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

From: <>
Date: Fri Apr 03 2009 - 12:42:21 EDT

While I agree with Jon and the way he (and others) have responded, I think that
MN "assumers" and MN opposers are talking right past each other by repeating
definitions that are repeatedly rejected by the other side.

I think I can understand (and even somewhat agree) with what may be near the
heart of Bill's and David C.'s objections --Bill and David tell me if this isn't
near the mark: We verbally pretend that we are bending over backwards to keep
metaphysics/religion/philosophy OUT of the science classroom, and yet with our
other hand we endorse MN (which, despite repeated denials from MN people, you
take to have an intractable philosophy embedded in it.) And MN critics who are
ID or Christian further identify this embedded philosophy as a hostile. And
taken as the hostile philosophy, you begrudge the special status it enjoys in
science classrooms in which all other overt metaphysical claims are now taboo.
(notice, I've slipped over to referring to MN as metaphysical despite the
repeated definition that it is NOT.) I personally accept that it is not, but
stating so doesn't seem to convince others as we get into an "is not" -- "is
too" shouting match.

I don't think the MN "assumers" would deny that MN is often accompanied by ON or
PN, but they would then add that to the extent those latter are accepted, then
it is *no longer* just MN. But the detractors don't buy this, and aren't
convinced that the two can so easily be separated.

I propose that part of the common frustration we here ALL have, is the smug (and
incredibly naive) assumptions that secularists often flaunt, pretending that
they don't have any philosophical or religious underpinnings -- "just facts and
science". Pure MN people don't have a problem the fact that everybody has a
worldview/philosophy/metaphysic/religion/ideology --whatever. And it's
impossible to leave it at the door of a science classroom. But MN refers to
only the practice of doing or thinking scientifically --it fails to encompass
everything else that will inevitably be there in the same human being as well.
But this frustrates I.D. people, for example, since they see MN used as a
barrier against something they think should be legitimate scientific inquiry
--a *philosophical* barrier, no less! But can we all agree that philosophical
boundaries and assumptions are unavoidable and a given? That doesn't mean they
are all good, productive, or true. But they are always THERE. And MN,
according to the definition you reject, is not among them. This latter sense of
MN offered by its 'assumers' is *descriptive* more than *prescriptive*. Some do
begin to use it prescriptively when they use it to exclude I.D. or other things.
 Depending on exactly what is being excluded I could be sympathetic either way
on that. But I think MN in its purest sense is merely a description of what we
see historically and presently that most agree is good distilled science.

This may not resolve the conflict, but does it help focus on the heart of it?


Reactions, Bill or Dave?


Quoting Jon Tandy <>:

> Methodological naturalism is essentially just a statement that "science
> assumes natural cause and effect, and uses naturalist methods of studying
> nature". It is not a religion, nor in its essence necessarily a doctrine to
> "assuage the concerns of religionists". It's just a statement of how
> science works.
> Yes, it is based on a certain philosophy, but so is everything. Let's take
> history. In the history class the unstated assumption is, "history is based
> on a real sequence of historical events and social/political causes and
> effects." That is a particular philosophy just the same as MN, and
> theoretically it could be wrong (historical and current events might be
> simply imaginary creations of human minds, not based in objective reality;
> maybe the outward world is really a dream, and there is a higher reality
> that is actually "real"). Suffice it to say that, even though this
> assumption about history agrees with a Christian worldview, I don't believe
> it's religion or should be excluded from schools. What do you think?
> Jon Tandy
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of David Clounch
> Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 9:15 AM
> To: Bill Powers
> Cc: ASA
> Subject: Re: [asa] Anti-Creationist Psychobabble On the Web
> Bill,
> It doesn't matter. Public schools taught science just fine without MN. MN
> exists only to assuage the concerns of certain religionists. It belongs
> down the hall in the philosophy classroom or comparative religion classroom,
> not in the science classroom. Along with all questions about metaphysics.
> -Dave C

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Received on Fri Apr 3 12:42:57 2009

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