Re: Wall Street Journal: The Church of Darwin By Phillip E. Johnson

Marcio Pie (
Wed, 25 Aug 1999 17:08:33 -0400 (EDT)

On Tue, 24 Aug 1999, Stephen E. Jones wrote:

> MP>I was very skeptical when I began to read this article, but I must admit
> >that Phil Johnson has raised a very pertinent point. Modern scientific
> >method "assumes" that all factors influencing the results are
> >naturalistic-materialistic and then uses the results of their analyses to
> >corroborate those assumptions. It looks circular to me, but I would like
> >to know more opinions about that.
> It not only "looks circular", it *is* circular. Materialism-naturalism is a
> fundamental *assumption* of the "modern scientific method", not a finding
> of it:

Maybe it is not strictly circular. Science is not only based on reasoning,
it is based on evidence as well. Even though you might argue that the
*interpretation* of the evidence also requires some assumptions, I prefer
to think that the interpretation of evidence is not completely dependent
on assumptions, otherwise science is useless if we want to understand the
"universe out there." When you make a mathematical model model to
describe some phenomenon, you have to make some assumptions. When you
compare the evidence from the real world with what you would predict from
your model, you could show whether your assumptions still hold or not. The
problem is that the models based on "materialistic-naturalistic"
assumptions have been successful in predicting a lot about how "the
universe out there" works. Does it mean that materialism-naturalism is a
valid assumption? I don't think so, but I would like to hear your opinion

> MP>Also, if we *assume* that God influenced directly evolutionary processes,
> >can modern scientific method detect that influence?
> *Before* "modern scientific method" can detect the "influence" of "God" it
> must *first* have a philosophy that can does not rule out in advance the very
> possibility of that "influence" of "God", before it even looks at the evidence.
> For example, Dennett admits that the "modern scientific method" cannot, from
> the empirical evidence alone, "rule out the earlier historical presence of
> rational designers":

I think that the materialism-naturalism assumption is not perfect, but I
can't see a better alternative. Also, I don't see how it would prevent
totally the detection of ID. What would be your alternative?