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The Fundamental Asymmetry Between Teleology and Physicalism

Date recorded: 31 May 2015 | Speaker: Paul Nelson | Event: ELF Workshop


Since the late 19th century, a leading theme in the philosophy of science has been the explanatory superiority of physicalism: the thesis that everything is physical, and that non-physical entities, such as souls and God, do not exist. Physicalism carries obvious negative implications for theism and Christianity, but many Christians try to neutralize the thesis by accepting the view of methodological naturalism, which asserts physicalism in the practice of science, but not in metaphysics or theology. In this talk, Dr. Nelson argues that teleological reasoning (i.e., employing design concepts) can fully embrace physical discoveries – whereas physicalism can admit no part of teleology. This asymmetry creates profound advantages in the philosophy of science for teleological frameworks.