Some people say that they learned everything they needed to know in Kindergarten. I for one am glad that I entered first grade and continued from there. The subject matter changed a little bit, but I was able to adapt. For instance, one thing I didn’t learn in Kindergarten was that an ultimate explanation of the universe in animistic terms is indefensible. Of course, it would have been nice to have learned that in kindergarten because I wound up wasting a lot of time wondering about that problem. To explain the universe away with animism is generally problematic – more problematic than opting not to give an explanation, at least. That’s probably the reason that I approached the problem for the wrong angle. It’s not easy to clear up circularity, contradiction and infinite regress in animistic explanations, but instead of attempting that highly implausible feat, it would have been better to ask just why the problem seems so impossible to solve.
That the universe, no matter how it came about, can only be explained in naturalistic terms, is a game-changing conclusion. If two people argue about ultimate explanations before both have accepted this conclusion, their discourse will never be raised to the level at which it should begin. It seems like referring to a person as a naturalist has pejorative undertones most of the time. It’s similar to being called a reductionist, which is a term that should probably only refer to the analysis of basic, physical processes to explain phenomena, but is instead often used to imply some systematic obscuration of the issue. There are basic processes that underlie every phenomenon, and that’s a fact about our world. All of these phenomena occur in nature – that’s another fact. Even a chaotic world separate from our own would have naturalistic explanations in terms of chaos, and that would really be no different as far as the legitimacy of naturalistic explanation is concerned. So using the term ‘naturalist’ with a pejorative bent may really only refer to the disagreeable temperament of the naturalist.
Physical explanation is different from formal explanation in that it is a system of tiers that become more general as one moves up. Science is the perfect example of this. A scientist studies very specific phenomena to arrive at general rules through experimental replication. As a result, phenomenal explanation becomes general. The general explanations are then treated as basic assumptions, for in a sense they are basic, and the process is repeated. This leads to an umbrella effect, with each explanation encompassing more phenomena than the last.
Somewhere along the line, it may be necessary to introduce an animistic explanation. I honestly
Don’t foresee this happening until we have the grasp of Mind that could explain away solipsism and the like, and I do not foresee this happening any time soon. Nevertheless, it may come to that point. If it does go there, it will not end there. A creator would have to be subject to the laws of nature. That is, the laws of nature could not come about from his will alone. Having such a will presupposes the natural, rather than animistic origin of its existence, because one could not will himself such power without such a powerful will.
Does that sound about right to you?