Scientistic (Naturalist? Modernist? Secular Humanist?) Writer

To any who may be interested:

  What's your take on this guy's argumentation?  He's the science columnist of my campus newspaper, here writing against Natural Law:

Natural Law (01/19/2005):
californiaaggie.ucdavis.edu/article/?id=7014

Sometimes its hard to make heads or tails of a person’s argument even to see where the reasoning goes wrong, or what implicit false presumptions are in play; you just know he’s not proving what he somehow thinks he is.

I did send a letter to the editor as a rebuttal, but so far they haven’t printed it, and it’s now been just over a week since the original column appeared in the paper. Here are a couple more of his past columns for a better idea of his orientation:

Thou Shalt Lie (01/05/2005):
californiaaggie.ucdavis.edu/article/?id=6789

Overlapping Magisteria (05/19/2004)
californiaaggie.ucdavis.edu/article/?id=4351

Vogel is a thoroughgoing atheist. His argument rests on the claim that what you can see, i.e. science, is the only truth and that our reasoned explanations of observed phenomena must always win out over religion.

One of the best debunkers of this notion was the late Greg Bahnsen, a Presbyterian apologist and theologian who frequently debated such stuffed shirts in public. His position is commonly called Presuppositionalism, which in short states that all opinions and pronouncements from men start from unprovable axioms, in which the speaker must have faith. The place to challenge people like Vogel is precisely there–you have an unprovable belief that your reasoning and powers of observation accurately reflect the world around you, so you are operting from a position of faith–not “science”.

I knew Bahnsen personally and counted him as a friend. You can probably pick up a good deal of his material on the Internet.

A quick scan through this, and my spotty memory of C.S. Lewis’ book, tell me that he didn’t read it very carefully.

C.S. Lewis is basically saying that rocks behave like rocks, dogs act like dogs, geese act like geese, chimps act like chimps, according to their nature. It is in the nature of dogs to mate with multiple other dogs, and so they do it. You don’t have dogs who consider all the possibilities open to them, and decide that, even though there are lots of other dogs around, for them it’s best to mate exclusively with one other dog. Meanwhile, or so I’ve heard, it’s in the nature of geese to mate for life, and so they do. You don’t have some geese who independently decide for their own personal reasons to have a few mates at a time.

Certainly the specific rules of morality that apply to humans, don’t generally apply to animals, or vice versa. There may be some cases where, just by coincidence, animals behave in a way that is also appropriate for humans, e.g. certain birds that mate for life.

Humans do have a nature, and a natural law according to which we should act. There may be points of similarity to the animals, but they’re not the same. But the big difference between us and the animals, is that we have the choice to obey that law or not.

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