Re: Answer to Eugenie Scott's views

Eugenie C. Scott (
Wed, 18 Mar 1998 14:01:03

Dear Will,

Well, we can't have much of a conversation without agreeing on basic
definitions. I understand methdological naturalism to refer to the
decision to explain the natural world using natural causes. Period. I do
not believe that methdological naturalism requires notions about God or
Gods at all, unlike your definition,

At 06:21 PM 3/15/98 +0000, William B. Provine wrote:
A methodological naturalist
>believes that any deities or Intelligences not visible in nature (which
>can be approached by methodological naturalism) are unharmed.

I have no idea what you mean by "unharmed", and at any rate, my definition
makes no statement whatsoever about deities. That's the point of it being
*methodological* naturalism! In my view, you conflate philosophical
naturalism into your definition of methodological, which makes all further
discussion difficult.

>I agree. But a methodological naturalist would analyse the birth of
>Jesus Christ the same way as a philosophical naturalist.

Not using my definition. If miracles occur, they are by definition outside
of the ability of methodological naturalism to consider. I think mine is
the more common definition of "methodological naturalism." It's a "hands
off" position, when it comes to *super*natural activity like miracles. I
refer people to my short essay at

You and I agree that both theists and nontheists "if we care about social
good, all of us will cooperate and work together for a better society."
That's a good note to end on: if we understand one another better, we will
find the places where we can agree, and the places where we will remain
unconvinced by one another's positions. And I think both of us would like
to avoid the name-calling that occurs among some partisans.

Best wishes,


Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.
Executive Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
925 Kearney St.
El Cerrito, CA 94530-2810
fax: 510-526-1675