[asa] Poe and ID

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
Date: Wed Mar 26 2008 - 14:12:21 EDT

Arie does not want to carry on the debate in PSCF, so I'm posting this

Quacking like a Duck
Poe’s response to Thorson and me, “Poe Replies,” PSCF, 60: no. 1 ((2008)
41f, misses the points we attempted to make. He rebuts the antiquity of
scientific methodology by noting that “methodological naturalism” was
coined recently. Were his argument valid, we could infer that nothing
exists until it is explicitly named. His “methodological objectivity,” if
it is a neologism as I believe, thus first applied to science about 2007.
Hence, the scientific method had to be something different earlier.
Poe is right that “methodological naturalism is not science.” The term
belongs to philosophy of science as a descriptor of science. This applies
equally to “methodological objectivity,” were it ever to find a place in
philosophy. But I note that, as a philosophy professor, I objectively
discussed Spinoza’s pantheism, Aristotle’s four causes, etc., none of
which can be science in the modern sense. But then neither is Aristotle’s
accurate description of fertilization in a cephalopod, which was
dismissed by later biologists as fantasy until it was again observed.
Aristotle was objective, though prescientific.
Poe confuses methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism or
scientism when he claims that it denies God as final cause. However,
method does not dictate metaphysics. Properly, it would be better to
refer to the First or Prime Cause, for Aristotle’s final cause involves
purpose, not source. But this is another change in usage that has
developed over time. The notion of a Creator as final cause (in the
contemporary sense) goes back to Hebrew antiquity, without our
terminology. Secondary causes are what scientists study.
I apparently did not express one of my earlier objections clearly. Poe
understood me to deny observation in reading data. My point was that one
does not observe mental activity qua mental by surveys, which are
essentially subjective rather than objective. This creates a rift between
those psychologists who claim to be scientific rather than nonscientific,
against those who describe the rift as between “rat psychologists and
real psychologists.”
I am glad that Poe does not associate himself with ID, but the equation
of methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism was Johnson’s
first move. Thorson and I applied the “if it looks like a duck…”
principle to conclude that Poe, despite protestations, is promoting ID.
Dave (ASA)

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Received on Wed Mar 26 14:16:08 2008

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