Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Does Good Science Lead to Naturalism?

Today on CMI:

Science of the gaps
by Nick Kastelein, B.Eng. (Mech.) (Hons)
Published: 25 April 2017 (GMT+10)

It is proposed in the article that:

Science leads to naturalism,1 which then leads to atheism—a well-trodden path many atheists have walked. But does science really support atheism?

But does good science, correctly understood lead to naturalism, which he is at least half and half suggesting?

Read the argument here:

Proponents of this argument complain that ‘God did it’ is an unscientific and unreasonable explanation for observations that we make. Theirs is a strong argument against superstitious beliefs in God—i.e. using the supernatural to explain the unknown. When the supernatural is used merely to plug gaps, it will of course disappear when the gaps disappear. We no longer need Thor to explain thunder and lightning, because discovering electricity provided a natural explanation. We don’t need Poseidon either, because we now know the wind and moon cause waves and tides.

Aristotle would already have known some about moon and wind involved in creating waves. But did he ditch Poseidon? And if so, were early Christians ditching "the general concept of Poseidon" as thoroughly even as Aristotle?

Obviously they were not worshipping Poseidon any more than a good Hebrew a thousand years earlier would have been worshipping Dagon. But were they sure wind and moon were all there was to waves?

And, how about lightning, were they extremely sure electricity was its sole cause, some millennium and half before electricity was discovered?

In other words, would they have been ditching as much as Nick Kastelein does, the notion that natural phenomena are processed or produced by freewilled agents?

I think not.

You will find texts (Minucius Felix comes to mind) in which it seems that waters are moved by demons.

You find references in the Bible, I suppose, to evil spirits in the atmosphere. Nothing at all suggesting they could sometimes decide where lightning strikes? Or that God could do so over and above their activity?

I think if they appeared today, they would not be convinced by Nick Kastelein's half-naturalism.

I also think, they as I would complain about a double confusion in his concepts. I already adressed the fact that "is there someone or only something?" is another question than whether the someone, if other than God, has any right to be worshipped.

The other complaint is that lightnings and waves are not totally mechanised machines. There is some randomness at least apparently on when a waves comes higher than previous ones, or where exactly a lightning strikes. It is not as if it were a well oiled clockwork by Swatch or Rolex, same speed, interval and strength every tick and tack.

In other words, if electricity and winds and moon in general describe mechanisms making lightnings and waves exist, I am even in some doubt about moon being a perfectly mechanical explanation for tides as such, is, under that general causality, the particularity random - or willed?

What we know about electricity does not allow us to rule out someone might be switching lightnings on and off at precise moments of their choice.

In other words, it is abuse of the word "superstition" to take the fact of believing there are spirits at work here as an example of "supersition" : superstition rightly considered is a sin against the Faith - and Young Nick here is suggesting that either certain positions were expressed by early Christians without being common or were common without being expressed OR early Christians commonly sinned against the Faith.

If this is what he thinks, or even if it is just what his observation would imply if he brought early Christians into the considerations he is making, he simply speaking is wrong.

Obviously, this will not detract from his general observation, I suppose, which I will return to, that as scientists are complaining about "God of the gaps" so also we can complain about a "science of the gaps". But I interrupted the reading due to this false note striking me as such a one. The one quoted above.

Eery or not, the blog post ID here falls on "4682133255064762888". It involves "1332" which is twice a certain number, and "888" which is a similar number to the one I am thinking of. I did not chose it. Did the machine just randomly pick sth, or is there a will behind what the machine randomly picked? I obviously think the latter.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Mark the Gospeller

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