Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Naturalism's Definitions and Their Deficiencies, Part Four

The third--and final--description of naturalism to consider from Naturalism's Definitions and Their Deficiencies , Part One, is this, from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (CE):

"(III) Finally, if the existence of a transcendent First Cause, or personal God, is admitted as the only satisfactory explanation of the world, Naturalism claims that the laws governing the activity and development of irrational and of rational beings are never interfered with. It denies the possibility, or at least the fact, of any transitory intervention of God in nature, and of any revelation and permanent supernatural order for man."

This is a description of the religion of many of America's Founders, a religion called Deism. Since it does not deny, and actually affirms the existence of a God, we need not consider this form of Naturalism in this space. It is noteworthy, however, to say that Deism is called Naturalism because it denies the possibility, or at least the fact, of any transitory intervention of God in nature, and of any revelation and permanent supernatural order for man.

Thomas Paine, on the subject of revelations from God, stated succinctly in his treatise on organized religions:

"No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such
a communication, if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case,
that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth,
and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is
revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and
consequently they are not obliged to believe it." The Age of Reason

Metaphysical naturalism does not admit of a supernatural deity, and so by implication does not admit of "the power of the Almighty to make such a communication."

"These three forms are not mutually exclusive," states the CE: "what the third denies the first and the second, a fortiori, also deny; all agree in rejecting every explanation which would have recourse to causes outside of nature. The reasons of this denial — i.e., the philosophical views of nature on which it is based — and, in consequence, the extent to which explanations within nature itself are held to suffice, vary greatly and constitute essential differences between these three tendencies." [exact page Catholic Encyclopedia]

It must be noted that the three descriptions from the CA are not exhaustive. Comprehensively, there are dozens of epistemological and metaphysical descriptions found in books and the internet. I can only say that the metaphysical naturalism of this Academy, while denying the existence of all things supernatural, considers the human soul to be man's greatest value, instrinsically attached not specifically to reason but to the ability of sub-conscious comprehension of cognoscenti [plural of cognoscentum, meaning objects of cognition].

We share this sub-conscious comprehension with the lower animals, both those which may have some form of conscious thought, and those who use only instinct without conscious thought. Metaphysical naturalism accepts that these lower creatures also have souls, which are functions--of subconsciousness. Creatures that have no subconscious faculties but operate solely on instinct and instinct only cannot be said to have souls. A creature must have some cognition of its self as the object of other life, such as a nurturing mammal would have of its offspring. A worm, to use just one example, can have no cognition of anything but its physical senses.

And so, as the The Center for Naturalism complains that "none of the worthy humanist, skeptic, or atheist organizations [ ] are articulating the full implications of seeing ourselves as completely natural beings," this Academy never will "articulate" such ideas, when "completely natural" means having no free will, no soul, and unequivocally means that man can never be the "self made" rugged individualist no matter how he uses the (non-free) will attributed to him by other forms of naturalism.

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