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

From: <>
Date: Fri Apr 03 2009 - 14:19:51 EDT

Quoting Ted Davis <>:

> Merv,
> The definition I put into my post was taken from an encyclopedia article on
> "naturalism" that I wrote with philosopher and colleague Robin Collins. We
> weren't trying to write a definition that would be contested; we were trying
> to write an accurate description/definition of various forms of naturalism,
> including (among others) methodological naturalism. The question of whether
> or not someone accepts the kind of naturalism we spelled out in the essay
> could involve controversy, but we hoped that our definition itself would not
> be part of that controversy, that it would be (instead) simply a standard
> way of defining it.
> Are you suggesting that our definition is not accurate to the term,
> methodological naturalism?
> Ted

Not at all, Ted. I accept the definition of MN that you (& I believe George,
Keith, & others...) have more or less promoted. I was only trying to address
the issue of why MN detractors refuse to accept that definition. I'm trying to
"think their objections" after them in order to understand. & what I'm coming
up with is that they see some loaded terms in your definition (e.g. the word
"natural") that to them must be red flags for embedded ideology. And so they
are seeing prescription rather than description. Yet I don't know how you could
improve on your definition or avoid using words like "natural". They are just
part of the limitations on our understanding that must necessarily be there, and
we need words to describe them. But I don't think they can be blamed for having
their dander up, given that some do use MN prescriptively as a tool to oppose
some forms of I.D. (& perhaps rightly so.)

To those who vehemently oppose the MN concept, it's as if the word
"methodological" isn't even there, or they deny that it could possibly mean what
it says. You're right that an accepted definition shouldn't, in itself, be a
source of controversy.


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Received on Fri Apr 3 14:20:28 2009

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