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L&FP, 57: What is naturalism? Is it a viable — or even the only viable — worldview and approach to knowledge?


What is naturalism? (And why do some speak in terms of evolutionary materialistic scientism?)

While everything touched on by philosophy is of course open to disagreements and seemingly endless debate, we can find a good enough point of reference through AmHD:

3. Philosophy The system of thought holding that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.
4. Theology The doctrine that all religious truths are derived from nature and natural causes and not from revelation.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy suggests:

The term “naturalism” has no very precise meaning in contemporary philosophy. Its current usage derives from debates in America in the first half of the last century. The self-proclaimed “naturalists” from that period included John Dewey, Ernest Nagel, Sidney Hook and Roy Wood Sellars. These philosophers aimed to ally philosophy more closely with science. They urged that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality, including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944, Kim 2003) . . . . Those philosophers with relatively weak naturalist commitments are inclined to understand “naturalism” in a unrestrictive way, in order not to disqualify themselves as “naturalists”, while those who uphold stronger naturalist doctrines are happy to set the bar for “naturalism” higher.[2]

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy comments:

Naturalism is an approach to philosophical problems that interprets them as tractable through the methods of the empirical sciences or at least, without a distinctively a priori project of theorizing. For much of the history of philosophy it has been widely held that philosophy involved a distinctive method, and could achieve knowledge distinct from that attained by the special sciences. Thus, metaphysics and epistemology have often jointly occupied a position of “first philosophy,” laying the necessary grounds for the understanding of reality and the justification of knowledge claims. Naturalism rejects philosophy’s claim to that special status. Whether in epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, or other areas, naturalism seeks to show that philosophical problems as traditionally conceived are ill-formulated and can be solved or displaced by appropriately naturalistic methods. Naturalism often assigns a key role to the methods and results of the empirical sciences, and sometimes aspires to reductionism and physicalism.

Then, there is Wikipedia, speaking of its own core tendencies:

In philosophy, naturalism is the idea or belief that only natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate in the universe.[1]

<<Naturalism is not so much a special system as a point of view or tendency common to a number of philosophical and religious systems; not so much a well-defined set of positive and negative doctrines as an attitude or spirit pervading and influencing many doctrines. As the name implies, this tendency consists essentially in looking upon nature as the one original and fundamental source of all that exists, and in attempting to explain everything in terms of nature. Either the limits of nature are also the limits of existing reality, or at least the first cause, if its existence is found necessary, has nothing to do with the working of natural agencies. All events, therefore, find their adequate explanation within nature itself. But, as the terms nature and natural are themselves used in more than one sense, the term naturalism is also far from having one fixed meaning. — Dubray 1911>>

According to philosopher Steven Lockwood, naturalism can be separated into an ontological sense and a methodological sense.[2] “Ontological” refers to ontology, the philosophical study of what exists. On an ontological level, philosophers often treat naturalism as equivalent to materialism. For example, philosopher Paul Kurtz argues that nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles. These principles include mass, energy, and other physical and chemical properties accepted by the scientific community. Further, this sense of naturalism holds that spirits, deities, and ghosts are not real and that there is no “purpose” in nature. This stronger formulation of naturalism is commonly referred to as metaphysical naturalism.[3] On the other hand, the more moderate view that naturalism should be assumed in one’s working methods as the current paradigm, without any further consideration of whether naturalism is true in the robust metaphysical sense, is called methodological naturalism.[4] With the exception of pantheists—who believe that Nature is identical with divinity while not recognizing a distinct personal anthropomorphic god—theists challenge the idea that nature contains all of reality.

So, already, we can see why it is quite reasonable to speak of “evolutionary materialistic scientism,” as that explicitly summarises a relevant, even dominant, form of naturalism commonly seen on the ground, especially in scientific and policy contexts.

Namely, following AmHD, the scheme of thought or view that “all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.” That is, evolutionary materialism from hydrogen to humans, and scientism that reduces knowledge and know-ability to scientific approaches shaped by this a priori such that science as conceived monopolises or even dominates what can be called knowledge. Much as Lewontin, the US National Science Teachers, Martin Mahner, Monod and others have variously said.

Lewontin’s well-known phrase is that Science is “the only begetter of truth.”

Manifestly, such a claim fails.

First, the scientism is self refuting, self referentially incoherent (and depends on its institutionalised power to get us to lock out other perfectly valid approaches to warrant that substantiates knowledge . . . with, of course, the first duties of reasoning lurking out of the fog).

Of course, some here may appeal to an older sense of “Science,” meaning, systematic study on reasonable and responsible principles leading to an agreed body of discussion and knowledge with best practices, i.e. a discipline. In this older sense, Theology had reason to claim to be Queen of the Sciences, especially as she embraced a good slice of philosophy. If you are unwilling to acknowledge Theology and Philosophy or Ethics as sciences, then you cannot appeal to that older sense of science. And if one insists on science as pivoting on empirical observation and linked explanatory theorising (especially when mathematical analysis can be applied), then a core part of doing science is not science, Mathematics, the study of the logic of structure and quantity . . . applied and extended logic of being.

That’s before one recognises that the claim Science monopolises or so dominates knowledge that once it steps in, all else is silenced, is not a scientific claim. It is a proposed thesis of epistemology, the philosophical study of knowledge, warrant and related matters. That is, scientism is self referentially incoherent and absurd.

Once these points are realised, the idea that we may freely impose so-called methodological naturalism without having smuggled in metaphysical naturalism, collapses. Instead, we must open ourselves instead to any valid approach to learning and warranting what we may learn; and in that context, the legitimacy of philosophy, logic of being [i.e. ontology], wider metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics and even aesthetics is obvious. So is the credibility of historical and forensic or common sense knowledge, and so are many other approaches to knowledge that can meet the duties to truth, right reason, warrant and wider prudence.

Indeed, we may make a minimal algebraic analysis, regarding any distinctly identifiable field of study amenable to careful reasoned discussion:

The truth claim, “there are no [generally knowable] objective truths regarding any matter,” roughly equivalent to, “knowledge is inescapably only subjective,” is an error. Which, happily, can be recognised and corrected.

Often, such error is presented and made to seem plausible through the diversity of opinions assertion, with implication that none have or are in a position to have a generally warranted, objective conclusion. This, in extreme form, is a key thesis of the nihilism that haunts our civilisation, which we must detect, expose to the light of day, correct and dispel, in defence of civilisation and human dignity. (NB: Sometimes the blind men and the elephant fable is used to make it seem plausible, overlooking the narrator’s implicit claim to objectivity.)

Now, to set things aright, let’s symbolise: ~[O*G] with * as AND. It intends to describe not mere opinion but warranted, credible truth about knowledge in general.


~[O*G] = 1 . . .

is self referential as it is clearly about subject matter G, and is intended to be a well warranted objectively true claim.

But it is itself therefore a truth claim about knowledge in general intended to be taken as objectively true, which is what it tries to deny as a possibility.

So, it is self contradictory and necessarily false:

PHASE I: Let a proposition be represented by x G = x is a proposition asserting that some state of affairs regarding some matter in general including history, science, the secrets of our hearts, morality etc, is the case O = x is objective and knowable, being adequately warranted as credibly true}

PHASE II: It is claimed, S= ~[O*G] = 1, 1 meaning true

However, the subject of S is G, it therefore claims to be objectively true, O and is about G
where it forbids O-status to any claim of type G
so, ~[O*G] cannot be true per self referential incoherence

PHASE III: The Algebra, translating from S: ~[O*G] = 0 [as self referential and incoherent cf above] ~[~[O*G]] = 1 [the negation is therefore true]
CONCLUSION I: O*G = 1 [condensing not of not] where, G [general truth claim including moral ones of course]

So too, O [if an AND is true, each sub proposition is separately true]

CONCLUSION II: That is, there are objective truths for any distinctly identifiable topic of study; and a first, self evident one is that ~[O*G] is false, ~[O*G] = 0. The set of knowable objective truths in general — and embracing those that happen to be about states of affairs in regard to right conduct etc — is non empty, it is not vacuous and we cannot play empty set square of opposition games with it.

That’s important.

Also, there are many particular objective general and moral truths that are adequately warranted to be regarded as reliable. Try, Napoleon was once a European monarch and would be conqueror. Try, Jesus of Nazareth is a figure of history. Try, it is wrong to torture babies for fun, and more.

Ours is a needlessly confused age

The scientism part has failed.

So does the evolutionary materialism part (once we realise that to do science we must be rationally, responsibly free and this cannot be reduced to computation on a blindly mechanical substrate), as for example J B S Haldane long since pointed out. Let us — yes again — cite him, reframing in terms of laid out propositions:

“It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For


[p:] my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain

[–> taking in DNA, epigenetics and matters of computer organisation, programming and dynamic-stochastic processes; notice, “my brain,” i.e. self referential]


[q:] I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true.

[–> indeed, blindly mechanical computation is not in itself a rational process, the only rationality is the canned rationality of the programmer, where survival-filtered lucky noise is not a credible programmer, note the functionally specific, highly complex organised information rich code and algorithms in D/RNA, i.e. language and goal directed stepwise process . . . an observationally validated adequate source for such is _____ ?]

[Corollary 1:] They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically.

And hence

[Corollary 2:] I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. [–> grand, self-referential delusion, utterly absurd self-falsifying incoherence]

[Implied, Corollary 3: Reason and rationality collapse in a grand delusion, including of course general, philosophical, logical, ontological and moral knowledge; reductio ad absurdum, a FAILED, and FALSE, intellectually futile and bankrupt, ruinously absurd system of thought.]

In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. Cf. here on (and esp here) on the self-refutation by self-falsifying self referential incoherence and on linked amorality.]

Re-conceive us as oracle machines, where the in the cybernetic loop neural network processors are also interacting with a supervisory oracle, and we arrive at Eng Derek Smith’s sort of vision:

The Eng Derek Smith Cybernetic Model

Notice, this is not a low level analysis of say an insect, the point is that we can see a supervisor, interacting through say quantum influences, with not instinct but rational, responsible wisdom. True freedom of the rational soul is back on the table, whatever the likes of a Provine may imagine, by suggesting that “human free will is nonexistent . . . . humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will.”

So, are you sufficiently responsibly and rationally free to make a rational objection, pivoting on first principles and duties of reason? If so, evolutionary materialistic scientism is dead; if not, then what may be chemically sound as a matter of cause effect chains in your brain, has no framework to claim more than being a product of GIGO limited computation. So, it has no power to properly claim warrant on ground-consequent relations or inference to best explanation etc.

Naturalism, as commonly proposed, fails. END

I would say that harm exists on a continuum.
True. There are degrees of evil, and there are degrees of goodness. We say an ice cream cone is good. And a human being is good. There's a continuum. The one difference with evil is that there really cannot be a "maximum evil" but there is a maximum good (God). A simple formula: Good does not require any evil (e.g. heaven has no evil in it) But evil does require the existence of good. (any existing thing has some good in it. It cannot be 100% evil).
I define evil as harm, which is further understood as deviation from intended purpose. This avoids the need for evil to be a separate thing, and certainly not a separate entity of any sort. Evil’s origin can simply be our sin nature taking its fallen course. Interestingly, God does harm to his creation, but only in response to man’s sin.
That sounds like a very good definition to me. Silver Asiatic
Could someone explain to me how we went from clarifying naturalism and identifying linked issues, to Catechism?
AF asked about the phrase "evil exists" @64. You responded with the classical formulation @65. I just reiterated it. Then Relatd questioned that. Silver Asiatic
I would say that harm exists on a continuum. But only God could actually perform the ranking
Ok, but a stubbed toe and torture are not near each other on the continuum. But both are on the continuum. That is the first step is understanding just what this concept that people call "evil" is. Other definitions besides harm are unwanted events, icky stuff, disagreeable, discomfort, misfortune etc. As the possibility of certain unwanted events become impossible or highly unlikely, other events on. the continuum that were not considered as undesirable now move up the list as things to avoid. This is not the thread to discuss this so this will be my last comment here on this off topic distraction. jerry
PS, note the RION frame of scales, ratio, interval, ordinal, nominal. An ordinal scale is valid especially if there are behavioural or observational anchors to assist the grading. It is better to be roughly right than exactly wrong. kairosfocus
EDTA, re >>For a concept everyone is familiar with, it is surprising that there is no universally agreed-upon, useful definition of evil.>> This is normal for philosophical . . . hard . . . questions. Comparative difficulties allow us to manage that irreducible complexity. KF kairosfocus
SA @ 75 and relatd, I define evil as harm, which is further understood as deviation from intended purpose. This avoids the need for evil to be a separate thing, and certainly not a separate entity of any sort. Evil's origin can simply be our sin nature taking its fallen course. Interestingly, God does harm to his creation, but only in response to man's sin. This means a few traditional boundary lines between good and evil need to be adjusted slightly--which I explain in depth. Jerry, I would say that harm exists on a continuum. But only God could actually perform the ranking. It's not something we could undertake with any hope of definitive success. Our very finiteness gets in the way of most of our efforts in circumscribing evil. That's just the way it has to be, since we are the inferior creatures. >I find it telling that no one is interested in trying to understand the implications of the concept of “evil.” I invite those with a sincere interest in the topic to take a look at the draft of my book on evil, found here: https://thevivisectionofevil.com/. There is a PDF version linked here: https://thevivisectionofevil.com/2022/06/30/introduction/. Any comments are welcome. I will try to respond there as time allows. *It is undergoing professional editing at this time; sorry for the "draft" feel it currently has. EDTA
Could someone explain to me how we went from clarifying naturalism and identifying linked issues, to Catechism? kairosfocus
Since evil is the result of a defect in the good, Aquinas says, it cannot be that God is the generator of any evil, since he possesses no defect, only perfection. This argument places the fault and blame of evil in the hands of humanity, the only other being with inherent goodness which exercises a will and an intellect. In doing this, Aquinas sets up his answer to the problem of evil, that evil is not the responsibility of God, since he had no part in creating evil. https://www.cathlogic.com/post/2018/09/01/anselm-and-aquinas-on-the-nature-and-problem-of-evil
God cannot create evil, since to create something is to create a being, or reality or that which is. Creation is a positive act which confers being - and therefore is good. Evil takes away from the goodness of being. Evil is not the result of a creative act but of destruction. It's the result of something not something created as an affirmation. Punishment for moral disorder is part of justice - which comes from God. The fact that our reality is deprived of goodness, and suffers evil, is a result of justice and is a necessary component of having creatures with free will. Silver Asiatic
Catechism of the Catholic Church: "II. THE FALL OF THE ANGELS "391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy.266 Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the "devil".267 The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing."268 "392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels.269 This "fall" consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter's words to our first parents: "You will be like God."270 The devil "has sinned from the beginning"; he is "a liar and the father of lies".271 "393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable. "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death."272 "394 Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls "a murderer from the beginning", who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father.273 "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil."274 In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God. "395 The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature- to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but "we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him."275' relatd
The Fall, an actual event, was caused by the appearance of an actual being
All beings, by virtue of having been created by God, possess goodness. Sin is a deprivation or deviation from the will of God. It's not an existent entity. No being can be completely evil, not even Satan. By the fact that Satan exists he possesses some good. Satan also is subject to God's punishment - to His justice and that is a good thing, even though Satan has conformed himself to sin and rebellion. Silver Asiatic
minor privations, but privations
That is the point! Isn't blindness a privation? Is there a continuum on which privations or unwanted events can be ranked and at some point, these privations/unwanted events become evil? The answer is no. That would be an absurd conclusion. I find it telling that no one is interested in trying to understand the implications of the concept of "evil." Everyone believes that this is an attempt to take away a precious word they use all the time. In a way it is but only to replace this extremely imprecise understanding with a much better understanding of what is involved. What flows from this better understanding is a complete vitiating of the argument from evil which is only used against the Christian God. jerry
Jerry, minor privations, but privations. KF kairosfocus
Jerry at 79, Thank you for helping to clear away the fog. relatd
For example, blindness is a physical evil because it is the absence of the ability to see, which is proper to a human being
So a blister, a stubbed toe or mosquito bite is evil according to this definition. What about near sightedness? jerry
SA at 77, Thank you for the clarification of evil from Aquinas, however, The Fall, an actual event, was caused by the appearance of an actual being. The clarification of the origin of death does not take away from the reality of death for each of us and the judgment. The atheist does not believe this. Genesis 2:17 'but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” relatd
What is Evil? Aquinas’ Classical Definition Found in Catechism Evil is the lack (or privation) of a good that should be present in a thing. For example, blindness is a physical evil because it is the absence of the ability to see, which is proper to a human being. In moral terms, sin is the absence of a particular virtue in a person. As such, evil is not something that exists in itself; it is merely the absence of the good (see Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 309, 314). Fr. José Antonio Fortea
Death is an evil that entered the world as a punishment for sin
Death may be considered in two ways. First, as an evil of human nature, and thus it is not of God, but is a defect befalling man through his fault. Secondly, as having an aspect of good, namely as being a just punishment, and thus it is from God. Wherefore Augustine says (Retract. i, 21) that God is not the author of death, except in so far as it is a punishment. https://www.newadvent.org/summa/3164.htm
Silver Asiatic
SA at 75, In the Catholic understanding of evil, it begins with a created entity, Satan or the Devil. Jesus was tempted by the Devil, not some concept of evil. He has an identity. He rebelled against God along with others like him. Luke 10:18 'And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." Death is not evil. Jesus defeated death but we cannot avoid it. Hebrews 9:27 "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment," In the Final Judgment, Jesus himself will judge our eternal fate. relatd
Evil is not a concept. It exists in reality.
This is how Manicheanism developed. The belief that "evil is an entity that exists in reality" means that evil must be traced back to an origin, as a thing is created. The Manicheans determined then there must be an evil god and a good god. The evil god created evil. St. Augustine refutes that since there can only be one God. Plus, God must be perfectly good - not a mixture of good and evil. So, evil cannot be a thing that exists in reality - it cannot be an entity. Evil is the deprivation of the good. It is a lack of good. It's the perversion of what is good. It does not have its own existence, being and purpose of its own. Evil tends towards destruction, not to building. Whatever exists is good, at least partially. Evil is what is removed from good - it's not a thing in itself in reality. Death is an evil - it takes away life. Life is something we can see and realize as an entity in reality. Death is not a thing we can see - it's just the absence or end of life.
When human beings act in defiance of right reason and their God-given natures, that is evil in action. I suggest paying attention to the evil actions going on all around us.
Sin is the perversion of a good action. Vice is a corruption of virtue. Virtue and goodness exist as "that which is true and real". That which is false and evil exists in the way "-2" exists. I can have 2 apples, but I cannot possess -2 apples. Evil takes away being and takes away good. Sinful behavior always has a good root that is "defied". We are oriented to good, to what is real and to the truth. The sin of drunkenness for example, is something good (drinking) perverted to excess. Theft is something good (taking something good for oneself) perverted by taking what we do not rightly own. Silver Asiatic
SA at 73, Evil is not a concept. It exists in reality. When human beings act in defiance of right reason and their God-given natures, that is evil in action. I suggest paying attention to the evil actions going on all around us. relatd
Here are some considerations on the proposal "evil exists". First, as stated elsewhere, evil is a privation or lack of perfection, a perversion of good, so it cannot be a "real" entity in that sense. However, there is a philosophical equation that works like this: True = what exists = real = good On the other side False = what does not exist = unreal = evil In logical terms we can say "error exists". Error is what is false - is a lack of reality, lack of goodness. But that's the mental concept of error. So, evil can exist as a concept, but not in reality. Our objective moral norms begin with the idea of truth. What is true is what is real. What is false is what tends towards evil. Our conscience moves us to the truth - objectively and morally. It's not a subjective process. Silver Asiatic
PPPS, as a capstone, Monod:
In writing about naturalistic origins of life, in Chance and Necessity, Monod proposed that life is the result of chance and necessity. This reflects the naturalistic attitude, and is tied to the a priori rejection of design as a possibility highlighted by Lewontin thirty years later; yes, an assumption held to be pivotal to scientific “objectivity.” Clipping:
[T]he basic premise of the scientific method, . . . [is] that nature is objective and not projective [= a project of an agent]. Hence it is through reference to our own activity, con-scious and projective, intentional and purposive-it is as | makers of artifacts-that we judge of a given object’s “naturalness” or “artificialness.” [pp. 3 – 4] . . . . [T]he postulate of objectivity is consubstantial with science: it has guided the whole of its prodigious develop-ment for three centuries. [--> false!] There is no way to be rid of it, even tentatively or in a limited area, without departing from the domain of science itself. [--> ideological captivity to evolutionary materialistic scientism][p. 21]
Further to such, in a 1971 television interview, he asserted — tellingly — as follows:
[T]he scientific attitude implies what I call the postulate of objectivity—that is to say, the fundamental postulate that there is no plan, that there is no intention in the universe. Now, this is basically incompatible with virtually all the religious or metaphysical systems whatever, all of which try to show that there is some sort of harmony between man and the universe and that man is a product—predictable if not indispensable—of the evolution of the universe.— Jacques Monod [Quoted in John C. Hess, ‘French Nobel Biologist Says World Based On Chance’, New York Times (15 Mar 1971), p. 6. Cited in Herbert Marcuse, Counter-Revolution and Revolt (1972), p. 66.]
This is of course a Nobel Prize winner speaking and writing on the record. Chance and Necessity was in fact a highly influential, widely celebrated book. This is not some half baked soapbox debater.
F/N: On experience, it is necessary to document from the horses' mouths, as there is a definite tactic of evasion, obfuscation and denial. kairosfocus
PPS, US Science Teachers, with National Academy of Sciences backing:
[NSTA Board, July 2000:] All those involved with science teaching and learning should have a common, accurate view of the nature of science. [--> yes but a question-begging ideological imposition is not an accurate view] Science is characterized by the systematic gathering of information through various forms of direct and indirect observations and the testing of this information by methods including, but not limited to, experimentation [--> correct so far]. The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts [--> evolutionary materialistic scientism is imposed] and the laws and theories related to those [--> i.e. ideologically loaded, evolutionary materialistic] concepts . . . . science, along with its methods, explanations and generalizations, must be the sole focus of instruction in science classes to the exclusion of all non-scientific or pseudoscientific methods, explanations, generalizations and products [--> censorship of anything that challenges the imposition; fails to appreciate that scientific methods are studied through logic, epistemology and philosophy of science, which are philosophy not science] . . . . Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science [--> a good point, but fails to see that this brings to bear many philosophical issues], a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations [--> outright ideological imposition and censorship that fetters freedom of responsible thought] supported by empirical evidence [--> the imposition controls how evidence is interpreted and that's why blind watchmaker mechanisms never seen to actually cause FSCO/I have default claim to explain it in the world of life] that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument [--> ideological imposition may hide under a cloak of rationality but is in fact anti-rational], inference, skepticism [--> critical awareness is responsible, selective hyperskepticism backed by ideological censorship is not], peer review [--> a circle of ideologues in agreement has no probative value] and replicability of work . . . . Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic [= evolutionary materialistic scientism is imposed by definition, locking out an unfettered search for the credibly warranted truth about our world i/l/o observational evidence and linked inductive reasoning] methods and explanations and, as such [--> notice, ideological imposition by question-begging definition], is precluded from using supernatural elements [--> sets up a supernatural vs natural strawman alternative when the proper contrast since Plato in The Laws, Bk X, is natural vs artificial] in the production of scientific knowledge. [US NSTA Board, July 2000, definition of the nature of science for education purposes]
PS, Martin Mahner: http://www.springerlink.com/content/b04008g7w0781308/fulltext.html#CR31
. . . metaphysical naturalism is a constitutive ontological principle of science in that the general empirical methods of science, such as observation, measurement and experiment, and thus the very production of empirical evidence, presuppose a no-supernature principle [--> recall, we are dealing with what is institutionally dominant, it matters not that some would disagree, this is a statement of where the Overton Window lies and what the power brokers think they have power to lock out, regardless of actual merits] . . . . Metaphysical or ontological naturalism (henceforth: ON) ["roughly" and "simply"] is the view that all that exists is our lawful spatiotemporal world. Its negation is of course supernaturalism: the view that our lawful spatiotemporal world is not all that exists because there is another non-spatiotemporal world transcending the natural one, whose inhabitants—usually considered to be intentional beings—are not subject to natural laws . . . . Both scientists and science educators keep being challenged by creationists of all shades, who try hard to reintroduce supernaturalist explanations into biology and into all the areas of science that concern the origin of the world in general and of human beings in particular. [--> Confession by projection? No merely human power class has a permanent empire. This too will fall.]
[--> of course he here glides by the point Plato highlighted in The Laws Bk X, natural vs supernatural, and the linked point that it is empirically well founded that there are signs of intelligently directed configuration as cause, where a major goal and condition of credibility of science is that it seeks empirically supported truth about our world. Ideological capture of science and science education potentially has a ruinous cost.]
A major aspect of this debate is the role of ON in science . . . . ON is not part of a deductive argument in the sense that if we collected all the statements or theories of science and used them as premises, then ON would logically follow. After all, scientific theories do not explicitly talk about anything metaphysical such as the presence or absence of supernatural entities: they simply refer to natural entities and processes only. Therefore, ON rather is a tacit metaphysical supposition of science, an ontological postulate. It is part of a metascientific framework or, if preferred, of the metaparadigm of science that guides the construction and evaluation of theories, and that helps to explain why science works and succeeds in studying and explaining the world. [--> cat out of the bag.] ["The role of Metaphysical Naturalism in Science," Science and Education, 2011]
The matter is clear and any prudent educator or thinker on related subjects would avoid terminology that invites the Lewontin imposition, unless that is precisely what it is desired to enable. Which, cannot be justified. kairosfocus
Jerry, that's physicalism; a form of naturalism, yes, but not all of it. That brings out that philosophy is the department of studies that handles hard questions. Hard Q's are defined by there not being any simple, and good, answers. What that means is that complexity is baked into the framework of any serious discipline or issue, starting with logic, logic of being and epistemology. Appreciating that should be part of education. As for what ID is, it recognises the possibility of intelligently directed configuration, thus the role of intelligent organisation and information as key causal factors and means. These often leave reliable signs, and so ID, rightly understood is that scientific school that studies signs of design. It is a commonplace, but becomes controversial because it challenges key theses of naturalistic thinking. Which is the dominant frame of thought -- frankly, ideology -- in the academy. KF kairosfocus
The OP asks “what is Naturalism?” Answer: it is that all in our universe is due to the four forces of physics. (Possibly other undiscovered forces) End of discussion. No need for long involved explanations or irrelevant verbiage. But the UD way is to generate dozens/hundreds and sometimes thousands of comments that go nowhere. All repeats of previous comments. The real question is “can naturalism explain everything?” The answer is that when logic is applied to science, the four forces come up short. That’s what ID added to naturalism or why ID is naturalism + or           ID is Science + jerry
Darwinists show us a black box(their theory) and tell people to believe them that inside is a red ball. They also say that is not possible to open the box because our span life is 70 years and the box opens once in a million years. They call it science ,except science is what you can prove it not what you can imagine about the world. If darwinists can't open the black box to show us the red ball then definitely is not science. Lieutenant Commander Data
AF, evil has no independent existence, it is a privation or frustration or twisting of what is from its due . . . and often manifest . . . ends, hence chaotic impact. But if there are evils, there are also due ends. The due end of rational, responsible freedom is truth in love, thus to do good that builds and brings peace. For classic example, that is how were lying to become the norm, communication, society and key relations would collapse. Lying only works because of relative rarity and some remaining degree of trust aka social capital. KF PS, notice, again, the side-tracking nature of your objection. Given the penumbra of attack sites, that is a sign of not having a cogent answer to the evident incoherence and self refuting nature of evolutionary materioalistic scientism and its fellow travellers. Naturalism, which lends itself to such, is bankrupt. kairosfocus
@StephenB Just wondering if "evil exists" is still one of your first principles. Alan Fox
Since so many people here are demanding simplicity, I will try make it simple. First principles come first, that is why they call them first principles. That is also why philosophy, done correctly and in concert with reason, is a necessary enterprise and is on a higher intellectual plane than science. The problem is that modern philosophy, as opposed to classical philosophy, contains serious errors, such as materialism in the ontological order or nominalism in the epistemological order. Such errors reduce philosophy to a lower plane than science. Classical philosophy, the nobler kind, tells us that logic depends on the law of non-contradiction, a point that was originally discovered by Aristotle. We can say things like *if A, then B” only if we first say *A cannot also be B, or C or D etc* That’s where it all starts – with first principles in concert with reason.. So it is with causality and science. We can say *A caused B* to move or exist or arrive at its present state only if we first acknowledge that all existence, movement, and change is caused by an outside source, which is a philosophical principle that rules science. It is from philosophy that we get the rules for evidence, the need to isolate variables, the principle of inductive reasoning, and so on. It has nothing to do with religion. Any such claim is a strawman. So this is the take home point: Science does not inform the rules of right reason; the rules of right reason inform science. StephenB
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