From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Wed May 16 2007 - 17:10:35 EDT

On 5/16/07, Alexanian, Moorad <> wrote:
> Methodological naturalism, the view that natural phenomena can
> be explained without reference to supernatural beings or events, is the
> foundation of the natural sciences. The history of science contains many
> instances where complex natural phenomena were eventually understood only by
> adherence to methodological naturalism.
> There's two words that appear to be problematic here and these are
"natural phenomena". In what sense does the word natural modify the word
phenomena? In other words, is the set natural phenomena a subset of
phenomena or are they the same? If it's the former the sentence above is
tautological because naturally caused phenomena does not by definition need
supernatural causation to explain it. If not -- and I suspect the true
sense of the statement -- ontological naturalism is being defined. To see
that this is the case is to replace the word natural with the word all. The
only way out of this -- which is not done in this statement -- is to define
methodological naturalism something like this:

the view that presumptively natural phenomena can best be explained ...

This kind of statement allows for a possibility for a supernatural
explanation and such a possibility no matter how distant is not allowed in
ontological naturalism. Add to this that the statement conflates
methodological naturalism with the the entirety of the scientific method and
by that piece of rhetorical prestidigitation credits ontological ^H^H^H^H
methodological naturalism with the success of scientific progress. And who's
against scientific progress? This is why I allege that this is not merely a
critique of the arguably bad science of ID or a statement in favor of
methodological naturalism but an advancement of atheism. Am I reading in too
much here? Consider this quote of Patterson in the Iowa State Daily and see
whether I have gotten to the heart of the matter:

Patterson was introduced as "a long-term opponent of creationism and all
> things paranormal."
> He told the crowd science is completely atheistic, and he said all
> religious explanations are counterfeit.
> "All we have is this life," Patterson said. "Some people cannot handle
> that, and some can't be moral unless they are threatened with eternal hell
> and damnation."

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Received on Wed May 16 17:10:50 2007

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