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

From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <>
Date: Sat Apr 04 2009 - 13:50:58 EDT

" My belief is that MN emerged from the creationism/anti-creationism warfare. "

I assume you are still using "MN" to refer to methodological naturalism.

Part of my physics training at Carnegie Tech in the 1949-1953 period
included that concept as foundational to doing proper physics -- by
extension all physical science. This was some time PRIOR to
creationism/anti-creationism debates of any particulat import (yes --
I know there were YECs around before 1949, but they were (thankfully)
only a few.

Although the term "methodological naturalism" is not always used, the
concept itself is millenia old.

An ASA member I only now remember as "Jim somebody" once published in
PSCF a lovely essay on all this, in which he said (I paprphrase, of
course) that "science is a game -- a game in which we assume that
everything we can investigate originates only from natural causation.
" (He said it a lot better).

I have always seen this as foundational to physics, indeed, to all
things scientific. That means, of course, that science qua science
CANNOT investigate some areas of human experience. That does NOT mean
that we. as humans, cannot investigate them; we just should not wear
our lab coats when doing so.


On 4/4/09, David Clounch <> wrote:
> Merv,
> You are getting warmer. My belief is that MN emerged from the
> creationism/anti-creationism warfare. Probably subsequent to the Chicago
> world's fair where scientists declared Christianity to be dead. This cause
> a flurry of creationist activity. So MN is sort of like scar tissue or a
> callous forming on one's hands.
> Part of what is suspect is the motivations of proponents. Are the
> motivations truly not religious in nature, and don't have anything to do
> with the intra-mural warfare between religionists? If one could show this,
> then..... what would be left over would be the question, does the motivation
> have anything to do with warfare between pro-religionists and
> anti-religionists? If one could show this question is answered in the
> negative THEN one would have (at last) a purely secular concept. And one
> could then argue the concept has a purely secular purpose. Then we would be
> in a situation where the principle truly is like chemistry or physics or
> math. And belongs with the domain of knowledge that includes science.
> I wouldn't care if it was only armchair theologians that were entangled with
> this. But government bodies are officially adopting policies where they
> use one set of Christian ideas to oppress another set of Christian
> ideas. Government simply cannot be allowed to do that.
> I don't want government choosing between creationism vs. anti-creationism
> vs. materialism vs. secular humanism vs. any_other_ism. To me it basic
> civil rights. I feel very much in the minority on the ASA list and
> probably in the ASA organization as well.
> -Dave C
> On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 2:18 PM, <> wrote:
>> I think the view below -- that this wasn't needed until we needed to
>> discuss
>> religion ... etc. -- has a good bit of truth in it. If the whole world
>> is and
>> had always been atheist, then "atheist" wouldn't even be word as there
>> would be
>> nothing to talk about. Until people started trying to abuse science to
>> make
>> claims like "God does not work in our world", we had no reason to clarify:
>> "wait a minute --let's separate out your valid thought & process from the
>> illogical leaps" & hence was born the need to distinguish. But this was
>> NOT the
>> birth of the "valid process" itself which is only now so elegantly
>> described by
>> the phrase "MN". If nobody had ever driven at unreasonably fast or
>> unsafe
>> speeds, there would never have been any signs posted or speed laws made.
>> --Merv
>> p.s. There is no term equivalent "mathematical methodology..." because
>> nobody
>> has yet tried to abuse math towards conclusions where math can't really
>> go.
>> But
>> if they did --in a big enough way, the term would be born. But not the
>> limits.
>> Those already existed from the beginning.
>> Quoting David Clounch <>:
>> > On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 12:22 PM, D. F. Siemens, Jr.
>> > <>wrote:
>> >
>> > 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.
>> >
>> > Until you have a religious student to whom you feel the need to try to
>> > explain something. BINGO! This trips over the Lemon test (and some
>> other
>> > things). IMHO. :)
>> >
>> > To those who are completely secular there is nothing to talk about. To
>> those
>> > who are concerned with religion then MN is needed.
>> >
>> > An analogy (all analogies are flawed of course):
>> > If I go to the store and buy meat I don't need to know that its
>> > "methodologically natural" (even though someone may believe it might
>> be).
>> > But if I go to the store and ask for Kosher meat, then religion comes
>> into
>> > it. MN is like that.
>> >
> --
> =========================
> I often suffer from nostalgia, that fondness for something that never was.
> Pleasant memories have a tendency to expand.

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Received on Sat Apr 4 13:51:51 2009

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