Evangelical Philosophical SocietyArticle Reprint

Can We Know Anything if Naturalism is True?

by Paul Gould

This brief essay considers the ontological implication of Scott Smith’s central thesis in Naturalism and our Knowledge of Realityby focusing on one mental phenomenon, the phenomenon of intentionality, in order to see whether an argument to God from intentionality can be generated.

In his book, Smith offers a bold and sustained attack of naturalism and its ability to deliver us knowledge. His master argument is a kind of transcendental argument: If philosophical naturalism is true, then we do not have knowledge of reality. We do have knowledge of reality, therefore it is not the case that philosophical naturalism is true.

This essay concludes with a particular challenge: We need more work that advances the following kind of argument: if, as the theist claims, God exists and is the source of all reality distinct from Himself, then any existent phenomena that is not God, ought (in principle, at least) be able to figure into a premise of a philosophical argument with a theological conclusion.

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