naturalism

I posted before about 3 Reasons Why Belief in God Makes Sense from the Unbelievable Podcast. In another article, Justin Brierley comments on some of his observations as the moderator of atheist-theist debates. Some of his observations, unfortunately, are wrong. For example,

“Almost every atheist I meet wears the spectacles of 'naturalism'. It's the view that there is no supernatural dimension to existence. All that really exists is physical matter in motion.”

This sounds suspiciously like “philosophical naturalism”, to which I know of no one who ascribes. There is “methodological naturalism” which simply states that we may assume, for the moment as a practical matter, that there isn’t a supernatural realm. We’ll continue to assume that until someone can demonstrate the supernatural. This isn’t as much wearing “spectacles of ‘naturalism’” but the only pragmatic choice an honest inquiry can support.

Another way to look at it is to notice that science evaluates well-defined claims. We know of no method which can handle non-well-defined claims and we have yet to see a definition of supernatural that is well defined. Is there one? Until someone puts forward something useful, we can proceed without including it in our descriptions.

“Consequently, there is no realm of right or wrong to be discovered in life, no overarching purpose to things, no ultimate meaning to reach for in the universe.”

Which is also possibly wrong, and I dealt with it in the previous post. Even if you’re not convinced of this argument, you have to admit there is - for some people - a reasonable argument for morality under naturalism.

“When BBC broadcaster and atheist scientist Jim Al-Khalili came on my Unbelievable? show he acknowledged: 'It's a huge philosophical question: why does nature speak the language of mathematics?'. Nobel Prize winning physicist Eugene Wigner termed it 'the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics', describing it as a 'wonderful gift we neither understand nor deserve’.”

“Are we to simply say 'pass' on this question?”

Perhaps this is a necessary fact? Perhaps there is an explanation, but we don’t have access to it? God, however, is no explanation. As Robert Price notes, you’re trying to explain unknown X with unknown double-X!

“Our belief in the intrinsic dignity and worth of human beings is best explained by Christianity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights tapped into a foundational view of humanity established by our Judeo-Christian heritage, one which we jettison at our peril. Our belief in the intrinsic value of humanity can't be explained by atheism. But if we are made in the image of God, as Christianity claims, then that gives every human being inestimable value.”

Except, the Bible itself clearly delineates superior and inferior people! It specifies, in great detail, how one should treat slavery depending on whether they are the chosen people or not. Furthermore, Jesus - despite some of his better messages - never speaks against that and tacitly endorses it with the “not one jot of the law will be abolished” statement.

All-in-all I find Justin’s claims here, despite his good intentions, to be a testament to confirmation bias - which perhaps I am suffering from as well? How can I tell?