Sunday, December 7, 2008

Naturalism's Definitions and Deficiencies Part 2

In Part I of this series, Naturalism's Definitions and Their Deficiencies, I discussed how the "apparently most influential website on the subject, The Center for Naturalism, with its sister site Naturalism.Org, describe mental and moral processes as non-contra causal."

"This is a straw man argument. Its ostensive purpose is to say that because we live in a world we did not create, and among forces we cannot control, and being influenced by our genes, our nurturing, memes*, people stepping on our toes, the rain falling from the sky and other forces which are the result of living in existence, we have no free will. We are forced to always apply our will toward dealing with existence, over which we have no control. If we had such control, that would constitute free will. Hence, we have no contra-causal, i.e., free, will."

It is interesting that at the same time, sitting in my email box, was a fund-raising letter from The Center for Naturalism (CFN). I subscribe to their infrequent mailings to keep up with their activities. In the letter was this statement:

"Although naturalistic in outlook, none of the worthy humanist, skeptic, or atheist organizations I know of are articulating the full implications of seeing ourselves as completely natural beings. Many secularists still harbor quasi-supernatural beliefs about human nature, even if they've long since abandoned belief in supernatural gods."

I admit this is not a widely-read blog, although the director of the CFN and probably a few of its famous, listed supporters, and a few of its famous critics, do read The Academy Blogger. I know that some of its critics read the Blogger, because I have received email from them. I'm going to have to promote this blog in order to make it "worthy", so the CFN can say that at least one widely read and influential organizations is worthy. This is not the desire to be worthy in the minds of the CFN, but rather to be worthy enough to help counteract the influence of the CFN.

However, the CFN will never admit the Blogger is worthy even if became as influential as the CFN--precisely because the Academy does not "articulate the full implications" as the CFN sees them. The Academy Blogger is distinctly opposed to much of what the CFN publishes and believes.

Why? The scientific naturalism (SN) of the CFN does not admit the metaphysical importance of the finite human soul. The CFN claims the human soul does not even exist, that it is merely the neurological events of the human being as perceived by its consciousness. This is strictly in keeping with the tenets of SN, which is never to admit that the existence of the world around us with all its parts are the only things upon which our will can be exercised.

SN tries to make the argument that our will is not contra-causal, or libertarian as SN sometimes calls it, because it cannot change the influences upon which our will is exercised. These influences are the very things the CFN says "fully causes us", in its strange use of the language, to be who we are. "We are fully caused creatures," it repeats over and over, as if to drum into the readers' minds that we cannot "cause" ourselves because we cannot "cause" the influences upon which our lives are made.

If you go to the CFN's list of "Allies of Naturalism you will not find one author I am aware of who supports human free will while at the same time admitting that of course it is not contra-causal and libertarian if they are going to make such a silly straw man argument out of it.

Free will is, however, libertarian in the sense that psychologically uncoerced thinking in an otherwise biologically sound mind is free to be whatever it wishes to be or to become, including senselessly drug or alcohol affected, and that it has the power to think or not to think.

And that is the point that scientific naturalism does not wish you to understand. Their language is that of obfuscation, and contains the "soft", non-concretized idealism of the New Age. That is to say, as long as their words walk softly and talks the soft-language of diversion--away from enabling individualism, and toward mystic "memecry"* --they can get away telling you the mesmerizing phrase that humans are fully caused by things out of their control.

[*"memecry": a play on "mimicry", connoting that "memes" are the causative force of learned human behavior, a cause from which we cannot escape and which thereby acts as one of the elements of our full causation and denying metaphysical individualism. SN states specifically that memes are such a causative agent, and SN's adherents use memes to as one more argument to deny free will; but metaphysical naturalism accepts them--if they exist--as simply another element of existence itself, without which we would and could be nothing at all--so they are no different than the rain or a hurricane or a family event or anything else in the existence of an individual person. Memes, therefore, do not connote lack of free will.]

Men, says SN, cannot change what is. While that is absolutely true, they use it as an excuse to say that since men are fully caused, they cannot take total blame for their actions or be held totally accountable for them, nor can they take total glory for their accomplishments.

This doctrine is epistemologically flawed, metaphysically creating impotence in men, and is psychologically abusive. Yet it is gaining ground in intellectual circles, including, I believe, the circles containing such people as Al Gore, Barak Obama, and others who's influence will rise with the policies of the Obama Presidency, just as the Silent Majority rose with President Reagan.

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2008 by Curtis Edward Clark and Naturalist Academy Publishing ®

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