Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Meta-Naturalism v. Sci-Naturalism

Yesterday, I quoted the Catholic Encyclopedia on the subject of soul. Catholics insist the soul is given to man by "Supernatural Order, by God, for the purpose of raising the rational creature above its native sphere to a God-like life and destiny."

Today, that same quote can be used against the scientific naturalists' strawman argument of "contra-causal-and-libertarian free will". http://www.centerfornaturalism.org/

"5. On her part, the Church cannot but set great value upon reason's drive to attain goals which render people's lives ever more worthy," wrote John Paul II. "Yet the positive results achieved must not obscure the fact that reason, in its one-sided concern to investigate human subjectivity, seems to have forgotten that men and women are always called to direct their steps towards a truth which transcends them." ENCYCLICAL LETTER FIDES ET RATIO OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II

John Paul made an astute observation, that, "Abandoning the investigation of being, modern philosophical research has concentrated instead upon human knowing. Rather than make use of the human capacity to know the truth, modern philosophy has preferred to accentuate the ways in which this capacity is limited and conditioned."

This concentration is in scientific naturalism, which says that determinism is the fate of men but that if science someday proves otherwise, that which is proved otherwise will then be believed by science.

It is always correct to believe what science proclaims, but it is not science that proclaims determinism or the lack of it is; it is metaphysics--"the investigation of being"--that is denied by scientific naturalists, yet used by them, because all things are judged by metaphysics. And it is here that John Paul's criticism becomes important.

Scientific naturalism denies the existence of man’s volition, proclaiming the doctrine that man does not have contra-causal freedom. This is a straw-man argument. Neither the mystic Church nor any rational source ever claimed man had such powers. It is only supernaturalists on the order of those who claim such powers as sorcery who think contra-causal power exists or ought to exist.

Why, then, do the proponents of scientific determinism argue that free will and the soul do not exist based on the argument that contra-causal agency does not exist? It is because, having abandoned the investigation of "being" and concentrating instead on the physiological means of knowing, determinism is the only argument they have to support their arguments against the "supernatural."

Since the power of the soul is proclaimed by religion to be "supernaturally given to man by God to raise him up from the limitations of reason," then the only way to keep the millenial argument of the existence of God in play is to use science to prove the soul is nothing but the workings of physiology.

To support the argument that the soul is only physiology, the soul must be proclaimed to be "fully caused" by all things "natural," not "supernatural." Religion holds that the soul is supernatural; therefore, scientific naturalism must hold that it is not, and that because it is "fully caused" it cannot be "contra-causal", i.e., able to be the cause of itself.

Determinism is the doctrine of preferring to accentuate the ways in which man's will is limited and conditioned, for the purpose of denying supernaturalism.

But it is not supernaturalism that leaves metaphysical naturalists free to acknowledge that free will does not need to be contra-causal. As a matter of fact, to expect it to be contra-causal would be to defy the laws of nature, the very same laws used by the sci-naturalists.

This is the truth that transcends man's knowledge: that he is fully-caused by his actions and reactions to the reality of being, i.e., having life. It is the nature of man's being that empiricism is the cause of his consciousness. Let him conform to the things he cannot change, change the things he can, and unlike the sci-naturalists, comprehend the differences between what can and what cannot be changed.

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