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Unformatted text preview: C hapter 9 Material Monism: All is Matter This worldview often identiFes itself as non-religious or even anti-religious. Consequently, it might be asked why it is included as a religion. The designation of non-religious is due to its ancient development as being in contrast to Greek temple worship, and in modern times as being in contrast to Christianity. However, religion cannot be narrowly deFned as belief in a God or gods. Rather, naturalism, like all other worldviews, has basic beliefs that its adherents us to interpret their experiences. We will consider both ancient and modern forms of this worldview. In many ways this is the most inuential of the worldviews we are studying because it has linked itself to empiricism (knowledge from sense data) and science (systematized empirical research). It freely uses the title scientiFc to describe its cosmology and ontology, although as we will see this may be a misnomer. Naturalism, or material monism (materialism), says that there exists only one kind of being, matter (broadly deFned as extended and non-conscious and therefore includes some contemporary terms like energy and space ). There are many justiFcations given for this belief, such as that s all I can see (nave realism), it is what everyone accepts (common sense realism), for some there is a mystical connection with the physical universe (intuitive realism), it doesn t multiply unnecessarily stories about gods and the supernatural (critical realism). Perhaps the most pernicious and harmful (to the reputation of science) is this is the view that science has proven. This is harmful to science because science does not prove basic beliefs, but instead deals with experience and appearances. All scientists may be able to agree on the measurement of experiences or data, but the real tricky issue is in how to interpret this information. Here is where naturalism has been so inFuential: it has argued that all such information must be interpreted as being the result of currently observable forces operating at currently observable magnitudes. or instance, if we observe a formation like the Grand Canyon, then naturalism says we must postulate a theory of origins that only relies on currently observable forces like the Colorado River and the rate at which sedimentary strata are currently observed to form. At the present rate this would have taken millions of years to form, and therefore (concludes the naturalist), the Grand Canyon is millions of years old. This assumption is also present in other dating methods like the use of sedimentary strata, carbon dating, and radio-active dating. Once we distinguish between the data (the Grand Canyon), and the interpretive assumptions linked to basic beliefs (only physical forces now operating can be used to explain), we can make a distinction between naturalism as a religion and empirical sciences as the systematizing of empirical research (but still in need of interpretation)....
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