Naturalism-Steven Schafersman

David Campbell (
Mon, 3 Mar 1997 14:50:06 -0500

>Naturalism, the idea that reality is formed solely by natural processes,
>consists solely of natural beings and objects, and governed solely by
>natural laws, is a philosophy that developed as science developed.
>implies a unity and regularity to nature, that nature's reality can be
>objectively understood, without which the pursuit of scientific knowledge
>would be absurd. But naturalism is not an assumption or presupposition on
>the part of scientists, a common claim by critics; it is, instead, a
>hypothesis that has been tested and repeatedly corroborated, and so become
>reliable knowledge.
>(Note in particular the claim of the last sentence. Burgy)
>The scientific enterprise fails without naturalism, which is why naturalism
>is attacked by proponents of anti-science.
As Burgy points out, Steven Schafersman is here in trouble. He's confusing
methodological and philosophical naturalism (later in the quote he denied
there was a difference). The fact that science works is verifiable;
whether there's anything besides nature is not testable by methodological
naturalism, although it's a well-trod path of circular reasoning. Both
theistic and atheistic worlds may invariably obey natural law or obey
natural law in the vast majority of cases; theistic explanations explain
why order exists and why we can understand it.

David Campbell