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

From: Kirk Bertsche <>
Date: Fri Apr 03 2009 - 14:25:09 EDT

Bill and David,

Yes, the question of how we do science is a philosophical/
metaphysical question. We agree to do science according to MN
(METHODOLOGICAL naturalism), i.e. we agree that science can only
investigate the natural world, and can make no comments either
positive or negative on the supernatural. But this does not mean
that MN is the same as metaphysical, philosophical, or ontological
naturalism, which make denigrating comments regarding the
supernatural (either it does not exist at all, or it is irrelevant to
our lives).

This makes a big difference to one's perspective and teaching of
science. Sagan said that the natural world is all that exists; there
is no supernatural. Dawkins would say that there MAY be a
supernatural, but if so it is irrelevant to us. One who holds to MN
would make no scientific claims about the supernatural and no
denigrating claims about spiritual truth.

MN does not constrain the world! It only constrains science. This
is only a problem for those who adopt "scientism", with the idea that
science must be able to address all questions. Such philosophical
naturalists (e.g. Dawkins) claim that science is the only or the best
way to truth. I believe many YEC and ID proponents have adopted the
same perspective, so want to expand science to include the
supernatural. I believe this is a big mistake; it would make "ID
science" different from "non-ID science", with different ground
rules. I believe it is much better to restrict science to MN, and to
acknowledge that much truth lies outside the realm of science. This
"extra-scientific" truth is in no way inferior to "scientific" truth.


On Apr 3, 2009, at 10:51 AM, David Clounch wrote:
> On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 12:22 PM, D. F. Siemens, Jr.
> <> wrote:
> Methodological naturalism is NOT metaphysical. It is the same for
> atheists, deists, theists, panentheists, pantheists, and those who
> have
> no idea what metaphysical position they embrace.
> Dave,
> One problem I have is I don't know what teacher A does
> differently by teaching MN than teacher B who does not. It makes
> no difference.

On Apr 2, 2009, at 9:09 PM, Bill Powers wrote:

> Kirk:
> You say that MN is neutral with respect to religion.
> Let me leave that aside and ask whether you (or George) thinks that
> MN is metaphysicially neutral.
> Whether you think them questionable or not it appears to me that
> science surely makes some metaphysical presumptions, even they may
> vary with time. The kinds of explanations we permit, even MN
> itself, is metaphysical. Were it not metaphysical what would it
> be? Surely not empirical. Is it merely a convention? No, I think
> not. What we mean by a particle, or what is a "thing." Are these
> metaphysical? They fit a template, perhaps a changing one.
> I guess what I am briefly suggesting is that science, whether it be
> MN or something else, paints a possible picture of the world. It
> constrains the world, only permitting some ill-defined
> possibilities, and excluding others. There can be no
> discontinuities, the world is a Uni-verse; it must obey rational
> law. This is certainly a more classic view, although Nancy
> Cartwright suggests that the world is "messy," a different "world"
> I think.
> Finally, how do we distinguish metaphysics from religion?
> Heidegger is famous for saying that no one worships the causa sui.
> So perhaps no one, but Hegel, sings to metaphysics. Still they
> touch noses, it seems.
> bill powers
> On Thu, 2 Apr 2009, Kirk Bertsche wrote:
>> David,
>> I don't understand your comments about "George Murphy's views on
>> methodological naturalism" being "religion."
>> Based on George's comments, his view of MN seems to be pretty
>> standard, and is the way that we we do science. (And I would
>> argue that this is the way that we SHOULD do science.) It is
>> METHODOLOGICAL, not METAPHYSICAL naturalism. It makes no
>> religious claims at all, and keeps science neutral with respect to
>> religion.
>> What am I missing?
>> Kirk
>> On Apr 1, 2009, at 10:56 PM, David Clounch wrote:
>>> 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.
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Received on Fri Apr 3 14:25:58 2009

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