Intelligent Design

Reflections: Huh? Frank Beckwith, of all people, attacked by conspirazoid prof Barbara Forrest?

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Here’s an interesting example of the way that any non-materialist draws fire from materialist atheists.

Baylor prof Frank Beckwith had a big tenure fight a while back, possibly connected with his view that it is not unconstitutional to teach that the universe is intelligently designed in an American school setting and also that there is something wrong with killing our kids and then wondering who is going to work to pay our pensions.

And – while Beckwith does not endorse the ID view, and has often attacked it and its proponents – he was recently savaged at considerable length by conspirazoon Barbara Forrest (author of The Trojan Horse).

David DeWolf*, a Catholic and one of the evil Discovery Institute types, who currently star as the villains in a local potboiler, offered me some thoughts on the difficulties that Catholics like Beckwith and he may face.

It took me a while to get to his comments, so I wrote back advising him that there is no shortage of dump bears from hell here either.

But here are his thoughts:

*In an earlier version of this story, John West was misidientified as my correspondent, when David DeWolf was meant. Apologies to both.

Speaking as a Roman Catholic, I would say that to the extent there is a lesson from the Galileo affair (and historians know how distorted the contemporary understanding of that business is), many Catholics, sadly, even those in positions of authority, have gotten it just backwards. Those who want to avoid another Galileo affair should be slow to identify the Church or the Faith with a particular scientific theory. After all, today’s scientific confidence can be tomorrow’s embarrassment.

But that’s not what many prominent Roman Catholics have been doing. Instead, what we see today is an *embrace* of “evolution” — even of Charles Darwin — as though that theory had been proven and the Church wants to show it’s on the side of the winner.

One might say it would be foolish to declare ID the winner in the debate, although Catholics (certainly those in the Thomist tradition) are already on record as affirming design and teleology. Why some Thomists want to draw such a sharp distinction between teleology as a philosophical matter and the evidence of teleology in biological structure is a mystery to me (I gather it is a mystery to Mike Behe, as well).

There is a danger in identifying only *some* events as displaying teleology, suggesting that God is in direct control of some things, but on sabbatical (so to speak) with respect to, say, an apparently random pile of rocks at the bottom of a hillside. As with most things, I repair to Scripture for assistance: the Gospels repeatedly refer to various events in Jesus’ life as being a fulfillment of prophecy. To point out, say, that none of Jesus’ bones were broken during the crucifixion, is not to suggest that only the events specifically identified as a fulfillment of prophecy were planned, while the rest of Jesus’ life just sort of happened. But there is a reason for pointing out that certain events support a logical inference of design, and these are significant precisely because the question of design in history, in the universe, is very much in dispute. Therefore, it baffles me that, rather than embracing ID as a plausible account of biology (plausible, but far from being what the Darwinians claim about evolution — more firmly established than the law of gravity), many otherwise loyal Churchmen run for the exit door as if the place were on fire. Sure, there are ways to distort ID to turn it in a bad theological direction. But there’s nothing that I can detect that should make a Roman Catholic any less enthusiastic about ID than any other variety of Christian.

It’s never been any kind of a mystery to me. Many terrified Christians feel they need to accommodate atheism, and that means selling out Christians who come up with reasons why atheism might not be true, as opposed to finding ways to somehow sneak out to holler for Jesus while letting atheists rule.

(Note: Some people believe in conspiracies, and some don’t. My own experience as a hack inclines me to the latter, skeptical view. Few can resist the self-importance of spilling their guts to an obliging hack. So the conspiracies that really exist are small, highly focused, and often involve people [think 9-11] who get themselves killed. Didn’t the 20th jihadi start to spill? Could be torture? I’d never torture the fellow myself, because if you just lock up people like him up for a while, they start to spill to a polite and friendly interview officer – usually through a desire for importance and meaning in life.)

Also just up at The Post-Darwinist:

Science and society: Methodological naturalism as the religious link between science and government-sponsored atheism

Adnan Oktar: Catching up with my here and here.

Intellectual freedom: American novelist Toni Morrison’s view

If you really need to hear from profs, you won’t need to pay for these

“Theistic evolution: Facing the facts as if facts “mattered

34 Replies to “Reflections: Huh? Frank Beckwith, of all people, attacked by conspirazoid prof Barbara Forrest?

  1. 1
    tribune7 says:

    John West, a Catholic and one of the evil Discovery Institute types

    Does he also belong to Opus Dei? He may not be someone you want to mess with 🙂

  2. 2
    Dave W. says:

    So pointing out a person’s many pro-ID writings and actions over a decade is now being “savaged?” Are you, Mrs. O’Leary, going on record as saying that “pro-ID” is a derogatory term?

  3. 3
    David Kellogg says:

    while Beckwith does not endorse the ID view, and has often attacked it and its proponents

    Can you identify some of Beckwith’s attacks on ID and its proponents? I haven’t seen them, but I may be looking in the wrong places.

  4. 4
    O'Leary says:

    David Kellogg, Beckwith distanced himself from ID and resigned from the Discovery Institute in (I think) 2007 – to make clear that he had distanced himself, or so I heard.

    As a constitutional law prof, he had only said it was constitutional to teach ID, not that he agreed with it.

    That is somewhat like me saying that it is constitutional to teach that Mary Queen of Scots was the rightful heir to the British throne. That doesn’t mean I agree with the view.

    Beckwith commented on this site for a while, and there may be some way of searching the comments to bring his up, which will give you the general idea.

    A lot of what is said about him on the ‘Net is avoidable scuttlebutt, of course.

  5. 5
    nullasalus says:

    Denyse,

    Where does Beckwith’s quote begin and end? I can’t tell clearly due to the formatting.

  6. 6
    David Kellogg says:

    Well, distancing oneself is a far cry from attacking. But that’s as may be. If Beckwith is not a card-carrying ID supporter, he’s analogous to what communists used to call “fellow travelers.”

    For what it’s worth, I think it’s ok to teach ID — just not in science classes and not as science.

  7. 7
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    For what it’s worth, I think it’s perfectly fine to teach materialistic evolution and methodological naturalism in a literature or creative writing class

  8. 8
    O'Leary says:

    For persons troubled by formatting issues: For reasons I do not understand, when I shuttle between Blogger and WordPress, a curious outcome is that WordPress recognizes only the first paragraph of a multi-graff quote as an indented quote. I must – as a result – indent the rest of the quote manually.

    That tends to cause the rest of an extended quote to look slightly different from the first graff.

    I do not know how to solve the problem at present (if I did, I would just solve it).

  9. 9
    Bantay says:

    Denyse..

    Your linked Post-Darwinist article called

    “Science and society: Methodological naturalism as the religious link between science and government-sponsored atheism”

    is pure, utter, unabashed brilliance. You should post that article here in it’s entirety. I have read and re-read it several times now, each time with more enjoyment than before.

    http://post-darwinist.blogspot.....gical.html

  10. 10
    PhilosophyFan says:

    Having actually read Beckwith’s website, his blogs, his blog posts here, and many of his books, I can either conclude Barbara Forrest is either incompetent or a liar.

  11. 11
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive, you write,

    I think it’s perfectly fine to teach materialistic evolution and methodological naturalism in a literature or creative writing class.

    Given your recent claim that

    all of nature could be considered supernatural, since we have no reason to believe that we know better,

    I’m fairly confident that you don’t know science from Shinola.

  12. 12
    Dave W. says:

    Mr. Hayden wrote:

    For what it’s worth, I think it’s perfectly fine to teach materialistic evolution and methodological naturalism in a literature or creative writing class

    Since you think that methodological naturalism is fiction, I am forced to conclude that when you need to go to the bathroom, you must wait for divine revelation or something like it (meditation, perhaps?) to show you where the bathroom is. After all, assuming that it’s in the same place it was the last 50 times you went is nothing more than the practice of methodological naturalism.

  13. 13

    “Having actually read Beckwith’s website, his blogs, his blog posts here, and many of his books, I can either conclude Barbara Forrest is either incompetent or a liar.”

    That’s a false dilemma. She could be both.

  14. 14
    Bantay says:

    Mr Beckwith at 13

    “Having actually read Beckwith’s website, his blogs, his blog posts here, and many of his books, I can either conclude Barbara Forrest is either incompetent or a liar.”

    That’s a false dilemma. She could be both.”

    Let’s do it the materialist science way. All in favor of Barb being both incompetent and a liar raise their hands and protest to their university department heads.

    The hands have it. Protesters though will be Expelled.

  15. 15
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    ——“I’m fairly confident that you don’t know science from Shinola.”

    You’re right, I don’t know what Shinola is :). I do, however, know science and literature, and materialistic evolution and methodological naturalism could find a home in literature.

  16. 16
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    As a matter of fact, let’s look at the appeal of evolution compared to literature while we’re on the subject:

    “Consider for a few moments the enormous aesthetic claim of its (Christian theology – PG) chief contemporary rival – what we may loosely call the Scientific Outlook…Supposing this to be a myth, is it not one of the finest myths which human imagination has yet produced? The play is preceded by the most austere of all preludes: the infinite void, and matter restlessly moving to bring forth it knows not what. Then, by the millionth millionth chance – what tragic irony – the conditions at one point of space and time bubble up into that tiny fermentation which is the beginning of life. Everything seems to be against the infant hero of our drama – just as everything seems against the youngest son or ill-used stepdaughter at the opening of a fairy-tale. But life somehow wins through. With infinite suffering, against all but insuperable obstacles, it spreads, it breeds, it complicates itself: from the amoeba up to the plant, up to the reptile, up to the mammal. We glance briefly at the age of monsters. Dragons prowl the earth, devour one another and die. Then comes the theme of the younger son and the ugly duckling once more. As the weak, tiny spark of life began amidst the huge hostilities of the inanimate, so now again, amidst the beasts that are far larger and stronger than he, there comes forth a little naked, shivering, cowering creature, shuffling, not yet erect, promising nothing: the product of another millionth millionth chance. Yet somehow he thrives. He becomes the Cave Man with his club and his flints, muttering and growling over his enemies’ bones, dragging his screaming mate by her hair (I could never quite make out why), tearing his children to pieces in fierce jealousy till one of them is old enough to tear him, cowering before the terrible gods whom he has created in his own image. But these are only growing pains. Wait till the next Act. There he is becoming true Man. He learns to master nature. Science comes and dissipates the superstitions of his infancy. More and more he becomes the controller of his own fate. Passing hastily over the present (for it is a mere nothing by the time-scale we are using), you follow him on into the future. See him in the last Act, though not the last scene, of this great mystery. A race of demigods now rule the planet – and perhaps more than the planet – for eugenics have made certain that only demigods will be born, and psycho-analysis that none of them shall lose or smirch his divinity, and communism that all which divinity requires shall be ready to their hands. Man has ascended his throne. Hence forward he has nothing to do but to practice virtue, to grow in wisdom, to be happy. And now, mark the final stroke of genius. If the myth stopped at that point, it might be a little pathetic (sic). It would lack the highest grandeur of which human imagination is capable. The last scene reverses all. We have the Twilight of the Gods. All this time, silently, unceasingly, out of all reach of human power, Nature, the old enemy, has been steadily gnawing away. The sun will cool – all suns will cool – the whole universe will run down. Life (every form of life) will be banished, without hope of return, from every inch of infinite space. All ends in nothingness, and “universal darkness covers all.” The pattern of myth thus becomes one of the noblest we can conceive. It is the pattern of many Elizabethan tragedies, where the protagonist’s career can be represented by a slowly ascending and then rapidly falling curve, with its highest point in Act IV. You see him climbing up and up, then blazing in his bright meridian, then finally overwhelmed in ruin.

    Such a world-drama appeals to every part of us. The early struggles of the hero (a theme delightfully doubled, played first by life, and then by man) appeals to our generosity. His future exaltation gives scope to a reasonable optimism; for the tragic close is so very distant that you need not often think of it–we work with millions of years. And the tragic close it self just gives that irony, that grandeur, which calls forth our defiance, and without which all the rest might cloy. There is a beauty in this myth which well deserves better poetic handling than it has yet received: I hope some great genius will yet crystallize it before the incessant stream of philosophic change carries it all away. I am speaking, of course, of the beauty it has whether you believe it or not. There I can speak from experience: for I, who believe less than half of what it tells me about the past, and less than nothing of what it tells me about the future, am deeply moved when I contemplate it. The only other story–unless, indeed, it is an embodiment of the same story–which similarly moves me is the Nibelung’s Ring. Enden sah ich die Welt.

    We cannot, therefore, turn down Theology, simply because it does not avoid being poetical. All world views yield poetry to those who believe them by the mere fact of being believed. And nearly all have certain poetical merits whether you believe them or not. This is what we should expect. Man is a poetical animal and touches nothing which he does not adorn.

    There are, however, two other lines of thought which might lead us to call Theology a mere poetry, and these I must now consider. In the first place, it certainly contains elements similar to those which we find in many early, and even savage, religions. And those elements in the early religions may now seem to us to be poetical. The question here is rather complicated. We now regard the death and return of Balder as a poetical idea, a myth. We are invited to infer thence that the death and resurrection of Christ is a poetical idea, a myth. But we are not really starting with the datum “Both are poetical” and thence arguing “Therefore both are false”. Part of the poetical aroma which hangs about Balder is, I believe, due to the fact that we have already come to disbelieve in him. So that disbelief not poetical experience, is the real starting point of the argument. But this is perhaps an over-subtlety, certainly a subtlety, and I will leave it on one side.

    What light is really thrown on the truth or falsehood of Christian Theology by the occurrence of similar ideas in Pagan religion. I think the answer was very well given a fortnight ago by Mr. Brown. Supposing, for purposes of argument, that Christianity is true, then it could avoid all coincidence with other religions only on the supposition that all other religions are one hundred per cent erroneous. To which, you remember, Professor Price replied by agreeing with Mr. Brown and saying: “Yes. From these resemblances you may conclude not ‘so much the worse for the Christians’ but ‘so much the better for the Pagans’.” The truth is that the resemblances tell nothing either for or against the truth of Christian Theology. If you start from the assumption that the Theology is false, the resemblances are quite consistent with that assumption. One would expect creatures of the same sort, faced with the same universe, to make the same false guess more than once. But if you start with the assumption that the Theology is true, the resemblances fit in equally well. Theology, while saying that a special illumination has been vouchsafed to Christians and (earlier) to Jews, also says that there is some reason. The picture so often painted of Christians huddling together on an ever narrower strip of beach while the incoming tide of “Science” mounts higher and higher, corresponds to nothing in my own experience.
    That grand myth which I asked you to admire a few minutes ago is not for me a hostile novelty breaking in on my traditional beliefs. On the contrary, that cosmology is what I started from. Deepening distrust and final abandonment of it long preceded my conversion to Christianity. Long before I believed Theology to be true I had already decided that the popular scientific picture at any rate was false. One absolutely central inconsistency ruins it; it is the one we touched on a fortnight ago. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears. Unless we can be sure that reality in the remotest nebula or the remotest part obeys the thought–laws of the human scientist here and now in his laboratory-in other words, unless Reason is an absolute–all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based. The difficulty is to me a fatal one; and the fact that when you put it to many scientists, far from having an answer, they seem not even to understand what the difficulty is, assures me that I have not found a mare’s nest but detected a radical disease in their whole mode of thought from the very beginning. The man who has once understood the situation is compelled henceforth to regard the scientific cosmology as being, in principle, a myth; though no doubt a great many true particulars have been worked into it. (1)

    It is not irrelevant, in considering the mythical character of this cosmology to notice that the two great imaginative expressions of it are earlier than the evidence: Keats’s Hyperion and the Nibelung’s Ring are pre-Darwinian works.

    After that it is hardly worth noticing minor difficulties. Yet these are many and serious. The Bergsonian critique of orthodox Darwinism is not easy to answer. More disquieting still is Professor D. M. S. Watson’s defence. “Evolution itself,” he wrote, “is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or… can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.” Has it come to that? Does the whole vast structure of modern naturalism depend not on positive evidence but simply on an a priori metaphysical prejudice? Was it devised not to get in facts but to keep out God? Even, however, if Evolution in the strict biological sense has some better grounds than Professor Watson suggests–and I can’t help thinking it must–we should distinguish Evolution in this strict sense from what may be called the universal evolutionism of modern thought. By universal evolutionism I mean the belief that the very formula of universal process is from imperfect to perfect, from small beginnings to great endings, from the rudimentary to the elaborate: the belief which makes people find it natural to think that morality springs from savage taboos, adult sentiment from infantile sexual maladjustments, thought from instinct, mind from matter, organic from inorganic, cosmos from chaos. This is perhaps the deepest habit of mind in the contemporary world. It seems to me immensely implausible, because it makes the general course of nature so very unlike those parts of nature we can observe. You remember the old puzzle as to whether the owl came from the egg or the egg from the owl. The modern acquiescence in universal evolutionism is a kind of optical illusion, produced by attending exclusively to the owls emergence from the egg. We are taught from childhood to notice how the perfect oak grows from the acorn and to forget that the acorn itself was dropped by a perfect oak. We are reminded constantly that the adult human being was an embryo, never that the life of the embryo came from two adult human beings. We love to notice that the express engine of today is the descendant of the “rocket;” we do not equally remember that the ” Rocket” springs not from some even more rudimentary engine, but from something much more perfect and complicated than itself-namely, a man of genius. The obviousness or naturalness which most people seem to find in the idea of emergent evolution thus seems to be a pure hallucination.

    On these grounds and others like them one is driven to think that whatever else may be true, the popular scientific cosmology at any rate is certainly not. I left that ship not at the call of poetry but because I thought it could not keep afloat. Something like philosophical idealism or Theism must, at the very worst, be less untrue than that. And idealism turned out, when you took it seriously, to be disguised Theism. And once you accepted Theism you could not ignore the claims of Christ. And when you examined them it appeared to me that you could adopt no middle position. Either he was a lunatic, or God. And He was not a lunatic.

    I was taught at school, when I had done a sum, to “prove my answer.” The proof or verification of my Christian answer to the cosmic sum is this. When I accept Theology I may find difficulties, at this point or that, in harmonising it with some particular truths which are embedded in the mythical cosmology derived from science. But I can get in, or allow for, science as a whole. Granted that Reason is prior to matter and that the light of that primal Reason illuminates finite minds, I can understand how men should come, by observation and inference, to know a lot about the universe they live in. If, on the other hand, I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit in science. If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees. And this is to me the final test. This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking. When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world. I know that there are such things as dreams: I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner: I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons. But while in the nightmare I could not have fitted in my waking experience. The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world: the dreaming world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one. For the same reason I am certain that in passing from the scientific point of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else. — C.S. Lewis, The Oxford Socratic Club, 1944. pp. 154-165″

  17. 17
    PaulBurnett says:

    Clive Hayden (#16) quoting C. S. Lewis (right at the end): “…the sub-Christian religions.”

    Anybody know what “the sub-Christian religions” are? Would that be all other religions?

  18. 18
    O'Leary says:

    “Francis Beckwith”, at 13, quotes an earlier commenter, “Having actually read Beckwith’s website, his blogs, his blog posts here, and many of his books, I can either conclude Barbara Forrest is either incompetent or a liar.”

    And responds, “That’s a false dilemma. She could be both.”

    I hope this is the actual Frank Beckwith, the subject of the Forrest attack. (If it isn’t, Dr. Beckwith should be told swiftly that his name is either used in vain or used by a name double.)

    One way of looking at the problem of: Liar? Incompetent? is, what would you do if you based your career on an idea that was not reliably true?

    People do different things, in my experience.

    Suppose, for example, you are completely convinced that the universe shows no evidence of design – but considerable evidence now suggests that it does.

    Some will just go on fronting their system, and deal swiftly and mercilessly with anyone who offers doubts. They know that there is no God and no hereafter.

    They die old and honoured, unless a change of regime brings their crimes to light – but usually after they are dead.

    Others become martyrs for truth and facts – some celebrated and some not.

    But many people are simply too confused to know. They readily believe in conspiracies because that is the only way they can account for the sheer awfulness of what they are experiencing (= there must be evil people behind this; hence, it is my duty to expose their crimes).

    My sense from her Trojan Horse book is that Forrest is one of these third types.

  19. 19
    allanius says:

    The Church didn’t recognize the power of modern science when it was fresh and vital and new but seems eager to accommodate Darwinism now that it is old and stodgy and rather silly. Why are we tempted to find this amusing?

  20. 20
    Dave W. says:

    It is a sure sign of a poor argument when its opposite makes as much or more sense when compared to historical reality:

    Suppose, for example, you are completely convinced that the universe shows evidence of design – but considerable evidence now suggests that it does not.

    Some will just go on fronting their system, and deal swiftly and mercilessly with anyone who offers doubts. They know that God exists and so does the hereafter.

    They die old and honoured, unless a change of regime brings their crimes to light – but usually after they are dead.

    Others become martyrs for truth and facts – some celebrated and some not.

    But many people are simply too confused to know. They readily believe in conspiracies because that is the only way they can account for the sheer awfulness of what they are experiencing (= there must be evil people behind this; hence, it is my duty to expose their crimes).

    My sense from her posts here is that O’Leary is one of these third types.

  21. 21
    Clive Hayden says:

    Dave W.

    ——“But many people are simply too confused to know. They readily believe in conspiracies because that is the only way they can account for the sheer awfulness of what they are experiencing (= there must be evil people behind this; hence, it is my duty to expose their crimes).

    My sense from her posts here is that O’Leary is one of these third types.”

    You better explain yourself, and choose your words very carefully.

  22. 22
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive, all of Dave W’s words were Denyse’s except for a change of referent.

  23. 23
    Clive Hayden says:

    Dave W.,

    ——“Since you think that methodological naturalism is fiction, I am forced to conclude that when you need to go to the bathroom, you must wait for divine revelation or something like it (meditation, perhaps?) to show you where the bathroom is. After all, assuming that it’s in the same place it was the last 50 times you went is nothing more than the practice of methodological naturalism.”

    Actually, ummm, no. Because knowledge itself, derived from inference, is metaphysical.

  24. 24
    David Kellogg says:

    “Because knowledge itself, derived from inference, is metaphysical.”

    Don’t bogart it, Clive — pass it on!

  25. 25
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    ——“Don’t bogart it, Clive — pass it on!”

    And this means, what, exactly?

  26. 26
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive, this might help.

  27. 27
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    ——“Clive, all of Dave W’s words were Denyse’s except for a change of referent.”

    That’s right. I know.

  28. 28
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    I still don’t see the relevance.

  29. 29
    David Kellogg says:

    Translation: your sentence sounds like it’s said by someone who is stoned. I felt the same way about your “it’s all supernatural” bit, which adds a lot of woo to the discussion but little else.

  30. 30
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    ——“Translation: your sentence sounds like it’s said by someone who is stoned.”

    You can hear me saying something that was never said through the computer? That’s crazy. Are you sure you’re not hearing voices?

  31. 31
    David Kellogg says:

    OK, is this better?

    Your sentence reads like it’s written by someone who is stoned.

  32. 32
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    Your sentence reads like it was written by someone who is confused.

    So what’s your excuse?

  33. 33
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive, I am certainly confused by your claim that “all of nature could be considered supernatural” is either true or remotely helpful. Likewise with your elastic definition of “metaphysical.” I’m confused, yes, but because your comments are muddy — they obscure helpful distinctions without offering anything in return.

    (Your comments are not clarified by extensive quotations from C.S. Lewis. He’s not an all-purpose thinker, even if you do share a first name.)

  34. 34
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    The terms nature and supernature are arbitrarily defined and arbitrarily conceptualized a lot of the time. All of nature could be supernatural. It should always be kept in mind that these distinctions are philosophical, not themselves natural. They are, quite frankly, metaphysical, in the respect that philosophy doesn’t exist physically in nature. And on philosophical matters reasonable people can discuss things, and for half of the discussion topic “supernaturalism” to not be ruled out by some strict adherence to naturalism, which position itself cannot be sustained by naturalism. There are two problems with naturalism, the philosophy which demands it is not physical, but is metaphysical. This is flat contradiction. Second, the terms natural and supernatural are usually arbitrarily defined. The naturalists stack the deck and say that everything is by definition natural that exists in this universe. I could say the same with the term supernatural. If I’m faulted for wanting too much, by wanting to make my position absolute, so, then, are the naturalists. My own position is that we could see neither nature nor supernature unless we had a position in which both occur, you don’t know you’re on a mountain until you’re far enough away from it to see it. This goes for both, conceptually. If you want to make nature absolute, you’re including yourself in that picture, and there is no reason to consider yourself separate from it. There would be no subject/object distinction.

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