Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Naturalism's Definitions and Their Deficiencies; Part Three

In Part One of Naturalism's Definitions and Their Deficiencies, I listed the three objective definitions given by New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (CE). The CE is objective to a point, literally a blue line dividing the theologically-oriented definitions from the actual Catholic Dogma found below this blue line.

In Part One and Naturalism's Definitions and Deficiencies Part 2, I discussed how scientific naturalism (SN), the CE's first division of the subject, makes a straw man out of the idea that because we exist, we cannot create within us the being that we ar--or that we may become in some idealized whim or desire. SN of course does not ever describe as "whims" or desires their position on the causes of being human.

No, SN describes this straw phenomenon as "human beings fully caused by the forces of existence iteself", denying the possiblity that Man may have free will; SN's devotees call it "libertarian" will, as if to say it cannot be liberated from existence, so it must not be free will.

They also call it "non contra-causal," which is to say, we cannot alter what is; we must use our will to deal with the never ending fact that we exist; therefore the will cannot be free if it must act in accordance with existence. But any theist would argue that this contra-causal form of will belongs only to God and does not apply to humans, that the free will we have is that of a rational animal, not of omnipotence.
Omnipotence to "contra-causally" change what is or what is to become--or what was, for that matter--is why this argument is a straw man. But SN does not want you to know this.
[See Part Two]

The Catholic Encyclopedia's second and division of the subject of naturalism is as follows:

"(II) The
dualism of mind and matter may be admitted, but only as a dualism of modes or appearances of the same identical substance. Nature includes manifold phenomena and a common substratum of the phenomena, but for its actual course and for its ultimate explanation, it requires no principle distinct from itself. In this supposition, naturalism denies the existence of a transcendent cause of the world and endeavours to give a full account of all processes by the unfolding of potencies essential to the universe under laws that are necessary and eternal." [exact page Catholic Encyclopedia ]

To admit the dualism of mind and matter is, by this CE description, to admit of a transcendent soul. I know of no other form of naturalism other than metaphysical, as defined by this Academy, willing to admit the existence of a non-transcendent soul, a soul that is the only thing "fully caused" by all the forces of existence which have had a moral and/or psychological effect on any given individual.

The soul is not, however, in a duelism with matter. It is physiologically just what SN says it is: chemicals and neurons firing and whatever else it is that matter does inside the brain and the nervous system.

But it has a metaphysical relationship with the psychology of its owner. Why doesn't SN claim that psychology is nothing more than the way we look at our mental states? Because they don't see it as necessary: everyone knows what psychology is and how important it is as a non-material substance of the mind. However, the soul is identical, in one respect, with psychology: it is substantially more than the sum of its physiology, yet it is as immaterial as psychology.

To paraphrase Ayn Rand*, SN has cut man in two, setting one half against the other by denying that the self-evident soul exists. SN has taught him that his body and his consciousness are contradictory claims, that what man calls his soul belongs not to the natural realm of being human, but to a supernatural realm. In this way, the atheist, the naturalist, is taught to abandon what he knows to be his soul, and that the good is to undermine his soul through the patient struggle of trying to comprehend the nonsense that he is nothing but physiology--nerurons firing in the brain, which cause sensible feelings that SN declares has no moral underpinnings, but only physiological origin. Thus, the man who would naturally deny the supernatural but accept his self-evident soul winds up digging his way to that glorious jail-break from reason which leads into the freedom from responsibility for one's actions. [from John Galt's speech; Atlas Shrugged]

If you don't believe this is the goal of SN, read this:

"Just as science shows no evidence for a supernatural god “up there”, there’s no evidence for an immaterial soul or mental agent “in here”, supervising the body and brain. [ ] The naturalistic understanding and acceptance of our fully caused, interdependent nature is directly at odds with the widespread belief (even among many freethinkers) that human beings have supernatural, contra-causal free will, and so are in but not fully of this world. http://centerfornaturalism.blogspot.com/2008/11/worldview-naturalism-in-nutshell.html

"Seeing that we are fully caused creatures - not self-caused - we can no longer take or assign ultimate credit or blame for what we do. This leads to an ethics of compassion and understanding, both toward ourselves and others. We see that there but for circumstances go I. We would have been the homeless person in front of us, the convict, or the addict, had we been given their genetic and environmental lot in life."
[emphases added]

Metaphysical naturalism as defined by this Academy affirms the immaterial yet substantial nature of the human soul, holds each man with ultimate credit or blame for his actions, except when a physiological defect overrides his or her reason, as with Tourette's Syndrome or a psychiatric condition.

When I use my will to determine how I will conduct my thoughts and behavior to be in accordance with reality, that is the definiton of free will, and I will not allow anyone or any irrationalism in scientific epistemology to deny me my just rewards--or my just deserts.

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