Science as a tool has answered every mystery in the history of the world. Everything that we have previously not known, that we now do know, was brought under the umbrella by way of science. Throughout history however, theists have always claimed that behind every mystery has been the visage of the Divine Being. That behind every unknown there was a God; they have always been wrong. It is like having two horses and one has won every single race ever over millions of races and the other horse has lost each and every race throughout history. And, when presented with yet another race, another unknown, the answer isn't again to place your bet with the horse that has never won. But, rather to do the prudent thing and bet one the horse that has always won, to bet that the winner will be an unknown naturalist phenomenon.
Being honest is fine, and much desired, but when given a question about things that go bump in the night, a miracle cure, or something strange and currently unexplainable. You shouldn't ever claim it's supernatural. You should claim it's an unknown naturalistic phenomenon. "I don't know, but it's not magic." -- This isn't hubris or claiming to know everything, it's given the answer that has been right each and every time for every phenomenon throughout history. There's a lot to say about beauty, morality, life, death and existence. And even where ignorance abounds, the answer is still, "I don't know, but it's not magic."
Just because I don't have an answer, doesn't imply that you do. And even if I don't have an answer doesn't mean I can't rule out magic, spirits, or gods. After all, those have always been wrong. So unless you have a good reason to bet on, what has always been the wrong answer, you should perhaps accept that what has always been the right answer. "I don't know, but it's not magic." When you hear a gallop, you should think 'horsey', not zebra. If it's really strange, maybe you should think zebra, but you should never think unicorn.
Naturalism, and some of the more explicit forms of atheism, predict that a great many people will be wrong about a great many things, throughout history and contemporary culture. This amount of accurate predictions, about a great many and diverse people, is greater than most sociologist could dare to dream. About science, the claim "there is nothing supernatural" has no equal in power and strength, for every question we've ever answered it has always been correct. About religion, the belief "there are no gods" finds accuracy in the predictions of the behaviors and results of practitioners beyond that of any guess. One need not have proof there are no gods, to be an atheist. One only needs to find that the evidence on the god question is on par with the evidence for the werewolf question.
Monday, November 1, 2010
More Naturalism Boilerplate.
I've written about the same before, borrowing heavily from Richard Carrier and with a line or two scrapped from John McCarty (of AI fame). I'm always impressed enough by myself that I keep reposting it here. I'm always amazed by the power of "I don't know, but it's not magic." because really there is a huge burden on anybody who would claim magic regardless of my ignorance on the subject, that it is rather doubtful that any reasonable review could find it an acceptable position.