Saturday, February 11, 2012

presuppositional naturalism and materialism

The presuppositions of naturalism and materialism.

"The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity. Even if the evidence did not favor it, it would still be the best theory available." Richard Dawkins, The Blind watchmaker (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996), 240, 317

"Life arose here on earth from inaminate matter, by some kind of evolutionary process. This is not a statement of demonstrable fact, but an assumption. Is is not supported by any direct evidence, nor is it likely to be, but it is consistent with what evidence we do have." Franklin Harold, The way of the cell: molecules, organisms, and the order of life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 254

"Our starting assumption as scientists ought to be that on some level consciousness has to be an illusion." John Brockman, ed., Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement (New York: Vintage, 2006), 58

"It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intutive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, the materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door." Richard Lewontin, "Billions and Billions of Demons," New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997


  1. Great quotes. It's important to realize that atheism is a faith-based philosophy.

    I wrote a similar piece just yesterday @

  2. Faith-based? Nonsense. Once you realize the validity of solipsism, you must also realize that no defensible claims can ever be made about the afterlife, or much of life. Some might even argue that "I exist" is something of a presupposition, depending on your views on "I". Presuppositional materialism simply realizes that we suppose that we might be able to gather at least somewhat accurate information about the world, and we can come to conclusions about the natural material world through the systematic collection and analysis of empirical data.

    If atheism is defended by presuppositional materialism (for example, the scientific method), it is the opposite of a faith-based philosophy. To have faith is to believe something without evidence; presuppositional materialism only accepts things tentatively on the basis of empirical evidence.

    In light of solipsism, ANY view about the universe must rely on presuppositions. This is distinct, however, from a "faith-based philosophy" as you have claimed.

  3. Hi thirdrailpodium,

    I agree that every world view must be, in the end, founded in a presupposition, or conviction (or the Witness of the Holy Spirit). However, the quotes Seth has posted here show that secularists have broken away from the scientific method.

    Rather than drawing conclusions from evidence, secular scientists seem to presuppose naturalism. Life, for example, has never been shown to arise from inorganic matter, and yet this is exactly what the naturalist proposes!

    We know that matter/energy cannot originate from nothingness (1st Law of Thermodynamics), yet this is exactly what the naturalist proposes.

    I encourage you to read the quotes Seth has posted, and ask yourself if these people are operating on the empirical.


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