Tag Archives: natural

Defining oneself negatively

I have been struck lately how some people define themselves negatively – by saying what they are not or criticising the beliefs of other instead of presenting their own beliefs.

A clear example is the use of the word ‘atheist.’ It’s OK as far as it goes – which isn’t very far. It just says ‘I don’t believe in a god.’ It says nothing about what I do believe in. I have made this point before but pointed out then ‘I do have my own beliefs (wider than, but including atheism). They are always evolving (aren’t we all) and they are a source of great spiritual comfort and pride to me. I won’t give them a name but, of course, they are revealed in discussion.’

Intelligent design

I think the intelligent design (ID) proponents are classic examples of people who define their ideas negatively. They will rave on about the real or imagined problems or gaps in evolutionary science and then call their rave ID theory. But notice that they never actually propose a specific ID hypothesis or theory. They define themselves negatively. Christopher Heard gives a typical (and as he says brazen) example of this in his in a book review of Intelligent Design: William A. Dembski and Michael Ruse in Dialogue. Here he quotes ID guru Bill Dembski: Continue reading

Trusting science

I came across an interesting post on the Saganist bog. Entitled Why I trust science it is a response to a discussion between a ‘philosophical naturalist’ and Christian radio hosts. The discussion was mainly around how we acquire knowledge so is relevant to some of the recent discussion on this site.

I prefer not to use categories like ‘natural’, ‘supernatural’ and ‘naturalism’ because they are usually not defined, can mean different things to different people and can impose unwarranted assumptions. (There is, after all, just one reality so why divide it into meaningless ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ parts). These problems also occurred with the concepts of ‘matter’ and ‘materialism’ during the podcast referred to in the post. (Cartoon from xkcd).

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