Monday, December 29, 2008

Sci Naturalism's Unintended Link to Xianity

Scientific Naturalism and Christian Theology
Come from the Same Roots of Causality
Free will and the will that is not contra-causal are the subject of the metaphysics of naturalism. Metaphysical Naturalism (MN) accepts free will, denying--where scientific naturalism (SN) asserts--that free will needs to be "contra-causal" to be called free.

It is not, nor can it ever be, contra-causal. To wish it so, to want it so, to propose that it must be so before it can be called free is to contradict the very nature of naturalism's epistemic roots.

What is "contra causality"? To have contra-causal will, you would have to have the power to move the wind and the stars; the power to control your genetic pool--before you are conceived; the power to manipulate your environment by supernatural means (since we are obviously able to manipulate it by natural means, yet this isn't good enough for SN, which denies anything supernatural); and to manipulate the behavior and activities of every minute detail of reality that touches your own existence.

Because you do not and cannot have this power, SN says free will is not free because it is always influenced by something; the wind, the stars, your genetic pool, your environment, your prior actions, and the behavior and actions of all other people who have ever lived and who are living now, and whether or not you have a sore toe, a headache, have had too much caffein, alcohol, or milk--or are in need of some, and whether you are depressed, or manic, etc.

Even normality as measured by the strictest determinations of medicine and psychiatry effects us, according to SN, in such manner as to prevent our will from being free will. Normality no matter how it is determined is still the effect of all the previous causes of the being of any human.

In short SN asserts that the butterfly effect prevents what would otherwise be independent and free will, i.e., the freedom to think or not, and what to conclude from thought, and how to conclude it. The phrase "butterfly effect" is a "reference to the [ ] theory that a change in something seemingly innocuous, such as a flap of a butterfly's wings, may have unexpected larger consequences in the future, such as the path a tornado will travel."
We are caused by the flapping of all the butterflys' wings, whether those wings are literal, or metaphorical.

So while you may believe you are exercising free will, SN says the "you" that exists at the moment of exercising your will shows proof that "we are fully caused creatures" by all things that have gone before. "Naturalism holds that everything we are and do is connected to the rest of the world and derived from conditions that precede us and surround us," it says. [see same link as above]

The most notorious concept of our being "fully caused" is called, in Christianity, by the name "Original Sin." Christianity has always believed in "full causation" of the human being through Original Sin, but gives it an "out" through "redemption." For this reason Christianity believes in free will.

SN states its aim as being the obliteration of anything but scientism in its metaphysical description of the state of being human, yet it supports the most illogical of all epistemologic arguments of Christian theology, proving that even SN cannot escape epistemological mistakes that put it on par with the worst logic of supernaturalism. What SN does it takes away the ability to be "redeemed" from our "full causation" by removing the concept of freedom from the concept of will power.

SN does not disprove the Christian epistemology of Original Sin, it upholds it by using the same logic of "full causality"!

But in its defence, it must be explicitly stated that SN denies anything supernatural. It cannot therefor uphold the idea of Original Sin as a religious concept, but by using the very logic of Christian theology it gives Christianity very good reason to support the epistemology of SN while denying its metaphysics, in the very same way SN denies the metaphysics of religion.

Scientific Naturalism is Not Scientifically, But Epistemologically, Wrong

While it is entirely true that humans are shaped by such things as their gene pool and their environment, and by all the other things that science is beginning to teach us about our biology, this does not constitute what SN calls "full causation." It is not necessary for the will to be able to change these things for the will to exist as free will. Free will does not mean independence from existence.

Yet it is the independent, libertarian will that SN says is not free because it is not free from the reality of reality. "Naturalism," it say explicitly, "is the understanding that there is a single, natural world as shown by science, and that we are completely included in it."

Of course we are "completely included in it." While religion argues that we are also included in a supernatural world, it does not deny being "included" in the physical world. As a matter of fact, being released from this "complete inclusion" in the natural world is the goal of religion. SN seeks to bind us to it with no power to "fully cause" our own metaphysical existence.

SN does not state that the will is impotent. To the contrary, it states that since we know, or can know, the elements of reality that "fully cause" us to be who we are, that we can somehow control our lives better through of will power that it describes as "not free."

SN is a humanist movement. It supports "compassion" for criminals in their treatment and sentencing: compassion, not justice. Criminals are still human, have the capacity to learn from their wrongs and from their time incarcerated. Most will get out of prison. Ignoring "compassion" for justice does not mean going back to bread and water, chains and leg irons, beds of straw, lack of proper medicine, or anything that is not proper in the treatment of humans who have the free will to become better for the justice of their sentence. Proper treatment is justice, not compassion.

What SN means by "compassion" is stated this way: " 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." [emphasis added]

This is all true, except for the "credit and blame" part. If the credit and blame are moral attributes of action, it is never true that they do not belong to us. If they are attributes of the chaos of reality over which we have no control, it is metaphysically unthinkable to assign credit or blame.

It is a case of barking up the wrong tree for SN to take note of "being fully included" in reality. No one has ever, to my knowledge, denied this. SN denies that we are included in any sort of super naturalism, and with that idea, metaphysical naturalism is in complete agreement.

If the unstated, implicit, and possibly unconscious goal of SN is some form of humanism be it termed "philosophical", "modern", or "secular", then it is not an honest doctrine, since it states its goal this way: "By understanding consciousness, choice, and even our highest capacities as materially based, naturalism re-enchants the physical world, allowing us to be at home in the universe." SN is a doctrine to "re-enchant" the world!

If its goal is to free us from supernaturalism, it forgot to "fully include" humanity in the reality of the fact that we would be absolutely nothing if not for reality itself. "In order to control nature, one must learn to obey nature."

It is in obeying nature that we find our will is free, and it is that freedom that has taken us out of the "inclusion" of being strictly bound to the earth, and opened the gateways to being "included" in the rest of the universe.

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