Section: academia

Title: Det naturalistiska paradigmets framgångar - en utmaning för teism?

Author: Fernando Vasquez

Institution / Affiliation: 



The atheist philosopher Gregory Dawes states that theistic explanatory models should not be a priori dismissed as unscientific. Nevertheless, he maintains that the naturalistic paradigm is legitimate and should be defended. Dawes and John Mackies critique of theism, however, goes beyond a priori metaphysical commitments to naturalism and the traditional debate about whether theistic explanations can count as natural science, to what they consider to be more important philosophically: the question of whether theistic explanations can be good explanations at all. According to Dawes and Mackie, theistic explanatory model should be dismissed, not because it is a religious doctrine, but because it does not meet the natural sciences procedural requirement, i.e. that statements shall refer to publicly available evidence. In addition, commitment to methodological naturalism is based on a 400-year success story of naturalistic explanatory models. There is nothing to stop religious thinkers from trying to overturn the naturalistic paradigm. But until then, we have good reason to dismiss theistic arguments for God’s existence even if there is currently no established naturalistic explanation for the phenomenon in question.

Obviously, if there are good reasons to rule out design in principle on the basis of these arguments, evidence for God’s existence cannot even get off the ground. However, I propose that it is problematic to apply the procedural requirement of the natural sciences when assessing the plausibility of theistic explanations. This comprises in particular the principle of background knowledge, who claims that explanations should minimize the supposition of new ontological entities or mechanism that deviate from the physical ones we know by experience exist.

I will also argue that the principle of Occam's razor is not applicable to theism when considering the success of methodological naturalism. Ruling out theism as unnecessary requires that theism and methodological naturalism are incompatible and competing theories. I will argue that theism does not necessarily compete with naturalistic explanations and, on the contrary, theism makes naturalistic explanations plausible.


Naturalism, teism, metodologisk naturalism, naturvetenskap, metafysik



Theofilos 2022-1/2

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Published by NLA University College

In partnership with Johannelund School of Theology