The Denver Philosophy Meetup Group Message Board › Naturalism = Atheism?... Not quite!

Naturalism = Atheism?... Not quite!

A former member
Post #: 15
“Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:3
"No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known." John 1:18
I started this discussion to get at what many theologians (yes, even the writers of the above passages) have put forward, namely, the unknowable (mystical, spiritual) God.

What we have today (and have had since about the seventeenth century) is a convergence of deistic arguments which evolved into naturalist arguments and to the modern day bible "literalists" that have become the actual naturalists when it comes to God. Quite the irony to say the very least.

So, what have these "naturalists" done to God but reduce it to observation and rational argument? Can you consider yourself a Christian that believes in the Resurrection of Christ and still hold this one and only event of God becoming "revealed" congruent with a "naturalistic" view of God and its workings? I ask, in all seriousness, how?

I was at a lecture not too long ago when a pastor spoke about the compatibility of science and religion and when asked about evolution and the big bang, he replied "for my God, no problem". But, for our naturalists (apparently here on this board) that would be impossible for their God. He went on to explain that his God was not limited by the feeble minds of humanity for feeble they are indeed compared with the awesome power of his God. And, as I alluded to above, he considered the Incarnation the event when God's "unknowableness" was "revealed" for it was the Word that became flesh.

So, to the so-called "theists", is evolution and/or the big bang a problem for your God? Or, more precisely, what is the "nature" of your God?
A former member
Post #: 16
What, the naturalists are afraid of discussing the nature of God? That figures.

Here's Lord Winston being confronted by Richard Dawkins.

And here's a great series about this subject, just listen to the Jungian analyst at the end of this clip.
Dan
danlg
Group Organizer
Broomfield, CO
Post #: 1,103
How exactly is not quite atheistic?

Or to the point, what is the primary thesis of 'naturalism'?
Spry
the.one
Amherst, OH
Post #: 584
“Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:3
"No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known." John 1:18
I started this discussion to get at what many theologians (yes, even the writers of the above passages) have put forward, namely, the unknowable (mystical, spiritual) God.

What we have today (and have had since about the seventeenth century) is a convergence of deistic arguments which evolved into naturalist arguments and to the modern day bible "literalists" that have become the actual naturalists when it comes to God. Quite the irony to say the very least.

So, what have these "naturalists" done to God but reduce it to observation and rational argument? Can you consider yourself a Christian that believes in the Resurrection of Christ and still hold this one and only event of God becoming "revealed" congruent with a "naturalistic" view of God and its workings? I ask, in all seriousness, how?

I was at a lecture not too long ago when a pastor spoke about the compatibility of science and religion and when asked about evolution and the big bang, he replied "for my God, no problem". But, for our naturalists (apparently here on this board) that would be impossible for their God. He went on to explain that his God was not limited by the feeble minds of humanity for feeble they are indeed compared with the awesome power of his God. And, as I alluded to above, he considered the Incarnation the event when God's "unknowableness" was "revealed" for it was the Word that became flesh.

So, to the so-called "theists", is evolution and/or the big bang a problem for your God? Or, more precisely, what is the "nature" of your God?

I don't see how you come to Christian fundamentalists turning up as naturalists. My assumption was that in the general lexicon naturalists were those who insisted upon a causal chain for every development that had its origin in not only a natural explanation but one devoid of the need for a god or any other supernatural agency.

The fundamentalist Christian is clearly not a party to that view. He is one who not only accepts but also demands that a supernatural element be included in the causal chain. So they are two opposites, one categorically demands supernatural causation, the other categorically denies it. It's the Scopes Monkey Trial all over again.

This conflict is largely peculiar to the United States for various historical reasons. So, evolution is not a problem for Christians at large, and in fact it was a French Jesuit monk who came up with the Big Bang Theory (the name of theory isn't his -- it is a derisive title applied by atheists who ridiculed it at the time as a pathetic attempt to save theism).

On the other points, I wouldn't say that the Incarnation was the sole event when God's unknowableness became revealed. For instance, we have Moses at the burning bush, and a progressive history of several "covenants", a body of prophey, and a history with God of which the Incarnation was the ultimate manifestation. The New Testament cannot be fully understood in isolation from the Old, etc. So, there's a narrative, a pedagogy, and a corresponding theology at play here.

When Jesus became incarnate, he entered history and time. He became a human fellow, joined with Man on the field of endeavors, established a "church", a network of friends and followers, became a "player" like Dan. When he left he took Man's temporal pain away, the sentence of death and the pain of history, consumed on the cross.

That's the basic jist of it, I guess. It's very much a story of "intervention", perhaps moreso than "revelation", although one aspect is of course dependent on the other.

And that's the theological deal in sum.
A former member
Post #: 17
How exactly is not quite atheistic?

Or to the point, what is the primary thesis of 'naturalism'?
Naturalism speaks only to the natural world and, specifically, that world which is, in one way or another, comprehensible to humanity. If God is that which is incomprehensible and absolute, then naturalism can never account for it. No?
A former member
Post #: 18
I don't see how you come to Christian fundamentalists turning up as naturalists. My assumption was that in the general lexicon naturalists were those who insisted upon a causal chain for every development that had its origin in not only a natural explanation but one devoid of the need for a god or any other supernatural agency.
Well, you almost got it. It was naturalists (like Newton and others) that wanted to see their understanding of God represented in the natural world. This very idea undermined the notion of God being that which is beyond the limits of human understanding.
The fundamentalist Christian is clearly not a party to that view. He is one who not only accepts but also demands that a supernatural element be included in the causal chain. So they are two opposites, one categorically demands supernatural causation, the other categorically denies it. It's the Scopes Monkey Trial all over again.
And they are completely in error to assume that the "supernatural element" is something they can witness at all. And modern philosophy can say something about this, namely, that the absolute is beyond the relative perspective, the objective only experienced subjectively and so on.
This conflict is largely peculiar to the United States for various historical reasons. So, evolution is not a problem for Christians at large, and in fact it was a French Jesuit monk who came up with the Big Bang Theory (the name of theory isn't his -- it is a derisive title applied by atheists who ridiculed it at the time as a pathetic attempt to save theism).
Yes, evolution seems only a problem for those that want to "witness" God's mind and power in the natural world. If they had studied their scriptures, they would find that they're not at all understanding the God of the Bible.
On the other points, I wouldn't say that the Incarnation was the sole event when God's unknowableness became revealed. For instance, we have Moses at the burning bush, and a progressive history of several "covenants", a body of prophey, and a history with God of which the Incarnation was the ultimate manifestation. The New Testament cannot be fully understood in isolation from the Old, etc. So, there's a narrative, a pedagogy, and a corresponding theology at play here.
To be clear, God was not "revealed" to Moses, that was an angel. The Incarnation was the only manifestation and it was here that God (in three persons, according to Orthodoxy) "revealed" its unknowableness whereas before you only had intervention of some kind (which was often not convincing).
Dan
danlg
Group Organizer
Broomfield, CO
Post #: 1,105
Dan:
How exactly is not quite atheistic?
Or to the point, what is the primary thesis of 'naturalism'?
Amon:
Natura­lism speaks only to the natural world and, specifically, that world which is, in one way or another, comprehensible to humanity. If God is that which is incomprehensible and absolute, then naturalism can never account for it. No?
First, based on what sense experience have you encountered the 'incomprehensible' and/or 'absolute'?

Secondly, what 'naturalism' accounts for and what it does not account for is a really peculiar kind of statement. Are you saying that naturalism does not account for some things? If these things are unaccounted for, yet experiential, there should be a clear account of them (shouldn't there)? If there should be some account for them, then based on what sense experience can we entail an account of such things that 'naturalism' cannot make an account of?

Third, I still don't know what you mean by 'naturalism'? Perhaps you could provide a lexical definition so as to work off of. I know there are three inter-related version of naturalism; they being scientific naturalism, methodological naturalism, and metaphysical naturalism. Of which I'm familiar with John Dewey, John Austen and Stanley Cavell works on the topic.

Forth, are you arguing in favor of super-naturalism, or are you arguing for something else?

Fifth, my main focus turns to this statement you have made:
'...naturalism can never account for it. No?...'

This is a bit of a contradiction, if and only if, you can provide an account of something that is demarcated outside the thesis of naturalism. That is the thesis of naturalism is intended to make an account of 'everything that is the case'. But if I am reading you here correctly, you have erred in one of several different manners.

Error version one: If the thesis 'naturalism' is designed to take in an account of 'all there is' to take an account of, yet you say there is something x, that naturalism can't account of, but thereby add features to ensure x is un-accountable, we might ask you 'didn't you take an account of something x, of which you are saying is not accountable? And thereby wouldn't it by therefore accountable by the mere suggestion of the claim of features?' That way we could see that to claim the account of something x, yet to exclude it from the scope of 'everything that is the case' yet add accountable features to x as though it were part of an account would be non-sensible. For you would have to have some kind of account of x, then say 'x is not accountable by natural means' thereby using 'natural means' (namely yourself as an account) to suggest such a thing.

Error version two: When we discuss the world, or 'natural phenomena' like 'car' 'that car' 'my car' 'tree' 'Paris, France' we make use of knowing what each term is taking an account of. Namely something thing. Now to claim some term, without some thing subject as object (I gave an arbitrary list: car, tree, some geographical location that is not here in the Denver Metro area), you are really claiming something non-sensible. But in a larger, more harmful way the claim in fact trying to do the opposite. Instead of being sensible, the claim is saying 'the natural world is a non-sensible thing, and there is something x outside of the non-sensible, natural world that is incomprehensible and absolute.' In this way, any natural claim is degraded in favor of some other kind of claim, namely 'not-natural' types of claims, that possess 'incomprehensibly and absoluteness'.

Error version three: If something is 'incomprehensible and absolute' we may say, "that the claimant of such proposition is erring in such a way that the types of claims the claimant is making is in no way significant. Yet the claimant can indeed make claims that are significant such as 'it is a hot day' or 'Paris is in France and Seattle is in Washington'." That is the claimant says there are two types of claims, those sensible and those incomprehensible. But then says 'both are sensible in at least one fashion, that I can account for them, claim them and describe them.' That is, these two types of claims now have equal footing according to the claimant. But in order to do that, there must be a lot of editing, special case making. Either by degrading natural propositions, or by demarcating natural proposition by non-natural ones. Or the combination of both strategies. Making the second type of account (super-natural, non-natural) absolutely incomprehensible.
Finally, given these three errors, we see why my first five statements seem to capture some kind of confusion.
For some person to say ‘this thing x is incompressible and absolute’ and ‘is outside natural phenomena’ one would have had some kind of encounter with thing x, and such an encounter would have had to at some point of time been ‘natural and compressible’. So then there must have been some sense experience of thing x. But the claimant says thing x is ‘not-natural, incompressible and absolute’?
But then this brings up statement two, demarcating what the thesis of naturalism can make an account of, and what the thesis of naturalism cannot make an account of leaves no claims that can be made about anything (if there is anything) beyond that. Why? Well let’s say some claimant says “Alpha Centuri is a bright star’. And the counter would say, ‘such an object is outside our natural range of experience. That said, Alpha Centuri can neither be a bright star nor not a bright star.’ But then the claimant says, ‘look thru this telescope……Bright isn’t it? We have designated that bright thing we see through telescopes with right there in that direction in the sky as Alpha Centuri. It is bright.’ Now when some claimant says ‘that’s incompressible’ what does the claimant mean by ‘that’ if ‘that’ is ‘not comprehensible’?
Partially because the claimant hasn’t made the adjustment as to what ‘naturalism’ means; or that the two parties don’t know what ‘naturalism’ means, or which version of naturalism one claimant is making use of. Which my third statement was intended to explicate.
But this seems like you, Amon, are in favor of super-naturalism, and the fun goodies entailed in such metaphysical talk (like the term ‘absolute’ not the type of drink one can enjoy, but the metaphysical term). Every few months or so I cite this work for those who wish to venture into the brave unknown, so as to remind them of the seriousness philosophy does have.
Here is the first cite. Here is the second one (hopefully it is the entire work).

Pay special attention to Chapter one and the example concerning Bradley and transcendental propositions.
And yes John. I know you will have something stupid and backwards to say about AJ Ayer. But I'll remind you again. Ayer is published, informed philosopher (albeit dead now). You, however, are not. I trust Ayer's arguments of clarity, than you.
A former member
Post #: 1,598


Pay special attention to Chapter one and the example concerning Bradley and transcendental propositions.
And yes John. I know you will have something stupid and backwards to say about AJ Ayer. But I'll remind you again. Ayer is published, informed philosopher (albeit dead now). You, however, are not. I trust Ayer's arguments of clarity, than you.

Mr. Dan, I have no problems taking the term "naturalism" seriously, as you have presented. My beef with Ayer is that his philosophy is hostile to doing serious metaphysics/ontology and that his ethical views are merely functions of feelings/emotions (subjectivism). In other words, Ayer has value in making empirical propositions more rigorous, but he lives in a smaller philosophical universe than I'm willing to confine myself in.

I would also like to say that being "published" isn't at all a sure fire barometer to measure the truth value of individual expression. If that were the case than Andy Rooney is elevated over yourself in the pantheon of truth and philosophical relevance.
Dan
danlg
Group Organizer
Broomfield, CO
Post #: 1,106
John:
If that were the case than Andy Rooney is elevated over yourself in the pantheon of truth and philosophical relevance.
Or his eye brows....
Dan
danlg
Group Organizer
Broomfield, CO
Post #: 1,107
John:
Mr. Dan, I have no problems taking the term "naturalism" seriously, as you have presented. My beef with Ayer is that his philosophy is hostile to doing serious metaphysics/ontology and that his ethical views are merely functions of feelings/emotions (subjectivism). In other words, Ayer has value in making empirical propositions more rigorous, but he lives in a smaller philosophical universe than I'm willing to confine myself in.
Ah. That's what Continental Philosophy is all about.
Powered by mvnForum

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy