Re: Science: working in the flesh?

Rodney Dunning (
Thu, 20 Feb 1997 10:30:38 -0500 (EST)

On Thu, 20 Feb 1997, Bill Hamilton wrote:

> At 9:07 AM 2/20/97, Dick Fischer wrote:
> >Ah, but science, by definition, involves a search for natural causes.
> >Unnatural causes may be part of out Christian belief system, but is not
> >applicable to the scientific method. Just a little Catch 22 to make
> >your day.
> Agreed. But the challenge is how to answer a well-meaning Christian
> nonscientist who asks why this should be so.
> Bill Hamilton

These are difficult questions. I don't know of anyone who consciously
follows the steps of the scientific method, but it seems the step where
one "makes a prediction" (I think it's the third?) could be an answer
to why this is so. I really haven't thought this through, but it would
seem that we are prohibited from making anything but totally blind guesses
regarding supernatural events. And how could we test them?

On the other hand, and we all know this, science can be used to falsify
(some) supernatural claims- especially the type which, if true, would
indicate a complete breakdown in physical laws. Other supernatural claims,
such as God's "involvement" with the otherwise natural processes of the
everyday world, cannot even be thoroughly explained, much less ruled out
scientifically- as far as I know.

Of course, science can also be used to eliminate natural causes . . .

In an earlier post, Gene wrote:

>How would one go about looking for supernatural causes? One way, it
>seems, is to rule out natural ones by investigation using the scientific

I think this would work, except it seems that science (both community
and method) would NEVER give up its quest for a naturalistic explanation.
I don't know that I can object to that attitude, either. How many natural
causes must be ruled out before we decide that a supernatural cause is
the explanation? And supposing we have an answer, haven't we then somehow
turned science from a method of falsification into a method of
verification? Would what we then have still be science?

Your thoughts?

Rodney Dunning
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fax: 910-759-6142