Full text of "ACCEPTING THE UNIVERSE ESSAYS IN NATURALISM"

The other consideration, is that the cosmological argument assumes the universe itself cannot be a brute fact (or eternal) because everything that begins must have a cause; and then goes on to suggest that therefore there must be a brute fact (such as God) to explain it. This is begging the question. One cannot logically deny the existence of brute facts as a premise (whatever begins to exist has a cause) and then insert a brute fact as the conclusion (a necessary, uncaused being). One can simply ask why can’t the universe, or an element within it, be the brute fact. Crucially, even if one accepts that the universe begins, why cannot it not begin due to a timeless natural force which governs all of existence?

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Relationship between religion and science - Wikipedia

The Believer - The Codex Seraphinianus

Facing the naturalistic facts about ourselves, including the sometimes emotionally fraught denial of free will, involves a firm commitment to science as one’s epistemology. Secular humanists, nearly universally, find this commitment to be second nature, but many will find it sorely tested as they confront the initially discomfiting realization that we are not exceptions to causality. Nevertheless, as the positive personal and social implications of a fully consistent naturalism sink in, accepting this truth about ourselves will become easier. Secular humanists will be in the vanguard (as they always have been) in this next revolution in our understanding of our place in the universe. Their humane motives, reinforced by the empathy generated by taking the fully causal view, will ensure that the immense power of causal understanding will be used wisely and for the good as we seek to create a more flourishing, sustainable world.

Image from Luigi Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus

In this explanation of why he is not a Christian, Richard Carrier outlines the top four reasons why he rejects Christianity: God's silence, God's inactivity, lack of evidence, and the overt conflict between discovered reality and Christian theory. Though a lay exposition geared at a general audience, the essay appeals to a variety of atheistic arguments, including the argument from religious confusion, an evidential argument from evil, divine hiddenness, the argument from biological evolution, and the argument from physical minds. In an interesting twist on the argument from design, Carrier turns the fine-tuning argument on its head, noting that several features of our universe--features predicted by naturalism--are highly improbable if Christian theism is true.

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This is the reason that they will not rationally react with the very compelling arguments for God’s existence which are backed by empirical evidence. When naturalism is presumed before the fact, the naturalist is forced to accept another doctrine besides God to explain the history of the world. Historically, this belief has been that the universe is eternal (Sagan, 1985). However, after information has increased about the origin of the universe and its apparent fine-tuning, naturalists have been forced to give up this point and have instead grasped at speculative hypotheses.

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An often overlooked religious criticism of biological evolution focuses on the alleged ethical consequences of accepting it, particularly increased immorality and harmfulness. In this essay Michael D. Reynolds describes and critiques one such criticism, that provided by biblical literalist John MacArthur and his historical forebears documented in Charles Sprading's and Maynard Shipley's . MacArthur makes seven chief assertions about the ethical consequences of accepting evolution: (1) that naturalism and its acceptance of evolution removes the foundation of morality and causes immorality; (2) that accepting evolution prevents belief in spiritual things; (3) that acceptance of evolution entails that humans are no better than animals; (4) that conceding evolution robs human life of meaning or purpose; (5) that naturalism and its acceptance of evolution leads to nihilism; and that evolutionary concepts laid the groundwork for (6) Communist and (7) Nazi ideology. Reynolds concludes that MacArthur's assertions exemplify the rejection of rational, evidential thinking in favor of unquestioning credulity.

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In the first part of this essay Augustine discusses what naturalism entails for one's ontology, considers various ideas about how to define the categories "natural" and "nonnatural," and develops criteria for identifying a potentially supernatural event. In part 2 he presents a persuasive empirical case for naturalism based on the lack of uncontroversial evidence for potential instances of supernatural causation, particularly in our modern scientific account of the history of the universe and in modern parapsychological research.