RE: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 15:38:39 EST

I think when one deals with the physical aspect of Nature, as done by the fathers of modern physics, one is dealing with dead stuff and so it can be easily mathematized and described by “mechanical” laws. Notice that the theory does not deal with the real thing but a poor facsimile of it--- much like a map is said to describe a city. The metaphysics has more to do with the real thing than with our description of it.

From: David Clounch []
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 1:11 PM
To: Alexanian, Moorad
Cc: Murray Hogg; ASA
Subject: Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

Is it true or false that MN was invented to deal with a metaphysics? And has that purpose and role.

Dave C
On Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 9:37 AM, Alexanian, Moorad <<>> wrote:
The laws of Nature are statistical in nature and so are based on generalizing the results of many experiments. Therefore, there is no way that miracles, for instance, can come in into the experimental results, which would be discarded if they differed greatly from the average results.

As you say Murray, there really is no difference between attitudes in practicing scientists vis-ŕ-vis their general worldviews. It is when we talk about the laws of Nature that one’s metaphysical notions will become evident.

Whatever you do, drive a car, walk, breath, etc. is replete with assumptions that you make that are not brought forth except when the exceptional happens. Otherwise, one goes the merry old way without thinking much about metaphysical assumptions. Very much like fish in water, they are totally unaware of it and rightly so.

From:<> [<>] On Behalf Of Murray Hogg [<>]
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 10:03 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] on science and meta-science
Hi Schwarzwald,

Okay, so your fundamental point would be that if Christians were to enter into the lab and practice "methodological Christian theism" (MCT) then their descriptions of physical reality would be the same?

Theologically speaking I think I could cope with this. After all, I don't see that a Christian theology of nature demands that we invoke God at the drop of the hat just because we run across some explanatory difficulty. Which is to acknowledge the point that the Christian theist can be quite responsible in the practice of science without even so much as paying lip service to naturalism by invoking MN as a practical maxim.



Schwarzwald wrote:
> Heya Murray,
> Some comments below.
> * There's nothing about the methods commonly associated with
> "methodological naturalism" that makes its findings or methods
> exclusively compatible with naturalism anyway. Claiming that,
> say, "Water = H2O" is a naturalistic discovery is an empty
> statement, since nothing in the discovery or description is
> necessarily incompatible with a non-naturalistic perspective.
> I feel I must have entirely missed the point here - for the simple
> reason that I don't believe anybody is arguing that MN is
> "exclusively" compatible with naturalism. Rather the point has been
> that MN is compatible with a metaphysic of a particularly Christian
> theistic sort.
> Part of my difficulty with MN is that it's simply a misnomer on a number
> of levels. I think I expanded on that in the post, but to put it another
> way: If the 'methods' in MN are not exclusive to MN - if they're
> entirely compatible with (perhaps more compatible with) a theistic, or
> other non-naturalist (certainly non-materialist-monist) worldview - then
> why make reference to naturalism whatsoever? Again, to use an example I
> made in the post - I've seen some Christians point out that they are
> not, say, 'theistic meteorologists'. The argument being that the
> qualification 'theistic' just isn't doing much. In which case - assuming
> there's no objection to what I've pointed out here - why "use
> methodological naturalism"?
> So, taking the "Water = H2O" example: I wonder whatever gave you the
> idea - which you seem to me to be taking as your point of departure
> - that this claim is regarded as "incompatible with a
> non-naturalistic perspective".
> Isn't the entire point of the theist's defence of MN precisely that
> an explanation like "Water = H20" can be arrived at according to the
> assumptions of MN whilst also being perfectly compatible with the
> theistic (non-natural) perspective?
> That's certainly the belief I had previously, and I think some of the
> assumed particulars of MN (An emphasis on directly observable phenomena,
> on repeatable experiments, etc) are entirely fine. It just happens to be
> the case that "naturalism" isn't necessary whatsoever to rely on those
> particulars, and that "naturalism" itself is a term which has shockingly
> little utility other than negative stances besides (Rejection of
> purpose, rejection of "God" - with the latter put in quotes because,
> frankly, naturalism can now supposedly accept the existence of beings
> that would be called deities or supernatural previously).
> But I'll try to explain myself better here. I think everyone on this
> list, and in conversation in general, tends to bring a typically
> particular emphasis to the table. Gregory's point often relates to HSS.
> You've often talked about aboriginal perspectives and different
> approaches to understanding ancient origins (put loosely). Ted tends to
> bring a historical perspective to the table. For myself, I suppose what
> I commonly focus on is language - I point out what 'moral' means coming
> from one worldview versus another. That the opposite of 'naturalism' is
> not just 'theism', nor is the only choice between 'materialism' and
> 'cartesian dualism'. And that 'methodological naturalism' is a
> functionally rather useless, and practically rather deceptive, term.
> We simply do not need any commitment to naturalism, even merely
> "methodological", to do science - and good science at that. Nor do we
> need naturalism to define certain methods, standards, and limitations
> for a fruitful science. Some greater appreciation for philosophy of
> science, and metaphysics in general, could well be useful.
> Hopefully this better explains where I'm coming from on the MN subject.
> As I say, I'm sure I must have missed the point, so I'll await
> clarification before responding further.
> Blessings,
> Murray
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Received on Tue Nov 3 15:35:11 2009

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