Re: [asa] Anti-Creationist Psychobabble On the Web

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Apr 02 2009 - 08:23:02 EDT

David -

Since below you mention "George Murphy's views on methodological naturalism", I want to clarify what those views are, especially with regard to public education. I regard methodological naturalism simply as part of a definition of what science is - i.e., that it attempts to explain the world in terms of entities & processes within the world, so that appeal to entities outside the world is ruled out. ("Within" & "outside" of course are not simply spatial terms there.) There are good reasons for accepting that limitation that do not depend on religious beliefs. In particular:

1) This has been the de facto understanding of science by the scientific community for 300+ years and science has been very successful working within that limit.

2) A careful observance of the that limit keeps religious disputes out of science. (Of course there have been religious disputes connected with science but I would argue that they have been caused by attempts either to import religious explanations into science - e.g., ID - or by attempts, implicit or explicit, to replace methodological naturalism with metaphysical/ontological naturalism.)

I think that that is all that would need to be said if the idea of MN were to be discussed in a science classes in public schools - though probably the latter point would be better made in a class dealing with religious influences on culture & society.

Now I think that good Christian theology, and in particular the way I have argued for an understanding of God's relationship with the world that I've called chiasmic cosmology - provides a theological basis for MN, and for Christians at least gives a deeper understanding of it. & I think it's appropriate to argue that in public forums. But it is not needed in order to legitimate the teaching of MN in public schools, or for government to endorse it.

There's an analogous point that may help to clarify this. It's a basic assumption of science that there is in some sense a real world that has some kind of rational order. The Christian claim is that that is the case because the world is the good creation of God. But a teacher can tell students that the rationality of a real world is a presupposition without which there would be no point in doing science without saying anything about the Christian argument for that claim.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Clounch
  To: ASA
  Sent: Thursday, April 02, 2009 1:56 AM
  Subject: [asa] Anti-Creationist Psychobabble On the Web

  Dear ASA members,

  I have never advocated teaching ID in public schools. Nonetheless John Pieret has written that I have advocated this. John Pieret is a liar.

  But there is an interesting quote elsewhere from John Pieret's blog where I might possibly agree with him (but only somewhat as I'll soon explain):


  Taking a Constitutional

  Jay D. Wexler, Associate Professor, Boston University School of Law, has had a running battle with Baylor University professor Francis J. Beckwith over the constitutionality of teaching ID in public school science classes. The Panda’s Thumb has an account of a debate they had at the Harvard Federalist Society.
  Wexler has an article coming out soon in the Washington University Law Quarterly. A copy of the working paper can be previewed (in pdf format) from The Boston University School of Law Working Paper Series or The Social Science Research Network Electronic Paper Collection.
  "It appears to be a good article and not just because Wexler agrees with my position often stated on

    All this wrangling over whether ID constitutes "religion" may, however, be beside the point. After all, although public schools cannot promote or advance or endorse or teach the truth of any religion, they are perfectly free to teach about religion as much as they want. They can teach about Christianity, about Judaism, about Zoroastrianism, and about Raelianism. Not only can they teach about religion, but they should teach about religion, and they do not teach about religion nearly enough. So, if public schools can teach about religion, why shouldn’t they be able to teach about ID? To some degree they certainly can. For example, if a public school chose to teach about the ID movement in a current affairs class, or about the philosophical claims of ID in a philosophy of science class, or about the truth claims of ID in a comparative religion class, most likely these choices would pose no constitutional problem at all. (p. 9)

  I would agree comparative religion classes can teach what zoratrianism versus some other religion possess as tenets. I would not agree schools can teach about religion in science class. And I never have. I would not agree that government schools can have any preference about religion in its science class. In fact, I don't think schools can prefer "religion over non-religion or non-religion over religion, or one religion over another". Preference *is* *not* *allowed*. I get this from a US Supreme Court case.

  This is why I oppose George Murphy's views on methodological naturalism. To me it's religion and I want that religion separated from school as far as the east is from the west.
  I don't mind if George Murphy holds his view personally because he is entitled to his religion. I just don't want a public school to base its science curriculum on George's religion.

   I do happen to be on public record as disagreeing with Minnetonka, Minnesota's school board voting to defend materialism against Christianity in science classes. Why? because it violates constitutional neutrality. It's a lemon test excessive entanglement problem for a school district to choose between one religion and another. It's wrong for a school district to defend materialism -or- for it to defend Christianity. It's an establishment clause issue.

  And I am very consistent in telling you ASA members that your views on religion must not be taught in the classroom or endorsed by schools. Is this not true? Have you not noticed?

  So my position has always been to advocate constitutional neutrality.

  I am very much AGAINST teaching any sort of TE in any public school. It should be the subject of lawsuits. You can teach TE in church if you want. Not in government schools.

  So why is John Pieret going around the world writing that I advocate teaching religion in government schools? He is an idiot, or a deceiver, or both.

  Now, about ID. I don't think design is religion any more than I think calculus is religion. Those who think these are religions are lunatics in my estimation. But, hey, each to his own.
  If you want to believe that calculus is a religion, or statistical thermodynamics is a religion, go right ahead. Just don't teach your belief in public schools.

  ASA lunatic proposition #1
  I think those ASA members who think the design recognizer in the human brain is a supernatural phenomena instead of a natural phenomena are also lunatics. There is not one shred of evidence that a design recognizer takes a supernatural force to operate. ASA members who really believe in this should either put up some evidence or retract.

  So, agree or disagree as you will; like me or don't like me as you will; but be very clear on what I believe. Blame me for what I actually write, but don't make stuff up out of the blue like John Pieret.

  Did I say that science has not disproven design? YES. Because if on a scientific basis you can say that design does not exist THEN YOU ARE NOT DOING RELIGION you are doing science. By definition. But my point was no such thing has ever taken place. Science has not shown that design does not exist.

  But does this amount to me wanting to teach religion in science class? NO. Thats a non-sequitor committed by an idiot.

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Received on Thu Apr 2 08:24:27 2009

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