An interesting set of works:
Is the triumph of post-modern naturalism inevitable? We are told that few philosophers today would wish to be considered non-naturalists. That’s true, but it is not the whole truth. For example, even though Darwinism is naturalism’s biology, growing numbers of biologists today can safely be known as non-Darwinists — a development that was not expected two decades ago. So if we think the direction is reversible in principle, we might begin by assembling reasons for doubt, perhaps starting with questions. Three come to mind:
1. Why should a system that results in absurdities be considered correct? Why should that fact not count against its likelihood?
2. Why should we trust a system that demands that we give up reason?
3. Naturalism is hitting a number of barriers. It is committed to propositions not supported by evidence.
So why should a metaphysic like naturalism rule if evidence slowly accumulates against it?
One reason is confidence in confidence. The naturalists expected to win, not to face questions or stubborn opposition among educated people while they deal with frustrating findings. That possibly accounts for authoritarianism. A Nature paper from 2012 and a PNAS paper from 2017 warn that education is not the answer because many well-educated people doubt establishment views. In fact, more education leads to more doubt. A recent British study found that significant numbers of atheists were not naturalists. One widely touted solution has been to discourage discussion of the issues in educational settings, which does not seem to have helped naturalists much.
Another reason is that naturalism accords well with nihilistic popular culture, if not with the evidence. Jim Carrey summed it up best in a recent interview: “There is no me, there’s just things happening” and “You’ve got to admit, this is completely meaningless.” The entertainment industry was mildly perturbed, but it needn’t be. That’s precisely what naturalists say from the lectern; Mr. Carrey simply listened. And the naturalists’ problem is, no matter what happens to science, they have nothing to move on to or back down to.
Nihilistic cultures die of their own hand.
Christians must move to inherit: this means getting serious about obedience to God. We can start with the First Commandment….
(Including that ‘other’ first commandment, to be fruitful and multiply, and raise your children well.)
For extra info, see the article Now Naturalism Rots Science from the Head Down. An excerpt:
“Post-truth” was the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year for 2016. The term “post-fact” is also heard more often now. Oxford tells us that “post-fact” relates to or denotes “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
Post-fact has certainly hit science. Pundits blame everyone but themselves for its growing presence. But a post-fact and post-truth world are implicit and inevitable in the metaphysical naturalist view (nature is all there is) that is now equated with science and often stands in for it.
Let’s start at the top, with cosmology. Some say there is a crisis in cosmology; others say there are merely challenges. Decades of accumulated evidence have not produced the universe that metaphysical naturalism expects and needs. The Big Bang has not given way to a theory with fewer theistic implications. There is a great deal of evidence for fine-tuning of this universe; worse, the evidence for alternatives is fanciful or merely ridiculous. Put charitably, it would not even be considered evidence outside of current science.
One response has simply been to develop ever more fanciful theories. Peter Woit, a Columbia University mathematician, is an atheist critic of fashionable but unsupported ideas like string theory (Not Even Wrong, 2007) and the multiverse that it supports. Recently, Woit dubbed 2016 the worst year ever for “fake physics” (as in “fake news“). As he told Dennis Horgan recently at Scientific American, he is referring to “misleading, overhyped stories about fundamental physics promoting empty or unsuccessful theoretical ideas, with a clickbait headline.”
Fake physics (he links to a number of examples at his blog) presents cosmology essentially as an art form. It uses the trappings of science as mere decor (the universe is a computer simulation, the multiverse means that physics cannot predict anything…). Conflicts with reality call for a revolution in our understanding of physics rather than emptying the waste basket.
Woit blames the Templeton Foundation for funding this stuff. But Templeton caters, as it must, to an audience. Perhaps a more pressing issue is this: The need to defend the multiverse without evidence has led to a growing discomfort with traditional decision-making tools of science, for example, falsifiability and Occam’s razor. And metaphysical naturalism, not traditional religion, is sponsoring this war on reality.