Re: Rationale for scientific methodology

From: Guy Blanchet (
Date: Wed Sep 20 2000 - 05:47:59 EDT

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: Rationale for scientific methodology"

    Mr. Miller,

    The goal of science should be to say everything it can about natural
    processes. And what it can say may fall into two categories: a pure physical
    description of a process, and, the reality behind the process (its deep
    meaning). The first talks about Nature, the second attemps to say what Nature

    In developping a theory, one usually establishes a model, a general concept,
    which is then translated into mathematical relationships. Limiting the model
    to be observable, i.e. non-supernatural, is a serious and needless
    restriction. No one, worthy of being called a scientist, should be
    disturbed by a model invoquing the supernatural as long as it leads to useful
    predictions. Those who insist that this is not acceptable practice,
    especially when the supernatural is the Biblical God, are promoting a
    non-scientific personal agenda.

    I have a copy of a paper entitled "THE CORRECT APPROACH TO SCIENTIFIC
    THEORIES", Apostolos Ch. Frangos, Volume 28, June 1991, CREATION RESEARCH
    SOCIETY QUARTERLY. This paper looks at the problem of intermixing
    philosophical and metaphysical doctrines with empirical science. It poses
    the problem of correctly identifying the difference between what is
    scientific and what is not. The author holds that If the ensuing theory or
    model is subject to a scientific test, then it is scientific.

    Of course, the above becomes very academic unless it may be demonstrated that
    a model invoquing the supernatural may be successfully constructed. This is
    a subject that has got me going for the past 13 years. If you are interested
    in knowing more, I'll be pleased to pass on what I've found out. (Note: In
    my case, by supernatural, I mean the Biblical variety.)


    Guy Blanchet

    Keith B Miller a écrit:

    > Below are some thoughts posted on another listserve to which I belong. I
    > thought that some on this list may have some insight. I am particularly
    > thinking of those with theological or philosophical training. The poster
    > of the comments has agreed to have me post this for comment.
    > Keith
    > ____________________________________________________________________
    > Why does science exclude religion, etc?
    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    > The following explanation seems most useful to me, and I would appreciate
    > further comment or historical analysis. Let me state this in the simplest
    > way I know. Then I'll explain the details.
    > "For the past 400 years humans have developed and refined an approach,
    > called science, which provides explanations for natural phenomena that
    > are reliable, universally-understandable, and universally-applicable.
    > This universality precludes the incorporation of individual philosophies
    > and beliefs. As a consequence, scientific explanations tell us a great
    > deal about the workings of the physical world, and very little about its
    > meaning. This frees us to imbue the world with meaning obtained from
    > other, deeper, sources."
    > "To the extent that intelligent design invokes any agent not observable
    > in the natural world, it requires an inner, personal experience or
    > belief. Since it is simply not accessible to those who lack that
    > experience or belief, design is not a scientific concept. The majority of
    > the world's population does not have a concept of a Creator-God: should
    > science be inaccessible to them?"
    > ----- Explanation --------
    > I maintain that science does not limit itself to the observable, or the
    > empirical, for any particular "reason." No conscious decision is made
    > that the supernatural "must" be excluded. There is no a priori
    > philosophical basis for limiting the objects which science investigates,
    > nor the methods of investigation.
    > Instead, I think that these limitations have evolved naturally, as a
    > direct consequence of the ends to which scientific knowledge has been,
    > or is being, used. On one hand, "Natural Science" could have started
    > (and I don't know this) by wanting to know or to explain everything
    > about nature. On the other hand, suppose that initially or over time,
    > the basic goal of "Natural Science" became to obtain knowledge of nature
    > which is robust, reliable, universally acceptable, and universally
    > useful. In other words, the usefulness of the knowledge became more
    > important than its breadth, depth, or philosophical "truth."
    > If the latter is true, then the goal of universality places strong
    > constraints on the types of explanations we can offer. In particular, if
    > an explanation of nature is to be acceptable to everyone capable of
    > experiencing nature, then the explanation cannot incorporate any concepts
    > which are not universally accepted by the "community" of
    > knowledge-seekers
    > or knowledge-users. To reinforce this universality or "objectivity," we
    > allow people of all beliefs and cultures to participate in science. This
    > in turn reduces the dependence of science on particulars.
    > It seems natural to conclude that the resultant knowledge or explanation
    > will contain only those preconceptions or biases which are shared by the
    > entire scientific community, and that the broader the community, the
    > fewer preconceptions there will be. We will be left with, certainly, the
    > belief that there is probably one reality (not many), and that this
    > reality is knowable (to a high degree) by humans. One need not accept
    > this premise, but without it one would be ill-suited to being a
    > scientist!
    > In a way, this implies that scientific knowledge is a "lowest common
    > denominator of knowledge," or a "common language of nature" which allows
    > us to communicate freely, but limits what we can say. What many
    > scientists do not do well is to acknowledge that there are other
    > languages which describe other aspects of reality. What many anti-science
    > critics do not acknowledge is that the language of science cannot be
    > forced to (or will lose its usefulness if it does) accommodate everyone's
    > favorite phrases from their own personal languages.
    > What is useful about this analysis is that, if valid, it shows that the
    > present scientific method can be arrived at from utilitarian
    > considerations; there is no need to invoke any fixed philosophical basis
    > to science. What is lacking from this analysis is any historical support,
    > which I hope to learn about either way.
    > ___________________________________________________
    > Keith B. Miller
    > Department of Geology
    > Kansas State University
    > Manhattan, KS 66506

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