Loren Haarsma wrote:
> On Wed, 20 Feb 2002, D. F. Siemens, Jr. wrote:
> > There is confusion here between methodological and metaphysical
> > naturalisms. Metaphysical naturalism must deny the existence of a deity,
> > for it claims that there is nothing except physical nature.
> > ...
> > In contrast, methodological naturalism is
> > a choice of technique within the sciences.
> I substantially agree with the point you are making.
> Yes, we want to distinguish the worldview of Naturalism from the
> scientific method. I simply propose that, when we talk about the methods
> which scientists use to study nature, we go back to calling it "scientific
> methods." The term "methodological naturalism" is misleading, for reasons
> I outlined earlier.
> (If you were a life-long committed member of the Democratic party, would
> you be happy if people started calling Patriotism "methodological
> conservatism"? If you were a life-long committed member of the Republican
> party, would you be happy if people started calling Universal Access to
> Education "methodological liberalism"?)
A few years ago a pop astronomy magazine ran a contest to find a
replacement for the phrase "big bang". I neither know nor much care what the
results were because I'm pretty sure what this class of cosmological models
will be called 10 years from now: big bang models! The term isn't ideal but
it isn't positively misleading & is established & little is to be gained by
quixotic attempts to try to change it. (A little like one physicist's attempt
some years ago to get colleagues to refer to "a Green function" rather than "a
Green's function." He was correct grammatically but guess how many physicists
Similarly, "methodological naturalism" isn't ideal but it's pretty
well established, & the only thing that will be gained by scholastic attempts
to find a better term is proliferation of jargon.
& in fact "methodological naturalism" is a pretty accurate description
of the way science actually proceeds - i.e., by trying to explain what goes on
in the world in terms of entities & processes in the world. The only thing to
be gained - if it can be called that - by questioning the term is admission of
"It's a miracle" as a legitimate scientific explanation.
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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