A brief argument against naturalism…

Naturalism assumes that there is no higher order beyond empirical nature, and, as a result, no basis for natural teleology (viz., an order in nature which points toward a higher intelligible order). It follows that we qua natural subjects cannot learn anything from nature, since, literally, naturalism forbids observing from empirical nature to anything higher. Nature, in other words, is not a teacher. 

Yet, man is a learner. If nature teaches nothing, how can man learn anything from it? Expressing empirical observations is not learning, since learning involves grasping principles, whereas observation merely involves sensory impressions. Only by positing a higher intelligible continuity that transcends any and all instances of empirical observation can those observations be constructed into a theory (i.e., a syllogism of learned principles). It follows that no series or set of observations can be constructed into a theoretical defense of naturalism itself. 

So, either humans are not simply natural, or humans have no way of learning the truth of naturalism from nature. 

A little Lewis, a little Plantinga, a little Reppert. 



About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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3 Responses to A brief argument against naturalism…

  1. Ilíon says:

    So, either humans are not simply natural, or humans have no way of learning the truth of naturalism from nature.

    As I have observed from time to time on Reppert’s blog — when ‘nature’ is is understood (or defined) in terms of ‘naturalism’, then human beings must be classified as ‘supernatural’ (and my observation is “A little Lewis, a little Plantinga”)

  2. Aye. Isn’t it interesting how naturalism is so closely connected with transhumanism?

  3. Ilíon says:

    Isn’t it interesting how naturalism is so closely connected with transhumanism?

    As I understand it, the apotheosis of ‘transhumanism’ is to “upload” the human self into a computer. Or, to put it into slightly more precise language: to write a computer program such that when it executes upon a certain set of inputs, the resulting computations will be a specific individual human person.

    Now, there are two things to note about this:
    1) it will never happen — it is logically impossibe for this (silly) dream ever to be realized: for the self is not a computation (*)
    2) at the same time, the silly, wishful-thinking dream-and-assertion of “strong AI” depends upon the self being an immaterial, and indeed, non-physical entity as we knuckle-dragging Christians have always understood it to be.

    SO: the apotheosis of ‘transhumanism’ will never happen, for it is logically impossible. Yet, if it could-and-did happen, its happening would prove that naturalism is false.

    (*) And, computation is just counting — the whole foolish “strong AI” wishfu-thinking assertion boils down to this: “If only we can build a computer that can count fast enough, then a program executing on that computer may become a person/self” — Moreover, computers don’t actually compute/count; rather, computers simulate counting.

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