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Naturalism Overview


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  • 1. Naturalism The Materialistic View of Reality
  • 2. Key Questions      How did deism serve as a bridge between Christian theism and atheism? (Sire) How does naturalism answer the major worldview questions? (Sire chapter 4) Who were the major 19th century figures associated with naturalism? What new ideologies reflected the naturalistic perspective? What is the current debate between science and faith? (reason and religion)
  • 3. Historical Influences on Naturalism Naturalism developed out of a growing confidence in human reason produced by the  The Scientific Revolution – 1500’s-1600’s  the Enlightenment- 1700’s  The Age of Reason  empiricism (the scientific method) and advances in mathematics became the model for determining claims to truth and reality
  • 4. Renee Descartes’ Influence  Renee Descartes suggested a division between mind and matter - Cartesian Dualism  Objective- matter  explored through science, mathematics, observation, evidence, facts Subjective - “mind”  imagination, intuition, emotions, etc. Descartes saw rational DOUBT as the path to truth “I think, therefore I am.” – NOT faith  A growing SKEPTICISM about traditionally held ideas and institutions began to take hold in Europe and the west.
  • 5. How naturalism addresses the major worldview questions James Sire The Universe Next Door Chapter 4
  • 6. What is prime reality? Matter (external reality) is the ONLY reality  No metaphysical (supernatural) reality  The main focus is on empirical science and human rationality in coming to know and understand reality 
  • 7. What is the nature of external reality (the physical world)?    The universe is a cause and effect system Ordered system – governed by very precise laws –  Anthropic principle- the system is “fined tuned” to support life CLOSED or determined system that evolved through random processes  nothing can reorder the laws of nature everything is subject to the laws of nature
  • 8. What is a human being?   Humans are complex physical- biological organisms Humans have no transcendent or spiritual nature No soul or spirit  Rational beings only   Human consciousness and the mind are solely part of our physical being (biological and chemical processes of the brain)
  • 9. What happens when we die?  Death means “extinction”  Humans have no essence that lives on beyond physical existence  No heaven or hell  “Human destiny is an episode between two oblivions.” Nagel
  • 10. How we determine right and wrong?  Moral choices are related solely to human beings     humans alone make moral judgments Come from human consciousness and reason No universal or absolute moral ethic or moral standard Morality is determined by culture, environment, community, family, etc. and is part of the evolutionary process of survival
  • 11. How we know what we know?   Knowledge is strictly related to human reason  human intelligence  human experience There is no revealed knowledge or truth –    no special revelation no general revelation No innate value system –  no “law of human nature” – Lewis
  • 12. Human History  History is a stream of events linked together by cause and effect  No underlying meaning or purpose  The process of history is selfactivating  Things just happen no force, design, or intelligence behind events or processes
  • 13. Early 19 Century Developments th
  • 14. Utilitarianism (18th and 19th centuries)  Associated with  Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill (British philosophers)  the idea that decisions should be based on what produces the greatest good for the greatest number  Utility – perceived positive outcome  Pleasure vs. pain -  quantification Goal - “happiness” pleasure- freedom from pain
  • 15. Example: It is rational to suppose that by eliminating one chick the remaining three will have better chance at being stronger and healthier (positive outcome)
  • 16.  When the McCaughey’s found out they were going to have 7 babies, the doctors advised them to terminate some of the fetuses to allow the others a better chance at surviving. They decided not to terminate any of the babies. All are doing well.
  • 17. Positivism  Associated with Auguste Comte   French philosopher- “high priest” of secular humanism Positivism proposes that all of society’s problems can be understood and addressed through the correct application of science Secular and materialistic approach  Positivism is the basis for the Social Sciences: sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc. 
  • 18. 19 century figures who influenced the development of naturalism th
  • 19. Charles Darwin   British naturalist Developed the theory of evolution based on natural selection in the struggle for survival.     Random mutations - the processes of adaptation over very long periods of time Proposed that all life originated from a single source The Origin of Species- published in 1859 Darwin’s ideas influenced the shift toward the naturalistic (materialistic) worldview
  • 20. Charles Darwin
  • 21. Darwin in his own words.  "In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment."  "The fact of evolution is the backbone of biology, and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded on an improved theory, is it then a science or faith?"
  • 22. Charles Darwin is buried in Westminster Abby in London
  • 23. Darwin’s religious views  Darwin’s religious views changed over time.  He might best be described as agnostic on the question of God.  Darwin selected a quote from Sir Francis Bacon to open the original publication of The Origin of Species.
  • 24. Introduction to The Origin of Species 1859  ‘To conclude, therefore, let no man … think or maintain that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficience in both.’ Sir Francis Bacon
  • 25. Impact of naturalism th on 19 century philosophy
  • 26. Social Darwinism     English philosopher Herbert Spencer applied Darwin’s ideas of natural selection to society He believed that nature determined society (people groups) and was based on the “survival of the fittest” The “best” human beings naturally emerge as superior Spencer believed that social programs to assist the poor interfered with the natural order- natural selection  By helping weak and inferior humans we would damage the purity of the human race
  • 27. Herbert Spencer in his own words.  “This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called "natural selection, or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life."
  • 28. Eugenics in North Carolina
  • 29. What is the utilitarian and Social Darwinist view of a place like La Carpio?
  • 30. Marxism - Economic Theory    Karl Marx- German philosopher Proposed that material forces alone defined history and society History was nothing more than the history of “class struggle”  Two classes in society  Bourgeoisie (upper middle class) OPPRESSION of the proletariat (poorer working class)
  • 31. Karl Marx
  • 32. Marx’s ideas   Revolution was the key to social and economic change Society would only improve with the    Abolition of private property Anti-capitalism – seen as an instrument of oppression Religion was nothing but another form of bourgeois oppression of the working class and poor   Marx called religion the “opiate” (drug) of the people and a tool of oppression Atheistic and materialistic worldview
  • 33. How would a Marxist interpret a place like La Carpio?
  • 34. “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” Animal Farm by George Orwell  George Orwell questioned Marxism and the communist state in his novel Animal Farm. The novel tells the story of the Russian Revolution and rise of Joseph Stalin through farm animals.
  • 36. Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis       1856-1939- Vienna, Austria Raised in a devout Jewish family Studied to become a doctor Became a strong voice for naturalism and the secular worldview influenced by Darwinism Work focused on scientifically understanding the nature of the human mind and consciousness
  • 37. Freud in his own words    “But scientific work is the only road which can lead us to a knowledge of reality….” The Future of an Illusion “Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires. “ “I have found little that is "good" about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think. “
  • 38. Freud’s work  The Interpretation of Dreams (published in 1900)  Proposed that humans experience sexual desires and fantasies as infants and children  Believed that most psychological problems were the result of repressed sexuality  Freud saw civilization as a product of repressed and sublimated aggression and sexual drive 
  • 39. Impact of naturalism on worldview       Scientific : complete reliance on empiricism Complete confidence in human reason Driven by the notion of human progress  (material progress) Humanistic in focus Secular- no need for God Materialistic-material forces are seen as the driving force for life, history, etc.
  • 40. Science and Reason As the Path to Truth and Knowledge
  • 43. DAWKINS IN HIS OWN WORDS  'Religious people split into three main groups when faced with science. I shall label them the "know-nothings", the "knowalls", and the "no-contests".  "Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence."
  • 44. Dawkins in the God Delusion  “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
  • 45. SAM HARRIS
  • 46. SAM HARRIS IN HIS OWN WORDS  “Religion is nothing more than bad concepts held in place of good ones for all time. It is the denial— at once full of hope and full of fear—of the vastitude of human ignorance”  Unfortunately, religion casts more shadows than light on this territory.  Rather than find real reasons for human solidarity, faith offers us a solidarity born of tribal and tribalizing fictions.
  • 48. HITCHENS IN HIS OWN WORDS    “I will not play with the toys. Don’t bring the toys to my house. Don’t say my children must play with the toys. Enough with clerical and religious bullying and intimidation.” “Intelligent design? Babies are not born beautiful (says the God of the Bible), they need to be sawn a bit.” “The mildest criticism of religion is also the most radical and the most devastating one.”
  • 49. HITCHENS ON THE DEATH OF JERRY FALWELL  “The discovery of the carcass of Jerry Falwell on the floor of an obscure office in Virginia has almost zero significance, except perhaps for two categories of the species labeled “credulous idiot.”
  • 51.  “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”  Werner Heisenberg  father of quantum mechanics
  • 52.  “Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist--in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless--I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality--namely my idea of justice--was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”  -C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity Book I
  • 53. “That's the whole problem with science. You've got a bunch of empiricists trying to describe things of unimaginable wonder.”