The Terms Of the Debate: The World of Nature (2)

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Naturalism

Central to the scientific world view, is a metaphysical orientation that is centered on nature. All human science, and empirical science, is imprinted with this frame of mind that admits of no greater chain in being, than the causes found within nature itself, its associated phenomena and observed patterns of behavior.

In this regard, the natural world represents the ultimate reality, the whole of reality and in truth, the sole reality. In naturalism, this world view finds its philosophical expression, the principles of which set up the foundation of the scientific enterprise.

In fact, science adopts the philosophical position as a method of inquiry and thus seeks no explanation for real-world phenomena, beyond the causes found within nature, that is, that whole universe of being, perceptible to the senses, amenable to observation and susceptible to experimentation.

Consequently, such an attitude of mind and of spirit, excludes an appeal to any supernatural cause whatever in the explanation of created nature, in its evolution and even the existence of man and his own finality. In this respect, naturalism is decidedly agnostic in its mind and in its practice, and imperceptibly, quite atheistic in its spirit.

In the greater and deeper knowledge of the preceding elements, it can safely be concluded that the rules of any engagement surrounding the topic at hand, namely, that of the reasonability of appealing to the supernatural as a real and causal agent, are inclined to favor the cause of empirical science, and of human science for that matter. If human science by its very method does not admit of any reality other than sense-perceptible nature and seeks no greater reason for explanation above the natural chain of being; it is no surprise that the terms of the debate in the end favor by their very premise, a conclusion that denies the existence and agency of the very Being on whose rationality the intelligibility of the universe is ultimately predicated: God.

 

The Terms of the Debate

To be more succinct, one can ponder over what constitute the terms of the debate. First and foremost, within the realm of science, is allowed no supernatural principle both as a rational and acceptable position in the attempt to account for the genesis, the evolution and mechanism that maintains the universe and all created reality into being. Furthermore, evidence as it is presented and argued for is to be based on raw data that is perceptible by the senses, raw data which can be quantified, measured and experimented upon. Finally, in the event that, a purported hypothesis is formulated, such as the existence of an Intelligent Cause, it must be tested and repeatedly measured in a manner that is respective of the scientific method, that is, empirical and thus, rational.

Apart from the first rule, it is clear that, there is little ground for debate and as discussion surrounding the existence of the Intelligent Being is involved, there is little reason for concrete and tangible agreement. But that is not all. It seems that the consistent application of the scientific method as it is informed by the naturalistic view of life and of existence, is in itself fraught with its own temptations. Of particular note, is the temptation to accept as a matter of habit, the world view of materialism, both as a metaphysical position and as a respectable scientific source of explanation. In reality, as seen in the continuum of human history, the naturalistic frame of mind does not exclude in principle the existence of the spiritual life in man. In fact, this principle has been admitted to, throughout the ages, more or less as a proof of man’s supernatural origin, and most often as evidence of the intrinsic genius and rational agency found within the world of man and the world of nature. Within the realm of human science, such distinctions no longer seem to exist and in practice, they no longer seem to matter.

Materialism, which essentially reduces the world of nature to matter itself and the power and potentiality found therein, undeniably treats the existence of any free spiritual principle as irrelevant to its methodological inquiry and as useless to its philosophical world view. Indeed, from the point of view of the human sciences, to suggest that man be a composite in his nature, of body and of soul, of matter and of spirit; is itself worthy of the greatest suspicion. In truth, it is seen as an attempt to re-inject into the field of science, a quasi-religious supposition that is not subject to scientific proof, and into the sphere of facts and evidence, a philosophical principle that ends up in the last analysis, a futile reality. Undoubtedly, these principles form in themselves the architecture of a general spirit, an over-arching frame of mind that is instilled into the common man by a process of acculturation that occurs during his years of schooling and habits of reasoning that make part of his higher education. Even further, such an attitude of mind makes part of the world of the common man, of his perception of reality and his mental position on the supernatural and all questions related to its relevance.

 

The Christian Predicament

In the knowledge of the preceding elements, it can be concluded that the intellectual predicament that the world of faith and of Christian religion find themselves in, is indeed a serious one. Of central importance, is the task of proposing in a rational and intelligible manner, the reality of God’s existence and the evidence of the universe’s Divine Origin.

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