Archives For Naturalism

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If you’re a creationist, you presuppose the veracity of the bible.

If you’re a naturalist, you presuppose the nonexistence of the supernatural.

What happens when you set aside presuppositions and merely look at the evidence? When it comes to the topic of the universes’s origin, a number of models have been proposed. For simplicity’s sake, they have historically fallen in two camps. Up until the middle of the twentieth century, most of humanity had assumed that the universe has always existed. It had no beginning, and quite possibly will have no end. For most in the science community, that view crumbled quickly as evidence for the Big Bang mounted. Continue Reading…

 

Luc Ferry’s a Brief History of Thought recently caught my eye as I wandered through a local bookstore.  Not only did it promise an entire history of the human ability to think, it promised to do it briefly.  How is that not a win/win?  It’s a bold endeavor, claiming to give perspective on the effectiveness and impact of 5 key philosophical eras in human history, beginning with the Greeks.  The strength of the book is Mr. Ferry’s ability to summarize complicated worldviews in a way that is accessible and interesting.  The weakness is perhaps inseparable, as a philosophical overview for a mass audience is a tough venue to accurately capture philosophies that have transformed the world.

I will do my best to summarize both his claims and my reasons why I think that, while insightful, Mr. Ferry’s conclusions fall short of being convincing, particularly when it comes to his view of Christianity. Continue Reading…

 “What is man,” asked the Psalmist, “that Thou [God] are mindful of him?” An excellent question, and one which has aroused considerable controversy within the context of the arguments surrounding animal rights.

What, if anything, separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom, and what are the implications of one’s belief in this area? While these are certainly not new questions, they have become increasingly contentious in a world in which the line separating the human animal from the rest of the animal kingdom has become increasingly elusive.

 Stephen Jay Gould once stated that “biology has shifted our status from a simulacrum of God to a naked, upright ape.” If that is the case, then the movement to elevate the status of non-human animals seems long overdue.  At any rate, the animal rights movement has been remarkably successful in recent years. Switzerland passed a law in 1992 recognizing animals as beings; in 2002, Germany added “and animals” to its constitution, which already obligated the state to protect and respect the dignity of people.  The Great Apes Project, founded by Peter Singer, the father of the modern animal rights movement, is lobbying the United Nations to include a wide range of simians in the “community of equals” with humans, thus extending the right to life, the protection of individual liberty, and the prohibition of torture.

The surge in animal rights is not limited to other countries.  Beginning in 1999, Harvard began offering its first course in animal rights.  During a recent election, the state of Florida made it a constitutional right for gestating sows to have space large enough to turnaround.  And Princeton is home to Peter Singer, a bioethics professor, who believes that “it can no longer be maintained by anyone but a religious fanatic that man is the special darling of the universe, or that animals were created to provide us with food, or that we have divine authority over them, and divine permission to kill them.”

While the animals rights movement is diverse in both its stance and its level of activism, there is plenty of common ground to be found in the defense of animals, both philosophically and pragmatically.  The philosophical core of the argument usually takes one of two approaches:  The Argument from Equality, or the Argument from Pain. Continue Reading…

God of Beauty

Anthony Weber —  February 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

From a longer post on the connection between God and beauty:

“In the presence of sometimes staggering pain and ugliness, one must either explain it or explain it away. Worldviews have dismissed it as illusory (some Eastern religions), refused to even define it (Atheism), or sought to understand the reason and the solution (Christianity).  The presence of grandeur and goodness provides no less of a challenge. One must either explain things like beauty, awe and wonder… A good worldview needs to explain the world, not explain the world away.”

Continue Reading…

Is nature all there is?

Scott Smith —  January 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

Segment of a fantastic debate between William Lane Craig and John Shook on whether naturalism accounts for everything, and whether it is reasonable to believe in the supernatural.