Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Limits of Naturalism

This is my response to Shelby Cade’s excellent blog post titled “Our limited friend” on Flatland Apologetics:

Nice article Shelby. I often hear naturalists say there is as much proof for Santa Clause, ferries or unicorns as there is for God. We actually can rule out some of these entities with the Santa Principle which says that a person is justified in believing that X does not exist if all of these conditions are met:

1. The area where evidence would appear, if there were any, has been comprehensively examined, and

2. All of the available evidence that X exists is inadequate, and

3. X is the sort of entity that, if X exists, then it would show.

This works for supposed physical entities such as Santa, unicorns and Sasquatch because we should be able to find them in the world but haven’t been able to. This doesn’t rule out God because he is immaterial being that can’t be detected by our senses or current technology. We also can’t rule out the multiverse because we have no way to perceive any universe besides our own.

Immateriality is a crucial attribute of God because in a pre big bang world with no physical building blocks a god composed of physical matter couldn’t exist. An omnipotent, immaterial necessary being is needed to spark the big bang and form the universe.

An eternal being would have to be immaterial because entities such as stars, humans, animals that are composed of physical matter will die as their parts break down. Our organs break down or our DNA starts mutating leading to our death. As the fuel in stars starts to run out nuclear fusion begins to stop causing the star to die a heat death. However, spiritual entities are not composed of physical parts that can break down or be torn apart. Since spiritual entities are not dependent on physical parts for their survival they are immortal. This is why souls must be immaterial if they are to be eternal.

Prior to 1875 humans had no knowledge that X-rays existed because we couldn’t perceive them with our senses. This of course doesn’t mean that X-rays didn’t exist prior to 1875 it just means that we didn’t know they existed. In much the same way the spiritual world could exist even though we don’t have a way to scientifically prove it at this time. Will we ever be able to invent the spiritual version of a Geiger counter? I’m not sure, but not being able to empirically prove the spiritual world, at this time, doesn’t prove its nonexistence.

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