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two thomist tasters

Just a couple quotables I’ve read recently by James Chastek at Just Thomism:

…the best arguments for naturalism are that we should get out of the armchair, stop using abstract language and start giving quantitative, statistical, and experimental arguments… But the arguments are all made from the armchair, using abstract terms, without quantitative, statistical, or experimental arguments. (from here)


How do we understand the sort of design that evolution supposedly does away with? Presumably, evolution means we can stop looking for some magical elf-and-Santa-workshop where God busily assembles new species.  Great. Call off the search. If evolution were to fail, what then? Would it leave the sort of hole that could be filled by the the magical mystery species shop? No. We would just look for another natural explanation, whatever it was. If evolution were to fail, it would not leave a God-shaped hole, and so it follows that it is not filling one now, nor has it ever done so. (from here)

5 replies on “two thomist tasters”

Upon reading this thread again:

I disagree with the first, I think. It is an extremely pragmatic approach, as opposed to an armchair approach, that tells us to start making observable predictions.

The second is merely a statement of the non-falsifiability of God. So, as always, where is the evidence for God supposed to exist again?………….

Hi Simon,
On the first:
But a ‘pragmatic approach’ is still an approach, and is thus miles from being “quantitative, statistical, and experimental”.

On the second:
Maybe a better question is where isn’t the evidence for God?


Yes I think that you could argue that any approach is grounded in armchair philosophy; and they all are to a degree, I think. But it would be wilfully blind to claim that all worldviews are equally armchair-bent. And the least armchair-bent is naturalism. Why? Because it specifically ignores unfalsifiable, unverifiable, undetectable ideas: it is the most pragmatic.

The second. Yes! Just as the naturalist rules out unobservable things, the [modern, thinking] theist rules out the possibility of evidence against the existence of a god.

The ‘ism’ of natural-ism is what makes it speculative and armchair-ish, so whilst (for example) the study of nature is pragmatic (in one sense), naturalism is arm-chair philosophy. The more pragmatic one tries to make their approach, the more they engage in armchair speculation. Indeed, the very distinction between ‘pragmatic’ and ‘speculative’ is speculative. :)

And as for the second, I wasn’t ruling out ‘the possibility of evidence against the existence of a god’. I was rather saying that before we can ask ‘where is the evidence for God’, we must first ask ‘how would we know evidence for God when we found it’?

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