Tomas Bogardus assesses naturalism in a recent publication | Writing

In the summer of 2022, Seaver College Associate Professor of Philosophy Tomás Bogardus published his most recent research paper, “If Naturalism Is True, Then Scientific Explanation Is Impossible,” with the Journal of Religious studies. In this text, Bogardus seeks to refute the fundamental tenets of the naturalistic perspective in the hope of promoting a supernatural worldview.

“Naturalism is the idea that nothing supernatural exists. There is no God, or anything like God. It’s a very old rival to a supernatural worldview, going back at least to pre-Socratic philosophers like Democritus,” says Bogardus. “I am a Christian myself, and therefore a supernaturalist, so I like to think of reasons that would help us settle this long-standing debate. The argument that I develop in this article is, I believe, a new reason to think that naturalism is not true.

Bogardus’ argument centers on scientific explanation. He asserts that while naturalists rely on the laws of nature to explain natural phenomena, when asked to explain the fundamental laws themselves, they are lost. This means that ultimately scientific explanations have no solid basis, if naturalism is true.

“It’s like trying to explain the stability of the Earth by saying that it rests on giant elephants, and these rest on a turtle, but the turtle does not rest on anything,” says Bogardus. “The mystery of this bottom turtle rises, so to speak, infecting the rest of the proposed explanation. And, because of that, the explanation doesn’t work.

Due to its inability to account for scientific explanation, one of the main projects and virtues of science, Bogardus believes that naturalism cannot be a correct view of the world. To learn more about this text and its conclusions, visit the Cambridge University Press website.

Jacob L. Thornton