Re: The naturalist Philosophy

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Fri Aug 30 2002 - 20:35:51 EDT

  • Next message: D. F. Siemens, Jr.: "Re: The naturalist Philosophy"

    Having audited a college-level course in 20th century philosophy of science
    this past spring term, I am hard put to imagine how a course that covers the
    thinking of the logical positivists, the views of philosophers like Popper,
    Quine, Nagel, and Kuhn and the post-Kuhnians, including the social
    constructivists and the feminists, could be made accessible to most
    high-school students. One would have to present a rather simplified version
    of some rather abstract thinking about the nature of science and method.
    Recalling how the undergraduates and myself struggled with comprehending
    some of this material, I would not want to visit it upon anyone who has not
    had some rudimentary philosophical training. I could imagine most students
    coming out thoroughly confused and hostile toward both philosophy and

         Now, critical thinking is a different matter. American high school
    students get precious little of that, if the students I have taught as
    college freshmen the last ten years are any indication. I should like to
    see critical thinking developed in all high school courses and those
    dastardly standarized tests abolished. Perhaps processes of critical
    thinking could help high-school students understand the fallacies of
    metaphysical naturalism, intelligent design, and YEC, and begin to
    understand what the word "naturalism" in its various forms mean.

    Bob Schneider

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Shuan Rose" <>
    To: "Walter Hicks" <>; "george murphy"
    Cc: "Hassell, Ian C." <>; "Asa" <>
    Sent: Friday, August 30, 2002 11:07 AM
    Subject: RE: The naturalist Philosophy

    > Seeking a middle ground here...
    > Sounds like both of you agree that philosophy, or philosophy of science
    > should be taught in public schools, maybe with evolution as a specific
    > topic. Should this be done? Could high school students be able to
    > and appreciate this? I always hear atheists arguing that a Critical
    > course be introduced at the high school level, with the unstated premise
    > that the critical thinking be done about religion and "supernaturalism".
    > need for critical thinking about naturalism :-)
    > A philosophy of science class, in the hands of the wrong teacher, could
    > easily become a way to smuggle hard core atheism , into public schools. In
    > the right teacher's hands, it could lead to an informed discussion of all
    > the views regarding the origin of the universe, from hard core atheism to
    > YECism.
    > My understanding is also that textbooks are back pedaling on the "only
    > naturalistic evolution" approach. Steven Jay Gould tells of a textbook
    > says "Evolution is one theory that explains the diversity of life. You
    > wish to consider other theories". He considers that as a disgraceful
    > pandering to the creationist lobby, but at least it opens the door.
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []On
    > Behalf Of Walter Hicks
    > Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 10:18 PM
    > To: george murphy
    > Cc: Hassell, Ian C.; Asa
    > Subject: Re: The naturalist Philosophy
    > george murphy wrote:
    > > What I pointed out is that the primary "idea" being
    > > presented - is negative -
    > > i.e., naturalism is wrong (with disregard of the distinction
    > >between methodological &
    > > metaphysical naturalism) rather than positive.
    > And I think that is a valid viewpoint. One does not need to make
    > whatever distinctions you
    > want to impose in order to take the position that science works
    > strictly on the unproved
    > assumption that the universe obeys a series of physical laws without
    > any interaction with
    > anything external to this universe. (Take this as my definition)
    > >
    > >
    > > > I think that is precisely the point that many anti-science folks
    > >are trying to
    > > > raise. Science is neat ,but it really rests on pure faith in
    > naturalism.
    > > > Scientists point to the many times it has worked in the past and
    > >then extrapolate
    > > > that it should be accepted as a universal truth (ignoring all
    > >current problems, I
    > > > might add). That is indeed philosophy, not science. Science
    > >itself only rests upon
    > > > this philosophy lest it crumble. Why is it necessary to believe
    > >that science is
    > > > some magical approach that can figure out everything about God's
    > >universe while God
    > > > never interacts with His creation? That is surely theology.
    > >
    > > Again you are failing to distinguish between types of
    > The naturalism I stated above -- the basic assumption upon which all
    > of science rests.-
    > >
    > >
    > > > I think that the suggestion that this be discussed in public schools
    > a
    > > > philosophy class is a fine one. Why would a theologian ever
    > >disagree with it?
    > >
    > > Few schools below the college level offer classes in
    > Sure they do. Check out the textbooks in your local school. The
    > "philosophy" is taught
    > within the subjects at the discretion of the teachers and by the
    > selection of the
    > textbooks. For an example of textbooks that teach the "theory", check out
    > It is evolutionary
    > theory that is taught in
    > these books.
    > > Maybe they
    > > should but they don't. In any case, I certainly wouldn't object to
    > >"the controversy"
    > > being taught in public schools under the rubric of comparative
    > >religion, sociology, or
    > > political science. But the opponents of evolution want it taught
    > >as science, which it
    > > isn't. Of course there is scientific controversy about how
    > >evolution has taken place
    > > but not about whether it has taken place.
    > Then why do public school textbooks introduce Darwin and his
    > theories? Are you saying that
    > Darwin was establishing the "fact" of evolution rather than his
    > theory? Evolution is
    > taught in schools just like Dawkins says. It is "the only game in
    > town". Where no solid
    > evidence exists, the theory takes over. How can their be any other
    > game if you are to
    > insist that scientific naturalism (defined above) is not open for
    > discussion within the
    > science class itself?
    > Speaking of what is not customarily taught in schools: I was never
    > taught evolution as a
    > subject pre college. Why is it such a necessity now? (And I have
    > always lived in the
    > ultra-liberal Northeast.) I'm certain that those who have introduced
    > it so strongly into
    > the pre college curriculum have nothing but best scientific motives.
    > No humanist/atheistic
    > motives could possibly exist ;-)
    > I think that it is naive in the extreme to believe that humanists do
    > not consciously push
    > evolutionary theory in pre college as a means to promote their
    > atheistic notions.
    > BTW I do believe in evolution. I just disagree that any theory of
    > evolution should be
    > taught in public schools if alternatives to scientific naturalism (as
    > defined above) are
    > not allowed.
    > Walt
    > --
    > ===================================
    > Walt Hicks <>
    > In any consistent theory, there must
    > exist true but not provable statements.
    > (Godel's Theorem)
    > You can only find the truth with logic
    > If you have already found the truth
    > without it. (G.K. Chesterton)
    > ===================================

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