…You can't smell knowledge. You can't weigh friendship. Love doesn't have a shape. It doesn't have a physical texture. Happiness cannot be heard. Do you know what is interesting about this observation? It's this. Nothing that is ultimately valuable to you can be classified, studied, probed or analyzed empirically by the five senses using science. That is a remarkable observation. When you think of the things that are the most important to you, or to any human being, really, the whole list of things that are of the deepest significance, that have the most substance to them, the highest degree of importance, these are all things that are not physical at all. If they are not physical, the senses cannot apprehend them. And if the senses cannot apprehend them, then science can't say anything about them. In other words, science can't say anything about any of those things that are ultimately important.To be sure, various theories are thrown about which attempt to explain a father’s love in terms of deterministic models, but all such theories eventually run into a roadblock of the abstract - in this case, transcendent morality. In other words, if a father’s love for his daughter is ultimately just the result of electrical impulses within the brain, then there can be no transcendent justification for punishing a father whose electrical impulses cause him to decide to express his love for his daughter by killing and eating her. If what we classify as morality was simply based on the laws of physics (i.e., empirical phenomenon), then there would be no non-physical transcendent meaning attached to it, and the concept of right and wrong would be meaningless. We arrive, thus, at a fork in the road. The naturalistic scientist must choose the path on which he will proceed: 1) that of a world which has no meaning or, 2) that of a world which does have meaning. True, he may decide that, while the world really doesn’t have meaning, the best way to live is as if it does. Such a course of action, though, must ignore the conundrum that if the world doesn’t have meaning, then how could any way of living be considered good, better, or best? Also, while there may be some wicked individuals who live out their belief that the world has no meaning, I am focusing my comments here to those who, despite their commitment to methodological / philosophical naturalism (M/PN), hold to the belief that the world does have some degree of meaning. For the record, this would include everyone who agrees with the statement: Mother Theresa was a good person and Adolf Hitler was an evil person. The argument I am proposing is this: If the process of M/PN ventures into the non-physical realm of meaning, yet is incapable of producing a logically coherent response, then it is reasonable to expect another discipline to address the issue. It is at this point that I submit Religion as the discipline which is capable of answering questions pertaining to the meaning of our existence. Yet religion is not limited to addressing just the non-physical. Notice how our awareness of the non-physical realities in our lives, combined with certain implications of M/PN, forces M/PN to address the realm of the non-physical. Indeed, the very fabric of M/PN depends on the assumption, by faith, that humans possess the ability to reason. It is by this very act of non-physical reasoning that M/PN has attempted, in vain, to address the non-physical concept of meaning. Consider this excerpt from Carson Holloway's, I Believe Not, article from the July/August 2004 issue of Touchstone.
Skepticism is a kind of religion... in the sense that its adherents accept certain fundamental premises on faith. This faith-based element of Skepticism is visible, first of all, in its moral commitments. The aforementioned Paul Kurtz [Chairman of the Center for Inquiry-International] recognizes the concern of some that skeptical empirical inquiry might debunk not only traditional religion but also all values on which a decent society depends. Not to worry, he contends, for "many ethical questions may be resolved by scientific inquiry." As a result, Skepticism need not lead to "moral collapse or nihilism, for there are alternative systems of ethics that we may find both reasonable and viable, independent of appeals to faith or authority." While it might be true that some kind of ethics is possible on the basis of some understanding of reason (consider, for example, Aristotle or Kant), the Skeptical understanding of reason purports to be strictly empirical, and therefore seems powerless to issue in any value judgments whatsoever. Kurtz is confident in empirical science's ability to justify some ethical principles, yet he favors us with not a single example of an ethical truth justifiable in terms of empirical evidence. This is blind faith, as is made even more clear in his concluding remarks on this issue. After asserting that skeptical inquiry can lead to ethical principles, he suggests that "how and to what extent this is possible is a topic" that "the skeptical community needs to address." That is, we are not sure how Skepticism can provide a moral teaching, but we are sure that it can do it. Skepticism works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform.While the tenets of MN state that only empirical evidence can be submitted as a valid explanation for the workings of the physical world, there is no empirical evidence which shows that this must be the case. The tenet must be accepted on faith, for no empirical evidence could ever be submitted – since it’s the very use of empirical evidence that is posited as being the only acceptable means of describing the natural world. In other words, where is the empirical evidence that proves that using empirical evidence is a valid methodology? Scientists base their entire livelihood on a non-physical assumption. Now, notice what is happening here. Specific areas of one type of knowledge address aspects of other types of knowledge. For a specific type of knowledge to be consistent with the worldview which encompasses it, it should at least not contradict the workings of the real world. By real world I am not simply referring to the physical world, but to the entirety of our existence – that which would include the physical and the abstract. MN does not have the capability to address the abstract concept of ultimate meaning but, as any nitpicker of MN will tell you, MN does not claim to have that capability. Yet PN does and, as I have argued before, I believe that MN cannot be properly understood or logically consistent unless it is attached to PN, hence – M/PN. When Carl Sagan declared that the Cosmos was all there is, was, and ever will be, it was not a statement based solely on empirical evidence. Carl had no way of empirically showing that our Cosmos is all that ever was and, while couched as a scientific statement, it was also a statement with religious implications. Conversely, when the Bible states that God created the universe (and Time) a finite time ago, it is a religious statement that ventures into the realm of scientific knowledge. ...to be continued