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

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Tue May 26 2009 - 14:04:01 EDT

I know of no scientist worthy of the designation who would disagree with the main arguments Keith puts forward.

Lots of us probably have minor disagreements but nothing of substance.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Gregory Arago
  To: AmericanScientificAffiliation Affiliation ; Keith Miller
  Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 6:39 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Natural Agents - Cause and Effect, Non-Natural Agents

        In case Keith would prefer not to answer in a thread that speaks about <the defeat> of his personal view of <science>, I thought perhaps it would be appropriate to re-post this message here, and to leave the options open, since this is the thread he chose to respond to me in.

        - G.A.

        Hi Keith,

        If you,ll forgive for me asking for more, you *still* have not answered my questions directly. It is difficult for me to fathom your reasons for this, however, as you might have noticed, I wrote a very long post in another thread titled <The Defeat of Keith Miller,s View of MN = Science>. That is the appropriate thread to discuss these things now because I already addressed your points below in that thread (so I am responding to you under that title).

        What did you mean specifically by <non-natural agents>? I,ll remind you that your words appear in a published work. Can you not explain it now? I need something concrete, not just an appeal to immaterial things. The terms <natural> and <material> are *not* synonymous; neither are <non-natural> and <immaterial>. Or is this exactly what you wish to contend? You hint at things, in a round about way, but do not say directly.

        Randy Isaac is forthright in his recent post when speaking about <metaphysical teleology,> where he identifies <angels, demons, spirits, or God>. Why aren,t you willing to be as forthright in answering my question about <non-natural agents that are not at the same time supernatural agents>? You still have not named a <non-natural agent>, but instead shift your definitional burden onto another concept, either <supernatural agent> or <immaterial agent> thinking this is satisfactory. It isn,t. Is <non-natural agent> actually an empty term to you, Keith?

        You wrote: <Natural science cannot study the existence or action of any immaterial agent (whether God, angels, or souls).>

        Well, I am pleased that you are now speaking of <natural science> and not *just* of <science> in general, as a single, unified whole. Shall I take it then that you do concede my point about MN?

        Are you equating <immaterial agent> with <non-natural agent>? If so, this would partly explain your position, but would still require a correction in your published words.

        It seems to me you have two options, Keith. 1) You can say that when you wrote <non-natural agents> you didn,t actually have anything specific in mind other than <surpernatural agents.> That is, in your opinion and choice of language, <non-natural agent> is synonymous with <supernatural agent> and/or it is synonymous with the new duo that just now appeared, <immaterial agent.> In other words, <non-natural agent> is a superfluous or empty term.

        2) You can maintain your intellectual honesty by admitting openly that MN is *not* a suitable definition for doing *all* sciences, but strictly for doing <natural sciences.> In other words, <natural sciences> are <naturalistic> by definition (whether or not people want to engage in horseplay about methodological and/vs. metaphysical). This doesn,t mean, of course, that <non-natural agents which are neither supernatural nor immaterial agents> cannot be part of one,s definition of <doing science>, which involves <using methods>. In other words, Keith, you could open a door that is currently closed by your exclusivistic and hegemonic grammar, by accepting that <science can study more than *just* natural things.>

        Should it be so hard to eat your humble pie with one or both of these two options, Keith?

        Sunday regards,

        p.s. aren,t you glad that my dissertation pre-defense got pushed back to late-June so that I could have time to call you out and catch you on this, Keith?

        --- On Sun, 5/24/09, Keith Miller <> wrote:

          From: Keith Miller <>
          Subject: Re: [asa] Natural Agents - Cause and Effect, Non-Natural Agents
          To: "AmericanScientificAffiliation Affiliation" <>
          Received: Sunday, May 24, 2009, 1:40 AM

          I am tired of the charge that I have not answered the question of my view of non-natural agents. I have in the only manner that I can.

          Below I a passage from one response from a month ago or so.

            Non-natural agents or entities are those that are immaterial (not matter or energy). As such, science has no way of investigating HOW such agents interact with the material world. Scripture does not seem to give much direction either -- its emphasis is on God's PURPOSES and WILL and the REVELATION of God's character. So, my answer to HOW the supernatural interacts with the natural or material universe is -- I have absolutely no idea, and have no idea how I could ever know. It does not seem that the question is one that God has seen to be of importance for us to know. I suspect that it would be incomprehensible to us at any rate.

          The other post I did not archive. But in it I stated that if one take a dualistic view of human nature, then the soul or immaterial spirit is also non-natural. We cannot therefore investigate the nature of such a soul or spirit through the natural sciences. We cannot demonstrate its existence or the nature of its action from within science. However, human are also natural agents and as natural agents, human actions can be, and of course are, studied through the natural sciences.

          Natural science cannot study the existence or action of any immaterial agent (whether God, angels, or souls).

          I will say no more, because I have no more to say on this topic.



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Received on Tue May 26 14:07:00 2009

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