Don Johnson and Naturalism

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Interesting story…

Lausten, a frequent visitor of this blog recently sent me a link to an article that discussed Methodological and Philosophical Naturalism.

Earlier this week I had a chance to meet Don Johnson who runs a fairly popular apologetics podcast that I had been following for some time. The conversation quickly spanned a number of popular topics that we both discuss often with atheists. At some point I made mention of Lausten’s article and emailed it to Don later in the week.

It turns out Don decided to do a podcast on that article and invited me to sit in (as a spectator) during the show.

Here is a link to his blog and it can be found on iTunes as well:

For the record, my response to that article would have been very different, but it’s an interesting listen nonetheless.



  1. Lausten North  July 21, 2013

    I’m glad you’re talking to someone else about this, but in this case they weren’t helpful. Apparently they don’t take comments, so here’s what I would say if they did;

    There are few problems here, not the least of which is that the premise that the only thing that exists is material is not just an assumption. Your metal detector analogy is just silly, of course the guy is aware of the value of what he finds, he is also enjoying just being out in the sun on the beach. And scientists do offer unprovable ideas all the time. It’s called forming a hypothesis, it comes right after experiencing the universe with awe and wonder. You mentioned the multi-verse and laughed it off. This is typical, you claim scientist can’t do that then laugh when they do.

    What was most troubling was your need to claim that attempting to gain knowledge empirically is somehow “smaller”. People who don’t believe in Jesus or any deity are perfectly capable of enjoying a Rembrandt or standing in awe at the Grand Canyon. I’ve done it as a Christian and an atheist. It’s pretty much the same. I’d even say it is better to consider the awesome power of nature and amazing series of actions of chemicals that led to a mind that could reflect on its own existence and portray it on a canvas.

    All of your logic and philosophy that attempt to explain this immaterial/material mix begin with the assumption that there is a god. Even your definition of faith begins with opening up to something. I can have faith in humans because I know about humans, I’ve met them, read about them, seen them in action. I’ve also read what they do in the name of God and don’t care much for that. I’ve heard them give 1,000 different explanations of what God is and can find no difference between their experiences and ones that I can have simply by opening myself up to the wonders of this awesome universe.

  2. jonP  February 1, 2014

    Methodological naturalism seems like the only reasonable position.

    What science adds is a structure to systematically observe events, with the emphasis on systematically. We carefully record observations, either make changes to a system, or observe changes, and try to draw conclusions. Our senses are the instruments. The tools like the metal detector just extend our range of things that we can observe, and allow us to measure things against standard units. We can magnify with microscopes, detect electric fields with electrodes, etc. These tools only enhance our senses.

    Literally, our only other alternative is to draw conclusions based on things we experience without systematically recording and evaluating and quantifying measurements. Like primates had been doing for the millions of years before civilization.

    I guess another alternative is to just make things up. Imagination is a interesting topic. Even when you learn about god, you are still doing this by reading, or by listening. How do they know what they are talking about? They heard it from someone else, who heard it from someone else, etc. Each person introduces subtle or major changes, and then pass those along.

    My point is that there is no reason to believe that we get any information about the universe through means other than our physical senses. Everything that we detect fits into the natural category. If there is something out there that we can not detect now, but maybe will in the future, at that point that thing will be added to the natural category. If there are things that we can never observe no matter what instruments we use, then we don’t know anything about them.

    • Unapologetics  February 2, 2014

      I agree that methodological naturalism is the correct method to study our universe. I have been working on a thorough response to the two papers that I have attached and mentioned in this and the post after it. I was almost done but then got distracted with the reasonable doubts discussion.


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