Chris, you are under many misapprehensions about what I believe, none of which I’ve given you cause for.
Maybe. Is it possible you’re under misapprehensions too? If you’re *sure* you’re not, we wont’ get far. You *sound* so sure of yourself that you’ve called my epistemology awful in so many words. Really.
Now I’m going to - what’s the word for replying to every snippet of an Internet post? But only so we can get ourselves clear of mutual rubbish.
Science has not disproved the existence of a god
True enough - but many people haven’t gotten the memo. And I have no interest in that side of things. When did i say it had? YOu *sure* you’re not misapprehending me? But naturally (heh) we both have a larger audience in mind, and we’ve just met. but to be clear: I’m not a methodological naturalist and I find it a bit bizarre to boot. It took me a while to love arguments for themselves, but here I am. So perhaps we two should shift to argue about methodological naturalism.
I’m feeling you out - i’m not ‘misapprehending’ you. Okay?
though there are some conceptions of God that science has clearly disproved: a god with a 6,000-year-old universe, for example
There are clever folk who could make hash out of that. (Unfortunately: seeding the world with fake fossils, that sort of rubbish.) The arguments against such a crappy God are not ‘scientific proofs’ however - look up Al Ghazali and his opponents; they involve God’s relation to the physical world.
I’m surprised that you don’t know that as a scientific naturalist I recognize that the existence of a god is not falsifiable
Ah, so you’re a scientific naturalist (there’s non-scientific naturalists? Maybe theoretically). As a scientific naturalist, do you reject the arguments against God’s existence from evil as a good argument? (For curiosity’s sake.) Well, truth in advertising: I used to be an analytical chemist in the environmental and pharmaceutical industries (as a small cog, trust me); I ended up as a philosopher with emphasis in the history and philosophy of science. Beyond that I’m a non-naturalist, maybe even a supernaturalist (tho’ it’s dangerous to let one’s opponents describe you). I have a side-interest in ethics, partly out of force of teaching it. I tend to collect arguments from evil in a desultory way.
, and therefore is not capable of proof or disproof.
Wait, ‘not falsifiable’ only means you cannot disprove the thing in question. You might prove it - in a relevant sense of prove. Let’s not get too hung up on technical words. (Only mathematics has proofs, technically.)
I don’t think science has rendered God irrelevant. The idea of God influences the behavior of many people around the world and is highly relevant for that reason.
Ah, but I don’t happen to care about that. That’s the sociology of religion. Let’s not confound the *God* with *idea of God*.
You misunderstand my views on naturalism, or perhaps more accurately, persist in not understanding them.
Now now! I didn’t know you were gunning for naturalism, epistemic or ontological. We’ll have to take this to another room soon. In all this I’ve tried to keep one eye on the title of this thread; maybe that’s making me intellectually wall-eyed. (Sharpening immaterial knives.) By all means, let’s have a big slab of naturalism.
Of course naturalism runs into philosophical trouble if you take it far enough, trying for example to explain the “ultimate nature of reality,” whatever that is and if such a thing there be. So does every other world view.
Good. Very good. You’re not claiming impenetrable armor. You’re not a fool.
However, naturalism is the only means by which we have acquired knowledge about nature, from subatomic particles to cosmology. Theism and theology haven’t contributed anything – not a speck, shred or iota of knowledge in the thousands of years of their history.
Add one single phrase - haven’t contributed anything *to knowledge about nature*.
Morals; propositions and justification; mental contents and qualia (colors, sounds, tastes) - all three of these have resisted naturalizing. In fact it can be argued (in some other thread) that they cannot ever be naturalized without simply making them what they aren’t: being moral isn’t being approved of or having the right feelings; being justified or valid isn’t much like ‘reliable’; being red isn’t ‘being a certain wavelength’.
(But, I’d say your rider is empirically false. I can think of one example off the top of my head where belief in God helped natural science along a bad patch. Bishop Tempier in the thirteenth century had the scientists of his day claiming they’d proved that a vacuum is impossible. He pointed out that God could make a vacuum if He wanted to - that the notion *vacuum* isn’t contradictory. He literally forbade scholars from claiming God couldn’t make a vacuum! That allowed for fruitful argument about vacua, and more important motion in a vacuum. That’s just one example where a belief in a Higher Power *encouraged* research where the scientists of the day had tried to close it off. Lucky them they had a bishop around.)
You’re overlooking the operational nature of scientific philosophy and inquiry.
I’m not overlooking if it hasn’t yet been needed. Why do we need to take natural science into account when arguing for or against God’s existence? Or that there is injustice in the world? Or that it is possible to argue unethically, but I reject the charge?
But why on earth bring in operationalism? You know there’s problems with that? Example: there are several ways to measure temperature, and different ways work best over the wide range of temps. But under operationalism, we’d be forced to say there are several different things under the name temperature, instead of one, single magnitude with different operations for measuring it. So operationalism isn’t what scientists typically think of when they talk about ‘the temperature’ of something. (Henry Kyburg, *Science and Reason* is one source.)
And again it goes back to the same thing you keep ignoring: reality, the way things really work in the world we actually inhabit.
Well, to repeat, I reject methodological naturalism. It’s unprovable. It’s not a *scientific* theory. And it’s *manifestly* false that somehow it has kept us tied to reality. Examples: Have we had no advance in morals over the centuries? False. Did we need more science to advance it? Doubtful. Did the Pope in the sixteenth century use natural science to argue that the Amerindians were fully human - The Spanish tried to say No. Hardly. Did the US abolitionists argue against slavery chiefly from science? Rarely, they were straightforward Christians arguing from the Bible. Was it religion that gave us the racism of the seventeenth through early twentieth centuries? It was just as much crappy biological theories. And so on.
If your epistemology isn’t the issue, then why do you keep advocating for it? And whether it is your issue or not, it is mine, among many other issues, because it is dreadful.
I see why you say this. You accuse me of being not a methodological naturalist, yes? And the only method on the table is methodological (i.e. epistemic) naturalism, right? Any other position is dreadful; therefore etc. Is this a little rude but fair to summarize your argument so? and so the rest of what you say follows, uh, naturally:
Theism’s foundation problem is that it isn’t based on any evidence. Again, that may not be your focus but I think it is essential to any meaningful philosophy.
With all due respect, Chris, you fundamentally misunderstand what I’m saying. I know that because you write: “You think that there is only what we can discover empirically - yes?” No. There may be more but we can’t make any reliable statements about it until we discover something objective that justifies making such a statement.
You know, I don’t happen to think I’ve *fundamentally* misunderstood you.
First, you must understand that you kept taking down my arguments by talking about something, epistemology, that was not *immediately relevant* to my arguments. Most other people would have gone after a weakness in the argument, or an ill-conceived concept. You know, attack the form, or attack the contents. Truly, I didn’t know at first you were really arguing that *there can be no such argument of any kind of natural-scientific method-type* arguments. As I’ve said, I get it, but that’s just too weird for me. But i’m game to argue with you about that.
Second: I know the different modes of naturalism; i just happen to think the epistemic kind must lead to the ontological kind. And I happen to believe people are slightly kidding themselves to tell me otherwise. Just my opinion. So let me test this: if you could be persuaded that there is such a thing as non-naturalist argumentation, then would you be open to arguments for God’s existence? Or moral facts, maybe? or logical validity and justification over and above merely reliable physical/biological processes? Not ready to be convinced by any ol’ argument that comes down the road; just open that such things as good, nonnaturalistic arguments. even *exist*.
You seem to assume that we should have answers for everything. I recognize that the correct answer to many questions right now is “We don’t know.”
Wow, talk about misunderstanding! No, we should *pursue* the answers to anything and everything. I am a confirmed Socratic: we do not have wisdom, we can only pursue it; what we have instead is *something* if not full knowledge.
I have written a lot more than i’d care too normally, but this seems important to sort out step by step.