NTSE Report #1

John W. Burgeson (burgy@compuserve.com)
Sun, 23 Feb 1997 20:04:13 -0500

Sunday night -- the NTSE conference has ended. Though I'd share a few
comments/notes with fellow internet correspondents. This may be # 1 of a
series -- we'll see.

Rob Koons ended the conference with what he saw as his "two primary rules
of science," to wit:

1. seek the truth
2. Use your own light in doing so.

Rob hosted a great conference; it went very smoothly; much good
conversation. Quite a number of ASA members there.

Closing comments by Phil Johnson included the following, loosely quoted
mostly from memory:

1. To follow what he is doing look on the A.R.N. web site.
2. Two kinds of argument going on:
a. A culture war. Centers on "proper definition(s) of science.
b. An academic debate (debates) on the merits of issues.

Arguments of type a0 are nearly over; they will still take place in 1997,
with a "last gasp" by some at the ASA convention in August. By 1998 -- all
over. The proponents of Theistic Science will have won the culture war --
gaining the "right" to have their issues/concepts/theories fairly

Steve Schafersman, a speaker at the convention, took issue with this, as
did some others.

Phil commented "How far have we gone? We are just about there. The word
'there' means that arbitrary rules can no longer determine what gets
argued. The rule that "methodological naturalism" must be assumed is,
specifically, the rule that cannot any longer be invoked in arguments
about, for instance, intelligent design proposals. Again, some in the
audience, some of them theists, disagreed.

Phil then commented hat it would be OK for a person to assume an a priori
position of methodological maturalism in the debates if he wished, but that
this would only marginalize his arguments; he would be ignored.

Comment from Burgy -- above written as a reporter, not a commentator. As a
commentator, I see this interchange as summing up the whole conference. No
doubt others saw it differently.

That's enough to chew on tonight.