[asa] Re: Is Philosophical Naturalism replacing Methodological Naturalism

From: Rich Blinne <rich.blinne@gmail.com>
Date: Sat May 26 2007 - 19:42:40 EDT

On May 26, 2007, at 4:31 PM, philtill@aol.com wrote:

> The more I think about this, the more I think we are seeing the
> beginnings of a trend to re-define "science". It seems to have
> grown out of the effort to close ranks and exclude pseudo-science,
> but now it seems to be reaching farther than it ever has before so
> that it is beginning to exclude everyone who is not a philosophical
> naturalist. It is very worrisome.
>
> I don't think Gonzalez's book is really that controversial. I was
> bored with it because he went over a lot of things that are already
> well known and uncontested, so I didn't finish it. His claims that
> measurability is an important part of design seemed to be a bit
> overreaching, to me. But I didn't see that as any reason to
> question his abilities because most science faculty who write
> popularizing books have views that are a bit idiosynchratic or
> overreaching in one way or another. So in my opinion, there wasn't
> anything in Gonzalez's book to question his abilities as a true
> scientist. I mostly agreed with his book and thought he was a very
> sharp thinker to be able to write it. IMO, the real thing that
> drew people's ire was his mere association with the ID camp. So I
> think this bad definition of MN was pivotal in making the
> controversy more tangible in the absence of any really tangible
> evidence against Gonzalez.
>
> In other words, it was written to make a complex discussion overly
> simple in order to advance some very simple goals. Seen that way,
> the bad definition of MN was central to the statement's purpose and
> not an accident. This is an inductive conclusion and you are free
> to disagree, but I think many people will agree with me on this.
> I'm not saying the author of the faculty statement intentionally
> wanted the definition of MN to be wrong, but since he knew that his
> goal was to isolate and discredit Gonzalez, he did make the
> statement intentionally simple in a way that does not protect
> Christians or other non-naturalists.
>

Note that the statement also specifically brought in fine tuning.
While I believe Gonzalez' argument is overstated nevertheless it
differs from Collins in degree but not kind. Avalos opposes all fine
tuning arguments as the article in The Mercury shows. While I believe
it is a fair point to not call fine tuning "science" -- I am still a
demarcationist -- but does that demarcation justify the policy that
science professors are banned from making metaphysical conclusions
derived from the scientific data? Of course not and it produces a a
chilling effect (note the anonymous quote in the Nature piece).
Through this chilling effect we have crossed the line (and ran
several miles past it) into the realm of philosophical naturalism.

> > Are you still believing that their statement had any impact on
> Gonzalez's tenure?
>
> Of course it had an impact because it contributed to the political
> climate on campus, and every human activity is inherently
> political, including tenure decisions. But even if the tenure
> committee would have decided the same way without its influence, it
> was still an attempt to have an impact, and so these people were
> attempting to hurt a human being's life.
>

While tenure may be sui generis as the Gonzalez threads have shown,
in the non-academic world this is called a "hostile work
environment". Even if management is diligent to not discriminate in
hiring and promotion based on religion their non-action to protect
against the hostility of peers can get a company sued. Ted Davis
specifically warned the ISU president a long time ago about precisely
this. Thus, even if it can be shown that Gonzalez didn't deserve
tenure this not-so-innocent statement by Iowa State and University of
Iowa professors may put their institutions into a world of hurt.

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Received on Sat May 26 19:43:59 2007

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