Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

G. 5, Clark, "Too Good To Be True"

Along with Michael Shermer's brilliant essay that Oliver showed us a few days ago, Thomas W. Clark's view on naturalism optimisticly viewed the world through science's yearning eyes, noneother. As Clark stated in his closing sentence, "For the naturalist, nature is all there is, and therefore it's enough."

Clark's essay really struck a chord in me- one that's always made me shake, dumbfounded in my boots. He refers to God as the "unexplained explainer", and, to me I couldn't find a better way of describing it. He states that because naturalists are driven by the quest for reliable knowledge, we are not in the business of defending a particular picture of a particular ontology. Being pretty well-rounded in the knowledge of the Christian bible from earlier years (drastically different years, I might add), I couldn't help but point out these few verses that I'd like whoever's interested to consider questioning:

John 16:7: "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you."

I don't know if scientists involved in the God Particle experiment would have any helper to thank, besides the goodness of previous scientists' theories to help ground their own.

And one more that I found involving the forever "secret" that we as humans (or, in this situation, little children who aren't supposed to reach for the cookie jar) can never discover:

Deut. 29:29: "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."

I just can't help but object to this statement. Our secrets here on earth are ever-changing, new discoveries in science prove that we do in fact hold the key to many discoveries to come, especially in this time with discoveries are only in their infancy! So, who to thank? I really don't believe that there is anyone, besides that "goodness" we were all talking about! We unlocked these secrets of the natural earth. It can be explained, though with a mind very open to changes.

To me, the weeding out of subjective hopes when picturing reality is the most exciting. It is what it is, and so far it's done a damn good job of being completely and utterly jaw-dropping and magnificent. Why need the unpromised hopes of a "secret"? Why need more?

Lastly: A factual question for those of you still hanging in there.
What, according to Clark, defines the worldview of"naturalism"?
A: disbelief in a creator, a corollary of the rationally defensible claim that nature is all there is


  1. We need a new Sagan to evoke the jaw-dropping magnificence of the cosmos, so much bigger than any merely earth-centered bronze age story. Hitch tried to evoke that feeling in one of his "Collision" exchanges with Wilson, with talk of black holes and event horizons, and it worked for me. But Sagan was unrivaled at getting people to appreciate naturalism as a spiritually-rich worldview. Oh well, there's always "the symphony of science"...

    1. Neil Degrasse Tyson does a pretty fair job, in my opinion. You can tell that he really is passionate when he gets rolling.

  2. He is. He's an atheist, but he lit into Dawkins a few years ago for subverting the mission of his nominal chair in the "public understanding of science" by alienating the religious. It was quite a moment.


  3. I have to think about this business of "not being in the business of defending any particular ontology", it strikes a chord for me as well, with a lot of the philosophy that I've come to identify with the most and really enjoy reading. It's really resonating with things I've been reading in Lyotard and Derrida, about justice and judgement not having any rational ground, but being no less important and defensible for it.

  4. Rachel, you are one of the most rational and well-grounded ladies. Hats off ^-^!

    I agree with you. Everything is absolutely awe-inspiring. There really is not a need for otherworldly explanation when we are already trying to explain with our worldly science.
    I do have a comment about this, though...All of our science is relative to the human's capability of observation. Anything is possible. We still don't know everything. Not that that means slap God in the gaps, but that there is possibility to an outside well of consciousness that we cannot comprehend as physical beings. Kind of like a thin veil of mystery in the observable, not visible, but still there in a coexistence with the material. Not ghosts, per say, but more like a pool of existence that we might dive into only when we leave our physical bodies, shedding all individuality...I dunno. I'm getting away from myself. I got to thinking about infinite dimensions and consciousness being universal the other night and now my thoughts are swimming with collective mind theories and humans as the supernatural.

    I think that second quote COULD be a nod to accepting ignorance. That some things aren't going to make sense and that we need to accept that we cannot know all (THAT'S GAAWWWD'S JOB!). It could also be a stifling of free thought...I like to think that the Bible is just grossly misinterpreted and has been warped over time to control the masses, so that there is a genuinely good intention behind it...That's justification, but at least it helps me cope with the fact that this book will be around for a LONG ass time.

    Jaime - Morality is a human condition much like doubt. We are intrinsically capable of moral and ethical decisions because we realize our autonomy and the same in others. It's like we instinctually understand that we have conscious thoughts that make us awesome creatures, both valuable and responsible for our actions. Judgment is a constant performance by everyone. It's the reaction to those judgments that counts.

    Rant rant rant.

  5. Kat, no I certainly agree with you that we are capable of moral and ethical decisions, and that we must make judgments. What I am trying to say, is that I think, like Aristotle taught, these judgements can not themselves have any criteria or any grounds, in the ontological sense. By their very nature they can not. Thus the good judge, is someone who merely IS good.

  6. I agree whole heartedly about the weeding out of thought. The Beauty of the great and Unfathomably huge Universe all the way down to the Atoms that make you and Me, and how much our knowledge of these things has increase in just the past few decades is extremely exciting!

    I Highly recommend the Musical series Dr. Oliver has mentioned a few times, The Symphony of Science, if you have not yet. Particularly "A Glorious Dawn" and "The Poetry of Reality." The series is very uplifting (and very much makes me regret leaving science)and best of all you can listen to and download them all for FREE (Leagally) on their website Symphonyofscience.com

    Kat: First i recomend the symphony of science song "Ode to the Brain" if you been thinking a lot about our minds and what consciences may be capable of.

    Now then, I agree that all Science is based on Human capabilities. I also agree that we may never learn everything (So do many scientists, just as many try to "solve" reality)
    "Scientists Love mysteries, they Love Not knowing" ~Laurence Krauss, Theoretical physicist
    However i feel that this is the beauty of Science. There are many gaps,Many that we may never be able to fill... But Science will never give up, Curiosity will never be sated.
    However, If we can Comprehend the answers to those questions, if the answers are there somewhere. We'll find it one day.