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Date Posted: 06:37
Author: Eponymous - 18 April 2002
Subject: Re: Query for Ketch (and maybe others)
In reply to: knonymous - 17 April 2002 's message, "Re: Query for Ketch (and maybe others)" on 06:36

I agree with much that you say. What I would want to suggest is that the lack of a natural explanation does not license an appeal to supernatural "causes," for at least two reasons. First, the move is an obvious fallacy: e.g., if we presently lacked a natural explanation for the phenomenon of lightening, we would certainly err in concluding that lightening must therefore be the result of [an] invisible being[s] in the sky. (Another example: We currently do not understand the processes by which mitochondria move apart during cell replication. We do not therefore conclude that a friendly daemon must be at work down there at the cellular level separating one mitochondrion from the other; rather, we presume that some biochemical mechanism is at work.)

Second, exactly how it is that postulating a supernatural entity "explains" anything is unclear. For example, it is incredibly difficulty to understand how it is that physical activity in physical brains could give rise to consciousness. But how is that difficulty assuaged by saying that there is something that is not physical - call it the "soul" - that gives us consciousness? Answer: not at all. For that reason, until someone can show how the "supernatural" explains something, belief in the supernatural can never be properly motivated by gaps in our present knowledge. In other words, no one is entitled to "conjure belief out of ignorance." (Bryan Magee)

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