Monday, 22 January 2007

The Reasons for the Site

As a naturalist, I have no need of supernatural hypotheses. Nature is all of one piece and everything that is, is in it and realised in it, is caused by and dependant upon nature and nature alone. That is all there is. This is an empirical and falsifiable worldview, maybe science will one day confirm supernatural causes. It has not happened to date and after many, many years of trying, with many supposedly optimistic leads that later fizzled out, it is looking and remaining unlikely. Nonetheless people the world over hold, to varying degrees, such mistaken hypotheses about how the world works and I am interested in why they still do this. Why, in spite of the lack of, and conflict with, real evidence and genuine understanding, producing knowledge that we all repeatedly use and rely upon every day in many ways, why do they persist in holding onto, by comparison, empirically empty and useless beliefs? This, indeed, is a natural phenomenon that I seek to understand, that nature can produce supposedly sentient beings that persist in refusing to believe in nature, especially as we better understand our part in it, but instead hold onto outdated, immature and naive supernatural hypotheses, contrary to the simpler, better and more interesting, beautiful and profound natural explanations we now have.

I call this subject, for now anyway, faith-based reasoning, and I am most concerned with how these archaic and antiquated ideas can still invade, disrupt and distort the functioning of our everyday world and society. Recognising the diversity of views that still remain even after rejecting these hypotheses and how the history of ideas has best progressed by allowing open debate on a level playing field, I chose only to reduce the indefensible and unjustifiable elevated respect and status of these hypotheses to that of every other idea, that is to remove historical double standards, so that we, applying the same standard to all, can best find the possible solutions to deal with the diverse and ongoing challenges of our society.

The majority of those, in the West, holding such old fashioned views, particularly the stereotypical theists of Christianity and Islam, call anyone holding any of these heterogeneous and diverse modern views "atheists", which I consider an empty and entirely misleading label. On what basis can you understand anyone's politics, ethics and interests in general by just one thing they have no belief in? Everyone has many things they don't believe in, if you want to understand anyone you need to find out what they do believe in. Indeed this label is a throwback to a time when many preferred fixed certainty in answers (regardless of the truth) to the questions of existence, rather than saying honestly we do not know and lets find out. They often called the latter group atheists, amongst many other labels. However it is only the latter method that has lead to the huge growth in understanding of our world and as a consequence that many, if not all, of those fixed certain answers were mistaken! The persistence in calling this heterogeneous group atheists is a current example of how such outdated views can distort and confuse the debate of how to make our society a better place to be.

This is why I call myself, for the need of a label at all, a naturalist and given my motivation to write these posts, why I call this site "No Double Standards".


Ello Again said...


"This is an empirical and falsifiable worldview

Really? I can't think of a way of falsifying it.
I imagine that if God(s) turned up and said "I made it all, it's all supernatural" how could we possibly prove that S/he/they were not just some advanced alien race lying through their teeth?

Also, I'm not sure that supernatural actually means anything. Natural = all that exists. Supernatural = that which doesn't exist/the spiritual realm.
Except I don't think it does mean 'the spiritual realm' because if we could prove that any 'spiritual' things existed (like say, telepathy, some versions of Dualistic minds), then they exist and are part of all that exists, and therefore natural.

It's like the way there's no such thing as alternative medicine. There's only medicine, unproven possible medicine and disproven non-medicine. Once you prove it - it's medicine.
(As the wonderful Tim Minchin says here, at 3.03: )

Therefore, if some variation of God(s) or 'higher powers' of any Deistic type exists (I assume that's some of what you're getting at by "supernatural causes") then they/it is also part of what exists and therefore natural.

faithlessgod said...

Like many terms there is an indeterminancy behind naturalism and supernatural.

What I meant here removes that indeterminancy. I have a deflationary metaphysical world view I call naturalism today, call it N1.It makes the claim that everything held today to be supernatural does not exist, call this S1.

Now new data - say proving Ganzfeld experiments - would imply that what I count today as in S1 is false. Regardless of whether a natural explanation of Ganzfeld or not was found, or it was work in progress, my world view N1 would have been falsified. I would then have a revised, or modified, world view in the light of this new data, I would still likely call it naturalism but it would then be N2, where N1 != N2.

This is in contrast to many both supernaturalists and naturalists who have world view that is not falsifiable. These are a priori not a posteriori world views. That is there is no new data, knowledge or information that would get them to revise their world view.

Now the labelling of such world views is just semantics and sujective. It would still be the case that my world view would have ben revised/updated/modified in the light of new data regardless of me possibly using the same label.

Finally the category supernatural is useful because it is not empty of content. It helps distinguish between what is held to exist or be, in some sense real. I assert the what is in S1 is not real, others with different world views S say otherwise. What I assign to S1 helps distinguish my world view to theirs.

In the light of me revising my world view to N2 and I also revise S1 to S2, only reflects upon me not others. Others might still not revise their world view S, indeed use selective reasoning to claim support for their S from the same data that got me to revise from N1 to N2.

The difference is that in my approach I would only go as far as the new data indicates and no further, this would be insufficient for me to change from N1 to S but is necessary for me to change from N1 to N2. By contrast to hold on to N1 in the light of new data would mean I am not letting my world view be falsified.

Anonymous said...

I believe in neither N, N1, N2, S, S1 or S2. I believe in what, through experience, has proven itself to be true. So I believe in EPT.
Within the realm of EPT, there have been F1 thru F1,000,000+ EPTs.
Pleased to meet you FFF.
Interesting you didn't bring this up on the lawns when we were discussing G. Or maybe it wasn't you I was discussing G with, maybe it was TOF.