I had cited it in my life changes through various media thing before.
I totally wouldn't post it here, but I'm worried it might vanish forever.
tabee3i a home for Metaphysical Naturalists
By: Enki, November 5th, 2009
Richard Carrier Richard Carrier is a world-recognized atheist philosopher, teacher, and historian. He holds a Ph.D in Greco-Roman intellectual history from Columbia University. He is best-known as the author of Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism, and for his writings in the Secular Web (also known as the Internet Infidel) where he stayed the editor-in-chief for several years (now emeritus). He is a major contributor to The Empty Tomb and was also featured in the documentary film: The God Who Wasn't There. Dr. Carrier has published many articles in books, magazines and journals and made many appearances across the US and on national television defending sound historical methods and the ethical worldview of secular naturalism.
I have contacted Dr. Carrier and asked him about Metaphysical Naturalism, Christianity, atheism in the Middle East, his political opinions, and personal life.
1- First, let me start by thanking you again for your time. Looking at the various definitions of 'nature' or 'natural' that Keith Augustine has discussed in his thesis "A Defense of Naturalism", I would love to hear your version of the definition.
I discuss this very thoroughly, with entertaining examples, here: Defining the Supernatural I also have a forthcoming paper in Free Inquiry on the very issue of defining naturalism (perhaps next year, it's been languishing in their queue for years already, title "On Defining Naturalism as a Worldview," by last report will appear in the April/May issue of 2010, but it's been bumped before and may again).
2- One of atheism's strengths is being the default position in which it's not a claim but rather a response to a claim. Do you think this strength might get weakened as metaphysical naturalism is not only an assertion about what exists but it goes beyond that to a worldview?
I see it as entirely the other way around: mere atheism is the weaker position.
First, you can't go through life without a complete worldview, so in actual fact you have one whether you know it or not (unless you are insane, although often even then), so if you try to go around like a mere atheist, you are de facto going around with a completely unexamined, ill-tested, un-thought-out worldview, which you might not even be aware of even though you rely on it daily. On the one hand, Christians can take advantage of this fact. If they have thought their worldview through better than you have, they can easily expose the failures of yours, which leads to a serious weakness in mere atheism (as I'll explain in a moment). On the other hand, it's just dumb. You shouldn't be going around with a completely unexamined, ill- tested, un-thought-out worldview. Even if there were no religions. Thus, I say, stop doing that and start examining, testing, and thinking out your worldview, instead of pretending you don't have one.
I think the fear is that having a worldview commitment is equated with dogmatism and certainty, which is a fallacy. You can have a tentative worldview, with various components in various stages of uncertainty, and often revise your worldview without embarrassment (scientists do it all the time), even rest from time to time on unresolved sets of options at some points, but you still must have (and do have, whether you know it or not) some idea of the hierarchy of probabilities and possibilities. Even if one element of your worldview is highly uncertain, you are epistemically obligated to make sure it's still the most probable element of all known alternatives. Likewise, if you are unsure between, say, three different ways to answer a question, and so go around assuming any one of them may be correct, you are still epistemically obligated to make sure these options are not only the most probable of all known options but that they are equally probable to each other, otherwise you should be leaning in the direction of the most probable one, to some degree at least. If you do not do this, you will succumb to the folly of assuming all possible answers to a question are equally probable, which is not only nuts, it's a fallacy Christians routinely exploit.
Second, the modern Christian apologetic amounts to this: we have better explanations of all the so-far scientifically unexplained phenomena of the world than you do, therefore it is irrational not to see our worldview as presently the most probably correct. Taking a position of mere atheism is not only of no use against that apologetic, it's actually immediately defeated by it. There is only one way to validly respond to it. You have to prove the central premise false: they do not have better explanations of all the so- far scientifically unexplained phenomena of the world than we do. You can do this by agnostically articulating several equally good explanations, but at some point that just becomes pedantic and naive, because if you really did it competently, you'd realize even those "equally good" explanations, all of them, are defeated by an explanation that is in fact better. Thus, agnosticism is defeated by naturalism. Therefore it is agnosticism (and equivalently weak atheism) that is the weaker argument, not the other way around. And just as naturalism defeats agnosticism, it also a fortiori defeats Christianity by using their own apologetic against them: no, sir, in point of fact we have better explanations of all the so-far scientifically unexplained phenomena of the world than you do, therefore it is irrational not to see our worldview as presently the most probably correct.
I think the common mistake is to assume that claiming this is equivalent to declaring dogmatic certainty in naturalism. But that's the same fallacy I pointed out above. Saying naturalism is the most probably correct worldview on present evidence (and IMO, it is so by a large margin, no other competitor even comes close, a fact that isn't always obvious to those not well informed of the actual facts) merely means it is more probable than alternatives, not that it is itself decisively or undeniably certain. "More probable" does not mean "100%," or even "80%." It just means more. If the next most probable worldview is 20% probable, naturalism need only be 55% likely to be vastly more credible. I'm just making up numbers. But you see my point. Showing that we have better explanations for each peculiar fact is enough to refute Christianity. We need not assert that those explanations are therefore true, only that of all explanations so far conceived, those are far more likely to be correct than any others. That may change tomorrow as new information comes, showing some other explanation even more credible still. But right now, we ought to believe what the evidence makes most likely. And once you realize that naturalism has a better explanation of everything than Christianity, you'll realize it has a better explanation of everything than any other worldview. Which leads to only one rational conclusion: we all should be naturalists. At least for now. Maybe future evidence will change our minds, but we have to go on what we know now. Leave the future for later.