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James's Pragmatist Approach to the Metaphysics of Experience
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  3. How Can Smart People Still Believe in God? | Philosophy Talk

So, although we have people coming to Christ, many of our children are still leaving the church when they become adults.


By now you may be asking, how we can change from pragmatism to principled Christianity in our modern context? Just what does reverence for God and His Word in the practice of worship entail? What can Scripture teach us and how do we apply these standards or principles in our modern culture and resist a man-centered approach?

In the fall of a group of seminary professors and pastors, namely, Kevin T. Through a series of fifteen articles describing the essentials of conversion and the importance of the entire counsel of God regarding Christian piety and biblical worship, this book strives to help the church achieve a fully-biblical perspective regarding the worship of God. More controversial but important topics include discussion of meaning in artistic expression, challenging the notion that form is neutral in regard to biblical values; and the appropriateness of popular cultural mediums as they relate to rightly-ordered expression and meaning.

The authors start a discussion that needs to happen. Surely Christian worship will look differently from one culture to another. Are we looking more like the world or like the kingdom of God? May truth prevail in our practice of worship, and may our worship always be centered upon our wondrous triune God.

A Conservative Christian Declaration. Dennis, Lane T. ESV Study Bible. The current usage of the term naturalism "derives from debates in America in the first half of the 20th century. Currently, metaphysical naturalism is more widely embraced than in previous centuries, especially but not exclusively in the natural sciences and the Anglo-American, analytic philosophical communities.

According to David Papineau , contemporary naturalism is a consequence of the build-up of scientific evidence during the twentieth century for the " causal closure of the physical", the doctrine that all physical effects can be accounted for by physical causes. The term " methodological naturalism " is much more recent though. De Vries distinguished between what he called "methodological naturalism," a disciplinary method that says nothing about God's existence, and "metaphysical naturalism," which "denies the existence of a transcendent God.

Brightman in an article in The Philosophical Review as a contrast to "naturalism" in general, but there the idea was not really developed to its more recent distinctions. According to Steven Schafersman , naturalism is a philosophy that maintains that;. Or, as Carl Sagan succinctly put it: " The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. In addition Arthur C. Danto states that Naturalism, in recent usage, is a species of philosophical monism according to which whatever exists or happens is natural in the sense of being susceptible to explanation through methods which, although paradigmatically exemplified in the natural sciences, are continuous from domain to domain of objects and events.

Hence, naturalism is polemically defined as repudiating the view that there exists or could exist any entities which lie, in principle, beyond the scope of scientific explanation. All scientific study inescapably builds on at least some essential assumptions that are untested by scientific processes. These assumptions are justified partly by their adherence to the types of occurrence of which we are directly conscious, and partly by their success in representing the observed facts with a certain generality, devoid of ad hoc suppositions.

These assumptions—a paradigm—comprise a collection of beliefs, values and techniques that are held by a given scientific community, which legitimize their systems and set the limitations to their investigation. There is no such thing as 'supernatural'. The scientific method is to be used to investigate all reality, including the human spirit.

Naturalism is the implicit philosophy of working scientists, that the following basic assumptions are needed to justify the scientific method: [19]. Metaphysical naturalism, also called "ontological naturalism" and "philosophical naturalism", is a philosophical worldview and belief system that holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences , i.

Methodological naturalism, on the other hand, refers exclusively to the methodology of science, for which metaphysical naturalism provides only one possible ontological foundation. Metaphysical naturalism holds that all properties related to consciousness and the mind are reducible to, or supervene upon, nature. Broadly, the corresponding theological perspective is religious naturalism or spiritual naturalism. More specifically, metaphysical naturalism rejects the supernatural concepts and explanations that are part of many religions.

Methodological naturalism concerns itself with methods of learning what nature is. These methods are useful in the evaluation of claims about existence and knowledge and in identifying causal mechanisms responsible for the emergence of physical phenomena. It attempts to explain and test scientific endeavors, hypotheses, and events with reference to natural causes and events.

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This second sense of the term "naturalism" seeks to provide a framework within which to conduct the scientific study of the laws of nature. Methodological naturalism is a way of acquiring knowledge. It is a distinct system of thought concerned with a cognitive approach to reality, and is thus a philosophy of knowledge.

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Studies by sociologist Elaine Ecklund suggest that religious scientists in practice apply methodological naturalism. They report that their religious beliefs affect the way they think about the implications - often moral - of their work, but not the way they practice science. Steven Schafersman states that methodological naturalism is "the adoption or assumption of philosophical naturalism within the scientific method with or without fully accepting or believing it We may therefore be agnostic about the ultimate truth of naturalism, but must nevertheless adopt it and investigate nature as if nature is all that there is.

In a series of articles and books from onward, Robert T. Pennock wrote using the term "methodological naturalism" to clarify that the scientific method confines itself to natural explanations without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural, and is not based on dogmatic metaphysical naturalism.

Pennock's testimony as an expert witness [30] at the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial was cited by the Judge in his Memorandum Opinion concluding that "Methodological naturalism is a 'ground rule' of science today": [31]. Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena While supernatural explanations may be important and have merit, they are not part of science.

Schafersman asserts that "while science as a process only requires methodological naturalism, I think that the assumption of methodological naturalism by scientists and others logically and morally entails ontological naturalism", [10] and "I maintain that the practice or adoption of methodological naturalism entails a logical and moral belief in ontological naturalism, so they are not logically decoupled.

According to David Kahan of the University of Glasgow , in order to understand how beliefs are warranted, a justification must be found in the context of supernatural theism, as in Plantinga's epistemology. Plantinga argues that together, naturalism and evolution provide an insurmountable " defeater for the belief that our cognitive faculties are reliable", i. Take philosophical naturalism to be the belief that there aren't any supernatural entities - no such person as God, for example, but also no other supernatural entities, and nothing at all like God. My claim was that naturalism and contemporary evolutionary theory are at serious odds with one another - and this despite the fact that the latter is ordinarily thought to be one of the main pillars supporting the edifice of the former.

Of course I am not attacking the theory of evolution, or anything in that neighborhood; I am instead attacking the conjunction of naturalism with the view that human beings have evolved in that way. I see no similar problems with the conjunction of theism and the idea that human beings have evolved in the way contemporary evolutionary science suggests. More particularly, I argued that the conjunction of naturalism with the belief that we human beings have evolved in conformity with current evolutionary doctrine Robert T.

Pennock contends [38] that as supernatural agents and powers "are above and beyond the natural world and its agents and powers" and "are not constrained by natural laws", only logical impossibilities constrain what a supernatural agent could not do. He states: "If we could apply natural knowledge to understand supernatural powers, then, by definition, they would not be supernatural".

As the supernatural is necessarily a mystery to us, it can provide no grounds on which to judge scientific models. But by definition we have no control over supernatural entities or forces. Allowing science to appeal to untestable supernatural powers would make the scientist's task meaningless, undermine the discipline that allows science to make progress, and "would be as profoundly unsatisfying as the ancient Greek playwright's reliance upon the deus ex machina to extract his hero from a difficult predicament. Naturalism of this sort says nothing about the existence or nonexistence of the supernatural, which by this definition is beyond natural testing.

As a practical consideration, the rejection of supernatural explanations would merely be pragmatic, thus it would nonetheless be possible, for an ontological supernaturalist to espouse and practice methodological naturalism.

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For example, scientists may believe in God while practicing methodological naturalism in their scientific work. This position does not preclude knowledge that is somehow connected to the supernatural.

How Can Smart People Still Believe in God? | Philosophy Talk

Generally however, anything that can be scientifically examined and explained would not be supernatural, simply by definition. Quine describes naturalism as the position that there is no higher tribunal for truth than natural science itself.

In his view, there is no better method than the scientific method for judging the claims of science, and there is neither any need nor any place for a "first philosophy", such as abstract metaphysics or epistemology , that could stand behind and justify science or the scientific method. Since it is rational to try to be moral, it is rational to believe that there is moral order in the universe, and Christian doctrine is, in part, an account of there being a moral order in the universe.

The many-gods objection contends that the betting options of the wager are not limited to Christianity and atheism alone, since one could formulate a Pascalian Wager for Islam, certain sects of Buddhism, or for any of the competing sects found within Christianity itself. Pragmatic moral arguments, if they are to provide strong support for theism, must provide reason to think that theistic belief alone is necessary for morality, or that theistic belief best facilitates moral practice.


Until reason for thinking that is forthcoming, it would be premature to hold that theistic moral pragmatic arguments provide strong support. The second is that a theistic commitment is permissible. But another strategy is to seek truth by any means available, even at the risk of error. To facilitate matters eight definitions employed by James are paraphrased:. Among other examples James provides of this particular kind of truth is that of social cooperation:.

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Of course, accepting proposition 11 , and advancing an alternative strategy of seeking truth by any available means, even at the risk of error, does not entail that anything goes. Among the requirements suggested by James the most important is:. Nor is he arguing against the importance of evidence.

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The requirement that an option is intellectually open may be redundant. If the evidence were compelling, or even strongly supportive of, say, hypothesis a , and you recognized this, it may be that you would find only a alive. In other words, to say that an option is living may imply that it is intellectually open. Additionally, we might ask whether the property of intellectual openness is to be understood as the evidence is lacking, or as the evidence is in principle lacking.

That is, is an option intellectually open when the evidence is indeterminate, or when it is essentially indeterminate? The lack of adequate evidence is sufficient to render an option intellectually open. If more evidence appears so that one hypothesis is supported by a preponderance of the evidence, then a commitment to abide by the evidence is triggered.