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

From: Jon Tandy <>
Date: Fri Apr 03 2009 - 13:37:12 EDT


I think I agree, and I said earlier that MN is based on a particular
philosophy. I believe you're right in identifying the conflict. My thought
is that science has proven itself to work very successfully on this premise
(although I would be interested in hearing what arguments can be made that
scientific progress has been hamstrung or hindered by too strong a reliance
on MN). ID will claim it has been, but they have to prove there is value
*scientifically* in a different philosophical assumption. It's not enough
to say that there is, and to complain about being left out of the process.
If they can demonstrate that a different philosophical assumption can answer
real questions posed by science, lead to real testable results, and better
theories that can spawn new inventions or technologies, for instance, then
they will have a case.

Until then, they don't have much ground for claiming philosophical
discrimination in science classrooms, when they haven't proved their merits
scientifically. I am very sensitive to the vicious cycle, that they can't
get published because they aren't "doing science", but they can't get
research funds because they aren't published, and they can't demonstrate
their merits without research, etc. All this shows is that there is a
(possibly) potential theory waiting to revolutionize the scientific
community, and the pioneers need to buck up and do the hard work. You
wouldn't find Einstein complaining about being excluded from science
classrooms because his theories were so revolutionary as to be excluded from
consideration. He did the hard work, presented his theories in professional
circles, and they eventually proved their worth because other scientists
could verify and build on his work. I dare say no high school science
curricula treated relativity seriously or at all until it had at least
proved itself in real scientific work.

Jon Tandy

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of
Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 11:42 AM
To: Jon Tandy
Cc: asa
Subject: RE: [asa] Anti-Creationist Psychobabble On the Web

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
near the mark: We verbally pretend that we are bending over backwards to
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

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


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
> not in the science classroom. Along with all questions about
> -Dave C

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Received on Fri Apr 3 13:37:57 2009

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