Friday, January 31, 2014

What is your picture of the world?

David Bentley Hart (The Experience of God) outlines the historical philosophical steps by which moderns came to view the cosmos bereft of God. The rise of the mechanistic philosophy (nature regarded as a kind of machine operating according to its own self regulating mechanisms) set aside any consideration of purpose or ultimate causation. This was useful for scientific progress, but in time the method became a metaphysic. Deism, a nod in the direction of some divine machine designer or operator, was simply a step along the way to atheism. Darwinian theory complete the move, suggesting an intrinsic mechanism for development with no purpose. 

But it is a sleight of hand, as Hart notes, since natural selection cannot by itself account for the existence of the universe or for the lawfulness of nature. The question of being had been forgotten- and still is. 
So we have a new metaphysical master narrative based on mindless, purposeless materialism. It is now a cultural bias in the modern West, "a story we have been telling ourselves for centuries, without any real warrant from either reason or science."(65). 
Yet this picture of the world is fraught with difficulties, and it is these that Hart targets as his critique unfolds.

No comments: