They said it: Dr Nick Matzke vs Dr John Lennox on the Laws of Nature and Miracles
|April 29, 2012||Posted by kairosfocus under Education, Philosophy, Culture, Atheism, Intellectual freedom, Popular culture, science education, ID Foundations, Science, worldview issues/foundations and society|
In the ongoing Methodological Naturalism thread, at no. 66, Dr Matzke is on record:
massive observational evidence and the logic of our understanding of natural laws rules say that that miracle thing can’t happen.
In short he holds that the laws of nature forbid miracles. (And recall, here, we are speaking about the late publicist for the US-based NCSE, for quite some years.)
And cf. here, too.
In a nutshell, Dr Matzke here seems to make a crude form of the error commonly attributed to Hume (and too often seen as a definitive dismissal of the miraculous). He also reveals that behind methodological naturalism, there may often lurk a prior (and perhaps implicit) commitment to philosophical naturalism.
It is worth clipping the Collins English dictionary (2003) on that:
naturalism . . . 4. (Philosophy) Philosophy [–> Notice, not science!]
a. a scientific account of the world in terms of causes and natural forces that rejects all spiritual, supernatural, or teleological explanations
b. the meta-ethical thesis that moral properties are reducible to natural ones, or that ethical judgments are derivable from nonethical ones See naturalistic fallacy Compare descriptivism
Just because metaphysical naturalism wears a lab coat does not make it into a conclusion of science. And, if it crops up in education, in all fairness we have a perfect right to challenge it, if education is not to become propagandistic indoctrination.
Actually, too, Dr Matzke has evidently only succeeded in begging big questions — inductive generalisations on the observed, usual course of the world, have no proper bearing on whether, say God, could have acted to cause the origin of the world, or that he may sustain its regularity “by the word of his power” and that he may from time to time for particular good purposes of his own act into the world beyond its usual course. And there is absolutely nothing to block reasonable people of sound mind to be witnesses of a miracle, or even to actually experience one.
To take just one famous case, most of us can tell if event A happens before event B and again before an event C. There is nothing extraordinary about eating a meal with a friend. And, most men of common sense can tell a violently dead man.
So, supper A and death by execution by order of the local governor, B are no great surprise. Supper C is again just a supper, and we have no great problems in observing temporal sequence. The reported miracle of course is that supper C happens after B, i.e. the miracle is not in what is seen as much as in the implications of something that is again not extraordinary, a timeline. And, we have over 500 eyewitnesses as reported in eyewitness lifetime documentation, with about twenty named or identified.
(It goes without needing emphasis that those who experienced the sequence A –> B –> C . . . here, were at first doubtful or even dismissive, exactly because they knew the usual course of events per the patterns of nature. However, quite reasonably on the grounds of recognising that the Creator of the world has powers beyond those of the usual course of nature, they were open to the possibility of exceptions, they did not close their mind by a priori decision that laws of nature by their logic cannot have exceptions. Indeed, it is worth citing Paul on trial before the king and governor of the jurisdiction where the events in question were reported to have happened: “Why do you people think it is unbelievable that God raises the dead? . . . . the king knows about these things, and I am speaking freely to him, because I cannot believe that any of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner.” [Ac 26:8 & 26, NET.] Of course, Paul’s underlying point is that once the reality of God is even a possible explanation of our cosmos, we must be open to the possibility that he can act in ways that transcend the usual order of things, for good purposes of his own; on pain of blatant closed-mindedness and self-refuting selective hyperskepticism.)
Dr Lennox (HT: BA77) therefore aptly corrects the error made by Dr Matzke:
(I also respond here, at 73.)
It does seem rather like the root issue is philosophical, not scientific. END