The Christian “Answer”
The Christian “answer” to the question “why is nature uniform?” is to assert the existence of a supernatural conscious being which allegedly
has created the universe in which we live (Gen. 1:1, Col. 1:16), and who sovereignly maintains it as we find it to be (Heb. 1:3)… This God has a plan for his creation (Eph. 1:11), not the least part of which is revealing himself to it (Rom. 1:19-20). Part of this revelation involves creating and sustaining the universe in such a way that his creatures are able to learn about it and function within it (Gen. 8:22). (Brian Knapp, “Induction and the Unbeliever,” The Portable Presuppositionalist, p. 132)
Rather than interacting directly with any of the points I raise in response this potential objection, Bolt sought to turn the spotlight on me. For instance, he writes:
Mr. Bethrick is not satisfied with the answer provided by Christians for why nature is uniform.
Bolt says that I
attempt… to restrict the actions of God to being essentially natural causes. By “natural law” Bethrick means “the law of identity applies”. The Christian is not committed to this Objectivist idea that natural law is essentially identity applied to action. Such an idea is inconsistent with the Christian worldview since there are actions God has taken which may be identified but have nothing to do with anything natural (e.g. the exchange of love between the Persons of the Trinity).
Bolt announces that the Christian worldview “is not committed” to the fact that actions do in fact have identity, but instead must prefer the view that actions are indistinct from each other and from anything else. That is the only alternative possible here: either action has identity, in which case the law of identity does in fact apply to action; or, the law of identity does not apply to action, and therefore actions are not distinguishable from anything else, and thus the very concept ‘action’ and any other concepts specifying one action as opposed to another (or anything else) is meaningless.
While I agree with Bolt that the idea that action has identity is in fact “inconsistent with the Christian worldview,” Bolt still attributes specific kinds of actions to his god, borrowing concepts such as “exchange” and “love” from the realm in which actions do have identity to apply in a context which denies identity to action, while failing to explain how he can name actions if the law of identity does not apply to them. Thus, in order to distance his god from the “natural,” Bolt sacrifices the law of identity, and consequently every affirmation he makes about his god acting in one way or another commits the fallacy of the stolen concept. A god which is not subject to natural law would be a god without identity performing actions which have no identity, and thus could not be distinguished from something that is not a god. And yet Christians speak of their god as if it were “unique,” which could only mean that the law of identity applies.
In my post, I had asked:
what exactly is ‘supernatural causality,’ and how is it different from natural causality?
If Bethrick does not know what “supernatural” means as opposed to “natural” then I am at a loss as to why he constantly uses the words in his own writings.
Bolt says that
Reality involves much more than matter in motion.
Bolt supposes that the claim that “God is transcendental and real offends me. On the contrary, it amuses me. It’s in the same league as a child who believes that the stories he reads in Harry Potter are true. It’s quite a fantasy, but typically the avid fan of the Harry Potter series eventually grows up.
Since Bolt claims that his god is transcendental and real, my question for him is: by what means does he have awareness of this “transcendental and real” god, if not by means of his own imagination? Christians typically describe their god as having no corporeal body, being invisible, beyond the limits of human perception, etc. But clearly Bolt must have awareness of this being, does he not? It is supposed to exist independent of his own psychology, right? As such, can he identify any means of awareness by which he has awareness of his god which cannot be confused with the internal explorations of the imagination?
In the past, Bolt has affirmed what Reformed Christians call the “sensus divinitatus,” but it is unclear how the believer can securely distinguish between this alleged faculty and his own imagination. Moreover, believers who appeal to the “sensus divinitatus” often affirm contradictory positions and exhibit noteworthy difficulty when it comes to explaining how they cannot be deceived by this mystical apparatus (for instance, see here and here). To make matters worse, when asked if it is possible for the Christian god to communicate with believers through the “sensus divinitatus” and believers still get the message from their god wrong, Bolt openly admitted, “Yes, this is the case” (see Bolt’s 10 Oct. 2009 comment in this blog). So the theistic approach here, far from producing a convincing case that the uniformity of nature is a product of a supernatural consciousness, offers no bankable promises at all on these matters.
Bolt confirms my suspicions that the Christian “account for” the uniformity of nature does in fact assume the primacy of consciousness when he claims:
Nature is uniform because God created and controls it as mentioned in Knapp’s article…
Bolt expresses the opinion that
Labeling this explanation “supernatural causation” does not change the fact that it is an answer with no apparent problems.
Bolt suggested that we compare my position on the uniformity of nature to that of the Christian worldview. But if Bolt really wants such a comparison, why didn’t he speak to my questions pertaining to metaphysical primacy? The answer to this should be obvious: the Christian cannot deal with the issue of metaphysical primacy consistently. While the Objectivist view holds explicitly that the objects which exist in the world are what they are independent of consciousness (and therefore that the uniformity of nature is not a product of conscious activity), the Christian worldview explicitly characterizes the world as a creation of consciousness and the identities of the objects which exist within it as subject to the ruling consciousness’ personal whims. In short, Objectivism maintains fidelity to the objective understanding of nature, while Christianity affirms a subjective view of nature.
We will delve deeper into the problems of the Christian position as it pertains to the uniformity of nature in my next installment of this series. For now, consider Bolt’s following statement:
Mr. Bethrick has failed to answer why nature is uniform but Knapp is not after this answer at this point.
by Dawson Bethrick