The Science of the Supernatural

If Darwinism fails then supernatural causes are back on the table and should be included in science.

I do not think there can be a science of the supernatural.

I do not think that if Darwinism fails that supernatural causes will become acceptable.

If the hope of ID is that supernatural causes will be allowed back into science if they can only just get rid of Darwinism, ID is doomed.

The tools and methods of ID cannot differentiate a supernatural cause from a natural cause anyways.

Thoughts?

1,433 thoughts on “The Science of the Supernatural

  1. Mung: I think you have that backwards. Science observes effects and attempts to assign causes to those effects. Or perhaps that is what you were trying to say?

    Deduction: given rule and cause, deduce effect. (Rule, Cause)→Effect.

    Induction: given causes and effects, deduce best rule.

    Abduction: given effect and rules, deduce best cause.

    Science: adduce explanation, induce rules, deduce observational tests and consequences.

    DEDUCTION
    1. If it rains, the grass gets wet. (Rule)
    2. It rained. (Cause)
    3. Therefore, the grass is wet. (Effect)

    ABDUCTION
    1. The grass is wet. (Effect)
    2. If it rains, the grass gets wet. (Rule, explanation)
    3. Therefore, it rained. (Cause)

    INDUCTION
    1. It rained. (Cause)
    2. The grass is wet. (Effect)
    3. Therefore, if it rains, the grass gets wet. (Rule)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nn3XMoPC7s

  2. walto: I’m ok with that, except for the “undetectable.”They’d surely not go along with that unless you added something like “by any scientific/empirical means.”

    “By any empirical means” was implied in my use of undetectable. Thanks for helping me make that clearer.

  3. BruceS: But if you agree with Mr Google, then your version of ID’s goal of “getting rid of darwinism” is pointless, since science no longer uses his ideas alone as the best explanation for (eg) biological diversity.

    I agree it’s a fool’s errand. But I disagree with your attempt to minimize the continued role of Darwinian thinking in evolutionary biology. Just today I came across the following in Molecular Cell Biology:

    The Darwinian principle that organisms vary randomly and the fittest are then selected by the forces of their environment guides biological thinking to this day.

    My rejection of swamidasianism is based on its refusal to face up to reality. 🙂

  4. I would like to say that the assumptions on this OP are either wrong or misunderstood…
    Let’s just pretend for a moment that the famous Dover trial had gone the other way…
    What would have happened then?
    Would Mike Behe be teaching the Supernatural biology instead of biological sciences? Who would have decided how and what to teach about the actual details of Supernatural? Has anybody ever thought seriously ever this through?
    Mike Behe?
    Would you like to teach more courses to the ones you already have?
    How about quantum irreducible complexity mixed up with faith?

  5. Perhaps I was wrong.

    Famously, or notoriously, natural selection makes God a hypothesis of which we have no need – except, maybe, as the being who created the laws of nature behind natural selection.

    – Gregory Radick

    So if natural selection fails to account for the wonders of the biological world wouldn’t it follow that the God hypothesis is back on the table?

    Will the ID critics ever stop employing natural selection as a substitute for God?

    I’ll note that there is an upcoming book by Stephen Meyer.

    The Return of the God Hypothesis: Compelling Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God

    Will we finally learn about the intelligence that is behind Intelligent Design?

  6. phoodoo: Laws?

    Laws of nature?Do you means the laws of physics?

    Natural laws… the laws of nature… that’s what it is all about… capish?

  7. phoodoo: According to Timothy, if all the stars aligned to spell out “I Am God” he still might not be convinced.

    So no big surprise there.

    Why aren’t we all convinced about Darwinism?

    If you are going to quote someone, you should at least try to be accurate.

  8. walto: FMM. If rabbit’s feet don’t bring good luck it’s because they’re NOT actually supernatural.

    No it’s because they don’t work. It has nothing to do with natural verses supernatural

    walto: the idea that some physical item could naturally “bring good luck” is silly–unless it means something like “made him wildly rich when he sold it” or “attracted women by making him seem so innocent and naive.”

    That is pretty much how I would define luck 😉

    There is nothing supernatural there either.

    Luck is just a tendency for fortuitous events to occur more frequently than is expected. There does not have to be anything spooky about it at.

    Of course you know that as a Calvinist I don’t believe in luck but in providence, that is a different kettle of fish and it does involve the supernatural because it’s God rather than a rabbit’s foot that is causing the good fortune.

    walto: I don’t think you’ve really thought much of that post through.

    Actually I’ve have thought about this sort of thing a lot.

    I think you have not taken much time to ponder the similarity between believing things like a toad can cause warts and a rabbit’s foot can cause good luck and believing things like cell phone signals cause cancer and vaccines cause autism.

    These things are just alike and none of them involve the supernatural.

    If you disagree you need to explain the difference and how to recognize and quantify it.

    It might just get you to that science of the supernatural we are discussing

    peace

  9. Mung:
    Perhaps I was wrong.

    So if natural selection fails to account for the wonders of the biological world wouldn’t it follow that the God hypothesis is back on the table?

    Will the ID critics ever stop employing natural selection as a substitute for God?

    I’ll note that there is an upcoming book by Stephen Meyer.

    The Return of the God Hypothesis: Compelling Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God

    Will we finally learn about the intelligence that is behind Intelligent Design?

    Good ones, Mung! I agree you have very good points! Maybe DI has a new agenda? It would be hard for me to comprehend what that would be… I have been wrong before…many times.. so…I give you the upperhand on this one…

    However, would you be interested in what Behe thinks about the teaching ID in schools in whatever form?

  10. timothya:
    If you are going to quote someone, you should at least try to be accurate.

    That would go against everything creationists stand for.

  11. Mung:
    So if natural selection fails to account for the wonders of the biological world wouldn’t it follow that the God hypothesis is back on the table?

    Nope. As someone else said, something else would take its place, while gods would still be fantasies at best.

    Mung:
    Will the ID critics ever stop employing natural selection as a substitute for God?

    1. I don’t understand what makes you think that Gregory Radick, whomever that might be, is a representative of ID critics. I critique the ID bullshit, and I’ve never substituted gods with natural selection.

    2. It’s mostly creationists who think that non-believers substitute “God” with natural selection or with evolution, projecting all of their imaginary friend’s “qualities” into evolution. It’s creationists who complain that evolution doesn’t explain everything, like the orbits of the planets in the solar system, or who claim that evolution is false because life forms are not perfect, or because individuals fail to reproduce, and all that kind of shit that can only be demanded of an omni-potent magical being.

  12. Entropy: Nope. As someone else said, something else would take its place, while gods would still be fantasies at best.

    I agree that “goddidit” is not about to find a place at the table of modern science. But science is all about fantasies, so we should not count those out.

  13. Entropy: 1. I don’t understand what makes you think that Gregory Radick, whomever that might be, is a representative of ID critics.

    Sorry, it was not my intent to give that impression. I can see how you might take it that way. I provided that quote as an example of the dichotomy which was introduced in the OP. God vs Darwinism.

    Everyone seems to know that it must be one or the other, that we must make a choice. Certainly Darwin thought so.

    I am questioning that dichotomy.

  14. Entropy: 2. It’s mostly creationists who think that non-believers substitute “God” with natural selection or with evolution, projecting all of their imaginary friend’s “qualities” into evolution.

    Natural selection is the God substitute, ever since Darwin.

  15. Mung:
    Natural selection is the God substitute, ever since Darwin.

    No, it isn’t. Creationist projections notwithstanding.

  16. Mung: Sorry, it was not my intent to give that impression. I can see how you might take it that way. I provided that quote as an example of the dichotomy which was introduced in the OP. God vs Darwinism.

    Everyone seems to know that it must be one or the other, that we must make a choice. Certainly Darwin thought so.

    I am questioning that dichotomy.

    What is the third possibility? As soon as you eliminate random, don’t you have to conclude a cause?

  17. timothya: phoodoo: According to Timothy, if all the stars aligned to spell out “I Am God” he still might not be convinced.

    So no big surprise there.

    Why aren’t we all convinced about Darwinism?

    If you are going to quote someone, you should at least try to be accurate.

    Which part did I get wrong, you would be convinced then or still wouldn’t be convinced, or you are too tired to think?

  18. walto: BTW, are dreams real?

    *chuckles*

    That’s at least three questions!

    1. From a first-person point of view, it’s a physical process, involving brain activity. In my case, remembered content normally relates to something I’ve been frustrated or anxious about but with a distorted reality that might involve flying or escaping or confronting wild beasts.

    2. From a third-person point of view, the act of dreaming is easily observable. Ask my wife! And there’s a whole “ology” devoted to dream research.

    3. Content of dreams is imaginary, in the sense of fiction or fantasy.

  19. Alan Fox: That we don’t know the answer!

    It seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that the secret to life is a logical inconsistency-something that is both not planned, and also not not planned.

  20. phoodoo,
    Maybe you should try considering a sort of inverse hypothetical question. What evidence might you be presented with that would shake your belief in a deity. (I assume that you do, not sure if you’ve been explicit about that).

    Surprise me! 🙂

  21. Alan Fox:
    phoodoo,
    Maybe you should try considering a sort of inverse hypothetical question. What evidence might you be presented with that would shake your belief in a deity. (I assume that you do, not sure if you’ve been explicit about that).

    Surprise me!

    I am not sure what this has to do with the question? If life is not created by just random chaos of DNA, then can you replace this theory with some other random chaos? If you can’t then it seems all we are left with is a cause or planned. Either planned or unplanned. I don’t think there exists a concept in our vocabulary which is neither planned nor unplanned. You are asking us to imagine a dimension for which we have no frame of reference to imagine. How can that be scientific?

  22. phoodoo: If life is not created by just random chaos of DNA, then can you replace this theory with some other random chaos? If you can’t then it seems all we are left with is a cause or planned. Either planned or unplanned.

    The honest answer is we don’t know.

  23. phoodoo: How can that be scientific?

    Admitting what you don’t know is the first step in a successful scientific endeavour.

  24. phoodoo: life is not created by just random chaos of DNA, then can you replace this theory with some other random chaos?

    I don’t think any OOL theory that’s plausible involves random chaos. I suspect there would have to be bias. My current preferred option is the niche at the interface of turbulent mixing of hot and cold water near a geothermal vent. Heat allows fast reaction times, cold preserves products of reactions. Much better than a warm pond. Also the fact that RNA can act as both a store of genetic information and act as a catalyst makes it a better candidate for early life.

  25. Alan Fox: Admitting what you don’t know is the first step in a successful scientific endeavour.

    Admitting that you do not know whether or not God exists is your first step in a successful scientific endeavour.

  26. Mung: Admitting that you do not know whether or not God exists is your first step in a successful scientific endeavour.

    I think I’ve said that on many occasions (apart from linking it to scientific enquiry, on which it has no bearing.). But I’m puzzled why God needs to hide so effectively as to be indistinguishable from an imaginary human invention.

  27. Mung: We’ll make a theist of you yet!

    Well, who knows! On the other hand, I’m convinced the varying propensity for religious belief has an innate element, an emotional need that I think I lack.

  28. Alan Fox: But I’m puzzled why God needs to hide so effectively as to be indistinguishable from an imaginary human invention.

    Can you restate that question without the rather obvious contentious content?

    No Christian, as far as I know, has ever denied the role of faith. Do you deny the existence and power of faith?

  29. Alan Fox: I’m convinced the varying propensity for religious belief has an innate element, an emotional need that I think I lack.

    Yes, well, thanks to Darwinian evolution your kind will soon disappear.

  30. Mung: Do you deny the existence and power of faith?

    Except as an idea, an abstraction, yes. But I’ve no wish to persuade anyone else from thinking otherwise if it helps them get through the day.

  31. Mung: Yes, well, thanks to Darwinian evolution your kind will soon disappear.

    Thanks to the “benefits” of modern civilisation and niche construction, evolutionary bias is maybe no longer an effective enough process to drive human development in either direction.

  32. phoodoo: It seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that the secret to life is a logical inconsistency-something that is both not planned, and also not not planned.

    Indeed it would be.

  33. Mung: I agree it’s a fool’s errand. But I disagree with your attempt to minimize the continued role of Darwinian thinking in evolutionary biology.

    I’ll leave discussions of Dr S. for Gregory’s thread.

    Saying the IBE has changed beyond NS only is not the same as minimizing its role.

    My understanding is there is no consensus on the relative importance of the various mechanisms that are used to account for biological evolution.

    You can even find popularizations and NYT articles on the role of beauty as a mechanism — surely there has to be a halting oracle in that?
    How Beauty Is Making Scientists Rethink Evolution

  34. Alan Fox: *chuckles*

    1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.
    2. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
    3. Never argue with a philosopher in answering “what is real”.

    “What is real” is a question for philosophy informed by science, but it is not a question that science alone is equipped to or tries to answer.

    Was the T. Rex real? Don’t say yes on the basis that we can detect its bones. Those are bones, not T. Rex’s.

    Better to try: yes, because postulating T. Rex’s is part of our best biological theories. But that is philosophy.

    However, I am pretty sure Walto is not Sicilian, so at least you are not going for the Exacta.

  35. BruceS: 1.Never get involved ina land war in Asia.

    Check!

    2.Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

    check

    3.Never argue with a philosopher in answering “what is real”.

    Mmmaah! Can’t resist!

    “What is real” is a question for philosophy informed by science, but it is not a question that science alone is equipped to or tries to answer.

    I think anyone who can address it coherently deserves a go. Both ontologically speaking: ‘ Is there “reality” ‘ and the epistemology of reality, what it’s about.

    Was the T. Rex real? Don’t say yes on the basis that we can detect its bones.Those are bones, not T. Rex’s.

    We know a little more than that. There’s context, geology and phylogeny.

    Better to try: yes,because postulating T. Rex’s is part of our best biological theories. But that is philosophy.

    Not persuaded that the approach adopted by paleobiologists is not more effective.

    However, I am pretty sure Walto is not Sicilian, so at least you are not going for the Exacta.

    He never takes me seriously. *sob*

  36. Alan Fox: I don’t think any OOL theory that’s plausible involves random chaos. I suspect there would have to be bias. My current preferred option is the niche at the interface of turbulent mixing of hot and cold water near a geothermal vent. Heat allows fast reaction times, cold preserves products of reactions. Much better than a warm pond. Also the fact that RNA can act as both a store of genetic information and act as a catalyst makes it a better candidate for early life.

    Well, now you have sort of changed the topic to the OOL.

    So that you are saying can be random, and unguided, as it just so happens that there is hot and cold water near vents. Ok…

    Now, once life is started because of some random vents, and some random niche (I don’t know why you don’t call that chaos, but anyway), what makes it continue? Again, just random niches and random sputtering of chemical bonds?

    So this could be a theory that is what, non-random? How so? You are saying it is something different than a Darwinian method, so its just a hot and cold random method? And that so happens to produce intelligence? That’s a possible third way?

    Not seeing the possibilities frankly. I am certainly not convinced it is a replacement for random.

  37. phoodoo: I am certainly not convinced it is a replacement for random.

    Nor am I suggesting a replacement. Rather, an addition. Don’t have time now for a more detailed answer. Back later.

  38. Alan Fox: Check!

    .

    Not persuaded that the approach adopted by paleobiologists is not more effective.

    OK, but that’s just an example of postulating them based on theories (notice I was careful to avoid birds and talk about T. Rex’s!).

    Wslto only takes CharlieM seriously, as best I can tell.

  39. phoodoo: Not seeing the possibilities frankly. I am certainly not convinced it is a replacement for random.

    Simply provide a more compelling explanation yourself then.

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