Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Atheistic Naturalism's False Hope

Many Atheists who hold to Naturalism argue that religion, especially Christianity, is the curse of mankind, since it causes men to be held in bondage to myth and oppressive meta-narrative. What mankind needs is to see that this human invention called god is not real, then and only then can they be free to think in light of the way things really are. This newly found “free” thought will enable men to live true lives of purpose and meaning, by doing what really matters, not lives of false purpose built upon myth.

The problem is that this newfound freedom and hope is refuted by their own philosophical belief. The reason for this is that the freedom they promise is snuffed out by the materialistic determinism that their worldview logically demands. If naturalism is true, then we are captive within this closed system of cause and effect, and every thought, action, belief, and hope is merely determined by materialistic cause and effect. This is because our choices and freedoms are merely the phenomena produced by the functions of our brain. And our brains are determined by nothing more than chemical reactions and other physical causes.

The result of this is that the naturalist tears down one thing they think is a myth and false hope, namely God, and holds up another false hope, namely free minds. This then is portrayed as progress toward freedom, when in fact it enslaves us to a new myth; the religion of meaning and hope found in thought without God.

And as German sociologist Max Weber argues, “Man embraces religion at the point of meaning.” And since meaning and purpose cannot be accounted for by the naturalistic worldview, so then any appeal to it tends to digress back to the very thing they are arguing against, and becomes their new god.

Aldous Huxley said it best when speaking about purpose and meaning from within the naturalistic worldview. He said, “Science has “explained” nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes, and the profounder the surrounding darkness.”

Though this in no way proves the existence of God it shows one of the many self-defeating claims of the naturalist, and exposes a major leap of faith taken by many who hold to this worldview. The leap from a naturalistic world to a world with meaning and purpose: a leap that cannot be made through reason.

-Doug Eaton-

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At Monday, December 03, 2007 5:32:00 PM, Blogger devalles said...

There are some good ways to (perhaps) argue that naturalism offers a false hope. Unfortunately, your blog here presents a rather lame and uninformed case. The reason being that to argue that determinism is a consequence of naturalism is simply false. One of the most powerful ways we have to understand nature (quantum physics) is, of course, probabilistic (and not deterministic). We get that from even the most fundamental aspects of quantum physics: Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, quantum indeterminacy, the measurement problem, and the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum phenomena. In any sense, this speaks nothing to the validity of Christianity nor to the falsity of naturalism. If anything, we (Christians) have the pressure of making sense of the possibility of a determined world; this goes back to the medieval problem of God’s foreknowledge and our free will, and the fact that many Christians believe that God is directly the cause of all phenomena in the natural world. In a more general note, there are all kinds of things wrong with your argument. There are many ways of making sense of free will and indeterminancy in the world, even in a more or less determined closed system, like Nature. Quantum physics is one, but there are many others. Emergent phenomena is another one, very interesting and promising in explaining many deep things (i.e. the mind). So common...get the basics down!

At Monday, December 03, 2007 9:48:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...


Thanks for your comment. I'm always up for learning. If my argument is flawed I don't want to use it. I would be interested in hearing your explanation of Quantum physics, quantum indeterminacy, and the the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and how that can annul materialistic determinism. Thanks for your time.

God Bless,


At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 7:53:00 AM, Blogger devalles said...


The details are somewhat painful and writing about that would take some time. Perhaps I have some essays on that or maybe I can suggest a couple of titles. But here's the thing: If we have learned something from Quantum Physics is that the world is not deterministic (at the ground level). Why? Here goes nothing:

1.-Quantum Indeterminancy: Heinsenberg's UP shows: The more you know about a particle's position the less you know about its momentum. That is not an pragmatic poblem, but an in-principle problem. There is just no such thing as a particle that has both a momentum and a position.

2.-Quantum so-called "particles" are discrete quantities. This means that, say, an electron is not (properly) a thing, like a marble. And it certainly does not spin, like a marble, around a nucleus. Its existence is much fuzzier and in fact has a probabilistic nature.

This, and I'll talk philosophy lingo here (mainly because I know you understand it well), radically changes both the epistemology as well as the metaphysical conceptions of the world. The most obvious conclusion is that the world is not deterministic. And there are many other conclusions. We can talk QM for a loooong time. But even if you stay with old physics, you'll find that even there, it doesnt follow that determinism is entailed by physicalism. Do this: take Newton's law of universal gravitation (G=g m1m2/r^2), and make r=0. What happens? G goes to an infinite, and then you loose all epistemic control over it (or is it about metaphysics?). So, in some sense, Laplace has always been right.

But, bottom line, know that proving physicalism wrong or showing the difficulties with it will not, in a slum dunk, help us prove anything. And Im a bit rought here because I think we need to be and because Im helping you by being your devil's advocate. If you dont mind.

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 7:56:00 AM, Blogger devalles said...

In the place where I mentioned Laplace...I meant to say that he has always been WRONG, NOT RIGHT.

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 8:17:00 AM, Blogger devalles said...

But this is the problem, Doug, I honestly don’t know that the spiritual equals the non-material. In some sense, I don’t know what you (or anybody) means by “material” and by “spiritual.” Unless you mean to say that the spiritual does not have shape, does not occupy space, etc. But here’s the thing: If we commit to us than we truly are with nothing more than a bunch of ad-hoc explanations that simply wont work. So we can do a couple of things: a) We could say that although the spiritual is not material (much like numbers, etc.) we don’t mean to propose a substance dualism. Then we have to explain what we mean. B) We could say that the spiritual is material, but a different kind of material or at a different existential level. That could (in principle) be done. After all, Quantum physics says that you exist in many dimensions, at the same time, and they are all occupying the same space at the same time, but you cannot, in principle, be in any kind of contact with these other worlds. C) We could simply stop playing the naturalistic game that we seem to be playing. But, bottom line, if we say that God has causal powers in this world—and we (Christians) do seem to preach that, then it is we who have the burden of explaining how in fact is that even possible. Again (B), we could say that God is indeed to be found in the natural world, etc.
But, we simply cannot resort to “oh…is just that the spiritual is spooky and mysterious.” You know we cant do that. We end up looking like fools and we explain nothing!!!
PS—Also, in another one of you postings you basically argue that if Logic exists and is taken to be ideally true, then God must exist. You know that is not the case, for a bunch of reasons.

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 8:22:00 AM, Blogger devalles said...

Ok...last one, Doug...I promise. Do a bit of reasearch on "emergent properties" "systemic properties" "emergence and explanation"--Look for the philosophy of John Symons (University of Texas), or for John Searle and his account of Emergence. This I suggest, because you seem to have the same concern I had two years ago: How do you get beings like us (minded beings) from purely mechanical elements. This could be fresh and contemporary new element in your arsenal of theology.

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 8:25:00 AM, Blogger devalles said...

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 1:57:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...


Thank you for taking as much time as you did to respond. I know how busy life can get and time is simply too limited to give this kind of discussion what it deserves. You are obviously quite studied in the sciences; much more than I.

As far as indeterminacy goes, I am still unclear how not being able to measure a particle’s momentum and position at the same time disproves materialistic determinism for the naturalist. Is sounds more like something science does not fully understand. In fact, this is why it is called the indeterminacy principle, because we can’t determine both rate of change and location at the same time. This does not necessarily move things outside the realm of cause and effect. The same seems to be said about the quantum particles which are "fuzzy and probabilistic". What causes them to be probabilistic? If there is no relationship of cause to effect, how can it even be a probable relationship? The naturalist does not have the right to simply appeal to the “mysterious and spooky” if the theist doesn’t. If the theist must explain how God’s causal powers can effect the material world, without appealing to the “mysterious” then the naturalist must explain how this can be without doing the same. And adding the euphemism “spooky” to the equation does not really change anything.

A few lines later you came to a conclusion that, “the most obvious conclusion is that the world is not deterministic.” How does this conclusion flow from those premises? These theories do not really prove anything except for the epistemological limitations of science, at least for now. These theories are actually saying “we don’t know how these things work.” But simply not knowing does not disprove materialistic determinism. Ultimately, I am not saying that these theories are wrong; they are simply irrelevant to the discussion regarding determinism.

At this point I do not yet see the solution to materialistic determinism in quantum theory, nor do I see a serious problem in not being able to give the naturalist an explanation to how God is a causal force in the material realm. Some things simply do not have naturalistic causes such as the resurrection of Jesus, and I don’t think it is my duty to come up with naturalistic explanations so that the naturalist will think I am intelligent.

Later you argued that “proving physicalism wrong will not help us prove anything.” But it actually does, it proves that physicalism is wrong.

On another point, I don’t think I have the same concern you had two years ago. I am not all that concerned how we get minded beings from a purely mechanical element, simply because I do not believe we are a purely mechanical element. In fact, I don’t even think that is possible. Perhaps someone might come along and prove me wrong, but as of yet, I haven't seen it.

At this point I am not even saying you are wrong, just that I don’t see how you made a conclusion on materialistic determinism from quantum theory. I will look deeper into some of the resources you have pointed out me to. I appreciate your time and feel free to explain further if you wish. Although I may not respond because my time is as limited as yours. I really wish I could inhabit more that one place at a time :-).

God Bless,


At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 4:02:00 PM, Blogger devalles said...


I'll keep this post short. You're right, time is of ultimate concern. The no.1 lesson that QM gave us is that it took indeterminancy and indeterminism out of the spheres of epistemology and show it to be the way the world actually is. The fuzziness and the probabilistic elements are inherent in how Nature is. Check out the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, Roberto Torreti's book on Philosophy of Physics, or even John gribbin's book (or any other intro to QM will do). Finally, you said that: "A few lines later you came to a conclusion that, “the most obvious conclusion is that the world is not deterministic.” How does this conclusion flow from those premises? These theories do not really prove anything except for the epistemological limitations of science, at least for now"...

It is not really an actual argument that Im any case, it is nothing but the brute and massively proven facts of Quantum Mechanics. The Quantum world is indeterministic in its base level.

Now for the finale: Nobody is a full-fledge determinist nowadays, Doug. It simply makes absolutely no sense. To say that naturalism entails determinism is both false and an exageration. We dont even have to do QM for that conclusion. We simply have to ask: If Determinism is demonstrated to be true...should we go ahead and accept that? Should we, out of our own free will, choose to believe that?

Any reasonably informed philosopher or scientist ought to know that determinism is simply a joke (which does not eliminate nomological notions, of course...but that is a completely different thing).

Saludos y bendiciones,



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