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The Trouble with Methodological Naturalism

Andrew Rowell over at ID in the UK has done a very good job of exposing the problems with having methodological naturalism as the exclusive methodology for the natural sciences:

The faith of the methodological naturalist.

The basic articles of faith for a methodological naturalist go something like this:

We have found excellent naturalistic explanations for many phenomenon in nature.

Therefore

we believe every phenomenon in nature will have a naturalistic explanation.

Therefore

we make it a strict rule that science is exclusively the study of possible naturalistic explanations for what can be observed in the universe.

Science is not the search for the truth about the origin, operation and destiny of the universe it is limited exclusively to purely naturalistic explanations of the origin, operation and destiny of the universe.

The methodological naturalist will choose a naturalistic explanation over a meta-nature explanation to be taught as the truth in science lessons even if it is not actually true.

Thus for a methodological naturalist it is perfectly reasonable possibility that in science lessons it will become necessary to teach children what is in fact not true and what is in fact known to be untrue for the sake of meeting the methodological naturalism criteria laid out by the grand assembly of the interplanetary science council.

The real truth can only be taught in a new subject called meta-science lessons and it is a perfectly reasonable possibility in the future for the syllabus in these lessons to contradict the science syllabus and for the meta-science lessons to be teaching the truth and the science lessons to be teaching what is known to be wrong.

MN has been a very productive, beneficial methodology for science. It has led to a great deal of knowledge about nature, but the presumption that every natural phenomenon can always be reduced to unintelligent natural processes is not grounded in empirical science. Such an assertion can only be made from a position of faith.

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17 Responses to The Trouble with Methodological Naturalism

  1. MN has been a very productive, beneficial methodology for science. It has led to a great deal of knowledge about nature, but the presumption that every natural phenomenon can always be reduced to unintelligent natural processes is not grounded in empirical science. Such an assertion can only be made from a position of faith.

    I don’t know that I’d quite characterize MN as a position of faith, but it certainly is a philosophical rather than scientific position. The question that the defenders of MN must answer is how do we know scientifically (not philosophically or theologically) that the properties of the cosmos are such that nature must be a closed system of natural cause and effect? If science can not establish that, then it is a live possibility that some things we observe in nature could be the result of the actions of something outside of nature. Claiming that appeal to such unknown entities or even consideration of such entities is “outside” of science is arbitrary.

    Are the grounds for restricting scientific explanations to only natural causes principled? I would argue that they are not. Here’s why. The usual move is to claim that science can only deal with the natural realm and thus we end up contrasting the natural on the one hand and the [i]super[/i]natural on the other. This contrast seems to be predicated on the tacit assumption that nature is the fundamental reality and the [i]super[/i] in [i]super[/i]natural implies some sort of negation of the natural. But, as Dembski asks in TDR what if nature is but one aspect of another more fundamental reality? Unless we know in advance that nature is all there is, I see no principled way for science to restrict explanatory resources only to those entities which are located within nature itself. (or locatable within space and time as we know it). As currently practiced, MN is imposed, not on principled scientific grounds, but by philosophical fiat.

    To be sure, Science is a human enterprise and humans are certainly free to impose whatever stipulations and definitions on it that they wish. But, as Philosopher of Science Del Ratzsch points out in his book “Nature, Design, and Science” (State University of New York Press: 2001),

    “What no one [i]is[/i]free do to do, however, is to make such stipulations, erect on those stipulations various prohibitions concerning what science can and cannot consider, then claim what science produces under those prohibitions is truth, rational belief, accurate mirrors of reality, self-correctiveness, or anything of the sort. The character of the results will be constrained by the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of the original stipulations. If nature does not ignore design and if design factors into relevant empirical structures, then any science built on proscriptions against design will inevitably fall into one of two difficulties. Either it will be forever incomplete…or it will eventually get off track, with no prospect of getting back on track (key elements of the track being placed beyond permissible bounds of discussion), thereby turning science from a correlate of nature into a humanly contrived artifact.”

    I wholeheartedly aggree with Ratzsch on this point, and it is a crucial one for the defenders of MN to explain.

  2. “Unless we know in advance that nature is all there is, I see no principled way for science to restrict explanatory resources only to those entities which are located within nature itself.”

    Polkinghorne has made similar comments, and even gone further:

    Thirdly, I think we have to seek this integration of science and religion, because I passionately believe in the unity of knowledge. I believe that theology, because it deals with God as the ground of everything, is the great integrating discipline.

    and also:

    A characteristic of scientific thought is the drive for synthesis. We want to have as unified an understanding as we possibly can. That is the drive behind the present activity in my old subject, particle physics, which is looking for a grand unified theory – a GUT, as we say in our acronymic way. So it’s the instinct of a scientist to seek as economic and as extensive an understanding as possible, a unified understanding of the world. I believe, actually, that the grandest unified theory that you could ever conceivably reach is a theological understanding of the world. Theology is the drive to find the most profound and most comprehensive understanding of our encounter with reality.

    So, in the intelligibility of the world and the finely-tuned fruitfulness of the world, we see insights arising from science, but calling for some explanation and understanding which, by its very nature will go beyond what science itself can provide. And that shows to me, at any rate, the insufficiency of a merely scientific view of the world. In fact, I think we’re living in an age where there is a great revival of natural theology taking place. Natural theology is the attempt to learn something about God by the general use of reason and by inspection of the world. That revival of natural theology is taking place, not on the whole among the theologians, who have rather lost their nerve in that area, but among the scientists. Ant not just among pious scientists like myself, who would be rather inclined to think that way, but among scientists who have no particular time for, or understanding of, conventional religion, bit who, nevertheless, feel that the rational beauty and the finely-tuned fruitfulness of the world suggest that there is some intelligence or purpose behind the universe which is more than has met the scientific eye. That revived natural theology is also revised in the sense that it is more modest in its ambitions. Unlike either the natural theology of the late middle ages or the eighteenth century, it doesn’t claim to talk about proofs of God. We’re in an area of discourse, of the search for understanding, where knock-down argument or proof is not available to anyone. But we are in an area where we’re looking for insights which are intellectually satisfying. I wouldn’t want to say that atheists are stupid, but I would want to say that atheism is less intellectually satisfying and less comprehensive in the understanding it provides, than is a theistic view of the world.

    That’s part of the story and these are gifts that theology gives to science. It offers science a deeper, more comprehensive understanding than would be obtained from itself alone. But there is traffic across the border in both directions and I’ll spend a few moments talking about hat I think are the gifts that science to theology in this Scientific Age. That kind of gift is rather different – for it is to tell theology what the physical world is actually like in its structure and in its history. That raises issues to which theology has to address itself.

    And then there is this tidbit from Nelson I recently read:

    But should science necessarily be committed to methodological naturalism? The shortcomings of theological arguments for evolution may be evidence enough that science has no business meddling in theology (or vice versa). I draw a different moral, however. Science will have to deal with theological problems if science is a truth-seeking enterprise; theology must confront the patterns of scientific experience if it hopes to speak to all of reality.

  3. There is a good reason the supernatural cannot be used in science, but it is rarely mentioned. Imagine what would happen if an omnipotent creator were credited with any phenomenon we observe in nature as part of a scientific explanation. Logically, that same all-powerful creator could also have created the entire universe and all our memories with it five minutes ago. Accepting a supernatural cause means that we can no longer trust any negative controls in any scientific experiment; it is equally possible the same creator could manipulate them at his or her whim, or alter or suspend any law of physics at anytime he or she pleased. The answer to any and every scientific inquiry could then always be that the creator simply wishes it to be that way. And when the answer is a foregone conclusion, the inquiry stops. That’s why science cannot ever resort to supernatural explanations. I’ve never heard any scientist say that naturalism was all there was to the universe, only that science was too limited to address anything beyond it. Science’s limitations are rarely appreciated. It’s not the only “avenue to truth” by any means, but one of many, just like religion, philosophy, and art.

  4. The assumption that the universe is a closed system of cause and effect means that there will never be a “scientific” explanation of the origin of the universe, if a scientific explanation is defined as a naturalistic one. This is because the universe had a beginning, at which time matter, energy, space, time, and the laws that govern these things came into existence. Therefore, there was no “nature” which could have caused and which can explain the origin of the universe. By definition, the universe must have had an extra-natural (or “super” natural, if you like), non-materialistic cause – a cause from beyond space and time.

  5. Imagine what would happen…

    I hope you’re not going to advance the common Darwinist argument that your own imagination ought to be considered as if it is evidence…and scientific evidence at that. Your argument reminded me of something Dembski already wrote about it. Here it is:

    …for the naturalist, the world is intelligible only if it starts off without intelligence and then evolves intelligence. If it starts out with intelligence and evolves intelligence because of a prior intelligence, then somehow the world becomes unintelligible. [E.g. "Accepting a supernatural cause means that we can no longer trust any negative controls in any scientific experiment..."]

    The absurdity here is palpable. Only by means of our intelligence are science and our understanding of the world even possible. And yet the naturalist clings to this argument as a last and dying friend. This was brought home to me when I recently lectured at the University of Toronto. One biologist in the audience insisted I must take seriously that the world is two minutes old so long as I accept intelligent design. Presumably any creating intelligence could just as well create a deceptive world that appears old but was freshly created two minutes ago as create a verisimilitudinous world that appears old because it actually is old. That is certainly a logical possibility, but do we have any reason to believe it? Hundreds of years of successful scientific inquiry confirm a world that’s structured to honestly yield up its secrets. If, further, the world reveals evidence of design, why should the mere possibility of a deceptive or capricious designer neutralize that evidence or lead us to disbelieve in the existence of a designer?

    If we’re going to take seriously the possibility of a designer misleading us, then we also need to take seriously the possibility of a natural world devoid of design misleading us. Imagine a natural world, devoid of design, where the laws of nature change radically from time to time, where time can back up and restart history on a different course, and where massive quantum fluctuations on a cosmic scale bring about galaxies that seem ancient but are in fact recent. It’s not just designers that can be deceptive and capricious. The same is true of nature. Yet if science is to be possible, we need, as a regulative principle, to assume that nature is honest and dependable. And if nature is the product of design, that means we need, again as a regulative principle, to assume that the designer made nature to be honest and dependable.

    It follows that the “two-minute-old universe” argument against intelligent design is an exercise in irrelevance. It cuts as much against naturalism as against intelligent design. And it can’t even touch the point at issue, namely, whether certain biological systems are designed.

    (The Design Revolution
    By William Dembski :23)

    It’s probably a good idea to read some of the books written by the ID type fellows before commenting on ID. Yet it has been my experience that virtually no common critic has actually read what they’re criticizing. So the Herd that follows the charlatans of Darwinism are creatures of repetitive talking points and template reasoning while remaining weak when it comes to actually engaging in philosophy.

  6. There is a good reason the supernatural cannot be used in science, but it is rarely mentioned.

    Sorry, but I disagree with the premise. I don’t know of any arguments that prohibit consideration of supernatural causation from science that hold up under close logical scrutiny. Del Ratzsch does as fine a job as any one in treating this subject in his book Nature, Design and Science (State University of New York Press; 2003)
    Indeed it is the subject of the book. He shows clearly why all the arguments that are used to bar supernatural considerations from science fail.

  7. Mynym – excellent quote. You would think these ostensibly smart people would know enough not to employ reductio ad absurdum like a child.

  8. Just to clarify a couple of points…

    I’m not saying that MN is a faith; I’m saying (And I think Andrew is saying the same thing.) that MN requires, as an axiom, the premise that all of nature is causally complete without any invocation of a teleological explanation. This axiom must be based on faith, as there is neither a logical nor an empirical warrant for it.

    Satori,

    The reason you give for the nonallowance of supernatural explanations into science is a good one. However, a particular supernatural entity could, in principle, be testable if, and only if, said entity can be linked to empirical natural phenomena. For example, say I postulate a particular deity whose existence fundamentally hinges on there being in a precise location in the physical universe and being empirically detectable to humans a constellation consisting of a definite ammount of stars of a specific type occupying a space of exact dimensions and being spacially located at precise coordinates. Let’s even go so far as to say that it says in plain English “God was here”. My particular deity can be confirmed or disconfirmed based on ascertainable empirical evidence.

    Let’s set that aside, since it has little to do with the point of my post. MN not only eliminates supernatural explanations from science; it also eliminates explanations that may be conducive to the supernatural. This includes teleology. The methodological naturalist may only invoke scientific explanations for natural phenomena that can be reduced to unintelligent natural processes. Even if it bears an uncanny resemblance to intelligent design and the best materialistic causal account is so improbable as to render it reasonably impossible, the MN must say that atelic natural processes offer the best explanation for its existence. To me, this is absurd, and I am obviously not the only one who has this sentiment.

  9. “So the Herd that follows the charlatans of Darwinism are creatures of repetitive talking points and template reasoning while remaining weak when it comes to actually engaging in philosophy.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Engaging in philosophy is all that’s going on here, so long as the supernatural is an available explanation. Incidentally, why do ID supporters use the term “Darwinist” so often, anyway? It’s like some form of name-calling, like labeling someone a liberal? I am a biologist and have never once heard another biologist refer to him or herself as a Darwinist. And I definitely have no allegiance to Darwin whatsoever. Nothing would please me more than to disprove him, if only I could find the evidence to do it.

    And as to crandaddy, thank you for your insightful comments. But if you accept the inherent restrictions and linitations of MN, why continue relying only on science to explain such lofty ideas such as the origin of the universe and the existence of a creator? Science just may not be the best tool for this. Isn’t that precisely what religion and philosophy are there for?

    I wonder if Marxists referred to themselves as Marxists? If the shoe fits, wear it. Darwinist appears in the dictionary and isn’t noted as a derogatory expression. It isn’t unheard of in the literature and Lynn Margulis, in her keynote speech at the 2005 World Conference on Evolution said

    It was like confessing a murder when I discovered I was not a neo-Darwinist. I am definitely a Darwinist though. I think we are missing important information about the origins of variation. I differ from the neo-Darwinian bullies on this point.

    I’m getting annoyed at the time I’m spending correcting matters of fact in your comments. I suggest you either start asking questions instead of giving answers or you spend more time making sure your answers are correct. -ds

  10. I am still trying to figure out how and when “intelligence and design” became non-natural. Over on one Panda’s Thumb entry Andrea B. told me they are natural processes except when originated via a super-natural entity.

    But how can one tell without researching the issue in question? And isn’t it too late once it is figured that a super-natural entity was required?

    As Mike Gene put it:

    “If a “supernatural Designer” did indeed design DNA or a protein machine, then that fact would be a true fact about our world. The “supernatural Designer” would explain the origin of the DNA or protein machine, even if we couldn’t explain the origin of the ‘Designer.” (Of course, the whole issue of “explaining” something may not be as simplistic as people imagine). But Dawkins is telling us we would have to ignore this true fact about our world until we could also explain the origin of the “Designer.” So in the meantime, we would be obligated to incorporate false explanations into the Uber-Story we are trying to tell ourselves.”

  11. “And if nature is the product of design, that means we need, again as a regulative principle, to assume that the designer made nature to be honest and dependable.”

    I’m a little troubled by this sentence. First, it says that the designer must have made -nature- honest and dependable, but it doesn’t really speak to the power of the designer to intervene. An intervention by any supernatural power must be a break from the honestness and dependability, because for intervention to be necissary, the results of the honest and dependable rules must be different from the desired outcome of the power. The only other option for there to be any sort of honesty and dependability is if our supernatural power has to abide by a set of supernatural laws. But if this is the case, then the power is not really intelligent – it’s just a machine tied down by this set of supernatural laws. It doesn’t seem to make sense to call something honest and dependable in the same sense that natural laws are, and also call it intelligent.

  12. satori –

    “Incidentally, why do ID supporters use the term “Darwinist” so often, anyway? It’s like some form of name-calling, like labeling someone a liberal? I am a biologist and have never once heard another biologist refer to him or herself as a Darwinist.”

    The reason for the term “Darwinist” is to separate different forms of evolution. Not all forms of evolution are the same, and in fact ID can be considered compatible with many evolutionary ideas, though Darwinism as a primary force is not one of them. Darwinism is the idea that the changes in the genome occur without respect to the needs of the organism.

    I have trouble accepting the fact that you are a biologist and have not seen people/ideas referred to as Darwinist or neo-Darwinist in the literature.

    Here is a paper which talks about Darwinism all through the paper. I disagree with the conclusions of the paper, but it is obvious that these biologists don’t view “Darwinist” and “neo-Darwinism” name calling.

  13. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Engaging in philosophy is all that’s going on here, so long as the supernatural is an available explanation.

    That’s incorrect when it comes to ID in a number of ways but for the sake of argument, what if it were “all that’s going on”? It would still be quite significant given that people engage in science for meta-scientific reasons and so culturally science follows philosophy, metaphysical reasoning and monotheism like a lapdog follows its master.

    Yet note how Darwinists often seem to feel that virtually all human progress, creativity, science and technology are somehow involved in their mythological narratives of Naturalism. Consequently it seems that they believe that civilization, science, technology and progress will grind to a halt if any challenge to the Darwinian creation myth is allowed. It is as if they believe that because they “imagine” a sequence of progress in their inane historical narratives and patterns of imagery then their imaginations must have something to do with the actual progress of the human race through time. It is interesting that even half-wits have noticed that those who deal with technology in the real world often come to different conclusions about the validity of simply imagining historical scenarios vs. actually using science as a tool to bring about progress:

    …the Salem Hypothesis states that creationists with formal educations are more likely to be engineers than they are to be other kinds of scientists. This hypothesis is supported primarily by anecdotal evidence: a good number of creationists who post to talk.origins claim to be engineers, and creationist organizations seem to be disproportionately populated by engineers. Why engineers would be more prone to creationism than other scientists is a good question.

    (talk.origins)

    Incidentally, why do ID supporters use the term “Darwinist” so often, anyway?

    Because it is the only unintelligent, ridiculous and absurd form of evolution that does not comport with ID.

    Is it not fitting that those who believe that things are ultimately absurd are absurd themselves, though? Only now are Darwinists apparently beginning to run from their own term, now that it has accumulated some baggage by being associated with their type of mental flatulence. Yet note: “As readable and vigorous a defense of Darwinism as has been published since 1859.” –The Economist I noticed that on a book sitting on my desk called the Blind Watchmaker.

    Dawkins includes the term in his latest book:

    Darwinism co-operation is the flip side of, 186-187
    ‘cosmic’ (Smolin’s theory), 3-4
    difficulties presented by sex, 431
    effect on attitude to fellow apes, 108-109
    selfishness of, 546

    (The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution
    By Richard Dawkins :652)

    Is Darwinism allowed to be promoted and defended, yet not attacked? It seems that you mean that once Darwinism is tilled and turned for the intellectual excrement that it is then Darwinism becomes a dirty word, but do not blame those who cultivate the field and grow the seeds of ideas in the dirt for the existence of the dirt.

    As to the existence of Darwinism, also see a century of literature, anything from: (`New-Darwinism’
    By F. W. Hutton
    Science New Series, Vol. 11, No. 276 (Apr., 1900), :588-589) to:
    (Misunderstanding Neo-Darwinism: A Reaction to Daly
    By Stephen C. Trombulak
    Conservation Biology Vol. 14, No. 4 (Aug., 2000), :1202-1203)

    It’s like some form of name-calling, like labeling someone a liberal? I am a biologist and have never once heard another biologist refer to him or herself as a Darwinist. And I definitely have no allegiance to Darwin whatsoever. Nothing would please me more than to disprove him, if only I could find the evidence to do it.

    It seems that some fellows seem to sit around waiting on their supposed Mommy Nature to make their selections as a matter of principle and a supposed principle of matter, which is supposedly the science of things. You’ve already stated the type of explanation that you will believe as a matter of principle, yet you expect to find another? Darwinism has already been disproved and falsified based on the evidence, many times over…

  14. Tiax wrote “the only other option for there to be any sort of honesty and dependability is if our supernatural power has to abide by a set of supernatural laws. But if this is the case, then the power is not really intelligent-its just a machine tied down by this set of supernatural laws”

    I think this is a fundamentally erroneous conception of God(or the supernatural power you had in mind): that to be omnipotent, God must be unbound by law, and able to do whatever he wants in any way that he wants. In my view, this attitude lacks an appreciation for the true magnitude of the omnipotence which gave birth to the law as the highest expression of its own perfection. If the laws of nature and supernature are this expression, then that means that by definition they are perfection. To violate perfection is to engage in imperfection. If God is the author of the laws, then they are not binding of him, but the fullest expression of him. It seems to me a rather childish view to see greatness only in the violation of perfection, like hoping God would perform magic tricks to entertain and engage.

    Also, in terms of ID in nature, it is certainly NOT a violation of the natural laws when intelligent agency is necessary to achieve some end within a particular medium. The law of gravity, for example, dictates that if I wish to walk across a chasm, I must either build a bridge or fall to my death. If I carefully assemble and build such a bridge based upon my understanding of engineering principles, I am not in any way violating gravity, or any other natural law. In fact, my intelligent use of materials to achieve a specific end is the fullest expression of OBEDIENCE and humble submission to the law.

  15. Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwinism (1889):

    I insist on the greater efficacy of natural selection. This is pre-eminently the Darwinian doctrine, and I therefore claim for my book the position of being the advocate of pure Darwinism.

    If “the fittest” is always definitely produced by some other power, then natural selection is not wanted. If, on the other hand, both fit and unfit are produced, and natural selection decides between them, that is pure Darwinism

    Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb (1980), p. 15:

    Yet, while Darwinian theory extends it domain, some of its cherished postulates are slipping, or at least losing their generality. The “modern synthesis,” the contemporary version of Darwinism that has reigned for thirty years, took the model of adaptive gene substitution within local populations as an adequate account, by accumulation and extension, of life’s entire history. The model may work well in it’s empirical domain of minor, local, adaptive adjustment; populations of the moth Biston betularia did turn black, by substitution of a single gene, as a selected response for decreased visibility on trees that had been darkened by industrial soot. But is the origin of a new species simply this process extended to more genes and greater effect? Are larger evolutionary trends within major lineages just a further accumulation of sequential, adaptive change? Many evolutionists (myself included) are beginning to challenge this synthesis and to assert the hierarchical view that different levels of evolutionary change often reflect different kinds of causes… After the modern synthesis, the notion spread (amounting almost to a dogma among its less thoughtful lieutenants) that all evolution could be reduced to the basic Darwinism of gradual, adaptive change within local populations…

    Richard Dawkins, A Devil’s Chaplain, p. 81 (“Darwin Triumphant,” an essay originally published in 1991):

    Shouldn’t we be humble enough to admit that our right may be utterly wrong in the sight of future scientific generations? No, there are occasions when a generation’s humility can be misplaced, not to say pedantic. We can now assert with confidence that the theory that the Earth moves round the Sun not only is right in our time but will be right in all future times even if flat-Earthism happens to become revived and universally accepted in some new dark age of human history. We cannot say that Darwinism is in the same unassailable class. Respectable opposition to it can still be mounted, and it can be seriously argued that the current high standing of Darwinism in educated minds may not last through all future generations. Darwin may be triumphant at the end of the twentieth century, but we must acknowledge the possibility that new facts may come to light which will force our successors of the twenty-first century to abandon Darwinism or to modify it beyond recognition. But is there, perhaps, an essential core of Darwinism, a core that Darwin himself might have nominated as the irreducible heart of his theory, which we might set up as a candidate for discussion as potentially beyond the reach of factual refutation? Core Darwinism, I shall suggest, is the minimal theory that evolution is guided in adaptively nonrandom directions by the nonrandom survival of small random hereditary changes…

    Daniel C. Dennett, Darwins’s Dangerous Idea (1995), p. 21:

    Whenever Darwinism is the topic, the temperature rises, because more is at stake than just the empirical facts about how life on Earth evolved, or the correct logic of the theory that accounts for those facts. One of the precious things at stake is a vision of what it means to ask, and answer, the question “Why?” … Here science and philosophy get completely intertwined. Scientists sometimes deceive themselves into thinking that philosophical ideas are only, at best, decorations or parasitic commentaries on the hard, objective triumphs of science, and that they themselves are immune to the confusions that philosophers devote their lives to dissolving. But there is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.

    And someone who advocates Darwinism is called…?

  16. Never-ending italics for book titles above. [Please disregard.]

  17. Satori wrote: “But if you accept the inherent restrictions and linitations of MN, why continue relying only on science to explain such lofty ideas such as the origin of the universe and the existence of a creator? Science just may not be the best tool for this. Isn’t that precisely what religion and philosophy are there for?”

    I merely offered an example of how a supernatural entity could be empirically testable in principle. The application of this to a real case would be exceedingly difficult–maybe even impossible–to any sort of reasonably definitive degree. Science should not make a practice of doing this sort of thing; it should focus on things which lie completely within the natural realm. Although investigation into the source of intelligent design in nature may directly lead to the invocation of a supernatural cause, the design itself can be reasonably inferred without any such appeal.

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