Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why theism escapes the naturalist's problem

This is another important passage:

On these terms the Theist's position must be a chimera nearly as outrageous as the Naturalist's. (Nearly, not quite; it abstains from the crowning audacity of a huge negative). But the Theist need not, and does not, grant these terms. He is not committed to the view that reason is a comparatively recent development moulded by a process of selection which can select only the biologically useful. For him, reason--the reason of God--is older than Nature, and from it the orderliness of Nature, which alone enables us to know her, is derived. For him, the human mind in the act of knowing is illuminated by the Divine reason. It is set free, in the measure required, from the huge nexus of non-rational causation; free from this to be determined by the truth known. And the preliminary processes within Nature which led up to this liberation, if there were any, were designed to do so.

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At 10/31/2007 04:44:00 PM , Blogger Wakefield Tolbert. said...

Some claim the issue of theism vs. naturalism merely follows other artificial distinctions. Let me play the Devil's advocate there. As I wrote to a friend recently, who was engaged in a donnybrook over the Nature of God, the mind, and how dualism might even work without resorting to notions of illusions and supernatural fluff. The bad news. It can't be resolved easily in theism's favor as one might think. The barrier is not our definitions of things like induction but rather our increased understanding of the physical mind:


"First things first here, folks.

We are NOT EVEN that far yet.

Before you can even GET to the attributes of God and argue about why God did X and have ID and anti-ID proponents bicker over whether God “wouldn’t really allow/do/foreknow X factor of pain (and by what measure do we say something is bad or evil vs. merely UNPLEASANT?–there’s a difference),
you MUST prove that what science now finds about the human mind’s physical attributes CANNOT be used to explain traditional Christian dualism or the supernatural.

We’ve got to build the basement here (or see if someone other than Mother Nature can do this) before we can even argue about the evil/good nature of the Main Contractor.


I had heard this was being discussed–that there really is nothing “out there” any more about God than about ufos and tarot cards, ghosts, and the like you hear on the Art Bell show. While not using the “g” word, you can clearly see where neuroscientists are going with this idea about the “supernatural” being merely a reflection of the “false” dualism that one finds in a MATERIAL mind built to see patterns everywhere–this pattern building evolution of the physical brain does not prove there are things “out there” but rather that we merely get fooled sometimes into thinking this is the case when we see things that are not actually in existence. Thus the false dichotomy of “dualism”, etc."

This might not address exactly what you need, granted. But it is a giant hurdle to try and overcome. One must go beyond what science now says about the brain and make the bolder and difficult claim that extrasensory knowledge is what enables the mind to have things like free will, true choices and decisionmaking, and the like. It has to be this way, since materialist-only science (the only kind readily acknowledged) cannot lay claim to attributes not bound up in the physical accoutrements of the mind's evolution.

A less friendly way of saying this, from the Dawkinsonian type perspective (and that of many other skeptics like Michael Shermer) is that "since you believe in only ONE type of Ghost in the Machine vs. the thousands of other types throughout history and religion, prove to me why I should still shun THEIRS but NOT YOURS, Mr. Modern Theist"?


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