Friday, April 08, 2016

Consciousness Presents a Problem for Scientific Naturalism

The River Raisin, in our backyard

A "recalcitrant fact," writes J.P. Moreland, is a stubborn fact that doggedly resists explanation by a theory. "No matter what a theory's advocate does, the recalcitrant fact just sits there and is not easily incorprated into the theory. In this case, the recalcitrant fact provides falsifying evidence for the theory and some degree of confirmation for its rivals." (J.P. Moreland, "The Image of God and the Failure of Scientific Atheism," in God is Great, God is Good: Why Believing in God is Reasonable and Responsible, 33)

A stubborn fact that keeps holding on, for scientific naturalism, is the nature of human persons. In this regard Berkeley philosopher John Searle writes:

"There is exactly one overriding question in contemporary philosophy... How do we fit in?... How can we square this self-conception of ourselves as mindful, meaning-creating, free, rational, etc., agents with a universe that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, brute physical particles?" (In Ib., 34)

Moreland answers: "For the scientific naturalist, the answer is "Not very well." (Ib.)

In fact, it was this recalcitrant fact, among other things, that led the famous philosopher-atheist Antony Flew to turn to theism. Flew writes:

"The rationality [consciousness, freedom of the will and unified self] that we unmistakably experience - ranging from the laws of nature to our capacity for rational thought - cannot be explained if it does not have an ultimate ground, which can be nothing less than an infinite mind." (In Ib.)

Consciousness presents a problem for scientific naturalism.

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See Moreland's two books on this for more detailed reasoning:

The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism

Consciousness and the Existence of God: A Theistic Argument