Re: [asa] Natural Agents - Cause and Effect, Non-Natural Agents

From: wjp <>
Date: Tue Apr 14 2009 - 10:39:17 EDT


Suppose that humans have a "non-natural" element, but
nonetheless evidence "natural" effects.
Why might it be inappropriate to study these "natural"
effects? It seems that they can be investigated and
are investigated. What is more theories can be
developed to "explain" these effects. It may be that
not all human behavior can be "explained."

What ID suggests is that the part of human behavior that
cannot be explained by "natural" means, is "non-natural."
That follows by definition. The "non-natural" if it abides
by any regularity cannot be described using "natural"

This is all very vague. Dembski attempts to be more clear
by constraining his "natural" to physics or chemistry
(the hard sciences). Science is not so constrained and
is intentionally vague.

Were natural more generally construed, I imagine "intelligence"
and creativity could be described and elucidated, but it would
be done in a realm of ideas and concepts, a realm quite acceptable
to some sciences, but not to all.

The problem it appears to me is the child of the bulldog
reductionists. Keep them at bay and science will go where it may.
After all, all it wants is some sense of progress. It is not a
purist, but a mongrel taking whatever it can. It has no undying
commitments. For that reason I have no problem at all with ID.
As with all science, ye shall know them by their works.

bill powers

On Tue, 14 Apr 2009 09:12:43 -0500, wrote:
>> From Nelson's quotation: "You are, if science must be naturalistic,
>> engaged in an activity that science will never understand."
>> This is understandable and true, as far as contemporary science
>> studies goes. There *are* activities that science doesn't study. The
>> limitations of 'science' qua
>> "Human psychology, if it can only recognize natural causes for
>> events, will be forever on the hapless task of trying to explain the
>> actions of the soul without including the soul in the theory." - Paul
>> Nelson
>> What about this exactly do you disagree with? Is it that a person is
>> 'doing science' and therefore cannot possibly be 'entirely
>> objective'?
> Natural science cannot investigate the action or existence of an
> immaterial spiritual soul. It can investigate the mind and any
> connections between neural activity and human experiences. But natural
> science is unable to investigate anything that is not material (matter
> and energy).
> What Paul is arguing is that this state of affairs is inappropriate and
> that science should include the investigation of such non-material
> entities. Because he sees humans as fundamentally non-natural he
> therefore argues that science can investigate the action of an
> intelligent designer as a causal agent in biological history (such an
> agent is clearly supernatural). ID advocates consistently appeal to
> the ability of science to study human action as a validation of their
> argument that science can investigate divine action. That is why their
> unwillingness to distinguish natural and supernatural agents is a
> critical error. (By the way I had an extended e-mail conversation with
> Paul on exactly this point.)
> I would strongly encourage you to read my full essay in the book "For
> the Rock Record: Geologists on Intelligent Design." I lay out step by
> step my whole argument. I would be happy to respond to anyone's
> comments on that essay.
> Keith
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Received on Tue Apr 14 10:39:56 2009

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