A new publication has come across our desk: Naturalism and Our Knowledge of Reality: Testing Religious Truth-claims , by R. Scott Smith (Ashgate, 2012). [Purchase UK  | Purchase US  | Available now through Ashgate.com ]
Philosophical naturalism is taken to be the preferred and reigning epistemology and metaphysics that underwrites many ideas and knowledge claims. But what if we cannot know reality on that basis? What if the institution of science is threatened by its reliance on naturalism?
R. Scott Smith argues in a fresh way that we cannot know reality on the basis of naturalism. Moreover, the “fact-value” split has failed to serve our interests of wanting to know reality. The author provocatively argues that since we can know reality, it must be due to a non-naturalistic ontology, best explained by the fact that human knowers are made and designed by God. The book offers fresh implications for the testing of religious truth-claims, science, ethics, education, and public policy. Consequently, naturalism and the fact-value split are shown to be false, and Christian theism is shown to be true.
‘Whether or not one agrees with all of the far-reaching conclusions of this interesting and enjoyable book, it cannot be denied that it raises deep and probing questions concerning the ability of any purely naturalistic system of ontology to account adequately for the intentionality of mental states and the very possibility of our knowledge of the natural world. All self-proclaimed naturalists, as well as their opponents, would do well to reflect on its arguments.’ — E. J. Lowe, Durham University, UK
‘Scott Smith brings out the fact that knowledge of reality, including knowledge of knowledge, cannot be accounted for within an ontology that only admits entities from the physical world. This means that such an ontology – call it “Naturalism” – itself is not knowable. Yet it fights desperately to be the only authority on knowledge and to have the right to dictate social and governmental policy. Smith relentlessly and cogently argues that Naturalism does not have the conceptual resources to defend its position: that, indeed, it undercuts itself. The issues here are not only of abstract philosophical interest, but are also vitally related to the direction of human life. This book should be widely read for the light it casts on many current cultural quandaries.’ — Dallas Willard, University of Southern California, USA