God without the Supernatural: A Defense of Scientific Theism

Philosophical Review 107 (4):621 (1998)
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Peter Forrest argues that theism is warranted by an inference to the best explanation that does not posit God as a supernatural entity. Lest theists fear that Forrest settles for an ersatz naturalistic conception of God, let me reassure them that his view might be captured by the slogan, "Neither a naturalist nor a supernaturalist be!" Both naturalism and supernaturalism attempt to understand what Forrest calls the "familiar"—the things observable by humans, including the phenomena of consciousness—but they differ about the constraints on acceptable explanations. Naturalism accepts, while supernaturalism rejects, the following constraints: don't posit an "unfamiliar" entity unless a well-confirmed scientific theory provides a "precedent" for it, and don't violate any well-confirmed laws of nature. Forrest's antisupernaturalism accepts, but weakens to : don't posit an unfamiliar kind of entity unless there is some precedent for it, either in the familiar entities we already believe in, or in a well-confirmed scientific theory. Thus, every naturalistic explanation is antisupernaturalist, but some antisupernaturalist ones are not naturalistic because they posit unfamiliar entities on the basis of a commonsense nonscientific theory.



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