Metaphysical Naturalism

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Metaphysical Naturalism

Postby hyksos on March 2nd, 2017, 2:03 pm 

Metaphysical Naturalism is a more precise phrase for "atheism" or, in some cases, "secular humanism". But unlike those two more common words, it lacks the social and cultural baggage associated with them. For example, the word "atheist" has contemporary connotations: An atheist is perceived as of some sort of maverick persona, who is morally-bankrupt , socially rebellious, and out-of-touch with his spirituality.

Naturalism adopts certain assumptions about states-of-affairs in the world. A coherent statement of Metaphysical Naturalism is given by Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist cum cosmologist from CIT.

The basic thing we learned from doing science for 500 years is something called Naturalism. It's the idea that there is only one reality; that there are not separate planes of the Natural and the Supernatural; that there is only one, material existence; and that we are part of the universe and do not stand outside of it in any way.




Although I have admitted that "atheism" may be a shorthand way of communicating the meaning of "metaphysical naturalism" in a quick and conversational interaction between breakfast and lunch, I should also emphasize the degree to which it differs markedly from raw atheism.

Atheism is a socio-psychological stance. Being a "stance" about belief, it can be adopted for any reason, or for no reason at all. The adherents to atheism in many cases feel no reason to wage a defense of their beliefs nor do they feel an obligation to elucidate their underlying psychology. Atheism can be adopted one day, and disavowed the next, all depending on a person's mood. One can feel their way into and out of atheism like they change hairstyles.

In this context, Metaphysical Naturalism is very different from atheism. To adopt Metaphysical Naturalism as a philosophical stance requires coherent exposition of one's thoughts, one's evidence, and one's methodology in those considerations. From an epistemic context, Metaphysical Naturalism is a postion that claims that Methodological Naturalism is undesirable, untenable, unworkable, irrational, (or what have you). After such a claim, the metaphysical naturalist is required to very precisely defend that claim.

There is a reason that such obligations are necessary. Methodological Naturalism holds the "high ground" in terms of skepticism. That philosophical stance claims that maybe there are ghosts, maybe there are angels, maybe there are gods and maybe there is an afterlife, and perhaps there may be people who have psychic and paranormal powers. Maybe the dead contact us after they die. A methodological naturalist reminds us that we should hold out judgement on such things, until more conclusive proof is gained about their existence.

A Metaphysical Naturalist very strongly puts their foot down, and simply states up front that none of those things exist, and we should stop looking for them. Furthermore (as Carroll espouses above), there is no other world other than the physical material world we all have access to. Period.

When stated in those terms (and those terms are most accurate) metaphysical naturalism now appears clearly as something which most be attached to a reasoned defense -- very unlike atheism, (which is akin to a T-shirt to be put on and removed depending on the day of the week). In short, metaphysical naturalism requires a pointed expository attached to it as a defense.

..

I turn now to how Metaphysical Naturalism should be defended, and how it should not be defended. In particular the over-arching theme here is that a defense of MetaNat should be logical, concise, and expositional, and not be rebellious, emotional, and psychological.

Wrong ways to defend your MetaNat.
  • You are grumpy and cynical, and so your cynicism is justification enough to not "believe in any of that crap".
  • You feel you have been abused by religious people, and you detect that the abuse was connected to the religiousness of your abusive parents. You disavow all religion out of disgust and anger.
  • You feel a need to be rebellious against mainstream culture. You are young and have some psychological reason to make old people angry at you by stressing your independence from them.
  • You are homosexual, lesbian, or transgendered, and organized religion is a direct real threat on your well-being.
  • You feel anger at God, because the universe, like sucks man. (ie. is full of violence and suffering)
  • You have a healthy criticism of religion because it has a long history of causing wars, imprisonment, torture, and public executions.
  • Deny the existence of demons, ghosts, angels, and Satan, on the basis of the way those entities are portrayed by Hollywood movies, (or by video games, or popular media like fiction.)

Right ways to defend your MetaNat.
  • Defend naturalism itself. Learn and understand why evolution by natural selection is a scientific theory, and not just a philosophical speculation about life on earth. Learn about the evidence showing how the solar system formed. Learn cosmology and some things about astrophysics, such as the age of stars and their basic life cycle.
  • Attack religion on methodological grounds. Show that throughout history, religion never tried to make reasoned statements about states-of-affairs in the world, but was instead invented as a means of social control of a population by elites.
  • Attack directly those statements that religion makes about states-of-affairs in the world.
  • Religion claims the existence of demons and angels. Learn everything about demons, angels, seraphim, and lesser gods (like Baal) from the source material. "Source material" being the bible itself, the writings of St Thomas Aquinas, the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo, the writings of Pico Dela Mirandola, apocrypha, non-canonical gospels and so on. In short, don't get your ideas about these things from Hollywood.
  • Attack the source material by learning everything about who wrote it, what time they wrote it, and why they wrote it, and how the stories within the Bible match and corroborate with history outside of it. Know about the Hittites, the "Late Bronze Age Collapse". Who were the Canaanites? What was Assyria and Babylon? When was the bible written? How did it get translated? How did the early church assemble it? How big was the "kingdom" of the Israelites anyway? What came of the Israelites under the Roman Empire? Did the events of 1Kings happen before or after the events described in Joshua? et cetera, et cetera.
  • The goat-herders of the late bronze age Levantine coast were in regular, intimate contact, with angels, demons, and Jehovah (who often stood in the doorway of the "tabernacle" talking to them in sentences.) Why do us moderns no longer have such direct contact with these non-corporeal beings?
  • Or worse, why do we have no evidence for such things at all?

All valid defenses of Metaphysical Naturalism follow the basic recipe of the Three C's.

Calm , Coherent , Concise

Metaphysical Naturalism is not about assembling people around you who "hate religion as much as you do" so that you can engage in self-reinforcing validation. Your arguments about and against the claims of religion should be delivered with a clear mind, and be concise and coherent. They should not be delivered out of anger or spite, or out of a need for revenge.
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Re: Metaphysical Naturalism

Postby Braininvat on March 2nd, 2017, 2:23 pm 

I have been in forums where I deeply wish that everyone took that Triple-C approach!

Meta Nat always strikes me as suited to the Ockhamesque sort of thinker, i.e. no need to unnecessarily multiply entities. Embrace parsimony in one's explanations of the natural world, and all that.
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Re: Metaphysical Naturalism

Postby nameless on May 28th, 2017, 3:58 am 

hyksos » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:03 am wrote:Metaphysical Naturalism is a more precise phrase for "atheism"

My experience is that ultimately, when feeling all safe and warm and fuzzy, the common garden variety Atheist will assert that "There is no God!"
With that assertion is the evidence of a 'belief'.
It is not possible to prove or evidence or logically support... such an assertion any more that it is to validate that "God exists!" (though there is a logical path, but the religionistas can't see it).
Both equally based on 'belief' (infection), both thought to be Truth, both religions!

Renaming it doesn't remove the "there is no God!" from the discussion!
Religions also do their share of 'moving the goalposts' (fallacy) and renaming the refuted; not a 'religion' but a 'relationship'!
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Re: Metaphysical Naturalism

Postby hyksos on June 2nd, 2017, 6:13 pm 

the common garden variety Atheist

LOL
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Re: Metaphysical Naturalism

Postby thehedglin on June 4th, 2017, 2:29 am 

I am an Atheist, and simply don't believe in god because I haven't heard any convincing evidence, but I wouldn't claim to be a Metaphysical Naturalist because I find myself agnostic about the existence of the supernatural. I don't believe it, currently, but it would only really take some good evidence to change my mind...

Not sure what that makes me? Gullible, perhaps?
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Re: Metaphysical Naturalism

Postby nameless on June 4th, 2017, 2:36 am 

thehedglin » Sat Jun 03, 2017 11:29 pm wrote:I am an Atheist, ...
I find myself agnostic...
Not sure what that makes me? Gullible, perhaps?

Confused?

Ach, the woes of self-labeling! *__-
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Re: Metaphysical Naturalism

Postby thehedglin on June 4th, 2017, 5:08 am 

nameless » June 4th, 2017, 1:36 am wrote:
thehedglin » Sat Jun 03, 2017 11:29 pm wrote:I am an Atheist, ...
I find myself agnostic...
Not sure what that makes me? Gullible, perhaps?

Confused?

Ach, the woes of self-labeling! *__-


Not really, I don't think atheism and agnosticism are exclusive from one another necessarily. One is a claim to belief, the other knowledge, so even if related they are not identical. I am just not sure MetaNat is the best description of my position, even if I do find the framework to be the most reliable method for determining the best approximation of reality, to date anyway.
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Re: Metaphysical Naturalism

Postby nameless on June 4th, 2017, 5:21 am 

thehedglin » Sun Jun 04, 2017 2:08 am wrote:
nameless » June 4th, 2017, 1:36 am wrote:
thehedglin » Sat Jun 03, 2017 11:29 pm wrote:I am an Atheist, ...
I find myself agnostic...
Not sure what that makes me? Gullible, perhaps?

Confused?

Ach, the woes of self-labeling! *__-


Not really, I don't think atheism and agnosticism are exclusive from one another necessarily. One is a claim to belief, the other knowledge,

The only 'belief' founded notion that I hear, would be the 'atheist' who claims/asserts that there "is no God".
The agnostic makes no claim, and is open to potential 'evidence'.
Where does 'Knowledge/experience' come in?
There is no Knowledge/experience in either position from which to launch an assertion of any sort.

I am just not sure MetaNat is the best description of my position

I don't think that anyone other than yourself can clearly and completely and accurately describe any of your 'positions'.
Though, as soon as you do, you find yourself in a new position! *__-
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