Recent combox discussion got me to re-reading a Barbara Forrest Paper on naturalism. It is at one and the same time an atheistic and a scientistic mess. For example, she quotes extensively from Arthur Strahler, “a geologist who has taken particular interest in the claims of supernaturalists to be able to supersede naturalistic explanations of the world.” At one point she injects this:
Strahler makes another point that is important to the understanding of philosophical naturalism: the metaphysical adequacy of supernaturalism is inversely proportionate to the explanatory power of science. The more science successfully explains, the less need or justification there is for the supernatural as an explanatory principle.
Science is great at what science does greatly, but Forrest seems not to recognize its massively important limits. Not until science explains explanation will its “inversely proportionate power” prove to be a problem for theism. Not until it comes up with a Theory of Everything that genuinely explains everything—including the ability of theories to explain everything—will it reduce theism to nothing. That will never happen, for reasons of circular logic that I trust are apparent to all. Forrest thinks science is the only reliable route to knowledge—but if science can’t even explain explanation, that’s a pretty serious hole in its supposedly all-encompassing capacity; and Forrest has got a whole lotta ‘splainin’ of her own to do, if she thinks that is about to push God totally off the scene.
This whole “inversely proportionate power” business is off base to begin with. God has never been a mere hypothesis believers came up with just to put ourselves at ease about things in nature we have trouble understanding; nor is God so disconnected from creation that scientific advances push him out of his sovereign rulership here.
She’s a philosopher whose research has covered both science and religion. How could she not know that? There’s more ‘splainin’ to be done there, but it’s beyond me.