Lipton on the “Supernatural”
October 6, 2006 — 13:33

Author: Trent Dougherty  Category: General  Comments: 3

I’ve just read a 2005 account of religious “anti-realism” by Cambridge University philosopher of science Peter Lipton (of Best Explanation fame). I very much appreciate his writings in the philosophy of science, but this has me baffled.
He tries to adopt Bas van Fraassen’s anti-realism right over into religion. (Bas is Catholic, but as far as I know not anti-realist in matters religious, he saves that for his science as far as I’m aware.)
He describes himself as a “progressive Jew” but he avows:
“I myself cannot believe that the miracles in the Bible occurred, whatever their supposed causes and even if described in purely observable terms.”
And later: “it is not just that I don’t believe them [miracle-claims] true, I believe them false. Where they contradict scientific theories I believe, I have no choice;”
The irony of it all is that he rejects a view “selectionism” because “it would leave far too many holes in the religious text [of Scripture].”
One would think God would leave a rather gaping hole in the text of Scripture.
However, Lipton assures us that “On the immersion view [his own view], by contrast, we have the text to use in its full, unexpurgated form, the form in which I believe it can do us the most good as a tool for thinking and for living.” Well, with *only* the supernatural purged at any rate.
Any of you who’ve attended Plantinga’s “deist bashing” lectures will see how well this connects with his argument.

Comments:
  • Andrew Moon

    Trent,
    I’m curious about which lectures of Plantinga you’re referring to (about deist-bashing). Was this from a book?

    October 7, 2006 — 19:24
  • Steve Bush

    Is the Lipton essay published, or available in any format?

    October 9, 2006 — 18:33
  • Andrew, it’s from some lectures that P. has been doing for the last year and a half. I’ve got a hard copy, but not an electronic copy.
    Steve, it’s on his website.

    October 10, 2006 — 14:40