Posts tagged ‘naturalism’

June 6th, 2013

Q&A 25: Assessing the Harm Principle

by Max Andrews


Mr. Andrews,

Often when using Dr. Craig’s version of the moral argument, the humanist will object that God is not necessary for at least one objective moral value: the harm principle, i.e. pain is bad. While I’m tempted to retort back that naturalistically speaking, there is nothing to say pain is objectively bad, the humanist will say that the harm principle is an objective moral value by which other things can be measured. This is so because no humans like pain and those that do only take pleasure in mild forms of pain. How might I solve this problem?

Thank you,



Hi Nolan,

It’s difficult for me to see why the naturalist (or humanist) will place this principle above every other moral fact. It’s nothing more than an attempt to make a categorical exception to objectivity. If this harm principle is objective then certainly it still falls within the parameters of requiring explanation within the moral argument.

February 27th, 2013

William Lane Craig and Epistemological Naturalism

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest post by Kegan Shaw. Kegan is currently in the MA in Philosophical Studies program at Liberty University and his research is in epistemological naturalism and rationalism.


Looking back on the Feb. 2nd debate between William Craig and Alex Rosenberg, while much said was in keeping with good sense, there did appear to be some confusion about the notion of epistemological naturalism. It seems William Lane Craig confused or took together to be synonymous the terms scientism and epistemological naturalism (EN). These terms are importantly distinct and should therefor be kept that way. To make a statement of distinction right off, scientism is an epistemological theory, while EN is not strictly so.

The confusion stems from Craig’s taking epistemological naturalism to be equivalent to scientism, while proceeding to wrongly criticize epistemological naturalism as one would properly criticize scientism. For instance, Craig says in his Feb. 26 podcast that epistemological naturalism is the view that “science alone gives us knowledge and truth.” Craig’s debate powerpoint defined the same term as the view that “science is the only source of knowledge.” However, these are proper definitions of scientism, not EN.

July 8th, 2012

An Update on the ALMA Observatory’s Search for Cosmic Origins

by Max Andrews

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a revolutionary instrument in its scientific concept, its engineering design, and its organization as a global scientific endeavor…

Currently under construction in the thin, dry air of northern Chile’s Atacama desert at an altitude of 5,000 meters above sea level, ALMA will initially be composed of 66 high-precision antennas working together at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths, with a possible extension in the future.

Thanks to its high resolution and sensitivity, ALMA will open an entirely new “window” on the Universe, allowing scientists to unravel longstanding and important astronomical mysteries, in search of our Cosmic Origins.

Some people say that the sun never sets on ALMA. Indeed, ALMA is a wonderful example of a worldwide collaboration , involving partners from four continents. By working together, scientists and engineers from around the world tackle unprecedented challenges and will seek to expand the frontiers of knowledge.

June 22nd, 2012

Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False

by Max Andrews

This is the subtitle to a new book, Mind and Cosmos, by Thomas Nagel with Oxford University Press.  Nagel is a materialist, not a theist or creationist.  You’ve probably heard of his famous 1974 paper, “What is it Like to be a Bat?” Many atheist philosophers are starting to doubt the Darwinian paradigm.  For instance, atheist philosopher of science Bradley Monton has written extensively on intelligent design while promoting it as an atheist.  Here’s the description of the new book given by Oxford University Press:

The modern materialist approach to life has utterly failed to explain such central features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, or value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology.

In Mind and Cosmos, Nagel provides an insightful analysis of the Darwinian world view, offering a perspective quite different from that found in such books as Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker. What we know about how mind and everything connected with it depends today on our ideas about the origin and spread of living organisms as a result of the universe’s evolution. But Nagel states that “it is prima facie highly implausible that life as we know it is the result of a sequence of physical accidents together with the mechanism of natural selection.” What is the likelihood that self-reproducing life forms should have come into existence spontaneously?  What is the likelihood that, as a result of physical accident, a sequence of viable genetic mutations should have occurred that was sufficient to permit natural selection? Nagel’s skepticism is not based on religious belief or on a belief in any definite alternative.  He does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological rather than mechanistic.