Mr. McIntosh engages in an apologetical critique, in gentlemanly fashion, of metaphysical naturalism to defend his faith.
His essay is found at this link -> http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/don_mcintosh/presumption.html
If the reader has time and a desire, I respectfully request their comments and counter arguments regarding Mr. McIntosh's points argued against the proposition that existence and its consequent causality are not all there is to reality.
Best Wishes and Regards to All
(edit 2-14-12 17:23 GMT, Corrected topical subject matter of McIntosh's essay from methodological to metaphysical naturalism.)
McIntosh starts his essay off by citing from William James famous "Will to Believe" essay and in so doing makes a blatant error.
In "The Will to Believe" William James passed along an unorthodox definition of faith attributed to an anonymous schoolboy: "Faith is when you believe something that you know ain't true." James himself considered this humorous concept symptomatic of a more serious if misguided conviction that whenever "sufficient evidence" for a religious claim is lacking, fear of its being false is somehow inherently more rational than hope of its being true.
Slinging an accusation of vagueness against those who hold metaphysical naturalism, the conviction that nature(i.e.: existence and its casualty) are all that is, by labeling a proper fear of falsehood due to lack of evidence for religious claims (of miracles) as vaguely irrational, McIntosh comes close to an ad hominem fallacy. However, I will grant him benefit of the doubt here and cut to chase. I think he misunderstands what rationality means, and he makes no provision for using alternate definitions ; however, from the context of his sentence, I think the main definitions are in play except that for the case of 'reason' where the dichotomy of fear vs hope implies usage as meaning justification . A review of definitions from dictionary.com shows the following.
rationality means: 1. the state or quality of being rational.
rational means: 1. agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible: a rational plan for economic development.
reason mean 1. a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc.: the reason for declaring war. and 2. a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action.
cause means 1. a person or thing that acts, happens, or exists in such a way that some specific thing happens as a result
basis means 1. the bottom or base of anything; the part on which something stands or rests. and 2. anything upon which something is based; fundamental principle; groundwork.
justification means: 1. a reason, fact, circumstance, or explanation that justifies or defends:
Note McIntosh's problem here in wishing to characterize hoping religious claims of miracles as rational is that such hopes cannot be rational because rational means agreeable with reason. Reason means, in McIntosh’s case, having cause or basis for or justifying the hope of religious miracles. Cause, basis, and justification can only happen in a venue of existence. Being the broadest of concepts, existence includes everything that is, namely nature. Thus hopes of religious miracles cannot be rational because there can be no justification for, cause or basis of miracles because a miracle is a violation of the causality of existence. Since existence is all there is, there can be no other than existence and consequently no special causality of non-existence. Non-existence does not exist. McIntosh fails to grasp this simple truth.
To buttress my counter points I call upon Ayn Rand who defined rationality and reason thusly:
reason - Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses. ~ from The Objectivist Ethics in The Virture of Selfishness
rationality - Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists, that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it, which is thinking—that the mind is one’s only judge of values and one’s only guide of action—that reason is an absolute that permits no compromise—that a concession to the irrational invalidates one’s consciousness and turns it from the task of perceiving to the task of faking reality—that the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind—that the acceptance of a mystical invention is a wish for the annihilation of existence and, properly, annihilates one’s consciousness. ~ Galt's Speech from For The New Intellectual
McIntosh wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants reality to be a vague malleable undefined set of contradicts wherein he can pretend his religious fantasies are justified.
McIntosh's essay is somewhat lengthy and will take time to work through, so this thread will be a work in progress. Many Thanks to the Reader.
Its going to be a while before I can get back to this. Its book marked and when I get caught up and feel good, then I'll tackle this little project. Till then, many thanks and best wishes to all, even any religious fanatics that may happen to fly by.