In defense of naturalism

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 70 (1):3-25 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

History and the modern sciences are characterized by what is sometimes called a methodological naturalism that disregards talk of divine agency. Some religious thinkers argue that this reflects a dogmatic materialism: a non-negotiable and a priori commitment to a materialist metaphysics. In response to this charge, I make a sharp distinction between procedural requirements and metaphysical commitments. The procedural requirement of history and the sciences—that proposed explanations appeal to publicly-accessible bodies of evidence—is non-negotiable, but has no metaphysical implications. The metaphysical commitment is naturalistic, but is both a posteriori and provisional, arising from the fact that for more than 400 years no proposed theistic explanation has been shown capable of meeting the procedural requirement. I argue that there is nothing to prevent religious thinkers from seeking to overturn this metaphysically naturalistic stance. But in order to do so they would need to show that their proposed theistic explanations are the best available explanations of a range of phenomena. Until this has been done, the metaphysical naturalism of history and the sciences remains defensible

Analytics

Added to PP
2011-03-03

Downloads
564 (#17,452)

6 months
25 (#47,721)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Gregory W. Dawes
University of Otago

Citations of this work

Methodological naturalism and its misconceptions.Tiddy Smith - 2017 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 82 (3):321-336.
Methodological naturalism in the sciences.Sandy C. Boucher - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 88 (1):57-80.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.Karl Raimund Popper - 1934 - London, England: Routledge.
Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge.Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.) - 1970 - Cambridge University Press.
The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory.Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem - 1954 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.Karl Popper - 1959 - Studia Logica 9:262-265.

View all 75 references / Add more references