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Naturalism

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Naturalism or philosophical naturalism is a worldview which holds that the cosmos and life came into existence and operate by only physical processes. The explicit and sole focus on the natural world has driven modern science into accepting naturalism as the predominant philosophy of science. Naturalism does not appeal to the supernatural or nonphysical reality for explanations at any time and because of that many Christian philosophers like Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig and Peter van Inwagon have deemed naturalism as maintaining a stronger stance than atheism. According to Plantinga naturalism not only presupposes the non-existence of God but extends over all areas of life answering a range of deep existential questions like how life should be viewed, what the world is fundamentally made of and what the purpose of humanity actually is. From this metaphysical position philosophers have charged naturalism as being a worldview and thus granting the cognitive functions of a religion missing support for only the outward actions of worship and/or ritual.[1][2]

Due to the typical attitude of the contemporary naturalist, which is similar to the attitude expressed by Searle in the previous quote, the vast majority of naturalist philosophers have come to hold (since the late 1960s) an unjustified belief in naturalism. Their justifications have been defeated by arguments developed by theistic philosophers, and now naturalist philosophers, for the most part, live in darkness about the justification for naturalism. They may have a true belief in naturalism, but they have no knowledge that naturalism is true since they do not have an undefeated justification for their belief. If naturalism is true, then their belief in naturalism is accidentally true.[3]

Contents

History

Naturalism is an ancient doctrine, and has existed in constant conflict with theism and supernaturalism, as exhibited by ancient manifestos of naturalism such as On the Nature of Things. It is now the dominant doctrine of modern science. The word naturalist today usually refers to one who holds this philosophy, although in the 19th century the term "naturalist" was used to refer to one who studied nature.

Founders of modern science, such as Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton, viewed natural events with a different philosophy than those who promote many standard models since Darwin. Most of the pioneers of science believed in a God who created a universe of order, a universe that now operates under natural laws or processes. They believed that God created the world without the restrictions of the laws that we, as imperfect humans, understand. In other words, God created supernaturally, but the resulting universe now operates predictably: naturally.

Conflicting Worldviews

Naturalists reject miracles on philosophical grounds, since God and spiritual explanations are outside of the naturalistic framework. Some naturalists seek to define words like science in such a way rejecting creationism out-of-hand as non-science. In the context of the creative events of Genesis, the supernatural can be defined as laws and principles (of the operations of matter) that are natural to God, but not to humans. In other words, "natural" is subjective. To someone isolated from modern technology, the operation of an airplane is supernatural and miraculous; to an airplane mechanic, the parts of the airplane operate according to natural laws that are known and understood.

Naturalism rejects realities that cannot be measured or detected by the human senses. Consequently naturalism would reject angels, demons, and spirits such as God himself who is a Spirit and has not a body like ours. Paradoxically, many naturalists will accept elements of astrology.

References

  1. The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science, "Evolution versus Naturalism" by Alvin C. Plantinga. Pg 137.
  2. The Religion of Evolution by Gary DeMar, September 30, 2002
  3. The Metaphilosophy of Naturalism By Quentin Smith, Philo Volume 4, Number 2

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