, the mental explains why the physical exists.
Actually I think his definition of SNism is really Idealism. SNism would say something like "there is a higher level consciousnesses of God to which God will raise the individual by the power of his Holiness.

Naturalism (N) and supernaturalism (S) are mutually exclusive: they cannot both be true. But they are not jointly exhaustive: they can both be false. To account for the possibility that both N and S are false, we can introduce a third, ‘catch-all’ option:
otherism (O) =df. Both N and S are false.
That is not necessarily true  if one does not define SN in the way he talks about. The basic problem from my perspective of belief is that God is not a being it's not like there;s a stable of SN beginnings running about and god is one of them. God is the basis of reality, being  itself, the  ground of being. Thus one might understand physical reality as the result of natural processes started in motion by the ground of being. Of course it's probably true that people use the tern naturalism to specifically exclude religious answers and thus they would apply it to gainsay any belief in God. Ideas like those of Tillich or process theology of Hartshonre of Whithead may be compatible with naturalism at least technically[4]

If N is true, then atheism is true by definition because N denies the existence of all supernatural beings, including God. So one way to defend atheism is to defend N. And one way to defend N is to present evidence which is more probable on the assumption that N is true than on the assumption that theism (T) is true. 

I'm having trouble seeing exactly what that proves. Its not demonstrating the truth of naturism, it's only showing the propositioning are more probable if we assume  naturalism. is more probable if we assume naturalism s true, it's not like these are true because naturalism is more probable. Why should we assume naturalism? Surely not because the propositions are probable since we have to assume naturalism to make them seem more so, why should we do it?

If we assumes these propagandists are more probable if naturalism is true, therefore. if they are probable naturalism is true. Is that not affirming the consequent or something? If it rains the streets are wet, the streets are wet therefore it rains. But we used to have street washers so there could be counter causes. Still I don't think Dr. Lowder would make such a mistake so I must not understand it. Still I'm going to argue with certain ones of them. I can't do all of them.

I am going to use SN operationally the way Jeff does so as to not harp on the same soap box again. I just ask that the reader be aware there is another view point. He presents the proportions to show their probable nature. I will not be able to deal with them all. I will group  all those that I think can be answered with one liner. I'll present that list in the comment section

Here is his first one:

1. The Existence of the Universe

The universe–which may be defined as the sum total of all matter, energy, space, and time–exists. This fact is entailed by N: if N is true, then by definition the physical universe exists. But, although logically consistent with T, this fact is not entailed by T. If T is true, God could create the universe, but God could also choose not to create the universe. Thus, contrary to the claims of both the Leibnizian and kalam versions of the cosmological argument, the existence of the physical universe is more probable on N than on T.[1]In formal terms, the argument may be formulated as follows. If we let B be our background information; E be the existence of the universe; then the explanatory argument is as follows:(1) E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1.(2) T is not intrinsically much more probable than N, i.e., Pr(|T|) is not much more probable than Pr(|N|).(3) Pr(E | N & B) =1 > Pr(E | T & B).(4) Other evidence held equal, T is probably false, i.e., Pr(T | B & E) < 1/2.

There are a couple of problems  I see here. Mind you I may not understand it.I'm just doing my best in my little mine sweeper against his battle ship. First, "God could create the universe, but God could also choose not to create the universe. Thus, contrary to the claims of both the Leibnizian and kalam versions of the cosmological argument, the existence of the physical universe is more probable on N than on T." I think that would only be true if the universe is deterministic and had to be. We don't know that ,Moreover, we don't know why there is a universe. No reason to think the universe had to be. Davies says it didn't. [5] Cosmological arguments are optional. They are not mandatory so if it's a choice between God or the cosmological argument we can throw the argument away. But that's not necessary because the universe is not necessary.

2. The “Anti-Creation Ex Nihilo Argument”

This argument may be summarized as follows:

(1) Everything that had a beginning comes from pre-existing material.
(2) The universe had a beginning.(3) Therefore, the universe came from pre-existing material.Now I think it is far from certain that (2) is true. Let’s make a distinction between:(2a) The expansion/inflation of the universe had a beginning.and:
(2b) The universe itself had a beginning, viz., the universe began to exist.It appears that (2a) is accepted by the vast majority of cosmologists. So let’s assume not only that (2a) is true, but that we know (2a) is true with certainty. It doesn’t follow that (2b) is true. In fact, as far as I can tell, (2b) does not enjoy the same widespread consensus among cosmologists as (2a) does. So there is reasonable doubt about (2b). But (2), like its theistic counterpart in the kalam cosmological argument, requires that (2b) is true. Because there is reasonable doubt about (2b), there is also reasonable doubt about (2).
But what if both (1) and (2b) are true? In that case, it would follow that (3) is true. But (3) entails the universe was not created ex nihilo, viz., created from (absolute) nothing. The falsity of creation ex nihilo is entailed by N (and physical reality’s existence is factually necessary and uncreated), but extremely unlikely (if not impossible) on T (and physical reality was either created ex nihilo or created ex deo [out of the being of God]).

(1) if by "Material" we mean matter, p1 is fallacious. We don't know the cause of the universe. 

(2) fallacy of composition; just because all the individual bits are produced by matter that doesn't mean the whole is. 

We could also think about this argument in non  Christian ways, I'ts Christian doctrine that says creation is ex nihilo that does not mean that doctrine is necessary for all belief in God. Then it's just as matter of what we mean by natter, Is energy natter? We don't really know what matter is made of.[6] we don't know what the singularity was made of it may be that a naturalistic origination yield naturalism.

Don't forget to check out the comments where I answer a bunch of hsi 25 I'll do more next time. 


[1]Jeff Lowder, "25 Lines of evidence Against st theism," Secular Outpost, (June 26,2016) online blog URL - See more at:

[2] "Faith" The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology,Philadelphia: Westkmnster [ress Alan Richardson and John Bowden ed. 1983

[3 ] Anthony Flew, A Dictionary of Philosophy,St. Martin's Griffin; Revised edition, 1984

[4], "Process, Theology,"  The Westminster Dictionary of Christian... op cit 467-468God is diboplar. What is real of God and not merely potential is in process.God is changing alomng with creation, That put's gpd cpomsequnt pol owthin the naturalistic peocess. 
[5]First Things: Physics and the Mind of God: The Templeton Prize Address (1999) 

[6] Joseph Hinman, "Can Science Really Prove The Basis of Modern Physics." Metacrock's Blog



1 comment:

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