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A Question for Barbara Forrest

In her recent paper, The Non-epistemology of Intelligent Design: Its Implications for Public Policy, evolutionary philosopher Barbara Forrest states that science must be restricted to natural phenomena. In its investigations, science must restrict itself to a naturalistic methodology, where explanations must be strictly naturalistic, dealing with phenomena that are strictly natural. Aside from rare exceptions this is the consensus position of evolutionists. And in typical fashion, Forrest uses this criteria to exclude origins explanations that allow for the supernatural. Only evolutionary explanations, in one form or another, are allowed.

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560 Responses to A Question for Barbara Forrest

  1. This is like the drunk guy who lost his keys at night.

    Another person was walking down the street and asked him what he was doing.

    The drunk replied that he was looking for his keys.

    So the other person asked him where he dropped them.

    The drunk replied down the street about a block.

    So the other person asked why wasn’t he looking for the keys down the street where he dropped them.

    The drunk replied because the street light was lighting up the area he was searching and down the street it was too dark to see anything.

  2. 2
    Granville Sewell

    Cornelius,

    If biology textbooks would be honest and state their assumptions, it wouldn’t be so bad. For example they could (and maybe someday will) say “a lot of scientists don’t think Darwinism gives a reasonable explanation for macroevolution, but science rejects intelligent design as being unscientific and Darwinism is the best explanation available which does not involve design,”

    But that isn’t what they tell the general public, the textbooks these people want used in our schools treat Darwinism as though it were a perfectly adequate explanation, and leave the impression (sometimes explicitly claim) that there is no scientific controversy over the mechanism of evolution. That is dishonest.

  3. If science would be interested in only “natural phenomena” then Archeology, psychology, etc.. shouldn’t be considered as science.
    After all, when is the last time you heard someone claiming that the Pyramids were made in gradual random and purely natural fashion?
    On the other hand, she assumes that God is not a “natural phenomena”. How can she be so sure of that?

  4. A question for Cornelius :

    If method, realism and completeness are the the three corners, how does invoking a [G]od we cant test allow for completeness (assuming, as stated in the article, that modern science is sacrificing completeness for method and realism).

    I suppose because the article states you can only have 2 of the 3, ID would prefer realism and completeness, and forgo the ‘method’. But I hypothesise your method would be called ‘guessing’, and you’d have completed your triangle and your make believe ‘realism’ would ‘complete’ your fantasy.

    Science without a ‘method’, have fun with that!

  5. The question for Forrest and the evolutionists then is: What is the boundary between natural phenomena and supernatural phenomena?

    I think the boundary question is one that should not be limited to evolutionists.

    Are there any researchers addressing this specific boundary (or perhaps lack of boundary)? Any sources?

  6. @ Granville Sewell :

    If your issue with the ToE is what the text books say about it, I’d suggest you do some science that the textbooks can provide as an alternative theory.

    Textbooks are not the ‘battleground’, they are a representation of the accepted ‘truth’ that science has thus far uncovered. I say ‘truth’ because we are always discovering new stuff, and what we know today may change in the future, everyone accepts that.

    If you want the textbooks to say something diffirent, stop appealing to the lay person and convince a scientist. Oh no wait, there is no proper science being done by creationists is there. Anything they produce is deceiptful ‘research’ that displays their ability to quotemine and not provide all the information.

    So often I’ve read an ID/Creationist’s ‘rebuttal’ to the ToE (attacking whichever part they thought of while eating their cereal that morning), and any qualified scientist in that field can poke a million holes in why they are wrong. Never do I see a revision, or an apology, ID literature is not designed to convince scientists, it’s written to convince the lay person that elitist scientists are trying to convince their kids that there isn’t a god. Pathetic!

    But I may be wrong…

  7. 7

    I have a question:

    What does ‘supernatural’ mean?

  8. Nnoel:

    So often I’ve read an ID/Creationist’s ‘rebuttal’ to the ToE…
    ID literature is not designed to convince scientists, it’s written to convince the lay person that elitist scientists are trying to convince their kids that there isn’t a god. Pathetic!

    Yes, that’s exactly what they print in peer-reviewed journals. Based on your use of the term “ID/Creationist” and your description of ID materials, it’s hard to tell if you’ve read much or anything on the subject. Pa… never mind.

  9. 9

    If science would be interested in only “natural phenomena” then Archeology, psychology, etc.. shouldn’t be considered as science.
    After all, when is the last time you heard someone claiming that the Pyramids were made in gradual random and purely natural fashion?

    I think you’re confused. ‘Natural phenomena’ means ‘things we can test and observe.’ Archeology is science because we can observe artifacts, collect data, form a coherent picture of past civilizations, and make predictions about what other artifacts we should find and where.

    On the other hand, she assumes that God is not a “natural phenomena”. How can she be so sure of that?

    Think about it like a homicide detective trying to solve a murder. He can’t figure out how the suspect got away. Do you think the detective should at least CONSIDER the possibility that giant invisible eagles lifted the suspect to safety? Or should he stick to ‘naturalistic’ explanations only?

  10. NNoel,

    Science without a ‘method’, have fun with that!

    ID has a method, according to the posters here. that method has something to do with stone tablets on Mars and “Ghost Hunters”, a reality show on the Science Fiction channel. also, they have ways of distinguishing between attacks on cattle perpetrated by demons and aliens. so take that!

  11. “ID has a method, according to the posters here. that method has something to do with stone tablets on Mars and “Ghost Hunters”, a reality show on the Science Fiction channel. also, they have ways of distinguishing between attacks on cattle perpetrated by demons and aliens. so take that!”

    Your statement has all the equivalent intellectual content and value of some snake-handling fundamentalist coming in here and making the bare assertion that all atheists are going to hell, and they seek to deceive the elect with a cockamamie story about evolution in order to drag them down there along with them, so don’t listen to ‘em!

    Do you have anything to add to the discussion besides know-nothing atheist/skeptic fundamentalism? Or are you offering yourself as the very proof that life really couldn’t possibly have had an intelligent designer?

  12. Matteo,
    I’m just summarizing the responses I got when I asked if anyone could show me how to calculate the effects of intelligence using a real biological example. perhaps you can do better?

  13. actually, the cattle thing was from a different thread.. the question still stands, though

  14. Khan,

    ID has a method, according to the posters here. that method has something to do with stone tablets on Mars and “Ghost Hunters”, a reality show on the Science Fiction channel. also, they have ways of distinguishing between attacks on cattle perpetrated by demons and aliens. so take that!

    Ha ha. What about this method?

    1) ID hypothesizes that nature operating freely could not have produced structure X.

    2) Evos fail to falsify the above hypothesis by demonstrating a naturalistic origin for X.

    3) As the ID hypothesis continues to stand unrefuted despite teh evos’ best efforts, at some point it’s logical to conclude it’s true. The hypothesis then becomes a theory, and finally a law.

  15. —-Khan: “ID has a method, according to the posters here. that method has something to do with stone tablets on Mars and “Ghost Hunters”, a reality show on the Science Fiction channel. also, they have ways of distinguishing between attacks on cattle perpetrated by demons and aliens. so take that!”

    The question on the table [which can be discerned by reading the post] is this: Where is the boundary between natural and supernatural that Darwinists always point to? Darwinists love to demand answers, but when you start asking them questions, they fold like an accordion.

  16. 16

    1) ID hypothesizes that nature operating freely could not have produced structure X.

    Except in ID, “structure X” is constantly shifting.

  17. herb,
    this is another example of the “Ghost Hunter” methodology. aside from being incredibly lazy this “method” is missing any way to provide positive evidence for ID. despite what you may have read here, evidence against hypothesis a is not evidence for hypothesis b. it is evidence for the null hypothesis, i.e. “not hypothesis a.” you have to test hypothesis b against a null hypothesis separately to provide evidence for it.

    aside from all this, i am still unclear on what basis you make your hypothesis in part 1).. is it really “if it looks complex nature couldn’t have made it”? this is why I continue to ask how you calculate the effects of intelligence using a biological example. this at least would provide some quantitative way to make hypotheses and test predictions.

  18. 18

    Khan:

    they have ways of distinguishing between attacks on cattle perpetrated by demons and aliens. so take that!

    That was perhaps called for. But surely we don’t need to scour the internet or even this forum for posts to use as straw men.

  19. —khan: “I’m just summarizing the responses I got when I asked if anyone could show me how to calculate the effects of intelligence using a real biological example. perhaps you can do better?”

    No, actually you are [A] brooding over [and misrepresenting] a question that I asked you on another thread, which you refused to answer, and [B] trying to disrupt this thread which scrutinizes Darwinism and attempting to turn it into a scrutiny of ID. Please stay on topic. Don’t put Dr. Hunter in the clumsy position of having to tell you that you shouldn’t try to settle old grievances which the subject matter has changed. Is it necessary for me to remind you once again about the question on the table?

  20. By all means, let’s restrict the scope of science to purely natural observations.

    Of course that would rule out most of Darwin, since virtually all of the wonderful observations about nature found in his books were used for the expressed purpose of getting God out of nature.

    Darwin’s goal of using nature to construct a purely natural account of origins cannot be found in nature itself. Nature for its own sake tells us nothing about origins. Darwin’s theory is based entirely on inference.

    A subtle philosopher like Barbara Forrest must know the difference between nature and naturalism. Nature—the thing for its own sake—is completely indifferent to her desire to promote naturalism.

    “The thing is free to be what it is.” Not if our science philosophers have anything to say about it!

  21. Khan,

    aside from all this, i am still unclear on what basis you make your hypothesis in part 1).. is it really “if it looks complex nature couldn’t have made it”? this is why I continue to ask how you calculate the effects of intelligence using a biological example. this at least would provide some quantitative way to make hypotheses and test predictions.

    But does it even matter how a particular hypothesis was arrived at? The only important thing is whether or not it survives attempts to falsify it. As an example, I’ve heard that the mathematician Ramanujan could not explain how he came up with some of his formulas (which only later were found to be true).

  22. Stephen,
    all I want is a straightforward answer. I don’t need you to hold my hand while explaining your answer to me. just kindly provide one and if I don’t understand I will say so and ask for clarification. I will even summarize your answer in my own words to make sure I understand. and, since you will be giving me a generalized method I can then apply this method to other examples and see how it works. then everyone wins. answer me on whatever thread you want.

    oh, and in answer to the question on the table, how about “if a thing or the effects of that thing can not be measured quantitatively, then it is supernatural.”

  23. 23

    Darwin’s goal of using nature to construct a purely natural account of origins cannot be found in nature itself. Nature for its own sake tells us nothing about origins. Darwin’s theory is based entirely on inference.

    Two pointss:
    1. All science is inferential.
    2. Darwin never published on the origin of life.

  24. 24

    Of course that would rule out most of Darwin, since virtually all of the wonderful observations about nature found in his books were used for the expressed purpose of getting God out of nature.

    Incorrect. It is an attempt to figure out how life actually works other than “poof!”

  25. My thoughts here turn to the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here is an image that clearly had a ‘designer’, yet which is part of our world, meaning it can be tested. As such, what does science have to say about this image after having tested it?

    Well, science tells us that they have no explanation whatsoever for how the image was formed.

    OTOH, we have human witnesses that tell us, basically, that the image is of divine, or heavenly, origins. Is this the boundary that Forrest is speaking about, one that keeps naturalistic methodology apart from the supernatural?

    It seems to me that the whole question of this image of Our Lady of Guadalupe puts the entire ID vs. the naturalistic methodology of Darwinism into proper focus. Both the cell, and its genetic system, and the image of Guadalupe speak to us of design, a design that is clear-cut in the case of the image of Guadalupe and mathematically probable in the case of the cell, yet a design that science is unable, let us say, to ‘detect’. The question now becomes: is ‘science’ ready to accept the supernatural origin of the ‘design’ found in the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe? If it is, then it should be willing to accept the likelihood of design in the case of the cell/genome. If it is not, then we have a very clear case of “actual” supernatural design—a ‘design’ that takes place within the natural dimensions of our world and which is still a part of this natural world—that ‘science’ is simply choosing to deny, or to ignore. The dilemna this poses to ‘science’, however, is that in denying this clear-cut evidence of a Designer at work in our world, science is then undercutting any argument it might like to make regarding the distinction between ‘natural’ agency and ‘supernatural’ agency. IOW, science cannot assert that ‘supernatural’ design cannot be detected using scientific methods since we ‘don’t know’ anything about such a Designer and the methods such a Designer might employ, and, at the same time, maintain that a clearly designed object is NOT the product of human agency. Obviously, design can enter our world other than through ‘natural agency’, and, obviously, we can all ‘see’ that it is designed. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe cannot be explained using the ‘laws of nature’, and the complexity of the animal cell cannot be explained by the ‘laws of probability’. Both, then, point to a Designer.

    If science cannot ‘detect’ Design, then, why does it, a priori rule it out? Darwin proposed an hypothesis. Does it really matter what the hypothesis is? Isn’t what really matters how well such an hypothesis explains reality? Isn’t this Steven Meyers argument: that the ‘design hypothesis’ has more ‘explanatory power’ than Darwin’s hypothesis? Thus, what is more intellectually satisfying: nature appears to be designed, but it isn’t (a la Dawkins, et al.), or, nature appears designed because it is (the ID position)?

    But, the Darwinists scream, “If you say that nature is ‘designed’, this is a science stopper.” Really, I have, in my backyard, a spaceship that has crashed here from some unearthly home. I can see that it is designed. Am I really going to leave it alone simply because I know that is was designed?

  26. also, there is no need to threaten me with moderation, Stephen. I was on topic. but, following the Cornelius method, I just flipped the topic horizontally and pixelated it ;) I kid bc I love.

  27. 27

    Khan:

    if a thing or the effects of that thing can not be measured quantitatively, then it is supernatural.

    If anyone were to claim the existence of something supernatural, it would most likely be the result of some measurable physical manifestation. (Otherwise they’re just seeing pink elephants.) If everything with observable effects is natural, what does that leave to be supernatural?

  28. Scott,

    If everything with observable effects is natural, what does that leave to be supernatural?

    since the effects of intelligence can not be quantitatively measured, I guess that means the “intelligent forces” postulated by ID are supernatural. that’s the only example I can think of right now.

  29. 29

    Khan @28:
    Human intelligence can’t be quantified (IQ doesn’t count.) So does that make our intelligence supernatural?

  30. 30

    Human intelligence can’t be quantified (IQ doesn’t count.)

    That’s hilarious. Why wouldn’t IQ count? Why do you say that human intelligence can’t be quantified?

  31. —khan: “all I want is a straightforward answer. I don’t need you to hold my hand while explaining your answer to me. just kindly provide one and if I don’t understand I will say so and ask for clarification. I will even summarize your answer in my own words to make sure I understand. and, since you will be giving me a generalized method I can then apply this method to other examples and see how it works. then everyone wins. answer me on whatever thread you want.”

    I answer questions only after I get answers to my questions. Darwinists think that they can cross examine all day long while refusing to submit to the questions that are being asked of them. I framed my question about CSI the way I did for a reason, and that includes the location which scandalized you so much.

    —-”oh, and in answer to the question on the table, how about “if a thing or the effects of that thing can not be measured quantitatively, then it is supernatural.”

    Would that include a non-material human mind?

  32. PaV,

    My thoughts here turn to the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here is an image that clearly had a ‘designer’, yet which is part of our world, meaning it can be tested. As such, what does science have to say about this image after having tested it?

    Well, science tells us that they have no explanation whatsoever for how the image was formed.

    That’s a great example of how ID works. If science cannot reduce the image to chance, matter, necessity, and energy, then we have to conclude it had supernatural origin.

  33. —khan: “also, there is no need to threaten me with moderation, Stephen. I was on topic. but, following the Cornelius method, I just flipped the topic horizontally and pixelated it I kid bc I love.”

    You were not on topic, but you will be happy to know that I do not have the power to moderate or even to censure in any official capacity.

  34. Stephen,
    we can’t measure distance (rulers don’t count). so is distance supernatural?

  35. 35

    David Kellogg:

    That’s hilarious. Why wouldn’t IQ count? Why do you say that human intelligence can’t be quantified?

    What is the difference between an IQ of 100 and 101? What does one IQ point equal? We don’t know how our brains solve problems. All we can see is the result. And each of us are so complex that other factors affect that output.
    I’m not discounting IQ a way to gauge intelligence, but it’s not like degrees of temperature.
    Yes, that is quite hilarious. It can’t be quantified. Is it supernatural?

  36. Nnoel:
    Oh no wait, there is no proper science being done by creationists is there. Anything they produce is deceiptful ‘research’ that displays their ability to quotemine and not provide all the information.

    The logical fallacy you are using here is ad hominem coupled with overgeneralization. Any information you can provide to prove this assertation? Others have posted pro-ID papers being (or which have been) published in reputable science journals.

    So often I’ve read an ID/Creationist’s ‘rebuttal’ to the ToE (attacking whichever part they thought of while eating their cereal that morning), and any qualified scientist in that field can poke a million holes in why they are wrong.

    And again, ad hominem coupled with overgeneralization. Again, prove your assertation. Provide an example of an ID rebuttal with a scientist’s own rebuttal poking holes in the ID theory.

    Never do I see a revision, or an apology,

    Nor do I see scientists apologizing for Piltdown man, Archaeoraptor, or whatever dubious fossil claims (“Look! The missing link! For real this time!”) are made and then published to fawning reviews.

    ID literature is not designed to convince scientists, it’s written to convince the lay person that elitist scientists are trying to convince their kids that there isn’t a god. Pathetic!
    But I may be wrong…

    And how. This type of ignorance-based, uninformed, hyperbolic, pro-evolutionary post is typical of what I see on Fark.com. You don’t have a Fark handle, do you?

  37. 37

    Actually any measure of intelligence would be a lot like a measure of temperature, since both would be averages. The amount of kinetic energy in any specific area of a body — even a liquid body — may be quite different from the temperature.

    I’m not saying IQ is a good measure, but the idea that intelligence, if it exists, is not measurable is ridiculous. (One could say that intelligence as such does not really exist but is a conflation of several different things, but each of those should in principle be measurable.)

  38. —-Khan: “oh, and in answer to the question on the table, how about “if a thing or the effects of that thing can not be measured quantitatively, then it is supernatural.”

    To which I respond, “Would that include a non-material human mind?

    —khan: “we can’t measure distance (rulers don’t count). so is distance supernatural?”

    I notice that, one again, you evade the question and ask another question. I am not the one who claims to know the boundary between natural and supernatural, you are. So, what about it? Is a human mind, which cannot be qunatitatively measured, a supernatural entity?

  39. 39

    Can’t the effects of the mind be measured quantitatively? (Disclosure: The “mind” itself seems to me a name we give to a collection of processes viewed as a unity rather than to a unity as such.)

  40. 40

    ScottAndrews:

    We don’t know how our brains solve problems. All we can see is the result.

    For “result,” you can read “effects” — so the effects can be quantified. Ergo, it is not supernatural by the stipulated definition.

  41. Stephen,
    that was in response to this:

    Human intelligence can’t be quantified (IQ doesn’t count.) So does that make our intelligence supernatural?

    and was obviously snarky because intelligence can be measured, however imperfectly. when you start talking about the “mind”, is that different than intelligence? because things like heart rate and breathing are controlled by “the mind (aka the brain)” and are clearly measurable. and so is intelligence. can you clarify?

  42. StevenB:

    I answer questions only after I get answers to my questions. Darwinists think that they can cross examine all day long while refusing to submit to the questions that are being asked of them.

    As someone who wishes to supplant a major portion of the modern biology, you are strangely unwilling to defend your proposition to skeptical scrutiny unless you questioners jump through the hoops that you set up. You should welcome this opportunity to go through the peer-review process interactively.

  43. 43

    David Kellogg:

    For “result,” you can read “effects” — so the effects can be quantified. Ergo, it is not supernatural by the stipulated definition.

    Thank you for skipping to the main point. So in the hypothesis that life was designed, the designer’s intelligence needn’t be supernatural either, as the effects would be quantifiable.

  44. 44

    Well, I never said it was a good definition. :-) For my part, I think every major person in ID thinks the designer is God, but they focus on these issues to obscure the point.

  45. 45

    ScottAndrews:

    We don’t know how our brains solve problems

    No, thank you, for admitting that the problem-solver is the material brain and not some immaterial “mind.”

  46. —khan: “and was obviously snarky because intelligence can be measured, however imperfectly. when you start talking about the “mind”, is that different than intelligence? because things like heart rate and breathing are controlled by “the mind (aka the brain)” and are clearly measurable. and so is intelligence. can you clarify?”

    Nice try, but your efforts at obfuscation are not working. The human mind, by definition, cannot be measured. If the word “intelligence” in that context confuses you in that context, then throw it out. Is the human mind, which by definition is non-material and therefore cannot be measured, a supernatural entity?

  47. Scott,
    here are a few ways that the effects of human intelligence can be quantified.
    a) # of problems correctly solved
    b) time to navigate to a given location
    c) # of terms correctly memorized

    can you name any for the intelligence postulated by ID?

  48. At the end of the essay it said “How can science know when it is investigating a supernatural phenomena rather than a natural one? Bacon wrestled with this problem. What does Forrest have to say?”

    Does anyone here know what Bacon had to say about it? I would be very curious to know.

  49. Stephen,

    The human mind, by definition, cannot be measured.

    and what is that definition?

  50. Khan -

    “can you name any for the intelligence postulated by ID”

    1) The ability to assign meanings to symbolic codes
    2) The ability to solve tasks which require reasoning through open-ended, cyclical processes.
    3) The ability to construct an object through non-functional intermediate stages with a planned goal

  51. 51

    johnnyb, those aren’t measurable.

  52. 52

    Khan:

    here are a few ways that the effects of human intelligence can be quantified.
    a) # of problems correctly solved
    b) time to navigate to a given location
    c) # of terms correctly memorized

    One factor alone – the motivation of the subject, is enough to skew the test. A determined test-taker could score higher than a more intelligent one.
    We also don’t know all the ways in which intelligence can act, so how do we know if the subject’s intelligence could be expressed in ways we haven’t thought to matter?
    I’m not tossing IQ in the bin. But we don’t exactly understand what we’re measuring, so IQ tests are just helpful benchmarks.

  53. —David Kellogg: “Can’t the effects of the mind be measured quantitatively?”

    Of course they can. But the question is about the mind as cause. Inasmuch as your Darwinist demarcation principle declares that all which cannot be quantitatively measured is supernatural, and inasmuch the mind cannot be quantitatively measured, is the mind, therefore, a supernatural entity?

  54. 54

    David Kellogg:

    No, thank you, for admitting that the problem-solver is the material brain and not some immaterial “mind.”

    I’m not on the mind/brain bandwagon. I believe that my mind is contained within the functions of by brain cells.

  55. Here’s a question in this area for IDers that’s been bugging me for some time: Why exactly did materialist scientists pick the Darwin/Wallace naturalistic explanation over naturalistic alternatives? What was it about the evolutionary concept that specifically appealed to them — was it just the evidence for things like common descent, adaptation, etc? Despite the way many posters here discuss it, you can’t just equate “evolution” with “naturalism”. Evolutionary theory does not simply consist of the rejection of supernatural design. It makes some pretty specific claims besides that.

    So I guess I also feel like asking yet again what’s been asked a couple times by other posters now, which is: Has anyone lately picked up any new non-philosophical, non-statistics-based, straight-up-physical evidence for the designer? Again and again, people talk here like it’s just staring us in the face, that if only the scientists accepted the supernatural, they would immediately also accept the existence of some supernatural phenomenon that is otherwise “not allowed” by science — the angels that fly over everyone’s heads on Thursday mornings. If your answer is actually going to be something like Our Lady of Guadalupe, then… well… I don’t know what to say. I don’t personally have time to refute every such claim, but hey, if there’s a “there” there, that’s pretty awesome. I think for that particular artifact, the actual likelihoods are much more on the side of a natural design.

  56. So, Khan, are you going to continue to evade the question? Is a human, non-material mind, which cannot be mesaured quantitatively, a supernatural entity?

  57. Stephen,
    if you are defining it is non-material and unquantifiable then yes it is a supernatural concept. which is why I don’t subscribe to mind/brain duality.

  58. 58

    StephenB [52], Khan’s answer was “if a thing or the effects of that thing can not be measured quantitatively, then it is supernatural.” And now you’re excluding effects merely because you want to. He provided an answer, but you refuse to see how it might play out by refusing one part of it (“effects”).

  59. [32] herb:

    Of course, you’re going to explain to me just exactly how the image came about, aren’t you?

    I await.

  60. 60

    “Is a human, non-material mind, which cannot be mesaured quantitatively, a supernatural entity?”

    Your question is nonsensical since we have not established that such a thing exists.

  61. —khan: “if you are defining it is non-material and unquantifiable then yes it is a supernatural concept. which is why I don’t subscribe to mind/brain duality.”

    So, then, if, on the one hand, a carpenter, by using his non material mind, designs a house, and if, on the other hand, God, creates a universe, both are supernatural events?

  62. PaV,

    [32] herb:

    Of course, you’re going to explain to me just exactly how the image came about, aren’t you?

    I await.

    I think all we can say (with near certainty) is that the origin is supernatural. Of course the particular image strongly suggests the involvement of the Christian God, so that would be a reasonable inference. The mechanism by which it appeared is mysterious, of course.

  63. 63

    “a carpenter, by using his non material mind”

    His what?

  64. —-David Kellogg: “Your question is nonsensical since we have not established that such a thing exists.”

    On the contrary, your response is nonsensical. You have thought this matter through very carefully. The methods that Dr. Hunter are describing assumes that no such entity as a human mind can exist. So, any research that validates the existence of a non-material mind is ruled out apriori as non-scientific. This is news to you?

  65. 65

    The premise of ID is that we can draw conclusions regarding the unknown from historical observances.
    It makes sense to apply the same in this case. People put images on clothing, which mean someone probably put this image on this cloak.
    Reminds me of some years back in this area when a discoloration appeared on an office window. It looked like Darth Vader. People flocked to it, and someone bought it and made lots of money. The point is, the threshold for acceptance of this miracle was very, very low.

  66. Stephen,
    like I said, I think mind/brain duality is rubbish.you are free to think otherwise. show me some data that suggests otherwise and I might reconsider. for example, how would you differentiate between the carpenter using his material brain and using his “mind”?.

  67. Correction on @63. “You have not thought through this matter very carefully.”

  68. 68

    I am not aware of any research that validates the existence of a non-material mind. To re-purpose Laplace: I have no need of that hypothesis.

  69. —-David Kellogg: “I am not aware of any research that validates the existence of a non-material mind. To re-purpose Laplace: I have no need of that hypothesis.”

    What is it in this statement that escaped you: “So, any research that validates the existence of a non-material mind is ruled out apriori as non-scientific.”

  70. 70

    StephenB, I’ve read the arguments for a non-material mind; they just aren’t convincing, and the data are not inconsistent with a variety of materialist theories.

  71. 71

    I have to agree – adding in a second disputed premise, mind/brain duality, squares the disagreement.

  72. In the OP Dr. Hunter writes:

    The question for Forrest and the evolutionists then is: What is the boundary between natural phenomena and supernatural phenomena?

    Forrest tells us science must never violate this boundary, so it is important that we discern it. We need to distinguish between natural and supernatural phenomena? How can science know when it is investigating a supernatural phenomena rather than a natural one? Bacon wrestled with this problem. What does Forrest have to say?

    Great question! I sincerely doubt that Bar F. will ever answer such a question, because, frankly, she has no idea. I’ve used a similar question quite often in these debates over the past few years. My version is “how do you know scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that any actions taken by any supernatural entity can not have observable empirical consequences in any natural system, even in principle?” If Forrest and those of her ilk are going to pontificate that

    The sciences are unified by their naturalistic methodology and empiricist epistemology, a unity … that can take us to the outer reaches of natural phenomena, but never beyond them. When we move beyond the epistemic boundaries that these faculties and rules set for us and the correspondingly limited metaphysical boundaries they enable us to define, we move from the relative epistemological safety of knowledge to the unmapped, supernatural territory of faith.

    …then they need to come up with some peer reviewed scientific research studies that confirm that hypothesis. Otherwise, to quote LaPlace, I have no need of that hypothesis!

  73. —khan: “like I said, I think mind/brain duality is rubbish.you are free to think otherwise. show me some data that suggests otherwise and I might reconsider. for example, how would you differentiate between the carpenter using his material brain and using his “mind”?.”

    Your convictions about mind/body duality are irrelevant to the question. If a carpenter uses his non-material mind to design a house, is that a supernatural event?

  74. —-”StephenB, I’ve read the arguments for a non-material mind; they just aren’t convincing, and the data are not inconsistent with a variety of materialist theories.”

    What is it in this statement that escaped you: “So, any research that validates the existence of a non-material mind is ruled out apriori as non-scientific.”

  75. 75

    “If a carpenter uses his non-material mind to design a house, is that a supernatural event?”

    If the mind is non-material, I’d say yeah. But I have no way of measuring the intervention of non-material forces into the material world. As soon as you measure them, they’re material.

  76. 76

    “What is it in this statement that escaped you.” Its relevance or usefulness.

  77. 77

    Your own high view of that statement, however, has not escaped me at all.

  78. Your convictions about mind/body duality are irrelevant to the question. If a carpenter uses his non-material mind to design a house, is that a supernatural event?

    they are very relevant. substitute “invisible sweet fluffy bunny-dragons” for “mind” and you’ll see why this question is meaningless.

  79. —David Kellogg: “If the mind is non-material, I’d say yeah. But I have no way of measuring the intervention of non-material forces into the material world. As soon as you measure them, they’re material.”

    Thank you for that admission. So, if a carpenter, using his non-material mind, builds a house, that event is declared as supernatural and therefore, non-scientific.

  80. 80

    How do you tell that a mind is non-material. The closest I can come is Leonard Cohen: “He’s touched her perfect body with his mind.”

  81. —David Kellogg: “Your own high view of that statement, however, has not escaped me at all.”

    Well, my views are not so high that, unlike your Darwinist colleagues, I would expel anyone from the academy for disagreeing with me.

  82. 82

    I haven’t seen anybody expelled from the academy for not being a Darwinist.

  83. 83
    CannuckianYankee

    Stephen,

    I really don’t think that intelligence is really a good example of something that cannot be measured. After all, we are supporting Intelligent Design, and if ID cannot be measured, then we really have no argument.

    I think it’s safe to say that intelligence cannot be measured as precisely as other phenomenon, but it can be measured within certain criteria. We determine that a person who has an IQ of 70 or below is mentally retarded, and this number determines the type of funding that a person can receive as a developmentally disabled person. If intelligence could not be measured, then we wouldn’t have a way of determining who gets funding or not.

    But I understand the point you are trying to make.

    “Supernatural” is really a man made term (as are all other terms :) ), for a concept that is really outside of our current understanding. I can understand therefore, how the term can force us into a kind of thinking that reality does not enforce. Perhaps what we call “supernatural” is really natural, but outside of a material realm. I say “material,” because naturalists insist that “material” and “natural” are one and the same. Yet, we don’t really know, do we?

    And so we have to at least be open to the possible existence of phenomenon outside of material causes and effects in order to properly do science. The materialists are wrong in equating methodological naturalism as being equal with the scientific method.

    I think the ID theorists HAVE demonstrated that intelligence is quantifiable in its effect in nature, and that’s the whole point. Darwinists will never really understand the strength of the arguments for design until they first reject methodological naturalism as the prime directive for doing science. It blinds them from reality. It’s the drunkard’s street light from Joseph’s #1 post.

  84. 84
    CannuckianYankee

    “because naturalists insist that “material” and “natural” are one and the same”

    I have to laugh at myself here for confusing naturalist with materialist – the very point I was attempting to make.

  85. —-David Kellogg: “How do you tell that a mind is non-material. The closest I can come is Leonard Cohen: “He’s touched her perfect body with his mind.”

    Once again, you evade the issue. You are confusing what we know with what we are permitted to consider as a hypothesis. If I had to defend your position, I, too, would claim ignorance about the meaning of “mind.”

  86. 86
    CannuckianYankee

    “I haven’t seen anybody expelled from the academy for not being a Darwinist.”

    There are plenty of non-Darwinists in the academy, that is true. There’s just one rule that pertains to them exclusively – “Thou shalt not teach science – particularly Biology.”

  87. 87

    I’m not evading the issue Stephen. You’ve said that research validating the non-material mind is excluded from science. I’m asking what research you think supports the non-material mind. How, in other words, do you tell scientifically that the mind is non-material?

  88. —-CYankee: “I really don’t think that intelligence is really a good example of something that cannot be measured. After all, we are supporting Intelligent Design, and if ID cannot be measured, then we really have no argument.”

    I understand your concerns, but You are confusing the term “intelligence” as in intelligent quotient, with mind as agency.

    Mind, as agency, cannot be measured, but the effects of mind can be measured. All this talk about “measuring intelligence,” as in, {how smart are we] is a purposeful distraction from the fact that Darwinists are equating human agency, as in “mind,” with the supernatural—-and only because they were forced to admit it. That admission was not made readily.

  89. 89

    You keep assuming that this “mind” is not material.

  90. —David Kellogg: “I’m not evading the issue Stephen. You’ve said that research validating the non-material mind is excluded from science. I’m asking what research you think supports the non-material mind. How, in other words, do you tell scientifically that the mind is non-material?”

    I am using the same definition for exclusion that you and Khan have already admitted to. [A] If it can’t be measured, then it is supernatural and science can’t address it. The mind cannot be measured, therefore it falls into the realm of the supernatural and, by your lights, cannot be an object of scientific investigation. Are you getting this yet?

  91. 91

    I’m not getting it. The effects of the mind can be measured. How do you think science should study the mind?

    In other words, how would science establish the non-materiality of the mind if science worked the way you think it should?

  92. —-David Kellogg: “You keep assuming that this “mind” is not material.”

    Yes, of course. The mind I speak of, and the one which is ruled out by Darwnist methodology, is non-material. If I was positing a “material mind,” Darwinists would be fine with it.

  93. StephenB

    “Mind, as agency, cannot be measured, but the effects of mind can be measured.”

    How would you measure the effects of the minds of unknown creatures who are not part of our life system? If there were minimalists with a distaste for too much complexity interfering in our world, how would I.D. detect their effects?

  94. 94

    David Kellogg,

    ——”I’m not getting it. The effects of the mind can be measured. How do you think science should study the mind?

    In other words, how would science establish the non-materiality of the mind if science worked the way you think it should?”

    Science cannot study the mind, for even if we used science as a tool it would still be the mind studying the mind, for “science” doesn’t exist without a mind to use it. As far as I know, science cannot establish the non-materiality of anything, for all it can do is study material. It is the mind itself, through powers of reasoning, that would determine the non-materiality of something. All science could do with the subject is study the brain, but you would still need a mind to study the brain. Material studies of the brain will have some results, like weight and distance and length, but none of that will tell you anything about the mind itself. Scientists cannot study material events and determine mindful things. They would always, in the end, have to compare those material movements with the subjective correlations of the person’s experience, which is coming from their mind, and not from the movements themselves. If the mind were to be studied scientifically, we should be able to determine thoughts and emotions from physical movements such as speed and distance, but this is a category mistake, for it is exactly like determining an ought from an is, which is impossible.

  95. —-David Kellogg: I’m not getting it. The effects of the mind can be measured. How do you think science should study the mind?”

    [A] I would begin by explaining to Darwinists that, if, in their judgment, a carpenter building a house qualifies as a supernatural event, then their methodology is violently skewed and their perspective is seriously warped. {B] I would also explain to them that the academy cannot choose a scientist’s methodology for him, because every problem requires a different approach, and only the scientist knows what problem he is trying to solve. This is simple, no?

  96. 96

    David Kellogg,

    ——”You keep assuming that this “mind” is not material.”

    Do you keep assuming that the mind is material?

  97. —-iconofid: “How would you measure the effects of the minds of unknown creatures who are not part of our life system? If there were minimalists with a distaste for too much complexity interfering in our world, how would I.D. detect their effects?”

    ID measures, or attempts to measure, design patters that arise from intelligence of any kind. Design patterns vary greatly in their level of complexity. A DNA molecule is a lot more complex than a sand castle. In any case, ID doesn’t claim to be able to detect all design. It just says that if it thinks it has detected design, it most likely has.

  98. I find this whole brouhaha about the mindful carpenter astounding, and I can’t really get a handle on where to start on it. But I’ll start with Stephen B’s assertion that the human mind cannot be quantitatively measured.
    Don’t we know something about how learning takes place, how to treat some mental illness with pharmacology, why people with frontal lobe deficiencies have poor impulse control? How did we learn those things? Didn’t we gather data about minds?
    Shifting gears somewhat — can anybody say anything about how nonmaterialist science could work? How could a study of the supernatural be replicated?

  99. 99

    Clive Hayden says something extraordinary:

    As far as I know, science cannot establish the non-materiality of anything, for all it can do is study material.

    Witness Clive (a) embrace methodological naturalism and (b) implicitly classify The Spiritual Brain as unscientific.

  100. 100

    Clive asks, “Do you keep assuming that the mind is material?”

    Well, I think the mind is product of material forces. I may be wrong. But I do think — and you seem to agree — that any science of mind will be a materialist science.

  101. —David Kellogg: “Well, I think the mind is product of material forces. I may be wrong. But I do think — and you seem to agree — that any science of mind will be a materialist science.”

    The issue is whether or not the scientist can, as a scientist, acknowledge the possibility that the mind is a causal agent or whether he must assume, as the materialist does, that only matter can influence matter.

  102. 102

    StephenB, if the mind is an immaterial causal agent, (a) how would you go about testing that immaterial action, and (b) how would you exclude other immaterial forces? There’s no reason to exclude immaterial forces from anything: I could fall down and break my leg because I tripped, or I could be pushed by an angel.

  103. 103

    I had some things to say about ID and supernaturalism in “Intelligent Design and Evolutionary Computation” (Garry Greenwood, coauthor; excerpts available here), which appears in Design by Evolution.

    Prior to the “Nature of Nature” conference, people like Dembski and Meyer openly acknowledged that ID was not naturalistic science, and argued that naturalism was an arbitrary commitment to a metaphysical stance. ID holds that there exists something that creates information out of nothing, and uses the term intelligence to name whatever that something is. The post-conference stance of many IDists has been that intelligence is natural, but not material. The approach now seems to be to measure information of some special type on material processes, infer that there is too much of that information to be accounted for strictly by materialistic mechanism, and to declare the source of information — intelligence — natural, no matter that it is non-material and unobservable.

    It is crucial to the approach that information be physical. I have seen no ID measure of “special” information that does not involve logarithms of probabilities. In other words, the probabilities must be physical for the measured information to be physical. To my knowledge, there is no notion of physical probability (chance, propensity) that is not linked to repeatable experiments. The material processes and events to which IDists want to impute design are one-shot occurrences. It seems to me that the very notion of creation of a novel design (information) runs counter to repeatability of a “design experiment.”

    IDists have not given a coherent account of intelligent change of physical probabilities — the abstract probabilities in the math of Dembski and Marks, for instance, are not linked to nature. The notion that intelligence creates out of nothing something that has not existed before and introduces it into nature must be regarded as supernaturalism.

  104. #102 — Right; the only difference between a trip and an angel would be what to do next. Would you look on the floor to see what you tripped over? Or would you … what?

    By and large, we’re not talking about the world of answers and possibilities; we’re talking about what we can do with science.

    All you other guys — what’s the problem with the answer that “the mind is what the brain does?”

  105. 105

    pubdef, under certain pharmaceutical conditions, the difference between a trip and an angel is minimal.

    Also, my in-laws used to love that show “Tripped by an Angel.”

  106. —pubdef: “I find this whole brouhaha about the mindful carpenter astounding, and I can’t really get a handle on where to start on it. But I’ll start with Stephen B’s assertion that the human mind cannot be quantitatively measured.”

    You can begin by telling me if you agree with your colleagues on the following proposition: The carpenter’s act of using his immaterial mind to design a house constitutes a supernatural event. That calculation, by the way, is a necessary result of believing that anything that cannot be measured is, by definition, supernatural, which is the argument they have presented. Since that is the essence of the dispute, how about weighing in on it.

    —–pubdef: “Don’t we know something about how learning takes place, how to treat some mental illness with pharmacology, why people with frontal lobe deficiencies have poor impulse control? How did we learn those things? Didn’t we gather data about minds?”

    You seem to be forgetting about the role of the brain and its mysterious relationship with the mind. True, some believe that mind/body dualism is “rubbish,” but others would argue that, while the mind depends on the brain to operate some extent, it can, nevertheless, do things that the brain cannot do [exercise self control, produce the “placebo effect” etc].

    —-“”How could a study of the supernatural be replicated?”

    As has become clear, Darwinists cannot successfully identify the boundary between supernatural and natural. That would not be a crime except for the fact that they presume to use it as the definitive line of demarcation between science and non-science.

  107. 107

    “How could a study of the supernatural be replicated?”

    You reject this question. OK, how could a study of the immaterial be replicated?

  108. David – you’re tripping.

  109. —David Kellogg: “Also, my in-laws used to love that show “Tripped by an Angel.”

    I like that.

  110. Kellog/Khan,

    If the ‘effects’ of intelligence can be quantified, then the ‘effects’ of intelligent design can also be quantified.

    i.e. information, earth, sun, moon, [breaktime-Gabriel, where's ma coffee?], information, water, bacteria, insects,[breaktime -egg salad on rye, please?], information, plants, animals,[k, looks pretty good, now for that ice cold brew. Ahhhhh].

    Life is Good.

    Kellogg:

    For “result,” you can read “effects” — so the effects can be quantified. Ergo, it is not supernatural by the stipulated definition.

    Khan:

    ..because things like heart rate and breathing are controlled by “the mind (aka the brain)” and are clearly measurable. and so is intelligence.

  111. Just in case anyone missed this:

    Discovery Raises New Doubts About Dinosaur-bird Links:

    Researchers at Oregon State University have made a fundamental new discovery about how birds breathe and have a lung capacity that allows for flight – and the finding means it’s unlikely that birds descended from any known theropod dinosaurs.

  112. David / Khan,

    Seriously, in the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.

  113. The effects of intelligence (agency) can be quantified.

    It’s called counterflow.

  114. Stephen B —

    You can begin by telling me if you agree with your colleagues on the following proposition: The carpenter’s act of using his immaterial mind to design a house constitutes a supernatural event.

    That is a classic example of the “when did you stop beating your wife” type of question. If I don’t recognize “the carpenter’s act of using his mmaterial mind to design a house,” it makes no sense to talk about whether it constitutes a supernatural event. If you want to know whether I think there is anything “supernatural” about a carpenter designing and building a house, I can easily say that the answer is “no.”

    That calculation, by the way, is a necessary result of believing that anything that cannot be measured is, by definition, supernatural, which is the argument they have presented.

    I suppose someone said something like that, but I don’t think I would. I like to stay away from “anything that [A] is [B]” statements; certainly, in this instances, it goes beyond what is necessary to make a coherent point. The crux of the issue, I think, is not the definition of “supernatural” but rather the identification of the boundaries of “the relative epistemological safety of knowledge,” which Forrest identifies as that which can be known through methodological naturalism.

    Be that as it may, the next point of contention I have with your formulation is your designation of “the mind” as included in the set of “anything that cannot be measured.” Even if the mind cannot be measured precisely or completely, I think that my examples defeat the proposal that it “cannot be measured” at all.

    You seem to be forgetting about the role of the brain and its mysterious relationship with the mind. True, some believe that mind/body dualism is “rubbish,” but others would argue that, while the mind depends on the brain to operate some extent, it can, nevertheless, do things that the brain cannot do [exercise self control, produce the “placebo effect” etc].

    To some extent? Is there any empirical evidence of a mind operating without a brain? Further, what evidence is there that “the brain cannot do” these things?

    I think that the only coherent conception of an “immaterial” mind “doing” something would be analogous to what we mean when we say “two divides eight.” We can have a meeting of the minds (well, maybe not we, exactly), but I’m satisfied, until I see evidence of the contrary, that such an agreement corresponds to an event involving matter and energy in our brains.

    As has become clear, Darwinists cannot successfully identify the boundary between supernatural and natural. That would not be a crime except for the fact that they presume to use it as the definitive line of demarcation between science and non-science.

    There is a real “talking in circles” quality to this, in that I and my kind are asserting, I think, that “natural” and “can be studied scientifically” are synonymous; you guys want to criticize this, but I think that would obligate you to conceive of, and describe, science that goes outside of methodological naturalism. I think you are trying to establish that there is a married bachelor.

  115. Mr. Hunter,

    I would tell Ms. Forrest that there is no boundary between the natural and supernatural.

    Rather, the physical world is an effect of the supernatural. The universe cannot function independent of the supernatural.

    We can understand the unity of the natural and supernatural from Christ’s words: “The kingdom of God is within you.”

    Therefore, in order to understand the world around us, we must first know ourselves. Barbara Forrest has it backwards, thinking it is science that can tell us who, what, we are.

  116. —David: “How could a study of the supernatural be replicated?”

    Are we talking about a real supernatural event, such as Moses parting the waters, or are we talking about a Darwinist supernatural event such as a carpenter building a house?

    Are we talking about studying the immaterial agent or the effects produced by the immaterial agent?

    —”OK, how could a study of the immaterial be replicated?”

    Either way is OK, supernatural or immaterial.

    In general, I think that it is a great thing to set up experiments in such a way that the results are reproducible. A rigorous methodology tends to enhance the reliability of a physical experiment. In many cases, however, that would not be possible. A musician, for example, [A] designs from his mind, [B] produces physical events which, in turn, [C] cause musical sounds. Imagine trying to capture the essence of a jazz musician’s creative effort by putting him back on the same stage with the same audience in hopes of getting the same sequence of notes. As Louis Armstrong once said, “it’s like walking up to a nightingale and saying, ‘how’s that again.’”

  117. Joseph:

    Just in case anyone missed this:

    Discovery Raises New Doubts About Dinosaur-bird Links:

    Researchers at Oregon State University have made a fundamental new discovery about how birds breathe and have a lung capacity that allows for flight – and the finding means it’s unlikely that birds descended from any known theropod dinosaurs.

    Wow. It looks like birds didn’t descend from anything. Clearly, they or portions of their DNA were formed ex nihilo.

    Honestly, I wish I could celebrate how amazing that find truly is, but when I know that the only thing some folks will take from it is what I wrote above, a small part of me dies. Anyway, science is about small piles of evidence, and despite how the article is written, this find is by no means a trump card one way or another, ending all future discussion — it just opens a totally new door. Whoosh! Science! Awesome! There, I’m better now. :)

  118. To Cornelius:

    The suprnatural is ignored by Science, simply because the supernatural is not productive. Everything we know has come from the material.

    Can you cite a math formula, cure for a disease etc that was handed to us by Angels ?

    If the supernatural could provide us with anything useful, then theres nothing stopping some well-funded body (such as the church) from establishing some institution that daily hands out cures for MS, solution to string theory, etc etc. Why dont they do this ? They would leave (material) Science with egg all over its face, and actually do humanity some good.

  119. —-Pubdef: “That is a classic example of the “when did you stop beating your wife” type of question. If I don’t recognize “the carpenter’s act of using his mmaterial mind to design a house,” it makes no sense to talk about whether it constitutes a supernatural event. If you want to know whether I think there is anything “supernatural” about a carpenter designing and building a house, I can easily say that the answer is “no.”

    No, I am not asking you that kind of question. I am simply hoping that you will tell me what you think rather than what you don’t think. In this case the question would be the one which defines the thread: How do you, as a believer in methodological naturalism, establish the boundary between natural and supernatural?”

    —-“I suppose someone said something like that, but I don’t think I would. I like to stay away from “anything that [A] is [B]” statements; certainly, in this instances, it goes beyond what is necessary to make a coherent point.”

    They did not say it right away. I had to, [how should I put this] encourage them to answer a few questions in order to bring to them that point. They problem is that they had not sufficiently thought it through or considered the implications. On the other hand, they did, at least, know what their position is with respect to the line of demarcation between natural and supernatural. Perhaps if you would tell me where you think that line is, we could discuss it.

    —-“The crux of the issue, I think, is not the definition of “supernatural” but rather the identification of the boundaries of “the relative epistemological safety of knowledge,” which Forrest identifies as that which can be known through methodological naturalism.”

    What you are talking about is radical empiricism, which is the epistemological counterpart to materialist metaphysics. In case you are not familiar with it, radical empiricism holds that all knowledge is arrived at through sense experience and no knowledge is arrived at through the mind. What is your evidence for holding that position?

    —-“Be that as it may, the next point of contention I have with your formulation is your designation of “the mind” as included in the set of “anything that cannot be measured.” Even if the mind cannot be measured precisely or completely, I think that my examples defeat the proposal that it “cannot be measured” at all.”

    How would you measure a non-material entity? Can you measure spirit?

    —–Is there any empirical evidence of a mind operating without a brain?

    You seem to misunderstand. No one is talking about a mind operating without a brain. The issue is, can the mind influence the brain and do things the brain can’t do?

    One example would be the “placebo effect.” Another would be the human capacity for self control.

    —-“I think that the only coherent conception of an “immaterial” mind “doing” something would be analogous to what we mean when we say “two divides eight.” We can have a meeting of the minds (well, maybe not we, exactly), but I’m satisfied, until I see evidence of the contrary, that such an agreement corresponds to an event involving matter and energy in our brains.”

    So, do you think that one cluster of clanging molecules comes to agreement with another cluster of clanging molecules? Can these clusters of clanging molecules [or quantum events or whatever you like] choose not to come to a meeting of the minds?

    —-“Do you believe in a non-matter?”

    Of course. I have a free will or the capacity for volition, which is totally non-material. Otherwise, I could not resist, redirect, or otherwise refuse to ratify the brain’s impulses and promtings, which may bid me to do something else.

    —-“There is a real “talking in circles” quality to this, in that I and my kind are asserting, I think, that “natural” and “can be studied scientifically” are synonymous; you guys want to criticize this, but I think that would obligate you to conceive of, and describe, science that goes outside of methodological naturalism. I think you are trying to establish that there is a married bachelor.”

    Again, I think you are confusing the methodological naturalism with science. Your side is saying that we must do science as if nature is all there is. We are saying that there may be more. If science points to something outside of itself or other than physical reality, there is no reason in the world why we should not be open to it.

  120. Hi Stephen,

    Again, I think you are confusing the methodological naturalism with science. Your side is saying that we must do science as if nature is all there is. We are saying that there may be more. If science points to something outside of itself or other than physical reality, there is no reason in the world why we should not be open to it.

    Science is methodological naturalism. Science has no comment on the supernatural. The supernatural cannot be falsified, and can’t even be separated from the natural in any quantifiable way. Why the need for a distinction?

    When irrational concepts like gods or deities come into the explanations for things without any sound reason or prompt, then science is useless. There’s no point in explaining anything because Yahweh did it, or Shiva did it, or Loki did it.

    And can you even describe what “supernatural” entails that “natural” doesn’t? Do you view existence as some sort of snow-globe where everything outside of it is supernatural?

  121. To StephenB: Can you measure spirit?

    No, but that doesnt make it supernatural. Just like we cant measure hunger, happiness, etc etc. None of these are supernatural, they are all things we feel, and result from the current (physical) state of our brain. No mind needed.
    This is pretty simple to demonstrate: when treated by drugs, we can affect all these things. Are you suggesting that the (physical) drug somehow wafts off into the ether to affect our ‘spirit’ ?

  122. Again, I think you are confusing the methodological naturalism with science. Your side is saying that we must do science as if nature is all there is. We are saying that there may be more. If science points to something outside of itself or other than physical reality, there is no reason in the world why we should not be open to it.

    Let’s suppose that you’ve convinced me.
    OK, I’m open to it. Let’s do some science. What are we going to do next?
    Alright, I’m back again, not convinced. When did science point to something outside of itself or other than physical reality? What does it mean to say that? How does science point to something that is not science?

  123. Stephen B said:

    How do you, as a believer in methodological naturalism, establish the boundary between natural and supernatural?

    And:

    On the other hand, they did, at least, know what their position is with respect to the line of demarcation between natural and supernatural. Perhaps if you would tell me where you think that line is, we could discuss it.

    I suppose I’d have to say that there is no line between the natural and the supernatural, because, as far as I can tell, if something exists, it is “natural.” If something is fantasized or made up out of whole cloth, I suppose you could call it “supernatural” (but that raises the question of whether anything that doesn’t exist has a correct name; it reminds me of questions like “Did Spock have a human mother?”). I don’t know or understand much about quantum physics, but I’m comfortable saying, for the most part, that if some entity exists there should be some empirical evidence of it.

    What about abstractions, like love, fear, math, language? Perhaps they are not “entities,” but I see no reason to call them “supernatural.”

  124. To pubdef: Science points to something outside reality (StephenB at #119)

    I agree. What on earth does that mean ?

  125. Stephen B said:

    What you are talking about is radical empiricism, which is the epistemological counterpart to materialist metaphysics. In case you are not familiar with it, radical empiricism holds that all knowledge is arrived at through sense experience and no knowledge is arrived at through the mind. What is your evidence for holding that position?

    If I ever hold that position, I’ll tell you what my evidence for it is. For now, I’ll say that I don’t have the vaguest notion how you concluded, from anything I’ve said, that I hold that position. It is also entirely a mystery to me why you think that “methodological naturalism” is equivalent to “radical empiricism.”

  126. 126
    CannuckianYankee

    Oramus:

    “If the ‘effects’ of intelligence can be quantified, then the ‘effects’ of intelligent design can also be quantified.”

    Exactly what I was thinking when I wrote #83. If we can detect intelligence via a quotient, then….. Why is the obvious so far out of our thinking sometimes? Perhaps it’s a measure of our intelligence? :)

  127. Stephen B said:

    So, do you think that one cluster of clanging molecules comes to agreement with another cluster of clanging molecules? Can these clusters of clanging molecules [or quantum events or whatever you like] choose not to come to a meeting of the minds?

    I honestly don’t have a fixed opinion on “choice;” it certainly feels like I can decide whether to continue writing this or go walk the dog, but I don’t think the arguments against free will are trivial.

    As far as clanging molecules are concerned — I know of no evidence that we are anything else, so, yeah, I guess I do think that “one cluster of clanging molecules comes to agreement with another cluster of clanging molecules.” Ain’t it great?

  128. Mr Joseph,

    The effects of intelligence (agency) can be quantified.

    It’s called counterflow

    The material you link to provides a simple definition of counterflow, and a basic typology of counterflow, but not a way to measure counterflow.

  129. 129

    “They problem is that they had not sufficiently thought it through or considered the implications. On the other hand, they did, at least, know what their position is with respect to the line of demarcation between natural and supernatural. Perhaps if you would tell me where you think that line is, we could discuss it.”

    What condescending claptrap.

  130. 130

    I’m still amazed that Clive has (as I pointed out in 99 above) embraced methodological naturalism and dismissed so-called non-material science of mind.

  131. 131
    CannuckianYankee

    Pubdef:

    “I suppose I’d have to say that there is no line between the natural and the supernatural, because, as far as I can tell, if something exists, it is ‘natural.’ If something is fantasized or made up out of whole cloth, I suppose you could call it ‘supernatural’ (but that raises the question of whether anything that doesn’t exist has a correct name”

    So far that’s exacly correct. But then you say:

    “What about abstractions, like love, fear, math, language? Perhaps they are not “entities,” but I see no reason to call them ‘supernatural.’”

    Why then do you allow anyone to call God “supernatural?” This is the problem with methodological naturalism; it assumes that what is immaterial like God is necessarily “supernatural,” thus ruling out the possibility that empiricism can detect the nature of his effects. Just as Joseph pointed out above, it IS a form of radical empiricism. We should not assume any forced conclusions on what is natural. It’s merely a game of semantics – a construct of mind; absurdities emerge in the extreme.

    Why not rather say: “I don’t know if God exists, but I cannot rule out that He could be a part of natural reality, and therefore, His effects could be quantifiable, regardless of what I currently know or experience as ‘natural’” This is the difference between agnosticism and hard atheism. The agnostics at least don’t rule out the possible. This is why we declare that methodological naturalism is a metaphysical assumption, and not an empirical reality. Could it be an empirical reality? Of course, but currently we do not know, and we have evidence that it is probably not. That’s the challenge of ID.

    All the arguments regarding who the designer is, then are irrelevant. ID is concerned with detecting the nature of the intelligence behind the effects of the designer, not the designer himself.

    I would say that Darwinism is also concerned with detecting the nature of the intelligence behind the effects of the designer, as well. The only difference, is that Darwinism assumes sui generis, that the designer is nature itself, and that the intelligence is RM + NS, without considering other options. And then when other options are brought to the table, labels such as “supernatural” are forced on the alternative hypotheses, rendering them outside of the forced and unscientific metaphysical definition of science found in methodological naturalism.

  132. Hi Kellogg,

    I’m still amazed that Clive has (as I pointed out in 99 above) embraced methodological naturalism and dismissed so-called non-material science of mind.

    Which is odd, because he spent a good 10 posts or so going rounds with me about the immaterial basis of free will.

  133. Pav @25: “My thoughts here turn to the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here is an image that clearly had a ‘designer’, yet which is part of our world, meaning it can be tested. As such, what does science have to say about this image after having tested it?
    Well, science tells us that they have no explanation whatsoever for how the image was formed.”

    I think you seriously mis-heard science.

    Joe Nickell talks about The Virgin: http://www.csicop.org/sb/2002-06/guadalupe.html
    “… new evidence confirms skeptics’ claims that the image is merely a native artist’s painting, the tale apocryphal, and “Juan Diego” probably fictitious.”

    “The image itself also yields evidence of considerable borrowing. It is a traditional portrait of Mary, replete with standard artistic motifs and in fact clearly derived from earlier Spanish paintings. Yet some proponents of the image have suggested that the obvious artistic elements were later additions and that the “original” portions-the face, hands, robe, and mantle-are therefore “inexplicable” and even “miraculous” (Callahan 1981).
    Actually, infrared photographs show that the hands have been modified, and close-up photography shows that pigment has been applied to the highlight areas of the face sufficiently heavily so as to obscure the texture of the cloth. There is also obvious cracking and flaking of paint all along a vertical seam, and the infrared photos reveal in the robe’s fold what appear to be sketch lines, suggesting that an artist roughed out the figure before painting it. Portrait artist Glenn Taylor has pointed out that the part in the Virgin’s hair is off-center; that her eyes, including the irises, have outlines, as they often do in paintings, but not in nature, and that these outlines appear to have been done with a brush; and that much other evidence suggests the picture was probably copied by an inexpert artist from an expertly done original.”

    “In fact, during a formal investigation of the cloth in 1556, it was stated that the image was “painted yesteryear by an Indian,” specifically “the Indian painter Marcos.” This was probably the Aztec painter Marcos Cipac de Aquino who was active in Mexico at the time the Image of Guadalupe appeared.”

    “Recently our findings were confirmed when the Spanish-language magazine Proceso reported the results of a secret study of the Image of Guadalupe. It had been conducted – secretly – in 1982 by art restoration expert José Sol Rosales. Rosales examined the cloth with a stereomicroscope and observed that the canvas appeared to be a mixture of linen and hemp or cactus fiber. It had been prepared with a brush coat of white primer (calcium sulfate), and the image was then rendered in distemper (i.e., paint consisting of pigment, water, and a binding medium). The artist used a “very limited palette,” the expert stated, consisting of black (from pine soot), white, blue, green, various earth colors (“tierras”), reds (including carmine), and gold. Rosales concluded that the image did not originate supernaturally but was instead the work of an artist who used the materials and methods of the sixteenth century (El Vaticano 2002).”

    PaV @ 25: “It seems to me that the whole question of this image of Our Lady of Guadalupe puts the entire ID vs. the naturalistic methodology of Darwinism into proper focus.”
    herb @ 32: “That’s a great example of how ID works.”

    herb @ 62: “I think all we can say (with near certainty) is that the origin is supernatural.”

    Yes indeedy.

  134. 134
    CannuckianYankee

    Mr. English,

    In your 2008 paper INTELLIGENT DESIGN AND EVOLUTIONARY COMPUTATION you state: “The design inference has a legal vulnerability arising from the fact that non-natural intelligence is supernatural, and the supernatural is clearly linked with the religious in case law [10, p. 67]. In recent years, the ID movement has shifted to saying that intelligence is natural, but not material. (For an example of earlier usage, see [11].) Given that scientists conventionally regard nature to be material, the ID movement has changed the meaning of natural to suit itself, and for no apparent reason but to gain
    better legal footing. Similarly, many ID advocates call themselves evolutionists, falling back on a dictionary meaning of the term (a process of change in a given direction), rather than scientists’ conventional interpretation (an
    undirected process of change deriving from random variation of offspring and natural selection). This chapter will use conventional scientific terminology.”

    Mr. English, ideas evolve from intelligence, and are not necessarily motivated by political expedience. As long as both sides continue to argue in this manner, ID will prevail by political default, and not by its argument. In other words, if we allow it to be a political battle, as you apparently have, then I would say that if that was the motivation behind ID, it will win the political battle due to sheer numbers gaining in support outside the academy – the “simple-minded hoards.”

    But if we allow it to be a battle of ideas, then who knows what the outcome will be? You might suspect that ID will collapse under its own sheer religio-dogmatic weight, while others suspect that it will prevail due to the weight of its argument.

    Let’s stop plotting political-legal spins on this issue, and allow the ideas to speak for themselves. There is plenty of political spin to go around on both sides of the debate, and not much of it is truly enlightening.

    What I find enlightening is the challenges to our thinking that come from both sides of this debate. That’s as it should be.

    The weakness of ID was when we were allowing human-constructed terms such as “natural” to define the limits of our argument. That we now understand “natural” to be a forced parameter that doesn’t necessarily fit with reality, we freed ourselves from its confines. I fail to see how you conclude this as politically motivated. I find that it’s more of an adjustment to the terminology in order for ID to be more free from the confines of a particular language and meaning that is limiting to the concepts. The concepts we have always perceived, however, are the same.

    There is nothing disengenuous in coming to a new understanding that there is a problem with the term “supernatural,” as though anything outside of nature is not reality. It’s a term forced upon us by a metaphysical assumption. It is therefore, logical and prudent in a debate such as this to do away with constraining terminology in order to better and more precisely describe what ID holds to be true.

    I would expect the same from the Darwinian camp to stop insisting on a metaphysical assumption to define science.

    You also state: “…many ID advocates call themselves evolutionists, falling back on a dictionary meaning of the term (a process of change in a given direction), rather than scientists’ conventional interpretation (an
    undirected process of change deriving from random variation of offspring and natural selection).”

    What’s the problem with ‘falling back’ on the dictionary meaning, if that’s precisely what Darwinists do with evolution doubters in their attempt to process them over to the larger concept of RM + NS? I don’t think I need to reference this, as I’m sure that most on the ID side here can give examples. I have a few from my own experience with debating Darwinists. It’s a common occurrence. It’s a game of flip-flopping definitions. Is that an example of a politically motivated expedience? Perhaps not, but you can see how the ID side can come up with some perceived political motivations as much as the Darwinian side can.

  135. @SingBlueSilver:”I think you’re confused. ‘Natural phenomena’ means ‘things we can test and observe.’ Archeology is science because we can observe artifacts, collect data, form a coherent picture of past civilizations, and make predictions about what other artifacts we should find and where.”

    No, I disagree. “Natural phenomena” refer to what is “natural”, what has no purpose. You can’t re-invent word and definitions and believing that you can get away with it. As to imply that all natural phenomena are “observable” this is wrong as well: for example, how are you suppose to test if time exist or not, or if yourself you exist or not?
    But even if your definition of “Natural phenomena” was correct, your application is not. Archeology can observe artifact and collect data the same way than an ID scientist is going to observe nature and collect data. What Archeology does that is beyond the realm of a “naturalist inference” is that it explain the data by refering to an intelligent cause, an intelligent designer that is usually the Human. In that sense, even using your meaning of “Natural phenomena” there is no way Archeology could be classify as science. Human design, by definition, is not a “Natural phenomena”.

    SingBlueSilver:”
    On the other hand, she assumes that God is not a “natural phenomena”. How can she be so sure of that?
    Think about it like a homicide detective trying to solve a murder. He can’t figure out how the suspect got away. Do you think the detective should at least CONSIDER the possibility that giant invisible eagles lifted the suspect to safety? Or should he stick to ‘naturalistic’ explanations only?

    This is a good example. If the detective need to stick to only a Naturalistic explanation, he will assume that there wasn’t a murder and that the guy died of “natural causes”. He can’t accept other explanation involving other intelligent agent as this would go against its own prejudice. Don’t you think that this detective should definitely CONSIDER the possibility that the guy dead with 3 bullet in the head and 2 in the heart my have been killed by an “intelligent being” or should he stick to its “naturalistic explanation” whatever absurd that may sound (he might need a good imagination to explain how someone died of “natural cause” with 5 bullets in his body…).

  136. 136

    David Kellogg,

    ——”Witness Clive (a) embrace methodological naturalism and (b) implicitly classify The Spiritual Brain as unscientific.”

    You misunderstand me. The Spiritual Brain is scientific. The effects of the non-materiality in that book are explained by a negation, that is, no material event causes the outcomes, because it is the mind that causes the outcomes studied. This is discerned not from studying material movements of the mind, but the mind as an explanation via immaterial, without a naturalistic confining methodology. I do not embrace methodological naturalism, for it is based on philosophical naturalism, which is not itself physical. It has a contradiction running all the way through it. Science is not the end all for knowledge, no matter how scientism wants it to be, for without a prior reasoning ability and logic, you would have no science. Science relies on our minds, not our minds on science. And our minds rely on laws of logic and reason, not laws of physics and biochemistry. You’ve got it all backwards David.

  137. 137

    David Kellogg,

    ——”Well, I think the mind is product of material forces. I may be wrong. But I do think — and you seem to agree — that any science of mind will be a materialist science.”

    I do not agree. I do not agree that there can even be a science of the mind, for the mind would be studying the mind, and you could never “get behind” or “outside” the mind in order to study it. It is a vantage point, subject/object problem.

  138. 138

    David Kellogg,

    ——”I’m still amazed that Clive has (as I pointed out in 99 above) embraced methodological naturalism and dismissed so-called non-material science of mind.”

    I don’t embrace methodological naturalism, I was just busy this evening and away from the computer while you were putting words into my mouth.

  139. 139

    RDK,

    ——”Which is odd, because he spent a good 10 posts or so going rounds with me about the immaterial basis of free will.”

    All I did was point out your special pleading and self referential incoherence.

  140. 140

    Graham,

    ——”The suprnatural is ignored by Science, simply because the supernatural is not productive. Everything we know has come from the material.

    Can you cite a math formula, cure for a disease etc that was handed to us by Angels?”

    Can you cite a math formula that was handed to us in the physical world? I’d love to see zero in the flesh.

    I’ll give you my address if you can ship me some of that freedom, love, dignity and honor material. I ran out already.

  141. 141

    SingBlueSilver,

    ——”Incorrect. It is an attempt to figure out how life actually works other than “poof!”

    Correct, it is an attempt to figure out how life actually works by going “sssssslllllllllloooooooooowwwwwwww!” How’s that any better than “poof?”

  142. 142

    SingBlueSilver,

    ——”I have a question: What does ’supernatural’ mean?”

    Good question. What does ‘natural’ mean?

  143. To Clive hayden (#140)

    Can you cite a math formula that was handed to us in the physical world? I’d love to see zero in the flesh.

    What does that mean ?
    Formulae arent ‘handed to us’, we work them out. I dont get your point.

  144. Lenoxus,

    “Wow. It looks like birds didn’t descend from anything. Clearly, they or portions of their DNA were formed ex nihilo”

    Careful with that Axe, Lenoxus.

    No one states your fallacy here. Nor do we need lessons of how science works. You may feel better about yourself now, but darkness while cozy at times in crowds can get quite chilling, freeze framing the mind in outdated stereotypes and antiquated insults, regurgitated by the masses reproducing two-bit skits like pop art 15min flamers.

    Maybe this joke goes over well with politically correct crowds? It is simplistic enough drivel for the average IQ of beach dancers on display at the annual MTV Spring Break festivals. I imgaine those Wet t-shirt contestants agree with you, not us. Jello Shots anyone? Boy those fundies sure are stuuuupid, ey? Dude, pass the doobie man. Don’t bogart that joke. Beer Bomb!

    Maybe this humor works for less informed people and around your high-fiving drink buddies at the strip clubs? Right Maaan?

    I might be wrong in my assumptions. Though your humor is juvenile and like stale pizza after Greek night, maybe you are just young and naive. If so, then your comment is understandable.

    The actual research is serious for the TOL. The same complications for the dino-bird failed prediction exist in fish-mammals macro-evolution events. Please understand, I’m not against macro-evolution, just the unguided, garden variety gradualistic kind.

    What this research does show is more secular evolutionist finally are coming around to a Creationist criticism that was well thought out about birds lungs. Other secular evolutionist also doubted this, but were largely silenced from public display as these scientist stated Museums do. Far from being areas of learning and stimulation for our children, they stifle dissent and become halls of dusty silence. I’m not sure if any IDist made the criticism of dino-bird hypothesis public, but Creationist did.

    As a result they do deserve some credit, whether you like it or not, for pointing out the difficulty of the hypothesis to square with the actual data, anatomy and problems of the gradualistic premises which could result in catastropohic failures. These arguments were put forth by people with PhDs, not the fallacy you project into this blog of someone that does not understand evolution or science.

    The research shows another prediction based upon unguided, gradualism failed for the Darwinist camp – yet again. It shows that the Common Ancestor is pushed back to a point where discovery with any certainty is not likely, no matter how many insults you make to the contrary.

    Do you bother to ask why it failed Lenoxus?

    Or do you want to post more Comedic insults, ad hominem attacks and childish wit for us? When’s your next visit to David Letterman’s show? I bet he’d like your joke. He likes all kinds of easy, bigoted, stereotypical jokes like yours. Just ask Palin’s daughters.

    Science will always move forward because of naturally curious and creative minds, but Darwinism is dying, or is already dead. The body of Darwin has not perceived the finality of its own demise. The Modern Synthesis was an attempt to resuscitate the heart of Darwinism to keep it alive and the funding pumping. But even Gould recognized the futility based upon fossil evidence, so he proposed Punctuated Equilibrium.

    Informed people who keep up with latest research understand these issues today. It shows that the old Darwinist predictions are unreliable for a gradual increase of information. The fossil record indicates burst of information, then stasis, and/or extinction.

    Modern Synthesis hoped to prove through molecular science that gradualism was still true. They made up wonderful new phylogentic trees. Then they discovered that depending upon which genes they use the trees all look different.

    Most likely as scientist are stating today, we may never know if there was a single TOL or multiple trees, or bushes. And therefore we may not ever discover the birds common ancestor with reptiles. This is not stunning news to those informed.

    But, it is certainly a bigger admission worthy of Media than some extinct lemur Propaganda Show put on by BBC, Dicovery channel and the Mayor of NYC.

    Also, informed people understand that intelligent, methodical, well-planned, operational science moves forward without Darwin. Always has, always will. It is only Darwinian church members who refuse to let go of their stubborn, cultish and cherished faith.

    Note the actual research did not need evolution theory to prove the dino-bird hypothesis to be wrong. It utilized straight-forward anatomy classes that do not require any belief in gradual Darwinist beliefs.

    The same Darwinista chattering classes – like you – maybe? Are the ones who jested and jeered in the past at anyone who questioned the Dino-bird hypothesis. Now you sneer at opponents for being right? My, your world is an interesting bubble. Did you manage to blow this bubble up yourself? Or did you step into it as a child and never leave it?

    Maybe you can enlighten us how the Modern Synthesis is doing today? How do the latest mechanisms enhance Darwins theory of gradulism? Remember, Darwin said if his theory of gradualism is countered in nature, it fails.

  145. A footnote:

    On “nature vs art ( = intelligence),” vs “natural vs supernatural.”

    1 –> It is now a commonplace to see the latter being imposed by evolutionary materialists, often through the use of “methodological naturalism,” as a stalking horse.

    2 –> Indeed, Ms Forrest and the ACLU with which she is associated, are a leading case in point. (It is not coincidental that she also seems to be affiliated with some “humanist” (= atheist) associations.)

    3 –> But in fact it is a routine, empirically well known fact that spontaneous natural phenomena [those that come about by credibly undirected contingencies and/or mechanical necessity] is credibly and even often reliably empirically distinguishable from the results of art, i.e the ART-ificial. (Look as close as your friendly food package label.)

    4 –> What is happening, is that by exploiting instutional power in say the US NAS, the idea is being pushed that to distinguish nature from art is to assume the supernatural.

    5 –> This is precisely back ways around.

    6 –> If we can empirically reasonably distinguish cases of natural and intelligent causes, then we have an important filter for explanation.

    7 –> And, in that context, once we identify signs of intelligent cause, then that becomes evidence of the existence of the intelligences that may have caused the observed phenomena.

    8 –> In that context, once we see that intelligence was involved, per signs of intelligence, then we may profitably discuss the candidates or suspects [depending on circumstances one or the other term is applicable].

    9 –> relevant to us, is that in the case of OOL and of Body Plan level biodiversity, functionally specific complex information and its manifestations, are involved.

    10 –> However, as the first design theory technical book — FYI, published in 1984, Ms Forrest, Mr English et al [please do your homework before making tendentious, atmosphere-poisoning claims on conspiracies and nefarious plots . . . ] — The Mystery of Life’s Origin, by Thaxton et al, shows, we are not in a position to infer per the scientific evidence on earth that the implicated intelligence in the FSCI of life, is within or beyond the cosmos. [So, on scietnific application of ID principles ot bio-information, strictly the issue of nature vs supernature does not even properly arise.]

    [ . . . ]

  146. 11 –> When it comes to signs of intelligence on the origin of the cosmos we observe, that is a very different question (as I discuss at preliminary level in Section D, my always linked, through my handle; kindly go there for more details than can reasonably put up on a blog comment).

    12 –> But, once we reckon with the evidence of the fine-tuning of the obserfved cosmos for cell-based, Carbon chemistry life then it makes sense to infer on a worldview level — not a scientific level — that a very credible candidate for the inventor of such life is the creator of the cosmos, who by definition is extra comsic, and very powerful.

    13 –> Also, from the clever design of the cosmos and what we see in it, that inventor is also elegantly creative and deeply knowledgeable.

    14 –> Such a description sounds rather like the God of traditional theism. An observation that most people would find comforting, and some will find very discomfiting 9soeme tot eh point of trying to redefine science from what is has hisrtorically been, to try to block an inference to uncomfortable but credible truths).

    15 –> Neither response is here or there on the scientific issue. At least, if science is to remain an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) search for the truth about our world based on empirical observation, reasoned analysis and discussion among the informed.

    16 –> And, that includes that science must not be taken captive to serve atheism, just as it should not be fettered by dogmatic conventional religion. (In direct terms: If the Magisterium of Urban VIII’s day [as presented by the C19 rationalists and as has been fixed in popular culture as a capital instance of a war on science in the name of religion -- never mind the actual complexities of a man with a tin ear for offending and betraying a friend and (thus) former supporter] was unacceptable, so must be the NAS of our day when it tries to impose Lewontinian philosophical materialism in the he name of science.)

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Looks like I have to underscre what that Lewontinian materialism is like, from the notorious 1997 NYRB article on Sagan’s last book:

    >> It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. >>

  147. 147

    Clive, I’m not putting words in your mouth. You said

    science cannot establish the non-materiality of anything, for all it can do is study material.

    That’s methodological naturalism in a nutshell, and much more elegantly put than you usually write. It also excludes the study of non-material mind or spirit from science — the subject of Denyse’s book.

  148. Lenoxus,

    Part Two…. response continued….

    Now, allow me to give your joke an answer from an evolutionist.

    Quoting from Michael Denton,
    “…in many cases there does not exist in the biological literature even an attempt to explain how these things have come about’. A classic example, he says, is the lung of the bird, which is ‘unique in being a circulatory lung rather than a bellows lung [see box]. I think it doesn’t require a great deal of profound knowledge of biology to see that for an organ which is so central to the physiology of any higher organism, its drastic modification in that way by a series of small events is almost inconceivable. This is something we can’t throw under the carpet again because, basically, as Darwin said, if any organ can be shown to be incapable of being achieved gradually in little steps, his theory would be totally overthrown.”

    Denton is not a creationist, so your comedic genious does not apply to his critical commentary on the state of evolutionary crisis. He is a Molecular Biologist, MD, PhD. This snippet was written in 1999, republished by a Creationist; Dr. Sarfati, with PhD in Chemistry, published, co-authored in Nature at age 22, a Chess Master, former Champion of New Zealand and participated in three olympiad chess competitions, once ending in a draw with Boris Spassky, a world champion.

    Destroys your little fallacy about who the critics are and if they understand how science works. Obviosly they do and your trivial attempt at mocking them fails.

    While I do not know or agree with all Creationist arguments, I do recognize many of them have great learning, talents and skills in all areas of science, some at the highest levels of research. They’re not as numerous as unguided evolutionist, but then concensus is never an indicator of objective truth. The antiquated simpletons idea of an uninformed Creationist today, is built upon lies and propaganda from a minority of angry atheist who wish to poison the well by stereotyping and insults, rather than discuss the problematic issues and failed predictions of Darwinism.

    But do let me know when you make the rounds of Comedy Central. The audience I’m sure will unquestionably, ignorantly and uncritically laugh along with you and its host.

    Moving on, the Darwinist camp has accepted many new mechanisms besides RM&NS to influence creative forces for novel information. As each new discovey was/is made they stubbornly clinged to an antiquated theory that keeps failing in its predictions.

    That word “antiquated” appears repeatedly in relation to Darwin and Darwinist perceptions.

    Problem is, the new mechanisms destroy Darwin’s theory dependent upon gradualism. Secular evolutionist writing research papers admit it. They recognize the new mechanisms put up a possible impenetrable wall between us and billions of years in evolutionary history.

    They understand the fundamentals of the theory is in crisis, including but not limited to the TOL and Gradualism. This is not some made up controversy or unscientific claim by uninformed or uneducated IDist or Creationist as you would have readers think by your foolish joke.

    The issues and problems for Darwinism of information in the machine are real. There is a reason scientist are forced to use language of Design to decribe the machines found within us and nature at nano scale. Nano structured design that our best technology cannot duplicate today. Anyone familiar with chip fabrication understands the significance of my statement.

    You can remain in denial, make childish jokes, or you can face these issues as an adult.

    The Darwinian paradigm is failing in the age of digital information and the Signal in the Cell.

    Junk DNA is failing as another evolutionary prediction as well. Even Wiki admits it now is being written off, must be so! New structures and patterns were found after the ENCODE project that are still being researched and discussed today that surprised unguided evolutionist, but square with Design Theorist of all types that expected more patterns of meta information. Far from agreeing with Modern Synthesis or Darwinist, ENCODE opened the door permanently for a new path of Guided Evolutionary Systems Research.

    Or, more specific, the success of Computational and Systems Biology.

    The Genome is Modular, with sub-routines, callable, error-corrective, multi-layred, cascading design programs, that can access overlapping, shared data. It is precisely what programmers do in operational systems, networking and verification routines. What was once considered untranslated stop codes is in fact translated at times. What was once conisdered “junk” DNA due to unguided evolutionary predictions is now important regulatory information. The theory of gradual, unguided evolution fails in many areas as a foundation for research, not just the dino-bird admission.

  149. 149

    kairosfocus, you make it to 16 numbered points before the inevitable Lewontin reference! That might be a record.

    Of course, by then you’ve connected to your “always linked,” mentioned the ACLU, ominously referred to Dr. Forrest’s “humanism” (boo!), accused Dr. English of making “tendentious, atmosphere-poisoning claims on conspiracies and nefarious plots” (when you make such claims, you always do your “homework”), referred to “Ms.” Forrest and “Mr.” English though you know both have Ph.D.’s, and referred to Thaxton et al. as authoritative without any discussion of OOL developments more recently.

    Standard kairosfocus stuff.

  150. RDK:

    Science is methodological naturalism.

    No it isn’t.

    Science is our never-ending quest for the reality behind the things we observe.

  151. StephenB:

    You seem to misunderstand. No one is talking about a mind operating without a brain. The issue is, can the mind influence the brain and do things the brain can’t do?
    One example would be the “placebo effect.” Another would be the human capacity for self control.

    The Spiritual Brain attempts to make this argument, and support it with imaging research. The irony of the book is that the research described supports precisely the reverse.

    For example, Beauregard and O’Leary cite the example of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). “My friend an colleague Jeffrey Schwartz, a nonmaterialist UCLA neuropsychiatrist, started working with OCD sufferers in the 1980s because he sensed that OCD was a clear case of an intact mind troubled by a malfunctioning brain.” Schwartz determined by means of scans the cortical and subcortical brain circuitry that appears to underlie OCD, and devised a “mindfulness” treatment protocol that draws upon cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy to treat the disorder. When treatment succeeded, “he was not simply getting patients to change their opinions, but rather to actually change their brains. He wanted them to substitute a useful neural circuit for a useless one….in this therapy, the patient is entirely in control. Both the existence and the role of the mind as independent of the brain are accepted; indeed, that is the basis of the therapy’s success” (p. 130). Further neuroimaging disclosed areas of patients’ brains that displayed modified activity following treatment.

    The problem with all this is that the imaging in fact disclosed something quite other than minds operating independently of brains. By means of imaging, “Schwartz noted that the most recent (and thus most sophisticated) prefrontal parts of the human brain, in evolutionary terms, are almost entirely unaffected by OCD. That is why patients perceive compulsions as alien. They are alien to the most characteristically human parts of the brain. To the extend that the patient’s reasoning power and sense of identity remain largely intact, they can actively cooperate with their therapy” (p. 128).

    There you have it. Reasoning power and sense of identity are hosted by recently evolved prefrontal areas of the human brain, those areas that render us most characteristically human. We know that the human brain is organized hierarchically, with loops of regulation culminating in highly abstract frontal modeling and monitoring of self relative to one’s physical and social environment and related goals, and we know that prefrontal areas of the brain are crucial to these high level representational and planning activities. Schwartz’s imaging again confirms this view.

    The upshot of this research is not that a mind independent of brain monitors and modifies that brain; rather, this imaging confirms once again that the brain regulates and modifies itself by means of these neurally instantiated high level representations of self. Similar “own goals” are evident in Beauregard’s description of his scans of subjects asked to “down regulate” emotions, sexual arousal, etc., all of which experiments demonstrate the marshaling of highly specific frontal areas to accomplish the tasks that Beauregard insists upon interpreting as mind acting upon brain. And, because we note that the cortical areas that host these crucially human functions are recently evolved, *some version of evolutionary psychology must in fact be correct, Beauregard and O’Leary’s repeated dismissals of this new discipline notwithstanding.

    (Excerpted from a review of The Spiritual Brain I penned some time ago.)

  152. Lenoxus,

    Part Three… response cont…

    Lenoxus, you miss the Big “yellow” bird in the room. While you dig in the garbage can looking for unrelated trash with PZ Oscar Meyers, Big Bird is learning his ABCs of Design science.

    The Designs in life are so valuable that billion dollar industries mimic them. The Design Paradigm provides a much more rewarding hueristic research program than the continued antiquated(theres that word again) thought process of unguided evolutionary mechanisms.

    By seeking FUNCTION deliberately instead of considering life a series of accidental sequences, ID was and is on the right track.

    Unguided Evolutionist declared 95-98% of the Genome as Junk DNA without verification. Stopping down scientific progress for the last 37 years. It is only recently and grudgingly Darwinist began to accept the error of their ways. Why is neo-Darwinisan theory so consistent with failed predictions? Why did unguided evolutionist discount 95% of our Genome? Can it be that the theory and assumptions of materialist dogma are wrong?

    For a Design approach, lets take for example a software pioneer; Bill Gates, who recently answered a question at Harvard one day…

    “After drawing laughs for alluding to his decision to drop out of neighboring Harvard University to found Microsoft with Paul Allen, Gates cited artificial intelligence and computational biology as two areas that he would like to study if he were a student again.

    Why did he say biology? As opposed to Math, Physics, Cosmology or SETI research?

    He stated in his book, The Road Ahead, “Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.’

    Well, you might ask in jest, who is Bill Gates to opine on such issues? He’s just another dummy who believes things were created ex nihilo, right? No? Good, we can leave behind the snark. Lets proceed to learn what he has accomplished seeing the Genome as software.

    It takes a computer programmer to recognize software in the machine.

    The Code in our cells is protected, conserved, self-replicating, and as Bill Gates said, the most powerful software he has seen. He is pouring millions into research for computational biology. Why? Because he recognizes the first computer company to reverse engineer the Code of Life will be rich beyond todays MicroSoft, Apple or IBM combined. Plus, he’s a good guy with intentions to cure disease. He is killing two evolutionary birds with one stone.

    IBM is spending too. Why? Because they want to find a random process that cannot be duplicated, repeated, or profitable?

    Or, because they want to duplicate the intelligently designed programs conserved in nature around us? I suggest the latter.

    And here is why…

    Gates intuition and recognition of DNA as software is paying off. Current research funded by MicroSoft and Gates is a first time winner of an international competition for Formal Methods in Molecular Biology.

    “This work and other projects pursued at the Trento centre are based on the concept of “algorithmic systems biology.” A video on the CoSBi Web site defines the term as representing biological entities as programs.

    Lets repeat that again.

    “Algorithmic Systems Biology…. representing biological entities as programs.”

    See link:
    ID research funded by Bill Gates proves fruitful

    Yes, thats my personal opinion of this research. Because they looked for fucntions in biology as programs communicating information to each other as software programmers, or intelligent agents. Thus, ID Research is and can be practical, accomplished by leading scientist in the world with productive payoffs. Despite what any may say against this project as proof of ID concepts, it will not matter. ID research will proceed. Programs as most know come from the mind, not accidental, unguided mutations of sequences or random collisions in space/time. Biology as a programmatic science with more formalized logic in the future will proceed at faster paces.

    For those who go to the link above, the article also includes 5 free downloadable software prototypes the lab researchers used for their models. They are sharing all results and project prototypes with the international research community.

    Biologic Institute is hopefully aware of this project. One of their staff was a former Microsoft employee.

    Priami(Director Org head) states,
    “The interaction of two entities,” Priami explains in the video, “becomes the exchange of a message between the programs, and the simultaneous execution of the programs simulates the dynamics of a biological system.”

    This is Design Research whether they admit it or not. Whether evolutionist admit it or not. If as they say, treating the “two entities” as programmable objects that “exchange” information between them, then the Darwinian theory is dead.

    If life is programmable, it is open to rapid changes that are guided by circumstances and function, and programmable defenses, not by accidental mutations or duplication errors. Mutations are result of genetic entropy as posited by Dr. Sanford. HGT can be seen as a programmatic delivery system amongst recipient programs. This makes sense as a shared network of distributed functional databases in bacteria for survival purposes and rapid communication.

    The fact Gates recognized the promise of computational biology and cellular DNA architecture as Programs shows Darwin theory is dead. Designed algorithms can be updated and evolve quickly or gradually over time in response to surroundings.

    Life Engineers today consider future problems of environmental space and stimuli. So they are already practicing the art of Front Loading Design into future life forms created by intelligent agents – themselves. Thus we have proof of Intelligent Design taking place now. It does not have to be supernatural, it exist today through intelligent agents known to us.

    The future is Design, a guided evolution. The past of Random Darwinian accidental selections that gradually build up novel information are dead. Anyone with a shred of integrity would admit this and that textbooks should be updated and discussions opened for debate at university levels. I would use caution at the high school levels, but still teach the obvious areas of weakness and failure of predictions by Darwinian evolution.

    Companies like MicroSoft and researchers are bypassing the outdated Darwinist theory for a more formalized, computational approach which draws across all areas of science. What we see by MicroSoft’s example is not a reliance on simple evolutionary thought processes long dead, but a revolution in thinking of biology as a series of interacting programs.

    Lenoxus, it is possible that you were mocking the Darwinist usual knee-jerk response. If so, you did it very well.

    So, I’ll leave the following for the usual Darwinist insults.

    Smarmy comments like Darwinist insults to Creationist or IDist may pass for some of the dope smoking, crack-house, time wasting, idol worshipping, breast implants loving MTV and Strip Club crowd.

    But in reality, they’re the borish behavior of a petulant Darwinian rebel driving on a curvy road without a cause. A rebel who cannot recognize the effects of Design all around him because he refuses to lift his head above the blinding fog surrounding his car for just a moment to see the direction he is headed in.

    Oh wait, I just projected stereotypes like Darwinist do.

    “Wow” Dude, 8) I didn’t realize how simple it was to setup such false stereotypes. Thanks for relaying your comic genious for free. I know now if I turn off my brain… its easy ridin to New Orleans, or down the coast of California in my accident-prone convertible.

  153. As an aside, in case people missed a link in my long response to Lenoxus. I recommend checking out the MicroSoft Project, especially for ID enthusiast.

    The research is proceeding as if biological entities are programs. That is an ID friendly perspective.

    Link Again:
    Software in the Machine – ID research funded by Bill Gates proves fruitful

    Another quote from the article…

    “Now, the centre includes 25 research personnel, an international, multidisciplinary—computer science, physics, chemistry, mathematics, theoretical biology, electronic engineering—assemblage that includes three senior researchers, three researchers, nine junior researchers, seven Ph.D. students, and three developers.”

    Now why does biology research include Electronic Engineers? Surely Engineers are not equipped for biology. Nor are software Pioneers.

    Chuckles… ;-)

  154. DATCG:
    Wow. I had no idea I could inspire all that with a single jokey comment. I sincerely apologize. I guess I have to say that when I implied that ex nihilo formation was a little silly, I meant simply that there’s no positive evidence for it in favor of (if it’s really needed) some yet-to-be-proposed natural mechanism. The theory of gradualism will indeed have been stumped the moment that a non-gradualist event is seen to occur, such as a fossil of one organism giving birth to a totally different one.

    In any case, I certainly didn’t mean to frame what I said as some kind of look-at-the-stupid-fundies comment — that’s why I included “or part of their DNA”. But as far as I can tell, that’s still the mainstream ID alternative to gradual evolution. Additionally, ID is supposed to accept common descent, so I find it a little odd that whenever evidence is given for it, people here — not necessarily you! — will often try to shoot it down. What difference does it make to either the theories of evolution or intelligent design if birds are in fact not descended from therapods, or whales from land-going mammals, or whatever?

    No one states your fallacy here.

    Indeed, not on this particular thread, as far as I can tell. I’m not sure why you follow that up with a lot of similarly unstated speculation about my love of wet T-shirt contests and truly mean-spirited comedy.

    What this research does show is more secular evolutionist finally are coming around to a Creationist criticism that was well thought out about birds lungs.

    Yes, you are correct about that point having been earlier made. I mean it, no snark intended! This Google hit demonstrated it to me.

    Of course, the word “secular” still has nothing to do with it, because theism is not the only possible alternative to evolution — plus, and I really hate to sound elitist when I say this — there’s still no hard empirical evidence for theistic design.

    Listen, I may be an atheist, but mad Rastafarian love all around, OK?

  155. To clarify, I posted my comment just after “part three” was posted, so I hadn’t gotten that far. All I can say is… double wow. :)

  156. 156

    Having read through the thread and participated some, I’ll offer my humble $.02.
    Debates over what is natural or supernatural or the spiritual nature of the mind don’t help the ID argument at all. It’s like fighting a war on two fronts. ID scientifically examines material evidence. Religion requires the supernatural. ID does not.
    Specifying an immaterial or supernatural quality for the designer isn’t directly related to the design inference at all, but it hangs religion around ID’s neck.

  157. Continuing on the trend of failed evolution FACTS, with shoddy scientific evidence.

    Asteroid instinction NOT a FACT anymore?

    From Time Magazine…

    “Analyzing the fossils at this small site, they counted 52 distinct species just below the iridium layer. Then they counted the species above it. The result: the same 52. It wasn’t until they sampled 30 feet higher — and 300,000 years later — that they saw the die-offs.”

    “The mass extinction level can be seen above this interval,” Keller says. “Not a single species went extinct as a result of the Chicxulub impact.”

    Interesting, “not a single species” of Dino went extinct. Yet, it was reported and taught as FACT for how long?

    “When a scientific principle is common knowledge even in grammar school, you know it has long since crossed the line from theory to established fact. That’s the case with dinosaur extinction. Some 65 million years ago — as we’ve all come to know — an asteroid struck the earth, sending up a cloud that blocked the sun and cooled the planet. That, in turn, wiped out the dinosaurs and made way for the rise of mammals. The suddenness with which so many species vanished after that time always suggested a single cataclysmic event, and the 1978 discovery of a 112-mile, 65-million-year-old crater off the Yucatán Peninsula near the town of Chicxulub seemed to seal the deal.”

    So, now the single event didn’t wipe out the Dino. At Zone Zero, they survived.

    I’m curious how long has 2+2=4? Has is ever changed? Will it? Even in older languages than English, before Arabic, 2+2=4. I’ve never heard someone say, oh gee, that fact has changed now. We were wrong, the fact is now 2+2=300,000.

    The problem with evolution historians and uniformitarians is they treat their fields as if they are as reliable as math. Then people like Forest and the ACLU insist it be taught through all public schools as FACT.

    When in FACT, they are not. A student 2000yrs ago knew addition always gave the same result. It has not changed today. A similar student today wakes up with the same reliable math. Yet, students are forced to learn other information today that is unreliable and meaningless to their future.

    Why is that?

    Reading, Writing, Math, Logic, Skepticism, Music, Art, Foreign Language, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Biology, even mechanics or wood shop all good, all practical for improvement of a students experience.

    Speculative unguided evolutionary guesses that fail, taught as FACTS?

    Not good.

    Why is speculation allowed in schools to children that Darwinist insist cannot think critically for themselves?

    Why is it children are forced to remember information that is unreliable and useless to them?

    Music, Poestry, art are more valuable than “dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago.” Or, Birds evolved from dinosaurs.

    Ooops, sorry Johnny, all those tax dollars we spent teaching you speculation is wrong. But don’t worry, we wont change a thing. Along with the ACLU and people like Barbara Forest, we will teach your children in the future more meaningless trivia that’ll change faster than Entertainment Tonight.

    What a disgusting state of affairs our public educational system is in today.

  158. Lenoxus 155,

    Not sure which side you are taking now or if you jest again.

    My post were in humor to point out how projection works both ways, mixed with some serious issues and developmental research.

    The humor was based on life experiences in conversations with drunk people and pot smokers from past and present. Clueless about evolutionary details, genetics, Modern Synthesis or latest research and have not picked up a book in decades on the subject. Yet they’ll attack other views as if they have superior knowledge.

    Check out the MicroSoft project links. Its good, for Darwinist in denial ;-)

    I have to run now. Check in later this evening.

    Ya mon. 8) I heard in Jamaica, a goat gave birth to a humming bird. I think this will solve the new dilema facing Charlie. The bird flew up into the sky, burst into a rainbow of colors, singing… this is love, this is love… this is love… Jimmy Buffet is co-author of a soon to be released book, Hummingbird in Paradise, or Goat Burgers on the run.

  159. Interesting, “not a single species” of Dino went extinct. Yet, it was reported and taught as FACT for how long?

    OK, I do feel compelled to respond to this as follows: Science is not about arriving at the answer that just plain happens to be correct. It’s about figuring out which answer the evidence points to as most likely. And prior to that one incredible finding, all the evidence pointed to something like the Yucatán collision.

    If someone insisted that the Earth was round without providing any evidence or argument for it whatsoever, they would be just as irrational as someone insisting it’s flat, even though they would happen to be correct. To laugh at paleontologists who thought the Yucatán event triggered the extinctions is to laugh at someone who was following the evidence. How exactly are scientists supposed to operate if they’re not allowed to make any claims that might one day be overturned? That’s the risk that comes with falsifiability.

    And if you’re going to argue against uniformitarianism, well, good luck with that revolution. :)

  160. Mr DATCG,

    Your previous posts have been far shorter and issues-focused. May I suggest you return to that format? Long posts are more easily ignored than short ones – a paradox, I know! If you choose one topic and present your position concisely, you are far more likely to get a response. A post or several covering multiple topics is difficult to reply to.

  161. Just so you don’t wonder where I went — I’m arbitrarily signing off this thread at this point, see you next time.

  162. Diffaxial @151. Thanks for taking the time to provide the relevant references from “The Spiritual Brain.” I think that you may be misreading the passages in question. First of all, recognize that Schwartz is a “non-materialist,” so it is unlikely that he will use imaging technology to undercut his own position, or that he will be too naïve to understand the implications of his own research. The study showed that OCD does not affect all parts of the brain, which means that the part of the brain that facilitates the reasoning process can function independently of that part which [houses?] OCD. Thus, when psychotherapy begins, the patient uses the mind, and, I gather, the unaffected portion of the brain, to create new brain circuits that would not have been created had there been no mind to act as an organ for influence. That the brain plays a role in all of these things does not mean that the brain is calling all of the shots, which was my earlier point.

    Second, part of materialist philosophy holds that the brain is the sole causal factor for all mental problems and is the sole causal factor for all mental solutions, which is why drug therapy is materialist’s treatment of choice, indeed, from his point of view, the only possible choice. If there is no “mind” to appeal to, then the only other option is to change the biochemistry of the brain with chemicals. On the other hand, if one has recourse to an immaterial mind, and, if that mind can affect the brain, then the individual has another means by which he can change his biochemistry. It seems evident to me that if ODC can be cured as a result of a changed mental focus, and if the brain chemistry is altered in the process, then the mind played a role and therefore exists, arguments about evolutionary biology and evolving brains notwithstanding.

  163. —Scott Andrews: “Debates over what is natural or supernatural or the spiritual nature of the mind don’t help the ID argument at all. It’s like fighting a war on two fronts. ID scientifically examines material evidence. Religion requires the supernatural. ID does not.

    —-”Specifying an immaterial or supernatural quality for the designer isn’t directly related to the design inference at all, but it hangs religion around ID’s neck.”

    Scott, I am somewhat sympathetic to your points, but it is not the ID community that keeps imposing this natural/supernatural paradigm. Our paradigm is defined by [A]Law, [B]Chance, and [C] Agency. Forrest and company ignore that paradigm and reframe is as natural/supernatural. Once someone purposely and maliciously misrepresents your position and tries to reframe the issue, you must address the mispresentation and the reframing. Forrest has also defined the proper epistemology for doing science as one which disavows the existence of the human mind, though she doesn’t express it as such. As a result, discussions about “mind” are on the table. We can’t allow atheists to tell us that we must do science as if we had no minds.

  164. —-pubdef: “I suppose I’d have to say that there is no line between the natural and the supernatural, because, as far as I can tell, if something exists, it is “natural.” If something is fantasized or made up out of whole cloth, I suppose you could call it “supernatural” (but that raises the question of whether anything that doesn’t exist has a correct name; it reminds me of questions like “Did Spock have a human mother?”). I don’t know or understand much about quantum physics, but I’m comfortable saying, for the most part, that if some entity exists there should be some empirical evidence of it.”

    What I am asking you to do is decide whether you agree with Barbara Forrest, who insists that science must embrace a natural/supernatural paradigm, or whether you agree with ID, which considers that model an impediment to science and prefers the law, chance, agency paradigm. If you are arguing against her, you are arguing for us; if you are arguing for us, you are arguing against her. You can’t have it both ways.

    —–“What about abstractions, like love, fear, math, language? Perhaps they are not “entities,” but I see no reason to call them “supernatural.”

    Neither do I. Please explain that to Barbara Forrest.

    —–pubdef: “If I ever hold that position, [radical empiricism] I’ll tell you what my evidence for it is. For now, I’ll say that I don’t have the vaguest notion how you concluded, from anything I’ve said, that I hold that position. It is also entirely a mystery to me why you think that “methodological naturalism” is equivalent to “radical empiricism.”

    I wouldn’t say that it is the equivalent, but Barbara Forrest has defined empiricism as the proper epistemology for science, and she also holds that methodological naturalism is the proper orientation to science. Her empiricism is a radical empiricism, which holds that all knowledge comes from sense experience and no knowledge comes from the mind. That should be obvious since she doesn’t believe minds exist, which is a tenet of her materialism. ID allows for the possibility that knowledge comes from both sense experience and from the intellectual faculty. I realize that not many here are acquainted with the subject matter, but they need to know what is at stake. The issue is this: Must we, as Forrest insists, do science as if we had no minds? I say no. What say you?

    —-“As far as clanging molecules are concerned — I know of no evidence that we are anything else, so, yeah, I guess I do think that “one cluster of clanging molecules comes to agreement with another cluster of clanging molecules.” Ain’t it great?”

    If you believe in methodological naturalism, then the evidence you claim is unavailable is, in fact, inadmissible. Isn’t it a bit illogical to say that you will allow no scientific evidence in support of free will, while saying there is no evidence of free will? In any case, what is great about being “nature’s plaything” and having no control over your destiny whatsoever? I cannot identify with your position at all.

  165. Hi RDK: You write:

    —–Science is methodological naturalism.

    Please consult the FAQ, which can be found on the side bar

    —–“Science has no comment on the supernatural. The supernatural cannot be falsified, and can’t even be separated from the natural in any quantifiable way. Why the need for a distinction?”

    —–“And can you even describe what “supernatural” entails that “natural” doesn’t? Do you view existence as some sort of snow-globe where everything outside of it is supernatural?

    Which paragraph represents your argument? Is it the one which says science cannot comment on the supernatural, which implies that “supernatural” has been defined? Or is it the one that recognizes the fact that it has not, in fact, been defined.

    Do you not understand that if Darwinists cannot identify the boundary between natural and supernatural, as you seem to recognize, then they cannot come back as say that science should disregard it and declare that it must be inadmissible. Isn’t is radically illogical to forbid the inclusion of something that you cannot define? The broader point is that no one should be making declarations about what science should be permitted to investigate. Please think this through.

  166. —Graham: “No, but that doesnt make it supernatural. Just like we cant measure hunger, happiness, etc etc. None of these are supernatural, they are all things we feel, and result from the current (physical) state of our brain. No mind needed.”

    If you consider yourself, and everyone else, to be nature’s little robots, why do you spend time here trying to influence robots, which have no minds to influence.

  167. 167

    I don’t agree with Barbara Forrest that science must enforce a natural/supernatural paradigm. That’s bogus demarcation. I just don’t see how the success or failure of ID depends at all on whether the mind is the brain or something else.
    I occasionally see ID tied to mind/brain as if they were related, but their only connection is the philosophical objection directed at both.

  168. Mr StephenB

    Nice to talk with you again!

    Far upthread, you were asked where the definition came from that the mind is immaterial. Did you ever answer that? It seems to be assuming what needs to be proven.

    You say:
    It seems evident to me that if ODC can be cured as a result of a changed mental focus, and if the brain chemistry is altered in the process, then the mind played a role and therefore exists, arguments about evolutionary biology and evolving brains notwithstanding.

    I don’t think being able to enlist one part of the brain in an effort to control another part of the brain is dispositive of anything not of the brain. Is OCD itself a problem of the mind or the brain?

  169. 169

    Graham,

    You said that everything that we know comes from the material. Please show me the physical material for zero and the square root of two. And while we’re at it, if you happen to have any of that freedom or dignity material lying around the house, I’d like to buy some from you.

  170. Hi Stephen,

    Which paragraph represents your argument? Is it the one which says science cannot comment on the supernatural, which implies that “supernatural” has been defined? Or is it the one that recognizes the fact that it has not, in fact, been defined.

    Do you not understand that if Darwinists cannot identify the boundary between natural and supernatural, as you seem to recognize, then they cannot come back as say that science should disregard it and declare that it must be inadmissible. Isn’t is radically illogical to forbid the inclusion of something that you cannot define? The broader point is that no one should be making declarations about what science should be permitted to investigate. Please think this through.

    I’ve already explained my definition of supernatural. It pertains to an order of existence beyond the scientifically visible universe. The thought that you would even consider a supernatural explanation in a discussion of science is very telling of your position.

    In any case, my question about separating the natural from the supernatural in a quantifiable or meaningful way was geared towards the ID community. I’ve given my personal view on it, now I’d like to hear yours. What exactly does “supernatural” entail to you? What do you mean when you say that we should be looking outside of the scientifically visible realm….using science? How do you expect to do so? With what instruments are you going to accomplish this? A dreamcatcher? A smear of lamb’s blood across the door?

  171. 171

    David Kellogg,

    Here’s what I mean in a nut shell. Science can only go so far, the rest of the inference is up to us. Just like we don’t subject our loved ones to the burdens of scientific proof in a lab before we’ll believe what they tell us. It would be morbid to do so, I’m sure you would agree. And pertaining to the Spiritual Brain, it effectively showed that there was no God-center of the brain. That was effectively evidenced, but by a negation, showing that the mind cannot be explained by the material. Have you read the book? Once again, I reject methodological naturalism, for it is based on a philosophy, and by its own criterion should reject the philosophy because the philosophy cannot be studied by methodological naturalism, given that it doesn’t physically exist. It’s like a snake eating its own tail, when it accomplishes its goal, it destroys itself.

  172. 172

    RDK,

    ——”I’ve already explained my definition of supernatural. It pertains to an order of existence beyond the scientifically visible universe.”

    That would include your mind, all abstractions whatsoever (like love and forgiveness) the laws of logic and reason, math and philosophy in general. Well done. You’ve proven that science relies on the supernatural, given that it relies on minds that rely on laws of reason and logic and math and philosophy—none of which are scientifically visible in the universe.

  173. Dr Hunter,

    I am not sure what Dr Forrest would reply to your question. Have you asked her? She may not be a regular reader of your blog.

    I would myself also be in the method + realism camp, and be ready to suffer an unkown number of false negatives as a result. (The inverse of Pascal’s Wager?) I don’t think a boundary can be placed between the natural and the supernatural in advance from a scientific perspective, only that the grey areas can be tested using scientific means, and given low priority for lack of success.

    For example, research into parapsychology would fall into that category. Research into the healing power of prayer is another matter (for me, anyway) because I don’t think there has been enough research in the field, and I don’t think the studies I’ve seen are well designed for the phenomenon.

    I think the result of any positive results of these kind of borderlands research would result in a temporary dislocation in the reductionist paradigm, similar to the discovery of radioactivity and X-rays at the end of the 19th century. But if the results continued to prove out, they would quickly be assimilated into the reductionist program, if necessary as a new axiom.

    I see this thread has been another demonstration of the failure of “A or not-A” thinking! Supernatural houses and natural deities, it is all so confusing! :)

  174. —RDK: “I’ve already explained my definition of supernatural. It pertains to an order of existence beyond the scientifically visible universe. The thought that you would even consider a supernatural explanation in a discussion of science is very telling of your position.”

    I don’t think you are thinking this thing through. Do you consider a non-material human mind to be a supernatural entity? Is an archeologist alluding to the a supernatural if he studies an ancient hunter who used his mind to construct a spear.

    —-”In any case, my question about separating the natural from the supernatural in a quantifiable or meaningful way was geared towards the ID community. I’ve given my personal view on it, now I’d like to hear yours. What exactly does “supernatural” entail to you?”

    It depends on the context. In origins science, the concept of “supernatural” is an intrusion and a way of displacing ID’s well-defined paradigm of law, chance, agency, so that its arguments will not have to be answered. As soon as ID starts talking about “agency,” a perfectly understandable concept, the Darwinist simply says that he will not consider anything relative to the “supernatural,” as if agency was synonymous with the supernatural, and that is the end of the discussion.

    On the other hand, if you leave origins science and start talking about medicine, the concept of “supernatural healing” as opposed to natural healing, makes some sense, because it involves extraordinary events. By contrast, there is nothing extraordinary about the operation of a non-material human mind, which you consider to be a supernatural entity. Even at that, I am using the word in conversational terms, which means that I have a certain margin for error. On the other hand, when the Darwinist [or you] presumes to use “supernatural” as a defining and non-negotiable line of demarction between science and non-science [by the way, their definition's, when they offer them, sometimes differs from yours] there is no room for error or disagreement.

    —-”What do you mean when you say that we should be looking outside of the scientifically visible realm….using science? How do you expect to do so? With what instruments are you going to accomplish this? A dreamcatcher? A smear of lamb’s blood across the door?”

    You are getting a little hysterical aren’t you? In fact, science can point to certain realities outside of itself without commening on them. The big bang, for example, shows that the universe was caused and began to exist. It is, in no way, unscientific or unnatural to say that since the universe began to exist someone or something must have brought it into existence. Darwinists forget that self-evident truths, such as the law of non-contradiction undergird science. Science is distinct from but not separated from metaphysics, protests from materialist Darwinists notwithstanding. Science can do nothing without first assuming metaphysics first principles of right reason. Indeed, that is Dr. Hunter’s point. Everyone begins with a leap of faith. ID assumes that the universe is rational; Darwinists assume that it is irrational.

  175. “I’ve already explained my definition of supernatural. It pertains to an order of existence beyond the scientifically visible universe. The thought that you would even consider a supernatural explanation in a discussion of science is very telling of your position.”

    There is some serious discussions in science about other universes and that these universes can interact or affect each other in some ways. Is such a phenomena supernatural? If an intelligence in one of these other universes was able to affect this universe, is this supernatural? If we find an effect somewhere in our universe which did not have any visible origin, could we make the hypothesis that the source of the phenomenon is outside our universe?

    We can hypothesize dark matter by its effect on light and visible matter. Dark energy is another issue. Could there be intelligences in dark matter? After all it represents about 5-8 times more than the visible universe. If so it gives a whole new meaning to the concept of a ghost.

  176. —-Clive Hayden: “Once again, I reject methodological naturalism, for it is based on a philosophy, and by its own criterion should reject the philosophy because the philosophy cannot be studied by methodological naturalism, given that it doesn’t physically exist. It’s like a snake eating its own tail, when it accomplishes its goal, it destroys itself.”

    Very nice, really!

  177. Hi Clive,

    That would include your mind, all abstractions whatsoever (like love and forgiveness) the laws of logic and reason, math and philosophy in general. Well done. You’ve proven that science relies on the supernatural, given that it relies on minds that rely on laws of reason and logic and math and philosophy—none of which are scientifically visible in the universe.

    See, this is what I find silly about the entire supernaturalist / immaterialist (what have you) position. Assuming that there is no immaterial mind, and that there is only the material, the various patterns and strings of logic that humans use to make sense of the world around them would indeed have no material basis outside of the wiring of the brain. When you say things like “logic” or “forgiveness”, or even “love”, you’re obviously not pointing to a physical, tangible, material thing (or maybe you are; I’m not sure). We’re talking about things that have physical representations – that is, material counterparts – working inside the brain at not only the conceptual level, but the chemical, molecular, and eventually the atomic level. It all depends on how you want to look at it.

    So yes, these concepts do have a materialist grounding, but if you’d like to continue to envision some sort of strange floaty entity invisible to science, by all means be my guest.

    Hey Stephen B,

    I don’t think you are thinking this thing through. Do you consider a non-material human mind to be a supernatural entity? Is an archeologist alluding to the a supernatural if he studies an ancient hunter who used his mind to construct a spear.

    On the contrary, I consider the non-material human mind to be nonexistant. The mind is rooted in the material. If we’re talking about the conceptual realm, like what Mr. Hayden pointed out (love, forgiveness, etc.) then it is also rooted in the material. These things have physical representations.

  178. 178

    StephenB:

    Is an archeologist alluding to the a supernatural if he studies an ancient hunter who used his mind to construct a spear.

    If you mean that the hunter stared really hard at a rock and willed it to form a sharp point, then yes.
    If you mean that the hunter used his mental faculties, then the answer depends on whether his mind was material or immaterial. The reasoning can’t support a conclusion it depends upon.

  179. Hi Nakashima, nice to hear from you again.

    —-“Far upthread, you were asked where the definition came from that the mind is immaterial. Did you ever answer that? It seems to be assuming what needs to be proven.”

    The notion of a “material mind” is an oxymoron. If you are talking about the material organ, which has mass and is extended in space, [or whatever] you are talking about the brain; if you are talking about the “ghost in the machine,” as it has been dubbed, you are talking about an immaterial mind. For me, the mind is a non-material organ of knowledge, complementary to sense experience, which is another source of knowledge. I submit that the mind provides knowledge of universals, while the brain via sense experience provides knowledge of particulars. So, if I meet you in person, I perceive the color of your hair, your body shape, and everything else that is unique about you with my sense experience, while, I perceive your humanity, or that which we all have in common, with my mind. Unless I know both components, my knowledge is incomplete.

    —-“I don’t think being able to enlist one part of the brain in an effort to control another part of the brain is dispositive of anything not of the brain. Is OCD itself a problem of the mind or the brain?

    How do you “enlist” a part of a brain that has its own agenda to do something different that its momentum bids it to do? Who or what is doing the enlisting? If part [A] of the brain affects part [B] of the brain in a certain way, to what entity does one appeal if he would prefer that if not affect it that way. If, for example, you are addicted to smoking, and part [A] of your brain tells part [B] of your brain that you can’t quit, how do you turn that around. Only a mind can refuse to ratify the brains impulses and promptings, which, in themselves, would continue on as they are without the intervention.

  180. —Scott Andrews: “If you mean that the hunter stared really hard at a rock and willed it to form a sharp point, then yes.

    —–”If you mean that the hunter used his mental faculties, then the answer depends on whether his mind was material or immaterial. The reasoning can’t support a conclusion it depends upon.”

    I thought you understood that the hunter used his mind to design the spear and that he used his body to do the work. It didn’t occur to me that you think I was considering the proposition that he “willed it into existence.” So, let me make it clear that he didn’t. In any case, I gather from your answer that, if he has a mind, then his act of constructing the spear is a supernatural event. If so, then the archeologist had better close down shop becuase he has been fooling around with the supernatural and invalidating his science. In other words, you seem to be taking Barbara Forrests position, which may be described as follows: We must do science as if we had no minds, we must study the universe as if it could not have proceeded from mind, and we must study human beings as if they had no minds. So, if the archeologist believes that the ancient hunter had a mind, he cannot do science. That’s pretty radical.

  181. 181

    RDK,

    ——-”We’re talking about things that have physical representations – that is, material counterparts – working inside the brain at not only the conceptual level, but the chemical, molecular, and eventually the atomic level. It all depends on how you want to look at it.”

    Okay, we’ll take your premises. What size, shape and length is the “physical counterpart” of love? And what, exactly, is a “physical counterpart?” The problem with reducing the mind to material, is that material becomes your master, and there would exist no “you” as a decision maker outside the control of the laws of physics. So there would be no adherence to anything metaphysical like the laws of reason and logic, there would only be material movements, which will have speed and weight, but which have no relation to anything we should call “truth.” It would be like if the laws of physics produced every thought, as capable as obtaining truth as the wind through the trees is capable of producing love, or science, for that matter. You remove yourself from the equation, and become controlled by the equation, in reality, whatever “you” are would be only an equation. You’re welcome to consider yourself and all your thoughts to be merely physics, but don’t expect anyone else to think that the movement of atoms has any relation to what we should call “truth”, for truth is not material movement. You are trying to get an ought from an is.

  182. 182

    StephenB:

    I thought you understood that the hunter used his mind to design the spear and that he used his body to do the work.

    I was joking about the hunter willing the spear to sharpen. I forget how that can fall flat in plain text. If I’d used a smiley I could have saved you some typing. :)
    No one understands the working of the brain enough to conclude that the mind is not in it.
    So far, any of the evidence I’ve read of a separate mind could be attributed to incomplete knowledge of the brain.
    Rejecting dualism does not put one in the Barbara Forrest camp. I find the evidence for ID quite convincing. Does she?

  183. Several assumptions expressed in this discussion are rather baffling to me. I see no basis for the assertion that capacities subsumed under the notion of “mind” – such as seeing, recognizing, remembering, thinking, believing, planning, wanting, self-monitoring (and self-restraining), and so forth – cannot be complexly determined natural/cultural phenomena, and instead require a basis in the “non-material” (whatever that is). Indeed, we have many reasons to believe that these capabilities have histories – developmental histories in individual human beings, and an evolutionary history across hominid evolution – and that the subtlety and suppleness of human cognition (including consciousness and cognitive competencies such as noted above) speaks to the subtle, supple complexity of the material organization of the human being, particularly the human brain. And the stuff of which we are in fact composed does not disappoint, as has been amply demonstrated as we progressively unfold the complex neural bases of seeing, recognizing, knowing, self-modeling, planning etc., in the context of our complex enclosing cultures.

    As a corollary to the above, I don’t see that the postulate of an “immaterial mind” atop all of the above adds any increment of explanatory power whatsoever. Whereas we are making rapid progress discerning the neural basis of many human cognitive capacities, “immaterial mind” offers no affordances enabling investigation, no specific characteristics or limitations that confer explanatory or predictive power, and indeed no characteristics other than those inherent in verbally constructed definitions of same. You may assert that only an immaterial mind can “restrain” the material brain, but, in addition to that being simply factually incorrect and incomplete (not to mention incoherent), I’ve seen no account whatsoever, no account with any explanatory force or even specific content, that explains how it is that non-material minds accomplish the tasks of which they are putatively capable. As and explanation for human competencies an human experience, the “nonmaterial mind” is a non-starter.

  184. 184

    What size, shape and length is the “physical counterpart” of love?

    It is the size, shape and length of the set of neurons that are active when “love” is felt.

    The problem with reducing the mind to material, is that material becomes your master, and there would exist no “you” as a decision maker outside the control of the laws of physics.

    I wonder about this because if your god knows everything in advance then there already exists no “you” as a “decision maker” as you are simply acting out what is unknown to you but known to god, without possibility of deviation.

    Quite the opposite with my position. There is no god deciding in advance my actions so I am free to choose them.

    So there would be no adherence to anything metaphysical like the laws of reason and logic, there would only be material movements, which will have speed and weight, but which have no relation to anything we should call “truth.”

    Why does one follow from the other there? Even if we reduce the “mind to the material” why does it follow that “the laws of reason and logic” are thrown out?

    Your “truth” is a mirage. If it were not then would there not be 2 blocs of people on this blog – the true believers all sharing a single, unified vision and everybody else with their “material” ideas going in all direction?

    It would be like if the laws of physics produced every thought, as capable as obtaining truth as the wind through the trees is capable of producing love, or science, for that matter.

    Looked at in isolation a single molecule would not appear to be able to generate the things we would call “pressure”, “temperature” or “volume”. The laws of physics don’t “produce” anything in the way that you mean. They enable things to be produced.

    How do you know a tree is not capable of producing “love”? You wonder at the complexity of a cell but then fail to appreciate how trillions of cells together can be orders of magnitude more complex.

    You remove yourself from the equation, and become controlled by the equation, in reality, whatever “you” are would be only an equation.

    Yet you are “controlled” by god instead and think that is somehow better.

    Logically, even if the mind as you contend is non-material (or some component thereof) then there must be some basis for it’s action, some set of rules for it (remember, the universe is as it is so we can discover how it works, so it follows then that your non-material realm would also have it’s own set of logical rules, right?)

    So, whatever they are you too with your non-material mind are still following a set of rules, still subject to a equation. So you decry me but fail to see your prison (as prison you see it) is the same as mine but one step removed.

    You’re welcome to consider yourself and all your thoughts to be merely physics,”

    Does the movement of atoms have anything to do with “pressure”? Yes, it is possible to reduce everything down to the level of “atoms” but then you can’t talk about the large scale interactions between atoms that form concepts such as “pressure” and “temperature”. What of it? Talking about individual atoms and “love” is like talking about the individual marks on a printout that collectively make up an image. The two are so far away from each other it does not make sense to “reduce” one to the other and then to point at the atoms and say “see! where is your love now? You might as well point at a pixel and say “see – no nose!”

    Which atom is love indeed.

    You can talk about atoms at atomic scale, you can talk about love at the scale of the brain.

    but don’t expect anyone else to think that the movement of atoms has any relation to what we should call “truth

    Do you put “truth” in quotes because you already know the “truth” about “the truth”? That everybody you ask has a different version and you secretly wonder if “the truth” is really “the truth” at all?

    for truth is not material movement.

    Exactly. It’s the relationships between the materials themselves that matter.

    You are trying to get an ought from an is.

    .

  185. 185

    My last comment was directed at Clive.

  186. —Scott: “So far, any of the evidence I’ve read of a separate mind could be attributed to incomplete knowledge of the brain.
    Rejecting dualism does not put one in the Barbara Forrest camp. I find the evidence for ID quite convincing. Does she?”

    That’s right. Rejecting dualism does not necessary put one outside the ID camp.

    On the other hand,I think that you may be getting things backwards. Science does not provide “evidence” for one’s epistemological world view; it is through one’s epistemological world view that science’s evidence is interpreted. Radical empiricism and methodologial naturalism rules out a design inference in principle no matter what the evidence. Are you OK with that?

  187. 187

    StephenB:

    Rejecting dualism does not necessary put one outside the ID camp.

    Not necessarily or otherwise. One has nothing to do with the other.

    Radical empiricism and methodologial naturalism rules out a design inference in principle no matter what the evidence.

    Methodological naturalism wrongly rejects the design inference. No, I’m not OK with that. Does it follow that I should accept any other position that that methodological naturalism opposes?
    I accept ID because of the evidence, not because of who or what opposes it.
    Dualism is an unrelated premise which must stand or fall on its own evidence.

  188. —-Diffaxial: “Several assumptions expressed in this discussion are rather baffling to me. I see no basis for the assertion that capacities subsumed under the notion of “mind” – such as seeing, recognizing, remembering, thinking, believing, planning, wanting, self-monitoring (and self-restraining), and so forth – cannot be complexly determined natural/cultural phenomena, and instead require a basis in the “non-material” (whatever that is). Indeed, we have many reasons to believe that these capabilities have histories – developmental histories in individual human beings, and an evolutionary history across hominid evolution – and that the subtlety and suppleness of human cognition (including consciousness and cognitive competencies such as noted above) speaks to the subtle, supple complexity of the material organization of the human being, particularly the human brain. And the stuff of which we are in fact composed does not disappoint, as has been amply demonstrated as we progressively unfold the complex neural bases of seeing, recognizing, knowing, self-modeling, planning etc., in the context of our complex enclosing cultures.”

    Whether one agrees with that propositions or not, the point of the thread is about options. What matters is whether anyone has the right to define science in accordance with dogmatically-held materialistic world views, which cannot be proven and, from my point of view, are not even plausible. Materialists have reasons for believing what they believe and I have reasons for believing what I believe. Indeed, I think the argument for free will is far more compelling that the materialist notion that we are nothing more than “nature’s plaything.” In any case, to codify, mandate, and institutionalize that narrow and stifling world-view in the name of science is an intrusion that free people should not have to live with. That is what Barbara Forrest and the Darwinists seek, and, apparently, what most materialists [yourself included?] have signed on to.

    —–“As a corollary to the above, I don’t see that the postulate of an “immaterial mind” atop all of the above adds any increment of explanatory power whatsoever. Whereas we are making rapid progress discerning the neural basis of many human cognitive capacities, “immaterial mind” offers no affordances enabling investigation, no specific characteristics or limitations that confer explanatory or predictive power, and indeed no characteristics other than those inherent in verbally constructed definitions of same. You may assert that only an immaterial mind can “restrain” the material brain, but, in addition to that being simply factually incorrect and incomplete (not to mention incoherent), I’ve seen no account whatsoever, no account with any explanatory force or even specific content, that explains how it is that non-material minds accomplish the tasks of which they are putatively capable. As and explanation for human competencies an human experience, the “nonmaterial mind” is a non-starter.”

    The idea that we have immaterial minds and immaterial wills that allow us to live a self-directed life-style is a far more plausible world view than the notion that we are nothing more than clanging molecules, that our existence is meaningless, and that we have no inherent dignity. If we are mere robots incapable of practicing self control, virtue, vice, or any other human act of volition, then all human discourse is a waste of time, including this present discourse. Why do materialists, who claim we that have no minds to influence or change, come here to influence and change our minds? It makes no sense at all. An immaterial mind provides the individual with the means to change what he is and become what he wants to be.

    For materialists, there is no rising above circumstances, no hopes of changing from bad to good, no temptation to go from good to bad, indeed, no recognition that good or bad even exists. Everything just is. It has always amazed me that materialists insist that there is no objective “good” in the universe worth pursuing yet they carry on as if science was a good in itself. Even at that, they argue that there is no absolute or objective truth that science ought to pursue, which, under those circumstances, makes it worthless after all. That’s the real non starter—-chasing after something that one has already admitted doesn’t exist.

  189. 189

    Hi everyone. My first post here to this excellent blog. I just wanted to point out a science that involve the study of something that was design:

    computer science

    That is, the study of computer technology and software engineering. All designed by an intelligence. Computer scientists don’t study the designers, and don’t care. What they study is the computer, and the coding language. Who wrote the language is not important. Who built the computer is not important. I would expect ID is the same way. They study nature and the genetic code, which they perceive is designed.

  190. 190

    StephenB
    Do you believe in ghosts?

  191. Tautology: On the one hand, they say God and the supernatural cannot be falsified, yet every day they say God and the supernatural are not real (false).

    Double standard: ID is not a science because you can’t falsify it. Yet, nearly everything they believe about Darwinism is based on unobservable inferences of things which may have happened hundreds of millions of years ago. The only way to falsify evolution is to video tape every species on earth for a few hundred million years and if no major species to species changes occur (such as a fish to a dog) then it is false. Artificial selection and mutation experiments will never substitute for the real thing.

  192. Stephen B:

    In other words, you seem to be taking Barbara Forrests position, which may be described as follows: We must do science as if we had no minds, we must study the universe as if it could not have proceeded from mind, and we must study human beings as if they had no minds.

    OK, I can’t help myself — I’m back.

    Stephen B — if you have the time and inclination, could you show us the actual words of Barbara Forrest that come closest to the description of her position that you have given here?

    Meanwhile, an off-the-cuff comment from me. We have reasonably good grounds to believe that we have minds and that others have minds, although, as I said before about free will, the arguments against that position are not trivial. Minds are involved in all kinds of things that seem like they could be described as “immaterial” (love, fear, math, logic, architecture, etc.). But, as far as I know and understand, and as I am comfortable accepting on the authority of people I have no reason to suspect of ignorance, perfidy, or insanity — none of those “immaterial” things could be known or experienced without the physical platform of the brain, and all of those things correspond to the matter and energy inside our skulls. And, probably most pertinent for our larger purposes in this forum, there is no evidence that I have heard of for any “mind” that exists separately from and independent of matter.

    Another more or less random musing — do you think that science has learned anything about (to take an arbitrary example) the process of attachment of an infant to a parent? How did it develop such knowledge? Was there any quantitative data involved? Does all this present any challenge to the assertion that “minds” cannot be “measured?”

  193. 193

    Clive:

    Here’s what I mean in a nut shell. Science can only go so far, the rest of the inference is up to us.

    Aside from “inference,” which I don’t think is necessary, I’m with you. In fact, methodological naturalism is silent on issues on the immaterial or spiritual. If an explanation is to be scientific, it must remain silent. A explanation that seeks to explain scientifically will do so without reference to the immaterial or the spiritual.

    Point of explanation: by “immaterial” I don’t mean “ideas” or “mathematical formulae.” Calling such things “immaterial” is an obvious equivocation and unworty of serious rebuttal. I mean immaterial entities or forces that somehow interact with the world of sense.

    And pertaining to the Spiritual Brain, it effectively showed that there was no God-center of the brain. That was effectively evidenced, but by a negation, showing that the mind cannot be explained by the material.

    I don’t think it explained or evidenced anything of the sort. I thought its arguments were weak and poorly supported. (It was also poorly written, in my view, but I have a low assessment of Denyse’s writing.)

  194. —-Scott Andrews: “Methodological naturalism wrongly rejects the design inference. No, I’m not OK with that. Does it follow that I should accept any other position that that methodological naturalism opposes?”

    In all honesty, I think you should read the FAQ. Methodological naturalism was designed specifically to invalidate ID.

    —-”Dualism is an unrelated premise which must stand or fall on its own evidence.”

    I agree, and I argue for it independently of ID as the most logical philosophical complement, not necessarily the only possible philosophical complement to ID. You are perfectly free to believe in a monistic ID if it makes any sense to you. It will not affect the science one bit.

    —-”I accept ID because of the evidence, not because of who or what opposes it.

    You continue to misunderstand. I don’t accept ID because Barbara Forrest opposes it. I oppose Barbara Forrest because she wants to define science in ways that will characterize ID as non-scientific.

  195. Hi Clive,

    Okay, we’ll take your premises. What size, shape and length is the “physical counterpart” of love? And what, exactly, is a “physical counterpart?” The problem with reducing the mind to material, is that material becomes your master, and there would exist no “you” as a decision maker outside the control of the laws of physics. So there would be no adherence to anything metaphysical like the laws of reason and logic, there would only be material movements, which will have speed and weight, but which have no relation to anything we should call “truth.”

    On the contrary, I don’t see things such as “love”, “frienship”, or “forgiveness” as tangible material objects, but as describing words for concepts brought about by material reactions. This is the problem with painting my side as pure reductionism.

    Dog trainers look at a certain level of organization for their work – the level of the organism, while a biologist may look at a dog and see an entire biological system, down to the various tissues and cells that make up the dog. A molecular biologist may go even further. It all depends on the level of organization.

    It is my opinion that it is the relationship between these levels that counts when we talk about such things as “free will”. Obviously it is passable to talk about things on a reductionist level, but you miss all of the various hierarchies and effects that may not be picked up due to the fact that you’re looking at just the colliding of atoms and molecules. There is an entire level above that, and one above that even, that we miss out on.

    This is the problem we run into with the inner workings of consciousness. Clusters of neurons and other matter that makes up the brain are engaged with another level of organization – the conceptual level – that have no material representation except for the dancing of neurons. This may make it seem like there is an “immaterial” portion to us that makes us who we are, but it is in fact the minute details of the material aspect that creates unique diversity. It is this strange backward causality – neurons interacting along with concepts and ideas, which in turn push around those very same neurons – that makes us human.

    I went into detail about self-perception a little while back, and I’ll try and see if I can collect my thoughts again.

  196. P.S: Clive, the point I’m trying to make is that everything looks exactly the same if you zoom in far enough. It’s the level of organization that counts.

  197. —-Pubdef: “Stephen B — if you have the time and inclination, could you show us the actual words of Barbara Forrest that come closest to the description of her position that you have given here?”

    Well, it appears that I tempted you beyond your endurance to stay away. Sorry about that. I guess its just my nature.

    Let me simply it as much as I can. Methodological naturalism is an arbitrarily established rule which requires the scientist to study nature “as if nature is all there is.” No such limitation has ever been imposed in the history of science. The “rule” is only 25 years old, and was codified at exactly the same time ID became known. Did you know that?

    Beyond that, I can only briefly define the difference between “realistic epistemology, [knowledge by way of intellect and sense experience] rationalism [knowledge by intellect only], and empiricism [knowledge by sense impressions only]. I argue that realism makes sense, and that the later two are extremes, each one leaving out something important that the other has. Thus, Barbara Forrest had expicitly said that “empiricism,” which is a philosophical not a scientific formulation should define science. It’s in Dr. Hunter’s post. Please think about this.

  198. 198

    Pubdef, I guess StephenB’s answer to your question is no, he can’t locate the actual words of Forrest that correspond to his reading.

    As to methodological naturalism, the term may be new, but so what? It came about as a response to routine abuses of the term naturalism by creationists and early IDers such as Phillip Johnson. The term emerged to clarify and counter a deliberate ambiguity (it is in such clever uses of language, rather than in his handling of evidence, that Johnson’s legal training comes through).

    The concept did not need explaining until that confusion was propogated, since there is no scientific test for a non-materialist hypothessis.

  199. 199

    Clive:

    What size, shape and length is the “physical counterpart” of love?

    Don’t forget velocity, Clive! Motion is more important than size. But the answer (cough cough) clearly depends on the one loving and the one being loved.

  200. 200

    David Kellogg,

    ——”Don’t forget velocity, Clive! Motion is more important than size. But the answer (cough cough) clearly depends on the one loving and the one being loved.”

    I didn’t even remotely mean it that way. I could just as easily used freedom instead of love to prove my point. I bet y’all had a ball with that one over at AtBC. And sure thing David, keep telling yourself that motion is more important than size…

  201. 201

    StephenB:

    In all honesty, I think you should read the FAQ. Methodological naturalism was designed specifically to invalidate ID.

    I get that, even without reading the FAQ. But it just doesn’t matter one iota how methodological naturalism views dualism. By itself that offers me no reason to accept or reject it.

    I agree, and I argue for it independently of ID as the most logical philosophical complement, not necessarily the only possible philosophical complement to ID. You are perfectly free to believe in a monistic ID if it makes any sense to you. It will not affect the science one bit.

    I know what monism is. What is “monistic ID?” Neither dualism nor monism have anything to do with ID. I have never seen dualism mentioned in a peer reviewed ID paper. If I’m wrong on that detail or in my understanding, then I’m sure a few people will correct me.

  202. Let me simply it as much as I can. Methodological naturalism is an arbitrarily established rule which requires the scientist to study nature “as if nature is all there is.” No such limitation has ever been imposed in the history of science. The “rule” is only 25 years old, and was codified at exactly the same time ID became known.

    Well, if methodogical naturalism is such a recent development that put a hitherto unknown constraint on science, it shouldn’t be at all difficult to come up with examples to answer my perennial question — how do you (how did they?) do nonmaterial science? What kind of experiments and studies did they do?

  203. —-David Kellogg: “Pubdef, I guess StephenB’s answer to your question is no, he can’t locate the actual words of Forrest that correspond to his reading.”

    From Barbara Forrest. [Using the phrasing of Paul Kurtz:]

    —”First, naturalism is committed to a methodological principle within the context of scientific inquiry; i.e., all hypotheses and events are to be explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events. To introduce a supernatural or transcendental cause within science is to depart from naturalistic explanations. On this ground, to invoke an intelligent designer or creator is inadmissible….”

    “There is a second meaning of naturalism, which is as a generalized description of the universe. According to the naturalists, nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles, i.e., by mass and energy and physical-chemical properties as encountered in diverse contexts of inquiry. This is a non-reductive naturalism, for although nature is physical-chemical at root, we need to deal with natural processes on various levels of observation and complexity: electrons and molecules, cells and organisms, flowers and trees, psychological cognition and perception, social institutions, and culture…”

    My summary of that methodology is that science is consistent with the way other methodological naturalists have characterized it: Science must proceed as if “nature is all there is.”

  204. Pubdef,

    The most compelling evidence for intelligence existing independent of brain, is experience.

    Note I did not use the word mind, since mind is the interface between soul and body. Intellect resides in the soul. Mind is the physical ‘effect’ of soul interfacing with body.

    Padre Pio’s gift of bi-location is evidence of this. If he was physically in Rome but experienced, witnessed, understood, and recorded, human activity in a separate location simultaneously, then it shows the soul’s intellectual attributes and ability to separate itself from and exist independently of the body.

    You may wish to dismiss thousands and hundreds of thousands of human experiences as delusions and illusions, but that will not resolve science’ impotence to study it.

    How could Padre Pio ‘show’ you how his soul did anything? What machinery could science come up with to study this phenomena? Should we wait a millennium for science to ‘catch up’ before we recognize and utilize the power that lies within us?

    Experience is the boundary MN can never cross. Hence MN does little to advance knowledge of ourselves; its always a day late and a dollar short.

    … probably most pertinent for our larger purposes in this forum, there is no evidence that I have heard of for any “mind” that exists separately from and independent of matter.

  205. —Scott Andrews: “What is “monistic ID?” Neither dualism nor monism have anything to do with ID. I have never seen dualism mentioned in a peer reviewed ID paper. If I’m wrong on that detail or in my understanding, then I’m sure a few people will correct me.”

    If you know what monism is, then you must surely understand how a monist would interpret ID differently than a dualist. When evidence for design is presented to a dualist, or someone who is open to dualism, that person will likely attribute the design to a personal first cause that transcends the universe, such as God. The monist, on the other hand, having rejected the idea of a “transcendent” creator, will attribute design to some immanent “impersonal” force. It has nothing at all to do with the science, but it has a lot to do with how one interprets the science.

  206. —-David Kellogg: “As to methodological naturalism, the term may be new, but so what? It came about as a response to routine abuses of the term naturalism by creationists and early IDers such as Phillip Johnson.”

    Tell me what abuses you are talking about with respect to Philip Johnson. Also, explain the substantive difference between “early ID,” and ID.

    —-“The term emerged to clarify and counter a deliberate ambiguity (it is in such clever uses of language, rather than in his handling of evidence, that Johnson’s legal training comes through).”

    What ambiguity are you talking about? Please be specific about how Philip Johnson manipulated the language, and, if possible, provide the words he used.

    —-“The concept did not need explaining until that confusion was propogated, since there is no scientific test for a non-materialist hypothessis.”

    Are you are suggesting that methodological naturalism was always the rule for science, but that it never needed explaining until creationism made it necessary? Earlier you said, “so what,” to the point that it is new. Which is it—New or old.

  207. —-Pubdef: “Well, if methodogical naturalism is such a recent development that put a hitherto unknown constraint on science, it shouldn’t be at all difficult to come up with examples to answer my perennial question — how do you (how did they?) do nonmaterial science? What kind of experiments and studies did they do?”

    Please don’t challenge me on matters of fact. Consult the FAQ.

  208. pubdef,

    Well, if methodogical naturalism is such a recent development that put a hitherto unknown constraint on science, it shouldn’t be at all difficult to come up with examples to answer my perennial question — how do you (how did they?) do nonmaterial science? What kind of experiments and studies did they do?

    How about the work of Charles Tart on ESP? He has done actual scientific research on lots of paranormal topics. No way is he a materialist.

  209. I think naturalism (my naturalism, anyway) is actually less materialistic than non-materialism, because it takes for granted that things have inherent metaphysical value without supernatural assistance or immaterial ‘substance’ to materialistically ‘boost’ it into the world of meaning. Taste is a phenomenon which can be entirely reduced to the physical, yet has a metaphysical nature as well. This nature, however, requires no input from some outside immaterial source; it just is. (If you say that you have a non-naturalistic scientific account for it, you will lack both explanatory power and my interest. Heck, perhaps there even is something useful/interesting about calling organisms ‘designed’, but, for me, not about discussing the non-naturalistic however-we-want-it-to-be design process or designer.)

    To postulate that we cannot have emotions or beauty or free will without a supernatural emotion-beauty-free-will-giver is, ironically, to denigrate those things rather than value them in themselves. The beauty of a sunrise is not lathered on to that sunrise like strawberry jam; it is one and the same as the sunrise itself, and as the larger phenomenon of that sunrise being observed. (It’s a tree-falls-in-a-forest question as to whether something unobserved can be considered beautiful).

  210. “how do you (how did they?) do nonmaterial science? What kind of experiments and studies did they do?”

    There does not have to be any difference in the science or the experiments. The difference is in the conclusions one reaches based on the findings of the study. They test for supernatural things all the time. The purpose is to debunk the supernatural but the studies are done.

    For example, suppose you want to test the value of prayer for some sick people. You could set up a group or religious people to pray for a certain group of sick people and see if there recovery rate is different from a control group that was not prayed for. If there is a substantial difference in the recovery rate for the prayed for group then one might conclude prayer had an effect.

    By the way I believe this has been done or something similar and the results showed no difference.

  211. StephenB:

    Methodological naturalism is an arbitrarily established rule which requires the scientist to study nature “as if nature is all there is.” No such limitation has ever been imposed in the history of science. The “rule” is only 25 years old, and was codified at exactly the same time ID became known. Did you know that?

    Stephen, I believe you have forgotten having this discussion with Jack Krebs last March. You can refresh you memory here.

  212. 212

    StephenB:

    When evidence for design is presented to a dualist, or someone who is open to dualism, that person will likely attribute the design to a personal first cause that transcends the universe, such as God. The monist, on the other hand, having rejected the idea of a “transcendent” creator, will attribute design to some immanent “impersonal” force.

    I’m sorry, but you are 180 degrees wrong. If you are not then certainly someone else will correct me.
    If a person accepts ID then whether he interprets the evidence according to his religious beliefs or philosophies or does not has nothing to do with ID.
    ID infers an intelligent cause. Nothing more. Neither monism nor dualism have anything to do with ID.
    If am wrong, then in addition to the forthcoming corrections, tell me how the science of ID would change one bit without either dualism or monism.

  213. 213

    BTW I’m not disputing that a monist and a dualist would draw differing personal conclusions from ID. The point is that those conclusions have nothing to do with ID. Dualism does not need ID and ID does not need dualism.

  214. Oramus #204 – first, I had never heard of Padre Pio, so I googled him. I offer this quote from the Wikipedia article, not as any reliable assessment of the man (in fact, I’ll freely admit that it’s likely to be terribly unfair and unbalanced), but rather because I find it nicely phrased:

    The founder of Milan’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, friar, physician and psychologist Agostino Gemelli, concluded Padre Pio was “an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people’s credulity.”

    Turning to your points:

    Padre Pio’s gift of bi-location is evidence of this. If he was physically in Rome but experienced, witnessed, understood, and recorded, human activity in a separate location simultaneously, then it shows the soul’s intellectual attributes and ability to separate itself from and exist independently of the body.

    I will concede that if the Padre was in Rome but saw and experienced, not as the Romans did, but as the inhabitants of some other clime, it would show something or other that would challenge my nonbelief in the sort of “soul” you are proposing. I can see no reason, however, to believe that Padre Pio did anything like that.

    You may wish to dismiss thousands and hundreds of thousands of human experiences as delusions and illusions, but that will not resolve science’ impotence to study it.

    I’ll admit that it gave me a moment’s pause to consider that I was dismissing such a multitude of experiences. But then I did some quick calculations. How many people are there in the world today — about 6.7 billion? Let’s round it down, for easy figuring, to 6,000,000,000. How many human experiences do I need to dismiss — thousands, hundreds of thousands? Well, let’s say it’s 6,000, just to make the math simple. That’s 0.0001%, if I worked my calculator correctly. OK, let’s say it’s 600,000 — that’s 0.01%. (And I’m assuming only one experience per experienced person, and that they all happened since the Earth’s current population was born, to spread it around as much as possible.)
    Is it dogmatic or unreasonable to expect that if there were some truth to nonmaterialism, and we could know it by experience, it would be known by more than 1 out of 10,000 people?

    Experience is the boundary MN can never cross. Hence MN does little to advance knowledge of ourselves; its always a day late and a dollar short.

    I see it differently — the beauty, the unparalleled utility of MN, is that it transcends personal experience, and enables communication of truths that don’t rest entirely on the credibility and rationality of particular individuals.

  215. —-Scott Andrews: “If am wrong, then in addition to the forthcoming corrections, tell me how the science of ID would change one bit without either dualism or monism.”

    I stated categorically that monism doesn’t “affect ID science one bit.” Indeed, those are the exact words I used. Would you like for me to refer you to the post where I said that word for word? So, why are you asking me how monism or dualism would affect the science when I have already made the point that it doesn’t?

    I stated very clearly that the philosophical world view will affect the way you “interpret” the science, and I explained how. Is there something about the word “interpret” that scnadalizes you? Let’s give it a test. What is your world view? Also, why don’t you tell me what your main concern is here. Are you worried that ID will be unduly associated with religion? That will not happen based on my arguments.

  216. Cannuckian Yankee,

    Good insight.

    Actually, our souls are not super-natural in the sense that they are not caused. Only the Trinity is uncaused; all else including angels and souls are caused, therefore natural. Yet, they are immaterial, meaning not detectable by our senses.

    That is we, as souls can think and move. Thinking through our senses IMO actually slows our intellectual ability.

    There is this space (for want of a better word) when one focuses in (non-verbal) prayer that is unspeakable but truly sublime. That is where the soul longs to go, but most don’t know how or are afraid to make the trip.

    We too seldom identify ourselves by our personality, our speech, our habits, our mannerisms. But this is not who we really are.

    For example, I have emersed myself in Taiwanese society. I can think and joke in Chinese at will, I take on habits and mannerisms from my wife and friends and colleagues (like a child does its parents).

    I can feel differences in me when I move back and forth on trips home to the States, and when I am back here in Taiwan. Does this mean I have a split personality? NO. It means I can know more about myself, I can reach what lies within and understand that it is separate from what transpires on the surface.

    I believe this is what Christ asks us to discover. Look within, identify with yourself not as the sum of culture and language, but beyond this.

    It is here that we expand exponentially our learning and experience of who and what we are. It is more fascinating and fulfilling than any other endeavor IMO.

    “Supernatural” is really a man made term (as are all other terms ), for a concept that is really outside of our current understanding. I can <understand therefore, how the term can force us into a kind of thinking that reality does not enforce. Perhaps what we call “supernatural” is really natural, but outside of a material realm. I say “material,” because naturalists insist that “material” and “natural” are one and the same. Yet, we don’t really know, do we?

  217. Stephen B., #203, quoting Forrest:

    There is a second meaning of naturalism, which is as a generalized description of the universe. According to the naturalists, nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles, i.e., by mass and energy and physical-chemical properties as encountered in diverse contexts of inquiry. This is a non-reductive naturalism, for although nature is physical-chemical at root, we need to deal with natural processes on various levels of observation and complexity: electrons and molecules, cells and organisms, flowers and trees, psychological cognition and perception, social institutions, and culture.

    [emphasis added by me]
    Before I say anything else — my interpretation is that Forrest means to include both meanings, i.e., that “a second meaning” is a complementary, not a contrasting, meaning. If you disagree, you should stop reading here.

    If you agree, though, I don’t know how you could disagree that this description is the very opposite of “we must study human beings as if they had no minds.”

  218. —-Scott Andrews: “BTW I’m not disputing that a monist and a dualist would draw differing personal conclusions from ID.

    Well, then, we have no dispute.

  219. While reading these comments I was assuming that for StephenB mind and soul are identical (it took actually >200 comments until the term soul showed up only after mind had been mentioned more 150 times). Thanks to oramus we are now at the spot and I would suggest that everyone takes the recent paper on divine interaction and science by KJ Jorgensen et al. (2009) into consideration.

  220. —-Pubdef: ‘If you agree, though, I don’t know how you could disagree that this description is the very opposite of “we must study human beings as if they had no minds.”

    A mind is an immaterial entity.

    Note the phrase: “nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles, i.e., by mass and energy and physical-chemical properties as encountered in diverse contexts of inquiry.”

    You are clearly misreading her. She is saying exactly what I said, which is why I simplified it. According to her, we must study nature “as if nature is all there is.”

    According to her, nature consists of “material principles, i.e., by mass and energy and physical-chemical properties”

    Minds have none of that, so, for her, minds are not part of nature because they are immaterial. How can you study a human’s mind based on that standard? Under her definition or anyone who embraces methodological naturalism, science can study only the brain, which is composed of matter. It must operate as if minds don’t exist. That is why it is so perverse.

    Have you read the FAQ on methodological naturalism yet? If not, please indulge me and do that.

  221. Stephen, since you still seem to be stuck in an erroneous conclusion about methodological naturalism, allow me to educate you on the origin of the term.

    The term was coined by Paul deVries, a philosopher at Wheaton college, a conservative Christian institution. Keith Miller, editor of the book Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, has written on this, showing that deVries coined the term to support the view that Christian belief and science need not conflict, and that his use of the term and its intent had nothing to do with ID.

    Also, the idea that science seeks purely natural causes goes back to the beginnings of modern science, with Galileo, Newton, and others, and earlier.

    http://pandasthumb.org/archive.....igins.html

    If you disagree, please name a great scientist of the past whose crowning work involved anything other than a natural explanation for the phenomenon he was studying.

  222. P.S: Also, refer to any of the recent posts I’ve made in this thread if you’re having trouble understanding why the “mind” is based in the material.

  223. —RDK: “Stephen, since you still seem to be stuck in an erroneous conclusion about methodological naturalism, allow me to educate you on the origin of the term.”

    RDK, I am not the one who needs educating you are. The “enforcement of Methodological naturalism is about 25 years old. The idea is a little older than that, but not much. I have been refuting Panda’s Thumb for a long time, and the information they provide is incorrect. Will you, along with your colleages please read the FAQ and stop asking me to visit Pandas’ Thumb, whose false information I have refuted many times.

    Once you have read the FAQ get back to me.

  224. Lenoxus,

    You started out with an arrogant joke and you just keep digging deeper by insisting now on explaining to me how science works.

    “OK, I do feel compelled to respond to this as follows: Science is not about arriving at the answer that just plain happens to be correct.”

    Really? Could’ve fooled me. Then why do evolutionist keep publishing and teaching “answers” as correct FACTS to children? Talk to those producing shoddy work as “correct” “answers” “that just plain happens”.

    The problem is shoddy teaching habits based upon faulty conclusions by scientist and teachers who in your words keep, “arriving at the answer(s) that just happen to be correct.”

    I’m not at fault, nor is science. It is the people you are trying to defend committing the very acts you say science does not represent.

    “It’s about figuring out which answer the evidence points to as most likely.”

    I agree, so preach it brother to the Darwinistas and Evolutionist that create shoddy science education, teachers and lobbyist like Forrest who keep “arriving at the answer(s) that just happen to be correct.” Your argument is with todays shoddy practitioners of science in these fields, not me.

    “And prior to that one incredible finding, all the evidence pointed to something like the Yucatán collision.”

    No, all the evidence obviously did not point to it. It is called shoddy workmanship. I do not have time to verify, but I imagine there were counter proposals and hypothesis that were ignored, silence or derided. All the evidence allowed in pointed to their “correct” “answer(s)” as the consensus opinion – taught as fact. Those who possibly countered the argument were silenced from textbooks and education.

    Get it yet? Or are you still in that bubble?

    It was shoddy work. The kind of work that does not pass in the hard sciences of engineering.

    This shoddy work ethic and false evidence allowed in as FACT, are the result of failed education policy. It is not good science.

    Teach these hypothesis or failed conjectures at college level all you like where they can be genuinely debated, but stop teaching them as FACTS to children who do not yet have necessary skills of critical thinking and logic to counter fictional stories as scientific facts.

    Again, put away your projections. I’ve been through college chemistry, physics, biology. I was taught the scientific method since at least 7th grade. I was taught these same shoddy scientific guesses as if they were facts from early ages and tested on them. I was not allowed to openly rebut them as “WRONG” answers.

    It is called indoctrination. This is why I posted the Time article, since the writer himself points out the very same experience I had as a child growing up and millions like me.

    You miss the the Big Bird picture. One single intepretation is allowed even when it fails again and again, yet it is taught as if each new discovery or prediction is FACT. When it is shoddy, unproven science with failure after failure.

    So much for peer review and good education. It is one thing for this to perculate at upper level academics. It is quite another to pass it along as FACT to the public at large in forced educational systems where debate is not openly allowed to counter the shoddy guesswork.

    If we built bridges this way, our nation would be at a standstill. Applicational science, operational sciences are good to teach young children. But to indoctrinate them to faulty guesses and flimsy science ficition stories should be ended today in the 21st century.

    All I ask is stop teaching these research guesses as FACTS to children. Admit they are best estimates. Otherwise it is unethical. Instead, teach children how to debate the best conjectures put forward on both sides and question the new discoveries made. Doing this would increase skill sets and knowledge of how to think criticially in these fields. A new open method would teach children to be better scientist and to be skeptics in their own fields, instead of lemmings.

    I’m not saying stop teaching geology, paleontology or any other field. I am saying to teach those issues that are not 100% known as speculation, conjectures, hypotheses, but not as FACTS. Open them up as debates and allow the children the freedom to develop critical thinking skills, to realize much of these areas are not written in stone.

    When you do not allow debate on the topic, silence the minority opinion, robots appear that do not question existing old beards wedded to their dogma. This creates failures reported today in public schools.

    Educating children on false data, shoddy science, and dogma strains the credibility of the field in question. It ends up with people not trusting the claims made by scientist.

    It creates the exact opposite reaction of what you, I and we all want, which is a rich involvement of people in science. Instead, by closing doors, stopping questions, and silencing all opposition(in one case for centuries, in another for 37 years), you end up with dull boys and girls, turned off by rote memorization of “facts” that will change a year, 10yrs, or 100yrs from now.

    If you refuse to see the failure as a result of such narrow views in public education today, the problem is your own blindness to reality. Shoddy science parading as facts have ruled our public education systems now for more than 40 years. As a result we have less Americans interested in science and more foreigners getting PhDs.

    As much as you or others like to joke about the Creationist, the blame falls squarely on people like the ACLU, Barbara Forrest and other militant atheist who have hijacked our entire system and rights to free and open discussion on unsolved and unknown evidence.

    What we get is the stupid jokes like yours from uninformed people who treat people with derision. In fact I bet you somewhere this minute some evolutionist trained person from our public schools is laughing and jeering at someone questioning dino-bird evolution fiction. We end up with ignorant people who lamely insult others and then more failuers taught to children as truth. It is a maddening cycle of ignorance.

    What I posted about the dino-bird, dino extinction, JunkDNA, etc., is real evidence we need to overhaul our entire education system to allow in more opposing opinions, not less in areas of science where we simply do not have all the evidence. Do not limit it to one failed and hypocritical view who calls itself liberal education, when in fact it is a narrow brand of Orwellian education that shuts out all other educated opinions.

    Admit when we cannot say something is 100% fact. Just admit it. Say, this is conjecture, inference, hypothesis, even a theory, but still unproven. Now children, how do we use science to debate this latest research? Allow each side to put forth their best information and opinions.

    Math does not have to be this way today at lower levels because it is solid. The more esoteric stuff is kept at higher levels where debates take place over the validity of different proofs and conjectures.

    Not so with paleontology or biology. We get lame, faulty, shoddy work being taught to children as fact. It needs to stop.

    Paleontology is one big guessing game and it should be approached as such, that it may change any day and is unreliable in comparison to the hard sciences.

    Frankly, anyone with common sense understands these issues about education. On the one hand, we can teach children about chemistry, physics, biology, math, english.

    On the other, we create stories of history when no human being existed on best educated guesses. This kind of stuff should be optional classses, not force fed to younger childen. Leave the evolutionist story telling to the colleges.

    If you want to have optional advanced classes at lower levels to teach pure applications, software, and modeling aspects as operational science, great. But it should still be taught as best guesses.

    And students should understand that evolutionist predictions fail because the theory fails as an explanation according to many educated and bright scientist who dissent from the majority opinion.

  225. —RDK: “P.S: Also, refer to any of the recent posts I’ve made in this thread if you’re having trouble understanding why the “mind” is based in the material.”

    I have no difficulty understanding your error, but you apparently have difficulty understanding the meaning of “mind,” and the meaning of “based on.” In any case, anyone who would, as you just did, send one of us to Pandas Thumb in order to learn something has already lost all credibility.

  226. Hi Stephen,

    Perhaps a refutation of my posts is in order instead of simple ad hominem attacks about the fact that I linked you to Panda’s Thumb. Exactly how you define terms such as “mind” and “based on”?

    Thanks in advance.

  227. StephenB:

    I oppose Barbara Forrest because she wants to define science in ways that will characterize ID as non-scientific.

    FWIW, I too disagree with Forrest’s approach, but for terminological rather than logical reasons. I have yet to find usable definitions for the natural/supernatural and material/immaterial distinctions. Ill-defined as they are, they’re a weak basis on which to reject the scientific status of ID.

    I think we would be hard-pressed to find working scientists who decide what methods to use and which hypotheses to pursue on the basis of philosophical rules rather than pragmatism. Scientists have to produce results in order to be successful, so they do what works. Given convincing empirical evidence for ESP, ghosts, etc., how many scientists would refuse to study and test these phenomena because of a commitment to the ill-defined principle of methodological naturalism?

  228. Barbara thinks science must find physical causes and as well as effects. Science must only observe physical EFFECTS and can infer any CAUSE.

    Science can be completely supernatural if it wants to be, while inferring a million miles a minute, as long as it ends with heuristic effects. This is lost on anti-IDer’s with their cause (where’s god?) arguments.

    Science moves towards defining cause or simply defining more accurate effects when causes aren’t being found. (eg observing and predicting more CSI found in future)

    That thoughts are too amorphous unquantifiable and so “not science” per Barbara is a good point. But all material objects are unquantifiable. To turn the quantum physics argument against materialists, aren’t all atoms in all locations at once until observation? Don’t atoms move via information alone? How is this stuff measurable when the underlying CAUSE mechanisms aren’t known? It’s EFFECTS are known and new experiments can be made and tested via heuristics, so physics still belongs in science, and so does ID.

    If evolution can detach itself from abiogenesis for the time being, why can’t ID take the cause out too and detach from God for the time being? All the while both sides can have a stated hopefull end goal in mind. The scientific method allows for bias, it’s a suitable filter.

    Evolution would say it’s superior because the chain of established causes is longer. The question is does this mean one research path should be dropped for another? Barbara is taking the super radical position of literally dropping a research path to “make way”? for evolution or something? Besides, almost all Neodarwin cause linkages are falling apart, all that’s left is ID’d evo in labs and some micro-ev, which no one’s disputing.

  229. —-RDK: “Perhaps a refutation of my posts is in order instead of simple ad hominem attacks about the fact that I linked you to Panda’s Thumb. Exactly how you define terms such as “mind” and “based on”?”

    I did not launch an ad hominem attack. I simply took note of your rude and presumptuous behavior. If you don’t like the rough treatment, then don’t ruffle my feathers.

    Let’s begin with a refutation of your misguided comments on methodological naturalism.

    Methodological naturalism is simply a quite recently imposed “rule” that (a) defines science as a search for natural causes of observed phenomena AND (b) forbids the researcher to consider any other explanation, regardless of what the evidence may indicate. In keeping with that principle, it begs the question and roundly declares that (c) any research that finds evidence of design in nature is invalid and that (d) any methods employed toward that end are non-scientific. For instance, in a pamphlet published in 2008, the US National Academy of Sciences declared:

    In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. [Science, Evolution and Creationism, p. 10. Emphases added.]
    The resort to loaded language should cue us that there is more than mere objective science going on here!

    A second clue is a basic fact: the very NAS scientists themselves provide instances of a different alternative to forces tracing to chance and/or blind mechanical necessity. For, they are intelligent, creative agents who act into the empirical world in ways that leave empirically detectable and testable traces. Moreover, the claim or assumption that all such intelligences “must” in the end trace to chance and/or necessity acting within a materialistic cosmos is a debatable philosophical view on the remote and unobserved past history of our cosmos. It is not at all an established scientific “fact” on the level of the direct, repeatable observations that have led us to the conclusion that Earth and the other planets orbit the Sun.

    In short, the NAS would have been better advised to study the contrast: natural vs artificial (or, intelligent) causes, than to issue loaded language over natural vs supernatural ones
    Notwithstanding, many Darwinist members of the guild of scholars have instituted or supported the question-begging rule of “methodological naturalism,” ever since the 1980’s. So, if an ID scientist finds and tries to explain functionally specified complex information in a DNA molecule in light of its only known cause: intelligence, supporters of methodological naturalism will throw the evidence out or insist that it be re-interpreted as the product of processes tracing to chance and/or necessity; regardless of how implausible or improbable the explanations may be. Further, if the ID scientist dares to challenge this politically correct rule, he will then be disfranchised from the scientific community and all his work will be discredited and dismissed.
    Obviously, this is grossly unfair censorship.
    Worse, it is massively destructive to the historic and proper role of science as an unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) search for the truth about our world in light of the evidence of observation and experience.

    In an attempt to rationalize the recently imposed “rule” of methodological naturalism, some Darwinist academics have resorted to rewriting history. As the ‘revised” story goes, Newton and other greats of the founding era of Modern Science subscribed to the arbitrary standard of ruling out design in principle. Thus, one gathers, ID cannot be science because it violates the “traditional” and “well-established” criteria for science.
    However, as anyone familiar with the real history of science knows – e.g. cf. Newton’s General Scholium to his great scientific work, Principia — this proposition is at best a gross and irresponsible error, or even an outright deception. For, most scientists of the founding era were arguing on behalf of the proposition that God, as a super-rational being, does not act frivolously, unpredictably, and without purpose. For such men, and for their time, searching for “natural causes” was a testimony to the belief that the Christian God, unlike anthropomorphized Greek gods, did not throw capricious temper tantrums and toss lightning bolts out of the sky. In other words, the issue was not natural causes vs. design; (they were all design thinkers) it was orderly and intelligible natural processes vs. chaos.

    That directly contradicts Lewontin’s dismissive assertion that “[t]o appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.” Indeed, the theologians and philosophers will remind us that for miracles to stand out as sign-posts of more than the ordinary being at work, they require that nature as a whole works in an orderly, intelligible and predictable way.

    So, for the founders of Modern Science, science (as a delimited field of study within a wider domain, i.e., “natural philosophy” and “natural history”) was primarily about discovering the underlying principles, forces and circumstances that drive observed natural phenomena. But, as Newton so aptly illustrates, it was simply not in their minds to insist dogmatically that only “natural” causes — i.e. blind mechanical necessity and even more blind chance – exist or may be resorted to in accounting for the nature and functions of our world. They made a provisional judgment based on the best information available, but they would never have dared to presume that they knew enough to close off all other options.

    Further, in their estimation, the foundational scientists were “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” Obviously, they could hardly have believed in Methodological Naturalism while, at the same time, believing that God, as Creator, purposely left clues about his handiwork so that his creatures could interpret them as evidence of his existence and plan for the orderly conduct of the world that are also accessible to us to use for our betterment. Even apart from their religious inspiration, they understood that only the individual scientist knows what he is researching and why, so it is s/he who must in the first instance decide which methods are reasonable, responsible, and appropriate for the task

    Indeed, it was their love of truth and the disinterested search for it that made them great. They were always ready to challenge rigid conventions and seek new answers. More importantly, they were wise enough to know that someone new could come along and make their ideas seem old, just as they had made the ideas of their predecessors seem old.
    Now, in our day, a new idea has indeed come along, and it is embodied in the information found in a DNA molecule. It is beyond ridiculous, then, to suggest that men like Francis Bacon, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Faraday, Maxwell or Lord Kelvin — all of whom were in part motivated by religion and whose religion gave meaning to their science — would ignore or dismiss such evidence of design because of its possible religious implications.

    Please pass this information on to your friends at Panda’s thumb.

  230. 230

    StephenB

    A mind is an immaterial entity.

    Do you believe in ghosts?

  231. 231

    StephenB,

    Let me simply it as much as I can. Methodological naturalism is an arbitrarily established rule which requires the scientist to study nature “as if nature is all there is.” No such limitation has ever been imposed in the history of science. The “rule” is only 25 years old, and was codified at exactly the same time ID became known. Did you know that?

    ..

    Methodological naturalism is simply a quite recently imposed “rule” that (a) defines science as a search for natural causes of observed phenomena AND (b) forbids the researcher to consider any other explanation, regardless of what the evidence may indicate.

    Please see this comment where the origin of the term is explained to you (again).
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-189115

    Given that you have been corrected on this and links/references provided, why do you continue to repeat your version as truth?

  232. 232

    Can somebody tell me how to study something that is non-material?

    Lot of talk about this “boundary” but can anybody give a single, simple example of such?

    Please don’t say “the mind” unless you have proof.

    I might respond with “the bind” which is like the mind but with one letter different and make of “katoms”. If you give me the “mind” as an example of a non-material thing that can be studied then you’ll have to explain to me how the existence of “the bind” can be proven or disproven.

    And then we can move onto invisible unicorns.

  233. 233

    Clive, don’t you have any response to my post at 184? I thought you wanted a dicussion?

  234. —-Echidna Levy: “Please see this comment where the origin of the term is explained to you (again).
    http://www.uncommondescent.com…..ent-189115″

    Your misguided research has led you down a rabbit trail. I corrected the individual that you think corrected me.

    —-”Given that you have been corrected on this and links/references provided, why do you continue to repeat your version as truth?”

    Given that I have written the truth at 227, why did you ignore it and pretend that is was not written? Do you have a problem with reading comprehension? What is it about that post that you do not understand. I will be happy to explain it to you.

  235. More on failed public education systems since atheist, the ACLU and people like Forrest reign supreme over our nations education systems…

    Academic Fraud plus Dumb and Dumber


    article snippets from Walter Williams, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University

    Writing for the National Association of Scholars, professor Thomas C. Reeves documents what is no less than academic fraud in his article “The Happy Classroom: Grade Inflation Works.” From 1991 to 2007, in public institutions, the average grade point average (GPA) rose, on a four-point scale, from 2.93 to 3.11. In private schools, the average GPA climbed from 3.09 to 3.30. Put within a historical perspective, in the 1930s, the average GPA was 2.35 (about a C-plus); whereby now it’s a B-plus.

    Academic fraud is rife at many of the nation’s most prestigious and costliest universities. At Brown University, two-thirds of all letter grades given are A’s. At Harvard, 50 percent of all grades were either A or A- (up from 22 percent in 1966); 91 percent of seniors graduated with honors. The Boston Globe called Harvard’s grading practices “the laughing stock of the Ivy League.” Eighty percent of the grades given at the University of Illinois are A’s and B’s. Fifty percent of students at Columbia University are on the Dean’s list. At Stanford University, where F grades used to be banned, only 6 percent of student grades were as low as a C.

    I remember when the Deans list was an honor given to the few rewarded for hard work, not a give away for the masses.

    Some college administrators will tell us that the higher grades merely reflect higher-quality students.

    Balderdash!

    SAT scores have been in decline for four decades, and at least a third of entering freshmen must enroll in a remedial course either in math, writing or reading, which indicates academic fraud at the high-school level.

    No doubt they can tell you that dino-bird evolution is true and dinos went extinct 65myrs ago. Great, how will that help them to discover algorithms for programmatic molecular biology projects?

    A recent survey of more than 30,000 first-year students revealed that nearly half spent more hours drinking than studying. Another survey found that a third of students expected B’s just for attending class, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the assigned reading.

    Well, well, well… the liberal agenda of drink, party, toke and be blessed for doing nothing is rampant in our universities. Go figure our nation is turning into one big handout now. It explains how certain issues are over some Harvard students pay grade.

    A slight diversion, This Just in…

    Give me, give me. Give me a grade, give me a beer, give me free this, free that. Give me a Deans list. Give me a bong. Give me cocaine. Give me the Whitehouse. If you do I’ll change the world. I’ll give you everything. I’ll give you happiness and a warm home filled with generalities and cliches. I’ll stop the tides from rising and global “warming.” Just give me your vote and I’ll give you your dreams. Hollywood dreams, where Comics decide our policies and actors give you solace of a fairy tale ending. Mmmmhmmmm, we can all live like gods, trust me, take a bite. Your eyes will be opened.

    Meanwhile, back to reality…

    The educational problems are the direct result of the failed policies instituted by ACLU-loving education administrators and faux liberals. That tout government intervention at all levels of decision making. Taking away power from parents at the local levels and forcing students to attend failed schools.

    More quotes from Prof. Williams…

    Dumbest Generation Getting Dumber

    The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international comparison of 15-year-olds conducted by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that measures applied learning and problem-solving ability. In 2006, U.S. students ranked 25th of 30 advanced nations in math and 24th in science.

    This should not be surprising. Afterall, they must be indoctrinated into fiction and failures of shoddy scientific work, along with other politically correct dogma, of one-sided faux liberal education. Instead of practical science applications, logic, open freedom of debate on unsolved issues, and problem solving skills in order to succeed in life, they must remember dinos were extinct at a certain time because somehow the powers in control all thought it happened to be the “correct answer.” Yet now, that trivial information is useless.

    McKinsey & Company, in releasing its report “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools” (April 2009) said, “Several other facts paint a worrisome picture. First, the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers.

    Must I repeat for Lenoxus, atheist, ACLU and Forrest, et al., living in bubbles?

    “… the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers.”

    It is madness that parents who turn their children over to this failed system end up with trained monkeys regurgitating evolutionary doctrine unable to question or problem solve for themselves. They end up with dumber children, faux grades, lazy attitudes, goverment take care of me MTV wannabes, and wonder why we continue to lose ground to foreign competition.

    In recent cross-country comparisons of fourth grade reading, math, and science, US students scored in the top quarter or top half of advanced nations. By age 15 these rankings drop to the bottom half. In other words, American students are farthest behind just as they are about to enter higher education or the workforce.” That’s a sobering thought. The longer kids are in school and the more money we spend on them, the further behind they get.

    “Sobering thought” indeed and it proves my point that the education system is a failure largely led by lemmings who’ll believe and follow any orders the atheistic ACLU evolutionist leaders give out.

    People like Forrest should shut up about being some kind of crusader for one lofty view and begin to look at the Big Bird picture she is missing. Our children are losing the battle with competition internationally not because the Creationist side won, but because her side won the battle long ago. We are going to be a nation of Dodo birds in the next generation. Only the immigrants who come to our shores will take advantage of higher education. And as reported, even some of our highest academic institutions today are a farce at many levels.

    So please, no more condescending lectures on how I or anyone does not understand how science works.

    IDist, Creationist, dissenters of Darwin work and succeed at the highest levels in science. They work in aeronautical engineering, space research, laser technology, physics, NASA, systems biology, math, nano technology, genetics, medicine, and every other conceivable complex field.

    The ACLU and Forrest academics are failing. They do not inspire, they close doors, they limit debate, they refuse ethical dissent, and they intimidate or force out any view they consider heretical to atheism.

    Far from being liberals, they act like fascists. They do not enhance our childrens minds, they darken them with trivial, useless and false facts.

  236. Echidna,
    “Can somebody tell me how to study something that is non-material?”

    The laws of heat, fission, gravity; all laws which underlie continued order in nature, are studied.

    These non-material laws exist and we measure and predict the laws through observation of matter and energy.

    Also the non-material laws underlying organism function and form, which allow for CSI. There too laws are discovered, measured and predicted through observation of matter and energy.

    Matter and energy on their own cannot create laws. The law of attraction could as easily be the law of repulsion. Any absolute law on the order of the physical sciences must be arbitrary by necessity.

  237. Nakashima-san,

    Advice received, ponder I will. ;)

    J?nin toiro.

    Kampai!

  238. StephenB,

    “Methodological naturalism is simply a quite recently imposed “rule”…”

    Yes it is.

    “In keeping with that principle, it begs the question and roundly declares that (c) any research that finds evidence of design in nature is invalid and that (d) any methods employed toward that end are non-scientific.”

    So, the Center for SETI(Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is non-scientific according to NAS definitions. Yet, their standards are allowed in classrooms around our nation and supported by government funded institutions like NASA and public universities.

    SETI Education

    A quote from the above link…
    “Evolution is the core theme of Voyages Through Time; it provides the tools and strategies for science teachers to effectively manage social controversy, while teaching about evolution.”

    This is hilarious. So, on one hand they are exclusively teaching an unguided, undesigned evolution, yet on the other they search for little green men.

    The hypocrisy and double-standards run deep in space and science.

  239. Re: SETI and Barbara Forrest.

    I wonder if Forrest ever contributed, attended, or participated in any SETI events, conferences, education, etc.

    A quick looks shows she was at a conference: the Association for Politics and Life Sciences. Appears to be a one-sided hate fest.

    I see SETI was in participation, but no one from ID was at the conference. Forrest was concerned about ID finding Design in DNA CODE, but not about SETI finding intelligent ETs.

    Interesting, I wonder if she travels around the nation complaining and wailing about SETI?

  240. StephenB,

    I hope you don’t mind me repeating some of your good comments regarding the hypocrisy of the scientific community today. The finely tuned chisel you keep hammering the wall with is making cracks, otherwise, the thought police would not be here to string up emergency barbwire.

    Irregardless of all the “sages” on the other side saying the wall is to keep out the bad guys, it was built to keep people surrounded from freedom on the outside. Kinda familiar territory repeating itself intellectually here.

    “…the US National Academy of Sciences declared: In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others.”

    The detection of design in DNA code can be reproduced, tested, verified and checked by independents. Microsoft today is treating Biological entities as Programs in their latest research for Formal Methods of Molecular Biology.

    The only thing lacking here is perception, or the admittance of worldviews. The other side perceives blind madness, our side sees order among the chaos, machinery and code. This has been true since Newton and long before. Having committed to the path of blindness, it is little surprise to find dry macular degeneratoin set in. It changes vision slowly over time.

    I suggest NAS Darwinist take a lesson from the failed predictions of JunkDNA or SETI’s perceived ability to detect intelligence in the COSMOS.

    You continue…

    From NAS…
    “If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations.
    [Science, Evolution and Creationism, p. 10. Emphases added.]”

    The resort to loaded language should cue us that there is more than mere objective science going on here!

    Here, here!

    Moreover, the claim or assumption that all such intelligences “must” in the end trace to chance and/or necessity acting within a materialistic cosmos is a debatable philosophical view on the remote and unobserved past history of our cosmos.

    An excellent point.

    It is not at all an established scientific “fact” on the level of the direct, repeatable observations that have led us to the conclusion that Earth and the other planets orbit the Sun.

    Bingo! Teaching FACTS like these to children are good science education. Not at all like the guessing games forced on them about possible evolutionary fairy tales.

    In short, the NAS would have been better advised to study the contrast: natural vs artificial (or, intelligent) causes, than to issue loaded language over natural vs supernatural ones

    Exactly, thank you Stephen for clarifying the stacked deck against reasonable educated dissent.

    So, why is SETI accepted by the government, in our classrooms?
    ID can infer Design, just as SETI can infer possible ETs in the COSMOS exist. I think ID’s case is stronger than SETI, because IDist have the Code to experiment with in house. SETI is searching for a needle in a universal haystack. Yet, they are accepted and people like Forrest do not complain.

    The “we are NOT ALONE crowd” of SETI are welcome. Yet, one possible outcome of SETI – Ancient Earth Designers may not be welcome. Why is it NASA a public funded entity can accept SETI, but not Design in DNA?

    It is a) hypocritical, b) double-standard, c) politically motivated, and d) religiously motivated by atheist to prevent any and all dissent from their antiquated views on biology.

    What are they so fearful of in their minds? Are they such weak individuals? Why not fear ET? Maybe ET will blast earth away, or come and rule over earth like a King forcing our children to believe dinosaurs once ruled the universe.

    Hmmmmm…

    Maybe these same fearful people doubt SETI will ever find a thing, so is not a threat to their cherished dogma? But ID has recognized real evidence that topples old traditions? That the ID research will be more productive than the current outdated Darwinian paradigm and make more intellectual sense in the future? That rather than blind searches of random sequences, it is best to look for Design features in the Code of Life?

    If they fear the implications, that is not a good reason to stop the advancement of science.

  241. There is no conflict between “methodological naturalism” and nature itself as long as methodological naturalism is defined to mean that a wall is maintained between ontology and science. But that’s just what Barbara Forrest does not do. She does not study nature for nature’s sake. She studies it to draw certain conclusions about the nature of being.

    The study of nature for nature’s sake is flourishing. The seemingly lowly cell, for example, provides an almost limitless opportunity for investigation and description. But Barb and her allies are not interested in the rather humble avocation of describing the wonders of the cell. They aspire to be philosophers, and this requires them to add an ontological gloss to science.

    Barb has a choice. Either she can seek her bliss in the humble but exhilarating labor of obtaining accurate knowledge of nature for nature’s sake—or she can attempt to make herself seem like a philosopher by clinging to the ontological proposition known as “naturalism.”

    She can puff herself up, but not without losing the very purity she espouses.

  242. 242

    Scott Andrews:

    “BTW I’m not disputing that a monist and a dualist would draw differing personal conclusions from ID.

    StephenB:

    Well, then, we have no dispute.

    Having agreed that ID is strictly neutral as to both monism and dualism and that the latter two are distinctly separate from the former, we do not.

  243. DATCG

    1] You will find the discussion in 227 in the weak argument correctives, nos 17 – 20. (Hint to Mr Burnett and friends . . .)

    2] Could you contact me through the contact as found in the always linked web page through my handle in the LH column?]

    Thanks

    GEM of TKI

  244. DATCG: Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for weighing in with your excellent remarks. I have been admiring your posts for quite a while. Also, I note that kairosfocus co-authored the FAQ section on MN and was responsible for many of the remarks that you cited.

  245. 246

    I have a fun news link too.
    Locusts have evolved both male-on-male locust (what’s a polite word?) “mounting” and a defense against it. The implications are interesting to ponder.

  246. nakashima-San:

    This may be of interest to you, on the avian lung and bird-dino relationships as suggested:

    _______________________

    It’s been known for decades that the femur, or thigh bone in birds is largely fixed and makes birds into “knee runners,” unlike virtually all other land animals, the OSU experts say. What was just discovered, however, is that it’s this fixed position of bird bones and musculature that keeps their air-sac lung from collapsing when the bird inhales.

    Warm-blooded birds need about 20 times more oxygen than cold-blooded reptiles, and have evolved a unique lung structure that allows for a high rate of gas exchange and high activity level [that is, the single direction airflow lung, with counter-/cross- flow of blood]. Their unusual thigh complex is what helps support the lung and prevent its collapse.

    “This is fundamental to bird physiology,” said Devon Quick, an OSU instructor of zoology who completed this work as part of her doctoral studies. “It’s really strange that no one realized this before. The position of the thigh bone and muscles in birds is critical to their lung function, which in turn is what gives them enough lung capacity for flight.”

    However, every other animal that has walked on land, the scientists said, has a moveable thigh bone that is involved in their motion – including humans, elephants, dogs, lizards and – in the ancient past – dinosaurs . . .

    “[O]ne of the primary reasons many scientists kept pointing to birds as having descended from dinosaurs was similarities in their lungs,” Ruben said. “However, theropod dinosaurs had a moving femur and therefore could not have had a lung that worked like that in birds. Their abdominal air sac, if they had one, would have collapsed. That undercuts a critical piece of supporting evidence for the dinosaur-bird link.

    “A velociraptor did not just sprout feathers at some point and fly off into the sunset,” Ruben said . . . .

    “We aren’t suggesting that dinosaurs and birds may not have had a common ancestor somewhere in the distant past,” Quick said. “That’s quite possible and is routinely found in evolution. It just seems pretty clear now that birds were evolving all along on their own and did not descend directly from the theropod dinosaurs, which lived many millions of years later.” ["Discovery Raises New Doubts About Dinosaur-bird Links," ScienceDaily (June 9, 2009). Note, link and emphases added.]

    ______________________

    In short, things usually are not a simple as mnews announcements often suggest.

    GEM of TKI

  247. PS: Steve, it’s a joint deal, and GP deserves credit too . . .

  248. 249

    Here’s an interesting quote:

    There are only two ways that you can live.
    One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle.
    I believe in the latter.

    Albert Einstein

  249. Mr Kairosfocus,

    yes, Mr Joseph had already posted a link to that story previously in this thread, and it has been discussed. I was bringing this story because that story had already been brought up.

    It is exactly that birds and dinos shares this lung structure that has argued for dinos being warm blooded and active, like modern birds. Peter Ward, in his book Out Of Thin Air, also argues that low oxyegen levels at that time meant that theropods could maintain activity levels higher than their competitors as a result of this, which contributed greatly to their dominance.

  250. lamarck said:

    “Barbara thinks science must find physical causes and as well as effects. Science must only observe physical EFFECTS and can infer any CAUSE.”

    This is the essence of the debate!!!!

    There is no cause that the materialist invokes that ID will not also invoke. But ID is willing to expand the range of causes for physical effects. I have made a couple claims about the bankruptcy of methodological naturalism before. Namely,

    If someone supports ID then they can do any experiment that the materialist would do and be completely consistent with their beliefs about how the world operates. And in nearly all cases the conclusions or inferences from the findings will be similar to the anti ID scientist. However, the range of possible conclusions will consist of a larger data set that completely incloses the data set of the materialist conclusions. So the ID supporter will expand the possible explanations for a phenomenon and not have to wear the metaphysical strait jacket of methodological naturalism.

    Secondly, the ID supporter may look at an expanded set of experiments or inquiries than the materialist would look at. This set of inquiries will completely contain the materialist set of enquiries. Thus, ID expands science and does not contract science as we hear from the (Robots for Darwin) RFD’s who populate this site and their masters who seem to be running the science establishment.

    It is the current science establishment that is curtailing the domain of science. Not ID. So it is Barbara Forrest and all who defend her here who are the Luddites

    So maybe we should rename the anti ID people here LFD’s or Luddites for Darwin.

  251. 252

    I’m curious: the view of the ID supporters seems to be that “methodological naturalism” is a recent invention. On the contrary, I think that, if the term is recent, the practice of MN is not. But if a non-naturalist methodology was part of science until recently, can anybody point me to a conclusion reached by science other than ID itself in the several hundred years of scientific inquiry preceding this recent restriction? I would think that, if MN is such recent vintage, non-naturalist conclusions would be abundant in the earlier scientific record.

    I don’t mean simply that a scientist was a believer in God. I mean a scientific conclusion other than ID that violates methodological naturalism. Where are they?

  252. 253
    William J. Murray

    David Kellogg,

    The big bang is a scientific conclusion that violates methodological naturalism, because it cannot be explained to have been caused by natural explanations, because nature didn’t exist at the time.

  253. —kairosfocus: “PS: Steve, it’s a joint deal, and GP deserves credit too . . .

    Agreed. Thanks for the fraternal correction.

  254. 255

    David Kellogg,

    Radio waves, and I would submit, the particle/wave duality on quantum physics. The former was considered, initially, to have been supernatural, it would have been folly to rule it out on those grounds, and that is precisely the point, we may make errors on what is natural or supernatural because our designations are arbitrary. The latter, in my opinion, could still be considered supernatural.

  255. Mr Kellogg,

    What is your position on Newton’s alchemy? I am tempted to call it non-MN but scientific, and a significant result for science, for all that it was a negative result.

  256. —David Kellogg: “On the contrary, I think that, if the term is recent, the practice of MN is not.”

    That is because you are avoiding the meaning of the word “practice,” which consists of one group of scientists mandating the methods of another group of scientists. I guess you missed that part.

    Also, @198, you wrote, “It [MN] came about as a response to routine abuses of the term naturalism by creationists and early IDers such as Phillip Johnson. The term emerged to clarify and counter a deliberate ambiguity (it is in such clever uses of language, rather than in his handling of evidence, that Johnson’s legal training comes through).”

    I have asked you to explain that remark and, so far, you have not been forthcoming. Will you please tell us how Philip Johnson used his legal training to create confusion about the word “naturalism.” Please be specific.

  257. 258

    StephenB, I seem to be wrong on the origins: as I understand it, the term “methodological naturalism” was coined by the Christian scholar De Vries (of Wheaton College) in 1983. My apologies.

    I’ll have to dig up my Johnson to comment on his equivocations. (As a rhetoric scholar, I admire them!)

  258. Hi Kellogg,

    I’ve already linked to the deVries story, but alas – this is a prime example of the ID camp not listening when evidence is shoved in front of their faces. Stephen B will continue to argue that MN is a Darwinist conspiracy until he is blue in the face.

  259. 260

    Actually MN is a conspiracy of the illuMiNati and the freeMasoNs.

  260. —RDK: “I’ve already linked to the deVries story, but alas – this is a prime example of the ID camp not listening when evidence is shoved in front of their faces. Stephen B will continue to argue that MN is a Darwinist conspiracy until he is blue in the face.”

    You don’t handle factual refutations too well, do you. Reread #229 and then run along. You were given a piece of revisionist history and you bought it because you wanted to buy it. Face it, deal with it, and learn from it. Meanwhile, if you have anything substantive to say about the detailed refutation, by all means roll up your sleeves and have a go at it.

  261. 262

    StephenB, did DeVries coin the term or not?

  262. 263

    Propositions for non MN science:

    1. The Big Bang. Nothing in the scientific literature on the Big Bang is non-naturalistic. There may be some philosophical conclusions that people draw outside the science, but the original papers don’t point to anything that’s not in the natural world. For example, Dicke et al.’s paper “Cosmic Black-Body Radiation” (1965) discusses implications of its finding in entirely naturalistic terms, speculating on naturalistic propositions such as how much matter the universe should contain if it’s either open or closed.

    2. Same goes for the particle/wave duality. Nothing in the literature is non-materialistic.

    3. Did anybody seriously propose in the scientific literature that radio waves had a supernatural origin?

    4. Alchemy. Hmm. I’ve been rereading Chaucer recently: anybody who’s read the Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale knows that many saw alchemy as a fraud centuries before Newton. But on the other hand, alchemy is sometimes seen as a proto-chemistry. I don’t know enough about Newton’s alchemy to know how he did it. It seems to me that a “scientific” alchemy is really an embryonic (and wrong) kind of chemistry.

  263. 264

    Echidna.Levy,

    ——”Clive, don’t you have any response to my post at 184? I thought you wanted a dicussion?”

    Nah, too much confusion to sift through and sort out, too many rabbit trails. If you want to narrow it down a bit, make it specific, I’ll have a discussion.

  264. 265

    Also, on the Big Bang, there’s nothing non-materialist in Hubble’s 1929 paper on the expanding universe (“A Relation Between Distance and Radial Velocity Among Extra-Galactic Nebulae”).

    Again, where are all the papers that violate MN before the recent suppression? (They’re rarer than transitional forms in a creationist museum!)

    What contributions to the literature has a non-materialist science provided?

  265. —-David Kellogg: “Actually MN is a conspiracy of the illuMiNati and the freeMasoNs.”

    I have tried to help you in the past with good benevolent advice, and I hope that, eventually, you will learn from it. If you have nothing to say, those mindless verbal eruptions aimed at your adversaries intellectual competence and moral character will do you more harm than good, unless of course, there is something to them. The trick is to build up your own “ethos” [a little rhetoric lingo there] with substantive arguments. It begins with that ever-present challenge of actually trying to make a case for something. If you want some ideas, let me know and I will try to help.

  266. —spec: “Stephen, I believe you have forgotten having this discussion with Jack Krebs last March. You can refresh you memory here.”

    It was basically the same discussion we are having here. A Darwinist was trying to rewrite history by characterizing methodological naturalism as a historical phenomenon, so I set the record straight. Rather than restrict your analysis to my adversary’s early comments as if they were the last word, you just might want to read further down the page to see how I responded—unless, of course, such a foray into intellectual honesty would disturb your peace.

  267. —David Kellogg: “Again, where are all the papers that violate MN before the recent suppression? (They’re rarer than transitional forms in a creationist museum!)

    —”What contributions to the literature has a non-materialist science provided?”

    More unadulterated nonsense. Your capacity to evade, your attempts to obfuscate, and, most notably, your hostility to the truth, never cease to amaze me. The essence of MN, as I have pointed out several times, is to establish a non-negotiable line of demarcation between science and nonscience–a rule—a line that may not be crossed under penalty of disenfranchisement from the scientific community. This has never happened before in the history of science. It’s a fact. Get over it and move on.

  268. That comment at 269 was too strong. I retract the second sentence.

  269. Bill Dembski:

    It appears that the first usage of this term traces to the Christian philosopher Paul de Vries. He used the term orally at a conference in 1983. A few years later it appeared in print in the paper “Naturalism in the Natural Sciences,” Christian Scholar’s Review 15 (1986), 388-96. For de Vries, methodological naturalism says nothing about the existence of God, contrasted with metaphysical naturalism, which actively denies God’s existence. This bit of sleuthing is the work of Ron Numers.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....aturalism/

  270. Mr Kellogg,

    4. Alchemy. Hmm. I’ve been rereading Chaucer recently: anybody who’s read the Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale knows that many saw alchemy as a fraud centuries before Newton. But on the other hand, alchemy is sometimes seen as a proto-chemistry. I don’t know enough about Newton’s alchemy to know how he did it. It seems to me that a “scientific” alchemy is really an embryonic (and wrong) kind of chemistry.

    So, not alchemy in general, but Newtonian alchemy. The Wiki page on Newton has a bit on his alchemy. I thought it interesting that John Maynard Keynes once owned most of newton’s alchemical papers. Keynes also quipped that Newton was not first of the Age of Reason, rather the last of the Magicians.

    From what I have read on the subject, it seems to me that Newton was a mthodological supernaturalist, and yet scientific. He thought the dimensions of the Temple and Tabernacle as revealed in the Bible had something to say about the world at large, not in an allegorical sense but directly about the material world. It seems as rational to me as hydroplate theory, perhaps more, because it has more respect for its source material.

    Did it have a negative result? Yes, and sadly it was not made available to influence in any way the birth of modern chemistry, or else Newton might have been considered the Father of that science also!

    The point is that Newton understood science as well as any person of his time, and considered a received, supernatural text to be part and parcel of his investigations. That is why I would argue for the category “scientific but not MN”.

    What about ESP experiments? What about the feeling of being looked at?

  271. 272
    William J. Murray

    I’m sorry. What is the MN explanation of the big bang? If it has no MN explanation, how can it be theorized by science to have occurred, since nothing we can define as “nature” could have generated it?

    In other words, if we have evidence that something happened, be it a singularity called a big bang or intelligent design, doesn’t “that thing” itself have to be explicable in terms of MN in order for it to be called a scientific theory?

    BTW, doesn’t Forrest’s MN Maxim mean that in court, all testimony as to motive must be made in terms of neurons firing?

  272. 273

    A few responses to various people.

    StephenB, science has always had “line[s] of demarcation between science and nonscience.” The “penalty” is not “disenfrancisement from the scientific community” but refusal to consider the work produced on the other side of the line as science. Behe, Gonzalez, etc.: they are free to do science and sometimes. It’s just that their ID work isn’t considered science.

    On the whole, I take the position that what counts as science is determined by the community: that science is as science does. A rule of methodological naturalism is not immutable or eternal; it does seem to be mighty effective for the practice of science, and

    Nakashima, the Newton example is an interesting one: I’ll consider it.

    William Murray, there is no MN “explanation” of the Big Bang in the sense of why it happened, there is just an incomplete description of how it happened.

  273. 274

    Correction: a sentence in the first paragraph should read

    Behe, Gonzalez, etc.: they are free to do science and sometimes do.

  274. 275

    Nakashima:

    What about ESP experiments? What about the feeling of being looked at?

    Good question! I used to live near the Rhine Research Center, an ESP research place near Duke (and at one time, way back, IIRC, led by someone affiliated with Duke). They moved the location because the traffic interfered with the ESP research. :-)

    As far as I know, there’s no physical model for how ESP might work. ESP “research” done in the absence of such a model, even a loosely conceived one, seems like so much BS. On the other hand, if research is undertaken to uncover hitherto unknown physical forces, then I’m all for it.

    Or merely to falsify such forces. A true example: a Ph.D. candidate in physics does a set of experiments for a thesis to see if he can find a fifth fundamental force (in addition to gravity, EM, and the strong and weak nuclear forces). Now, he knows there’s probably not one, and so the thesis is going to have a negative result. But he does various experiments on the top of a high tower (and at ground level) to show that the only fundamental forces at work are ones we know. What’s the point? In part, the point of graduate research in physics is to show that you can conduct a rigorous experiment, gather precise measurements (very precise, in this case), use and sometimes create complex experimental apparatus, etc.

  275. 276

    Here’s a statement of methodological naturalism over 300 years old. It’s from Daniel Defoe’s The Storm (1704). Thanks to Pompous Bore at AtBC for the source.

    When therefore I say the Philosophers do not care to concern God himself in the Search after Natural Knowledge; I mean, as it concerns Natural Knowledge, meerly as such; for ’tis a Natural Cause they seek, from a General Maxim, That all Nature has its Cause within it self…

    …In this Search after Causes, the Philosopher, tho’ he may at the same Time be a very good Christian, cares not at all to meddle with his Maker: the Reason is plain; We may at any time resolve all things into Infinite Power, and we do allow that the Finger of Infinite is the First Mighty Cause of Nature her self: but the Treasury of Immediate Cause is generally committed to Nature; and if at any Time we are driven to look beyond her, ’tis because we are out of the way: ’tis not because it is not in her, but because we cannot find it.

    Two Men met in the Middle of a great Wood; One was searching for a Plant which grew in the Wood, the Other had lost himself in the Wood, and wanted to get out: The Latter rejoyc’d when thro’ the Trees he saw the open Country: but the Other Man’s Business was not to get out, but to find what he look’d for: yet this Man no more undervalued the Pleasantness of the Champion Country than the other.

    Thus in Nature the Philosopher’s Business is not to look through Nature, and come to the vast open Field of Infinite Power; his business is in the Wood; there grows the Plant he looks for; and ’tis there he must find it. Philosophy’s a-ground if it is forc’d to any further Enquiry. The Christian begins just where the Philosopher ends; and when the Enquirer turns his Eyes up to Heaven, Farewel Philosopher; ’tis a Sign he can make nothing of it here.

    Defoe was of course a very serious Christian, though (alas, StephenB) a severe Protestant who was arrested for his satirical pamphlet “The Shortest Way with Dissenters.”

  276. Mr Kellogg,

    We have found several times in science that our intuitions based on commonplace experience fail to tell us the true state of affairs. So I think it is helpful to test commonplace intuitions which are common in our culture, such as ESP. A consistent negative result gives us a warrant to exclude them from scientific study. Prior to that, they don’t need a model to proceed, because the experiments are still somewhat in the way of “stamp collecting”.

    Circling back to the larger discussion, my examples show why I don’t think there is a clean line to be drawn around science and ‘the natural’ as coextensive.

  277. A Darwinist was trying to rewrite history by characterizing methodological naturalism as a historical phenomenon, so I set the record straight. Rather than restrict your analysis to my adversary’s early comments as if they were the last word, you just might want to read further down the page to see how I responded—unless, of course, such a foray into intellectual honesty would disturb your peace.

    Actually, I read the entire thread and found your argument entirely unconvincing. Your approach is to find a famous scientist that is a theist, and conflate their a priori rejection of philosophical naturalism into a presumed rejection of methodological naturalism and hope nobody notices the sleight of hand.

    That you continue to employee the same tactic after repeated discussions of the same issue
    points to a willful obtuseness that renders you, in my opinion, a poor judge of my intellectual honesty.

    Note to moderator: Based on a single comment, in which I merely register my disagreement with StephenB, he has decided to render judgement on my intellectual honesty. Is this really the type of community you are trying to foster? One where sincere disagreement is met with derision?

  278. —-David: “StephenB, science has always had “line[s] of demarcation between science and nonscience.”

    No one has ever drawn that line for anyone else. It just hasn’t happened–until now, that is.

    —-”The “penalty” is not “disenfrancisement from the scientific community” but refusal to consider the work produced on the other side of the line as science. Behe, Gonzalez, etc.: they are free to do science and sometimes. It’s just that their ID work isn’t considered science.”

    That’s disenfranchisement. If you lose your standing in the professional community, you have lost everything. More importantly, you are leaving out the people who have no standing at all. When I was blogging on the Ben Stein website a year or two ago, plenty of people had stories to tell about getting taken out of the game even before they entered the arena. Others made it clear that they survived only by keeping quiet and playing that game. Their speech was chilled. That is not what higher education should be about. To the extent that anyone supports methodological naturalism, they are supporting that kind of arbitrary oppression.

  279. —-David Kellogg: “Here’s a statement of methodological naturalism over 300 years old. It’s from Daniel Defoe’s The Storm (1704). Thanks to Pompous Bore at AtBC for the source.”

    David, you are a regular riot, you really are. Shall I tell you about a few scientists who lived at about the same time as you novelist friend, Daniel Defoe.

    Robert Boyle, scientist and theologian who argued that the study of science could improve the glorification of God.

    John Ray, an English botanist who wrote “The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of the Creation.”

    Emanuel Swedenborg. Several of his theological works contained some science scientific hypotheses.

    Carolus Linneaus. He is known as the “father of modern taxonomy” and also made contributions to ecology. Natural theology and the Bible informed his Systema Naturae and Systema Vegetabilium.

    Also, even though Defoe’s opinions are irrelevant to science, you are, nevertheless, misreading him.

    [A] When he writes, “we do allow that the Finger Infinite is the first Mighty Cause of Nature herself”

    ……methodological naturalism has already left the building. Methodological naturalism must proceed as if “nature is all there is.”

    [B] When he writes, “also .to say that the “treasury of Immediate Cause is generally committed to Nature; and if at any Time we are driven to look beyond her, ‘tis because we are out of the way: ‘tis not because it is not in her, but because we cannot find it.”…….

    He is alluding to secondary causes.

    [C] When he writes, “When therefore I say the Philosophers do not care to concern God himself in the Search after Natural Knowledge; I mean, as it concerns Natural Knowledge, meerly as such; for ’tis a Natural Cause they seek, from a General Maxim, That all Nature has its Cause within it self…”

    ….He is saying that when you are trying to find out HOW something works, you should not complicate things by trying to find out WHY it works

    But of course, all of this is irrelevant given the fact that the scientists of that era were mixing God and science so completely it was difficult to know where the theology left off and the science took over. Please tell your Darwinist friends to stop feeding you all this pablum.

  280. “To the extent that anyone supports methodological naturalism, they are supporting that kind of arbitrary oppression.”

    Speaking of oppression, I wonder what Inspector Generals are thinking these days.

  281. In a post on his blog Evolving Thoughts, Australian philosopher of science John Wilkins writes about the difficulty of finding demarcation criteria that would enable us to draw a bright line between science and non-science, he notes:

    As someone once noted – possibly Johnson – day may shade into night but day and night are, on the whole, tolerably well defined.

    As has been pointed out already, the phrase “methodological naturalism” is a term of recent coinage. Yet it embodies ideas which are much older. Ideas such as we can only usefully study phenomena which have a ‘nature’, that are ordered and have distinctive and enduring properties rather than being areas of pure randomness or utter chaos. Ideas such as that by observing phenomena we can abstract data around which to construct explanatory models. Ideas such as that there can be many possible explanations and hence there is a need for some means of testing them to see which is the closest approximation to what is observed.

    The fact is that even if the bane of all believers here – ‘naturalistic’ and atheist science – were banned by decree, it would not change the need for similar methods to those described above if science were to continue as a distinct human enterprise. Let us suppose that only science that was consonant with Christian belief were to be taught in the science classroom, which version of Christianity would it be, Roman Catholic or Protestant? If Protestant, which denomination would it be, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist – Southern or Northern Convention, Pentecostalist? And what of the Muslim who proclaims that Allah is the one and only true god, let alone all the other religions and gods? Who is to decide which is the true one? How do you decide which, if any, is the true one?

    The fact is that this whole debate about ‘natural v supernatural’ is ultimately futile if it proves impossible to agree on definitions. And does it really matter? Good science is still being done – both by believers and non-believers – regardless.

    In my view, science is a pragmatic endeavor. It can use its box of tools to investigate anything that can be observed – and by “observed” I mean gather data about however indirectly. If the soul actually exists in some measurable form – however incorporeally – then it can be investigated by science. If there is a god who influences the behavior of this Universe in some way then it can be studied by science, at least in principle. If that god exists only as an idea in the minds of intelligent beings like ourselves then we can debate its nature ’til the cows come home but we while we might be doing theology or philosophy we will not be doing science.

    ID is not ruled out as science by some methodological naturalist fiat. It fails because it has not ruled itself in by demonstrating that there is something there that needs to be studied. Neither does criticizing the alleged inadequacy of evolutionary theory to explain what is observed do anything to establish the existence of an Intelligent Designer as an investigable phenomenon. Finding compelling evidence of the involvement of extraterrestrial intelligence in the emergence of life on Earth, however, would be one of the greatest discoveries in the history of science. And is there any doubt that there would be a stampede of scientists charging in from all directions to study it trampling all discussions about what is natural and supernatural underfoot as they did so?

  282. —seversky: “As has been pointed out already, the phrase “methodological naturalism” is a term of recent coinage. Yet it embodies ideas which are much older. Ideas such as we can only usefully study phenomena which have a ‘nature’, that are ordered and have distinctive and enduring properties rather than being areas of pure randomness or utter chaos.”

    If you are going to enter into a discussion this late, you have a moral obligation to absorb the arguments against your position and to know what is being discussed. Clearly, you have not taken the time to do that.

    —-“Ideas such as that by observing phenomena we can abstract data around which to construct explanatory models. Ideas such as that there can be many possible explanations and hence there is a need for some means of testing them to see which is the closest approximation to what is observed.”

    All this is part of the scientific approach and has nothing at all to do with one group of scientists imposing methodological standards on another group of scientists. We have already established that fact that nothing like methodological naturalism has ever happened before.

    —-“The fact is that even if the bane of all believers here – ‘naturalistic’ and atheist science – were banned by decree, it would not change the need for similar methods to those described above if science were to continue as a distinct human enterprise. Let us suppose that only science that was consonant with Christian belief were to be taught in the science classroom, which version of Christianity would it be, Roman Catholic or Protestant? If Protestant, which denomination would it be, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist – Southern or Northern Convention, Pentecostalist? And what of the Muslim who proclaims that Allah is the one and only true god, let alone all the other religions and gods? Who is to decide which is the true one? How do you decide which, if any, is the true one?”

    That statement is not relevant to the discussion.

    —-“The fact is that this whole debate about ‘natural v supernatural’ is ultimately futile if it proves impossible to agree on definitions. And does it really matter? Good science is still being done – both by believers and non-believers – regardless.”

    If the line between natural and supernatural cannot be established, then there is no way to enforce or even define methodological naturalism. Did you not even read Dr. Hunter’s post? I can easily discern that you did not.

    —-“In my view, science is a pragmatic endeavor. It can use its box of tools to investigate anything that can be observed – and by “observed” I mean gather data about however indirectly. If the soul actually exists in some measurable form – however incorporeally – then it can be investigated by science. If there is a god who influences the behavior of this Universe in some way then it can be studied by science, at least in principle. If that god exists only as an idea in the minds of intelligent beings like ourselves then we can debate its nature ’til the cows come home but we while we might be doing theology or philosophy we will not be doing science.”

    This, too, is irrelevant to the discussion.

    —-ID is not ruled out as science by some methodological naturalist fiat.

    According to methodological naturalism, any ID inference to design in the biological realm is non-scientific by definition. Again, you have a moral obligation to investigate this subject prior to commenting on it, especially at this late date.

    —–“It fails because it has not ruled itself in by demonstrating that there is something there that needs to be studied. Neither does criticizing the alleged inadequacy of evolutionary theory to explain what is observed do anything to establish the existence of an Intelligent Designer as an investigable phenomenon. Finding compelling evidence of the involvement of extraterrestrial intelligence in the emergence of life on Earth, however, would be one of the greatest discoveries in the history of science. And is there any doubt that there would be a stampede of scientists charging in from all directions to study it trampling all discussions about what is natural and supernatural underfoot as they did so?”

    We are not criticizing evolutionary theory, per se, nor are we discussing ID theory, its successes or its failures. We are discussing methodological naturalism, which is an arbitrary rule established in the 1980’s as a means of invalidating ID. At the very least, you should read the FAQ on methodological naturalism. Better still, you should try to absorb some of what has been said.

  283. 284
    William J. Murray

    If one simply wishes for examples of scientific research into classic supernatural phenomena, one need go no further than William Crookes publication of “Notes of an Enquiry into the Phenomena called Spiritual during the Years 1870-1873.” Quarterly Journal of Science. January 1874, or “Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands” published in the Lancet, which states at the end: “Research should be concentrated on the effort to explain scientifically the occurrence and content of NDE. Research should be focused on certain specific elements of NDE, such as out-of-body experiences and other verifiable aspects. Finally, the theory and background of transcendence should be included as a part of an explanatory framework for these experiences.”

    I can, of course, cite all sorts of research into various psi and spiritual phenomena being conducted or which has been conducted by the University of Arizona (Veritas Project), or by Dr. Julie Bieschel at the Windbridge Institute involving the devleopment of triple and quadruple-blind protocols for the study of such phenomena, most of which is published in alternative science journals.

  284. 285

    StephenB, I’ll talk about Defoe in a separate post. Let me briefly note that Boyle’s argument “that the study of science could improve the glorification of God” does not violate methodological naturalism.

    I’m taking a look at Ray’s book (available here). It’s worth noting that the Ray institute classifies that book as one of his “theological” works, as compared to his works in science (botany), which were written in Latin. Do his works of botany violate methodological naturalism?

    Same question goes for Swedenborg. Does he do scientific work that violates methodological naturalism, or does he just speculate some scientific issues.

    The motivations of Linneaus are not relevant. Does his practice violate MN?

  285. 286

    How does one distinguish between a phenomenon with no natural cause and one with an unknown natural cause?
    If one cannot, doesn’t it become easy to move investigation of that phenomenon from one side of the demarcation to the other?

  286. 287

    William J. Murray, that’s a good example, especially the Lancet article!

  287. 288

    Nakashima and William J. Murray have come up with the best counter-examples. StephenB, not so much.

  288. Methodological naturalism is just a nonsensical construct.

    The 2004 Encyclopedia Britannica says science is “any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation. In general, a science involves a pursuit of knowledge covering general truths or the operations of fundamental laws.”

    “A healthy science is a science that seeks the truth.” Paul Nelson, Ph. D., philosophy of biology.

    Linus Pauling, winner of 2 Nobel prizes wrote, “Science is the search for the truth.”

    “But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding.” Albert Einstein

    The truth need not be an absolute truth. Truth in the sense that Drs. Pauling, Einstein & Nelson are speaking is the reality in which we find ourselves. We exist. Science is to help us understand that existence and how it came to be.

    As I like to say- science is our search for the truth, i.e. the reality, to our existence via our never-ending quest for knowledge.

    Anything other than that is just pure nonsense.

  289. 290

    StephenB:

    Carolus Linneaus. He is known as the “father of modern taxonomy” and also made contributions to ecology. Natural theology and the Bible informed his Systema Naturae and Systema Vegetabilium.

    He sure doesn’t let the Bible or natural theology guide him when he classifies Homo among the primates. And a good thing too!

  290. Seversky:

    It fails because it has not ruled itself in by demonstrating that there is something there that needs to be studied.

    That is refuted by the fact there are some scientists trying to refute it.

    Also both CSI and IC are more rigorously defined then anything your position has to offer.

    ID is based on observation and experience.

    It can be tested.

    What else does it need before it is considered scientific?

  291. David Kellogg:

    He sure doesn’t let the Bible or natural theology guide him when he classifies Homo among the primates.

    How do you knmow?

    He (Linne) definitely let the Bible guide him in his search for the Created Kinds.

    Was he conducting science when he was doing that?

  292. 293

    Because, Joseph, in the Bible man is not an animal like the others but a separate creation. I know you’re not a Bible scholar, or you’d have realized your error about plants not reproducing after their own kind, but seriously: would it kill you to read Genesis 1 and 2?

  293. David Kellogg:

    Because, Joseph, in the Bible man is not an animal like the others but a separate creation.

    In the Bible all the animals were separate creations.

    And at first Linne thought the Created Kinds were the level of “species”.

    Therefor grouping humans with primates did not violoate the Bible.

  294. And even when he changed from species to genus- for the Created Kind, well primate is above genus.

    Not that I expect you to understand any of that.

  295. 296

    I forgot, you’re an expert in the “science” of baraminology.

  296. I never made that claim.

    However I do know that you are wrong in this case.

    As a matter of fact you don’t seem to understand the debate.

    And you sure as heck can’t support your position.

  297. 298
    William J. Murray

    To summarise: there is no reason to even insert “naturalism” in the definition of science unless one can define where “naturalism” ends. Otherwise, it’s just science-stopper that would prevent researchers from hypothesizing about and investigating phenomena that the mainstream believes to be supernatural without even a meaningful definition thereof.

    Other than bullying scientists into not investigating ideas that contradict the beliefs of the mainstream, what purpose is there in adding the term “naturalism” to the definition of proper scientific investigation?

  298. 299

    William J. Murray,

    And let’s not forget about the recent scientific experiment of the supernatural event of intercessory prayer done by Harvard:
    http://www.news.harvard.edu/ga.....rayer.html

    David Kellogg,

    Weren’t you claiming that such science as above is impossible because MN cannot speak to such immaterial matters?

  299. 300

    BTW, I wasn’t being argumentative or facetious when I asked how one separates supernatural phenomena from natural phenomena with unknown causes.
    The ESP example is a good one (I am not a believer.) It wouldn’t be hard tell whether information is being transmitted and received. Would we call it supernatural and ignore it, or conclude that it likely has a natural cause which is presently unknown?
    It seems that we could choose to label it either way.

  300. —-David: “StephenB, I’ll talk about Defoe in a separate post.

    Why would you want to do that? He was not a scientist.

    —-”Let me briefly note that Boyle’s argument “that the study of science could improve the glorification of God” does not violate methodological naturalism.”

    It is obvious that Boyle did not practice “methodological naturalism.” He believed that “the attributes of God can be discovered by studying nature.”

    —”I’m taking a look at Ray’s book (available here). It’s worth noting that the Ray institute classifies that book as one of his “theological” works, as compared to his works in science (botany), which were written in Latin. Do his works of botany violate methodological naturalism?”

    The title of his book says it all: “The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of the Creation.” There is really no need for you to go through all this.

    —z’Same question goes for Swedenborg. Does he do scientific work that violates methodological naturalism, or does he just speculate some scientific issues.zzzzzz’

    He like all the rest, considered nature as part of God’s handiwork and approach it on that basis. I can’t believe that you are still trying to revive this dead issue.

    —-”The motivations of Linneaus are not relevant. Does his practice violate MN?”

    Of course. Clearly, you are not getting the drift here. The four scientists I that I alluded to are but a small part of a much bigger picture. I could easily give you fifty more scientists of that era that approached the study of nature the same way. Trust me on this. You will grow old trying to rationalize them all.

  301. —David Kellogg: “Nakashima and William J. Murray have come up with the best counter-examples. StephenB, not so much.”

    You are manifestly confused. I am refuting your argument that MN is historical. Hence, I allude to historical scientists. They are refuting your argument that is legitimate. Hence, they refer to contemporary scientists. You seem to have difficulty following context, you really do.

  302. —-William J. Murray: “To summarise: there is no reason to even insert “naturalism” in the definition of science unless one can define where “naturalism” ends. Otherwise, it’s just science-stopper that would prevent researchers from hypothesizing about and investigating phenomena that the mainstream believes to be supernatural without even a meaningful definition thereof.”

    Precisely.

  303. StephenB @ 303

    —-William J. Murray: “To summarise: there is no reason to even insert “naturalism” in the definition of science unless one can define where “naturalism” ends. Otherwise, it’s just science-stopper that would prevent researchers from hypothesizing about and investigating phenomena that the mainstream believes to be supernatural without even a meaningful definition thereof.”

    Precisely.

    Precise would be nice. People post blithely here about the supernatural without offering anything approaching a rigorous definition of the word.

    We have investigations of near-death experiences cited as an example of research into the supernatural. But suppose such research were to actually bear fruit and it became possible to observe some incorporeal but ordered entity leaving the body at death whenever we chose. Suppose this entity were measured, analyzed and explained as reliably as we now do so routinely with the DNA that was entirely unknown in Darwin’s time. Would that still be supernatural – particularly given that we would have come to have some understanding of its ‘nature’?

  304. StephenB @ 303

    —-William J. Murray: “To summarise: there is no reason to even insert “naturalism” in the definition of science unless one can define where “naturalism” ends. Otherwise, it’s just science-stopper that would prevent researchers from hypothesizing about and investigating phenomena that the mainstream believes to be supernatural without even a meaningful definition thereof.”

    Precisely.

    Precise would be nice. People post blithely here about the supernatural without offering anything approaching a rigorous definition of the word.

    We have investigations of near-death experiences cited as an example of research into the supernatural. But suppose such research were to actually bear fruit and it became possible to observe some incorporeal but ordered entity leaving the body at death whenever we chose. Suppose this entity were measured, analyzed and explained as reliably as we now do so routinely with the DNA that was entirely unknown in Darwin’s time. Would that still be supernatural – particularly given that we would have come to have some understanding of its ‘nature’?

    This looks dangerously close to William J. Murray, StephenB, seversky, and I agreeing on something. Time to take that snow-skiing trip in Hawaii.

  305. 306

    StephenB, I don’t understand what you’re getting at. Believing that nature shows the wonders of God’s creation or even that it reveals something about the character of God has nothing to do with methodological naturalism. Many scientists who are Christians believe this yet still embrace methodological naturalism as a practice. Your examples seem to be about what motivates the scientists in question or what those scientists believe. But that is not the issue. Methodological naturalism is about how science is done (hence the “methodological”).

  306. Supernatural would be “effect without potentially known mechanism”. If a mechanism is potentially contactable it’s natural. If there is an effect with a cause but it can never be known, it’s supernatural.

    Funding steers science. Only the military was doing serious remote viewing experiments.

    Art Bell worked with princeton to make gerbils go crazy and make it rain in a drought area by having his audience do a group thought experiment with his radio audience and it worked both times. I wouldn’t be surprised if the military took this up. I don’t think they suppressed others’ research, but this is an example of something very exciting just drifting off into nowhere.

    Science tries to disprove the paranormal stuff too much, when they should be trying to improve experiments to gain better understanding. They should have a bias the other way, towards making it work.

  307. —-David Kellogg: “StephenB, I don’t understand what you’re getting at. Believing that nature shows the wonders of God’s creation or even that it reveals something about the character of God has nothing to do with methodological naturalism. Many scientists who are Christians believe this yet still embrace methodological naturalism as a practice. Your examples seem to be about what motivates the scientists in question or what those scientists believe. But that is not the issue. Methodological naturalism is about how science is done (hence the “methodological”).”

    Remember now, you must try to follow the context of the argument, so I want you to concentrate. I have provided plenty of evidence that methodological naturalism has no history prior to 1983. The great scientists of history that I alluded to were indeed Christians, all of whom believed that the creator designed the universe and left clues about his existence. This belief system informed their approach to science and even their methodology.

    Newton for example, insisted that God directly animated matter through an “active principle” and conducted his research accordingly. That is more than mere “motivation,” and it easily rules out methodological naturalism. Anton Maria Schyrleus wrote a work on “theo-astronomy” and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Obviously that is not studying nature “as if nature is all there is.” Johannes Kepler’s model of the cosmos based on nesting Platonic solids was directly and explicitly driven by his religious ideas. Does that sound like methodological naturalism to you? That is my seventh example and counting. As I pointed out, I can offer you fifty more examples if you like. Again, this is an argument about the past, not the present. I don’t want you to lose the concept, so try to fix in your mind and hold it there. You argued that methodological naturalism was historical, and I refuted that argument. Have you got it?

    So, now, as a response to my well-documented argument that, historically, Christians did not embrace methodological naturalism, you counter that argument by saying, “but some Christians embrace methodological naturalism today.” Do you see how easily you lose focus? Under the circumstances, then, I want you to try once again to grasp this distinction between the past and the present. Methodological naturalism did not exist in the 13th century, or the 14th century, or the 15th century, or the 16th century, or the 17th century, or the 18th century………Are you getting the pattern here?

  308. 309

    StephenB, is it possible for you to write without condescension? You have shown nothing of what you claim, though as usual you are full of bluster as self-praise. I have no interest in continuing a discussion with someone who behaves in such a manner.

  309. 310

    DK:”You have shown nothing of what you claim”

    Surely you jest!!

    DK:”I have no interest in continuing a discussion with someone who behaves in such a manner”

    Translation ” I have lost the argument so I better make a hasty retreat by attacking the one making the argument”

    Vivid

  310. 311

    Vivid, I object to Stephen’s condescending tone. I can answer his arguments simply enough. Dedicating a work to the Virgin Mary is not violating methodological naturalism. Being motivated by religioon is not violating methodological naturalism. Kepler’s notion of nesting Platonic spheres seems more mathematical than spiritual, but it may violate MN in some small sense. OK, I’ll admit that.

    I’ll further admit that the boundaries of science are relatively porous in the early centuries of modern scientific endeavor. But the idea that the method of science freely admitted supernatural causes until 1983 is laughable. Finally, Stephen’s tone has been and remains asinine, and he knows it.

  311. —-David Kellogg: “StephenB, is it possible for you to write without condescension? You have shown nothing of what you claim, though as usual you are full of bluster as self-praise. I have no interest in continuing a discussion with someone who behaves in such a manner.”

    No, it is not possible. Anyone who would continue to resist slam dunk arguments with the kind of fact-dodging, context-twisting, false framing sophistry that you have been putting out deserves whatever he gets.

  312. Hi Stephen,

    No, it is not possible. Anyone who would continue to resist slam dunk arguments with the kind of fact-dodging, context-twisting, false framing sophistry that you have been putting out deserves whatever he gets.

    Slam-dunk arguments? Are you honestly that self-deluded that you think Anton Schyrleus dedicating his work in astronomy to the Virgin Mary is a death-blow to Darwinism?

    This whole back-and-forth about methodological naturalism is nonsense anyway, and is classic Intelligent Design Creationism at its finest – distract from the wider issue by nitpicking minute details. What does the origin of MN have anything to do with the validity of evolutionary theory? Here, I’ll help you on this one Steve – it has nothing to do with it.

    So the answer to your failed attempts is “So what?”. So what if methodological naturalism was coined to keep Intelligent Design from passing as science (which, as it has been shown by both myself and Jack Krebs on at least 5 separate occasions, it was not; but even if it was, it’s just as acceptable as using MN to keep astrology or tea-leaf reading from passing as science). That still doesn’t change the fact that ID is pseudoscience; you distract from the real issue in prime obfuscatory form.

  313. 314

    No, it is not possible.

    Clearly not for you.

  314. Quite the rant RDK. Looks to me like StephenB has hit a raw nerve.

    Vivid

  315. Seversky,

    The only thing that is supernatural, meaning not created, is the Trinity.

    All other entities, angels / souls etc are created. Science will possibly one day confirm what is already known through revelation. But one doesn’t need to wait a millenium to have faith confirmed.

    At the end of the day, if you in your heart wanted evidence of God’s existence, the existence of your own soul, and other created entities, you could have it. Its there for the taking.

    Just ask Father Corapi:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhAyEZR4gUk

    We have investigations of near-death experiences cited as an example of research into the supernatural. But suppose such research were to actually bear fruit and it became possible to observe some incorporeal but ordered entity leaving the body at death whenever we chose. Suppose this entity were measured, analyzed and explained as reliably as we now do so routinely with the DNA that was entirely unknown in Darwin’s time. Would that still be supernatural – particularly given that we would have come to have some understanding of its ‘nature’?

  316. Hi Vividbleau,

    Quite the rant RDK. Looks to me like StephenB has hit a raw nerve.

    Vivid

    Quite the contrary; I’m just pointing out the ridiculousness and transparency of Stephen B’s tactics. Any angry inflection that you put on my posts is purely of your creation.

  317. RDK: “I’m just pointing out the ridiculousness and transparency of Stephen B’s tactics”

    Obviously we see things differently. What you percieve as “tactics” I percieve as arguments for ones position.After all the topic has to do with methodological naturalism not evolutionary theory or Darwinism.

    If anyone is employing tactics it is you by trying to change the focus of the stated topic of this thread!!

    Vivid

  318. StephenB, In response to DK question “is it possible for you to write without condescension?”

    No, it is not possible. Anyone who would continue to resist slam dunk arguments with the kind of fact-dodging, context-twisting, false framing sophistry that you have been putting out deserves whatever he gets.

    Stephen, you are condescending to anyone who has the temerity to disagree with you, even commenters like myself who have only responded to you once.

    You would do well to ponder Proverbs 11:2.

  319. —RDK: “Slam-dunk arguments? Are you honestly that self-deluded that you think Anton Schyrleus dedicating his work in astronomy to the Virgin Mary is a death-blow to Darwinism?”

    You too, must learn to concentrate and focus on the facts being presented. Anton Maria Schyrleus wrote a work on “theo-astronomy” and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Now I want you to open up your mind real wide and concentrate on the words, “THEO-ASTRONOMY.” Now ask yourself what that term might mean with respect to the methodological rule that science must study nature “as if nature is all there is.” Try hard, now.

  320. StephenB,

    Anton Maria Schyrleus wrote a work on “theo-astronomy” and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Excellent pointB—I missed how RDK had omitted the “theo” (as he is required to do under methodological naturalism, appropriately enough!). I would humbly suggest (for those who are comfortable with it) that we informally adopt the term “theo-biology” to describe ID, as it allows the consideration of God’s influence on nature.

  321. —David Kellogg: “I have no interest in continuing a discussion with someone who behaves in such a manner.”

    Well, then, why are you continuuing?

    I have an idea. Why don’t you and I enter into a little social contract. You promise not to speak to or comment about me from now until the end of the year, and I will promise not to speak to or comment about you until the end of the year. Further, if either of us violates that contract for any reason, he is, with the administrator’s approval, to be put on moderation for the first offense and banned from the website for the second offense.

  322. —-herb: “Excellent pointB—I missed how RDK had omitted the “theo” (as he is required to do under methodological naturalism, appropriately enough!). I would humbly suggest (for those who are comfortable with it) that we informally adopt the term “theo-biology” to describe ID, as it allows the consideration of God’s influence on nature.”

    Thanks for noticing herb. Also, if you look back at David Kellogg’s responses [and RDK's responses] you will notice that they do this with every correspondence. Hence, I coined the term, “fact dodging, context twisting, false framing sophistry.”

  323. Also, keep in mind that I have far exceeded the requirements for making my case. While the early scientists did, indeed, claim to be “thinking God’s thoughts after him,” and while they did indeed appeal to theological beliefs to shape their scientific ideas, [and while I am prepared to provide 50 more examples] the only burden of proof I have to meet is to show that there was no RULE to PREVENT it, which is the essence of methodological naturalism. Obviously, there could have been no prohibition against that which everyone was doing. I know this point of over the head of the Darwinists, but do the rest of you get it?

  324. StephenB @ 283

    All this is part of the scientific approach and has nothing at all to do with one group of scientists imposing methodological standards on another group of scientists. We have already established that fact that nothing like methodological naturalism has ever happened before.

    No, we have evidence that the term is of recent origin but the concept and practice of studying the phenomena of the world according to their natures goes much further back.

    “The fact is that even if the bane of all believers here – ‘naturalistic’ and atheist science – were banned by decree, it would not change the need for similar methods to those described above if science were to continue as a distinct human enterprise…And what of the Muslim who proclaims that Allah is the one and only true god, let alone all the other religions and gods? Who is to decide which is the true one? How do you decide which, if any, is the true one?”

    That statement is not relevant to the discussion.

    Lofty dismissals notwithstanding, science is, amongst other things, a means of deciding between the claims of competing explanations. The different religions of the world can be viewed as offering competing explanations of how it all came to be. How else is an uncommitted observer to make a rational choice as to which is the best if not by the scientific method?

    If the line between natural and supernatural cannot be established, then there is no way to enforce or even define methodological naturalism. Did you not even read Dr. Hunter’s post? I can easily discern that you did not.

    As you say, if there is no distinction between natural and supernatural then all this complaining about MN is rather pointless, don’t you think?

    As for the enforcement of MN, I don’t know of any secular institutions which require employees to sign a written affirmation of their absolute belief in – and commitment to – methodological naturalism. On the other hand, I believe there are religious institutions which require just such written affirmations of their faith from employees.

    With respect to my opinion of Cornelius Hunter’s work, it is better left unsaid.

    According to methodological naturalism, any ID inference to design in the biological realm is non-scientific by definition. Again, you have a moral obligation to investigate this subject prior to commenting on it, especially at this late date.

    You must be working from your own private version of MN. There is no problem in science with inferences about intelligent design, forensic scientists, anthropologists and archeologists are doing it all the time. But then they have strong evidence for the existence of the intelligent designers they are studying, of course.

  325. 326

    StephenB,

    I get it. Well put. The problem with methodological naturalism is that,

    “It discredits supernatural stories that have some foundation, simply by telling natural stories that have no foundation…It might be stated this way. There are certain sequences or developments (cases of one thing following another), which are, in the true sense of the word, reasonable. They are, in the true sense of the word, necessary. Such are mathematical and merely logical sequences…I observed that learned men in spectacles were talking of the actual things that happened–dawn and death and so on–as if THEY were rational and inevitable. They talked as if the fact that trees bear fruit were just as NECESSARY as the fact that two and one trees make three. But it is not…These men in spectacles spoke much of a man named Newton, who was hit by an apple, and who discovered a law. But they could not be got to see the distinction between a true law, a law of reason, and the mere fact of apples falling. If the apple hit Newton’s nose, Newton’s nose hit the apple. That is a true necessity: because we cannot conceive the one occurring without the other. But we can quite well conceive the apple not falling on his nose; we can fancy it flying ardently through the air to hit some other nose, of which it had a more definite dislike. We have always in our fairy tales kept this sharp distinction between the science of mental relations, in which there really are laws, and the science of physical facts, in which there are no laws, but only weird repetitions. We believe in bodily miracles, but not in mental impossibilities…The man of science says, “Cut the stalk, and the apple will fall”; but he says it calmly, as if the one idea really led up to the other…But the scientific men do muddle their heads, until they imagine a necessary mental connection between an apple leaving the tree and an apple reaching the ground. They do really talk as if they had found not only a set of marvellous facts, but a truth connecting those facts. They do talk as if the connection of two strange things physically connected them philosophically. They feel that because one incomprehensible thing constantly follows another incomprehensible thing the two together somehow make up a comprehensible thing. Two black riddles make a white answer… A law implies that we know the nature of the generalisation and enactment; not merely that we have noticed some of the effects. If there is a law that pick-pockets shall go to prison, it implies that there is an imaginable mental connection between the idea of prison and the idea of picking pockets. And we know what the idea is. We can say why we take liberty from a man who takes liberties. But we cannot say why an egg can turn into a chicken any more than we can say why a bear could turn into a fairy prince. As IDEAS, the egg and the chicken are further off from each other than the bear and the prince; for no egg in itself suggests a chicken, whereas some princes do suggest bears. Granted, then, that certain transformations do happen, it is essential that we should regard them in the philosophic manner of fairy tales, not in the unphilosophic manner of science and the “Laws of Nature.”

    It is not a “law,” for we do not understand its general formula. It is not a necessity, for though we can count on it happening practically, we have no right to say that it must always happen. It is no argument for unalterable law (as Huxley fancied) that we count on the ordinary course of things. We do not count on it; we bet on it. We risk the remote possibility of a miracle as we do that of a poisoned pancake or a world-destroying comet. We leave it out of account, not because it is a miracle, and therefore an impossibility, but because it is a miracle, and therefore an exception. All the terms used in the science books, “law,” “necessity,” “order,” “tendency,” and so on, are really unintellectual, because they assume an inner synthesis, which we do not possess.”
    G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
    http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mwar.....rtho14.txt

    As for the dangers of Methodological Naturalism, it eventually includes ourselves:

    “The process whereby man has come to know the universe is from one point of view extremely complicated; from another it is alarmingly simple. We can observe a single one-way progression. At the outset the universe appears packed with will, intelligence, life and positive qualities; every tree is a nymph and every planet a god. Man himself is akin to the gods. The advance of knowledge gradually empties this rich and genial universe: first of its gods, then of its colors, smells, sounds and tastes, finally of solidity itself as solidity was originally imagined. As these items are taken from the world, they are transferred to the subjective side of the account: classified as our sensations, thoughts, images or emotions. The Subject becomes gorged, inflated, at the expense of the Object. But the matter does not rest here. The same method which has emptied the world now proceeds to empty ourselves. The masters of the method soon announce that we were just as mistaken (and mistaken in much the same way) when we attributed “souls”, or “selves” or “minds” to human organisms, as when we attributed Dryads to the trees. Animism, apparently, begins at home. We, who have personified all other things, turn out to be ourselves mere personifications. Man is indeed akin to the gods: that is, he is no less phantasmal than they. Just as the Dryad is a “ghost”, an abbreviated symbol for all the facts we know about the tree foolishly mistaken for a mysterious entity over and above the facts, so the man’s “mind” or “consciousness” is an abbreviated symbol for certain verifiable facts about his behaviour: a symbol mistaken for a thing. And just as we have been broken of our bad habit of personifying trees, so we must now be broken of our bad habit of personifying men: a reform already effected in the political field. There never was a Subjective account into which we could transfer the items into which the Object had lost. There is no “consciousness” to contain, as images or private experiences, all the lost gods, colours, and concepts. Consciousness is “not the sort of noun that can be used that way.”

    For we are given to understand that our mistake was a linguistic one. All our previous theologies, metaphysics, and psychologies were a by-product of our bad grammar. Max Muller’s formula (Mythology is a disease of language) from “The Science of Language”, 1864, thus returns with a wider scope than he ever dreamed of. We were not even imagining these things, we were only talking confusedly. All the questions which humanity has hitherto asked with deepest concern for the answer turn out to be unanswerable; not because the answers are hidden from us like “goddess privitee” from Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”, but because they are nonsense questions like “How far is it from London Bridge to Christmas Day?” What we thought we were loving when we loved a woman or a friend was not even a phantom like the phantom sail which starving sailors think they see on the horizon. It was something more like a pun or a sophisma per figuram dictionis (sophism disguised as language). It is though a man, deceived by the linguistic similarity between “myself” and “my spectacles”, should start looking round for his “self” to put in his pocket before he left his bedroom in the morning: he might want it during the course of the day. If we lament the discovery that our friends have no “selves” in the old sense, we shall be behaving like a man who shed bitter tears at being unable to find his “self” anywhere on the dressing-table or even underneath it.
    And thus we arrive at a result uncommonly like zero. While we were reducing the world to almost nothing we deceived ourselves with the fancy that all its lost qualities were being kept safe (if in a somewhat humbled condition) as “things in our own mind”. Apparently we had no mind of the sort required. The Subject is as empty as the Object. Almost nobody has been making linguistic mistakes about almost nothing. By and large, this is the only thing that has ever happened.
    Now the trouble about this conclusion is not simply that it is unwelcome to our emotions. It is not unwelcome at all times or in all people. This philosophy, like every other, has its pleasures. And it will, I fancy, prove very congenial to government. The old “liberty-talk” was very much mixed up with the idea that , as inside the ruler, so inside the subject, there was a whole world, to him the centre of all worlds, capacious of endless suffering and delight. But now, of course, he has no “inside”, except the sort you can find by cutting him open. If I had to burn a man alive, I think I should find this doctrine comfortable. The real difficulty for most of us is more like a physical difficulty: we find it impossible to keep our minds, even for ten seconds at a stretch, twisted into the shape that this philosophy demands. And, to do him justice, Hume (who is its great ancestor) warned us not to try. He recommended backgammon instead; and freely admitted that when, after a suitable dose, we returned to our theory, we should find it “cold and strained and ridiculous” in “A Treatise of Human Nature”, Book I, Part iv, section vii. And obviously, if we really must accept nihilism, that is how we shall have to live: just as, if we have diabetes, we must take insulin. But one would rather not have diabetes and do without the insulin. If there should, after all, turn out to be any alternative to a philosophy that can be supported only by repeated (and presumably increasing) doses of backgammon, I suppose that most people would be glad to hear of it.
    There is indeed (or so I am told) one way of living under this philosophy without the backgammon, but it is not one a man would like to try. I have heard that there are states of insanity in which such a nihilistic doctrine becomes really credible: that is, as Dr. I.A. Richards would say, “belief feelings” are attached to it, in his book Principles of Literary Criticism, 1924. The patient has the experience of being nobody in a world of nobodies and nothings. Those who return from this condition describe it as highly disagreeable.
    Now there is of course nothing new in the attempt to arrest the process that has led us from the living universe where man meets the gods to the final void where almost-nobody discovers his mistakes about almost-nothing. Every step in that process has been contested. Many rearguard actions have been fought: some are being fought at the moment. But is has only been a question of arresting, not of reversing, the movement. That is what makes Mr. Harding’s book so important. If it “works”, then we shall have seen the beginning of a reversal: not a stand here, or a stand there, but a kind of thought which attempts to reopen the whole question. And we feel sure in advance that only thought of this type can help. The fatal slip which has led us to nihilism must have occurred at the very beginning.
    There is of course no question of returning to Animism as Animism was before the “rot” began. No one supposes that the beliefs of pre-philosophic humanity, just as they stood before they were criticized, can or should be restored. The question is whether the first thinkers in modifying (and rightly modifying) them under the criticism, did not make some rash and unnecessary concession. It was certainly not there intention to commit us to the absurd consequence that have actually followed. This sort of error is of course very common in debate or even in solitary thought. We start with a view which contains a good deal of truth, though in a confused or exaggerated form. Objections are then suggested and we withdraw it. But hours later we discover that we have emptied the baby out with the bath water and that the original view must have contained certain truths for lack of which we are now tangled in absurdities. So here. In emptying out the Dryads and the gods (which, admittedly, “would not do” just as they stood) we appear to have thrown out the whole universe, ourselves included. We must go back and begin over again: this time with a better chance of success, for of course we can now use all particular truths and all improvements of method which our argument may have thrown up as by-products in its otherwise ruinous course.”
    C.S. Lewis, The Empty Universe

    This essay was first published as a Preface to D.E. Harding’s The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth: A New Diagram of Man in the Universe (London, 1952).

  326. 327

    I would humbly suggest (for those who are comfortable with it) that we informally adopt the term “theo-biology” to describe ID, as it allows the consideration of God’s influence on nature.

    Seems like a good synonym for ID.

    All science so far!

  327. 328

    Clive, you’ll notice I was responding to herb’s excellent coinage of “theo-biology,” not speaking to He Who Must Not Be Named.

  328. —-severskyh: “As for the enforcement of MN, I don’t know of any secular institutions which require employees to sign a written affirmation of their absolute belief in – and commitment to – methodological naturalism. On the other hand, I believe there are religious institutions which require just such written affirmations of their faith from employees.”

    I can take up that false assertion at another time. The argument I have been making for the last 100 posts is that there was not such rule in antiquity. Do you have anything to say about that?

  329. Thank you, Clive.

  330. —-seversky: “You must be working from your own private version of MN.”

    I defined it earlier and quoted from Barbara Forrest and Paul Kurtz, whose explanation of methodological naturalism I have been assuming and arguing against. I understand that you have no interest in that fact, but I just thought I would pass it along for anyone who does.

  331. —David: “Clive, you’ll notice I was responding to herb’s excellent coinage of “theo-biology,” not speaking to He Who Must Not Be Named.”

    Excuse me for reminding you, but you slandered Philip Johnson earlier in the thread, claiming that he used his legal training to deceive the general public about the ID/evolution debate. As I recall, you were going to get back to me on that one. Are you now prepared to provide the evidence for that charge?

  332. —spec: “Stephen, you are condescending to anyone who has the temerity to disagree with you, even commenters like myself who have only responded to you once.

    Oh yes, you are the one who sent me to another thread, pointing me to a blogger’s argument against my position as if was the last word on the subject. Naturally, you didn’t bother to scroll down and read my answer to and refutation of his argument.

  333. David Kellog,

    Seems like a good synonym for ID.

    All science so far!

    LOL, I suppose I left myself open for that. I do think it would be useful to have simple, public-friendly terms describing the two different approaches to science in question (methodological naturalism and the broader framework which considers possible divine intervention).

    For example, Michael Behe and Gerald Joyce are two eminent scientists. Behe works within the broader framework which acknowledges the possibility of a God, while Joyce (it seems to me) unnecessarily and perhaps to his own disadvantage restricts himself to a materialistic stance. And guess what? Behe is well-known as a scientist and a leader in the ID movement, while I doubt one person in a hundred has ever heard of Joyce, who spends his time fiddling with RNA enzymes trying to get them to reproduce.

  334. Onlookers:

    Just a little reminder on some of what is at stake on this matter of the imposition of methodological naturalism:

    ______________

    Recent School Board controversies in the State of Texas in the United States centred on the idea that students should study the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories. These controversies echoed remarks made in an intervention in the even more contentious Kansas Board of Education case, where the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA) went on joint record in 2005 as follows, in the crucial paragraph:

    <blockquote.. . . the members of the Kansas State Board of Education who produced Draft 2-d of the KSES have deleted text defining science as a search for natural explanations of observable phenomena [note the impositions and censorships implied by MN here], blurring the line between scientific and other ways of understanding. Emphasizing controversy in the theory of evolution — when in fact all modern theories of science are continually tested and verified — and distorting the definition of science are inconsistent with our Standards and a disservice to the students of Kansas. Regretfully, many of the statements made in the KSES related to the nature of science and evolution also violate the document’s mission and vision. Kansas students will not be well-prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically-driven world if their science education is based on these standards. Instead, they will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world.

    This statement, however, is deeply flawed and inadvertently highly revealing on what is at stake:

    a –> First, there is no one “the definition of science” that may be owned or authoritatively imposed by any institution or group of institutions. Nor can such bodies, however august, properly demand that we must take their presented definitions at face value; without critical assessment or drawing our own conclusions for ourselves in light of our own investigation and analysis relative to our needs and purposes. For, science is a vital part of our common heritage as a civilisation, and what it is, and how it works are matters of historically grounded fact and philosophy of science discussion on comparative difficulties relative to those facts, not rulings by any officially established or de facto “Magisterium.”

    b –> Unsurprisingly, the phrase on “blurring the line between scientific and other ways of understanding . . .” therefore reflects, at best, a deep and disqualifying ignorance by the representatives of the NAS and NSTA of the overall result after decades of intense philosophical debate over the demarcation lines between science and non-science. For, there simply is no simple, “fair and balanced” one- size- fits- all definition of science that neatly excludes only and all cases of Non-science. (For that matter, the real epistemological challenge is not over attaching the prestigious label “science,” but over (i) whether we are using sound, effective, reliable and fair methods of inquiry, and (ii) the actual degree of warrant that attaches to what we accept as knowledge, however labelled.)

    c –> So, when we reflect on the effect of imposing the “rule” that science may only seek “natural causes,” we can easily see that a censorship is being imposed on current and legitimate issues in science of origins, especially on the vexed question of whether there are certain signs in the available evidence on origins of life and its various forms that may be better explained by intelligent rather than unintelligent causes. Such questions, plainly, should be settled by evidence; not by imposed definitions and authoritative rulings by august bodies.

    d –> Next, it is simply and manifestly false that the [[neo-] Darwinian Theory of Evolution is in the same well-tested, abundantly empirically supported category as, say, Newtonian gravitation and mechanics circa 1680 – 1880.

    e –> For, Newtonian dynamics was and is about currently and directly observable phenomena, i.e. so-called operational science: what are the evident patterns and underlying ordering principles of the currently operating, observable natural world? (And, let us observe: after about 200 years of being the best supported and most successful scientific theory, the Newtonian synthesis collapsed into being a limiting case at best, in light of unexpected findings in the world of the very small and the very fast; provoking a scientific revolution from about 1900 to 1930 that resulted in Modern Physics. Science is open-ended, provisional and hopefully progressive. A pattern of progress in which theory replacement is at least as prominent as theory refinement.)

    [ . . . ]

  335. f –> By contrast, the material part of the Theory of Evolution — we are not talking about what has been termed microevolution — is about trying to make a “plausible” reconstruction of an unobservable, projected remote past of life based on traces in the present and on extrapolation of currently observed or “reasonable” processes and principles. That is, it is an origins science, a fundamentally historical investigation based on principles of inference to best explanation. Its findings and explanations on the reconstructed, extrapolated and projected natural history of life are thus inherently less well tested than those of theories that deal with present accessible and directly observable reality.

    g –> So also, the too often seen tendency to over-claim the degree of warrant for evolutionary reconstructions of the remote past naturally provokes controversies, especially where rhetorical resort is far too often made to misleading icons. Therefore, broad-brush dismissive claims such as “all modern theories of science are continually tested and verified” — i.e. in effect confirmed as credibly true for practical purposes — constitute a highly misleading over-reach.

    h –> Worse yet, given the primary reference in context of “these standards,” all of this is backed up by a subtle — and on the evidence of events since 2005, successful — unjustifiable intimidatory threat. For, it is simply not true that students exposed to the traditional, historically well-warranted understanding of what good science is (and/or should strive to be) “will not be well-prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically-driven world.” And, “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena” is a reasonable summary of that historically anchored understanding, in the context of the needs of school-age or early College level students.

    i –> Instead, we can note that NAS and NSTA hold significant prestige, and are viewed by a great many people and institutions as responsible, reasonable and authoritative. So, if they refuse their imprimatur to the Kansas Board’s work, then it could materially damage the prospects for Kansan students to get into so-called “good” Colleges, jobs, etc. In short, the children of the state were being held hostage by ideologised institutions and associated individuals holding positions of great trust and responsibility, but abjectly failing in their duties of care to truth, disclosure and justice.

    j –> Last, but not least, since scientific work is inherently continuing, provisional and progressive, it is the recognition of the strengths and weaknesses of today’s theories that gives us a basis to justify pursuing — and funding — research that develops better theories for tomorrow.

    __________________

    Just so we have some context for addressing the evolutionary materialist sophistry above.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: It also seems that herb et al need to understand that there is such a thing as an empirically reliable sign of intelligence, so that there is a reasonable face validity to a sceince that studies such sings ands then infers from sign to signified. namely, that in contrast to natural (i.e the product of undirected chance + necessity) we have the artificial or intelligent. Of which posts in this thread are a suitable illustration. To impose the view that he only contrast to natural is “supernatural’ is to beg big questions, and in a general context that is often loaded. but then, if he evo mat advocates would simply read and take seriously the weak argument correctives, they would not make such basic errors.

  336. 337

    David Kellogg,

    ——”Clive, you’ll notice I was responding to herb’s excellent coinage of “theo-biology,”

    I’d rather have that than atheo-biology. Or, more to the point, folks like Dawkins posit atheo-bio-philosophy.

  337. I have a suggestion. Let’s try working with supernatural explanations in science. So let’s have some supernatural hypotheses about life. What supernatural force, how, when, why? Then we can start to look for some evidence. Without that we have no explanation – supernatural or otherwise.

  338. 339
    William J. Murray

    I have found it easier on my soul, and less frustrating to my mind, to acccept the word of the atheistic materialist that they have no mind, and no soul, than to believe that the do have those commodities and persist in asserting the nihilistic negation of their own authority and capacity to reason and of any motivation – other than the same motivation for leaves to make sounds when the wind blows – to debate such arguments.

    Just as there are NPCs (non-player or computer-generated characters) in a game, I have concluded that there are NPCs in life; biological automotons – just as they say – that are entirely comfortable uttering any inanities that their programming dictates.

    Unfortunately, then NPCs have taken over much of science and academia and seem determined that the rest of us abandon the fundamental metaphysical principles that make science and argument meaningful in the first place.

  339. Oh yes, you are the one who sent me to another thread, pointing me to a blogger’s argument against my position as if was the last word on the subject. Naturally, you didn’t bother to scroll down and read my answer to and refutation of his argument.

    Actually, Stephen, I told you once already(at 278) that I read the entire thread, that I found your argument unconvincing, and the flaw I saw in your argument. So, to answer you in the same tone you employ, I would strongly suggest that the reading comprehension problem here is not mine, but yours.

    Listen, I am no Darwinist. But, you have lost me. You use your privileged platform here not to try and convince but to shout down. You are poor witness, but since witnessing obviously isn’t your goal I don’t expect that to matter much to you. You enjoy a privileged platform here. That you chose to use it to burnish your own ego is your choice. That the moderators see fit to condone your tone is theirs. And it tells me what I need to know about both.

  340. Mark Frank @ 338:

    I have a suggestion. Let’s try working with supernatural explanations in science. So let’s have some supernatural hypotheses about life. What supernatural force, how, when, why? Then we can start to look for some evidence. Without that we have no explanation – supernatural or otherwise.

    There you go.

    Ultimately, the “rules” of methodological naturalism flow from the fact that there are no constraints upon what can and cannot be said to arise from supernatural agency, and hence the action of supernatural agency is not subject to empirical disconfirmation. That renders the postulate empirically useless, and IIRC everyone agreed above that whatever else science is or is not, it is necessarily empirical.

    Regardless of the origins and purposes of the term itself, and regardless of the theistic or atheistic predilections of particular scientists, that fact remains. Erase the “rule” and it remains the fact that no useful empirical science is accomplished by postulating the action of the supernatural.

    Further, it is safe to say that the specific questions pondered by the “theo-astronomy” of the early 17th century (say, the relationship of the planets and their sun) have since been completely resolved, and that, from the vantage of contemporary astronomy, it is apparent that no instances remain in which supernatural agency remains a competitive explanation. It follows that, however much astronomy of that day was motivated and guided by a theistic framework, that theism was ultimately conceptually and empirically unhelpful in determining the actual facts of the matter.

  341. I have a suggestion-

    Why don’t we just settle for the reality- whatever it is- behind what we are investigating?

    The 2004 Encyclopedia Britannica says science is “any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation. In general, a science involves a pursuit of knowledge covering general truths or the operations of fundamental laws.”

    “A healthy science is a science that seeks the truth.” Paul Nelson, Ph. D., philosophy of biology.

    Linus Pauling, winner of 2 Nobel prizes wrote, “Science is the search for the truth.”

    “But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding.” Albert Einstein

    The truth need not be an absolute truth. Truth in the sense that Drs. Pauling, Einstein & Nelson are speaking is the reality in which we find ourselves. We exist. Science is to help us understand that existence and how it came to be.

    As I like to say- science is our search for the truth, i.e. the reality, to our existence via our never-ending quest for knowledge.

    Anything else is unwarranted and unnecessary baggage.

  342. William J Murray @ 339

    I have found it easier on my soul, and less frustrating to my mind, to acccept the word of the atheistic materialist that they have no mind, and no soul, than to believe that the do have those commodities and persist in asserting the nihilistic negation of their own authority and capacity to reason and of any motivation – other than the same motivation for leaves to make sounds when the wind blows – to debate such arguments.

    Far be it from any of us to disturb your sense of comfort but atheist materialists do not deny the existence of a phenomenon loosely called “mind”, they just do not see any need for a supernatural – however that might be defined – explanation for it. As for the soul, it is another poorly-defined and unsubstantiated hypothesis of which, like Laplace, they see no need. Neither view makes the world any the less a wonderful and mysterious place or impairs our ability to enjoy our all-too-brief existence within it.

    Just as there are NPCs (non-player or computer-generated characters) in a game, I have concluded that there are NPCs in life; biological automotons – just as they say – that are entirely comfortable uttering any inanities that their programming dictates.

    Unfortunately, then NPCs have taken over much of science and academia and seem determined that the rest of us abandon the fundamental metaphysical principles that make science and argument meaningful in the first place.

    Kenneth Miller appears to have no difficulty in retaining his job and his standing in academia, in spite of his religious beliefs. And he is not alone.

    No one is compelling believers to abandon their “fundamental metaphysical principles” but neither are they immune from challenge and criticism, nor should they be.

    And the predominance of methodological naturalism in academia did not come about because its proponents furtively insinuated themselves on to various administrative bodies that exercise political control over curricula. It earned that position by being the most effective and productive way of doing science. It gets results.

  343. Seversky:

    It earned that position by being the most effective and productive way of doing science. It gets results.

    What results?

    (The theory of evolution was built and is maintained by ignorance.)

  344. StephenB @ 331</i

    —-seversky: “You must be working from your own private version of MN.”

    I defined it earlier and quoted from Barbara Forrest and Paul Kurtz, whose explanation of methodological naturalism I have been assuming and arguing against. I understand that you have no interest in that fact, but I just thought I would pass it along for anyone who does.

    Neither Forrest nor Kurtz are the Ultimate Arbiters of what constitutes methodological naturalism and its proper role in science but I seriously doubt that either of them would claim to be. What they are actually trying to do, if you read more than the small quotes mined and presented here, is to describe and explain the current situation in science.

    In 2000, Forrest published a paper entitled Methodological Naturalism and Philosophical Naturalism: Clarifying the Connection in the journal Philo (Vol. 3, No. 2 (Fall-Winter 2000), pp. 7-29) This paper includes the quote from Kurtz but Kairosfocus’s “onlookers” might find it instructive to read some lengthier passages from it. I feel justified in doing this since others have felt entitled to quote large chunks of Chesterton in support of their positions but will try not to abuse the privilege. I have highlighted what I feel are key passages.

    The opening paragraph reads as follows:

    An attack is currently being waged in the U.S. against both methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism. The charge is that methodological naturalism, by excluding a priori the use of supernatural agency as an explanatory principle in science, therefore requires the a priori adoption of a naturalistic metaphysics. The disquiet over naturalism is rooted most immediately in the implications of Darwin’s theory of evolution; hence, the specific focus of the attack against naturalism is evolutionary biology.[1] The aim of this paper is to examine the question of whether methodological naturalism entails philosophical naturalism.[2] This is a fundamentally important question; depending on the answer, religion in the traditional sense–as belief in a supernatural entity and/or a transcendent dimension of reality–becomes either epistemologically justifiable or unjustifiable. My conclusion is that the relationship between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, although not that of logical entailment, is not such that philosophical naturalism is a mere logical possibility, whereas, given the proven reliability of methodological naturalism in yielding knowledge of the natural world and the unavailability of any method at all for knowing the supernatural, supernaturalism is little more than a logical possibility. Philosophical naturalism is emphatically not an arbitrary philosophical preference, but rather the only reasonable metaphysical conclusion–if by reasonable one means both empirically grounded and logically coherent.

    She goes on to give the Kurtz quote and then writes:

    …Although there is variation in the views of modern naturalists, Kurtz’s definition captures these two most important aspects of modern naturalism: (1) the reliance on scientific method, grounded in empiricism, as the only reliable method of acquiring knowledge about the natural world, and (2) the inadmissibility of the supernatural or transcendent into its metaphysical scheme.[5] Kurtz’s current definition is consistent with Sidney Hook’s earlier one:

    [T]here is only one reliable method of reaching the truth about the nature of things … this reliable method comes to full fruition in the methods of science, … and a man’s normal behavior in adapting means to ends belies his words whenever he denies it. Naturalism as a philosophy not only accepts this method but also the broad generalizations which are established by the use of it; viz, that the occurrence of all qualities or events depends upon the organization of a material system in space-time, and that their emergence, development and disappearance are determined by changes in such organization…. naturalism as a philosophy takes [the word "material"] to refer to the subject matter of the physical sciences. Neither the one [philosophical naturalism] nor the other [science] asserts that only what can be observed exists, for many things may be legitimately inferred to exist (electrons, the expanding universe, the past, the other side of the moon) from what is observed; but both hold that there is no evidence for the assertion of anything which does not rest upon some observed effects.[6]

    Yet later, she makes this cogent point:

    Although it is logically impossible to prove the existence of something about which nothing can be known at all, it is not logically, but procedurally, impossible to prove the existence of something about which nothing can be known through scientific investigation. Scientific investigation is a procedure based on an empiricist epistemology. The fact that there is no successful procedure for knowing the supernatural does not logically preclude its being known at all, i.e., through intuition or revelation. The problem is that there is no procedure for determining the legitimacy of intuition and revelation as ways of knowing, and no procedure for either confirming or disconfirming the supernatural content of intuitions or revelations.

    (Emphasis in original)

    Rather than presume upon your patience any longer, I will conclude with one brief passage from near the end of the paper which says, in more scholarly language, what some here have also been saying:

    The supernatural remains logically possible, and thus an option for belief, only because it is not susceptible to confirmation or disconfirmation on the basis of evidence. But this status is permanent–the metaphysical status of supernaturalism as at most a logical possibility will never change. To become more than a logical possibility, supernaturalism must be confirmed with unequivocal empirical evidence, and such confirmation would only demonstrate that this newly verified aspect of reality had all along never been supernatural at all, but rather a natural phenomenon which just awaited an appropriate scientific test.

  345. Joseph @ 343

    What results?

    The thing you just used to write “What results?”, for example.

  346. 347

    Seversky,

    I actually like this discussion. It shows that methodological naturalism cannot be supported by anything except a philosophy that comes first. And we all know that deciding which philosophy we should presuppose cannot be reached as a conclusion of methodological naturalism, unless you would like to say that you found the philosophy physically hiding under a leaf or stone. The criterion for supernatural empirical evidence is fine, but there is no empirical evidence for philosophical naturalism either, so…..why the inconsistency?

  347. 348

    David Kellogg,

    You never got back to me about the Harvard Intercessory Prayer experiment. Was that science or not?

  348. 349

    Seversky,

    ——Quoting Forrest, ” Philosophical naturalism is emphatically not an arbitrary philosophical preference, but rather the only reasonable metaphysical conclusion—if by reasonable one means both empirically grounded and logically coherent.”

    Wow. She actually says that philosophical naturalism is a conclusion that is empirically grounded. For one, you have to assume it as a methodology before any physical methodology begins, i.e. “given the proven reliability of methodological naturalism in yielding knowledge of the natural world,” so for it to also be the conclusion means that Forrest is arguing in a circle. Two, it is not empirically grounded at all. All that is empirically grounded are things like stones and the weather and atoms moving about. If Forrest thinks she has found the Philosopher’s Stone, I would like to see it.

  349. —-Seversky: “Neither Forrest nor Kurtz are the Ultimate Arbiters of what constitutes methodological naturalism and its proper role in science but I seriously doubt that either of them would claim to be.

    You stated that I was likely using “my own definition” for methodological naturalism,” so I took time out to explain that I was using Forrest’s and Kurtz definition. In other words, you objection was not well founded. So, immediately, you change the subject and tell me that they do not speak for everyone. Please try to focus.

    What they are actually trying to do, if you read more than the small quotes mined and presented here, is to describe and explain the current situation in science.

  350. The last sentence in @350 was accidentally posted and it represents seversky’s comment.

  351. Clive @ 348:

    You never got back to me about the Harvard Intercessory Prayer experiment. Was that science or not?

    David can certainly speak for himself. I also have a reply.

    Many assertions regarding facts in the world arising from religious belief are testable by scientific means. That doesn’t make them scientific assertions.

    The research you cite makes this point. The proposed impact of intercessory prayer is amenable to empirical investigation – just as the personality correlations postulated by astrology are amenable to empirical investigation. Indeed, most assertions about the world however motivated can be investigated by scientific means. That doesn’t render the causal story that motivated the assertion itself scientific.

    The study you cite reports that no evidence of an effect for intercessory prayer was detected. Do you regard the ability of God to intervene in the world in response to prayer has having been disconfirmed as a result? I suspect not, and rationales are ready at hand: “Perhaps it wasn’t God’s will that his response to prayer be amenable to empirical test.” In light of this and similar reasoning, there is no finding that cannot be rationalized as resulting from the will of one’s preferred supernatural agent. Hence, while the proposed association may be investigated and potentially disconfirmed (as occurred in this instance), the postulated causal agency cannot.

  352. 353

    Diffaxial,

    ——”In light of this and similar reasoning, there is no finding that cannot be rationalized as resulting from the will of one’s preferred supernatural agent. Hence, while the proposed association may be investigated and potentially disconfirmed (as occurred in this instance), the postulated causal agency cannot.”

    So, your answer is “no”, the Harvard Prayer Experiment was not scientific.

  353. Seversky, why do you invest over a dozen long paragraphs so say what can be said in a few sentences. I have already read the quotes that you allude to many times, and they can easily be summarized as follows: [A] Methodological naturalism is the rule which states that the scientist must study nature “as if nature is all there is.” [B] Philosophical naturalism is dogmatic assertion that “nature is all there is.” Forrest, Kurtz, Hook, Scott, and you keep reminding us that [A] is not [B], and I keep reminding you that I am not accusing anyone of asserting [B] I am protesting their use of [A]. Please try to focus.

    —–“Rather than presume upon your patience any longer, I will conclude with one brief passage from near the end of the paper which says, in more scholarly language, what some here have also been saying:”

    Good, I will translate the key passage for you.

    —–“To become more than a logical possibility, supernaturalism must be confirmed with unequivocal empirical evidence, and such confirmation would only demonstrate that this newly verified aspect of reality had all along never been supernatural at all, but rather a natural phenomenon which just awaited an appropriate scientific test. “

    Here is what that passage means: If science could, indeed, confirm “supernaturalism,” that would only mean that there is no such thing as supernaturalism at all.

    Please try to comprehend the level of nonsense contained in that proposition?

    On other matters, you will not presume on my patience if you can say what you have to say in as few words as possible, and if you would address the issues on the table:

    [A] “Supernaturalism” has not been defined, and cannot, therefore, be used as a standard for describing or criticizing scientific methods.

    [B] Methodological naturalism is an immoral, anti-intellectual, and arbitrarily-established RULE that one group of scientists have presumed to impose on another group of scientists. Only the scientist knows what problem he is trying to solve, so only the scientist can know which methodology is best for solving that problem.

    [C] As I have made abundantly clear, no such rule ever existed before 1983. It is on that subject that Darwinists display their highest degree of intellectual honesty by trying to rewrite history.

    You have remained silent on all three of these critical matters, choosing instead to question my knowledge of methodological naturalism, which I understand all too well and which you have yet to familiarize yourself.

  354. Oops, [C] should read, “it is on that subject that Darwinists display their highest degree of intellectual [dishonesty]……

  355. Clive @ 353:

    So, your answer is “no”, the Harvard Prayer Experiment was not scientific.

    No, that wasn’t my answer. Read it again, but first doff the straightjacket of “YES or NO.”

  356. —Diffaxial: “No, that wasn’t my answer. Read it again, but first doff the straightjacket of “YES or NO.”

    While you are mulling over Clives question, I have one of my own.

    Can the rule of methodological naturalism, which presumes to differentiate between science and non science in all cases, characterize the Harvard prayer experiment as science or non-science? That question should be easy to answer.

    If the answer is no, then it convicts itself as being unable to make the distinction between science and non-science in all cases. Under those circumstances, it obviously cannot rule on ID since it has already confessed that it is not equipped to draw that line of demarcation in non-routine situations.

    If, on the other hand, it can make that determination, and concludes that the Harvard experiment IS science, then it contradicts its own rule which forbids the study of non-empirical causes.

    If, again, it concludes that it IS NOT science, then why have MN advocates on this thread not “outed” these researchers as pseudo-scientists?

    Clearly, the question is answerable in yes or no terms. I have no trouble answering the question. The answer is, yes, it was a scientific experiement, and, since if violates the standards of methodological naturalism, methodological naturalism is a useless standard and, under the circumstances, is itself a “straightjacket.” If you disagree, please explain why. [Hopefully, you will address all the elements in my post.]

  357. 358

    Clive, I’ve had guests so haven’t bene able to respond. On the prayer it seems to me broadly scientific, though you are wrong to characterize it as a “scientific experiment of the supernatural event of intercessory prayer.” Calling the event “supernatural” is unnecessary.

  358. Hey Clive,

    You never got back to me about the Harvard Intercessory Prayer experiment. Was that science or not?

    I looked up the results to that study. Not only did prayer not help the patients, those that were told they were being prayed for experienced more complications.

    You might do well to choose an instance where supernatural explanations actually garner positive results in such studies. Otherwise, your forceful insertion of supernatural explanations into science doesn’t have a prayer.

    Pun not intended.

  359. —-Diffaxial: “It follows that, however much astronomy of that day was motivated and guided by a theistic framework, that theism was ultimately conceptually and empirically unhelpful in determining the actual facts of the matter.”

    It was the theistic framework that launched the entire scientific enterprise in the first place. Obviously, that was very helpful.

    In any case, what does that have to do with what is being argued, which is the fact that methodological naturalism has no history?

    Thank you, though, for at least approaching the subject with a realisic appraisal of the facts.

  360. Hey Stephen B,

    The answer is, yes, it was a scientific experiement, and, since if [sic]violates the standards of methodological naturalism, methodological naturalism is a useless standard and, under the circumstances, is itself a “straightjacket.”[

    The experiment in itself wasn’t necessarily non-scientific; the point of the experiment was to see whether or not prayer – a decidedly supernatural action – had any tangible effect on the well-being of those patients. It was an attempt at falsification, and it’s quite obvious that the supernatural did not pass the test.

    Are you purporting that falsification of certain hypotheses is a no-no under methodological naturalism? MN deals with how experiments are done, and what conclusions are drawn from them. Positing a supernatural designer when there is A) no evidence for such a thing and B) no way to even falsify such a hypothesis would indeed be shunned by MN. Exactly what is the problem here?

  361. —RDK to Clive: “I looked up the results to that study. Not only did prayer not help the patients, those that were told they were being prayed for experienced more complications.”

    So, in your judgment, if the hypothesis is confirmed, it is a scientific experiment, but if the hypothesis is negated, it is not a scientific experiment.

    —-”You might do well to choose an instance where supernatural explanations actually garner positive results in such studies.”

    You might do well to consider that the purpose of science is to determine whether or not the results are positive.

    —-Otherwise, your forceful insertion of supernatural explanations into science doesn’t have a prayer.”

    How do you determine whether or not a supernatural explanation is plausible unless you hypothesize a supernatural explanation?

  362. —-RDK: “The experiment in itself wasn’t necessarily non-scientific; the point of the experiment was to see whether or not prayer – a decidedly supernatural action – had any tangible effect on the well-being of those patients. It was an attempt at falsification, and it’s quite obvious that the supernatural did not pass the test.”

    —RDK: “Are you purporting that falsification of certain hypotheses is a no-no under methodological naturalism? MN deals with how experiments are done, and what conclusions are drawn from them. Positing a supernatural designer when there is A) no evidence for such a thing and B) no way to even falsify such a hypothesis would indeed be shunned by MN. Exactly what is the problem here?”

    I started to untangle this mess and then realized it would be easier to just send you to @362 since it answers your confusion @359, which is less incomprehensible than your current confusion.

  363. 364

    DATCG @153

    Now why does biology research include Electronic Engineers? Surely Engineers are not equipped for biology. Nor are software Pioneers.

    Engineers are equipped to build models. That’s what they do. That’s what they are doing for Microsoft.

    Engineers are not equipped for ID. Engineers, doing engineering, don’t presume that there are unknown intelligent actors controlling nature. Further, they don’t do design detection, in the ID sense of the term.

    IDists don’t build models. Per Dr. Dembski, ID is not a mechanistic theory.

    If more IDists thought like engineers there would be fewer IDists.

  364. As an addendum to #362, I should point out that methodological naturalism forbids the supernatural hypothesis in the first place. I thought surely everyone understood that, but I guess not.

    So, you must decide between [A] and [B]. [A] MN is a valid rule, so the experiment was not scientific or [B] The experiment was scientific, therefore MN is not a valid rule. Please try to grasp this.

  365. Clive Hayden @ 347

    I actually like this discussion. It shows that methodological naturalism cannot be supported by anything except a philosophy that comes first.

    Why should a methodology like MN require any justification other than success? Put simply, does it work? Whether you can infer any metaphysical consequences from that success, assuming it happens, is a different matter.

  366. RDK:

    the point of the experiment was to see whether or not prayer – a decidedly supernatural action – had any tangible effect on the well-being of those patients.

    Actually, I disagree. I would suggest that prayer is a natural activity engaged in by natural actors. It is the purported answering of prayers that is the supernatural event.

  367. Clive Hayden @ 349

    Wow. She actually says that philosophical naturalism is a conclusion that is empirically grounded. For one, you have to assume it as a methodology before any physical methodology begins, i.e. “given the proven reliability of methodological naturalism in yielding knowledge of the natural world,” so for it to also be the conclusion means that Forrest is arguing in a circle. Two, it is not empirically grounded at all. All that is empirically grounded are things like stones and the weather and atoms moving about.

    We can argue that a metaphysical claim is empirically grounded if we can show that it is an inference warranted by the available evidence. This does not mean that it is true in any absolute sense, only that it is a tentative conclusion. What is now called methodological naturalism has proven successful as a means for explaining those aspects of the natural world to which it has been applied to date without recourse to supernatural causation. This is sufficient grounds for us to say that we have found no evidence for the supernatural thus far and that perhaps it does not exist at all. Or, as Barbara Forrest puts it in the paper I cited previously:

    Since philosophical naturalism is an outgrowth of methodological naturalism, and methodological naturalism has been validated by its epistemological and technological success, then every expansion in scientific understanding lends it further confirmation. For example, should life be genuinely created in the laboratory from the non-organic elements which presently comprise living organisms, this discovery would add tremendous weight to philosophical naturalism. Should cognitive science and neurobiology succeed conclusively in explaining the phenomenon of human consciousness, mind-body dualism would be completely undermined, and philosophical naturalism would again be immeasurably strengthened.

  368. Hey Stephen B,

    As an addendum to #362, I should point out that methodological naturalism forbids the supernatural hypothesis in the first place. I thought surely everyone understood that, but I guess not.

    So, you must decide between [A] and [B]. [A] MN is a valid rule, so the experiment was not scientific or [B] The experiment was scientific, therefore MN is not a valid rule. Please try to grasp this.

    It seems that you’re the one having a hard time understanding. Allow me to make this even simpler for you in the hopes that you can wrap your head around this one.

    No, in this case MN did not forbid the effectiveness of prayer a priori because the point of the experiment was to see whether or not prayer had any tangible effect on the well-being of the patients. It obviously did not, so it’s safe to assume that notions of the helpfulness of prayer are misguided and superstitious.

    Once again I ask you, since it seems you skipped over the question (purposefully or otherwise): what exactly is the problem with setting out to falsify a hypothesis such as the one listed above? The ID camp whines all day about mainstream science ignoring your side, and when we give you the benefit of the doubt (as clearly shown by the Harvard study), religious expectations underperform as usual.

    How do you determine whether or not a supernatural explanation is plausible unless you hypothesize a supernatural explanation?

    That’s exactly what the Harvard study was for, and it showed that prayer had no quantifiable effect on the well-being of the patients.

    This is what usually happens when supernatural explanations are scientifically examined, which is why any scientist worth his salt knows that there’s no merit to these superstitions.

    Please try real hard to focus on the above material and formulate a response worthy of my time.

  369. 370

    RDK [361]:

    the point of the experiment was to see whether or not prayer – a decidedly supernatural action – had any tangible effect on the well-being of those patients.

    Everybody’s talking as though prayer is supernatural. It may claim to invoke the supernatural, but prayer seems better characterized as a mental activity.

  370. —-RDK: “No, in this case MN did not forbid the effectiveness of prayer a priori because the point of the experiment was to see whether or not prayer had any tangible effect on the well-being of the patients. It obviously did not, so it’s safe to assume that notions of the helpfulness of prayer are misguided and superstitious.”

    What on earth do you mean with the phrase, “forbid the effectiveness of prayer?” Do you mean that methodological naturalism does not forbid research about the effectiveness of prayer in this case? I don’t know how to break this to you, but methodological naturalism establishes the rules for which kinds of experiments are permitted IN ALL CASES. Under that rule, no experiment whatsoever would be permitted that purports to analyze a supernatural event such as the possible benefits of prayer. It doesn’t matter what the results of the experiment would be because methodological naturalism forbids you to ask the question.

    Also, you are evidently still under the impression that a study is scientific if the hypothesis is confirmed and that it is unscientific if the hypothesis is negated. Here is a clue: Both kinds of studies would be scientific if the methods employed are sound. A study doesn’t suddenly become scientific or unscientific after the results come in. It was either scientific all along or it wasn’t.

    —-“Once again I ask you, since it seems you skipped over the question (purposefully or otherwise): what exactly is the problem with setting out to falsify a hypothesis such as the one listed above? The ID camp whines all day about mainstream science ignoring your side, and when we give you the benefit of the doubt (as clearly shown by the Harvard study), religious expectations underperform as usual.”

    There is nothing at all wrong with setting up such a hypothesis. It was perfectly good science. The problem is that an unjustified rule, called methodological naturalism, established by anti-ID partisans to rule out ID in principle, rules apriori, that any such questions are, by definition, unscientific and may not be pursued under any circumstances in the name of science. It is now clear that you don’t have a clue about why Clive asked the question about the Harvard study in the first place. Just for fun, what do you think that purpose was?

    What, however, does studying prayer have to do with “giving” the science of intelligent design the “benefit of the doubt?” Are you trying to make the following leap: [a] Inasmuch as one study on prayer showed that no benefits were produced then [b] it is illogical and unscientific to look for evidence of design in nature?

    —–“That’s exactly what the Harvard study was for, and it showed that prayer had no quantifiable effect on the well-being of the patients.”

    Yes, a perfectly valid experiment produced a perfectly legitimate scientific conclusion. What about it?

    —-This is what usually happens when supernatural explanations are scientifically examined, which is why any scientist worth his salt knows that there’s no merit to these superstitions.”

    So what? What superstitions are you talking about? Are you saying that scientists have shown that all prayer is ineffective because it was shown not to be effective in this case? Are you saying that, inasmuch as one study showed prayer to be ineffective, that methodological naturalism has been vindicated? Are you suggesting that no other studies have shown prayer to be effective? Do you have any idea what you are saying at all?

  371. StephenB @ 354

    Seversky, why do you invest over a dozen long paragraphs so say what can be said in a few sentences.

    You might more usefully address that concern with ‘kairosfocus’or ‘DATCG’ whose posts are typically much longer than mine.

    I have already read the quotes that you allude to many times, and they can easily be summarized as follows: [A] Methodological naturalism is the rule which states that the scientist must study nature “as if nature is all there is.” [B] Philosophical naturalism is dogmatic assertion that “nature is all there is.”

    Not quite. Methodological naturalism, as the name suggests, is a methodology or “procedural protocol” – to quote Barbara Forrest – for studying the natural world. It is employed because it is successful and for no other reason. That success is what commends it to scientists, not some decree from on high. The inference of philosophical naturalism is warranted by the continuing success of methodolological naturalism.

    Good, I will translate the key passage for you.

    —–“To become more than a logical possibility, supernaturalism must be confirmed with unequivocal empirical evidence, and such confirmation would only demonstrate that this newly verified aspect of reality had all along never been supernatural at all, but rather a natural phenomenon which just awaited an appropriate scientific test. “

    Here is what that passage means: If science could, indeed, confirm “supernaturalism,” that would only mean that there is no such thing as supernaturalism at all.

    Please try to comprehend the level of nonsense contained in that proposition?

    I see you have a problem reading for comprehension. This point has been made a number of times before but let me try it again in a different way.

    The only coherent definition of “supernatural” is that it refers to phenomena for which there is no natural cause. It follows from this that if an alleged supernatural phenomenon is found to have natural causes then, by definition, it was never supernatural in the first place but only a hitherto unexplained natural phenomenon.

    On other matters, you will not presume on my patience if you can say what you have to say in as few words as possible, and if you would address the issues on the table:

    [A] “Supernaturalism” has not been defined, and cannot, therefore, be used as a standard for describing or criticizing scientific methods.

    “Supernaturalism”, presumably, would mean a belief in the supernatural, the only coherent definition of which I gave above. And, no, it has no bearing on the scientific method.

    [B] Methodological naturalism is an immoral, anti-intellectual, and arbitrarily-established RULE that one group of scientists have presumed to impose on another group of scientists. Only the scientist knows what problem he is trying to solve, so only the scientist can know which methodology is best for solving that problem.

    This sounds perilously close to some kind of paranoid conspiracy theory.

    “Methodological naturalism”, according to historian of science Ronald Numbers, was a label created in 1983 for a methodology that had existed in one form or another for hundreds of years before that:

    The phrase “methodological naturalism” seems to have been coined by the philosopher Paul de Vries, then at Wheaton College, who introduced it at a conference in 1983 in a paper subsequently published as “Naturalism in the Natural Sciences,” Christian Scholar’s Review, 15(1986), 388-396. De Vries distinguished between what he called “methodological naturalism,” a disciplinary method that says nothing about God’s existence, and “metaphysical naturalism,” which “denies the existence of a transcendent God.”

    And, in spite of your fears, there is no scientific Pope issuing ex vitro edicts decreeing what is doctrinal orthodoxy, neither are there enforcers from a scientific Inquisition going around threatening researchers a bit like the “Vercotti brothers” in the Monty Python sketch:
    “Nice laboratory you have here, Professor. Be a shame if something happened to it, wouldn’t it?”

    [C] As I have made abundantly clear, no such rule ever existed before 1983. It is on that subject that Darwinists display their highest degree of intellectual honesty by trying to rewrite history.

    In this interview, for example, historian of science Ronald Numbers begs to disagree:

    The term “methodological naturalism” didn’t exist until the 1980s, but the movement, based on the idea that scientists should limit themselves to nonsupernatural explanations, existed before then. Thus, if you come to a tough spot, and you say “God did it and there was a miracle,” that’s not doing science. Under the rule of methodological naturalism, that’s cheating. That’s a science stopper right there.

    From roughly 1750-1850, in one scientific discipline after another, the scientific practitioners lined up with the notion that there would be no more miracles in what was coming to be called “science.” You could believe in miracles, but it wouldn’t count as science. You could, for example, still share your beliefs about the role of God in nature with your church group, but you couldn’t invoke God in, say, an article for the American Journal of Science and say, “And here’s where God stepped in.” This became a fundamental rule, and not just in science. Even historians adopted it and quit appealing to God or to Satan. Christians became avid practitioners of methodological naturalism because it didn’t require them to deny their faith.

    So, just who is trying to rewrite history?

  372. 373

    Seversky, that quote from the Numbers interview is nice. Numbers is a first-rate historian whose work has been praised by many on all sides. I doubt he’s part of any conspiracy.

  373. 374
    William J. Murray

    Seversky says: “The only coherent definition of “supernatural” is that it refers to phenomena for which there is no natural cause.”

    Does this make the big bang a supernatural event?

  374. —-seversky: “Not quite. Methodological naturalism, as the name suggests, is a methodology or “procedural protocol” – to quote Barbara Forrest – for studying the natural world. It is employed because it is successful and for no other reason.”

    No, it is a protocol established by one group of scientists to oppress another group of scientists

    —-That success is what commends it to scientists, not some decree from on high. The inference of philosophical naturalism is warranted by the continuing success of methodolological naturalism.”

    As I already explained, it has no history, a point that I have made abundantly clear. There is no need for it at all. Scientists already know which methods they need to use to solve whatever problem they are addressing.

    —-“The only coherent definition of “supernatural” is that it refers to phenomena for which there is no natural cause. It follows from this that if an alleged supernatural phenomenon is found to have natural causes then, by definition, it was never supernatural in the first place but only a hitherto unexplained natural phenomenon.”

    This is the fourth time I have asked you to read Dr. Hunter’s post and the FAQ. Since you refuse to do the basic work for dialogue, I will simply take note of the fact that you refuse to become acquainted with the subject matter.

    In any case, you are the one who has a problem with reading comprehension.

    Here is the relevant passage: “To become more than a logical possibility, supernaturalism must be confirmed with unequivocal empirical evidence, and such confirmation would only demonstrate that this newly verified aspect of reality had all along never been supernatural at all, but rather a natural phenomenon which just awaited an appropriate scientific test. “

    The key words are these: “and such confirmation would only demonstrate that this newly verified aspect of reality had all along never been supernatural at all”

    That means that real science will confirm the fact that there is no such thing as a supernatural phenomenon. In other words, if any other conclusion is arrived at, it is not real science. That is pure ideology. The conclusion is set even before the investigatin begins. I know you can’t face it, but there it is.

    —- “Supernaturalism”, presumably, would mean a belief in the supernatural, the only coherent definition of which I gave above. And, no, it has no bearing on the scientific method.”

    That is not the way Barbara Forrest defines it. Whose definition should I accept, yours or hers?

    —-“This sounds perilously close to some kind of paranoid conspiracy theory.”

    I have interacted with many people who have been persecuted by the system. The movie “expelled,” provided the theme that is replayed every day in academia.

    —–“Methodological naturalism”, according to historian of science Ronald Numbers, was a label created in 1983 for a methodology that had existed in one form or another for hundreds of years before that:”

    Ronald Numbers has been roundly refuted by real historians like Rodney Stark and Thomas Woods. Indeed, since I have read them, I know more about the subject than does Ronald Numbers, as I have made clear with my examples, which you, at the moment, are blithely unaware of having ignored everything except your own writing. In any case, we don’t accept argument by authority on this web-site. You have to make your case. Explain all those scientists who appealed to theological formulations to inform their science. I know that you don’t know what I am talking about since you didn’t read the posts, but whose problem is that?

    —-The phrase “methodological naturalism” seems to have been coined by the philosopher Paul de Vries, ………

    This information has already been covered in the thread, but of course, you do not read anything except your own writing, which explains why you are so far behind the curve.

    .
    —–So, just who is trying to rewrite history?

    You are. Ronald Numbers doesn’t know what he is talking about as Rodney Stark, Thomas Woods. [and myself] have made clear.

    Also, you might address William J. Murray’s question.

    You wrote, The only coherent definition of “supernatural” is that it refers to phenomena for which there is no natural cause.”

    He asks: “Does this make the big bang a supernatural event?”

  375. 376

    Seversky,

    ——”Since philosophical naturalism is an outgrowth of methodological naturalism…”

    I’ve noticed that when people are wrong, it’s usually because they cannot discern first things from second things. The very reason I quoted Chesterton before was to show that we have no reason to consider anything natural, such as anything we call a natural law, as being necessary, nor can we see why it is the way it is and not some other way. And when we keep this is mind, the mystery is preserved, and we have no more reason to say that nature is any more natural than supernature. The very distinctions within what we call nature and supernature are philosophical, so Barbara starts of with philosophical presuppositions in this very regard before she even distinguishes between what is strictly natural and what isn’t. Since we can see no reason why the laws of nature are the way they are, they are no more natural than supernatural. She has hoisted a great deal of her philosophy from the very beginning even in making the distinction within what she considers natural before she even gets started on any methodology. But then she does get started on a methodology based on this philosophical construct of what constitutes nature and supernature. Make no mistake about it, she begins with philosophy, and a great deal of it, none of which can be gained by methodological naturalism, unless, as I said before, she has found some diving rod or the philosopher’s stone, which can be empirically verified. She begins with a philosophy, which may become strengthened by the methodology that it supports, in this case methodological naturalism, but it is not the result of that methodology. The very word “methodology” has to mean something philosophically or else it isn’t anything in particular. The very concept “naturalism” is also wrought with philosophy. The only way, and I mean only way, that these two concepts are brought about by methodological naturalism as a conclusion of that methodology is if they are physically discerned and discovered in the physical world like we discover a tree or a rock. And I know that we have found neither methodology nor the concept of naturalism (which philosophically excludes supernaturalism from the outset) under a leaf or behind a rock. Barbara Forrest has it backwards. She cannot discern what comes first and what comes second. Philosophical naturalism and all of the philosophical presuppositions that that entails comes first before the concept of a methodology, or a natural/supernatural distinction, can even be made. This is so obvious as to be baffling why anyone like Forrest would make such a mistake, and why anyone would agree with her mistake.

  376. 377

    Seversky,

    ——”Why should a methodology like MN require any justification other than success? Put simply, does it work? Whether you can infer any metaphysical consequences from that success, assuming it happens, is a different matter.”

    Why value success? Why care about what works? Why “should” you even try any methodology? None of these questions will be answered physically, none of these questions can be answered by MN, for two rocks and six miles and 96 degrees will never answer these questions, and those are the only sorts of answers that MN can produce.

  377. 378

    RDK,

    ——”You might do well to choose an instance where supernatural explanations actually garner positive results in such studies. Otherwise, your forceful insertion of supernatural explanations into science doesn’t have a prayer.”

    My question was whether the Harvard experiment was science or not. Yes or no? You didn’t answer my question.

  378. 379

    Diffaxial,

    ——”No, that wasn’t my answer. Read it again, but first doff the straightjacket of “YES or NO.””

    No. Was it scientific or not? YES or NO?

  379. 380

    David Kellogg,

    ——”Clive, I’ve had guests so haven’t been able to respond. On the prayer it seems to me broadly scientific, though you are wrong to characterize it as a “scientific experiment of the supernatural event of intercessory prayer.” Calling the event “supernatural” is unnecessary.”

    Calling Prayer to the Christian God asking for healing of certain patients and waiting for God to miraculously heal them is not supernatural? Well then what is?

    So, it was scientific in your estimation? So science can deal with the supernatural? So MN is not limited the natural events?

  380. Calling Prayer to the Christian God asking for healing of certain patients and waiting for God to miraculously heal them is not supernatural?

    No. It is a natural act by a natural actor.

    Calling Prayer to the Christian God asking for healing of certain patients and waiting for God to miraculously heal them is not supernatural? Well then what is?

    The answer.
    Well then what is?

  381. Calling Prayer to the Christian God asking for healing of certain patients and waiting for God to miraculously heal them is not supernatural?

    No. It is a natural act by a natural actor.

    Well then what is?

    The answer.

  382. RDK
    “The point of the experiment was to see whether or not prayer – a decidedly supernatural action – had any tangible effect on the well-being of those patients.

    RDK
    “I looked up the results to that study. Not only did prayer not help the patients, those that were told they were being prayed for experienced more complications.”

    I didn’t look at the study, but prayer did have a tangible effect on the well being of those patients who where told they were being prayed for, if according to you, they experienced more complications.

    You’re stating it’s one for one, this is an empirical result and could lead to more research to verify if prayer has a tangible result on well being. It seems “any scientist worth his salt” would see this as an avenue into further supernatural research, and not a validation of his naturalism, and so a dead end to supernaturalism.

    Or do you assume the bad effect you mentioned had only to do with the patient’s knowledge that the prayer was done for them. Not assuming this, which would be correct, could lead to a whole battery of supernatural tests. Assuming this could lead to a whole battery of supernatural tests regarding the mind’s relationship to health.
    After all, if all and only the patients who were told they were being prayed for, got worse, that’s a pretty supernaturally stark line regarding the mind’s power.

  383. #380

    “Calling Prayer to the Christian God asking for healing of certain patients and waiting for God to miraculously heal them is not supernatural? Well then what is?”

    Of course it isn’t. It is just an action by human beings who believe they are talking to a God. If prayer had proved to be effective it would not have proved divine intervention. It would have been an interesting phenomenon to be investigated – cause yet to be determined.

  384. The study was scientific. The act of prayer was a natural phenomenon. The act of healing (had it been observed) would have been a supernatural phenomenon.

    I dislike the mthodology chosen for this study exactly because of the “thou shalt not test” rule that I think guarantees failure of the study. I think a better methodology would require participants to keep logs of prayer that was not specifically asked for by the study itself. It should also be broadened to include Muslims, Hindus, etc.

  385. 386

    Nakashima,

    The study was not whether people pray, but whether God answers their prayers. That was what was being studied and tested for. That is supernatural. Therefore, they were testing the supernatural.

  386. Onlookers:

    Much of the above simply shows that SB is right, and you should note that those who defend methodological naturalism have had precisely nothing to say about the on the ground oppressive consequences of the imposition of this “rule” as I noted above at 335 – 6.

    Also, Mr Frank at 338 is a classic: Let’s try working with supernatural explanations in science . . .

    I wish to comment, responsibly, in logically ordered steps.

    I trust that the logic and factual basis of the case will suffice to answer to those who — evidently having nothing to say on substance — wish to complain on style, length or use of sequenced points to make a serious argument on a momentous matter for our civilisation. (One that BTW can be read in a couple of minutes . . . ):

    1 –> Mr Frank’s remarks (sadly, as usual) of course fail to reckon with the relevant history of science, and such things as, say, Newton’s General Scholium in the greatest of all modern scientific works, Principia.

    2 –> In that work, Newton makes it plain that even so simple a thing as the term “laws of nature” was the result of thinking in a theistic frame of thought: the laws scientists sought were viewed as the principles by which God ordered and sustains the world.

    3 –> That is, it is undeniable from the history that major founding scientists did indeed think of science as “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” (Many of us continue to think of science in such historically warranted terms today, and some of us even hold relevant certifications and achievements, including the odd Nobel Prize or two. [Dan Peterson's remarks here will repay a thoughtful read on this subject, putting a few relevant facts into play and so showing what underlies the recent attempt to impose methodological naturalism as a procrustean bed, historically and philosophically unjustifiable "[re-]definition” on science.])

    4 –> So, the idea of design theorists now injecting a novel oddity — “supernatural hypotheses” — is a strawmannish distortion of the actual underlying issues on what science is and has been in light of its history and related philosophical issues. (All of which by the way is an exercise of philosophy informed by history, not of science. Ms Forrest and co, sadly, do not come across as having either done their homework seriously, nor having a responsible intent to do so; all, in service to an obvious, demonising ad hominem laced agenda.)

    [ . . . ]

  387. 5 –> Furthermore, this is all in the context of the empirically anchored inference to design. In that context, we see that the US National Academy of Sciences [NAS], acting officially, has insisted that science is about making “natural” explanations of observed phenomena. (Cf 335 – 6 above on that. This is not about a few odd philosophers on idiosyncratic views; it is about the agenda-serving distortion of major scientific and educational institutions, with deleterious and oppressive public policy consequences that the so-called watchdogs in the media have been dogs that will not bark. In short, the issue of our being caught up in a Plato’s Cave world of agenda serving shadow shows with stage-managed performances and stories creating a false view of the world in the name of science held captivity to materialism, is — sadly — plainly on the table.)

    6 –> In another context, the same august body insists that the alternative to “natural” is supernatural. (Cf Section E my always linked for details.) But a moment’s reflection on say a food label will show that there is another obvious possibility, one that would go a long way to resolving the issue: natural vs ART-ificial (i.e. intelligent).

    7 –> There is abundant evidence on causal factors, and when we look at it from one useful perspective [I link details], we see that natural causes (those traceable to mechanical forces of necessity, and to chance patterns), are markedly different from those that trace to intelligent causes. In particular, the latter are marked by characteristic signs that boil down to complex, purposeful functional organisation and associated information.

    8 –> So, it is a scientifically legitimate exercise to study and use these signs of intelligent cause.

    9 –> On origin of cell based life on earth, the FSCI in DNA and associated algorithmic, code based — thus, linguistic — procedures and information rich nanotechnology, point strongly to intelligent cause.

    10 –> But, without further information we cannot infer to whether or not the cause is within the observed cosmos (say scientists from an earlier intelligent race) or beyond the observed cosmos.

    11 –> on the other hand, an investigation of the origin of the observed cosmos, shows that it is evidently a complex integrated entity that has a multitude of parameters and laws that are in aggregate tightly fine-tuned to facilitate life.

    12 –> That makes inference to an intelligent, obviously very powerful, cause beyond the observed cosmos with intent to create a life-habitable cosmos a scientifically reasonable one (as is now actually a commonplace in Cosmology).

    ____________

    So, we may draw a bottomline: it is scientifically reasonable (apart form imposing the arbitrary rule of methodological naturalism) to infer to a cosmos created by an intelligent and powerful agent with intent to create a universe in which cell based life is facilitated; which in turn makes such a cause a credible candidate indeed for the intelligence behind such life.

    Nor is this line of reasoning strange or novel to readers of this blog. just, since it is inconvenient for the agenda of evolutionary materialism (the underlying worldview and scientific paradigm that motivates methodological naturalism) it is studiously ignored.

    So, onlookers, draw your own conclusions for yourself.

    GEM of TKI

  388. Clive:

    The study was not whether people pray, but whether God answers their prayers. That was what was being studied and tested for. That is supernatural. Therefore, they were testing the supernatural.

    And the results of the study show what about God answering prayers?

  389. 390

    specs,

    ——”And the results of the study show what about God answering prayers?”

    Depends on whether the tests were actually scientific and whether science can study the supernatural. That is the the question at hand.

  390. “The study was not whether people pray, but whether God answers their prayers. That was what was being studied and tested for.”

    This is patently, wrong. From the report:

    Those who conducted the study are quick to say that its results do not challenge the existence of God. Also, it did not try to address such religious questions as the efficacy of one form of prayer over others, whether God answers intercessory prayers, or whether prayers from one religious group work better than prayers from another, according to the Rev. Dean Marek, a chaplain at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

    Other researchers in the study, who include investigators from Harvard Medical School, Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Mind/Body Medical Institute, agree.

    Indeed, to repeat my point above, even if the results had shown that prayer made a difference it would have established nothing about how they made a difference.

  391. 392

    Yes, Mark, Clive is quite wrong. In fact, even if the study had positive results, it would have been silent on mechanism (natural or supernatural). Hard as it is to imagine, a positive result could be the result of some hitherto unknown effect of prayer as mental (brain) activity.

  392. 393
    William J. Murray

    I would like to point out that the goal posts are moving all around. First, we are asked to produce scientific research into supernatural phenomena.

    If, as Seversky claims, the supernatural is defined by that which has no natural cause, then all research done about the big bang, and the intrinsic values of gravity, and of the strong and weak nuclear forces, entropy, etc. are scientific investigations into supernatural phenomena – unless, of course, Seversky argues that nature created itself from nothing, which seems to be a logically flawed position.

    If, as others here have seemingly indicated, prayer healings, ghosts, mediumship, the existence of consciousness outside of the body (NDE), etc. are “supernatural” things that science cannot effectively investigate, they have been shown wrong on account that they have indeed been scientifically researched on those terms.

    Nakashima, however, claims that the act of prayer is not a superntural act, but that the act of healing is. Is healing a supernatural act? Or is it only supernatural if it seems to follow prayer? If healing doesn’t seem to follow any known, natural cause, is it by definition supernatural? Is the term “spontaneous remission” just an intellectually dishonest way of re-labeling a supernatural phenomena?

    Nakashima’s point here seems to be that if there was an effect that followed the prayer, then we would have successfully found out supernatural event via science; but, as RDK pointed out, a statistically significant result did follow the prayer: those who were prayed for experienced more complications.

    Perhaps a more stringent examination of the prayer effect needs to include certain control groups that pray from certian spiritual assumptions and compare their efficacy. We’ve apparently already established, with some evidence that prayer might have an effect, alebeit a negative one .. right, RDK?

    It seems that the atheistic materialists have been caught by their own attempts to define the supernatural out of the picture, and are left with incoherent justifications and rationalizations. The fact is, the supernatural – as it is defined by anyone here – has been subject to scientific scrutiny and has been successfully used as a research hueristic for hundreds of years.

    Where do atheistic materialists believe the principles of parsimony and elegance came from? A chance, order-from-chaos perspective? Materialist atheists still use the design hueristic today; it undergirds all of science as it is conducted, because without it, there would be no reason to even attempt science.

    The denial of it is often not discernible from madness.

  393. 394

    Mark Frank:

    If, as Seversky claims, the supernatural is defined by that which has no natural cause, then all research done about the big bang, and the intrinsic values of gravity, and of the strong and weak nuclear forces, entropy, etc. are scientific investigations into supernatural phenomena – unless, of course, Seversky argues that nature created itself from nothing, which seems to be a logically flawed position.

    It seems clear that scientific investigations of all those issues are investigations of their natural origins. The idea is not that “nature created itself” but that the “nature is what can be investigated scientifically.” Full stop. Stuff beyond that is philosophy, not science.

  394. 395
    William J. Murray

    David Kellogg:

    I assume your comment was directed at me, and not Mark Frank, since the quote is from my post.

    Since nature, as we know it, is defined by the innate, interacting qualities of the universe we call physical laws (throwing in chance), of which one is the value we call gravity, how exactly does one go about investigating its origin without hypothesizing something a framework other than what we know as nature to have caused it?

    IOW, how can nature have a natural cause?

  395. 396
    William J. Murray

    correction: “… some kind of framework other than..”

  396. 397

    William J. Murray (sorry for the misattribution):

    Since nature, as we know it, is defined by the innate, interacting qualities of the universe we call physical laws (throwing in chance), of which one is the value we call gravity, how exactly does one go about investigating its origin without hypothesizing some kind of a framework other than what we know as nature to have caused it?

    Gee, I don’t know. Can you show me a scientific investigation of the origin of gravity?

  397. Onlookers:

    Mr Frank just above seems to be forgetting the field of reasearch known as Cosmology, including the issue that a great many parameters of our cosmos appear fine-tuned for life (as has been noted by astronomers of the ilk of say a Sir Fred Hoyle).

    Including, too, the relative size of gravitational and electromagnetic forces in the range that seems otherwise possible. And, the very close balance between positive and negative charges, in the context where electrostatic forces are long range [and could affect the possibility of formation of say galaxies.]

    GEM of TKI

  398. Oops:

    Pardon, it is Mr Kellogg.

    GEm of TKI

  399. 400

    kairosfocus, that doesn’t answer the question. I say again, Can you show me a scientific investigation of the origin of gravity? You link to apologetics sites, which use some scientific data to make philosophical and theological arguments.

  400. Clive:

    Depends on whether the tests were actually scientific and whether science can study the supernatural. That is the the question at hand.

    Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!

    If I grant your premise that this is a scientific experiment, will you answer the question as to what the results say about the supernatural?

  401. Re #393

    I don’t particularly care what we call supernatural and what we call natural. But if there was a statistically significant correlation between recovery and prayer (the report does not say the negative effect was statistically significant) then that proves nothing about how the act of praying caused the effect or even if prayer was the cause.

  402. PS: Mr Kellogg also claims “The idea is not that “nature created itself” but that the “nature is what can be investigated scientifically . . . ”

    Yes, the natural world can be investigated scientifically, as can the human one too, but that is not equivalent to saying that all “scientific” explanations must be natural-ISTIC; especially since natural and artificial may be empirically distinguished. the censoring of explanations of observed phenomena, that they can only be naturalISTIC, is the error of methodological naturalism, as has been pointed out repeatedly in this thread and elsewhere in this blog. (And BTW, since — as Lakatos reminds us — cores of scientific research programmes embed philosophical issues and claims, one may not draw a neat demarcation between science and philosophy.)

  403. Mr Kellogg:

    All I have needed to do is to point out that there is a major field of scientific investigation that inter alia addresses the scientific question of the origins and basis of gravity [FYI, a manifestation of the "distortion" of space-time due to the presence of mass], and looks at the context of the fine-tuning that attends to the relevant cluster of cosmogenetic parameters in the physics of cosmi; again in the general context of the Big Bang, the most credible current scientific account of origins of the cosmos as we observe it.

    GEM of TKI

  404. Clive @ 379:

    Diffaxial,

    ——”No, that wasn’t my answer. Read it again, but first doff the straightjacket of “YES or NO.””

    No. Was it scientific or not? YES or NO?

    As I indicated in my earlier response, it is certainly possible to determine whether an operationally defined dependent variable (rate of surgical complications) varies in response to the experimental manipulation of an independent variable (intercessory prayer). Indeed, a great deal of experimentation within experimental and social psychology attempts to establish indirect causal relationships in a similar way. The study IS scientific to the extent that the proposed presence of such a relationship in their sample was examined empirically.* And to that extent, as a believer you are left to wrestle with the significance of their findings.

    Many positive assertions regarding specific events in the world motivated by belief in supernatural agency can be tested in this way. Is the larger postulate of supernatural agency testable thereby? NO, because ANY finding can be rationalized as the result of God’s will: there is no empirical finding that can dispositively compel the rejection of the hypothesis that an omnipotent supernatural agent acts in the world. That renders this larger postulate non-empirical, and therefore non-scientific.

    I do think it interesting to speculate upon what would follow if a methodologically air-tight causal relationship HAD been observed in this study. That would certainly be contrary to many expectations (including mine). The first response would be very careful scrutiny of the experimental procedures to rule out the operation of hidden biases or influences (failure of the procedure to be truly “double blind,” permitting experimenter effects, suggestion, subtle differences in the behavior of the treating medical personnel, etc.). Fraud would probably also be suspected. Were the methodology to stand up, replications would follow, with variations designed to tease out the “active ingredients” of the effect. Does the number of persons praying matter? The timing of the prayer? The content? The faith of the petitioner? The confidence of the petitioner in his faith? Whether the prayer is uttered verbally or silently? Whether those praying are personally acquainted with the recipient of the prayer? And so on. Would the postulate of supernatural agency guide these empirical efforts in any way, by specifying necessary characteristics of prayer? I don’t see how, although perhaps there are Catholic or other doctrines with bearing on these questions.

    It is further interesting to ponder possible outcomes of the above. Let us say that we discover optimum values of each of the above variables – a curvlinear relationship between the number of prayers and the effect, a probabilistic relationship vis the timing of the prayer and the effect (say, contemporaneous is found to work best, with reduced effectiveness with increasing lead time), and so on. I wonder what believers would make of reliable replications of these effects, as such findings would suggest that whatever links prayer to outcomes, human beings can systematically manipulate that effect, a finding likely at variance with the expectations of most believers (most would be surprised to learn that God’s response to prayer is subject to human control to any degree.). Tests of potential commercial and military applications wouldn’t be far behind. Even for believers, such findings would raise questions about what is really going on – perhaps a lawful psi phenomenon of which we were heretofore unaware (some form of tele-empathy that requires no supernatural intervention after all) better fits the data. Alternatively, the phenomenon may elude replication altogether.

    Ultimately, any and all of these observable outcomes may be rationalized as consistent with God’s will, and therefore none of them have the power to disconfirm the postulate of the actions of a supernatural agent. Any way you slice it, even in the counterfactual world in which this study found that prayer was modestly efficacious, there is no empirical finding that would provide dispositive answers to such questions, because there is no basis upon which to generate further necessary entailments of the postulate that there is a supernatural agent who responds to prayer in an observable manner. So once again, there we have it: the supernatural component of the postulate of efficacious prayer proves to be scientifically toothless.

    But this is fiction. No relationship was observed. Why they spent that kind of time and money on a study that, in my opinion, was doomed to yield this result is beyond me. Fortunately, the result isn’t my problem.

    *I am being a bit generous here, as I haven’t read the actual paper and there may be methodological or statistical flaws. But I do agree that such a study with these limited goals is possible in principle.

  405. PS: before heading off to church, let’s put a wriggling red herring out of its misery. Prayer, by inherent definition, is well-intentioned request of Deity. There is therefore something fundamentally wrong to the point of absurdity — as Cs Lewis long ago pointed out — in trying to conceive much less carry out an experiment wherein X1, X2, X3 . . .; Xn pray for P1, p3, P4, p6 . . . but NOT for P2, p4. P6 . .. for let’s say the same complaint. You canot consistently wsh well for 1, 3, 5; but not 2, 4, 6. this is just what the NT talks about as “asking amiss” to consume upon one’s desires — and warns that such empty words will not be answered, period.

    Nakashima has a much better idea; and I can assure you that I have both seen and experienced most powerful answers to prayer (including a few bona fide miracles, at least one of which was medically attested, being a healing of a star med student in a med school diagnosed with suspicious [and quite palpable] ovarian cysts); as can millions of others.

  406. 407
    William J. Murray

    David Kellogg,

    You seem to forget what I was originally responding to and questioning, which was Seversky statement:

    —-“The only coherent definition of “supernatural” is that it refers to phenomena for which there is no natural cause.”—Seversky.

    If there is no natural cause for nature, then “nature” is by Seversky’s definition “supernatural” – which of course would make gravity “supernatural”.

    Seversky didn’t say that if the study of a thing included naturalistic descriptions, it was natural; he quite plainly claimed that if a phenomena did not have a natural cause, it was supernatural.

    What is the natural cause of nature – i.e., what is the natural cause of gravity, entropy, the strong and weak nuclear forces? I’m not asking for naturalistic descriptions of them; I’m asking for their natural cause. What causes gravity, etc? What causes nature?

  407. 408
    William J. Murray

    Kairos (re: #405)

    My wife was cured of supposedly terminal cancer by faith healers 20 years ago and remains free of it to this day. Recently, my sister-in-law had lumps in her breast entirely disappear before they could even run further exams after intercessory prayer.

  408. William J. Murray,

    What causes gravity, etc?

    While the methodological naturalists flail at this question, it might be useful to have the actual answer posted here for reference. Simple, clear, and direct:
    Colossians 1:17:

    He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

  409. 410

    William J. Murray:

    If there is no natural cause for nature, then “nature” is by Seversky’s definition “supernatural” – which of course would make gravity “supernatural”.

    Science does not address the “cause” of nature as such. It is silent on such issues.

  410. 411

    The distinction between natural and artificial is not equivalent to the distinction between natural and supernatural.

  411. 412

    kairosfocus,

    One doesn’t need Lakatos to know that all science is embedded in philosophical. Yet there is nothing in the scientific literature of cosmology that claims a supernatural origin of nature. If the best you can come up with is a reference to Hugh Ross’s apologetics, you should just give up.

  412. 413

    Correcction: embedded in philosophical ways of knowing.

  413. 414
    William J. Murray

    David Kellogg #409:

    We aren’t talking about the product of science, we are talking about the logic that supports the metaphysical position that nothing “supernatural” can be examined by the scientific method.

    To that end, we have asked that materialists present their defintion of supernatural. Seversky presented his; if his definition is presented as the epistemological demarcation between “natural” and “supernatural”, then the value of gravity and the strong and weak nuclear forces, etc., are by definition supernatural – unless one wishes to make the argument that nature caused itself.

    If then science cannot research that which is supernatural, or make claims based on the supernatural or referring to the supernatural because they cannot be explained (their cause presented) as natural, then we must logically throw out all of science, because it is entirely based upon a supernatural entity – nature, and supernatural forces – gravity,etc.

    You see, David, claiming “gravity did it” is no more of an explanation than claiming “god did it”. One might describe the physical process of the physical phenomena occurring, and call it gravity; or, one might describe the physical process of the physical phenomena occurring, and call it god; in both cases, no one has an explanation of what caused gravity, and no one has an explanation fof what caused god.

    They would be equally supernatural (by the definition offered) explanations for the phenomena in question.

    The real problem, you see, is that atheists wish to imagine that the term “nature”, the terms “gravity” and “weak nuclear force” and “entropy” – they wish to imagine that those terms are qualitatively different from calling those things “god” or “the laws of god” or “the mind of god”; but they are not.

    They are semantic tricks that allow the atheistic materialist to ignore the fact that he is accessing and inserting the supernatural every bit as much as his theistic brother is, albeit by using terminology that allows him or her their cognitive dissonance.

  414. 415

    William J. Murray, I’m afraid you are the one who is playing semantic tricks. Gravity, unlike God, is quantifiable, observable, and in regular interaction with the rest of the natural world. Gravity is a verifiable consequence of masses and their relation. You’re welcome to substitute “Intelligent Falling” for the theory of gravity, but I can’t see what it is going to get you. It seems odd for you to claim that, on the one hand, all natural laws are indistinguishable from the supernatural, and, on the other, that the supernatural is observable in a God who willy-nilly intervenes to violate natural law at the request of his supplicants.

  415. Diffaxial,
    “Any way you slice it, even in the counterfactual world in which this study found that prayer was modestly efficacious, there is no empirical finding that would provide dispositive answers to such questions…”

    But atheist naturalists can never come up with ultimate black and white answers either, using scientific method…yet research is allowed to continue. Science tries for full absolute objective answers but by it’s own method it can only come close and never attain full objectivity.

    Unless in the future full absolutes ARE able to be found. You assume an entirely different paradigm of thought and research can’t exist because we can’t conceive of it. Yet other paradoxes lurk out there. Time must exist yet can’t for there to be a beginning of everything, yet we’re living it.

    Doesn’t mean we’ll never find a concrete answer withing an undiscovered paradigm which can be communicated to a four year old. The simple wheel wasn’t conceived of by man for how many thousands of years?

    You also go over, to paraphrase your thoughts:

    “What if these effects were isolated to the point where god could be used as a tool of man. His power could be used at will by science.”

    Well for one, this might be a worthwhile endeavor. Does this negate god or mean he doesn’t exist? No, what if he wants us to do this. But this gain in knowledge maybe could have only come about by an investigation into god or the “supernatural”. So maybe an unforseen end is in sight is attained, but it’s still a valid research path.

    Also, what if a scientist were able to part the Red sea. Through his research he found a certain prayer was needed. The result would be reproducible, but what if the mechanism evades science forever, beyond just reciting the prayer.

    We can’t assume that science will always find further mechanisms or a cause. Maybe a mechanism or cause is truly beyond our reach, and so from our viewpoint in this universe, supernatural phenomenon in fact exist?

  416. David Kellogg,
    “Gravity is a verifiable consequence of masses and their relation. ”

    I think the point is: We don’t know why masses attract each other, we don’t know why that law is the way it is. They could as easily repel each other. So indeed science has a supernatural understanding. They only understand one part of the chain of cause – more mass means more attraction.

  417. 418

    lamarck, if it helps you sleep to think that gravity is supernatural because we don’t understand it entirely, go ahead. Just don’t call that science.

  418. 419

    Or, in the words of Canadian Christian singer Bruce Cockburn:

    Wave your flag, wave your Bible,
    Wave your sex or you business degree;
    Whatever you want,
    But don’t wave that thing at me.

  419. 420
    William J. Murray

    David Kellogg states: “Gravity, unlike God, is quantifiable, observable, and in regular interaction with the rest of the natural world. ”

    What you don’t seem to see is that whether I call it god, or call it gravity, the description is the same, and the cause of the thing in question (god, or gravity) is non-natural, thus supernatural. You seem to think that merely adding an acceptable label renders your supernaturally-caused gravity less supernatural than if we simply called it “god”.

    David Kellogg states: “Gravity is a verifiable consequence of masses and their relation.”

    Can you support the asssertion that gravity is caused by masses, and not revealed by masses?

    David Kellogg states: “You’re welcome to substitute “Intelligent Falling” for the theory of gravity, but I can’t see what it is going to get you.”

    It got us the theory in the first place, since Newton surmised that gravity was an intelligently-designed, rationally ordered phenomena in the first place that was consistent and universal because the universe was not at the mercy of chaotic forces.

    The theory of intelligent falling, as you call it, has provided us with every bit of science we have developed through our understanding of the principles and value of gravity.

    This is another thing you fail to understand; the only way we got the theory of gravity in the first place was, as you say, by someone (Newton) imagining an intelligent theory of falling. Why would anyone think an unintelligent, non-rational occurrence (something falling) would be intelligible in the first place?

    David Kellogg states: “It seems odd for you to claim that, on the one hand, all natural laws are indistinguishable from the supernatural, and, on the other, that the supernatural is observable in a God who willy-nilly intervenes to violate natural law at the request of his supplicants.”

    Please support your assertion that I claimed that god violates any natural laws.

    By the way, I haven’t claimed that all such laws are supernatural; I’m merely pointing out that this is the consequence of Seversky’s definition.

  420. —spec: “Actually, Stephen, I told you once already(at 278) that I read the entire thread, that I found your argument unconvincing, and the flaw I saw in your argument. So, to answer you in the same tone you employ, I would strongly suggest that the reading comprehension problem here is not mine, but yours.”

    Well, tone aside, the context of my statement was that there is no history of scientists ever establishing such a RULE of methodological naturalism. Rather than address that point you sent me to another thread as if someone else had refuted my position, which is not the case. So, clearly that was a distraction. You providded a reason for disagreeing with me, but that reason had nothing to do with my assertion. Let’s assume that I was too harsh with you and let’s assume further that I will try to communicate with you in a more congenial tone. Do you have anything to say about the point at issue. Here it is again: Never before in history [prior to 1983] had one group of scientists presumed to tell another group of scientists what kinds of methodlogies they could use in the name of science.

  421. Well, tone aside, the context of my statement was that there is no history of scientists ever establishing such a RULE of methodological naturalism.

    Repeating the same argument I have found unconvincing and has been demonstrably shown as not true several times on this very forum isn’t going to get you much headway. It is called The Scientific Method.

    Let’s assume that I was too harsh with you and let’s assume further that I will try to communicate with you in a more congenial tone.

    You say that a lot around here and always manage to break that promise. You are not interested in truth, you are interested in being right. I can only assume you didn’t ponder Proverbs 11:2 like I suggested.

    But, I tell you what, I will give you one more chance. Maybe you are willing to answer a question Clive seems to want to avoid. I will grant that the Harvard prayer study, as conducted, was a scientific study. I believe it was fully consistent with methodological naturalism, but that is a separate discussion. I grant you that it was scientific. Now, with that formality out of the way, what does the results of the study reveal about supernatural intervention in the world?

  422. Willaim J Murray @ 374

    Seversky says: “The only coherent definition of “supernatural” is that it refers to phenomena for which there is no natural cause.”

    Does this make the big bang a supernatural event?

    I think it makes it a ‘we don’t know yet’ event.

  423. William J. Murray,

    What you don’t seem to see is that whether I call it god, or call it gravity, the description is the same, and the cause of the thing in question (god, or gravity) is non-natural, thus supernatural.

    Good point. Even more succinctly:

    G[od] = 6.67300 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2

  424. StephenB @ 375

    No, it is a protocol established by one group of scientists to oppress another group of scientists

    So you keep saying but you have not provided any evidence to show that this is anything other than a paranoid conspiracy fantasy on your part. Others pointed out that Paul de Vries seems to have coined the term in 1983 but that is the only connection with that year we have found. If you have better evidence for your claim then please show us.

    As I already explained, it has no history, a point that I have made abundantly clear. There is no need for it at all. Scientists already know which methods they need to use to solve whatever problem they are addressing.

    Yes, they do. And the methodology they use is naturalistic. In spite of your concerns, there is nothing to prevent them from postulating some form of supernatural causation if they choose but, almost invariably, they do not choose because they find they have no need.

    As for the history of what is now called methodological naturalism, it clearly has roots that go much further back than 1983.

    This is the fourth time I have asked you to read Dr. Hunter’s post and the FAQ. Since you refuse to do the basic work for dialogue, I will simply take note of the fact that you refuse to become acquainted with the subject matter.

    I have read Hunter’s post and the FAQ but do not find it contributes anything useful to the debate.

    Here is the relevant passage: “To become more than a logical possibility, supernaturalism must be confirmed with unequivocal empirical evidence, and such confirmation would only demonstrate that this newly verified aspect of reality had all along never been supernatural at all, but rather a natural phenomenon which just awaited an appropriate scientific test. “

    The key words are these: “and such confirmation would only demonstrate that this newly verified aspect of reality had all along never been supernatural at all”

    That means that real science will confirm the fact that there is no such thing as a supernatural phenomenon. In other words, if any other conclusion is arrived at, it is not real science. That is pure ideology. The conclusion is set even before the investigatin begins. I know you can’t face it, but there it is.

    You still seem to be having problems with comprehension.

    Forrest is saying quite clearly that to be anything other than a logical possibility, alleged supernatural phenomena would have to be supported by unequivocal evidence. But since the only empirical data we have access to is naturalistic, if we found such evidence we would be proving the existence of a natural phenomenon.

    Supernaturalism remains a logical possibility because we cannot exclude it. But, in order to infer it, we would have to exclude all possible naturalistic explanations first which, to put it mildly, is likely to be impractical for the foreseeable future. Claiming a supernatural cause simply because we are unable to demonstrate a natural cause as yet is jumping the gun.

    —- “Supernaturalism”, presumably, would mean a belief in the supernatural, the only coherent definition of which I gave above. And, no, it has no bearing on the scientific method.”

    That is not the way Barbara Forrest defines it. Whose definition should I accept, yours or hers?

    Forrest defines it as follows:

    I am addressing the subject of naturalism in contrast to traditional supernaturalism, which means belief in a transcendent, non-natural dimension of reality inhabited by a transcendent, non-natural deity.(My emphasis)

    She also quotes geologist Arthur Strahler:

    [S]upernatural forces, if they can be said to exist, cannot be observed, measured, or recorded by the procedures of science–that’s simply what the word “supernatural” means. There can be no limit to the kinds and shapes of supernatural forces and forms the human mind is capable of conjuring up “from nowhere.” Scientists therefore have no alternative but to ignore the claims of the existence of supernatural forces and causes.

    That is pretty much the same as my definition.

    —-“This sounds perilously close to some kind of paranoid conspiracy theory.”

    I have interacted with many people who have been persecuted by the system. The movie “expelled,” provided the theme that is replayed every day in academia.

    Unverified anecdotal evidence carries little weight and there are people who suffer from persecution complexes without necessarily being persecuted.

    —–“Methodological naturalism”, according to historian of science Ronald Numbers, was a label created in 1983 for a methodology that had existed in one form or another for hundreds of years before that:”

    Ronald Numbers has been roundly refuted by real historians like Rodney Stark and Thomas Woods. Indeed, since I have read them, I know more about the subject than does Ronald Numbers, as I have made clear with my examples, which you, at the moment, are blithely unaware of having ignored everything except your own writing. In any case, we don’t accept argument by authority on this web-site. You have to make your case. Explain all those scientists who appealed to theological formulations to inform their science. I know that you don’t know what I am talking about since you didn’t read the posts, but whose problem is that?

    Stark is a sociologist of religion. Woods is a revisionist historian who seems to be mostly concerned with libertarian economics and appears to harbor a strange ambition to revive the Southern Confederacy.

    Stark has apparently written at least three books which develop a thesis that Christianity should be credited with a much greater responsibility for the advances of Western civilization than has previously been the case. Woods has written a similar book about Roman Catholicism. In neither case, does there seem to be anything to deny the possibility that the practice of methodological naturalism pre-dates by hundreds of years the creation of the name. If you have quotes from any of those books which support your claims then you should provide them. Otherwise we are bound to suspect that your reference to their names is an example of the fallacy of appealing to inappropriate authority.

    —–So, just who is trying to rewrite history?

    You are. Ronald Numbers doesn’t know what he is talking about as Rodney Stark, Thomas Woods. [and myself] have made clear.

    I have no idea what your qualifications are as a philosopher or historian of science. Stark and Woods have been dealt with above.

    Also, you might address William J. Murray’s question.

    You wrote, The only coherent definition of “supernatural” is that it refers to phenomena for which there is no natural cause.”

    He asks: “Does this make the big bang a supernatural event?”

    Also, see above.

  425. 426

    One wishes that Ronald Numbers were a real historian. He’s only Hilldale Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has served as president of both the History of Science Society and the American Society of Church History and is currently president of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science, Division of the History of Science and Technology. He’s received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has delivered the Sarton Lecture, the Garrison Lecture, and the Terry Lectures (the latter to be published by Yale University Press). He was a Founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of AAAS. In 2008, Numbers received the Sarton Medal, “the highest honor conferred by the History of Science Society, in recognition of a lifetime of exceptional scholarly achievement by a distinguished scholar, selected from the international community.” He’s edited the definitive collection of American anti-evolutionist writings and now edits a series of books on “Medicine, Science, and Religion in Historical Context” for the Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Clearly an amateur with no expertise in the field next to the intrepid readers of UD.

  426. 427

    Of course, being a AAAS fellow is hardly a compliment here! It just means he’s part of the Darwinist establishment.

  427. 428
    William J. Murray

    Seversky:

    Of course we don’t know; it’s philsophical matter, one that is up for debate, and you seem unwilling or unprepared to answer. If, as you have stated, “supernatural” is that which does not have a natural cause, then I submit that you are left in a rather inconvenient logical position; (1), that nature was caused by something other than nature, or (2) that nature caused itself.

    Is it your habit to simply refuse to answer any question which you find inconvenient?

  428. 429
    William J. Murray

    It seems obvious to me that the true reason that many do not wish to “let a divine foot in the door” is not because science would suffer, but rather because their ego would suffer.

  429. 430

    It seems obvious to me that anything William J Murray claims is correct!

  430. 431

    David Kellogg,

    ——”lamarck, if it helps you sleep to think that gravity is supernatural because we don’t understand it entirely, go ahead. Just don’t call that science.”

    lamarck is right. Even if we understood the effects of a law like gravity, we still wouldn’t know why the law was the way it was. We have no knowledge “behind” the law that determines the law. It is not like our chain of reasoning where we can see how a conclusion follows from a premise. There are no premises and therefore no conclusion in why a law must be the way it is. We cannot see that laws of nature are necessities, and we cannot see why they couldn’t have been otherwise. We have to answer that we just simply don’t know why these weird repetitions occur, we can only say that they do. In this regard the things we’ve deemed to call natural are just as mysterious as what we deem supernatural. Indeed, if we are honest, we cannot see a fundamental difference between nature or the supernatural, because we don’t understand the fundamentals of either of them, and can make no comparison. We have no reason to say that nature is any more natural than supernature, for the sample is 1, and all we could hope to do is compare nature to herself to deem her normal or natural, but comparing nature to itself to determine the nature of it is not an explanation.

  431. 432

    Mark Frank,

    ——”Indeed, to repeat my point above, even if the results had shown that prayer made a difference it would have established nothing about how they made a difference.”

    Then what was the point of the intercessory prayer experiment?

  432. 433

    David Kellogg,

    ——”In fact, even if the study had positive results, it would have been silent on mechanism (natural or supernatural). Hard as it is to imagine, a positive result could be the result of some hitherto unknown effect of prayer as mental (brain) activity.”

    Of course that’s true, tell the experimenters that their science was hopelessly flawed as to the cause of the results, or lack of cause. So, in your estimation, the experiment was scientific, just done incorrectly, to where the results would show nothing about God actually answering or not answering prayer?

  433. —–seversky: “Yes, they do. And the methodology they use is naturalistic. In spite of your concerns, there is nothing to prevent them from postulating some form of supernatural causation if they choose but, almost invariably, they do not choose because they find they have no need.”

    That is manifestly false. Methodological naturalism has declared ID non-scientific on the SUSPICION that it might be pursuing the supernatural, which, by the way, it is not.

    —-“As for the history of what is now called methodological naturalism, it clearly has roots that go much further back than 1983.”

    No it doesn not. Show me where any rule was ever applied to science. Show me where anyone ever demanded that reference to the supernatural in any way was unscientific. Show me that any scientist ever dared to call another scientist a psuedo scientist for looking for causes beyond the physical universe. Provide evidence for your claims.

    —-“I have read Hunter’s post and the FAQ but do not find it contributes anything useful to the debate.”

    Don’t you mean that they contribute nothing to your agenda?

    —–Forrest defines MN as follows:

    —-“I am addressing the subject of naturalism in contrast to traditional supernaturalism, which means belief in a transcendent, non-natural dimension of reality inhabited by a transcendent, non-natural deity.(My emphasis)”

    —-She also quotes geologist Arthur Strahler:

    —-”[S]upernatural forces, if they can be said to exist, cannot be observed, measured, or recorded by the procedures of science–that’s simply what the word “supernatural” means. There can be no limit to the kinds and shapes of supernatural forces and forms the human mind is capable of conjuring up “from nowhere.” Scientists therefore have no alternative but to ignore the claims of the existence of supernatural forces and causes.”

    —-seversky: “That is pretty much the same as my definition.”

    No, they are not even close. Forrest describes supernaturalism as a “belief.” Strahler defines it as that “which cannot be observed.” One can have “unobserved” knowledge that has nothing to do with belief. That is not at all the same thing, which, or course, confirms my point and Dr. Hunter’s point, which is that Darwinists have no consistent definition of “supernaturalism.” That is why it is so unwise for you to declare that Dr. Hunter’s thesis, which defines the current debate, “does not contribute anything useful to the debate.”

    —-”Stark has apparently written at least three books which develop a thesis that Christianity should be credited with a much greater responsibility for the advances of Western civilization than has previously been the case.”

    That is correct. Christianity built western civilization and launched the entire scientific enterprise. You wouldn’t know that, because you haven’t researched it. I have.

    —“Woods has written a similar book about Roman Catholicism. In neither case, does there seem to be anything to deny the possibility that the practice of methodological naturalism pre-dates by hundreds of years the creation of the name.”

    Don’t you think that, not having not read the book, you are hardly in a position to draw that kind of inference.

    —-“If you have quotes from any of those books which support your claims then you should provide them. Otherwise we are bound to suspect that your reference to their names is an example of the fallacy of appealing to inappropriate authority.”

    Everyone on this site knows that I can back up anything that I say. Here we go.

    From Woods:

    “Western civilization stands indebted to the Church for the university system, charitable work, international law, the sciences, and, important legal principles. … Western civilization owes far more to the Catholic Church than most people — Catholic included — often realize. … The Church, in fact, built Western civilization.”

    From Stark:

    “That new technologies and techniques would be forthcoming was a fundamental article of Christian faith. Hence, no bishops or theologians denounced clocks or sailing ships–although both were condemned on religious grounds in various non-Western societies. ”

    From Stark:

    “Because God is a rational being and the universe is his personal creation, it necessarily has a rational, lawful, stable structure, awaiting increased human comprehension. This is the key to many intellectual undertakings, among them, the rise of science.”

    Contact Dr. Steve Fuller and he will confirm the points just made. He has also written on the subject and shared his knowledge on this site. Indeed, consult anyone who is on the cutting edge of historical knowledge.

    There was no methodological naturalism. Quite the contrary, religion shaped science and even informed some of the hypotheses.

    Stark and Woods have been dealt with above.”

    Dealt with? To dismiss without knowledge is not to deal with. I have read both books cover to cover. On the other hand, you had obviously never heard of either until I mentioned them. Who is on the cutting edge and who is not?

    As I have told others, I have plenty more in reserve. I can identify fifty more scientists who never practiced, [or heard of (and would have laughed at)] methodological naturalism. It didn’t happen. Ronald Numbers doesn’t know what he is talking about. Further, and I don’t need Woods and Stark to prove it. You would know that except you haven’t read my relevant posts because,in your judgment, any information that refutes your thesis, does not, in your words, “contribute to the debate.”

  434. 435

    Clive,

    Even if we understood the effects of a law like gravity, we still wouldn’t know why the law was the way it was. We have no knowledge “behind” the law that determines the law.

    As I said, don’t call that science.

    Indeed, if we are honest, we cannot see a fundamental difference between nature or the supernatural, because we don’t understand the fundamentals of either of them, and can make no comparison.

    A person who says this, I don’t trust with doing science.

    tell the experimenters that their science was hopelessly flawed as to the cause of the results, or lack of cause

    Clive, did you read your own link? First,

    Those who conducted the study are quick to say that its results do not challenge the existence of God. Also, it did not try to address such religious questions as the efficacy of one form of prayer over others, whether God answers intercessory prayers, or whether prayers from one religious group work better than prayers from another, according to the Rev. Dean Marek, a chaplain at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

    Second,

    “The primary goal of the study was limited to evaluating whether intercessory prayer or the knowledge of receiving it would influence recovery after bypass surgery,” notes Jeffery Dusek, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. The evaluation found that third-party prayer has no effect at all on recovery from surgery without complications, and that patients who knew they were receiving prayer fared worse that those who were not prayed for.

  435. 436

    The quotes offered from Stark and Woods don’t say anything about MN, but that’s not a problem because “Ronald Numbers doesn’t know what he is talking about.”

    Breaking from my StephenB hiatus:

    Everyone on this site knows that I can back up anything that I say.

    Rim shot!
    StephenB will be here all week, people, so be sure to come back for the next show. Also, please remember to tip your waitstaff. And try the veal.

  436. Everyone on this site knows that I can back up anything that I say.

    —David Kellogg: “Rim shot!”

    When asked for quotes, which is what I was asked for, I provided them. That’s one significant test or credibility.

    By contrast, you don’t do so well in that department. I should remind you once again that you slandered Philip Johnson, saying that he used his legal training to deceive the public about the ID/evolution debate. I have asked you several times to provide evidence, and you have slinked away each time. It’s time to put up or shut up. Have you got the goods or don’t you. If not, then I will expect a public and abject apology to Philip Johnson.

  437. 438

    Would this be natural or super-natural?

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel – The Light – Life Review
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8MTwyd-AlI

    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRpbNgBn8XY

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The NDE of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA37uNa3VGU

  438. —-spec: “Repeating the same argument I have found unconvincing and has been demonstrably shown as not true several times on this very forum isn’t going to get you much headway. It is called The Scientific Method.”

    I don’t think you have ever understood the argument being presented.

    I believe I asked you a very simple question:

    Provide me with evidence that, prior to 1983, one group of scientists imposed a methodological rule on another group of scientists. Do you have an answer to that question or not?

  439. StephenB:

    Everyone on this site knows that I can back up anything that I say.

    Can you back that up?

  440. —-seversky: “The only coherent definition of “supernatural” is that it refers to phenomena for which there is no natural cause.”

    So far, you have offered three definitions of “supernatural.”
    Here they are:

    [A] “Phenomena for which there is no natural cause.”

    [B] “Belief” in the supernatural.”

    [C] “That which cannot be observed, measured, or recorded by the procedures of science.”

    When William J. Murray asked you to justify [A] in the context of the big bang, you would not venture a meaningful reply. What is going to happen if someone asks you to justify the other two? What are you going to say if someone asks you to pick one of the three and negate the other two?

  441. Clive Hayden @ 377

    Seversky,

    ——”Why should a methodology like MN require any justification other than success? Put simply, does it work? Whether you can infer any metaphysical consequences from that success, assuming it happens, is a different matter.”

    Why value success? Why care about what works? Why “should” you even try any methodology? None of these questions will be answered physically, none of these questions can be answered by MN, for two rocks and six miles and 96 degrees will never answer these questions, and those are the only sorts of answers that MN can produce.

    All very good questions, I agree, but what makes you think that methodological naturalism will be unable to find answers for them given time? They are questions about human behavior which has its roots in what we call the mind which in turn appears to be a property of the physical brain. I also agree we are far from having a complete explanation for any of them yet but we are also far from being able to say that we have exhausted every possible material explanation so the only remaining possibility is supernatural.

  442. 443

    StephenB:

    I should remind you once again that you slandered Philip Johnson, saying that he used his legal training to deceive the public about the ID/evolution debate.

    This both misuses the term slander and misrepresents what I wrote. I have come to expect no better.

    I should remind you, though, that I withdrew the claim that MN was coined to respond to Johnson’s equivocations in particular. Thankfully, most of the public is ignorant of Johnson’s name. I do my part not to support Johnson by borrowing his books from the library rather than buying them. So I don’t have them on hand.

    Nevertheless, an example is not hard to find. In “Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism,” Johnson seems to distinguish between philosophical and methodological naturalism, even more or less agreeing with MN as a practice. Yet almost a dozen times Johnson uses naturalism by itself: sometimes this seems to be philosophical naturalism, sometimes MN, but it’s always represented negatively. It’s a clear equivocation, as his critics point out (links from the original), and Johnson’s reply is unconvincing.

    Finally, you were asked for quotes from these authors, but the quotes are not cited specifically and are without evidential substance themselves.

    This should complete any remaining obligation to converse with you.

  443. 444

    Clarification: in the previous comment, “quotes from those authors” refers to the vacuous passes from Stark and Woods provided by StephenB.

  444. 445

    One more for the road. StephenB:

    Show me where any rule was ever applied to science. Show me where anyone ever demanded that reference to the supernatural in any way was unscientific. Show me that any scientist ever dared to call another scientist a psuedo scientist for looking for causes beyond the physical universe

    How about:

    We are to press known secondary causes as far as they will go in explanation of facts. We are not to resort to an unknown (i.e. supernatural) cause for explanation of phenomena till the power of known causes has been exhausted. If we cease to observe this rule there is an end to all science and all sound sense. — George Frederick Wright, Geologist and minister, 1882 (h/t olegt)

    Or:

    If any person feels the necessity of conceiving the coming into existence of this matter as the work of a supernatural creative power, of the creative force of something outside of matter, we have nothing to say against it. But we must remark, that thereby not even the smallest advantage is gained for a scientific knowledge of nature. Such a conception of an immaterial force, which as the first creates matter, is an article of faith which has nothing whatever to do with human science. Where faith commences, science ends.— Ernst HaeckelThe History of Creation (1876), Vol. 1, 6-9. (h/t deadman 932)

    Or:

    In the realm of science, all attempts to find any evidence of supernatural beings, of metaphysical concepts, as God, immortality, infinity, etc have thus far failed, and if we are honest, we must confess that in science there exists no God, no immortality, no soul or mind, as distinct from the body.–Charles P. Steinmetz, mathematician/electrical engineer, died 1923. (h/t deadman 932)

  445. William J Murray @ 393

    I would like to point out that the goal posts are moving all around. First, we are asked to produce scientific research into supernatural phenomena.

    No, all that is happening is that you are taking rhetorical advantage of the fact that there is no agreed definition of what is meant by “supernatural”. Popular usage is incoherent. Ghosts are called supernatural by some but on what grounds? Is it because they are unexplained or because they are inexplicable? A scientific response to the question of whether or not ghosts are supernatural would be that before you can answer that question you first have to show that they exist at all. If they don’t then know explanation is required.

    So, as a supernaturalist, do you believe ghosts exist and, if so, are they supernatural and, if you say they are, by what definition?

    If, as Seversky claims, the supernatural is defined by that which has no natural cause, then all research done about the big bang, and the intrinsic values of gravity, and of the strong and weak nuclear forces, entropy, etc. are scientific investigations into supernatural phenomena – unless, of course, Seversky argues that nature created itself from nothing, which seems to be a logically flawed position.

    I am sure kairosfocus’s onlookers will recognize that the nature of gravity or the nuclear forces or life itself is a different question from the origins of those phenomena. They are clearly related but they are not the same. Science may have learnt something about the nature of the Universe without being able to explain its origins but ignorance of something at a particular time does not mean that the answer must be supernatural.

    It seems that the atheistic materialists have been caught by their own attempts to define the supernatural out of the picture, and are left with incoherent justifications and rationalizations.

    No, what we are hearing is a lot of talk about the supernatural and we are asking “What supernatural?”

    The fact is, the supernatural – as it is defined by anyone here – has been subject to scientific scrutiny and has been successfully used as a research hueristic for hundreds of years.

    Actually, what has been the subject of scientific scrutiny are what people have claimed are supernatural phenomena. The research was done not to decide if they were natural or supernatural but to decide if there was anything there that needed explaining at all. So far, there hasn’t been.

    Where do atheistic materialists believe the principles of parsimony and elegance came from? A chance, order-from-chaos perspective? Materialist atheists still use the design hueristic today; it undergirds all of science as it is conducted, because without it, there would be no reason to even attempt science.

    What a strange idea. Why should the Universe be any less fascinating, mysterious or in need of explanation if it is undesigned than if it is designed?

    The denial of it is often not discernible from madness.

    We’re not the ones getting paranoid about a conspiracy of scientific Illuminati.

  446. There has been a report in the British Medical Journal that even remote, retroactive intercessory prayer may help (Leibovici L. (2001) BMJ 323(7327):1450-1451).
    Jorgensen, Hrobjartsson and Gotzsche describe the study in the review I have mentioned before:

    the trial evaluated the effect of retroactive intercessory prayer using historical data

    The interesing fact here is that

    the patients were randomised many years after their outcomes had occurred

    Jorgensen and co-workers conclude that the author of the original study

    argued that we cannot assume “that God is limited by a linear time”

    and

    that time can go backwards and that prayer can wake the dead.

    All science so far.

  447. —-David Kellogg: “Thankfully, most of the public is ignorant of Johnson’s name. I do my part not to support Johnson by borrowing his books from the library rather than buying them. So I don’t have them on hand.”

    .
    Well, you are the one who slandered him, so if you can’t back up that slander with evidence, then you have no credibility. It proves first of all that you don’t know what you are talking about, and it also shows that you will use unverified information to to sully someone’s good name. I know that works at anti-ID websites, but it doesn’t work here. You should not go to irresponsible sources that lie about the character of good men and then pass that information on as if there was some truth to it.

    —-”Nevertheless, an example is not hard to find. In “Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism,” Johnson seems to distinguish between philosophical and methodological naturalism, even more or less agreeing with MN as a practice.”

    That is no example, that is just another slanderous charge from an another anti-ID website.

    —”Yet almost a dozen times Johnson uses naturalism by itself: sometimes this seems to be philosophical naturalism, sometimes MN, but it’s always represented negatively.”

    Prove it. I don’t believe you and I don’t think anyone else does either.

    —-It’s a clear equivocation, as his critics point out (links from the original), and Johnson’s reply is unconvincing.”

    Who told you that? Do you believe everything that you read? Philip Johnson is an honorable man.

    —-”This should complete any remaining obligation to converse with you.”

    You slandered a good man without evidence. You need to either provide that evidence or apologize to Philip Johnson.

    If you wanted to stop conversing with me, then why didn’t you do it when you had the chance. I gave you every opportunity.

  448. —seversky: “What a strange idea. Why should the Universe be any less fascinating, mysterious or in need of explanation if it is undesigned than if it is designed?”

    Does the principle of “irreducible complexity” violate the principle of methodological naturalism. If so, why?

  449. #432 #433 Clive

    “Then what was the point of the intercessory prayer experiment?”

    “Of course that’s true, tell the experimenters that their science was hopelessly flawed as to the cause of the results, or lack of cause. So, in your estimation, the experiment was scientific, just done incorrectly, to where the results would show nothing about God actually answering or not answering prayer?”

    Clive you are right. It was a fairly pointless experiment. It might have established some kind of relationship between the act of praying and healing. If that were true then the next step would be to investigate how. One hypothesis might be intervention by a deity – but how do you set about determining this? Any suggestions?

  450. —-David offering quotes for methodological naturalism:

    “We are to press known secondary causes as far as they will go in explanation of facts. We are not to resort to an unknown (i.e. supernatural) cause for explanation of phenomena till the power of known causes has been exhausted. If we cease to observe this rule there is an end to all science and all sound sense. — George Frederick Wright, Geologist and minister, 1882 (h/t olegt)”

    By George, I think they are beginning to get it. Recall my earlier remark to David where I wrote, Methodological naturalism did not exist in the 13th century, or the 14th century, or the 15th century, or the 16th century, or the 17th century, or the 18th century…

    Did you notice what I left out? Why did I not write about the 19th century? Was methodological naturalism practiced at that time? No, but the noose was beginning to tighten, and scientists were beginning to get the idea that maybe they could narrow the field and define science in such as way that they could protect their paradigm. Of course, Wright was all over the map and changed his mind finally denouncing Darwin.

    Or:

    —-“If any person feels the necessity of conceiving the coming into existence of this matter as the work of a supernatural creative power, of the creative force of something outside of matter, we have nothing to say against it. But we must remark, that thereby not even the smallest advantage is gained for a scientific knowledge of nature. Such a conception of an immaterial force, which as the first creates matter, is an article of faith which has nothing whatever to do with human science. Where faith commences, science ends.— Ernst Haeckel The History of Creation (1876), Vol. 1, 6-9. (h/t deadman 932)”

    Yep. Haeckel and his phony drawings were starting to become serious players and the roots of methodological naturalism were indeed being planted, though they had not yet fully taken hold. They had no real power over other scientists. Why? I suspect is was because they were still in the minority. You can’t enforce things like that until you are in the majority.

    —-“In the realm of science, all attempts to find any evidence of supernatural beings, of metaphysical concepts, as God, immortality, infinity, etc have thus far failed, and if we are honest, we must confess that in science there exists no God, no immortality, no soul or mind, as distinct from the body.–Charles P. Steinmetz, mathematician/electrical engineer, died 1923. (h/t deadman 932)”

    Same deal. What Darwin had begun, his followers felt they had to finish. Indeed, some think that methodological naturalism was starting to get an oral history in the early twentieth century, and that it took fifty years before Devries finally coined the phrase and made it his own. I wouldn’t take that to the bank, but it seems plausible.

    Indeed, in a conversation with Paul Nelson, Ron Numbers himself, after telling Darwinists that methodological naturalism goes back hundreds of years, confessed the truth to Paul Nelson in a conversation that can be found on the internet. He said this:

    “If you’re going to have a game, he continued, you’ve got to have some rules. For a long time now — really from the middle of the 19th century — one of the rules in science has been that the hypothesis of supernatural design is excluded from scientific discourse as a candidate explanation.”

    That is as far back as he can realistically stretch it—-the middle of the 19th Century. That’s when the seeds were planted, as I have pointed out Still, the hammer had not yet dropped. Notice that even Numbers can get it right when he is in the right company. Of course, when he is talking to Darwinists, he knows they would like to hear another bedtime story. Of course, I had better sources, so I knew what to make of it.

  451. Onlookers:

    It would seem that Mr Kellogg (cf 412) is ignorant of and dismissive towards the trends of recent decades in cosmology.

    We should note that he is plainly an evolutionary materialism advocate, and these trends are such that openly theistic thinking has been in the journals for decades because of the implications of evident fine tuning. (Again, I invite those who want to see for themselves to look at my always linked, section D. And, i have invited him to reflect on cosmology adn the anthropic coincidences issue rthat has arisen out of he strongly evident finetuning of the observed cosmos, fineuning towards life facilitation.)

    A few notes on his question on the origin of gravity, in the wider context of its implications and issues:

    1 –> Again, first, the Lakatosian point on philosophy and worldviews, is that such issues cannot neatly be separated out from science. (Indeed,that is the underlying issue with methodological naturalism, i.e it would smuggle in materialism into the very definition of science.)

    2 –> Those wanting a nice quick overview on the cosmological and anthropic principle issues hinged on the apparent fine-tuning of the cosmos may wish to look here and here too. For those wanting to do a good survey of the related issues, I strongly recommend Schiller’s rather helpful online physics textbook, Motion Mountain, which contains a simple, generally accessible serious u/grad presentation on GTR. Australia telescope’s survey here is also helpful. (The big problem on GTR and the general public is with the tensor calculus. )

    3 –> You will also see that Mr Kellogg failed to address the already given direct, summary answer to his question on the origin of gravity: gravity (on GTR) is a reflection of the space-time distortion triggered by the presence of mass, which ties into the origin of mass and matter and space-time and energy too. For instance, while Newtonian physics can be used to deduce a gravitational lens effect, it is about half the value predicted by GTR, and from Eddington et al in 1919, GTR’s prediction has been supported empirically. Excerpting in more details from Wiki (since a simple summary in my words is not enough to get his attention . . . ):

    In general relativity, the effects of gravitation are ascribed to spacetime curvature instead of a force. The starting point for general relativity is the equivalence principle, which equates free fall with inertial motion, and describes free-falling inertial objects as being accelerated relative to non-inertial observers on the ground.[10][11] In Newtonian physics, however, no such acceleration can occur unless at least one of the objects is being operated on by a force.

    Einstein proposed that spacetime is curved by matter, and that free-falling objects are moving along locally straight paths in curved spacetime. These straight lines are called geodesics. Like Newton’s First Law, Einstein’s theory stated that if there is a force applied to an object, it would deviate from the geodesics in spacetime.[12] For example, we are no longer following the geodesics while standing because the mechanical resistance of the Earth exerts an upward force on us. Thus, we are non-inertial on the ground. This explains why moving along the geodesics in spacetime is considered inertial.

    Einstein discovered the field equations of general relativity, which relate the presence of matter and the curvature of spacetime and are named after him. The Einstein field equations are a set of 10 simultaneous, non-linear, differential equations. The solutions of the field equations are the components of the metric tensor of spacetime. A metric tensor describes a geometry of spacetime. The geodesic paths for a spacetime are calculated from the metric tensor.

    Notable solutions of the Einstein field equations include:

    * The Schwarzschild solution, which describes spacetime surrounding a spherically symmetric non-rotating uncharged massive object. For compact enough objects, this solution generated a black hole with a central singularity. For radial distances from the center which are much greater than the Schwarzschild radius, the accelerations predicted by the Schwarzschild solution are practically identical to those predicted by Newton’s theory of gravity.
    * The Reissner-Nordström solution, in which the central object has an electrical charge. For charges with a geometrized length which are less than the geometrized length of the mass of the object, this solution produces black holes with two event horizons.
    * The Kerr solution for rotating massive objects. This solution also produces black holes with multiple event horizons.
    * The Kerr-Newman solution for charged, rotating massive objects. This solution also produces black holes with multiple event horizons.
    * The cosmological Robertson-Walker solution, which predicts the expansion of the universe.

    4 –> We observe gravitational effects due to that. But to do so, we have to be in a cosmos that allows us to exist.

    5 –> And it turns out that such a cosmos is exquisitely balanced on multiple parameters and laws, such that it can be said to exhibit complex, functional information that seems purposeful. A very logical explanation for that in the end is: design. (Which just happens to be the conclusion drawn by Mr Ross, an Astronomer, BTW.)

    6 –> Moreover, it turns out that shifting the balance of protons and electrons by some 1 in 10^37 would be enough to destabilise the gravity dominated physics of the cosmos. (Electrical forces are actually long range forces, and are MUCH larger than gravitational ones.)

    7 –> Similarly, the reasonable range of forces is such that if gravity were to move by 1 in 10^40 (the scale is a log scale) we would see destabilization of a cosmos that is friendly to the sort of intelligent life we exhibit. [Think of a radio dial scale the length of our observed universe. Gravity needs to be where it is to within one inch on such a scale.]

    _____________

    In short, there is a lot of science on the roots of gravity, and it exists in the wider context of cosmology, which in turn raises issues of fine tuning and anthropic coincidences. This in turn brings us right back tot he issue that design is a serious candidate at he table for the discussion on origins of a cosmos that is such that we can be here.

    And, methodological naturalism is hereby again shown to be a hindrance rather than a help if science is to be a serious, empirically anchored pursuit of the truth about or world and its origins. (And if science is not about truth, it cannot be about knowledge, for knowledge in the relevant sense is warranted, credibly true (though revisable) belief.)

    GEM of TKI

    PS: In Mr Kellogg’s haste to dismiss of Mr Ross, he forgets that long before Mr Ross was ever an advocate of Old Earth Creationism, he was an astronomer . . . which BTW had something to do with his coming to his OEC position. And, as an astronomer has in fact compiled a listing of very valid evidence on fine tuning, including on of course that tied to gravity. Not to mention, one of the key figures on the anthropic coincidences just happens to be that “fundy dummy” Sir Fred Hoyle, holder of a Nobel Equivalent prize (and agnostic). IF YOU CANNOT ADDRESS THE SUBSTANCFE, DISMISS THE MESSENGERS.

  452. PPS: If you want a look a the Einstein Field eqns, try here.

  453. StephenB to me:

    I don’t think you have ever understood the argument being presented. I believe I asked you a very simple question:

    Provide me with evidence that, prior to 1983, one group of scientists imposed a methodological rule on another group of scientists. Do you have an answer to that question or not?

    Actually, I did answer (albeit tersely) and you even quoted it. That you failed to see it is further proof your interest is not to converse, but to shout down.

    I would also note, that DK provided more detailed specifics, resulting in you walking the goalposts back from 1983 to the 19th century.

    So,now that brings us back to my question to you about what the results of the Harvard Intercessory Prayer study says about the influence of the supernatural on the world. Are you prepared to answer that question now? I predict not. One of your favorite tactics is to refuse to answer a question until your questioner has jumped through the hoops you continually set in front of them. I am not playing that game, Stephen. Your question has been answered, now answer mine. I refuse to engage any further with you until you answer. No more dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge. What does the results of the Harvard study say about the supernatural?

  454. 455

    Is anybody going to remind StephenB that (1) he insisted on a very recent origin (25 years) for MN multiple times in this very thread, (2) he implied that Ronald Numbers didn’t know what he was talking about before he cited Numbers approvingly, (3) the very quote that StephenB dismissed earlier is entirely consistent with a firm establishment of of MN in the mid-19th century, with which Stephen now agrees?

  455. 456
    William J. Murray

    Seversky says: “No, all that is happening is that you are taking rhetorical advantage of the fact that there is no agreed definition of what is meant by “supernatural”.”

    Untrue. What I and others here are doing is answering each challenge presented by others here who have different and moving definitions of the term “supernatural”.

    If, for some, it is the commonly referred subjects such as non-physical locations of consciousness (NDEs, mediumship with spirits, effects of prayer) we have directed them to such scientific research.

    If they have presented a definition of supernatural that attempts to remove it from the capacity of being examined (metaphysics), then the logical problem inherent in that definition is pointed out.

    Seversky says: “So, as a supernaturalist, do you believe ghosts exist and, if so, are they supernatural and, if you say they are, by what definition?”

    It is not incumbent upon me to define “supernatural”; it is incumbent upon those who claim that science cannot examine or refer to it to define it; if they cannot do so commonly because examples of such research exist, or philosophically and remain logically coherent, that is their problem, not mine.

    Also, where did I say I was a supernaturalist?

    Seversky says: “I am sure kairosfocus’s onlookers will recognize that the nature of gravity or the nuclear forces or life itself is a different question from the origins of those phenomena. They are clearly related but they are not the same.”

    Then perhaps you should have worded your definition differently; “cause” implies origin, not description. In any event, if the effect of gravity is “caused” by a curvature of spacetime, then that merely shifts the burden of natural explanation back a step; eventually, a thing cannot cause itself. What caused the big bang? What caused nature to exist?

    There is really only one possible, logical answer: something that was not nature.

    Seversky says: “Science may have learnt something about the nature of the Universe without being able to explain its origins but ignorance of something at a particular time does not mean that the answer must be supernatural.”

    The definitions/examples used and asked for by others were about the material process of investigating commonly accepted claims of the supernatural, such as psi or NDEs; yours was a metaphysical definition that has inherent logical problems. You are now wishing to claim that because there is no material explanation for a thing, the problem that it is irrationally defined should be forgiven.

    It really is quite simple; can something cause itself to exist? If not, then the fundamental qualities of nature are – by your definition – supernatural.

    Feel free to abandon your definition at any time. You aren’t bound to it.

    Seversky says: “No, what we are hearing is a lot of talk about the supernatural and we are asking “What supernatural?””

    Talk about shifting the burden! You are the ones who have defined “the supernatural” as non-scientific; we are the ones asking for a definition to evaluate that claim. After failing to successfully define it as outside of the capacity of scientific investigation either by process or by philosophy, you now seek to make it our burden to define it.

    Seversky says: “Actually, what has been the subject of scientific scrutiny are what people have claimed are supernatural phenomena. The research was done not to decide if they were natural or supernatural but to decide if there was anything there that needed explaining at all. So far, there hasn’t been.”

    Please support your assertion that “so far, there hasn’t been” in light of the publication in the Lancet of NDE research that asserts exactly the opposite (not to mention other research which has conclusions that contradict your assessment).

    Seversky says: “What a strange idea. Why should the Universe be any less fascinating, mysterious or in need of explanation if it is undesigned than if it is designed?”

    Red herring. I didn’t say the universe would be less fascinating, or not in need of an explanation, if it were undesigned. Do you always avoid inconvenient questions?

    Seversky says: “We’re not the ones getting paranoid about a conspiracy of scientific Illuminati.”

    No, you’re the ones paranoid about a conspiracy of creationists trying to sneak the Bible into the classroom, which is what has brought us to your need to quantify what “supernatural” means, and why it should be addressed by the institution of science the way it recently has.

    It is you, and the NAS, that is overly concerned with “the supernatural”, so much so that they attempt to define it (whatever it is) as being outside the purview of science.

  456. StephenB @ 308:

    Methodological naturalism has no history prior to 1983.

    And StephenB @ 360:

    what does that have to do with what is being argued, which is the fact that methodological naturalism has no history?

    And @ 375:

    As I already explained, it has no history, a point that I have made abundantly clear.

    (Some history is quoted)

    StephenB @ 450:

    Did you notice what I left out? Why did I not write about the 19th century? Was methodological naturalism practiced at that time? No, but the noose was beginning to tighten and scientists were beginning to get the idea that maybe they could narrow the field and define science in such as way that they could protect their paradigm

    Haeckel and his phony drawings were starting to become serious players and the roots of methodological naturalism were indeed being planted, though they had not yet fully taken hold…

    What Darwin had begun, his followers felt they had to finish. Indeed, some think that methodological naturalism was starting to get an oral history in the early twentieth century, and that it took fifty years before Devries finally coined the phrase and made it his own….

    That is as far back as he can realistically stretch it—-the middle of the 19th Century. That’s when the seeds were planted, as I have pointed out Still, the hammer had not yet dropped…

    Other phenomena with no history (by StephenB’s standards):

    - Aviation
    - The Republican Party
    - Communism
    - Electronic communication
    - Baseball
    - Impressionism
    - Ice cream

    We await your best Nathan Thurm, Stephen.

    (“I knew that. Do you think I didn’t know that? I knew that. I knew the idea has a history. Did you notice what I left out? I meant no history before the 19th century. Everybody knows that. You knew that. And I said no history as a RULE. I knew it had some sort of history. Why are you lying about that? See how easily you lose focus? Did you think I didn’t know that?”)

  457. Mr Kellogg:

    I think you will see that SB’s argument is that the rise of MN to its status of being not just a claimed but a now “accepted” authority to rule on what is or is not science is a phenomenon that traces to the 1980′s. (One that has no credible historical or philosophical warrant on the merits. And, Mr Numbers should know that science is not a “game” to have rules played with by agenda-serving ideologues.)

    The pre-history of MN from mid-late C19, in which time it was at first an isolated suggestion, then a rising trend adn mindset among materialists and fellow travellers, is a token of the dialectics of power in the institutions of science. but, science should not be a power game: it should be the unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) pursuit of the truth about our world in light of evidence and reason.

    (ONLOOKERS: Observe carefully how the MN advocates have never been able to gainsay the force of this point, so they have a la Wilson, persistently studiously ignored it.)

    So, the presence of precursors from mid C19 on does not materially affect the underlying issue: MN is an arbitrary, agenda-serving imposition by a power elite that has been able to get away with such a blatant censorship only in recent decades, once they have staked the decks enough (and why do you think we see all that stuff about those dangerous “creationists” and “fundies” out there, but ever so littel on the dangers posed by radical materialists andtheir fellow travellers . . . ? [No prizes for guessing which of the two circles just identified holds power in science, education and media circles]); not a historically or philosophically well-warranted criterion of the definition of science, insofar as such a definition is reasonably achievable.

    Indeed, the result of the actual disciplines that study what we can define science as — namely history and philosophy of science — is that there is no one hard and fast rule that can unfailingly define what is and what is not science.

    And, more directly, MN works to censor our facts that are inconvenient for materialism, as Lewontin (a member of the US NAS) has so pointedly stated:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    Such openly admitted censorship is unacceptable, if science is to be regarded as a serious search for the truth about our world based on empirical evidence. (And yes, I am saying that the central issue is a values –thus ethics — one: whether science is about seeking knowledge, thus well-warranted, credibly true belief. if science is no longer about truth but about materialist ideology, it will utterly discredit itself, after first turning tyrant.)

    So, onlookers, if you care abot the truth, and care to see that science and science education value and work towards the truth, instead of being tools of censorship and indoctrination, you need to care about what methodological naturalism is doing to corrupt both science and science education, with implications for public policy; thence basic justice.

    GEM of TKI

  458. PS: Since high-quality dictionaries are a good source on what he informed consensus on key terms is at a given time, let’s do a bit of citing:

    science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990 -- and yes, they used the "z" Virginia!]

    scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster's 7th Collegiate, 1965]

    And, Am H Dict, 2000:

    sci·ence (sns)
    n.
    1.
    a. The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.
    b. Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena.
    c. Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study.
    2. Methodological activity, discipline, or study: I’ve got packing a suitcase down to a science.
    3. An activity that appears to require study and method: the science of purchasing.
    4. Knowledge, especially that gained through experience.
    5. Science Christian Science.

    –> in other words, the evo mat agenda has not been able to take over the dictionaries yet.

    –> Contrast the agenda-laced redefinitions that the evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers in Kansas have been pushing since 1999 or so.

  459. 460
    William J. Murray

    Is intelligence necessarily supernatural? If not, then what is supernatural about a theory that an intelligence may have designed life on Earth?

  460. PPPS: Am H Dict 2005:

    science (sns)
    The investigation of natural phenomena through observation, theoretical explanation, and experimentation, or the knowledge produced by such investigation. Science makes use of the scientific method, which includes the careful observation of natural phenomena, the formulation of a hypothesis, the conducting of one or more experiments to test the hypothesis, and the drawing of a conclusion that confirms or modifies the hypothesis.

    –> Contrast the warring defns of Kansas:

    1999, 2001 & 2007 Definition [Cf US NAS etc as already remarked on above 335 - 6]: “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations of the world around us.”

    2005 Definition: “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”

    –> which of these two alternatives reflects the sort of historical good usage that drives the dictionaries from 1965 – 2005?

    –> which one of these reflects what is plainly a recent agenda that has now set out on entrenching itself by censoring the historic meaning of what science is?

    –> Who above are trying to justify such materialism-serving Lewontinian censorship, why?

  461. William J. Murray

    “Is intelligence necessarily supernatural?”

    Certainly not.

    “If not, then what is supernatural about a theory that an intelligence may have designed life on Earth?”

    In itself, nothing. Directed panspermia, for example. However, if the theory is built on arguments that clearly imply that a highly complex, information loaded phenomenon like intelligence cannot come about without intelligent design, then that theory clearly requires the supernatural in order to exempt the designers from its own arguments.

    You can’t claim that the natural universe cannot produce a relatively simple self-replicator or a bacterial flagellum and argue that it can produce inter-stellar travelling little green men in flying saucers, surely?

  462. Mr Murray:

    Whether or not intelligence is supernatural, we know that we are intelligent (and to a lesser extent so are beavers and bees).

    Intelligence at work leaves behind it ART-ifacts, which are marked by signs of intelligence; especially functionally specific, complex information and algorithmic, code bearing physical instantiations of such.

    Since such things are empirical, it is reasonable and feasible to create a science that studies signs of intelligence and develops empirically testable rules for seeing that certain things are the product of mechanical necessity (heavy unsupported objects fall), some of chance (the pattern of outcomes of a fair die), and some are artificial (that for a loaded die).

    By applying these reasonable rules, we may infer credibly to the presence of intelligence, even where we do not directly know the intelligence. (For instance, the key difference between chance and design is that the former is undirected and the latter directed contingency. So the former will reflect stochastic patterns, while the latter will reflect purpose. Hurricanes passing over hardware shops do not build livable, attractive 3-bedroom houses. But intelligent builders routinely do so.)

    Why this is at all controversial — it is actually a routine in statistical inference, forensics, management etc to reason like this — is that certain features of the observed “natural” world show signs that make intelligence the best explanation, absent a censoring rule such as methodological naturalism. For instance, the information systems in life in the cell, and the complex, fine tuned physics that makes our cosmos fit for such life.

    That does not sit well with the Lewontinan materialists, who happen to hold power in certain institutions. And, they are entirely willing to impose their a priori materialism on sicence, while diwsguising tghe fact from the gneral public, banking on the prestige of science to carry their atheism for them.

    (In many cases, the relevant people actually think they are right because their materialism makes them — often with a wave of dismissive contempt — blow off any idea that there may be more to the world than the merely physical and what is more or less directly reducible to that. hence, Lewontin’s remarks above. But at that level, you have a massive duty of care that you dare not neglect, on pain of being involved in major intellectual malfeasance. And, sorry, that is the issue at stake here. A survey of good dictionaries alone should tell you better than what we see going on.)

    GEM of TKI

  463. icon, 460:

    if the theory is built on arguments that clearly imply that a highly complex, information loaded phenomenon like intelligence cannot come about without intelligent design, then that theory clearly requires the supernatural in order to exempt the designers from its own arguments.

    I presume this is meant to say that ID implies that the designers of life as observed on earth on earth are not themselves designed.

    But, I am assured you canot show that. (in short,t his is a strawman fallacy.)

    In fact it is easy to show that from the outset — try TMLO 1984 — design theorists have explicitly said that design inference cannot tell us the precise nature of the designers of the cell-based life we are observing.

    And since we ourselves exhibit cell based life, we show that designers may themselves be designed.

    It is the other half of design theory, cosmological id that raises the question that the designer and builder of the fine-tuned cosmos is credibly beyond it. That, in a context where such design as the cosmos evidently exhibits, suggests that it was set up to facilitate such life.

    GEM of TKI

  464. 465
    William J. Murray

    iconofid,

    One wouldn’t wish to be in the position of having to explain why planets orbit a sun if they were forbidden from using an as-yet unexplained phenomena – say, curvature of space-time – just because they cannot account for where gravity “came from” originally.

    Similarly, one wouldn’t want to be in the position of having to explain the existence of a 747 or a computer without being able to implicated intelligence, or the intentional direction of materials according to law and chance in order to produce a preconceived goal.

    That we don’t know where intentionality or intelligence “comes from”, or how it originated, is of no more consequence to a theoretical description of its involvement in the development of a phenomena than it is problematical that we don’t know where gravity, entropy, the speed of universal expansion or the values of the strong and weak nuclear forces “came from”.

    That intelligence was involved (hypothetically speaking) certainly doesn’t remove a phenomena from being scientifically investigated – even if we don’t know the exact source of that intentionality.

    Unless one wishes to argue that intelligence, or intentionality, is necessarily a supernatural phenomean (and as yet, we cannot even squeeze a consistent definition of “supernatural” from the challengers here), then claiming that ID is “not science by definition” is ludicrous, and should be roundly dismissed by all reasonable people.

    Humans intelligently design things all the time. Unless that is considered a supernatural or religious occupation, then there is no meaningful argument to be presented against the validity of ID as a scientific theory.

  465. 466

    Natural historian Buffon, 1749 (h/t olegt:)

    The force of impulsion, or what is commonly called the centrifugal force, is still unknown; but it affects not the general theory. It is evident, that, as the attractive force continually draws all the planets towards the sun, they would fall in a perpendicular line into that luminary, if they were not kept at a distance by some other power, forcing them to move in a straight line. If, again, this impulsive force were not counteracted by that of attraction, all the planets would fly off in the tangents of their respective orbits. This progressive or impulsive force was unquestionably at first communicated to the planets by the Supreme Being. But, in physical subjects, we ought, as much as possible, to avoid having recourse to supernatural causes; and, I imagine, a probable reason may be assigned for the impulsive force of the planets, which will be agreeable to the laws of mechanics, and not more surprising than many revolutions that must have happened in the universe.

    That he believes the first cause was God is irrelevant. So do many scientists who believe that science proceeds without “recourse to supernatural causes.”

    So: MN has no history prior to 1983.
    The rule emerged during the 19th century.
    Buffon excludes the supernatural from science in 1749.
    On the other hand, StephenB knows more than Numbers.

    StephenB has claimed to be an “academic.” I’ve argued that he’s obviously no philosopher. He did not disagree, which I took to mean I was right. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s not a historian either.

    (Out of curiosity, I tried to figure out his field by checking the dissertation databases, but I can’t find any thesis under his name. Maybe he’s still in graduate school.)

    Sooner or later we’ll identify a field by the process of elimination.

    NB: I’m not responding to kairosfocus’s blatherings because they’re typically long-winded, ill-formatted, and beside the point. Sadly, onlookers, etc.

  466. 467
    William J. Murray

    Kairos,

    If sound reasoning delivered through clear language were by itself able to alleviate others of the irrational hold of materialism, then by your grace there would be no materialists left visiting uncommon descent.

  467. icon, 460:

    re: You can’t claim that the natural universe cannot produce a relatively simple self-replicator or a bacterial flagellum and argue that it can produce inter-stellar travelling little green men in flying saucers, surely?

    1–> the “simple” replicator ain’t: such n entity has to incorporate both a blueprint and machinery for replicating itself, as Von neumann long ago showed (and as paley anticipated in discussing what would have to go into a self-replicaitng watch [ever actually read Paley?]. . . ). That information load easily runs past 1,000 bits.

    2 –> 1,000 bits specifies a config space of 10^301 cells, or ten times the square of the number of quantum states of the 10^80 or so atoms of he observed universe, across its life span. In short,the universe working as a search engine could not sample 1 in 10^150 of the possible states, making a random walk search for islands of function a hopeless supertask. [But, an intelligent design of function is another story, and is obviously much more of a feasible proposition.]

    3 –> So, ‘simple” is an example of a misnomer to the point of erecting a strawman argument, again.]

    4 –> the bacterial flagellum with a few dozen proteins at 300 aa/protein, and 3-bases per codon to code for that, similarly easily runs past the threshold. the flagellum is not “simple.”

    5 –> When it comes to LGM, kindly do some homework: ID is the science that studies empirically testable signs of intelligence. LGM are one of various possible candidates for the design of life on earth, but their reality or ultimate origin is no business of current ID as her are no artifacts on the origins of such LGM to study.

    6 –> The design inference is that on reliable empirically tested signs of intelligence, life in the cell is credibly designed, as it reflects algorithmic, linguistic, code based information and processing machinery, which are beyond the credible reach of the other known source of high contingency: chance. (Can you show a good example of lucky noise giving rise to such information, beyond 1,000 bits of complexity? We can show millions of cases of intelligences doing so.)

    __________________

    So, please face the real issue on its merits. A good place to begin would be here [NB Wikipedia is an unreliable, biased mess on this], followed by the UD weak argument correctives above, as you plainly show yourself to have learned about ID from those who distort it in order to attack it.

    GEM of TKI

  468. Mr Kellogg:

    re: But, in physical subjects, we ought, as much as possible, to avoid having recourse to supernatural causes

    In the case of such PHUSIS, the issue is the things that are following law-like causal factors. The material import of Buffon’s remark is that we should not infer form such laws to in effect spirits acting in imitation of mechanical forces. (There were those who so argued. And, BTW, you will see that where there is low contingency regularity, the design inference defaults to lawlike mechanical forces of necessity.)

    But, as he says right above: This progressive or impulsive force was unquestionably at first communicated to the planets by the Supreme Being.

    That is, they are LAWS of nature, set up by its Architect, and which act mechanically in governance of the mechanical part of nature.

    We, minded agents, are in this general view, under a different class of laws: moral government, by choice and consequence in light of the equality of our natures and the desire we all have to be loved and respected, which impose a reciprocal duty of so treating other like creatures as ourselves. (This being the context of the US DOI’s allusion to the laws of nature and of nature’s God.]

    In short, sad to say, you are quote mining.

    GEM of TKI

  469. —-Diffaxil: “StephenB @ 308:

    —–Methodological naturalism has no history prior to 1983.

    And StephenB @ 360:

    —-”what does that have to do with what is being argued, which is the fact that methodological naturalism has no history?

    Diffaxial does not yet understanding that Darwinists, and he, change definitions in the middle of the game. 1983 is the date that MN was enforced. The late eighteen hundreds is the date the Darwinists began to get the idea that they could dominate science. That point is a little too subtle for those who are accusing Sir Isaac Newton of MN, and quoting novelists like Defoe as evidence of MN.

    And @ 375:

    —-As I already explained, it has no history, a point that I have made abundantly clear.

    Right. NO successful enforcement.

    (Some history is quoted)

    —-Diffaxial offers my quote:

    Did you notice what I left out? Why did I not write about the 19th century? Was methodological naturalism practiced at that time? No, but the noose was beginning to tighten and scientists were beginning to get the idea that maybe they could narrow the field and define science in such as way that they could protect their paradigm…

    Simple enough for most people to understand.

    Diffaxial offers another quote by me:

    Haeckel and his phony drawings were starting to become serious players and the roots of methodological naturalism were indeed being planted, though they had not yet fully taken hold…

    Yep. Righto

    —-Diffaxial offers another of my quotes:

    What Darwin had begun, his followers felt they had to finish. Indeed, some think that methodological naturalism was starting to get an oral history in the early twentieth century, and that it took fifty years before Devries finally coined the phrase and made it his own….

    You would think Diffaxial would get it by now.

    —-Diffaxial refers to my quote about Ronald Numbers:

    This as far back as he can realistically stretch it—-the middle of the 19th Century. That’s when the seeds were planted, as I have pointed out Still, the hammer had not yet dropped…

    Yes. Ronald Numbers, the historian touted by Pandas Thumb, and the only resource these Darwinists can find, presents to radically different time frames. Yet even THEIR guy knows that MN, even AS AN IDEA NOT YET ENFORCED, has no history prior to the mid-19tH century. Even their guy admits that the entire theme presented by Darwinists on this site is rewritten history.

    —-Diffaxial attempts to characOther phenomena with no history ((”I knew that. Do you think I didn’t know that? I knew that. I knew the idea has a history. Did you notice what I left out? I meant no history before the 19th century. Everybody knows that. You knew that. And I said no history as a RULE. I knew it had some sort of history. Why are you lying about that? See how easily you lose focus? Did you think I didn’t know that?”)

    Nice try, Diffaxial. But the fact is that I did know the history and everyone else on your side was getting it wrong. You can’t explain subtleties right away to those who think that methodlogical naturalism has always been so. I had to take the Darwinists from the 13th century and lead them by the hand, warting off irrelevent quotes from every such century, changing definitions, and every other evasion. Further, I had to provide them with historians they had never heard of and correct their politically correct historian who changes his story with his audience. Now they are starting to get it, and I haven’t changed my position one iota.

    As an enforced doctrine, which is the way I have always defined it, methodological naturlism has no history prior to 1983. As a budding idea, it evolved beginning from the mid-nineteenth century. You do understand the world EVOLVED don’t you?

    There is a difference between the other Darwinists and Diffaxial, however. They, at least had the courage to submit their rewritten history to my correction. Diffaxial always stays out of the battle until he thinks he can slip in something safely. Well, it isn’t safe, Diffaxial, and your side has been exposed.

  470. PS: Mr Kellogg, reliably, when he has no serious response on the merits, lamentably predictably resorts to the ad hominem (as he has done just above to both SB and myself). I have remarked above to alert onlookers to the gaps in his case. remember, appeals to the emotions [including to hostility or contempt] or to modesty in the face of alleged authority [including institutional authority] can ground no claims that are not rooted in true facts representative of the truth, and good reasoning tied to those facts. So, to the merits, to the merits, to the merits we must go . . .

  471. William J. Murray:

    “Humans intelligently design things all the time. Unless that is considered a supernatural or religious occupation, then there is no meaningful argument to be presented against the validity of ID as a scientific theory.”

    You seem to have missed my point. If the observations being presented as evidence for an I.D. theory were the remains of ancient space craft, and the workshops of aliens, your point is correct, and that should be clear in my post above, in which I said that intelligence is certainly not “necessarily supernatural” (your phrase). Indeed, if we go by observation, all known intelligence is completely natural.

    But the I.D. theory we’re concerned with here makes arguments that would mean naturalistic intelligence is itself dependent on intelligent design.

    Intelligence is full of attributes which the I.D. movement claims cannot come about without intelligent design. In order to take out the obvious contradictions, the intelligence concerned has to be exempt from those arguments, and therefore cannot be natural.

    To put it another way, if FSCI cannot come about by unintelligent natural processes, as I.D.ers claim, then intelligence, which is chock-a-block full of FSCI by any definition, must have supernatural origins according to the current I.D. arguments.

  472. David Kellogg: I am still waiting for you to justify you slandering of Philip Johnson. Each time you lose an argument, and you have clearly lost this one, your resort to character assassination. Just for the record, you do not have enough demographic information on me to check on my record. [You think you do, but you don't.] I would never trust one such as you with that kind of data. So, we will deal with your slander on my reutation at another time.

    So, let’s look at the record.

    From David Kellogg:

    “You are not a philosopher” {Me)

    “You are not a real physicist” (Kairosfocus)

    “You are a terrible writer” (Denyse)

    “You don’t know science from ‘shinola’” (Clive)

    “You are a deceiver” (Philip Johnson)

    “You are not what you claim to be” (Me)

    Does everyone get the pattern here. David Kellogg lives by slander and demamation. It is his stock and trade. On the other hand, I don’t recall one instance in which he ever provided a reasoned argument for anything. He simply questions, lampoons, and sneers at the arguments of others. If he couldn’t feed off those arguments, he would have nothing to say at all. How sad it must be to live a life like that.

    On the other hand, I am holding him accountable for the slander of Philip Johnson. He made claims that he has not yet supported with evidence. I want him to produce that evidence or submit his apology.

  473. Correction: Lives by slander and defamation.

  474. 475
    William J. Murray

    Iconofid said: “Intelligence is full of attributes which the I.D. movement claims cannot come about without intelligent design.”

    Please support this assertion.

  475. Kairosfocus quotes iconofid:

    “You can’t claim that the natural universe cannot produce a relatively simple self-replicator or a bacterial flagellum and argue that it can produce inter-stellar travelling little green men in flying saucers, surely?”

    And then proceeds to make a lengthy post in which he makes it clear that he does not understand the phrase “relatively simple”, that he thinks that the adjective “simple” was applied to “bacterial flagellum” in the sentence he quoted, and he doesn’t understand the point of the post he was replying to.

    That was about the nature of I.D. arguments which would rule out the existence of complex intelligent aliens, unless those aliens themselves were products of intelligent design, implying, ultimately, the supernatural.

  476. 477
    William J. Murray

    Iconofid,

    Your argument about eventual regression of intelligence to the supernatural is irrelevent. Unless you can express a natural cause of the big bang, all regressions of cause eventually lead to “the supernatural” because a thing cannot cause itself to exist; nature cannot cause itself to exist.

    What does that leave?

    It is no more an appeal to the supernatural to posit intelligence as a possible candidate for the description of a phenomena than it is to posit gravity or the strong nuclear force. Just because one cannot describe where, ultimately, anyting “came from” or how, doesn’t mean we should just fold up our tent and go home.

  477. 478

    StephenB [447] “responds” to my citation of Johnson:

    That is no example, that is just another slanderous charge from an another anti-ID website.

    Au contraire, StephenB, that’s a link to Johnson’s writings on the pro-ID Access Research Network.

    Also: Slander. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    And in [471], StephenB distorts several claims by (among other things) putting quotes around things that are not quotes, converting statements from third to first person, and so forth.

    Note that I have only wondered about your philosophical and academic training after you claimed that you were an “academic” with excellent training in philosophy.

    I only mentioned that kairosfocus was not a physicist after someone made claims for him as a “well-respected physicist” or something like that.

    I only claimed that Denyse was a bad writer after having read it.

  478. 479

    Version 1: “methodological naturalism has no history prior to 1983.”

    Version 2: “1983 is the date that MN was enforced.”

    No contradiction here.

  479. William J. Murray:

    “Iconofid said: “Intelligence is full of attributes which the I.D. movement claims cannot come about without intelligent design.”

    Please support this assertion.

    Certainly. It’s an I.D. claim that complex specified information cannot exist without intelligent design, and CSI is a prerequisite for intelligence. Don’t you agree?

  480. —-David Kellogg: “Version 1: “methodological naturalism has no history prior to 1983.”

    Version 2: “1983 is the date that MN was enforced.”

    No contradiction here.

    That is correct. Enforced methodological naturalism has no history prior to 1983. Thank you for getting it.

  481. 482

    I see why the concept of equivocation seems confusing.

  482. 483

    It was in 1983 that the Methodological Naturalism Society was first provided with powder and musket.

  483. —-David K: And in [471], StephenB distorts several claims by (among other things) putting quotes around things that are not quotes, converting statements from third to first person, and so forth.”

    I may have missed a phrase or two, but I think I captured the spirit of the defamation.

    —-”DavidK: “Also: Slander. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    If you prefer the genus {defamation] over the species [slander] I can go along with that.

    On the other hand, I have another suggestion. Recently, I recommended that we form a social contract. I think this website will improve if you and I agree to simply stop communicating with each other and about each other [and each other's comments] at least until the end of the year. Are you up for that?

  484. 485

    Person A: “Blacks had no history of freedom until 1965.”

    Person B: “What about the Emancipation Proclamation, the 14th Amendment, etc.?”

    Person A: “I mean Blacks in the American South, under Jim Crow, and I mean a denial of voting rights through poll taxes, and literacy tests, etc. The Voting Rights act changed all that.”

    Person B: “Well, even that statement is a bit broad. But perhaps you should revise your first statement?”

    Person A: “No. Blacks had no history of freedom until 1965. What’s wrong with that?”

  485. —David: “It was in 1983 that the Methodological Naturalism Society was first provided with powder and musket.”

    I gather that you have not yet read the science “standards” for the Kansas City school system.

  486. 487

    I’m swearing off UD for several weeks. (I was trying not to respond to you until your ridiculous attack on Ronald Numbers, probably the most eminent historian on anti-evolutionism alive.)

    Do tell me if ARN is a slanderous anti-ID website. I won’t respond.

  487. William J. Murray:

    “Iconofid,

    Your argument about eventual regression of intelligence to the supernatural is irrelevent.”

    Not so much my argument, but the inevitable implications of I.D. arguments. The natural evolution of natural intelligence requires no such regression.

    Unless you can express a natural cause of the big bang, all regressions of cause eventually lead to “the supernatural” because a thing cannot cause itself to exist; nature cannot cause itself to exist.

    We do not know what caused the expansion of the universe and what state it was in before, and we do not know what cause and effect would mean at a point where time=0.

    Don’t confuse the unknown with the supernatural, which may well just be a product of the human tendency to do exactly that, and to make up magic things to explain gaps in our knowledge.

    It is no more an appeal to the supernatural to posit intelligence as a possible candidate for the description of a phenomena than it is to posit gravity or the strong nuclear force. Just because one cannot describe where, ultimately, anyting “came from” or how, doesn’t mean we should just fold up our tent and go home.

    We’re not actually disagreeing on this. What I’m pointing out is that it’s the current arguments of the I.D. movement which require intelligent designers who are exempt from those arguments, and therefore supernatural.

    If the arguments go that a bacteria cannot be formed by non-intelligent natural processes, then intelligent designers can’t be by the same arguments.

  488. 489

    One final note:

    I gather that you have not yet read the science “standards” for the Kansas City school system.

    I’ve read all the versions, and it’s the State of Kansas, not Kansas City.

  489. 490
    William J. Murray

    Iconofid: Certainly. It’s an I.D. claim that complex specified information cannot exist without intelligent design, and CSI is a prerequisite for intelligence. Don’t you agree?

    No. ID makes no such claim, that I’m aware of. ID claims that at least in some cases of complex, specified information (that which sufficiently exceeds a reasonable cause by law and chance), that ID is the better explanation – not that it couldn’t have happened with out I.D. Anything is remotely possible, as long as it doesn’t violate any rule of logic.

    I have not heard any ID theorist claim that CSI is a prerequisite for intelligence in the sense that the term “intelligence” is applied – i.e., “agency” or “intentionality”.

    Intentionality or deliberate agency is what is meant by the use of the term “intelligent” in “intelligent design”, to discern it from the agencies of law and chance.

    I’m not claiming that deliberate agency doesn’t require CSI to operate, I’ve just never heard that argument.

    Since you have claimed that IDers make that argument, perhaps you can direct me to it?

  490. 491

    I feel like Pacino in Godfather III. They keep pulling me back in!

    William J. Murray, I would remind you that the subtitle of Dr. Dembski’s No Free Lunch is Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence. The whole book is an argument “that CSI is a prerequisite for intelligence in the sense that the term “intelligence” is applied – i.e., “agency” or “intentionality”.”

  491. 492
    William J. Murray

    Iconofid states: “The natural evolution of natural intelligence requires no such regression.”

    How would you know this, since later in the same post you state:

    “We do not know what caused the expansion of the universe and what state it was in before, and we do not know what cause and effect would mean at a point where time=0.”

    If you do not know what caused the big bang, how do you know it was natural?

    Iconofid states:Don’t confuse the unknown with the supernatural, which may well just be a product of the human tendency to do exactly that, and to make up magic things to explain gaps in our knowledge.

    Your confusion stems from the inability of challengers such as yourself to define what “supernatural” means, and where the line between it and “the natural” falls.

    I am not confused, nor am I making anything up. This is a fairly straightforward logical problem. If we define “natur” as “the set of laws and parameters that govern our universe”, and if we define “the supernatural” as anything that is “not explicable via the natural”, then we are left with two possible answers; either nature caused its own existence, or something supernatural (i.e., inexplicable via natural law & chance) created nature.

    Iconofid states: “What I’m pointing out is that it’s the current arguments of the I.D. movement which require intelligent designers who are exempt from those arguments, and therefore supernatural.”

    I.D. doesn’t require that any designer is ultimately supernatural to any degree, or by any known definition, other than the same fundamental assumption any such regression of cause must face, natural or supernatural.

    If you argue that something natural caused the big bang, how do you define “natural”, then? As far as I know, “natural” means that something obeys law and chance as we know it to exist in this universe; do you posit an exterior “nature” that could have genereated this universe’s “nature”? If so, then I can posit that my “intelligent designer” regression extends to that realm as well. And so on.

    Unless one posits that intelligence is necessarily “supernatural”, then it succeeds as a postulate wherever natural postulates succeed, onward and ever backward and into and through whatever super-realms of “nature” one includes in their explanatory history.

    Postulating intelligence as a potential explanatory device is no more necessarily “supernatural” than any other postulate. Indeed, it seems the term “supernatural” cannot even be deined successfully by the challengers.

    Perhaps we should just get on with calling a spade a spade; the “supernatural” which mainstream, materialist science wishes not to have a foot in the door, is any inference that might be reasonably construed as a “god”, even if it means collapsing into definitional and logical incoherence.

  492. 493
    William J. Murray

    Kellogg,

    I understand that Dembski argues that intelligence is required to produce CSI; I’m not aware of any argument that “intelligence”, or agency, must be comprised of CSI.

    I mean, gravity can produce planets; must gravity also then be comprised of planets?

    I’m not saying that it is not so, I’m just stating that I’ve never heard that argument.

  493. 494

    Who said intelligence was “comprised of” CSI? The question was whether intelligence was a “prerequisite” for it (as in “required to produce”).

  494. 495
    William J. Murray

    Iconofid stated:

    “It’s an I.D. claim that complex specified information cannot exist without intelligent design, and CSI is a prerequisite for intelligence.”

    The first portion of his claim is not true, that I know of, and I have never heard it argued that CSI is a “prerequisite” for deliberate agency. It might be considered evidence of deliberate agency. Obviously, deliberate agency can generate CSI – humans do it all the time.

  495. —David: “I’m swearing off UD for several weeks. (I was trying not to respond to you until your ridiculous attack on Ronald Numbers, probably the most eminent historian on anti-evolutionism alive.)”

    Good historians get their facts straight and don’t harmonize their interpretations of those facts with the sensibilities of their audience. It’s a small world, though. I was going to take a vacation right before you defamed Philip Johnson. In any case, even when I offer you a straight up proposition as a road to peace, you can’t provide a simple answer to a simple question.

  496. —-David Kellogg: ….”Ronald Numbers, probably the most eminent historian on anti-evolutionism alive.)”

    You are bluffing again. Ronald Numbers long ago gave up his role as objective observer and joined the Darwinist team. Not that long ago, he wrote a piece called, “Defending science education against intelligent design.” In it he misrepresents Behe by stating, “Behe assumes that the component parts of an irreducibly complex systems never had other functions in order organisms.”

    By the way, this is the kind of evidence that I asked you for concerning Philip Johnson. Do you understand the difference now between getting it right and just shooting from the hip?

  497. @495 should read:

    [From Ron Numbers] “Behe assumes that the component parts of an irreducibly complex system never had other functions in older organisms.”

    Disinterested historian?

    That, by the way, is also Ken Miller’s perennial and obstinate error.

  498. William J. Murray:

    I’m not claiming that deliberate agency doesn’t require CSI to operate, I’ve just never heard that argument.

    Since you have claimed that IDers make that argument, perhaps you can direct me to it?

    They make it frequently, if inadvertently, by pointing out examples of intelligent designers and their designs. In every single case, CSI is a prerequisite for the existence of the designers used to demonstrate the argument (us and other animals).

    …then we are left with two possible answers; either nature caused its own existence, or something supernatural (i.e., inexplicable via natural law & chance) created nature.

    Caused? Created? Where time = 0?

    When I say that we don’t currently know how the universe expanded, or its ultimate origins, I mean exactly what I say. Look up the word “unknown” and you will not find “regression” or “supernatural” in any of the definitions.

    There are many different supernatural “explanations” for the origins of the universe from many different cultures, but we naturalists can’t see outside spacetime at present, or figure out what the nature and laws of zero time would be.

    There is no contradiction in this and our naturalistic theory of biology, which was what I was thinking of when I mentioned the natural evolution of intelligence.

    Am I not right in suggesting that I.D. claims that something highly complex like intelligence can exist without requiring an intelligent designer, but that a relatively simple self-replicator cannot? And am I not right in saying that that implies the supernatural?

    Surely you’re not suggesting that the intelligent designers of bacterial flagella contain less FSCI than it does?

  499. 500

    Pacino, dragged in, again:

    1. I provided the evidence on Johnson and linked to a pro-ID site which you called an anti-ID slander. You have not corrected that error either.

    2. Where does Behe say that the component parts of an IC system had different functions in earlier older organisms?

  500. 501

    Numbers:

    Behe assumes that the component parts of an irreducibly complex system never had other functions in older organisms.

    Behe:

    An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced gradually by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, since any precursor to an irreducibly complex system is by definition nonfunctional.

  501. 502

    More Behe (from the same link):

    since the complexity of the cilium is irreducible, then it can not have functional precursors

    In other words, Numbers is right:

    Behe assumes that the component parts of an irreducibly complex system never had other functions in older organisms.

  502. —David Kellogg: “I provided the evidence on Johnson and linked to a pro-ID site which you called an anti-ID slander. You have not corrected that error either.”

    No, you didn’t. You provided someone’s interpretation of the evidence, which I do not accept as truthful. I want you to provide the quote, which you will not do because you don’t have it, and, I suspect, never had, in spite of your claims to the contrary.

  503. StephenB @ 468:

    As a budding idea, [methodological naturalism] evolved beginning from the mid-nineteenth century. You do understand the world EVOLVED don’t you?

    Yes. Among other things, phenomena that have evolved have histories.

  504. —-David Kellogg:

    —-”In other words, Numbers is right:”

    Ronald Numbers is outed every which way but loose.

    Here is more from his paper.

    Numbers falsely claims that ID postulates a supernatural creator and is untestable.

    “ID and its progeny rely on supernatural explanations of natural phenomena.” and “ID makes no testable predictions.”

    Both are outright false statements.
    Besides, what is a “disinterested” historian doing writing like this. You said he was an “anti-evolutionist.”

    Further, Numbers writes, “After the Edwards ruling, they set about removing references to God and Creationism from their tracts.”

    That is a flat out lie. ID did not mutate to avoid a court decision. ID was designed in its present form—an empirically based argument that would not use the word “supernatural” before the Edwards case was decided. That means they were honestly editing.

    Its all nonsense. I can go back and correct your errors about Behe but why bother. I have enough right here to make my case. Ron Numbers is not a disinterested historian. He is a Darwinist apologist. The very title of his co-written paper says it all: “Defending science education against intelligent design.”

    As per always, I have the truth on my side and you have nothing. When are you going to give it up.

  505. 506
    William J. Murray

    David,

    Your (and Numbers’) erroenous inference is made obvious by your quotes. Behe is obviously stating that there was no precursor system to the one that is claimed to be irreducible – in other words a flagellum minus a part is not a functioning precursor mechanism.

    He isn’t claiming that none of the parts were borrowed or copied from other existing mechanisms.

    The point is that a flagellum must be designed and then constructed all at once, even if one is scavenging parts from other systems, because unless it is put together in toto, it is useless – not that every part is useless until it is put together.

  506. 507
    William J. Murray

    Behe doesn’t claim there are no precursor parts, only that the system doesn’t work unless all the parts necessary for its function are assembled at one time.

  507. 508

    It’s easier to bring up new issues than to deal with what I wrote. Ah well.

  508. 509

    William J. Murray, is there a point where he says that a part was brought in from another system into an IC system? Or is that just a loophole he allows himself in theory?

  509. —William J. Murray: “The point is that a flagellum must be designed and then constructed all at once, even if one is scavenging parts from other systems, because unless it is put together in toto, it is useless – not that every part is useless until it is put together.”

    That is a very well-written summary.

  510. Gordon,
    “onlookers” sounds so Robespiere-esque.

  511. 512
    William J. Murray

    Iconofid said: “They make it frequently, if inadvertently, by pointing out examples of intelligent designers and their designs. In every single case, CSI is a prerequisite for the existence of the designers used to demonstrate the argument (us and other animals).”

    In other words, they do not make that argument at all, it is just your inference of what they argue. It is not my position that CSI is required to produce intentionality.

    Iconofid said: “Caused? Created? Where time = 0?”

    It is your dilemma, not mine. What is hypocritical is that you define the unknown quality of my regression as necessarily “supernatural (without even providing a definition thereof) and you are satisfied to simply allow the cause of your own postulate (natural laws) to remain “unknown”. I, too, am happy to allow the cause of my postulate – intentionality – to be left at “unknown”, but I don’t think you’re prepared to extend me that courtesy, as it appears to undermine your argument, such as it is.

    Iconofid said: “When I say that we don’t currently know how the universe expanded, or its ultimate origins, I mean exactly what I say. Look up the word “unknown” and you will not find “regression” or “supernatural” in any of the definitions.”

    I didn’t claim otherwise. However, if you are going to assert that the intelligence (intentionality) I refer to is supernatural, then it is up to you to offer a definition of the term “supernatural” that doesn’t skewer your postulates as well. So far, you have not been forthcoming.

    Iconofid said: “There are many different supernatural “explanations” for the origins of the universe from many different cultures, but we naturalists can’t see outside spacetime at present, or figure out what the nature and laws of zero time would be.”

    You keep using the term “supernatural” as if you have provided it a meaning. What do you mean by “supernatural”?

    We are both left at “unknown” when it comes to providing a cause for our postulates: law, chance, and intentionality. I don’t see how that disqualifies my postulate as a potential part of any description accounting for the behavior of phenomena we might encounter.

    Iconofid said:”There is no contradiction in this and our naturalistic theory of biology, which was what I was thinking of when I mentioned the natural evolution of intelligence.”

    Really? I am unaware that there is an evolutionary explanation or theory of how free will came into existence (free will = intentionality). Please direct me to it.

    Iconofid said: “Am I not right in suggesting that I.D. claims that something highly complex like intelligence can exist without requiring an intelligent designer, but that a relatively simple self-replicator cannot? ”

    I think you’re completely misunderstanding the argument IDers present. They are claiming that some material phenomena likely require deliberate causation – i.e., conception of a goal and working to achieve it – in order for it to exist. This places “intentionality” in the same category as “natural law” and “chance” as a fundamental, necessary force.

    Intentionality, IMO, is not created by other intentional entities; it is a fundamental aspect of existence, like gravity, that is revealed by certain material systems, like some human beings. Other IDers, I’m sure, disagree with that, but that is my take on what the “I” in ID refers to.

    Iconofid said: “And am I not right in saying that that implies the supernatural?”

    Define the word “supernatural” and I’ll get back to you on it. My definition of intentionality/intelligence is no different than gravity, chance, or entropy; it’s an intrinsic aspect of existence that is revealed by certain phenomena.

    Iconofid said: “Surely you’re not suggesting that the intelligent designers of bacterial flagella contain less FSCI than it does?”

    That is like asking me (rhetorically) if the gravity necessary to construct a planetary system contains less planets than the planetary system.

    Intentionality is not CSI; it constructs CSI artifacts.

  512. 513

    StephenB,

    I have corresponded with Dr. Numbers about CS Lewis and evolution, and he admitted to me that Lewis, later in his life, rejected biological evolution, though many people, including Francis Collins, erroneously call Lewis a theistic evolutionist.

  513. 514
    William J. Murray

    David Kellogg:

    I can’t discern why it would be rational to assume that a designer would create every part and tool from scratch. It seems less efficient than blind chance to reinvent the cog, or the whip, or the bearing every time you need one for a new design.

    Do you really believe Behe was making that argument?

  514. 515

    David Kellogg,

    ——”As I said, don’t call that science.”

    ——”A person who says this, I don’t trust with doing science.”

    These are your responses? You are assuming a methodology that is based on a philosophy. I explained the philosophical presuppositions of what we consider natural or supernatural that effect and have direct bearing on the methodology, and your response is to ignore the philosophical presuppositions and talk about the methodology? These aren’t responses. Do you have no response to the actual discussion?

  515. 516
    William J. Murray

    Gravity is revealed by certain kinds of phenomena. So is entropy. So are the strong and weak nuclear forces. So is inertia.

    It is my position that intentionality is revealed by certain phenomena; if complex, specified information of a certain value is being generated, IMO it is being produced by intentionality.

    I’m not really happy with the use of the word “intelligent” in “intelligent design” because, IMO, it causes too much semantic confusion.

  516. Mr Murray,

    Behe doesn’t claim there are no precursor parts, only that the system doesn’t work unless all the parts necessary for its function are assembled at one time.

    Why is there an assumption that there is a single function that is stable over time for any phenotypic products? There are bones in the ear that used to be part of the jaw.

    Is the argument about the flagella really about a specific species and its specific flagellar construction? Or is it an argument just made in general? Is the flagella of Vibrio cholerae irreducubly complex? If a knockout experiment took the tip off the flagella, so that it wore out faster, or the hook, so that the motility was reduced by some percent, what would that say about the irreducible complexity?

  517. 518
    William J. Murray

    Nakashima,

    It would say that irreducible complexity is not the same as irreducible efficiency.

  518. 519

    Diffaxial:

    We await your best Nathan Thurm, Stephen.

    Nathan Thurm!
    I’d forgotten all about him.

  519. 520

    Mr Nakashima,

    If a knockout experiment took the tip off the flagella, so that it wore out faster, or the hook, so that the motility was reduced by some percent, what would that say about the irreducible complexity?

    It says redefinition of the term “parts” is in order until it becomes IC again.

  520. William J. Murray:

    Iconofid said: “They make it frequently, if inadvertently, by pointing out examples of intelligent designers and their designs. In every single case, CSI is a prerequisite for the existence of the designers used to demonstrate the argument (us and other animals).”

    In other words, they do not make that argument at all, it is just your inference of what they argue. It is not my position that CSI is required to produce intentionality.

    Good. Then you could tell your fellow I.D.ers to stop using CSI requiring humans and their designs as analogies for the “designs” of disembodied, non-CSI requiring “natural” intentionality.

    William:
    Iconofid said: “Caused? Created? Where time = 0?”

    It is your dilemma, not mine.

    No. It’s yours. You were talking about cause and creation outside space time. I haven’t suggested that the universe requires cause or creation, merely that it expanded, and we don’t yet know why.

    What is hypocritical is that you define the unknown quality of my regression as necessarily “supernatural (without even providing a definition thereof) and you are satisfied to simply allow the cause of your own postulate (natural laws) to remain “unknown”.

    I, too, am happy to allow the cause of my postulate – intentionality – to be left at “unknown”, but I don’t think you’re prepared to extend me that courtesy, as it appears to undermine your argument, such as it is.

    It’s not just the cause. It’s the existence of your concept that is unknown. Embodied intelligences, like ours, require SCI in order to exist. Disembodied intelligence is not known to exist.

    So, you ask for a definition of supernatural:

    Online dictionary;
    1) of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.
    2)of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or attributed to God or a deity.
    3)of, pertaining to, or attributed to ghosts, goblins, or other
    unearthly beings; eerie; occult.

    American Heritage:
    1)Of or relating to existence outside the natural world.
    2)Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.
    3)Of or relating to a deity.
    4)Of or relating to the immediate exercise of divine power; miraculous.
    5)Of or relating to the miraculous.

    I think that disembodied intentionality fits a few of those.

    William:
    Iconofid said: “When I say that we don’t currently know how the universe expanded, or its ultimate origins, I mean exactly what I say. Look up the word “unknown” and you will not find “regression” or “supernatural” in any of the definitions.”

    I didn’t claim otherwise. However, if you are going to assert that the intelligence (intentionality) I refer to is supernatural, then it is up to you to offer a definition of the term “supernatural” that doesn’t skewer your postulates as well. So far, you have not been forthcoming.

    My postulate is that natural phenomena, like life, have natural causes. There are some definitions of supernatural above. Am I skewered?

  521. Mr Wisker,

    What I hear you saying is that Dr Behe actually didn’t make the IC claim about any particular species or its flagella, just that it seemed to him that there was some irrudicible core somewhere within some flagellar system if someone would just invest the time in finding it. is this an active research project of the DI, Biola, Liberty University or any other ID friendly institution? It would seem the obvious follow up.

  522. —-Clive:

    —-StephenB; “I have corresponded with Dr. Numbers about CS Lewis and evolution, and he admitted to me that Lewis, later in his life, rejected biological evolution, though many people, including Francis Collins, erroneously call Lewis a theistic evolutionist.”

    That is interesting. I wonder if Collins will try that approach tomorrow during his discussion with Dr. Steven Myers.

  523. Iconofid: I haven’t suggested that the universe requires cause or creation, merely that it expanded, and we don’t yet know why.

    Q) if it expanded, do you imply it always existed? And if so, is that not an infinite regression? If it did not always exist, then did it begin? If so, did it create itself, or what other options are there for the source of it’s creation?

    Thankyou

  524. Clive,
    “lamarck is right. Even if we understood the effects of a law like gravity, we still wouldn’t know why the law was the way it was.”

    Thanks Clive you laid it out well, what I hadn’t elaborated on. I hadn’t seen that I’d gotten a challenge to that post. So yes, gravity’s causes would be supernatural, and not simply unknown, because the law is on the level of god and naturalists label god as supernatural.

  525. Moderators:

    At 511, sparc has violated my privacy, in a comment with no substantial relevance, other than being an ad hominem-laced comment.

    GEM of TKI

  526. es58 quotes me and asks:

    Iconofid: “I haven’t suggested that the universe requires cause or creation, merely that it expanded, and we don’t yet know why.”

    Q) if it expanded, do you imply it always existed? And if so, is that not an infinite regression? If it did not always exist, then did it begin? If so, did it create itself, or what other options are there for the source of it’s creation?

    Thankyou

    That’s very polite. Thankyou, too!

    It could have always existed in its pre-expanded state, although what “always” would mean if there’s a time = 0 point, I don’t know. But no, I don’t mean to imply anything. When I say “we don’t know”, it’s just a statement of fact, like saying that, in the nineteenth century, we didn’t know how the sun burned or how a solar system would form, or at present, we don’t know what goes on in black holes.

    When we don’t know something, we can speculate and form ideas, even come up with hypotheses if there’s anything to go on.

    What we should avoid, IMO, is the constant human tendency to make up supernatural beings to stick in the gaps of our knowledge, from weather controlling gods to universe creating gods. Making up things does not advance our knowledge, but it’s certainly a human tendency!

    That’s not an opinion that there couldn’t have been a creation of the universe involving goddesses or gods, merely that there’s no point in making up false ones in the absence of any knowledge in the area.

  527. Nakashima,

    Your example against the flagella is like cutting half a tail off a lizard. It fails.

    From my understanding of Behe’s point, if you remove any one “whole” part from the flagella, it fails.

    You need a better analogy to rebut IC.

    And finally, the only opposition hypothesis offerred by Matzke from NCSE that I remember reading was a story with a bunch of “maybe” “probably” “might be” and “could’ve” “would’ve” “should’ve” commentary.

    If I’m wrong, please point me to a scientific research paper showing exactly how the flagella evolved experimentally in a lab reproduction study.

    Thanks

  528. Onlookers:

    I will pick up a few points where there are matters of interest (noting that Mr Murray has done a pretty good job at 512), with Icon especially providing several instructive examples of the breakdown of the evolutionary materialist case:

    1] Icon, 476: he [KF] does not understand the phrase “relatively simple”, that he thinks that the adjective “simple” was applied to “bacterial flagellum” in the sentence he quoted

    Let’s roll a bit of tape, from Icon, 460: You can’t claim that the natural universe cannot produce a relatively simple self-replicator or a bacterial flagellum and argue that it can produce inter-stellar travelling little green men in flying saucers, surely?

    In short, Icon here contrasts (a) Dawkins’ replicator and the flagellum on the one hand [notice that "or"], with (b) the LGM. this is a comparison, and the response inadvertetnly or willfully distracts attention adn fails to respond on the main points as I noted at 468. Summarising:

    (i) “simple” goes out the window at 500 – 1,000 bits worth of storage [i.e. there is a practical threshold for relevant complexity in design theory],

    (ii) ID is the science that studies signs of intelligence, so is making a claim on evidence best explained by design rather than nature acting without guidance,

    (iii) it makes — from 1984 [so all that stuff about post Edwards (1987) is a sustained slander -- no claims about whether or not such intelligences on design of life are within or beyond the cosmos, (iv) it is testable and refutable -- just bring up a case of lucky noise giving rise to CSI.

    That Icon resorted to distractions instead of simply putting up a case of lucky noise giving rise to functional, complex information, shows where the balance is on the merits.

    2] Icon, 472: if FSCI cannot come about by unintelligent natural processes, as I.D.ers claim, then intelligence, which is chock-a-block full of FSCI by any definition, must have supernatural origins according to the current I.D. arguments.

    It should be clear that ID is about: SIGNS OF INTELLIGENCE. That some observed intelligences themselves show signs of intelligence [e.g. in our cells] and therefore may tghermselves be designed has no relevance to whether or not there are empirically reliable signs of intelligence. We are credibly secondary intelligences; which does not entail that we are not intelligences, nor that we cannot identify signs of intelligence nor that primary intelligences of a different order may not exist. That is there are no “contradictions” at work as icon also alleges.

    Moreover, Icon has yet to show a known counter-example, of say a 1,000 bit example of FSCI that on reliable observation, has come about by lucky noise. (So, he diverts from a clear point of empirical test, only to end up in the unproductive rhetoric of atmosphere poisoning.)

    And, observe: Icon — presumably by choice as it is raised above — does not address the point where design theory DOES address a case of signs of intelligence that point to an intelligence beyond the observed cosmos. Namely, on observing the functional, fine-tuned complexity of our cosmos, which evidently also had a beginning so it credibly had a cause. Design theorists argue that on the parttern of known cases, the best explanation of such is an intelligent, powerful cause that set up a cosmos that is fitted to cell-based carbon chemistry life.

    It is at this level that design theory properly points to that which is credibly intelligent and beyond (so, not constrained by) the laws and processes of the observed cosmos; which would thus be in a very legitimate sense, super-natural.

    On EVIDENCE, not a priori assumptions of a supernatural — a very different approach . . .

    NB: The underlying reason for all the evo mat rhetoric over “supernatural” causes is really to try to assert or imply that design thinkers are ASSUMING supernatural intelligences, so are not acting on empirical evidence. Of course, the actual case is, that [a] where there is no reason to infer to intelligence beyond the cosmos (origin of our planet’s life and origin of its biodiversity), design theory does not infer beyond what the evidence supports, [b] where evidence points beyond the cosmos (origin of a fine tuned cosmos that exhibits fine-tuned complexity) Design Theory points out that it makes not a “proof” but an inference to best explanation on empirically known characteristics of intelligence. In short, just opposite to assuming super-natural intelligence, design theory provides empirical support that points to it as a credible candidate for the origin of our cosmos.

    Plainly, that’s what has the materialists in a swirl.

    Also, there is no problem in principle with such a cosmos containing other worlds with secondary intelligences, some of which may even have been involved in a certain Project Eden here on this little terrestrial ball.

    3] icon, 488: We do not know what caused the expansion of the universe and what state it was in before, and we do not know what cause and effect would mean at a point where time=0.

    Actually, not quite.

    We know that the universe we live in and observe is framed on laws, and had a beginning, so it credibly has a cause. It exhibits fine-tuned, complex order, so we have good reason to infer to a likely type of cause: a powerful, intelligent one. One that happens to be extra-cosmic, and so on a reasonable interpretation may be described as super-natural. (The source of nature would not be within it, on the principle that a thing cannot cause itself.)

    4] WJM, 490: ID claims that at least in some cases of complex, specified information (that which sufficiently exceeds a reasonable cause by law and chance), that ID is the better explanation – not that it couldn’t have happened with out I.D. Anything is remotely possible, as long as it doesn’t violate any rule of logic.

    Correct.

    The design argument is a scientific inference to best, empirically anchored explanation. All that is required to overthrow it, is to provide a case in point of say FSCI originating by undirected chance + necessity. Just as, “all” that is required to overthrow thermodynamics is to create a perpetual motion machine.

    Such is logically possible, but we have high confidence that it is likely to be infeasible, on long experience.

    5] DK, 491: William J. Murray, I would remind you that the subtitle of Dr. Dembski’s No Free Lunch is Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence. The whole book is an argument “that CSI is a prerequisite for intelligence in the sense that the term “intelligence” is applied – i.e., “agency” or “intentionality”.”

    This reflects a profound misunderstanding of the core concepts of ID. Let’s take it in steps:

    1 –> First, intelligence is an observed fact of our world, indeed it is our direct personal experience. As such, it is an empirical datum just as any other. I daresay, it is the first such datum: without our self-knowledge, we have no other knowledge.

    2 –> As intelligent observers and agents, we observe that ART-ifacts of intelligent action often (not always, but often) reflect characteristic features that are not found in cases where chance and/or necessity are the acting causes. So, we may identify signs of intelligence.

    3 –> In the captioned book, Dembski identifies one such: CSI is a known artifact of intelligence,a nd the reason why it is credible that we will not observe cases on the gamut of our observed cosmos that have CSI produced by chance + necessity is the issue of targets in large configuration spaces, spaces that will exhaust the search resources of our observed cosmos without providing a reasonable chance of arriving at targets.

    4 –> So, specified complexity (per massive improbability otherwise) will not be obtained apart from intelligent action; which happens to be its routinely observed cause.

    5 –> Or, putting that another way, we do not get complex specified information as a “free lunch” as there is a search which has a cost, and when we put up searches that may outperform random walks, this is on a special case, with what is now called active information. That is, a “good” search at level 1 is the subject of a level 2 search which is in generally an even bigger config space than the level 1 search, and so forth.

    6 –> So, we either face a regress of ever-harder searches, or we inject active information originating in intelligence that has knowledge of the specifics of a particular problem.

    7 –> Or, in simple terms: there is no free lunch.

    8 –> At no point in this chain of reasoning is there any argument that intelligence MUST be itself CSI-laden. (It is the materialist worldview that invites the assumption that intelligence must be built up from a complex of parts, and so ends up requiring a free lunch at some level within the observed cosmos or the wider proposed, speculative [as opposed to scientifically observed] multiverse that is alleged to have spawned our universe.)

    6] Icon, 499: They [design theorists] make it frequently, if inadvertently, by pointing out examples of intelligent designers and their designs. In every single case, CSI is a prerequisite for the existence of the designers used to demonstrate the argument (us and other animals).

    That some intelligences may exhibit the characteristics of being secondary intelligences (complete with evidence of their own design) says nothing about what intelligence is in essence. That is, a question is here being begged.

    And, observe again how studiously the case where ID does point to an intelligence that is on evidence beyond the observed cosmos, is being ignored.

    GEM of TKI

  529. Iconofid,

    “What we should avoid, IMO, is the constant human tendency to make up supernatural beings to stick in the gaps of our knowledge, from weather controlling gods to universe creating gods.”

    Why do you insist on making up strawman arguments? ID and Design Theory is about detecting design patterns in nature. It is no different than SETI.

    “Making up things does not advance our knowledge, but it’s certainly a human tendency!”

    When you do not know the answer, you cannot rule out a prior a possible answer. One possible answer is our universe is designed. Goelel’s Incompleteness Theorem is consistent with the fact we cannot know every detail about our universe unless we exist outside of it as well.

    “That’s not an opinion that there couldn’t have been a creation of the universe…”

    Stop right here Iconofid. Be honest. If you agree the Universe might be designed, then it does not matter “who” did the designing. The other fluff you metion are distractions about theology.

    “… merely that there’s no point in making up false ones in the absence of any knowledge in the area.”

    ID does not make up any gods or goddesses or fairy tales. It merely advances the inference that Design can be detected, that is all.

    The rest of your discussion is not about science, but about your philosophical POV. If we are a result of a creative agent, then your philosophical or theological arguments mean nill. It would mean, you are making things up.

    If as you say, You truly do NOT know, then you must honestly admit Design is possible. Stop worrying about supernatural or past history, or current theology. And stick to facts.

    Since none of us know for sure how we arrived in this exixtence, the best any of us can do is to proceed by logic, science and best inferences.

    My opinion is design exist in the cells and in the cosmos. But I admit it is an opinion, not a fact.

    Meanwhile, evolutionist and materialist insist on reporting they are the intellecutals and only factual science. Not true.

    The Darwinist theory has completely failed with to many failed predictions now to repeat. We need a new theory to explain DNA, regulatory genes, signals, repair, error detection and networking, redundancy, etc., that is considered the best software computer system ever seen(Bill Gates). We are only just now beginning to apprehend the exquisite computational design of cellular life.

    Research is popping up everwhere now treating Biological entities like programs. This is evidence that the Design Paradigm of Information BioComputation is the future of Biology. We cannot procedd to understand life by the failed Darwinist Paradigm. Its foundation cannot provide a good research hueristic for productive research. Only story telling about some perceived past.

    Real Engineering of life will proceed at the Design level.

    Therefore, supernatural or not, agency is the answer for the future understanding.

  530. Nakashima,

    “Why is there an assumption that there is a single function that is stable over time for any phenotypic products?”

    Why is there an assumption any TOL is stable at all for scientific research to state they know the truth to anyone? Dino-bird theory Mr. Nakashima? I agre with you. Its a big guessing game.

    But if designed, then function does work as a sound basis for research, not some mythical storying telling about past possible events. Instead of focusing on morphology, focus on specific function. If evolutionist had done this with the anatomy of Dinosaurs and Birds, 200 years would not have been wasted in teaching a fictional fairy tale.

    “There are bones in the ear that used to be part of the jaw”

    Is this another dino-bird fact? An unproven conjecture based upon consensus thinking of evolutionary macro materialist fairy tales? I ask it sincerely with the admission that I’m not against it as FrontLoading may be at work.

    But is there actual scientific evidence that stands up to repeated experimental test results?

    Wen statements like these are made I am always aware that what use to be fact to evolutionist and taught in school for 30 years ends up being a great big fools gold guess. Former students wake up one day realizing that what they studied for years, tested on, were meaningless stories and belonged more in science fiction literature classes than in real science classes.

    I mean, if we have faith in your assertion about the ear. You’d have to explain why reptiles who could hear just fine, would morph the ear into a different system. Not only that, how did the three jaw bones change over time for the mammalian ear without messing up subsequent uses of the jaw for feeding purposes? All of the assumptions made on the part of evolutionist are worse than design.

    They say, “It Dit It.” What is “it”? An unguided accidental system of gradualistic mechanisms made up by a man who failed in math. We don’t even know how or why the current mechanisms for “macro” change exist. We’ve only discovered that the mechanisms exist. Yet we’ve never actually seen them create any new macro changes to existing species. Only micro evolution is observable.

    You are left with one big guessing game story.

    In the end, it is not Behe that must prove his hypothesis about IC. His budget is limited and the ruling paradigm today has billions. Yet they have failed so far to rebut him.

    The pressure is on the existing establishment of Macro-Evolutionist Darwinist to show how anything theorized like they say through unguided processes can deliver a flagellum or an ear that the best engineering scientist in the world will us for future technology.

    Future technology as in right now we cannot duplicate the nano-technology present.

    You act as if moving through a transition from reptile to mamal is trivial. But its not. The ear is just one small example. How did the transitional generations survive with changes to the jaw bone structure? And where are all the transitions?

    Again, what I see are assertions, failed TOL theory, lack of transitional records for all the gradual changes. There should be 100-1000, maybe even 10,000 times as many transition fossils in the major branches as there are fossils we have today.

    Where are they Mr. Nakashima?

    Please tell me, how many generations did it take for a reptile-to-mamal ear transition? How many transitional fossils survived? And how many failures? Where is the evidence of these small gradual changes?

  531. Iconofid,

    Darwin is every bit a god as Zeus, or a high priestess. Why else celebrate him in religious places?

  532. Kairosfocus:

    It should be clear that ID is about: SIGNS OF INTELLIGENCE. That some observed intelligences themselves show signs of intelligence [e.g. in our cells] and therefore may tghermselves be designed has no relevance to whether or not there are empirically reliable signs of intelligence. We are credibly secondary intelligences; which does not entail that we are not intelligences, nor that we cannot identify signs of intelligence nor that primary intelligences of a different order may not exist. That is there are no “contradictions” at work as icon also alleges.

    Some observed intelligences? By your arguments, all observed intelligences “show signs of intelligence”. Certainly, without exception, all observed intelligences have FSCI as a prerequisite, however you define “FSCI”.

    Moreover, Icon has yet to show a known counter-example, of say a 1,000 bit example of FSCI that on reliable observation, has come about by lucky noise. (So, he diverts from a clear point of empirical test, only to end up in the unproductive rhetoric of atmosphere poisoning.)

    Two things here. You’re asserting some minimum information requirement for the first chemical self-replicator on earth before anyone knows what that was. I’d of thought that impossible.

    As for a 1000 bit example of FSCI, I need more guidance on calculating it. What’s your rough estimate of the minimum amount of FSCI required to produce a nuclear reactor, for example (I know I can’t expect you to be precise, but just guess at an absolute minimum)?

    It would have been beyond the scope of the world’s most information rich intelligent designers (us) to make one 100 years ago, so I should imagine it’s not a trivial quantity.

    Now I’m going to make an observation based law, and ask you for a counter-example.

    “FSCI is a prerequisite for intelligent designers”.

    This is based on the observation of billions of intelligent designers, and there is no exception to the law.

    A counter-example to all these would be just one intelligent designer for whom FSCI is not a prerequisite.

    From my law, we can infer that intelligence cannot be a prerequisite for FSCI. This would be called a strong inductive argument.

  533. Mr DATCG,

    From my understanding of Behe’s point, if you remove any one “whole” part from the flagella, it fails.

    You’ll have to clarify for me the distinctioin you are trying to make. How is the hook not a “whole” part? How is the tip not a “whole” part? If you look at the illustration at the top of every UD page, you can see the hook quite clearly. It is the elbow bend.

    I haven’t made any points about Matzke’s hypothesis. You will have to take that up elsewhere, or begin by asking my opinion. Nicely.

  534. Mr DATCG,

    On the subject of ear bone evolution, a quick Google reveals an article on the subject that may interest you.

    There should be 100-1000, maybe even 10,000 times as many transition fossils in the major branches as there are fossils we have today.

    An interesting assertion. Why do you feel this way? Do you have a background in taphonomy that has been hitherto unrevealed?

  535. Is no one going to offer analysis of what the results of the Harvard Intercessory Prayer Study say about the role of the supernatural in the world?

  536. Following up:

    re Icon: By your arguments, all observed intelligences “show signs of intelligence”. Certainly, without exception, all observed intelligences have FSCI as a prerequisite, however you define “FSCI”.

    Again, a side track. Let’s pull it back on focus:

    1 –> I have used the abbreviation FSCI because you used it earlier. Cf UD’s Glossary for its meaning. (In short, onlookers: there is not any real controversy about what FSCI means.)

    2 –> Now, too, we commonly observe bodies in action. In some cases, those bodies show behaviour that on reflection on our own inner life, we recognise as intelligent.

    3 –> We make no assumptions or assertions on the nature of intelligence itself, only that it exists. And indeed, its existence is the premise of all intellectual life, including science.

    4 –> On close observation and investigation, we see that certain signs of intelligence are strongly and reliably empirically distinguishable from those tracing to chance and/or necessity. (Reasons for that may be perused in the always linked, and typical rebuttal attempts are corrected in the correctives above RH column.)

    5 –> Now, such signs of intelligence happen to include functionally specific complex information, which happens to be a marked characteristic of cell based life. So, we humans can be seen to be: [1] intelligent, and [2] also showing signs that our origins lie in onward intelligence.

    6 –> But equally — and noteice how Icon does not seriously address this — the cosmos as a whole shows itself contingent and to be reflective of signs of intelligence. So, we have reason on inference to best explanation, to infer to intelligence beyond our observed cosmos, as its most credible cause.

    7 –> That — at minimum — means that it is possible (and perhaps even credible) that intelligence is not bound up to configurations of matter, though it may be manifest in such and/or interact with such.

    8 –> Thus functionally specific complex information as expressed in organisation of material objects is not a necessary condition of intelligence.

    GEM of TKI

  537. 538
    William J. Murray

    Iconofid said: “Good. Then you could tell your fellow I.D.ers to stop using CSI requiring humans and their designs as analogies for the “designs” of disembodied, non-CSI requiring “natural” intentionality.”

    Unlike Ms. Forrest, I don’t issue thought-police edicts. I find the issue enriched by varying and dissimilar perspectives and arguments, not threatened.

    Iconofid said: “No. It’s yours. You were talking about cause and creation outside space time.”

    I asked you to answer a question, which you have refused. Did nature cause itself? Is nature uncaused? Or, did something we cannot identify as nature generate nature? You’ve pleaded “no contest”. As such, you’ve opened the door to a similar pleading on my part of “no contest” when it comes to intentionality extraneous to our known universe, which is fine for our debate.

    Iconofid said: “It’s not just the cause. It’s the existence of your concept that is unknown.”

    Intentionality as a concept is certainly not “unknown”; intentionality as a disembodied force in the universe was at the heart of science for hundreds of years and helped produce the scientific method and find the foundational laws of physics.

    Iconofid said: “Embodied intelligences, like ours, require SCI in order to exist. Disembodied intelligence is not known to exist.”

    I didn’t claim disembodied intentionality was known to exist. Tell me, does disembodied gravity exist? If there is no mass, does whatever generates gravity effects still exist in an area? Or, if as the theory has it, that gravity is an effect of the curvature of space-time, can you please point that out to me?

    Also, will you point out entropy and time, or do they also exist as disembodied entities, revealed to us only by the interaction of material phenomena?

    That such a fundamental force distinct from other natural laws or chance exists and product of it can be identified is the nature of ID theory, whether individual IDers view ID as “always” manifest in organic beings or not, just as gravity isn’t theorized to only exist where mass is present, but is a fundamental commodity of the universe that mass reveals.

    ID can be seen as (1) another natural law, or (2) a fundamental principle that, like chance, seems to thwart the machine-like operation of natural laws, but is chance’s counterpart. In either case, it need not be taken as a necessarily supernatural phenomena, unless one defines all intentionality and intelligence as “supernatural”.

    As to your definitions:

    “1) of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.”

    Unfortunately, sufficiently abnormal accumulations or effects of chance would also be inexplicable by natural law. Also, the existence of DNA is inexplicable (currently) by natural law. This definition skewers your own position.

    “2)of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or attributed to God or a deity.”

    I’m not postulating a god in this debate.

    “3)of, pertaining to, or attributed to ghosts, goblins, or other
    unearthly beings; eerie; occult.”

    I’m not postulating these.

    “1)Of or relating to existence outside the natural world.”

    We’ve agreed not to go there.

    ’2)Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.”

    This definition at first appears promising, but if we adopt it, it defines any new natural forces or phenomena we find as “supernatural”, and would be a science stopper. For instance, if there is a natural medium by which consciousness exists beyond that of the physical body, and we just haven’t discovered it, we can’t have science precluding our research into it just because we it seems to violate, or go beyond known natural forces.

    Iconofid said: “I think that disembodied intentionality fits a few of those.”

    It does, but unfortunately, as I have said, any definition of supernatural appears to skewer the naturalist position as well.

    Iconofid said:”My postulate is that natural phenomena, like life, have natural causes.”

    You cannot claim on the one hand that natural phenomena have natural causes, and then refuse to answer the question of where the natural phenomena gravity came from, and assert that you didn’t say it was caused. Is gravity a natural phenomena? If so, you claim it has a natural cause. What is its natural cause? You don’t know? Then it meets some of the definitions of “supernatural” above.

    Your definitions of “supernatural” fail to provide the required distinction between “natural” and “intentional” causation theories without similarly indicting the naturalist position. You have provided no meaningful definition which precludes “intentionality” from being accepted as a part of the natural order of things in this world, albeit on that hasn’t been sufficiently described yet.

  538. iconofid,

    ID is about the DESIGN, not the designer.

    Your attempts at forcing ID to be designer-centric proves that you do not understand science.

  539. Nakashima,

    What is the genetic evidence for the transformation of ear bones?

    What gene, genes and/ or DNA sequence(s) were involved?

    The point being without that data you don’t have a scientific inference.

  540. kairosfocus @ 526
    Moderators:

    At 511, sparc has violated my privacy, in a comment with no substantial relevance, other than being an ad hominem-laced comment.

    GEM of TKI

    Well, don’t look at your blog.

    http://kairosfocus.blogspot.co.....chive.html

    “About Me
    Name: Gordon”

    If you’re trying to keep your first name private, it’s too late.

  541. 542
    William J. Murray

    Iconofid: “FSCI is a prerequisite for intelligent designers”.

    and then:

    “From my law, we can infer that intelligence cannot be a prerequisite for FSCI. This would be called a strong inductive argument.”

    I’m not sure what your argument here is; perhaps you are claiming that ID is self-referential? That it must cause itself to exist?

    If that is your argument, then naturalism is similarly disqualified, because it claims to have caused itself to exist – or, at least it begs the same question as ID.

    If you can plead “no contest” at point of the big bang for nature, we can similarly plead “no contest” at that point as well. Nature “just exists”; Intelligence “just exists”.

    Or, if we are allowed to point beyond the veil, as kairos points out, ID at least has evidence of intelligence (or intentionality) existing beyond that point; where is the evidence that nature (as we know it) can exist beyond that point?

  542. DATCG:

    Iconofid,

    “What we should avoid, IMO, is the constant human tendency to make up supernatural beings to stick in the gaps of our knowledge, from weather controlling gods to universe creating gods.”

    Why do you insist on making up strawman arguments? ID and Design Theory is about detecting design patterns in nature. It is no different than SETI.

    So I’m told. So, on the detection so far, what in nature definitely isn’t designed?

    (Iconofid)
    “Making up things does not advance our knowledge, but it’s certainly a human tendency!”

    (DATCG)
    When you do not know the answer, you cannot rule out a prior a possible answer. One possible answer is our universe is designed. Goelel’s Incompleteness Theorem is consistent with the fact we cannot know every detail about our universe unless we exist outside of it as well.

    You advise me, then quote me saying:

    “That’s not an opinion that there couldn’t have been a creation of the universe…”

    Well, exactly!

    Stop right here Iconofid. Be honest. If you agree the Universe might be designed, then it does not matter “who” did the designing. The other fluff you metion are distractions about theology.

    Has it not occurred to you that, if you’re in a designed universe, a science detecting the designs of its designers would be redundant.

    When I.D.ers mention SETI and our own designs, these relate to the output of natural intelligences produced within the universe, and acting within it.

    ID does not make up any gods or goddesses or fairy tales. It merely advances the inference that Design can be detected, that is all.

    Animal activity, including that of animals who intelligently design, can certainly be detected in various ways.

    If as you say, You truly do NOT know, then you must honestly admit Design is possible.

    Again, you quoted me saying that it’s not impossible, so why do you keep on in this way? 25 dimensions are possible, and elves are possible. What more do you want?

    Stop worrying about supernatural or past history, or current theology. And stick to facts.

    I’m not a natural worrier, and an interesting fact is that FSCI is a prerequisite for all known intelligent designers.

    Since none of us know for sure how we arrived in this exixtence, the best any of us can do is to proceed by logic, science and best inferences.

    That’s two things we agree on now!

    My opinion is design exist in the cells and in the cosmos. But I admit it is an opinion, not a fact.

    Meanwhile, evolutionist and materialist insist on reporting they are the intellecutals and only factual science. Not true.

    The Darwinist theory has completely failed with to many failed predictions now to repeat. We need a new theory to explain DNA, regulatory genes, signals, repair, error detection and networking, redundancy, etc., that is considered the best software computer system ever seen(Bill Gates). We are only just now beginning to apprehend the exquisite computational design of cellular life.

    And we still have limited understanding of intelligence, a phenomenon more complex than all of the above, but also apparently dependent on the above.

    Research is popping up everwhere now treating Biological entities like programs. This is evidence that the Design Paradigm of Information BioComputation is the future of Biology. We cannot procedd to understand life by the failed Darwinist Paradigm. Its foundation cannot provide a good research hueristic for productive research. Only story telling about some perceived past.

    Real Engineering of life will proceed at the Design level.

    Therefore, supernatural or not, agency is the answer for the future understanding.

    Would there actually be understanding if the agent, her purpose, her tastes and her means of construction weren’t understood?

    Iconofid,

    Darwin is every bit a god as Zeus, or a high priestess. Why else celebrate him in religious places?

    Thanks for making me smile. Presumably this is about some story of some theistic evolutionists celebrating Darwin in religious places? (I haven’t heard it, but I wouldn’t be surprised).

    But Darwin can’t qualify as one of the gods that religious humans invent, because the fact that he really existed would disqualify him. :)

  543. iconofid:

    When I.D.ers mention SETI and our own designs, these relate to the output of natural intelligences produced within the universe, and acting within it.

    It’s only a “natural intelligence” if nature, operating freely produced it.

    And if you can demonstrate such a thing then ID would be in deep trouble.

    Once again:

    ID is based on observation and experience.

    It can be tested.

    Now what part of that don’t you understand and what else does ID need to be considered scientific?

  544. Hi, William. You say:

    I’m not sure what your argument here is; perhaps you are claiming that ID is self-referential? That it must cause itself to exist?

    No, not exactly. It’s an inference of the “all observed swans are white, therefore all swans are white” kind, which was, of course, disproved by the discovery of the Australian black swan.

    There’s no “black swan” for mine, though.

    I.D.ers frequently point to the DNA code, and make a similar argument (all the codes we know the source of are intelligently designed).

    That is a weaker inductive argument, because not all known codes are known to be intelligently designed, whereas I’m on 100% of observed intelligent designers requiring FSCI/codes.

    It essentially neutralizes that particular I.D. argument.

  545. 546
    William J. Murray

    If, as Iconofid desires, we establish a limit not to precede the big bang, but work only forward, it appears his argument is that because we have no evidence of “diembodied intelligence”, we can conclude it doesn’t exist; this is an argument from ignorance.

    Recent NDE research published in the Lancet indicates that “disembodied intlligence” might well exist, so his perspective that there is no evidence for that is in error. There is also much research that has not been published in mainstream journals; but, beginning with William Crookes experiments, published in the Journal of Science, there is in fact evidence that “disembodied intelligence” exists. IF FSCI is required for intelligence, then perhaps that FSCI is accomplished through a medium as-yet undiscovered by science. Or, perhaps FSCI is not required for intelligent intentionality.

    Now, if we move back to our time limit, we find ever-decreasing entropy back to the origin point; the time of least entropy (theoretically) is that point (as far back as we are willing to go). This would be the “time” where there is the most chance of FSCI existing in whatever medium other than common mass it can exist in (if the NDE and other research is correct).

    It’s hardly a leap of logic to theorized that at this point of least entropy and most order, that Intelligence was born as a fundamental aspect of existence, in contrast to chance. Intelligent order from chaos.

    Is any of that sueprnatural by definition? Not any more so than the fundamental forces of nature being generated ex nihilio at the same time. Also, it makes more logical sense that those forces were ordered by intelligence than that they were randomly set, because we see that they are finely tuned for life, and life-based intelligence, to exist.

  546. iconofid:

    That is a weaker inductive argument, because not all known codes are known to be intelligently designed, whereas I’m on 100% of observed intelligent designers requiring FSCI/codes.

    What code or codes are known not to be the result of intelligent design?

    Also ID is not about the designer so your “point” is moot.

    But I am sure that will not stop you from continuing to use it.

  547. 548
    William J. Murray

    Iconofid,

    Your argument is exactly the same as the “all swans are white” argument; it is an argument from ignorance. First, your argument that a disembodied intelligence must not have FSCI is specious and unwarranted; all that matter is, is ordered energy. For all we know, energy can be sufficiently ordered without the matter perspective, and I suggest that the point of least entropy (the beginning of the universe) is the most liely time that any intelligence would be formed; indeed, it seems to me that as time progresses, it is more and more unlikely that any intelligences spontaneously arises from an increasingly entropic system without help.

    Also, your assertion that no “disebmodied intelligences” are known to exist is an appeal to authority, because there is much research that evidences exactly that.

  548. Now on further claims by Icon:

    1] As for a 1000 bit example of FSCI, I need more guidance on calculating it . . .

    Of course, any string of ASCII text in English that makes linguistic sense of at least 143 characters, or a string of source code of similar length, would be a clear example.

    Icon is here just trying to turn around an unmet burden of proof.

    Selective hyperskepticism, in short.

    2] You’re asserting some minimum information requirement for the first chemical self-replicator on earth before anyone knows what that was. I’d of thought that impossible.

    Strawman.

    I have pointed out the Von Neumann requisite for a self-replicating device: that it will have to incorporate its blueprint and machinery to replicate itself. Any experienced micro system designer will tell you that will put you well north of 1,000 bits of information.

    As will the actual cases of independent microorganisms which knockout studies show will auto-destruct below 300 – 500 k bases; or, 600 k bits. And, that is am OBSERVED case of self-replicating automata, without speculations on what might be. (Notice how a lot of evolutionary materialist speculation is smuggled into Icon’s assertions.)

    Similarly, anyone who has had to look at he information required to design and build a house will understand that the requites for a nuke plant by far exceed 1,000 bits. [The design books for such come in multivolume, multishelf sets. [Just the exec summary to one of those volumes will be beyond the range of 143 ASCII characters, much less one of the drawings.]

    3] I’m going to make an observation based law, and ask you for a counter-example.“FSCI is a prerequisite for intelligent designers”. . . . . A counter-example to all these would be just one intelligent designer for whom FSCI is not a prerequisite.

    Icon of course first fails to show that FSCI is credibly a prerequisite for intelligent designers, i.e. he begs a question. (Contrast how I have pointed out that the alternatives are on observation and related calculation, utterly lacking in relevant capacity on the gamut of the observed universe. that is there is a full inference to best, empirically anchored explanation at work.)

    Next, he studiously ignores — a la Wilson in the Arte of Rhetorique — the chain of evidence and reasoning that points to a credible case of a designer beyond our cosmos as the best explanation for its observed fine-tuning.

    That is, we have no good reason to grant the claim in the first instance [do we KNOW per empirical evidence that all OBSERVED designers themselves reflect FSCI and that FSCI is a component of the intelligence? or, is this not simply yet another form of smuggled in materialistic metaphysics?], and we have already in hand a case where the best explanation for our observed cosmos is an intelligence beyond our cosmos.

    ++++++++++

    But, going beyond the specifics of icon’s latest wave of objections, let us observe that all this is on a side-track.

    THE POINT OF THE THREAD IS THAT WE HAVE NO GOOD REASON TO INSIST THAT HE ONLY CONTRAST TO NATURAL IS “SUPERNATURAL,” AS ARTIFICIAL (THUS INTELLIGENT) IS AN OBVIOUS AND EASILY OBSERVED CONTRAST.

    We need only notice that signs of intelligence are empirically observable, in the context that we ourselves are intelligent.

    What intelligence is, is another question, one that we may in part investigate by exploring cases of its traces.

    When we see that the very cells in our bodies show such traces, then we have reason to believe we are the products of another intelligence that obviously predates life on this planet.

    Then, when we see that the cosmos in which we live has signs of intelligence also, then that is a sign that it too is an artifact. And if that is so, we have good reason to conclude that intelligence is ontologically before the physical cosmos in which we live and seems to have created [note the small-c sense] it.

    So, on consistent scientific principles, we have reason to believe life on this planet is an artifact of intelligence, and that it exists in a cosmos that itself shows signs that it is an artifact. Observed nature is credibly an artifact, a product of intelligence, and so is life within it as we experience and observe it in our surroundings.

    So, if the price tag of excluding such empirically anchored chains of inference from the table is to impose censorship on science that — in the name of methodological naturalism — censors science form following the empirical evidence towards credible truth, then that price tag is plainly too high.

    GEM of TKI

  549. Mr Joseph,

    Looking at the Wiki page on the evolution of the mammalian ear bones, there are references to genetic, embryological, and fossil evidence.

    BTW, do you totally discount fossil evidence as scientific evidence?

  550. Nakashima:

    BTW, do you totally discount fossil evidence as scientific evidence?

    It’s evidence but what type of evidence depends on the observer.

    I don’t think fossil evidence can be used to determine evolution.

    Only genetics can do that IMHO.

    But anyway you say there is genetic evidence for the transformation.

    Which paper or papers were you referring to?

  551. Joseph:

    iconofid:

    “That is a weaker inductive argument, because not all known codes are known to be intelligently designed, whereas I’m on 100% of observed intelligent designers requiring FSCI/codes.

    What code or codes are known not to be the result of intelligent design?

    Joseph: “not all codes are known to be intelligently designed” does not mean that there are codes that are known not to be intelligently designed. Think about it.

  552. Sorry, last post a bit unclear as to who was saying what!

    Joseph:

    iconofid:

    “That is a weaker inductive argument, because not all known codes are known to be intelligently designed, whereas I’m on 100% of observed intelligent designers requiring FSCI/codes.”

    Joe:
    What code or codes are known not to be the result of intelligent design?

    Joseph, “not all codes are known to be intelligently designed” does not mean that there are codes that are known not to be intelligently designed. Think about it.

  553. 554

    Icon,

    Not to worry…I think everybody understands you.

    That it is you that says what you say is often the clearest thing about what you’ve said.

  554. 555

    :)

  555. Kairosfocus:

    Strawman.

    I have pointed out the Von Neumann requisite for a self-replicating device: that it will have to incorporate its blueprint and machinery to replicate itself. Any experienced micro system designer will tell you that will put you well north of 1,000 bits of information.,

    Saying “strawman” is meaningless. My point stands. Von Neumann’s machines are not the first chemical self-replicator on earth, and you do not know how much information that required.

    So, what about a nuclear reactor? More than 1000 bits? Would all nuclear reactors require design, in your opinion? I.D. is, I’m told, the study of design detection.

    Icon of course first fails to show that FSCI is credibly a prerequisite for intelligent designers, i.e. he begs a question.

    Really? It’s an inductive inference, and, as I pointed out with my swans example, far from conclusive.

    It’s there to highlight I.D. arguments like “whenever we know the source of FSCI, it’s designed, therefore we can infer design in DNA, the cell, whatever.

    You can’t make those arguments and reject mine.

  556. 557

    iconfid:

    That is a weaker inductive argument, because not all known codes are known to be intelligently designed, whereas I’m on 100% of observed intelligent designers requiring FSCI/codes.

    This logic negates inductive reasoning altogether. If we could observe the cause of every code, what would there be to infer?
    Imagine a medical examiner in an autopsy saying, “Every round hole with powder burns comes from a gunshot. Except I didn’t see what caused this one. Faced with that unknown, I can no longer infer the cause.” That unknown is exactly what such an inference is for.

  557. Iconfid:

    I had asked:

    Q) if it expanded, do you imply it always existed?

    and you responded:

    > It could have always existed in its pre-expanded state,

    I’m sorry if I was unclear, but my question actually intended to refer to existing in any
    number of varying states, including expanded/contracted etc, whatsoever, so long as “always” was attached to it.

    > although what “always” would mean if there’s a time = 0 point, I don’t know.

    so, since you say “if”, it seems there’s 2 possibilities:

    There was a time == 0 point or there was no such point;

    [if I'm missing a possibility, please point it out.]

    If there was a time == 0 point, it would seem that we have absolutely no words
    to describe what was “before” that, because even the word “before” becomes meaningless
    in that context; This seems to point at a state that is as close as it can come, given our current knowledge, to being termed “supernatural”. Would you agree?

    and, if there was NO time == 0 point:

    Then, my original question stands, which is, did the universe always exist, leading to
    an infinite regression, etc.

    Thank you

    aside to Clive, if you haven’t already done so, I would request a follow on thread because load time is getting long, and it’s crashed a number of times,

    thanks

  558. es58, Scott, William and others: all points I’d like to discuss, but I was just thinking of making the the same point as es58 above, because the thread took ages to load. Maybe 500 posts should be the limit; we’re sure to cover similar ground elsewhere.

  559. Onlookers:

    A note re Icon, 556: Saying “strawman” is meaningless. My point stands. Von Neumann’s machines are not the first chemical self-replicator on earth, and you do not know how much information that required.

    Of course, the OBSERVED cell is a metabolic system that incorporates code-based, algorithmic systems.

    And, Von Neumann laid out the mathematically general conditions for a self-replicating automaton. Blueprint, replicating machinery (and of course procesees to carry out same). We see these in observed cells and the evidence is that once knockouts take us below about 600 k bits of information, auto-destruction ensues. this is 600 times the reasonable threshold beyond which a code based system cannot credibly be accounted for on chance + necessity, on even the most generous terms.

    A hypothetical molecule that self-catalyses its replication in an idealised lab environment is utterly irrelvant to that OBSERVED reality.

    As to the reiterated demand on info content of a nuke reactor [and of course this is as we build them, and ore bodies in Gabon have nothing to do with this . . . as in I know the red herring, Icon]: note that Icon was already given adequate response above [shelves full of documents, including sheaves of complex drawings], but has chosen to ignore it.

    Just the exec summary of one volume or one drawing of one serious part will already give us more than 143 7-bit ascii characters worth of info, on letters and numbers alone.

    That should tell us a lot.

    Again: cell based life is characterised by complex organisation and related information rich structures and algorithmic, code based operations.

    THAT is what materialists need to account for, and red herrings led out to strawman rhertoric and ad hominems on Gabonese ore bodies or on hypotehtical self-replicating molecule in the end underscore just how wanting their preferred account of origins is. (Those interested in the related thermodynamics and claimed spontaneous information origination issues are invited to read here: and here, in my always linked. In short, serious level more detailed answers are just one click away at all times.)

    Not to mention, all of this is still distractive from the main issue:

    THE POINT OF THE THREAD IS THAT MATERIALISTS AND FELLOW TRAVELLERS HAVE NO GOOD REASON TO INSIST THAT THE ONLY AVAILABLE CONTRAST TO NATURAL IS “SUPERNATURAL,” AS ARTIFICIAL (THUS INTELLIGENT) IS AN OBVIOUS AND EASILY OBSERVED CONTRAST.

    That they resort to such rhetorical tactics, which amount to a strawman laced with issues on the long cultivated hostility to “the supernatural” [a hostility that is largely ill-informed and biased based on a parade of one-sided litanies of the real and imagined sins of Christendom; without a fair assessment of its many contributions to progress across many centuries] is itself telling on their want of a solid case on the merits.

    GEM of TKI

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