Naturalism Proves Naturalism Therefore Naturalism

This is a guest post written by my friend John Ferrer

An Argument of Circles

If you are a naturalist, believing that nature is all that exist, please do not try to argue to that point by filtering all evidence through methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism demands you only allow natural causes into your explanations. As such, this argument form is invalid. Specifically, it is a circular argument also known as Petitio Principii (a Latin phrase meaning “begging the question”). It is circular because of the role of methodological naturalism in the argument. If the method of argument presupposes the conclusion then it’s not really an argument but, instead, a fancy way of repeating oneself. It’s not much of an argument to say, “The Bible is true because it says it’s true, therefore it’s true.” That’s really just a repetition of the claim, “The Bible is true.” Likewise, it’s an equally circular argument to say, “There are no supernatural causes because when we assume there are no supernatural causes we find there are no supernatural causes.” Welcome to the argument of circles.

Think of it this way. Suppose you are a prosecuting attorney and you are trying to argue that the defendant is guilty of murder. You may have any number of evidences to offer in the case, but as it turns out the judge tends to think that the defendant is innocent because the defendant has been innocent of most murders in the world and everyone else alive has yet to be murdered by this guy. The likelihood of his guilt is roughly 7 billion to 1. Moreover, defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, the Judge concludes, that he is most likely innocent of this murder in question. The judge, then, adopts a method of trial which will hear only the defendant and his evidence (including witnesses). Meanwhile, you and all of your evidence (including witnesses) are not even allowed in the courtroom. You are not allowed to interrogate witnesses, introduce contrary accounts, question material evidence, introduce evidence of your own. And even if you could sneak some of those evidences into the courtroom, the judge demands that all accounts of that evidence adhere strictly to the assumption that the defendant is innocent. You are not even allowed to sit in the same courtroom with these guys. The entire contrary view that you represent–the attorney, witnesses, material evidence–is methodologically excluded from the trial.

Is that a fair trial? Of course it’s not a fair trial. One cannot render a sound verdict if only one side is allowed to speak. In this way, methodological naturalism is not a suitable all-encompassing method to assess whether supernaturalism is true. To carry this point a bit further, methodological naturalism is not even a good way to assess if naturalism is true either. It never entertained any probability for anything other than (metaphysical) naturalism. In such cases, one cannot draw responsible and safe conclusions about the probability of something if one’s method presupposes a 100% likelihood. How likely is naturalism if the very question requires that we assume naturalism must be true? Well, it’s 100% likely, not because of evidence or argument or of how reality is but because one has stipulated that to be case by force of method. The trial is rigged to achieve one conclusion.

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