A correspondent was recently asking me about a particular argument naturalists sometimes use. Now, to me, this argument sounds so incredibly lame that I can never understand why smart people are the least bit impressed by it. It's just like saying, "Oh, never mind the evidence. I'm sure we'll figure that out eventually. Move along. Nothing to see here." Why would anybody listen to this?
But it's been put forward very seriously by various people and was worrying my correspondent, so Tim and I responded, and I have a post up at W4 based on that response.
The naturalist's argument basically goes, "Science has made great strides and achievements and has explained lots and lots of stuff that we didn't used to understand. So eventually, whatever it is that you are bringing up as evidence for the existence of God or for any entity that isn't strictly non-naturalistic will also be explained as a purely naturalistic phenomenon."
This is just such a bad argument. The sense in which science has made great strides and achievements--you know, finding the causes of diseases, discovering very small particles and figuring out how they interact, seeing the inner workings of the cell, figuring out the basic laws of planetary motion--in no sense tends to confirm that there is nothing but matter in the world and that everything has a physical cause. How could it?
To my mind, this is just one step up, if that, from the Bultmannian claim that we can't possibly believe in miracles in the age of the electric lightbulb.
But my W4 post is much more dignified than this little rant. (Ahem. Really. Much more dignified.) Enjoy.