Traditionally, the term ’God’ has been understood either as a proper name or as a description. However, according to a new view, the term God’ in a sentence like "Jesus Christ is God" functions as a kind term, much as the term ’tiger’ functions in the sentence "Tigger is a tiger." In this paper I examine the claim that divinity can be construed as a ’supernatural’ kind, developing the outlines of an account of the semantics of God’ along these (...) lines, and suggest that it might solve an important philosophical problem concerning the Incarnation. (shrink)
There is overwhelming agreement amongst naturalists that a naturalistic ontology should not allow for the possibility of supernatural entities. I argue, against this prevailing consensus, that naturalists have no proper basis to oppose the existence of supernatural entities. Naturalism is characterized, following Leiter and Rea, as a position which involves a primary commitment to scientific methodology and it is argued that any naturalistic ontological commitments must be compatible with this primary commitment. It is further argued that properly applied (...) scientific method has warranted the acceptance of the existence of supernatural entities in the past and that it is plausible to think that it will do so again in the future. So naturalists should allow for the possibility of supernatural entities. (shrink)
When proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) theory deny that their theory is religious, the minimalistic theory they have in mind (the mini-ID theory) is the claim that the irreducibly complex adaptations found in nature were made by one or more intelligent designers. The denial that this theory is religious rests on the fact that it does not specify the identity of the designer—a supernatural God or a team of extra-terrestrials could have done the work. The present paper attempts to (...) show that this reply underestimates the commitments of the mini-ID Theory. The mini-ID theory, when supplemented with four independently plausible further assumptions, entails the existence of a supernatural intelligent designer. It is further argued that scientific theories, such as the Darwinian theory of evolution, are neutral on the question of whether supernatural designers exist. (shrink)
Cotard's syndrome is a psychotic condition that includes delusion of a supernatural nature. Based on insights from recovered patients who were convinced of being immortal, we can (1) distinguish biographical experiences from cultural and evolutionary backgrounds; (2) show that cultural significance dominates biographical experiences; and (3) support Bering's view of a cognitive system dedicated to forming illusory representations of immortality.
Current evolutionary and cognitive theories of religion posit that supernatural agent concepts emerge from cognitive systems such as theory of mind and social cognition. Some argue that these concepts evolved to maintain social order by minimizing antisocial behavior. If these theories are correct, then people should process information about supernatural agents’ socially strategic knowledge more quickly than non-strategic knowledge. Furthermore, agents’ knowledge of immoral and uncooperative social behaviors should be especially accessible to people. To examine these hypotheses, we (...) measured response-times to questions about the knowledge attributed to four different agents—God, Santa Claus, a fictional surveillance government, and omniscient but non-interfering aliens—that vary in their omniscience, moral concern, ability to punish, and how supernatural they are. As anticipated, participants respond more quickly to questions about agents’ socially strategic knowledge than non-strategic knowledge, but only when agents are able to punish. (shrink)
In this paper I shall assess Clarke’s assertion that all definitions of miracles that purport to satisfy the criterion of religious inclusiveness should substitute the term ‘supernatural’ for ‘non-natural’. In addition, I shall attempt to strengthen Clarke’s conception of the supernatural by offering an analysis of what it means for something to be ‘above’ nature. Lastly, I shall offer a new argument as to why Clarke’s intention-based definition of miracles is necessarily less religiously inclusive than Mumford’s causation-based definition.
Both intention-based and causation-based definitions of the miraculous make reference to the term ‘supernatural’. Philosophers who define the miraculous appear to use this term in a loose way, perhaps meaning the nonnatural, perhaps meaning a subcategory of the nonnatural. Here I examine the aetiology of the term ‘supernatural’. I consider three outstanding issues regarding the meaning of the term and conclude that the supernatural is best understood as a subcategory of the nonnatural. In light of this clarification, (...) I argue that a prominent causation-based definition of the miraculous should be revised so as not refer to the supernatural. I further argue that authors of intention-based definitions of the miraculous need to consider whether or not they should continue to refer to the supernatural, in their definitions of the miraculous, in light of the conclusions discerned here. (shrink)
According to embodied cognition theory, our physical embodiment influences how we conceptualize entities, whether natural or supernatural. In serving central explanatory roles, supernatural entities (e.g., God) are represented implicitly as having unordinary properties that nevertheless do not violate our sensorimotor interactions with the physical world. We conjecture that other supernatural entities are similarly represented in explanatory contexts.
Atran & Norenzayan's (A&N's) target article effectively combines the insights of evolutionary biology and interdisciplinary cognitive science, neither of which alone yields sufficient explanatory power to help us fully understand the complexities of supernatural belief. Although the authors' ideas echo those of other researchers, they are perhaps the most squarely grounded in neo-Darwinian terms to date. Nevertheless, A&N overlook the possibility that the tendency to infer supernatural agents' communicative intent behind natural events served an ancestrally adaptive function.
Belief in souls is only one component of supernatural thinking in which individuals infer the presence of invisible mechanisms that explain events as paranormal rather than natural. We believe it is important to place greater emphasis on the prevalence of supernatural beliefs across other domains, if only to counter simplistic divisions between rationality and irrationality recently aligned with the contentious science/religion debate.
Abstract The aim of this paper is to attain a philosophical evaluation of the ideas of the French author Maurice Bucaille. Bucaille formulated an influential discourse regarding the divinity of the Qur’an, which he tried to demonstrate through a comparison of some of its verses with what he defined as scientific data. With his works, which encompass a criticism of the Bible and a defense of creationism, Bucaille furthered the idea that Islam is in harmony with natural sciences, and ensured (...) himself long-lasting fame in the Muslim world. Such ideas have found numerous followers and the description of the “scientific miracles” of the Qur’an has turned into a popular genre. Several attempts have been made to criticize Bucaille about specific positions he holds. The thesis I develop here is that, even if Bucaille's work cannot be easily dismissed, a severe methodological shortcoming emerges through the analysis of the logic behind his claims regarding miraculous and supernatural events. Current attempts at defending the harmony between Islam and science should therefore credit Bucaille, but at the same time, be aware of the risk of inheriting his methodological flaws. In the first section, I briefly recall the works of Bucaille and his contribution to the debate on the harmony between Islam and science. In the second section, I reconstruct Bucaille's view of science and his analysis of the sacred scriptures. In the third section, I investigate how Bucaille characterizes the concept of supernatural. In the fourth section, I put forth a general evaluation of his reasoning. (shrink)
By applying some of the standard criteria used to judge the adequacy of scientific explanations, Richard Swinburne tries to show that the best explanation of everything is that God exists. That is, he contends that the best explanation for the existence of the universe and human life is that there is a God. I contend that Swinburne is right to appeal to the criteria of adequacy but wrong to construe them as he does. The criteria, plausibly applied, show that the (...) God hypothesis is actually inferior to naturalistic explanations. In fact, they provide excellent reasons for believing that the God hypothesis---indeed all supernatural explanations---are false. (shrink)
Brown, Jean Review(s) of: Indexer please enter the following minimum information (where available): TITLE, AUTHOR(S) and ISBN for each book reviewed.Supernatural selection: How religion Evolved, by Matt J. Rossano Oxford Press. 2010.
THE OBJECT OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO SHOW THAT SCEPTICISM IS NOT ALWAYS USED TO CHALLENGE BELIEFS: IT IS SOMETIMES USED TO "FOSTER" CERTAIN BELIEFS. GLANVILL’S SCEPTICISM REGARDING OUR KNOWLEDGE OF NATURAL CAUSES IS BASED ON THE WEAKNESS AND LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING. BUT THIS ALLOWS HIM TO ARGUE FOR THE EQUAL POSSIBILITY OF BOTH NATURAL AND NON-NATURAL CAUSES, AND THUS OPENS THE DOOR TO BELIEF IN THE SUPERNATURAL. HUME, HOWEVER, WHOSE SCEPTICISM IS ALSO BASED ON THE LIMITATIONS OF (...) THE UNDERSTANDING, REJECTS ANY EXPLANATION WHICH IS OVER AND ABOVE OUR UNDERSTANDING, THAT IS, EXPLANATIONS IN TERMS OF NON-NATURAL CAUSES. (shrink)
How might the supernatural be represented in those religious paintings that imply a continuity between the virtual space of painting and the real space of the beholder? Such an implied continuity, dependent upon an engagement where the beholder imaginatively realigns her frame of reference to that of the picture, might be thought to threaten a necessary distance demanded of religious works. This paper examines how a number of painters exploited innovative displacement devices, utilizing inherent ambiguities as to where a (...) painting is relative to its beholder through the withholding of perspectival distance and positional cues for a discrete section of the work. (shrink)
This is an unpublished talk written for a meeting of French philosophers. The paper describes the evolution versus creationism/intelligent design controversy in the U.S. A number of philosophers and scientists try to resolve this issue by sharply distinguishing the realm of science versus any talk of the supernatural. These pro-evolutionists often appeal to science's essential commitment to "methodological naturalism," the view that scientific methodology is essentially committed to naturalism and cannot meaningfully entertain hypotheses concerning the supernatural. I criticize (...) methodological naturalism, suggesting that such an appeal is misguided and counterproductive. I suggest an alternative view of the supernatural consistent with scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Metaphysical dualities divorce humankind from its natural environment, dualities that can precipitate environmental disaster. Loyal Rue in Religion Is Not About God (2005) seeks to resolve the abstract modalities of religion and naturalism in a unified monistic ecocentric metaphysic characterized as religious naturalism. Rue puts forward proposals for a general naturalistic theory of religion, a theory that lays bare the structural and functional features of religious phenomena as the critical first step on the road to badly needed religion-science realignment. Only (...) then will humanity be equipped to address the environmental imperative. (shrink)
In “A Subjectivist’s Guide to Objective Chance,” David Lewis says that he is “led to wonder whether anyone but a subjectivist is in a position to understand objective chance.” The present essay aims to motivate this same Lewisean attitude, and a similar degree of modest subjectivism, with respect to objective causation. The essay begins with Newcomb problems, which turn on an apparent tension between two principles of choice: roughly, a principle sensitive to the causal features of the relevant situation, and (...) a principle sensitive only to evidential factors. Two-boxers give priority to causal beliefs, and one-boxers to evidential beliefs. The essay notes that a similar issue can arise when the modality in question is chance, rather than causation. In this case, the conflict is between decision rules based on credences guided solely by chances, and rules based on credences guided by other sorts of probabilistic evidence. Far from excluding cases of the latter kind, Lewis’s Principal Principle explicitly allows for them, in the form of the caveat that credences should follow beliefs about chances only in the absence of “inadmissible evidence.” The essay then exhibits a tension in Lewis’s views on these two matters, by presenting a class of decision problems—some of them themselves Newcomb problems—in which Lewis’s view of the relevance of inadmissible evidence seems in tension with his causal decision theory. It offers a diagnosis for this dilemma and proposes a remedy, based on an extension of a proposal due to Ned Hall and others from the case of chance to that of causation. The remedy suggests a new view of the relation between causal decision theory and evidential decision theory, namely, that they stand to each other much as chance stands to credence, being objective and subjective faces of the same practical coin. This has much the same metaphysical benefits as Lewis’s own view of chance and also throws interesting new light on Newcomb problems, providing an irenic resolution of the apparent disagreement between causal and evidential decision rules. (shrink)
The present paper challenges the narrow scientistic conception of Nature that underlies current projects of naturalization involving, say, evaluative or intentional discourse. It is more plausible to hold that science provides only a partial characterization of the natural world. I consider McDowell's articulation of a more liberal naturalism, one which recognizes autonomous normative facts about reasons, meanings and values, as genuine constituents of Nature on a more liberal conception of it. Several critics have claimed that this account is vitiated by (...) the threat of supernaturalism. Responsiveness to normative facts is, I argue, a phenomenological datum that we have good reason to take at face value. I trace the source of the supernaturalist objection to a misreading of McDowell's perceptual analogy with respect to value and a related failing to clearly distinguish physical and logical notions of an object. (shrink)
There is a prima facie case of unfairness against God unless Self-revelation is given by the deity to all people. The possible replies that God's Self-revelation has always and everywhere been available to everyone through many religions; or that special knowledge of God is a matter of divine gratuity; or that more is expected of those who receive such enlightenment; or that it comes as a moral reward; are found to be wanting. Nevertheless, provided there remains an argument for selective (...) divine Self-revelation in terms of spiritual readiness, the case against God remains unproven. (shrink)
Simone Weil wrote in her notebooks that “Friendship, like beauty, is a miracle.” This paper investigates her discussions of friendship in the larger context of her understanding of the mediation of opposites, modeled on the Pythagorean and Platonic models of mathematics. For Weil, friendship was not only miraculous, butalso a key to understanding the relationship of the divine to the human. Convinced that friendship and love create equality between parties where none exists naturally, Weil concluded that friendship “is full of (...) marvelous meanings with regard to God, with regard to the communion of God and man, and with regard to men.”. (shrink)
This paper rejects a view of science called "methodological naturalism." -/- According to many defenders of mainstream science and Darwinian evolution, anti-evolution critics--creationists and intelligent design proponents--are conceptually and epistemologically confusing science and religion, a supernatural view of world. These defenders of evolution contend that doing science requires adhering to a methodology that is strictly and essentially naturalistic: science is essentially committed to "methodological naturalism" and assumes that all the phenomena it investigates are entirely natural and consistent with the (...) laws of physics. Thus encountering any unexplained phenomenon, science assumes a priori that there is some natural cause and will only test a natural hypothesis. Since by definition supernatural causes are assumed to be not subject to the constraints of physical or natural law as understood by science, supernatural hypotheses and explanations must be banned from proper science. Science simply can't say that God did, or did not do it. -/- I argue that the success of science is directly relevant to rational belief in supernatural causes, and that in fact science can and does say in particular cases that "God didn't do it." I suggest that pro-evolution proponents can better defend science and the theory of evolution by rejecting methodological naturalism. -/- . (shrink)
Is your God really God? -- Believing in God -- On the "names" of God -- The meaning of "God" and the common conception of God -- What is salvation? -- Salvation versus spiritual materialism -- The idolatrous religions -- The ban on idolatry -- Idolatry as perverse worship -- Graven images and the highest one -- Idolatry as servility -- The rhetoric of idolatrousness -- The same God -- The Pharisees' problem with Jesus -- Could we be idolaters? -- (...) Supernaturalism and scientism -- Scientism and superstition -- Supernaturalism -- Legitimate naturalism -- Scientism versus science -- The argument for naturalism from true religion -- The phenomenological approach -- The method and the question -- Yahweh's use of the method -- A criterion or an enclosed circle -- Yahweh's criterion applied to himself -- Forgiving the God -- A reply to yahweh's answer to job -- Is there an internal criterion of religious falsehood? -- The pope's criterion of religious falsehood -- A consequence of the pope's criterion -- Religious and scientific fallibilism -- Why God? -- Doesn't substantive reasonableness suffice? -- The fall -- Homo incurvatus in se -- The redeemer? -- After monotheism -- The highest one -- The tetragrammaton -- The paradox of the highest one -- Speaking of the highest one -- Existents as dependent aspects of existence itself -- An alternative to the thomistic interpretation of the highest one -- Process panentheism -- The goodness of the highest one -- The analogy of logos -- Process panentheism -- The self-disclosure of existence itself -- The problem is with the pantheon -- Panentheism not pantheism -- Distinguishing panentheism and pantheism -- Presence -- Presence as disclosure -- Is being almost entirely wasted? -- Ubiquitous presence -- Against natural representation -- Representation and "carrying information" -- Can causation account for aboutness? -- What could replace the representationalist tradition? -- A diagnosis of the representationalist's mistake -- A transformed picture of "consciousness" and reality -- Confirming the surprising hypothesis -- The mind of God -- The objectivity of the realm of sense -- How the structure of presence might impose evolutionary constraints -- Objective mind and the mind of the highest one -- The doubly donatory character of reality -- Does God exist? -- The highest one -- Christianity without spiritual materialism -- Religion and violence -- The Gospel according to Girard -- Where is original sinfulness? -- Original sinfulness as self-will and false righteousness -- Christ destroys the kingdom of self-will and false righteousness -- The afterlife as an idolatrous conceit -- Against "man's quest for meaning" -- The afterlife as resistance to Christ -- Naturalism's gift : resurrection without the afterlife. (shrink)
In rubber hand illusions and full body illusions, touch sensations are projected to non-body objects such as rubber hands, dolls or virtual bodies. The robustness, limits and further perceptual consequences of such illusions are not yet fully explored or understood. A number of experiments are reported that test the limits of a variant of the rubber hand illusion. Methodology/Principal Findings -/- A variant of the rubber hand illusion is explored, in which the real and foreign hands are aligned in personal (...) space. The presence of the illusion is ascertained with participants' scores and temperature changes of the real arm. This generates a basic illusion of touch projected to a foreign arm. Participants are presented with further, unusual visuotactile stimuli subsequent to onset of the basic illusion. Such further visuotactile stimulation is found to generate very unusual experiences of supernatural touch and touch on a non-hand object. The finding of touch on a non-hand object conflicts with prior findings, and to resolve this conflict a further hypothesis is successfully tested: that without prior onset of the basic illusion this unusual experience does not occur. Conclusions/Significance -/- A rubber hand illusion is found that can arise when the real and the foreign arm are aligned in personal space. This illusion persists through periods of no tactile stimulation and is strong enough to allow very unusual experiences of touch felt on a cardboard box and experiences of touch produced at a distance, as if by supernatural causation. These findings suggest that one's visual body image is explained away during experience of the illusion and they may be of further importance to understanding the role of experience in delusion formation. The findings of touch on non-hand objects may help reconcile conflicting results in this area of research. In addition, new evidence is provided that relates to the recently discovered psychologically induced temperature changes that occur during the illusion. (shrink)
On the text and translation of the De mysteriis -- Iamblichus the man -- The De mysteriis : a defence of theurgy, and an answer to Porphyry's letter to Anebo -- Iamblichus's knowledge of Egyptian religion and mythology -- The nature and contents of De mysteriis -- Iamblichus, De mysteriis : text and translation.
The uncanny is the weird, the strange, the mysterious, a mingling of the familiar and the unfamiliar. Even Freud, patron of the uncanny, had trouble defining it. Yet the uncanny is everywhere in contemporary culture. In this elegant book, Nicholas Royle takes the reader across literature, film, philosophy, and psychoanalysis as he marks the trace of the uncanny in the modern world. Not an introduction in the usual sense, Nicholas Royle's book is a geography of the uncanny as it manifests (...) itself - and disturbs our thinking - in a range of disciplines. (shrink)
IN ADDITION TO SENSORY PERCEPTION AND POSSIBLE SPECIAL INSIGHT, FEUERBACH RAISES THE QUESTION OF THE ’NATURE’ OF MAN. THAT IS, DO WE HAVE ONLY ONE FIXED NATURE, OR IS IT POSSIBLE THAT MAN HAS NO ONE NATURE WHICH CAN BE DEFINED AND FIXED IN A UNIVERSAL MANNER AS THE ATOM CAN BE? IF SO, SOCIAL SCIENTISTS ARE DEALING WITH A MORE FLUID COMMODITY THAN THEY HAD HOPED FOR. IF THERE IS NO HUMAN NATURE, SOCIAL SCIENTISTS WILL REACH A FIXED DECISION (...) AND CONCLUSION ONLY TO HAVE IT OUTMODED BY A SHIFT IN HUMAN BEHAVIOUR. THUS, IF MEN LACK DEFINITIVENESS, THERE IS NO RIGID OPPOSITION OF NATURE VERSUS SUPERNATURE. SOME ’NATURES’ COULD OVERLAP AND INTERPENETRATE INTO SUPERNATURE. MY OWN RESPONSE TO THESE ISSUES IS TO SAY THAT WE MUST NOT BEG THE QUESTION BY ASSUMING CERTAIN MODES OF PERCEPTION AS ALONE VALID, OR RULE OUT THE POSSIBILITY THAT SOME HUMAN BEINGS ARE PERCEPTIVE WHERE OTHERS ARE NOT. (shrink)
Militant modern atheism, whose most eloquent champion is Richard Dawkins, provides an effective and necessary critique of fundamentalist forms of religion and their role in political life, both within states and across national boundaries. Because it is also presented as a more general attack on religion (tout court), it has provoked a severe reaction from scholars who regard its conception of religion as shallow and narrow. My aim is to examine this debate, identifying insights and oversights on both sides.Two distinct (...) conceptions of religion are in play. For Dawkins and his allies (most notably Dan Dennett) religions are grounded in doctrines, propositions about supernatural entities, events and processes which the devout believe. Their beliefs prompt them to actions, which they support or rationalize by reference to the doctrines. Dawkins and Dennett view the acceptance of the doctrines as resting on cognitive misfiring — these are delusions to be outgrown or spells to be broken.By contrast, the religious scholars who criticize the militant atheists often view religion as centered in social practices that inform and enrich human lives. To the extent that there are doctrines that atheists might subject to epistemic evaluation, these are to be viewed as pieces of scaffolding, that are, in principle, dispensable.I argue that militant modern atheism is incomplete (and likely counter-productive) so long as it fails to attend systematically to the roles religion fulfills in human lives. Yet it is important to achieve public clarity about the literal falsehood of the doctrines on which fundamentalists rely. The challenge is to develop a well-articulated and convincing version of secular humanism. Meeting that challenge is, I claim, one of the central problems of philosophy today. (shrink)
Is the view supported that consciousness is a mysterious phenomenon and cannot succumb, even with much effort, to the standard methods of cognitive science? The lecture, using the analogy of the magicians praxis, attempts to highlight a strong but little supported intuition that is one of the strongest supporters of this view. The analogy can be highly illuminating, as the following account by LEE SIEGEL on the reception of her work on magic can illustrate it: Im writing a book on (...) magic, I explain, and Im asked, Real magic? By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers. No, I answer: Conjuring tricks, not real magic. Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic. I suggest that many, e.g., DAVID CHALMERS has (unintentionally) perpetrated the same feat of conceptual sleight-of-hand in declaring to the world that he has discovered The Hard Problem of consciousness. It is, however, possible that what appears to be the Hard Problem is simply the large bag of tricks that constitute what CHALMERS calls the Easy Problems of Consciousness. These all have mundane explanations, requiring no revolutions in physics, no emergent novelties. I cannot prove that there is no Hard Problem, and CHALMERS cannot prove that there is. He can appeal to your intuitions, but this is not a sound basis on which to found a science of consciousness. The magic (i.e., the supposed unexplainability) of consciousness, like stage magic, defies explanation only so long as we take it at face value. Once we appreciate all the non-mysterious (i.e., explainable) ways in which the brain can create benign userillusions, we can begin to imagine how the brain creates consciousness. (shrink)
Many believe that objective morality requires a theistic foundation. I maintain that there are sui generis objective ethical facts that do not reduce to natural or supernatural facts. On my view, objective morality does not require an external foundation of any kind. After explaining my view, I defend it against a variety of objections posed by William Wainwright, William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland.
Different types of Religious Experience: One experiences a nonreligious object as a religious one, e.g. a dove as an angel, one experiences an object that is a "public object” (one there for everyone to experience/observe), an experience of a supernatural entity that others cannot experience/observe, experiences that resist being captured by words, an awareness of an entity, though there is no sensation.
Intelligent design creationism (ID) is a religious belief requiring a supernatural creator’s interventions in the natural order. ID thus brings with it, as does supernatural theism by its nature, intractable epistemological difficulties. Despite these difficulties and despite ID’s defeat in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005), ID creationists’ continuing efforts to promote the teaching of ID in public school science classrooms threaten both science education and the separation of church and state guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. I (...) examine the ID movement’s failure to provide either a methodology or a functional epistemology to support their supernaturalism, a deficiency that consequently leaves them without epistemic support for their creationist claims. My examination focuses primarily on ID supporter Francis Beckwith, whose published defenses of teaching ID, as well as his other relevant publications concerning education, law, and public policy, have been largely exempt from critical scrutiny. Beckwith’s work exhibits the epistemological deficiencies of the supernaturally grounded views of his ID associates and of supernaturalists in general. I preface my examination of Beckwith’s arguments with (1) philosopher of science Susan Haack’s clarification of the established naturalistic methodology and epistemology of science and (2) discussions of the views of Beckwith’s ID associates Phillip Johnson and William Dembski. Finally, I critique the religious exclusionism that Beckwith shares with his ID associates and the implications of his exclusionism for public policy. (shrink)
In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According to one popular conception, MN is a self-imposed or intrinsic limitation of science, which means that science is simply not equipped to deal with claims of the (...) class='Hi'>supernatural (Intrinsic MN or IMN). Alternatively, we will defend MN as a provisory and empirically grounded attitude of scientists, which is justified in virtue of the consistent success of naturalistic explanations and the lack of success of supernatural explanations in the history of science (Provisory MN or PMN). Science does have a bearing on supernatural hypotheses, and its verdict is uniformly negative. We will discuss five arguments that have been proposed in support of IMN: the argument from the definition of science, the argument from lawful regularity, the science stopper argument, the argument from procedural necessity, and the testability argument. We conclude that IMN, because of its philosophical flaws, proves to be an ill-advised strategy to counter the claims of IDC. Evolutionary scientists are on firmer ground if they discard supernatural explanations on purely evidential grounds, instead of ruling them out by philosophical fiat. (shrink)
Sam Harris’ new book The Moral Landscape is the latest in a series of attempts to provide a new science of morality. This essay argues that such a project is unlikely to succeed, using Harris’ text as an example of the major philosophical problems that would be faced by any such theory. In particular, I argue that those trying to construct a scientific ethics need pay far more attention to the tradition of moral philosophy, rather than assuming the debate is (...) simply between a scientific ethics and a supernatural ethics provided by religion. (shrink)
The Gödelian symphony -- Foundations and paradoxes -- This sentence is false -- The liar and Gödel -- Language and metalanguage -- The axiomatic method or how to get the non-obvious out of the obvious -- Peano's axioms -- And the unsatisfied logicists, Frege and Russell -- Bits of set theory -- The abstraction principle -- Bytes of set theory -- Properties, relations, functions, that is, sets again -- Calculating, computing, enumerating, that is, the notion of algorithm -- Taking numbers (...) as sets of sets -- It's raining paradoxes -- Cantor's diagonal argument -- Self-reference and paradoxes -- Hilbert -- Strings of symbols -- In mathematics there is no ignorabimus -- Gödel on stage -- Our first encounter with the incompleteness theorem -- And some provisos -- Gödelization, or say it with numbers! -- TNT -- The arithmetical axioms of tnt and the standard model N -- The fundamental property of formal systems -- The Gödel numbering -- And the arithmetization of syntax -- Bits of recursive arithmetic -- Making algorithms precise -- Bits of recursion theory -- Church's thesis -- The recursiveness of predicates, sets, properties, and relations -- And how it is represented in typographical number theory -- Introspection and representation -- The representability of properties, relations, and functions -- And the Gödelian loop -- I am not provable -- Proof pairs -- The property of being a theorem of TNI (is not recursive!) -- Arithmetizing substitution -- How can a TNT sentence refer to itself? -- Fixed point -- Consistency and omega-consistency -- Proving G1 -- Rosser's proof -- The unprovability of consistency and the immediate consequences of G1 and -- G2 -- Technical interlude -- Immediate consequences of G1 and G2 -- Undecidable1 and undecidable 2 -- Essential incompleteness, or the syndicate of mathematicians -- Robinson arithmetic -- How general are Gödel's results? -- Bits of turing machine -- G1 and G2 in general -- Unexpected fish in the formal net -- Supernatural numbers -- The culpability of the induction scheme -- Bits of truth (not too much of it, though) -- The world after Gödel -- Bourgeois mathematicians! : the postmodern interpretations -- What is postmodernism? -- From Gödel to Lenin -- Is biblical proof decidable? -- Speaking of the totality -- Bourgeois teachers! -- (un)interesting bifurcations -- A footnote to Plato -- Explorers in the realm of numbers -- The essence of a life -- The philosophical prejudices of our times -- From Gödel to Tarski -- Human, too human -- Mathematical faith -- I'm not crazy! -- Qualified doubts -- From gentzen to the dialectica interpretation -- Mathematicians are people of faith -- Mind versus computer : Gödel and artificial intelligence -- Is mind (just) a program? -- Seeing the truth and going outside the system -- The basic mistake -- In the haze of the transfinite -- Know thyself : Socrates and the inexhaustibility of mathematics -- Gödel versus wittgenstein and the paraconsistent interpretation -- When geniuses meet -- The implausible Wittgenstein -- There is no metamathematics -- Proof and prose -- The single argument -- But how can arithmetic be inconsistent? -- The costs and benefits of making Wittgenstein plausible. (shrink)
We will give a new cosmological argument for the existence of a being who, although not proved to be the absolutely perfect God of the great Medieval theists, also is capable of playing the role in the lives of working theists of a being that is a suitable object of worship, adoration, love, respect, and obedience. Unlike the absolutely perfect God, the God whose necessary existence is established by our argument will not be shown to essentially have the divine perfections (...) of omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, and sovereignty. Furthermore, it is not even shown that he is contingently omnipotent and omniscient, just powerful and intelligent enough to be the supernatural designer-creator of the exceedingly complex and wondrous cosmos that in fact.. (shrink)
Suppose that God or a demon informs you of the following future fact: despite recent cosmological evidence, the universe is indeed closed and it will have a ‘final’ instant of time; moreover, at that final moment, all 49 of the world’s Imperial Faberge eggs will be in your bedroom bureau’s sock drawer. You’re absolutely certain that this information is true. All of your other dealings with supernatural powers have demonstrated that they are a trustworthy lot.
A theory of human nature must consider from the start whether it sees human beings in fundamentally biological terms, as animals like other animals, or else in fundamentally supernatural terms, as creatures of God who are like God in some special way, and so importantly unlike other animals. Many of the perennial philosophical disputes have proved so intractable in part because their adherents divide along these lines. The friends of materialism, seeing human beings as just a particularly complex example (...) of the sort of complex organic structure found everywhere on Earth, suppose that we are ultimately constituted out of just the same material from which squirrels and rabbits are made. The friends of dualism, instead, think that such a story can hardly do justice to what is special about human nature. Likewise, the friends of a libertarian, robustly non-deterministic conception of free will see something special in human spontaneity and moral responsibility. To their opponents, human beings operate on the same principles, albeit more complex, as do squid and plankton. These and other such disputes need not divide along religious lines. One may oppose naturalism without embracing a supernatural theistic perspective; one might, for instance, think it simply a matter of fact that human beings are fundamentally unlike other biological organisms, but yet not suppose we are made that way by any higher power. Conversely, the theist may think it part of the divine plan to have made human beings as nothing more than the most complex of biological organisms, constituted out of the same stuff and constrained by the same laws. So although the choice I have described between two perspectives –. (shrink)
I examine two recent books by analytic philosophers that address the underexplored topic of whether the meaning of life depends on the existence of a supernatural realm including God and a soul. John Cottingham’s On the Meaning of Life defends a supernaturalist conception of life’s meaning, whereas Kurt Baier’s Problems of Life and Death defends the opposite, naturalist perspective. I show that their respective arguments are worth serious consideration, indicate some potential weaknesses in them, and suggest some other argumentative (...) strategies that those interested in this fascinating topic might pursue elsewhere in more depth. (shrink)
The reigning orthodoxy on biological teleology assumes that teleology either must be reduced (or eliminated) or it depends on a supernatural agent. The dominant orthodox sect rejects supernaturalism and eliminitivism, and, given the poverty of competing views has been allowed to become complacent about the adequacy of favored reductivist accounts. These are beset by more serious problems than proponents acknowledge. Moreover, the assumption underlying orthodoxy is false; there is an alternative scientifically and philosophically plausible naturalistic account of teleology. We (...) can share reductivists’ realism about biological teleology, embrace ontological and epistemological naturalism about science as well as science’s the ontic authority yet accept sui generis teleology conceived along ontologically emergentist lines. I sketch one such emergentist account, one that deserves serious consideration if supernaturalism and eliminitivism are as impoverished as reductionists believe. (shrink)
The thesis that Dennett argues for in Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon has a double aspect. First, religion being but one natural phenomenon among many should be subject to scientific investigation. Resistance to this notion constitutes the first spell or taboo and is in complicity with the second “master” spell, that of the phenomenon of religion itself. Dennett’s tentative naturalistic recommendation is two-pronged: he primarily deploys an evolutionary biology perspective, and derivatively a highly suggestive appeal to memetics. (...) To acknowledge that religion is natural “is only the beginning of the answer, not the end”. Religion as a natural phenomenon has to answer to Dennett’s Darwinist refrain — cui bono? (to whose advantage?). And derivatively, how or why highly exotic and implausible supernatural religious ideas (or memes) are transmitted and sustained? Humankind, naturally disposed cause-seeking creatures, are inclined to hypostasize all manner of beliefs (virtual agents free to evolve to amplify our yearnings or our dreads — when explanation of some phenomenon is not forthcoming — this constitutes the “master” spell. (shrink)
At the beginning of the twentieth century, G. E. Moore’s open question argument convinced many philosophers that moral statements were not equivalent to statements made using non-moral or descriptive terms. For any non-moral description of an object or object it seemed that competent speakers could without confusion doubt that the action or object was appropriately characterized using moral terms such as ‘good’ or ‘right’. The question of whether the action or object so described was good or right was always open, (...) even to competent speakers. In the absence of any systematic theory to explain the possibility of synthetic as opposed to analytic identities, many were convinced this demonstrated that moral properties could not be identified with any natural (or supernatural) properties. Thus Moore and others concluded that moral properties such as goodness were irreducible sui generis properties, not identical to natural.. (shrink)
This chapter offers a critique of intelligent design arguments against evolution and a philosophical discussion of the nature of science, drawing several lessons for the teaching of evolution and for science education in general. I discuss why Behe’s irreducible complexity argument fails, and why his portrayal of organismal systems as machines is detrimental to biology education and any under-standing of how organismal evolution is possible. The idea that the evolution of complex organismal features is too unlikely to have occurred by (...) random mutation and selection (as recently promoted by Dembski) is very widespread, but it is easy to show students why such small probability arguments are fallacious. While intelligent design proponents have claimed that the exclusion of supernatural causes mandated by scientific methods is dogmatically presupposed by science, scientists have an empirical justification for using such methods. This justification is instructive for my discussion of how to demarcate science from pseudoscience. I argue that there is no universal account of the nature of science, but that the criteria used to judge an intellectual approach vary across historical periods and have to be specific to the scientific domain. Moreover, intellectual approaches have to be construed as practices based on institutional factors and values, and to be evaluated in terms of the activities of their practitioners. Science educators should not just teach scientific facts, but present science as a practice and make students reflect on the nature of science, as this gives them a better appreciation of the ways in which intelligent design falls short of actual science. (shrink)
Abstract Traditional secular conspiracy theories and explanations of worldly events in terms of supernatural agency share interesting epistemic features. This paper explores what can be called “supernatural conspiracy theories”, by considering such supernatural explanations through the lens of recent work on the epistemology of secular conspiracy theories. After considering the similarities and the differences between the two types of theories, the prospects for agnosticism both with respect to secular conspiracy theories and the existence of God are then (...) considered. Arguments regarding secular conspiracy theories suggest ways to defend agnosticism with respect to God from arguments that agnosticism is not a logically stable position and that it ultimately collapses into atheism, as has been argued by N. Russell Hanson and others. I conclude that such attacks on religious agnosticism fail to appreciate the conspiratorial features of God's alleged role in the universe. (shrink)