Re: Answer to Eugenie Scott's views

Keith B Miller (
Sat, 28 Mar 1998 20:21:13 -0600

Phil wrote:

>"If employing methodological naturalism is the only way to reach true
>conclusions about the history of the universe, and if the attempt to
>provide a naturalistic history of the universe has gone from success to
>success, and if even theists concede that trying to do science on theistic
>premises always leads nowhere or into error (the embarrassing "God of the
>gaps"), then the likely explanation for this state of affairs is that
>naturalism is true and theism is false."

Employing MN does nothing of the sort. The scientific method yields truth
only within its well-defined limitations. You have accepted Provine's line
that the only truth of significance is scientific truth. I personally
believe there are truths of much greater significance than those testable
by scientific methodology.

>The subject of my comments was MN -- the doctrine which states as a
>philosophical a priori that only naturalistic explanations are eligible for
>consideration. Hence a naturalistic explanation for all events is presumed
>to exist REGARDLESS OF THE EVIDENCE. No matter how strongly the evidence
>points to the reality of design in biology, and hence the reality of the
>Designer, that possibility must be ignored and the best naturalistic
>alternative (Darwinian selection) credited with creating the appearance of
>design. I do not think that theists should agree to this kind of
>restriction upon thought, and I do think that theists should be willing to
>recognize the existence of intelligent causes when the evidence points in
>that direction.

But I and many others have serious doubts about your ability to judge the
evidence. You have been unwilling to respond to the scientific criticisms
brought against your portrayal of the evidence for evolution. You have
made demonstrably incorrect statements about what evolutionary theory
proposes. It is on the basis of the evidence that I accept evolutionary
theory, regardless of your rhetoric. I'm sure there are many on this list
who would be eager for a point by point discussion of the scientific claims
you have made. You cannot charge us with ignoring the evidence when you
refuse to engage us in discussion of that evidence.

> God is free to create or supervise by any means He
>chooses, without objection from me. It is MN that seeks to confine God by
>man-made rules. Naturalistic science dislikes the idea that God might act
>in some detectable manner, as by employing intelligent causes in biological
>creation, and so God is told firmly that he may not do this sort of thing,
>and certainly may not leave the evidence lying around for scientists to
>observe. As one of my favorite theologians once observed, "This God is far
>weaker than the philosophers who created him."

MN only limits what a scientific explanation can include. I have
repeatedly said that if science cannot provide a cause-and-effect
description for a given event or process, then that is all that science as
science can say. Future research may provide such a description or it may
not, science is simply mute with regard to divine action. Science does
nothing but describe the universe from a particular limited perspective.


Keith B. Miller
Department of Geology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506