Re: On supernaturalism

From: David F Siemens (
Date: Tue Jun 12 2001 - 13:10:24 EDT

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    Burgy and Howard,
    My quick appraisal of this interchange suggests that Howard and Griffin
    are talking about two different things. Howard's version of naturalism is
    a matter of the way in which scientists look for answers, one without
    metaphysical assumptions. Griffins "naturalism(ns)" has a load that makes
    it compatible with deism (a deity who does not interact with an
    independent nature), process theology (a deity which is part of the
    universe) and probably Spinoza's deus sive natura, but not with Christian
    theism. It looks to me as though Griffin presents his "definition" to
    support his quasi-theology so that he will not have to come to grips with
    a Creator and Sustainer and Redeemer. The Father of the Lord Jesus Christ
    plays hob with human philosophies.

    On Tue, 12 Jun 2001 10:07:20 -0600 John W Burgeson <>
    > Howard posted, last week, a good response to my speculations on
    > supernaturalism. Here is what he said, followed by my own comments.
    > "Burgy, You say that
    > > On page 36, Griffin asserts that naturalism(sam) is the
    > "fundamental
    > > ontological belief of the scientific community." I would argue,
    > rather,
    > > that naturalism(ns) is the "fundamental working assumption of the
    > > scientific community as it performs science" and that while some
    > may
    > > indeed believe naturalism(sam) that not all do, and that, in any
    > event,
    > > that is philosophy, not science and irrelevant to the issue.
    > One's
    > > beliefs are, of course important, but they can be wrong beliefs;
    > they
    > are
    > > not (in the Platonic sense) knowledge. I think Griffin's error
    > here is
    > a
    > > serious one. It is not so much that he is wrong (although I think
    > he
    > is)
    > > as that he has seized on an irrelevancy.
    > When I look on page 36 in my copy of Griffin's _Religion and
    > Scientific
    > Naturalism_ I see something quite different. In the last paragraph,
    > from
    > which you quote, Griffin is criticizing the common practice of
    > equating
    > of
    > "theism" with "supernatural interruptionism." _If_ that is what
    > "theism"
    > is
    > taken to mean, then, says Griffin, "belief in theism, accordingly,
    > would
    > almost inevitably connote rejection of naturalism(ns), which is the
    > fundamental ontological belief of the scientific community."
    > Griffin
    > specifically refers here to naturalism(ns), not naturalism(sam).
    > By Griffin's definitions, however, naturalism(ns), -- or "minimal
    > naturalism" -- includes the rejection of "supernatural
    > interruptionism,"
    > but
    > _not_ of "theism." Theism, in Griffin's view, can have a rich
    > concept of
    > divine action (in both invariant and variable forms) that is an
    > _essential_
    > factor in all events/processes in the universe without recourse to
    > supernatural interventions that interrupt the universe's own causal
    > nexus."
    > he problem, I think, is with Griffin's somewhat labored prose. His
    > specific words are "Belief in theism, (according to Preus)
    > accordingly,
    > would almost inevitably connote rejection of naturalism(ns), which
    > is the
    > fundamental ontological belief of the scientific community." If he
    > is
    > attributing this last phrase to Preus, that's OK, but it does not
    > appear
    > so. Rather, it appears to be Griffin's position. My point is that I
    > don't
    > see naturalism(ns) to be a "fundamental ontological belief" of
    > science.
    > Rather, I see it as being a "working assumption."
    > Perhaps I am making too much of this. But I don't think so. It is
    > difficult to think of myself holding one "ontological belief" on
    > Monday-Saturday and another on Sunday. I can work with different
    > assumptions any day of the week however.
    > Burgy
    > (source data on issues of science/theology, quantum mechanics,
    > ethics,
    > great sports cars, a story of God's intervention into the natural
    > causation of the universe, etc.)

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