Naturalism in science

Have a look at the short (10 min) presentation. I think it explains the scientific approach (in contrast to the religious approach) very well. It’s Sean Carroll’s opening statement from the The Great Debate: Science vs. Religion. You don’t usually see such sensible contributions in  a debate.

Normally I don’t like to use words like materialism and naturalism – without careful definition they are too open to misinterpretation. I also think that science is concerned with understanding reality, the real world. Some people use “naturalism” to ring-fence a part of the world (they define as “supernatural”) as immune to investigation. They claim science is limited to the “natural” world.

However, I really like this presentation by Sean Carroll. He is not conceding a “supernatural” part of reality which science is excluded from. Reality itself is natural in his eyes – and that has been shown by all our scientific experiences. As he describes it he tries “to sum up the progress in human understanding that has led us to reject the supernatural and accept that the natural world is all there is.”

And he makes an intriguing reference to Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia.

Professor Carroll invites comments on his presentation at his blog post The Case for Naturalism.

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5 responses to “Naturalism in science

  1. Mona HARES

    No contradiction between science and religion.
    On the contrary, Islam encourages science and the Koran is the only holy book whose verses are not contradicted by science..


  2. No contradiction between science and magic.
    On the contrary, magic encourages science and Galstone’s Big Book of Magic is the only magic book whose verses are not contradicted by science.

    Neil Degrasse Tyson on the influence of Islam


  3. mona, the conflict between science and religion resides in their different epistemologies. Essentially that is embodied on scientific naturalism.

    If the Koran does not contradict science it can’t be saying anything worthwhile. Even scientific ideas get contradict by new science.


  4. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    I agree with you and Carroll, reality is natural (aka physicalism) and we know it to be so, simple as that.

    @ mona:

    No one disputes the accommodationist claim that people can compartmentalize science and religion. That is precisely what you illustrate, for example.

    The claim is however that the goals, ways and results of science and religion conflicts, in toto. And of course _they have to_, since science is the way to replace belief with fact and religion is movements that aim to replace fact with belief.


  5. telltaleimages

    “the Koran is the only holy book whose verses are not contradicted by science..”

    ??? Not contradicted by science when??? in 1890, 1949, 1971, 1988, 2012?

    To claim that unchanging verses are not contradicted by an investigative method defined by it’s ability to change it’s view according to the accumulation of evidence is simply ludicrous (and demonstrably untrue, anyway)


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