Swamidass vs. Nelson – trying to find a “Common Narrative with ID on MN”?

I’ll intervene on this conversation started by S. Joshua Swamidass as my guess is he’s going to mangle terms & then claim mastery over them, as he has done in the past on the topic of ‘methodological naturalism’ (MN). Paul Nelson (of micro-/macro- distinction) has posted here in the past & has done a fine job of staying more neutral, scholarly and welcoming to discussion than most IDists at the DI. It would be welcome for Nelson to clarify, re-iterate or to add any points here that Swamidass might not wish to address at PS, or in case the naive scientism cum MN lobby grows too loud there.

This is one of those topics where in my view Swamidass scores quite low in credibility and coherency (much like I score in biology! = P). This makes sense because he has little training and doesn’t seem to have done much personal reading in philosophy, social sciences or humanities. Paul Nelson, on the other hand, did a PhD in the philosophy of biology. So if Swamidass starts to try to out-philosophize Nelson, things could get hilarious quickly, as they have in the past, e.g. with Jonathan Burke, who discovered predecessors to GA -> GAE that Swamidass missed & had to add at the last minute.

Let’s see if Swamidass is ready to learn if the term ‘methodological naturalism’ is really a sword he wants to fall on or not. So far, it has been. Nelson, as do I, rejects MNism, & not just as a misnomer.

In the highlighted thread, we see Swamidass ask Nelson for clarification on a topic that Swamidass has obviously done a little bit of armchair talk with buddies about, but hasn’t actually got into the main course yet. Swamidass insists, “For the record, I think MN is legitimate, but that debate is a separate issue.”

Swamidass keeps repeating the same clumsy and imprecise language, then insisting there is nothing to debate about it. He continues to use a word duo (M+N) that he says he thinks is ‘wrong,’ yet without making any attempt to get beyond it. Why not? If he has to hear it 20 times before he understands it, then despite his proficiency in biology & computation, that might be what he needs in order to learn in other fields, such as philosophy. MN is not simply ‘legitimate’ or ‘illegitimate;’ it is rather an expression of ideology about the way (natural) science is done, i.e. its methods. That Swamidass doesn’t realise the inherent bias in the way he is framing the conversation explains much about why people communicating about ‘origins’ topics don’t understand each other.

The reasons Swamidass won’t debate are because, 1. He doesn’t have an original place to stand that was not already taken first by others who likely know the field better than he does, 2. Debate for Swamidass seems always to quickly turn into a kind of non-mainline Christian evangelical apologetics, similar to the BioLogos model, at least how he frames his ‘Empty Chair Confessional’ scenario, as if he were the Science Pope. And when you can’t evangelize evangelcalism to your opponent, or claim A&E as your own in front of them, then the game is up, and, 3. He’s trying to promote peace when there is no peace, using inciting arguments (re: MN) & doing so while flying the confessional banner of the very community that has been among the most protesting & agitating & stubborn & backward (consistent biblical literalistic bigotry & anti-science misunderstanding) in the conversation. And yet he hasn’t yet issued a word of apology for even the METHOD he is using, which comes right out of the same fundamentalist-creationist playbook that caused the problems in the first place and which in his own way, he exacerbates even while ‘scientifically’ preaching peace.

Mature catholic and orthodox Abrahamic monotheists have no need for the highly ideological, scientistic ‘peace’ that Swamidass would sell them on the way down the road to further separation of theology/worldview & human life.

“1. Using God as an explanation is disallowed by MN in scientific work.”

Technically speaking, that comes closer to ‘methodological anti-supernaturalism’ (ASN) than to promoting a naturalism-only approach to methods used in natural sciences. The latter would require a positive signification that Joshue doesn’t adequately provide, which is why the DI produces books like “The Nature of Nature.” It is difficult to figure why Joshua doesn’t understand that MASN does not = MN. Yet he keeps repeating it. One could write it down to a kind of narrow thinking required to ‘do biology’ that may make it difficult to explore other fields of thought respectfully and on their own terms, & thus to try to better understand than just dictating standard-fare (most often, but not always, atheism-driven) MN to philosophers.

Anti-supernaturalism is a different position from pro-naturalism. Methodological naturalism is still a type of naturalism. Swamidass can’t seem to come to grips with or allow his own English language to reflect this in his thoughts. So instead he might pause to ask why philosophers, not to mention social scientists and humanities scholars rather widely, reject the ideology that Swamidass thinks he is defending by simply calling it ‘good science’. We don’t want Swamidass’ naturalistic ideology hidden behind the term ‘methodological,’ yet Swamidass insists we must accept it or be negatively counted.

Sorry Swamidass, ideology is not just automatically ‘good science’ because a PhD in biological computation with a medical degree says it is & encourages others on a soapbox to echo him.

2. Wrong based on answer to 1.

“3. The idea was to discuss an intelligent designer rather than God, design rather than creation, and remove references to Scripture. In fact this was all an attempt to abide by MN.” – Swamidass

How can Swamidass get this so wrong? Is it because he is fixated on MN as a personal ideology he holds as a natural scientist? I have asked Joshua in the past to clearly articulate what a non-naturalist natural scientist looks like & he has avoided answering as if a plague were chasing him. In other words, in his ideological incoherence, he claims both to reject naturalism & accept naturalism at the same time. And now having been caught doing this, doesn’t wish for it to be pointed out. It would be better if Swamidass could learn his error openly & move forward with a clearer message. I believe Paul Nelson could help him do this.

First, it’s an Intelligent Designer, capitalized, if one has a proper sense of Divine Names. C’mon, Paul, don’t just peter out on this – take it head-on! Yes, the DI won’t talk about the Intelligent Designer as part of the ‘theory,’ which is rather minimalist in the end anyway, definitely not a ‘design revolution’. IDism in short: information, therefore mind & therefore a better chance of divine Creation than according to an atheist worldview. Apologetics. Yet Swamidass doesn’t seem to realize how using & promoting the ideology of MN, actually furthers the atheism he somewhat vaguely claims he is against. And the problem is that he can’t just up his science-talk in giving an answer to this because it is not a ‘strictly scientific’ observation or problem he is facing. Pushing harder the wrong way isn’t a good choice. So, when Swamidass gets off his high Science horse, we may actually be able to have a better conversation that takes the ideology of MN more seriously than Swamidass currently does, perhaps just because he can’t see the other side.

4. Facepalm.

“5. Consequently there has been a shift in ID. Rather than work within MN, more and more ID proponents want to get rid of MN in questions of origins.”

No, IDists have been consistently anti-MN since the beginning of the Movement. I’ve been following it since @2002. “In questions of origins,” one of the problems is the scientistic attitude Swamidass brings to the table in contrast with Nelson. Then Swamidass has the gall to ask: “How would you rewrite your narrative in a way that could be common to us?”

I realise the guy deserves some slack, but how about Swamidass making an attempt to rewrite his non-mainline ‘narrative’ in a way that doesn’t particularly privilege the ideology that he holds in the conversation? It would be more productive to instead open up the conversation even to people who patiently, consistently & faithfully reject the scientistic ideology of MN. If Swamidass is unwilling to even consider that it is he who might be misperceiving things, perhaps due to his philosophical immaturity & loose use of concepts & terms, progress with Nelson might indeed take place, which could be good for the future of ‘the conversation.’

One of Nelson’s flaws, of course, is his trust in the work of Stephen C. Meyer, whose definition of ‘history’ leaves more than a lot to be desired. I was quite surprised at what I discovered at Cambridge where Meyer wrote his dissertation & don’t think they appreciate being linked as Meyer & the DI likes to advertise. Let’s leave Meyer out of this & listen to what Nelson has to say.

I’d pick Nelson over Swamidass when it comes to MN. And of course Steve Fuller has gone perhaps even further than Steve Dilley, who Nelson recommended to Swamidass, in exposing MN. Whether or not Nelson can finally get through to Joshua on this topic is another issue. Sometimes more attempts is all it takes.

Nelson wrote that: “MN is the current dividing line because the ID community is united by the bare proposition that “intelligent design is empirically detectable in nature.” In order for design to be detectable, of course, it must have some observational or empirical content which does not reduce ultimately to physics. That’s intelligence as a distinct cause, issuing in distinct effects. MN forbids appeals to intelligence (i.e., as a basic or fundamental constituent of reality). There’s the conflict.”

Here’s where Nelson starts to go off the rails. 1) It’s Intelligent Design, not intelligent design’. The detectability of divine Intelligence, as Phillip Johnson & Charles Thaxton, along with Olsen & Bradley believed & believe. 2) Design is already ‘detectable’, but it is not the end goal simply to ‘detect’ some kind of thing (ontology). Rather, IDism is about implications, the implication of a Mind beyond matter. Good natural science and social science can & do already “appeal to intelligence”. I was speaking with a design theorist & reading a design thinking paper recently. But that’s not ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ and never will be. 3) Science is not a ‘forbidding’ field or discipline. Nelson himself couldn’t see a coherent, clear, valuable ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ even recently, in his own words. The IDists simply have provided no strictly scientific evidence of the instantiation of what they call ‘Intelligent Design’ and instead depend on probabilism & sciency apologetics, the latter much like the earlier ‘creationist’ movements.

So, in the end Swamidass is right about at least this: “The issue is divine intelligence, and the attempt to recognize design without considering the designer (neither approach works in science).” Biology differs considerably from theology & theological biology isn’t welcome; it’s intentionally schismatic. Yet Swamidass is otherwise wrong to suggest that ‘science’ is & only ever can be ‘naturalistic,’ so it’s a rather small & narrow view he is espousing, in the name of Science.

At least S. Joshua Swamidass might learn the difference between philosophy and ideology from Nelson in this conversation. He may then come to realize he’s been foisting a figment of his own imagination that needn’t have been constructed. Then again, he may just shrink back into typical disciplinary language that wreaks of natural scientism, ideological naturalism, biologism & reductionism again. Whatever he does, because I’m calling him out on it here and he doesn’t like being called out away from PS, Joshua will likely deny it all or just ignore it in public because he can’t seem to figure any other way out of the philosophical corner he’s pained himself into than to blame the messenger. Sad to see such an ethically-challenged scientist.

Properly understood, ‘methodological naturalism’ denotes ideology, not ‘good science.’ If Nelson would go further than he has in the past and acknowledge this, a different, likely better conversation would open up. The problem is that Swamidass hasn’t yet shown he’s ready to travel that road. Maybe Nelson will help him get there towards meeting next year with his former ‘hero’ (as Swamidass once briefly called) Behe.

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462 thoughts on “Swamidass vs. Nelson – trying to find a “Common Narrative with ID on MN”?

  1. “I don’t see why you’d expect them to agree on MN.”

    Neither do I.

    Again, S. Joshua Swamidass was so unfamiliar that couldn’t even spell ‘ideology’ properly until recently! I’ve tempered my expectations accordingly to the environment, thanks.

    ‘different bunch of evangelicals’ … “they are all evangelicals.”

    No, they’re not. But let’s stop at agreeing to that.

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  2. Gregory:

    The ideological infection of MNism has gone beyond merely evangelical Protestantism by now, & sadly there are very few clear voices on the topic of MNism, MNism, PNism, & other types of ‘naturalism,’ *ALL* of which are ideologies.

    I find it curious that when I read scientific journals, I see no mention or allusion to any of these ideological positions in either the methods or the findings. More high-level publications like Scientific American occasionally survey the scientific landscape, but these concerns never get any mention.

    Would you take the position that at least one such ideology is so pervasive and taken for granted that it has become invisible to practicing scientists or science writers? Or would you say that finding an ideology under every rock is more in the eye of the ideologist? I admit I see no sign of such infection except in the projections of the theologically motivated.

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  3. Flint,

    I find it curious that when I read scientific journals, I see no mention or allusion to any of these ideological positions in either the methods or the findings. More high-level publications like Scientific American occasionally survey the scientific landscape, but these concerns never get any mention.

    In fairness to Gregory, MN is more of a topic in philosophy of science than in science per se.

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  4. The terms ‘Natural’ and ‘Supernatural’ are of course fraught with problems, but if we assume for the sake of discussion that MN means that science will not consider interventions by god(s) in the world we are studying, I really would like to understand what the alternative would be. Can anyone give me some examples of scientific hypotheses that do include a possibility of divine intervention, yet are still amenable to empirical testing? Please understand that I am talking here about the ‘hard’ sciences such as physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology and biology.

    Personally I can’t think of any. The reason is, I think, that science is the empirical search for regularities in nature. Capricious interventions simply won’t fit in there, and so ‘non-methodological naturalism’ would just be an oxymoron. Such science can’t exist by definition.

    Without any concrete examples this entire discussion seems a complete waste of time. People have asked for such examples since the dawn of ID (and before, I’m sure) yet none have ever been forthcoming.

    Ans just in case someone suggests that ‘ID’ is testable, please describe in some detail the tests that one can actually perform in the lab or in the field, and what outcomes would contradict the ID hypothesis. Please make sure that you are actually testing ID, not evolution.

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  5. faded_Glory,

    The term ‘supernatural’ is of course more “fraught with problems” when spoken by atheists & agnostics, than by religious theists. This is rather simply & understandably because the former don’t believe in it. So the discussion, what there is to have of it, is rather limited between those who ascribe ‘real meaning’ to the term ‘supernatural’ & those who use it as a punching bag for their particular personal variety of anti-supernaturalism, anti-religion &/or anti-theology, which has grown to become a major plank in their ‘worldview’ (which only a few of them will openly talk about).

    Of course, anti-supernaturalism goes as much against First Nations & Indigenous spirituality, as it does against the worldview of the major world religions. That hasn’t stopped disenchanted proponents of atheism and anti-religion bigots from using it offensively, particularly against Abrahamic monotheists. Yet the (MNism vs. MNism [i.e. PNism]) dichotomy was a flawed one from the beginning. Only by needlessly allowing Paul de Vries’ ‘sleight of hand’ philosophistry (yes, Christians at Wheaton College can be philosophists too!) so much room to breathe, has this unfortunate departure from logic, reason & clear thinking been allowed to continue as long as it has.

    “if we assume for the sake of discussion that MN means that science will not consider interventions by god(s) in the world we are studying.”

    Let’s go slooowwwly. That’s not actually ‘methodological naturalism’ (MN) according to the definition. It’s methodological anti-supernaturalism (MASN). Are you aware of the difference or not? Suggest you stop everything you’re doing & sit on your hands in the middle of a field & don’t say anything for a week if you don’t understand this. It’s not impossible to understand if you try.

    This discussion usually wastes peoples’ time ONLY if they do not recognize the difference between MN & MASN. Do you recognize it or not?

    “I am talking here about the ‘hard’ sciences”

    That terminology went out 20-30 years ago & should be ‘gotten over’ by anyone still holding it now. Hard/soft is a comparatively worthless dichotomy that distracts more than it illuminates. If you can’t allow non-naturalism outside of natural-physical sciences, not for anyone, then naturalistic ideology is blinding you.

    Nobody’s talking here about ‘humanism’, instead of ‘naturalism’. Is that a surprise, since it’s a choir of naturalists here among the ‘skeptics’? So, what actually is ‘methodological humanism’ in contrast (let’s exaggerate that so that NP scientists will raise their awareness) with ‘methodological anti-supernaturalism’ / ‘methodological naturalism’? Is it almost time for KN to chine in that he’s finally read de Vries’ original MN paper or not yet?

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  6. faded_Glory: Ans just in case someone suggests that ‘ID’ is testable, please describe in some detail the tests that one can actually perform in the lab or in the field, and what outcomes would contradict the ID hypothesis. Please make sure that you are actually testing ID, not evolution.

    For many years evolution meant random mutations and slow adaptation through natural selection. So then we could test, is that really so. Are the mutations always random? is the progress slow, like the proverbial drunken walk through time.

    But then we found out often that is not the case. often adaptation happens quickly, and apparently not so randomly. So what did the evolutionists do? They just said, oh, ok then, we will just make that part of our theory then. Do they need to explain why its not random? Nope, just say that is the way it is. Details of how and why. Not necessary, just call it a work in progress. That’s our theory now.

    So in this case, there is nothing evolution can’t explain. The mechanisms don’t matter. Whatever they turn out to be, we will just call that evolution, and then we are safe. So whatever accusations you want to make about ID not being science, the exact same thing can be said about material evolution. Whatever is just is, doesn’t matter the cause, or the details. So if we find evidence of teleology, or design, or striving towards a result, your side will always just cop out and say, well, that doesn’t mean its designed to do that, it just is. Snowflakes and all, see. nature just does. The God of nature just does it.

    That’s your supernatural.

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  7. faded_Glory: Can anyone give me some examples of scientific hypotheses that do include a possibility of divine intervention, yet are still amenable to empirical testing?

    Why not just do the science without even concerning yourself whether what you are studying is natural or supernatural?

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  8. faded_Glory:

    Can anyone give me some examples of scientific hypotheses that do include a possibility of divine intervention, yet are still amenable to empirical testing?

    YECism, for one.

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  9. Gregory: it almost time for KN to chine in that he’s finally read de Vries’ original MN paper or not yet?

    You have a link to the actual paper? Only found excerpts and the Christian Scholar Review archives do not go back that far. Thanks.

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  10. newton,

    Waiting for KN to respond in order. Has he read it yet or not? He’s a professor of philosophy, thus with access to a library, yet is taking his sweet time to answer. And imho he’s the ‘skeptic’ philosophistic ‘glue’ that now holds this site together in chaos.

    The original primary text in which de Vries (re-)coined the term ‘methodological naturalism’ (along with ‘metaphysical naturalism’), really can’t be that hard to find, can it?(!)

    Thanks for your patience.

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  11. In the meantime while we wait for KN to get back to us about de Vries’ article, it makes sense now to ask the question:

    Has ANYONE here at TSZ read this paper?
    de Vries, Paul. 1986. “Naturalism in the Natural Sciences,” Christian Scholar’s Review, 15 (1986), pp. 388-396.

    Speak now or forever hold your peace about it.

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  12. Gregory: The original primary text in which de Vries (re-)coined the term ‘methodological naturalism’ (along with ‘metaphysical naturalism’), really can’t be that hard to find, can it?(!)

    It’s not online, it’s not in my university’s library, and I don’t really have the time to work with the librarians tracking it down. The history of methodological naturalism is of some interest to me; these days I’m interested in the history of psychologism and anti-psychologism and the history of behaviorism, and cognitivism. I was interested in the idea of methodological naturalism at a point when it seemed quite similar to verificationism, and that interests me because I’m interested in the emergence of behaviorism: why did behaviorists reject previous paradigms of psychological explanation?

    I did note that the term “methodological naturalism” has at least two distinct senses in the literature.

    In theology or apologetics, it emerges as a way of limiting the purview of scientific explanations so that doctrinal commitments are not endangered. (I think this is the sense of the term that Gregory is interested in.)

    In philosophy, it emerges as a claim about how to do philosophy (not as a claim about how to understand science). The methodological naturalist in this sense is someone who rejects the idea that philosophy investigates a kind of knowledge distinct from that of empirical science. The paradigm of methodological naturalism here would be Quine, due to his rejection of a priori claims and thoroughgoing fallibilism.

    I suspect we’ll have a more productive conversation if we keep this distinction in mind.

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  13. Gregory: The original primary text in which de Vries (re-)coined the term ‘methodological naturalism’ (along with ‘metaphysical naturalism’), really can’t be that hard to find, can it?(!)

    Not KN . I am aware of that as well as the title of the article and volume of of CSR it appeared in. Found your post in 2012 here, many objections to the concept, excerpts. Searched the footnotes in your links. You obviously have access to it.

    If it is really not that hard to find, why the reluctance to be helpful ? It is your point about needing to read the actual paper. Just trying to follow your advice.

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  14. Kantian Naturalist: It’s not online, it’s not in my university’s library, and I don’t really have the time to work with the librarians tracking it down. The history of methodological naturalism is of some interest to me; these days I’m interested in the history of psychologism and anti-psychologism and the history of behaviorism, and cognitivism. I was interested in the idea of methodological naturalism at a point when it seemed quite similar to verificationism, and that interests me because I’m interested in the emergence of behaviorism: why did behaviorists reject previous paradigms of psychological explanation?

    That makes me feel better about not being able to locate it.

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  15. Gregory: Waiting for KN to respond in order. Has he read it yet or not? He’s a professor of philosophy, thus with access to a library, yet is taking his sweet time to answer. And imho he’s the ‘skeptic’ philosophistic ‘glue’ that now holds this site together in chaos.

    Always associated Phoodoo , the only true skeptic, with chaos.

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  16. keiths: Can anyone give me some examples of scientific hypotheses that do include a possibility of divine intervention, yet are still amenable to empirical testing?

    YECism, for one.

    What are the scientific hypotheses of YEC?

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  17. keiths: YECism, for one.

    The YE part can be (and has been) tested, but how do you establish that the earth has been created by divine intervention? Doesn’t that forever escape our inability to rule out some unknown natural phenomenon?

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  18. newton,

    No reluctance to be helpful. Priority merely to show that KN talks sometimes without having done the actual research – this is the part of the philosophistry I’ve been identifying with KN’s apostate, disenchanted, naturalistic, irreligious, Marxist worldview. Small rhetorical points indeed at TSZ.

    Ok, here it is, in case this attaches.

    ETA: is it attached? It shows up in text, but can’t be clicked to open.

    Paul-de-Vries-1986-CSR-Naturalism-in-the-Natural-Sciences.pdf

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     Paul-de-Vries-1986-CSR-Naturalism-in-the-Natural-Sciences.pdf

  19. Corneel: Doesn’t that forever escape our inability to rule out some unknown natural phenomenon?

    But that’s just it, from the materialist perspective, you just NEVER rule out some unknown phenomenon, its your free pass card. If something has no known natural explanation, you will always just say, well one day. So like I have said, if one day God comes down and writes his name in big bold letters across the sky, that still wouldn’t suffice, because you can always just say, well, we just don’t know the real cause yet. Maybe its because of the multi-verse, it had to happen in one universe, because well they are infinite. Just luck we are in the one where it happened. Doesn’t mean anything.

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  20. Torley’s read it & gave a massively long-winded thread, during his IDist days before converting to whatever position he holds now that’s almost IDism. https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/is-methodological-naturalism-a-defining-feature-of-science-part-one/

    Swamidass seems to have read it (he echos a few points from de Vries, a fellow evangelical Protestant), yet not understood much, or at least not enough to read between the lines as needed.

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  21. phoodoo: So if we find evidence of teleology, or design, or striving towards a result, your side will always just cop out and say, well, that doesn’t mean its designed to do that, it just is. Snowflakes and all, see. nature just does. The God of nature just does it.

    That’s your supernatural.

    I think that “evidence of teleology, or design, or striving towards a result” would constitute reasonable evidence of some purposeful creation event. But how does that prove that the creator is a supernatural entity? It would just show that something we don’t yet comprehend has happened.

    How will you prove, by scientific methods, that it was God? Can that be done?

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  22. phoodoo: So like I have said, if one day God comes down and writes his name in big bold letters across the sky, that still wouldn’t suffice, because you can always just say, well, we just don’t know the real cause yet. Maybe its because of the multi-verse, it had to happen in one universe, because well they are infinite. Just luck we are in the one where it happened. Doesn’t mean anything.

    I daresay God writing a daily bulletin in the sky would suffice for most people. But is that science? And how should scientists adopt that possibility in their working methods?

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  23. Corneel: I daresay God writing a daily bulletin in the sky would suffice for most people.

    But why? What is the standard we use to decide its convincing enough evidence. Because for you maybe its convincing enough, but for Rumraket, he can just say, well, I still don’t believe it.

    So what the materialist have always try to claim is that we can’t use our own judgment, there has to be some other objective criteria. So you still can always just use the , “we don’t know” excuse.

    So you see, its not simply evidence for the supernatural that your side demands. That already exists. Its a certainty that you can’t define. Its the built in excuse card.

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  24. Kantian Naturalist,

    Psychologism, yes, that’s an appropriate ideology for the resident philosophist of TSZ to divert further away from any spiritual bond among humankind. It’s as if the goal is instead to embrace a worldview centred around atheism/agnosticism, based in a ‘doesn’t play well with others’ hyper-individualism, bereft of spiritual community.

    “I did note that the term ‘methodological naturalism’ has at least two distinct senses in the literature.”

    You’ve revealed yourself as a fake scholar, KN. Haven’t even read the primary text on the issue, yet put out your philosophistic claims to ‘know’ about the ‘distinct senses’ of that term with an appeal to ‘the literature’!! ROTFL

    “MNism is just about empiricism.” “Look back earlier to Quine.” “I can’t be bothered to read an evangelical Christian philosopher even though that’s who coined the term”! This is a fake scholar’s reply, not worthy of continued dialogue.

    Sorry, I’d rather listen to anyone telling the truth with humility, sincerity & integrity, than an intellectually capable person, sunk into diversionary ‘naturalistic’ apostasy cum almost-scientism, defending ‘skepticism’ against ‘religious humanism’ and the common spiritual bond of humankind. That’s just uninspiring low-culture misanthropic disenchantment by a ‘philosopher’.

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  25. “The gospel, not signs and wonders…”

    “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign”

    It’s entertaining, in a Monty Python sort of way, to search the internet for anyone willing to downplay signs and wonders.

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  26. Gregory:
    newton,

    No reluctance to be helpful. Priority merely to show that KN talks sometimes without having done the actual research – this is the part of the philosophistry I’ve been identifying with KN’s apostate, disenchanted, naturalistic, irreligious, Marxist worldview. Small rhetorical points indeed at TSZ.

    Ok, here it is, in case this attaches.

    ETA: is it attached? It shows up in text, but can’t be clicked to open.

    Paul-de-Vries-1986-CSR-Naturalism-in-the-Natural-Sciences.pdf

    Good enough, thanks

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  27. phoodoo: But why? What is the standard we use to decide its convincing enough evidence. Because for you maybe its convincing enough, but for Rumraket, he can just say, well, I still don’t believe it.

    I suspect even Rumraket would accept huge celestial messages as pretty good evidence. The problem of course is that such copious evidence does not exist. Most people take God’s existence on faith instead, which is fine by me. Some of us choose otherwise, which I hope is also fine by you.

    phoodoo: So what the materialist have always try to claim is that we can’t use our own judgment, there has to be some other objective criteria. So you still can always just use the , “we don’t know” excuse.

    By all means, use your own judgment. But if you wish to proclaim that there is scientific evidence for supernatural phenomena, then you need to deliver to convince the community. For entities that are, by definition, out of the reach of the methods we use to study nature, I don’t see how it can be done. Like faded_Glory I’d like to see a concrete example.

    phoodoo: So you see, its not simply evidence for the supernatural that your side demands. That already exists. Its a certainty that you can’t define. Its the built in excuse card.

    And that is up to MY judgment. Up til now, I judge that evidence to be wanting, but I’ll promise that once the burning sky messages appear I’ll seriously reconsider.

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  28. Corneel,

    All you are really saying here is, its not the evidence YOU want.

    Corneel: But if you wish to proclaim that there is scientific evidence for supernatural phenomena, then you need to deliver to convince the community.

    What community?

    You say that daily messages in the sky would suffice. What about monthly? yearly? Couldn’t you still just claim it is a conspiracy from the Russians?

    So when you say “scientific” evidence that is actually meaningless. What would make it constitute as scientific?

    What you really mean is evidence that would convince a hardcore atheist. And there is no one who can say what that is.

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  29. phoodoo: What you really mean is evidence that would convince a hardcore atheist. And there is no one who can say what that is.

    Lots of theists believe the findings of medical science not that diseases are cured by prayer alone

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  30. phoodoo: But that’s just it, from the materialist perspective, you just NEVER rule out some unknown phenomenon, its your free pass card.If something has no known natural explanation, you will always just say, well one day.So like I have said, if one day God comes down and writes his name in big bold letters across the sky, that still wouldn’t suffice, because you can always just say, well, we just don’t know the real cause yet.Maybe its because of the multi-verse, it had to happen in one universe, because well they are infinite.Just luck we are in the one where it happened.Doesn’t mean anything.

    I think this is essentially correct. If “the supernatural”, whatever that is, lies outside the boundaries of the enterprise of science, and if there IS something supernatural that science can observe, whatever that is would forever remain in the “not yet explained” category. We are currently doing something closely related with dark matter and dark energy. So far, nobody has been able to design any instrument capable of detecting either one directly, so these remain (possibly misguided) labels to describe a set of unexplainable observations.

    However, there is an important distinction here, in that scientists DO observe the unexplained. So far, I’m not aware of any phenomena or set of observations for which supernatural intervention might reasonably apply. As Isaac Asimov wrote, the most important words in science aren’t “Eureka, I found it!” but rather “hmmm…that’s funny”.

    But just for discussion let’s say someone hypothesizes that dark matter and dark energy ARE the result of supernatural influence. Now what? Pray to the gods of astronomy? Stop looking?

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  31. Gregory: “MNism is just about empiricism.” “Look back earlier to Quine.” “I can’t be bothered to read an evangelical Christian philosopher even though that’s who coined the term”! This is a fake scholar’s reply, not worthy of continued dialogue.

    I just discovered that the term “methodological naturalism” was coined by Edward Brightman in “An Empirical Approach to God”, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Mar., 1937), pp. 147-169. He has an interesting examination of how metaphysical verification is distinct from scientific verification and builds on the radical empiricism of William James and Mary Whiton Calkins. Briefly, he argues that the reality of consciousness and of values shows that naturalism cannot be true metaphysically, however much scientists may adopt it methodologically.

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  32. Gregory:
    Kantian Naturalist,

    Psychologism, yes, that’s an appropriate ideology for the resident philosophist of TSZ to divert further away from any spiritual bond among humankind. It’s as if the goal is instead to embrace a worldview centred around atheism/agnosticism, based in a ‘doesn’t play well with others’ hyper-individualism, bereft of spiritual community.

    You’ve revealed yourself as a fake scholar, KN. Haven’t even read the primary text on the issue, yet put out your philosophistic claims to ‘know’ about the ‘distinct senses’ of that term with an appeal to ‘the literature’!!ROTFL

    “MNism is just about empiricism.” “Look back earlier to Quine.” “I can’t be bothered to read an evangelical Christian philosopher even though that’s who coined the term”! This is a fake scholar’s reply, not worthy of continued dialogue.

    Sorry, I’d rather listen to anyone telling the truth with humility, sincerity & integrity, than an intellectually capable person, sunk into diversionary ‘naturalistic’ apostasy cum almost-scientism, defending ‘skepticism’ against ‘religious humanism’ and the common spiritual bond of humankind. That’s just uninspiring low-culture misanthropic disenchantment by a ‘philosopher’.

    This gets really old. You keep pounding your spiritual chest, belittling all those who disagree calling them fakers and ignorami, and outright DEFINE “humility, sincerity and integrity” as the inability to see the world EXCEPT through your theological filter. Everyone but you is a soul lost in the wilderness of atheism, anti-supernaturalism, secular humanism, unworthy of your efforts to preach us all into the blinding light your spirituality (and de Vries, I guess) have gifted on you.

    Would you be interested in reading, for example, any of the books by Richard Dawkins, or Stephen Jay Gould, Ernst Mayr? If you haven’t fully internalized what they are saying, should we dismiss you as another Elmer Gantry?

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  33. Flint: So far, I’m not aware of any phenomena or set of observations for which supernatural intervention might reasonably apply

    No no, you are still confused Flint. Its not about you being aware of any phenomenon for which the supernatural might apply. Its about what COULD EVER BE according to the materialist, phenomenon that would have a supernatural cause. The materialist says, if it looks supernatural, even it virtually has to be the supernatural, because it could be nothing else, they have a third option-“It can’t be explained, yet.”

    So when you say you haven’t seen any phenomenon so far, well of course! You have already said it can’t ever happen! God floating down from Heaven and handing you a gold sealed letter notarized by Saint Peter still wouldn’t qualify. Nothing would. So its absurd for you to say you haven’t seen any yet. Your position, the position of the skeptic materialist, is that there is no such thing as evidence. Never could be. The ten commandments, tattooed onto your chest by a gang of floating angels would not be evidence. The sun turning into the shape of a cross would not be evidence. Nothing would be.

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  34. phoodoo: No no, you are still confused Flint.Its not about you being aware of any phenomenon for which the supernatural might apply.Its about what COULD EVER BE according to the materialist, phenomenon that would have a supernatural cause.The materialist says, if it looks supernatural, even it virtually has to be the supernatural, because it could be nothing else, they have a third option-“It can’t be explained, yet.”

    So when you say you haven’t seen any phenomenon so far, well of course!You have already said it can’t ever happen!God floating down from Heaven and handing you a gold sealed letter notarized by Saint Peter still wouldn’t qualify.Nothing would.So its absurd for you to say you haven’t seen any yet.Your position, the position of the skeptic materialist, is that there is no such thing as evidence.Never could be.The ten commandments, tattooed onto your chest by a gang of floating angels would not be evidence.The sun turning into the shape of a cross would not be evidence.Nothing would be.

    This is a bit incoherent. In the first place, I in fact DID say I have seen something that is currently completely unexplainable – dark matter and dark energy. I said these were mere place-holder labels, and may not even refer to what we understand as matter or energy at all!

    And I agreed with you that if there WERE any supernatural phenomena, science as we know it could not identify it as such, and would relegate it to the “not yet explained” category, forever. Dark matter and energy might actually be such divine intervention in our universe.

    However, reading your words more closely, I understand that you’re not talking about something generically unexplainable, you are talking about the hypothetical possibility of what you consider irrefutable evidence of your particular religious beliefs. Now, to me this is something quite different. You can’t seem to entertain the notion of irrefutable evidence of someone else’s gods or beliefs. What if Shiva and a handful of other Hindu gods should make themselves obvious? Would YOU see this as evidence that the Hindus got it right and the Christians got it wrong?

    Finally, you do not seem to distinguish between evidence and the interpretation of evidence. Of course a god coming down from heaven for a spectacular photo op would be evidence. But what would it be evidence OF? There are tens of thousands of Christian sects not because of enormous amounts of conflicting evidence, but because of enormous numbers of different interpretations of that same evidence.

    Most Christians have no need of such extraordinary and explicit phenomena. They are perfectly satisfied to see their god in the world wherever they look. They may no longer believe the devil causes disease, but they can still regard disease as yet another ineffable aspect of their god’s will,

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  35. phoodoo,

    We’ve been through this many, many times here. It will never sink, phoodoo, you’re a lost cause. A proper scientific theory won’t leave everyone wondering what might count as supporting evidence for it.

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  36. Phoodoo, what would you do if the stars aligned forming the following message?
    “You’re all worshipping the wrong God. Jesus never existed. all human religions are false”

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  37. dazz:
    phoodoo,

    We’ve been through this many, many times here. It will never sink, phoodoo, you’re a lost cause. A proper scientific theory won’t leave everyone wondering what might count as supporting evidence for it.

    One might reasonably say that science, at its heart, is the process of explaining evidence (observations). Many explanations are always possible.

    Phoodoo might consider that Shiva is (among other things) god of destruction. OK, do we see any destruction going on? Wouldn’t that be clear evidence of Shiva? Thor is (among other things) god of thunder. Do we ever hear thunder? What clearer evidence of Thor could we ask for?

    Clearly, phoodoo is not trying to say science denies the evidence. He’s saying that science fails to interpret evidence as he would prefer. If science does NOT accept that thunder is proof of Thor, and if phoodoo believes in Thor, phoodoo would say science is denying thunder. Otherwise, they’d accept Thor as the evidence demands.

    And in that case, a scientific theory is not an explanation for evidence, it’s instead a means to render science blind to evidence.

    1+
  38. Kantian Naturalist,

    “I just discovered…”

    Welcome to the rodeo! This ‘discovery,’ no surprise since you apparently just started looking, precedes you. Nevertheless, it’s nice you’re actually looking more closely now at MNism. Clarity about it would enable a route out of the disenchantment you have described as suffering from here.

    Harrison is solid: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/religious-studies/article/naturalism-and-the-success-of-science/68779222E2C608436CAE819A6F499063

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  39. Flint,

    He doesn’t have the slightest idea of what it means to say that X is evidence for theory T.

    I think in the thought experiment I proposed above, ironically, only the skeptics would be willing to entertain the idea that the message in the stars may actually come from God. It would be extremely confusing, but at face value, it might be the best explanation. I bet religious fundies, OTOH, would resist the conclusion that God himself is telling them their religion is false. They would make all sort of excuses and rationalizations to explain the event away.

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  40. dazz: They would make all sort of excuses and rationalizations to explain the event away.

    God hisorherself would harden their hearts against the evidence. There is precedent.

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  41. Corneel,

    The YE part [of YEC] can be (and has been) tested, but how do you establish that the earth has been created by divine intervention?

    It doesn’t matter. If you’ve falsified the YE part, you’ve falsified the hypothesis as a whole, and that means that the YEC God — a non-deceptive God who created the earth less than 10,000 years ago — does not exist.

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  42. keiths:
    faded_Glory:

    YECism, for one.

    I don’t think so. They make predictions about stuff that happened according to the bible, but even if those things happened there is no direct empirical link between them and a supernatural god causing them.

    1+
  43. Gregory,

    I note that you haven’t presented an example of a non-MN empitically testable scienctific hypothesis.

    To be fair I didn’t expect you would. It is all big words, arrogance and deflection with you, isn’t it?

    2+
  44. phoodoo: But that’s just it, from the materialist perspective, you just NEVER rule out some unknown phenomenon,

    That is right. This is why science has made so much progress in the last centuries, unlike theology that is like a stuck record endelessly repeating the same mantras.

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  45. I’d like to know what “methodological anti-supernaturalism” isn’t the same as “methodological naturalism”.

    ETA: I’ve read the “Naturalism in the Natural Sciences” by de Vries and am curious to know what is supposed to be objectionable about it.

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  46. But a deceptive god, or one that didn’t create the earth 10,000 years ago, is not ruled out.

    1+
  47. phoodoo,

    Phoodoo, to demonstrate God scientifically you first need to formulate an operational definition of God. That is the only way to come up with empirically testable hypotheses that could in principle falsify his existence.

    Can you do that?

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  48. faded_Glory:

    I don’t think so. They make predictions about stuff that happened according to the bible, but even if those things happened there is no direct empirical link between them and a supernatural god causing them.

    See my reply to Corneel above. This is a testable supernatural hypothesis:

    The YEC God exists.

    It’s been falsified because the YE part has been falsified.

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