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Is occasionalism coherent?

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Is occasionalism coherent?
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SpecialFrogUser avatarPosts: 827Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:13 pmLocation: Great White North Gender: Tree

Post Is occasionalism coherent?

In discussing science with creationists, I have found many have a tendency to claim to accept science and therefore have to pretend that science that conflicts with their world view must not be real science. Ken Ham's pretend distinction between "observational science" and "historical science" doesn't hold up to scrutiny and I have yet to talk with a creationist who can explain why they accept the science they do consider to be "real science".

If instead of trying to make this argument, what if creationists embraced occasionalism?

Occasionalism is basically the view that nothing that isn't God can be the cause of anything. Al-Ghazali, who initially described occasionalism, said that "when fire and cotton are placed in contact, the cotton is burned directly by God rather than by the fire." However, God normally behaves consistently so it looks like the world is coherent.

But God doesn't have to behave consistently and can make horses fly, seas part, etc. These things are not violations of natural laws because natural laws don't exist.

Under this view, science is essentially pretend but still looks like it is correct most of the time.

While obviously occasionalism fails to be even remotely parsimonious, it seems like it is a less problematic philosophical position than that of most creationists.

It also has issues in that you have to rationalize evidence post hoc if you claim God did something other than what the evidence says.

Is it actually a more coherent position?
"Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place to rest" -- Albert Szent-Gyrgyi
Sat Oct 03, 2015 1:46 pm
WarKChat ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 1148Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:59 am Gender: Tree

Post Re: Is occasionalism coherent?

It seems that creationists like Ken Ham or Kent Hovind hold contradictory beliefs. Every new piece of evidence makes them more entangled in their prior claims. Potholer54 shows it rather well, as always.


Occasionalism seems like mild forms of religious delusion, like proponents of theistic evolution. Their claims are untestable. Their god doesn't explain anything.

I think that creationist choose to make shit up post hoc because reality directly contradict scripture. Maybe it gives them a hope of finding some real life examples that prove the scripture, like Noah's ark or Jesus' foreskin. With occasionalism they'd have to agree that science gets things right. This in turn would mean that the scripture doesn't and fundamentalists can't have that.

Also, creationists do what they do because scriptures doesn't say anything about a god guiding physical and biological processes. They'd have to treat scripture metaphorically, which wouldn't be very fundamentalist of them.

Occasionalism and positions like theistic evolution are for people who accepted that scriptures shouldn't be taken literally but still have a need for some kind of god, however vague and impotent one.
Did you see that ludicrous display last night?
Sat Oct 03, 2015 3:41 pm
itsdemtitansBloggerUser avatarPosts: 694Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2015 11:36 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Is occasionalism coherent?

WarK wrote:
Occasionalism seems like mild forms of religious delusion, like proponents of theistic evolution. Their claims are untestable. Their god doesn't explain anything.


Theistic Evolutionist checking in. I take offense :evil:

:lol: :lol: Just kidding.

I'd agree with you when referring to people who claim God guided evolution. That is untestable. My position basically is:

1. It seems reasonable that God exists (although at this point I'm not sure if it's the Christian God. Sort of wavering between christian and deist at this point)

2. It's plainly evident Evolution has occurred.

I make no claim on if God guided evolution or anything of the sort, because I simply don't know. And since I'm absolutely infatuated with science, I can't bring myself to claim that which I don't feel is justified by the evidence.
"If evidence could shake the Protestant Faith, then there would be no Protestant Faith" ~Donovan Lafferty
Sat Oct 03, 2015 3:47 pm
SpecialFrogUser avatarPosts: 827Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:13 pmLocation: Great White North Gender: Tree

Post Re: Is occasionalism coherent?

WarK wrote:Occasionalism and positions like theistic evolution are for people who accepted that scriptures shouldn't be taken literally but still have a need for some kind of god, however vague and impotent one.

I actually think occasionalism is kind of the opposite. It is for people who want scripture to be taken literally. Under occasionalism, science may look like it works but this is illusory and God can make it work differently at any point -- and has done so in the past (thus allowing scripture to be true).

It also fits will with the view that science is both arrogant and deceitful -- which certainly fits with the views of a lot of creationists.

Mind you, I'm not sure I would ever get on an airplane if I thought that the apparent laws of nature could change at any moment. Maybe you just have to be really sure that God likes you.

I broadly agree about theistic evolution. It seems to be for people who are okay believing untestable things but not okay believing definitely wrong things.
"Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place to rest" -- Albert Szent-Gyrgyi
Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:09 pm
WarKChat ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 1148Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:59 am Gender: Tree

Post Re: Is occasionalism coherent?

SpecialFrog wrote:
WarK wrote:Occasionalism and positions like theistic evolution are for people who accepted that scriptures shouldn't be taken literally but still have a need for some kind of god, however vague and impotent one.

I actually think occasionalism is kind of the opposite. It is for people who want scripture to be taken literally. Under occasionalism, science may look like it works but this is illusory and God can make it work differently at any point -- and has done so in the past (thus allowing scripture to be true).

It also fits will with the view that science is both arrogant and deceitful -- which certainly fits with the views of a lot of creationists.


You may have a point here. If they feel condescending towards science they could say something like oh you silly scientists, you think you know something but it's god taking the piss out of you

On the other hand I think that ocassionalism is slightly, dare I say it, more sophisticated than creationism. Fundamentalists read the bible and see that science blatantly disagrees with it so they say science is wrong. End of story.
In occasionalism you have to stop for a second and think realise how science gets things right only because god intended it so.

Creationists can attack science directly whereas occasionalists can't distinguish between science described world and god tweaking the world to look as if science was describing it correctly.

It must be hard for an occasionalist to pick a point of contest between their position and what science tells us because in their view science gets things right (because a god made it look so). Creationists love to argue for their position and they come up with ever more stupid* ways of "proving" the bible and showing how science is wrong.

* remember that crationist who said dinosaurs had so narrow nostrils that they'd catch fire? Was it Ken Ham? And he said it with a straight face.
Did you see that ludicrous display last night?
Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:38 pm
malicious_blokeUser avatarPosts: 305Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:12 pmLocation: Proper Westcountry Gender: Male

Post Re: Is occasionalism coherent?

So we can do away with natural laws and just proclaim God to be the sole arbiter of cause and effect?

It might sound nice to the believer, but ultimately it gets us nowhere.

What you end up with is a deity that is easily quantified, so indistinguishable from mundane and practical reality that it might as well not exist all in the hope of maintaining a silly loophole that lets the believer invoke daft impossibilities for which there can be no evidence.

Typical theist mental gymnastics XD
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Sun Oct 04, 2015 11:43 am
SpecialFrogUser avatarPosts: 827Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:13 pmLocation: Great White North Gender: Tree

Post Re: Is occasionalism coherent?

WarK wrote:On the other hand I think that ocassionalism is slightly, dare I say it, more sophisticated than creationism.

I entirely agree. Which is why I'm surprised more don't go for it.
"Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place to rest" -- Albert Szent-Gyrgyi
Sun Oct 04, 2015 10:50 pm
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 2712Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: Is occasionalism coherent?

Greetings,

SpecialFrog wrote:
WarK wrote:On the other hand I think that ocassionalism is slightly, dare I say it, more sophisticated than creationism.

I entirely agree. Which is why I'm surprised more don't go for it.

Because it's too sophisticated for creationist

Kindest regards,

James
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"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Mon Oct 05, 2015 12:26 am
he_who_is_nobodyBloggerUser avatarPosts: 3096Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:36 amLocation: Albuquerque, New Mexico Gender: Male

Post Re: Is occasionalism coherent?

Dragan Glas wrote:Greetings,

SpecialFrog wrote:I entirely agree. Which is why I'm surprised more don't go for it.

Because it's too sophisticated for creationist

Kindest regards,

James


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Mon Oct 05, 2015 5:24 am
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