Intelligent Design

Naturalism: “Incorrigibly Incoherent”?

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David Bentley Hart is one of my favorite writers. I can only wish my prose were as lucid and beautiful as his.  I am reading his The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, and he makes powerful points from the very first chapter. Consider:

Naturalism – the doctrine that there is nothing apart from the physical order, and certainly nothing supernatural – is an incorrigibly incoherent concept, and one that is ultimately indistinguishable from pure magical thinking. The very notion of nature as a closed system entirely sufficient to itself is plainly one that cannot be verified, deductively or empirically, from within the system of nature. It is a metaphysical (which is to say ‘extra-natural’) conclusion regarding the whole of reality, which neither reason nor experience legitimately warrants. It cannot even define itself within the boundaries of its own terms, because the total sufficiency of ‘natural’ explanations is not an identifiable natural phenomenon but only an arbitrary judgment.

More to come. But I wonder what our materialist friends would say in response to Dr. Hart. His assertions seem obvious to me. What am I missing?

10 Replies to “Naturalism: “Incorrigibly Incoherent”?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
    William Shakespeare – Hamlet

    The belief that this universe is ‘a closed system entirely sufficient to itself’ is now falsified by quantum non-locality:

    Here is a clip of a talk in which Alain Aspect talks about a debate between Neils Bohr and Einstein, and decades long struggle to prove the failure of ‘local realism’, or the failure of materialism/naturalism, to explain reality:

    Quantum Entanglement – The Failure Of Local Realism – Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    Here is a more recent video that shows that the ‘problem’ from quantum mechanics for naturalism/materialism has only gotten far worse. I believe he says something in the video to the effect that ‘not only can atheists no longer move the goalposts, there is no longer a field for them to play on’.

    Divinely Planted Quantum States – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCTBygadaM4

    Here are a few more technical notes that solidified the falsification of naturalism, i.e. local realism:

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142824.htm

    Physicists close two loopholes while violating local realism – November 2010
    Excerpt: The latest test in quantum mechanics provides even stronger support than before for the view that nature violates local realism and is thus in contradiction with a classical worldview.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....alism.html

    Quantum theory survives latest challenge – Dec 15, 2010
    Excerpt: Even assuming that entangled photons could respond to one another instantly, the correlations between polarization states still violated Leggett’s inequality. The conclusion being that instantaneous communication is not enough to explain entanglement and realism must also be abandoned.
    This conclusion is now backed up by Sonja Franke-Arnold and collegues at the University of Glasgow and University of Strathclyde who have performed another experiment showing that entangled photons exhibit,, stronger correlations than allowed for particles with individually defined properties – even if they would be allowed to communicate constantly.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/ar.....-challenge

    Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons – Jun 11, 2013
    Excerpt: The new research, closes the fair-sampling loophole (i.e. the last loophole) by using improved photon sources (spontaneous parametric down-conversion in a Sagnac configuration) and ultra-sensitive detectors provided by the Single Photonics and Quantum Information project in PML’s Quantum Electronics and Photonics Division. That combination, the researchers write, was “crucial for achieving a sufficiently high collection efficiency,” resulting in a high-accuracy data set – requiring no assumptions or correction of count rates – that confirmed quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-b.....otons.html

    The following articles give us a small glimpse as to what it truly means for entanglement to be confirmed to an order of ’70 standard deviations’:

    Standard deviation
    Excerpt: Particle physics uses a standard of “5 sigma” for the declaration of a discovery.[3] At five-sigma there is only one chance in nearly two million that a random fluctuation would yield the result.
    – per wikipedia

    SSDD: a 22 sigma event is consistent with the physics of fair coins? – June 23, 2013
    Excerpt: So 500 coins heads is (500-250)/11 = 22 standard deviations (22 sigma) from expectation! These numbers are so extreme, it’s probably inappropriate to even use the normal distribution’s approximation of the binomial distribution, and hence “22 sigma” just becomes a figure of speech in this extreme case…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....air-coins/

    Quantum Mechanics has now been extended to falsify local realism (naturalism/materialism) without even using quantum entanglement to do it:

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    Falsification of Local Realism without using Quantum Entanglement – Anton Zeilinger – video
    http://vimeo.com/34168474

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Supplemental note; Dr. Craig does, in short order, an excellent job in the following video of showing why, from a common sense perspective, the naturalistic/atheistic worldview is absurd:

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    Another fact that argues very strongly against the naturalistic/atheistic worldview is that atheists/naturalists can’t possibly live out their worldviews consistently and to the extent they are successful in living out their worldviews consistently they would be considered psychopathic:

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Beauty Evades the Clutches of Materialism – March 27, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....70321.html

    Music, Verse and Poem

    More to This Life by Steven Curtis Chapman
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPK86RakT64

    John 14:2
    In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

    There Is More – Poem – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102086/

  3. 3

    Naturalism is rebellion against the obvious.

  4. 4
    Blue_Savannah says:

    Thank you for bringing Mr Hart to our attention….what a powerful writer!

  5. 5
    Axel says:

    ‘Naturalism is rebellion against the obvious.’

    …. in a nutshell, WJM! Hilarious! You should compile a book of your apothegms.

  6. 6
    Axel says:

    Philip, you may or nor remember my hawking around the idea – to which no-one responded, except Mung… with a question about some statement, I believe – that the absolute speed of light is unambiguous proof of theism.

    Well, it occurred to me this morning (or yesterday – old age is a beggar) that it was a rehashing of the much more intriguing assertion by a philosopher of science, said to have been much admired by Einstein, that before the light of a star from a distant galaxy set of on its journey, it must have known that any and every Observer looking at it, would be looking at it at that precise time and place. Though he didn’t see the theistic implication, so I think I’ll go to the top of the class on the strength of that!

  7. 7
    Axel says:

    ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.’

    Philip, when I read even such brief passages of Christ’s words, however banal-seeming on the face of it, they somehow have strangely comforting resonances. How about those words and images in the 23rd Psalm? ‘Shepherd’ and ‘still waters’.

    They also put me in mind of the beautiful line in the translation of St Augustine’s Confessions, so beautifully translated by R S Pine-Coffin:

    ‘Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty, so ancient and so new, and, ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.’

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    Re your video-clip of Dr Craig serving it up to our materialist friends, the legend, ‘Comments are disabled for this video,’ is always a good sign. You can just imagine the disaffected adolescents going ape!

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    Axel re 6:

    Light and Quantum Entanglement Reflect Some Characteristics Of God – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102182

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein – The Einstein Factor – Reader’s Digest
    http://www.readersdigest.co.za.....tor?page=2

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    Virtual Particles and Photons – Michael Strauss PhD particle physics – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4554674/

  10. 10
    Axel says:

    Fascinating stuff, Philip. Thanks.

    I wonder if light photons (together with the other photons less proximately) are the interface with the divine, the incarnational manifestation of the Cosmic Christ, and hence their interaction with space-time; and information, a more immediate emanation from the Father? Quien sabe?

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