Naturalism : a debate worth having ….


“Over four centuries of scientific progress have convinced most professional philosophers and scientists of the validity of naturalism: the view that there is only one realm of existence, the natural world, whose behavior can be studied through reason and empirical investigation. The basic operating principles of the natural world appear to be impersonal and inviolable; microscopic constituents of inanimate matter obeying the laws of physics fit together in complex structures to form intelligent, emotive, conscious human beings.”, describes Dr.Carroll while introducing an interdisciplinary workshop on Philosophy of Naturalism (It indeed touches many aspects of being an atheist).

Moving Naturalism Forward‘  workshop will take place  at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts from 25th till 29th in October this year. You just have to visit the participants’ page to get your calender marked way in advance for this debate.

 

Dr.Hilary Bok, Dr.Richard Dawkins, Dr.Steven Weinberg and Dr. Lisa Randall – Just  to name a few among them. This is going to be a fiery debate on these (mentioned below) very topics described by Dr.Carroll in an introductory excerpt as ‘meaningful constructs around human life’.

Some specific questions included are —-

  • Free will. If people are collections of atoms obeying the laws of physics, is it sensible to say that they make choices?
  • Morality. What is the origin of right and wrong? Are there objective standards?
  • Meaning. Why live? Is there a rational justification for finding meaning in human existence?
  • Purpose. Do teleological concepts play a useful role in our description of natural phenomena?
  • Epistemology. Is science unique as a method for discovering true knowledge?
  • Emergence. Does reductionism provide the best path to understanding complex systems, or do different levels of description have autonomous existence?
  • Consciousness. How do the phenomena of consciousness arise from the collective behavior of inanimate matter?
  • Evolution. Can the ideas of natural selection be usefully extended to areas outside of biology, or can evolution be subsumed within a more general theory of complex systems?
  • Determinism. To what extent is the future determined given quantum uncertainty and chaos theory, and does it matter?

These are not just head scratchers folks, these are the quintessential factors which are grappling our own understanding of the universe in many ways. Did they start making you think again ? Well, I am just thinking how to plan my trip to Stockbridge, MA on October 25th. If you cant make it there, we have a good place to ponder on their thoughts and see these stalwarts battling it out with each other. Looks like a worth every penny isn’t it ?

 

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