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An Analysis of Contemporary Discourse on Methodological Naturalism: Gregory Dawes and Theistic Explanations

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An Analysis of Contemporary Discourse on Methodological Naturalism: Gregory Dawes and Theistic Explanations

Rajnak, Andy (2018) An Analysis of Contemporary Discourse on Methodological Naturalism: Gregory Dawes and Theistic Explanations. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the topic of methodological naturalism as discussed in the works of three contemporary scholars of religion: Gregory Dawes, Alister McGrath and Christopher Southgate. This thesis focuses on the epistemological issues which are raised when considering theistic explanations. The key question being considered is: Can a theistic explanation be assessed. A methodological naturalist would answer in the negative, arguing that the empirical methods used by present-day scholars and scientists restrict us from considering supernatural explanations such as theistic explanations. This thesis will challenge this point of view and argue instead that theistic explanations are open to empirical assessment. In the first two chapters this thesis engages with the claims and arguments made by Dawes, McGrath and Southgate. In the third chapter the approaches of these three scholars are put into conversation. Here key areas of overlap and disagreement are highlighted. In the concluding chapter it is argued that while methodological naturalism lacks adequate philosophical justification, it is well-suited to serve a contemporary political purpose. Methodological naturalism, in the context of secular universities situated in pluralistic societies, gives incoming students the impression that all theistic claims are equally untestable, thus putting them on an equal playing field: one cannot be said to be more likely or less likely to be true than another.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Religions and Cultures
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Rajnak, Andy
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:History and Philosophy of Religion
Date:April 2018
Thesis Supervisor(s):Lalonde, Marc P.
ID Code:983861
Deposited By: Andy Rajnak
Deposited On:11 Jun 2018 01:51
Last Modified:11 Jun 2018 01:51
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