Friday, March 09, 2012

Is Science Restricted to Methodologial Naturalism?

Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke, and Johan Braeckman have an article coming out in Science & Education on "Grist to the Mill of Anti-evolutionism: The Failed Strategy of Ruling the Supernatural out of Science by Philosophical Fiat."

It relates to the idea that science is limited by its insistence on adhering to methodological naturalism. According to this view, science cannot investigate the supernatural. The view is popular among some who oppose creationism since it means that creationism can't be scientific, by fiat. It's also important for accommodationists because it allows science and religion to co-exist in separate magisteria.

I oppose such a definition of science but, up until a few years ago, I was always told that my opinion is irrelevant since all philosophers, and many scientists, agree that science is limited by methodological naturalism. That's why I was so delighted to meet the philosophers from Gent. Finally there was another point of view opposed to the methodological naturalism limitation. Now those who promote this limitation on science have to honestly admit that it's just their opinion and not a universally accepted definition of science.1

Good News from Gent
Methodological Naturalism
Methodological Naturalism - How Not to Attack Intelligent Design Creationism
Here Be Dragons
An Interview with Maarten Boudry

Here's the abstract of the Science & Education paper.
According to a widespread philosophical opinion, science is strictly limited to investigating natural causes and putting forth natural explanations. Lacking the tools to evaluate supernatural claims, science must remain studiously neutral on questions of metaphysics. This (self-imposed) stricture, which goes under the name of ‘methodological naturalism’, allows science to be divorced from metaphysical naturalism or atheism, which many people tend to associate with it. However, ruling the supernatural out of science by fiat is not only philosophically untenable, it actually provides grist to the mill of anti-evolutionism. The philosophical flaws in this conception of methodological naturalism have been gratefully exploited by advocates of intelligent design creationism to bolster their false accusations of naturalistic bias and dogmatism on the part of modern science. We argue that it promotes a misleading view of the scientific endeavor and is at odds with the foremost arguments for evolution by natural selection. Reconciling science and religion on the basis of such methodological strictures is therefore misguided.
And here's a brief summary of their position ...
A widespread philosophical opinion conceives of methodological naturalism as an intrinsic and self-imposed limitation of science, as part and parcel of the scientific enterprise by definition. According to this view (Intrinsic Methodological Naturalism or IMN) – which is the official position of both the National Center for Science Education and the National Academy of Sciences and has been adopted in the ruling of Judge John E. Jones III in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case – science is simply not equipped to deal with the supernatural and hence has no authority on the issue.3

In our view, however, methodological naturalism is a provisory and empirically anchored commitment to naturalistic causes and explanations, which is in principle revocable in light of extraordinary evidence (Provisory or Pragmatic Methodological Naturalism – PMN). Methodological naturalism thus conceived derives its rationale from the impressive dividends of naturalistic explanations and the consistent failure of supernatural explanations throughout the history of science.4
The distinction between Intrinsic Methodological naturalism (IMN) and Pragmatic Methodological Naturalism (PMN) is important. PMN is a conclusion based on centuries of scientific evidence strongly suggesting that natural explanations are sufficient to explain all phenomena. Those investigations include looking onto possible supernatural explanations.

Scientists have actually investigated possible miracles and found no evidence for them. Scientist have actually investigated the supernatural explanation for a world-wide deluge and refuted it. And if someone says that God made bacterial flagella, real scientists will try and find out whether that's true instead of just throwing up their hands and claiming that such an explanation is outside of science.

The implications of PMN are profound. It means that science and religion really are in conflict.


1. Of course the accommodationists will admit no such thing as I'm sure you are about to see in the comments. Such an admission would require them to say that they mislead Judge Jones in the Dover trial.

59 comments :

  1. Bradley Monton, professor of the philosophy of physics, already pointed out that most philosophers of science do not think methodological naturalism is necessary in science, here:

    http://bradleymonton.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/pennock-on-monton-in-us-news-world-report/

    "...a false view about philosophy of science was promulgated by Judge Jones. Jones made it sound as if philosophers of science agree that methodological naturalism is a constraint on science, whereas in fact I think this is highly contentious in the philosophy of science community – or, if it’s not highly contentious, that’s because most all philosophers of science are on my side."

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    1. Excuse me, Judge Jones was merely citing the testimony of philosopher Barbara Forrest who considers that methodological naturalism is science.

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  2. Going to have to get this article, Booudry's 'Here be Dragons' was really fascinating.
    He really seems to like the phrase 'grist-to-the-mill' tho eh?

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  3. Is this new? I feel like I read it a year or two ago. Ps mislead->misled, and both IMN-like and PMN-like arguments were made at trial. The PMN position has many points to recommend it, but it doesn't suffice as a complete discussion of the issue. Eg as Pennock said at trial, should science included the hypothesis that YEC is correct but God created appearance of age? Can we exclude the idea that an IDer interested in an Avida run to make the IC structures appear? These supernatural hypotheses are not ruled out by evidence. You and Boudry seem to think they should be considered science, I guess. But that's an absurd position. That's as much as I'll type through an iPhone...

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    1. The problem with those hypotheses has nothing to do with naturalism; replacing "all-natural space aliens" or "all-natural ancient Earthlings" for "God" or "IDer" makes them no better.

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    2. Au contraire. All-natural ancient Earthlings couldn't produce appearance of age in the Earth, nor interfere inside the Avida program while it is running and while scientists are watching it run. At least not if by ancient Earthlings you mean humans living a lone time ago, perhaps with advanced-but-plausible technology. I.e., that explanation is testable and false.

      I suppose it is vaguely imaginable that you could have "all-natural space aliens" with advanced-and-totally-implausible technology that violates known laws of physics, but then this just becomes an instance of Asimov's rule: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

      The problem with both God/supernatural and "sufficiently advanced" aliens is that once you suspend the laws of physics as constraints, and also allow the intelligent entity to have inscrutable minds and motives, you've got nothing left in the "hypothesis" that constrains your empirical expectations. So I think it is clear that we can see that the abandonment of natural law as a constraint on your explanation causes a *huge* problem, whether it's God or effectively-supernatural aliens.

      But, I'm not inclined to argue too hard about this. If someone wants to say that empirical testability is what is key in science, and that methodological naturalism is derived from this testability principle, I wouldn't object. In fact I think it's basically correct. I suppose one could argue that then methodological naturalism is formally unnecessary, and we should just talk about testability, but I would reply that (a) this admits that methodological naturalism was correct after all, contra its critics, and (b) it is totally valid to take a particularly common and noticeable source of untestable ideas, i.e. GodDidIt/theIDerDidIt, and highlight the problems with this source with the term "methodological naturalism". But whether one emphasized testability or methodological naturalism would basically be a matter of personal preference or situational utility. Shrug.

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    3. Nick Matzke said,

      "...both IMN-like and PMN-like arguments were made at trial."

      Then whoever tried to argue the PMN view didn't do a very good job. Judge Jones completely ignored it and went with what was in the plaintiffs' brief. I think that you had a hand in writing that brief, correct? Why didn't you insert a paragraph pointing out that not all philosophers agree with IMN?

      "as Pennock said at trial, should science included the hypothesis that YEC is correct but God created appearance of age?"

      Yes. That's a perfectly scientific question as far as I'm concerned. Science is a way of knowing that requires healthy skepticism, rational thought, and evidence. These criteria can all be brought to bear on the question.

      "These supernatural hypotheses are not ruled out by evidence."

      True, you can never actually prove the non-existence of tooth fairies but a scientific approach to the problem makes the probability extremely low.

      "You and Boudry seem to think they should be considered science, I guess. But that's an absurd position."

      Well, I guess that settles it then. Nick and his allies must be correct because any other position is absurd! You were able to convince Judge Jones but you won't convince me with declarations like that.

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    4. "as Pennock said at trial, should science included the hypothesis that YEC is correct but God created appearance of age?"

      Yes. That's a perfectly scientific question as far as I'm concerned.


      How would you test this? A proper appearance of age would be in all ways indistinguishable from true age. Your idea that we should look for other sign's of God's deception is useless; if God is a good enough deceiver (part of the job description being that he's infinitely good enough at everything) he won't leave any clues. You can't investigate the perfect crime; you don't even suspect it happened.

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    5. Then whoever tried to argue the PMN view didn't do a very good job. Judge Jones completely ignored it and went with what was in the plaintiffs' brief. I think that you had a hand in writing that brief, correct? Why didn't you insert a paragraph pointing out that not all philosophers agree with IMN?

      Jesus, really? "Not all philosophers agree" about the existence of reality, for Pete's sake. We could all be brains in a vat.

      Anyway,

      (a) we didn't rely on any such argument-from-consensus-of-philosophers on this point. If we had, we would have cited some official statement from some philosophical society. We did rely partially on the authority of major scientific organizations -- perfectly legitimately, since the case is about science -- and their formal statements agree with us about methodological naturalism.

      (b) Instead, we provided several expert witnesses who amongst other things made historical and philosophical *arguments*. The judge happened to find those more convincing than the counterarguments from the other side. That's what you're supposed to do in a court case. Shrug.

      (c) And, the Defense actually explicitly cited Larry Laudan (the leading critic of attempts to demarcate science from pseudoscience) during cross-examination of Robert Pennock; brought in a philosopher of science themselves (Steve Fuller); and made all of the anti-demarcationist and anti-naturalist arguments that are so popular with you and the ID movement. The arguments just aren't that convincing under cross-examination and counterargument, because they are very vulnerable to common-sense objections. E.g.:

      * Under your definition of science, isn't astrology also a science?

      * If you say that the evidence is against YEC, but this is only true with a version of YEC constrained (by assuming natural law) to be testable. What role does evidence play in evaluating YEC+God-made-appearance-of-age?

      * Ditto for God-intervened-inside-the-Avida-simulation.

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    6. All of these *actually literally were discussed in testimony at trial*. We pointed out that testability and MN answer those questions quite nicely. Your answer seems to be basically "yep, let all the crap into science", and your motivation seems to be the desire to say that God is a scientific hypothesis and has been disproven by science. But that sort of answer does all kind of violence to what most people, and most scientists, think science is. You need to provide better answers than we did if you want to convince people that there is some big flaw in the decision.


      "as Pennock said at trial, should science included the hypothesis that YEC is correct but God created appearance of age?"

      Yes. That's a perfectly scientific question as far as I'm concerned. Science is a way of knowing that requires healthy skepticism, rational thought, and evidence. These criteria can all be brought to bear on the question.


      OK then. So tell us, what's the evidence against the idea that God created the Universe with appearance of age? For the rationality criterion, what's the logical flaw in the explanation? Or, if your opinion is that we are by default have healthy skepticism of any explanation until there is positive evidence for it, well then, welcome to the club that finds some value in a priori considerations.


      "These supernatural hypotheses are not ruled out by evidence."

      True, you can never actually prove the non-existence of tooth fairies but a scientific approach to the problem makes the probability extremely low.


      Please specify the statistical model that would allow one to calculate the probability of tooth fairies.


      PS: You are falling into the same trap that Larry Laudan fell into after the McLean vs. Arkansas case. I.e. not getting how trials work, not getting that they are about reaching a reasonable decision reasonably quickly, not about addressing every conceivable issue for all time, not getting that the whole point of putting a matter before a judge is to get the opinion of a reasonably intelligent nonexpert, not to have the judge become a lifetime scholar of some issue, etc.

      Read:

      1. Robert T. Pennock (2009). Can't philosophers tell the difference between science and religion?: Demarcation revisited. http://www.springerlink.com/content/0039-7857/178/2/

      ==============
      Barry Gross thought that Laudan’s basic mistake was a disastrous application of inappropriate standards. Laudan, he wrote, “has confused the outlines of a Constitutional conflict with a colloquium in philosophy” and in doing so neglected his own wise pragmatic advice about the need to pay attention to the relevant context of inquiry and to the actual course of the evolution of science (Gross 1983, p. 30). Gross was certainly right about this, but as we have seen there is more to the problem, for Laudan and others who have echoed him fail in philosophically more serious ways.
      ==============

      2. Gross, B. R. (1983b). Commentary: Philosophers at the bar—Some reasons for restraint. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 8(4), 30–38.

      http://www.jstor.org/stable/689247

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    7. John Harshman asks,

      "How would you test this?"

      I can't think of a definitive test.

      Let me ask you another question. You obviously believe that that this hypothesis (God created appearance of age) cannot be addressed by the scientific way of knowing. Do you think there's another way of knowing that can be applied or do you just think that it's perfectly okay for scientists to believe that most of what we see is an illusion created by a deceiving God?

      Do you believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old but looks older? Why not? Did you do an experiment?

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    8. Nick Matzke asks (indirectly).

      The arguments just aren't that convincing under cross-examination and counterargument, because they are very vulnerable to common-sense objections. E.g.:

      * Under your definition of science, isn't astrology also a science?

      * If you say that the evidence is against YEC, but this is only true with a version of YEC constrained (by assuming natural law) to be testable. What role does evidence play in evaluating YEC+God-made-appearance-of-age?


      Here's how I would answer.

      1. Investigation of the validity of astrology is a perfectly legitimate scientific problem. The reason why astrology is not a science is because that investigation has demonstrated that none of the claims of astrology are valid. Astrology is not valid science for the same reason that steady state theory is not valid science.

      2. "Evidence" is only one of the criteria used to decide whether something qualifies as valid scientific knowledge. The Omphalos Hypothesis can be addressed by the scientific way of knowing and it fails to qualify as valid science. There's no evidence to support its main assumptions and it doesn't explain anything that isn't better explained by theories that don't require extraordinary assumptions. The hypothesis is clearly irrational.

      Now, Nick, let me put you on in the witness box.

      * Do you believe in astrology? If not, what criteria do you use to reach that conclusion and why do you exclude them from science?

      * Do you believe that a reasonable scientist could believe in a 6000 year old Earth that was created by a supernatural being with the appearance of age? If so, why don't we see the following disclaimer at the end of a scientific paper on supernova: Everything in this paper is consistent with the idea that the supernova never existed and the radiation was created by God 6000 light years away.?

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    9. Nick Matzke says,

      PS: You are falling into the same trap that Larry Laudan fell into after the McLean vs. Arkansas case. I.e. not getting how trials work, not getting that they are about reaching a reasonable decision reasonably quickly, not about addressing every conceivable issue for all time, not getting that the whole point of putting a matter before a judge is to get the opinion of a reasonably intelligent nonexpert, not to have the judge become a lifetime scholar of some issue, etc.

      Everyone who lived through the O.J. Simpson trial or read the dissent in Edwards v Aguillard [Justice Scalia's Misunderstanding] knows how trials work. They are not about truth.

      Knowing how trials work means that reasonable people will not point to a judge's decision as evidence that their position on philosophy or science is correct. This would be more obvious if the decision had gone the other way in the Dover trial.

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  4. If it exist, it is natural. There can be no supernatural and therefore there is nothing supernatural to study.

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  5. Larry, Thales and Strato argue that we should keep teleology out of science whilst Aristotle says yea to teleology. Science bears out the two.
    Per Lamberth's atelic/teleonomic argument, as science finds no divine teleology-intent- agency- then God cannot have the referents of Grand Miracle Monger, Creator and so forth, and thus cannot exist,affirming then ignosticism-igtheism.
    Thus, to introduce Him in the form or theistic evolution contradicts science instead of complementing it. Besides, were science and religion compatible, how would God work in Nature- by the magic of let it be?
    Nevertheless, supernaturalists still would insist on His agency behind Nature, however they would find it. That makes for the new Omphalos argument that He deceives us, not with apparent ancient age as in the old one but with deceptive ambiguity as the late John Hick puts in his epistemic distance argument.
    No, no such deception. Hick, that every-ready rationalizer, states that we can either see the world through the eyes of faith or naturalistically. But no,because, again, no such agency appears, and to find divine agency is just another of the supernaturalists' resort to the argument from ignorance that comes after their argument from personal incredulity.
    Theistic evolutionists, who know more about evolution than I , overlook one matter, to ask the why as a personal explanation is just affirming Lamberth's reduced animism argument that no matter that theists' seeing one spirit and full animists and polytheists the many, and - no category mistake, the one is just as superstitious as the many as the point is natural causes themselves are the sufficient reason and primary cause per the Flew-Lamberth the presumption of naturalism that demands evidence to overcome it as Einstein did with Newton.
    Thus, no begged question ensues, just those causes given their usefulness.
    Theistic evolutionists overlook the power of evolution with their insistence on His input.
    That Omphalos argument then mocks science with the same kind of nonsense as Last Thursday-ism! Metaphysics cannot gainsay science!
    Why any animism? Lamberth's argument from pareidolia notes that just as people see the pareidolia of Marian apparitions or Yeshua on a tortilla, people see the ones of intent-agency and design when only teleonomy-causalism - mechanism- acts. Scientists are investigating the how and why of people seeing patterns and patterns as designs.

    Google lamberth's naturalistic arguments about God that not only show mine but other arguments against that square circle called God!
    Is it not both a scientific and philosophical point about that lack of intent instead of what Dr.Scott states is just a philosophical point? Simpson and Mayr, with their rejection of teleology, come to mind as affirming that. Don't they win over her point?
    Mayr uses the term teleonomy as distinct from teleology as causalis-mechanism,finding Nature works in an atelic manner. Thus the name for this argument.
    I,too,support PMN. However, whilst in accordance with the presumption, in demanding evidence for that agency and other matters, I'd find the supernatural real were there evidence, the supernatural lacks credulity as His attributes are incoherent and contradictory such that again, He cannot exist! And that lack of agency again,points to His being a square circle!
    Thus, what evidence do supernaturalists have for His input, miracles, Muhammad's Ascension on that horse and his splitting of the moon, that Virgin Birth, Resurrection and Mary's Ascension?
    Were the Cosmos different and were there mountains of evidence for Him, then with Victor Stenger , we could then think that perhaps that that God-superstition might not be such!
    What then do you maintain about all thiis? Am I on the right track?

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  6. For information, the full final draft of the paper is available from Boudry's 'writings' page.

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  7. The word "naturalism", as used by both philosophers and scientists, seems deeply equivocal, denoting both an epistemic method (knowledge gained by virtue of connection to the evidence of our senses) and ontological materialism/physicalism (explanations that restrict their elements to the physical world). The first sense is truly metaphysical: if you're not talking about knowledge in terms of the evidence of your senses, you're just not doing science. Epistemic naturalism is a metaphysical commitment, not a scientific theory; it defines what science is.

    Ontological naturalism (materialism/physicalism), on the other hand, represents a part of all presently-known scientific theories: all our observations and experiments that can be adequately explained can be explained by appeal to nothing but the physical world, and theories that include elements and forces outside the physical world have not shown any explanatory success or progress.

    I go into the topic in more detail in Naturalism and supernaturalism

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    1. That's how I see it just expressed in a better way.

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  8. Nick: "Eg as Pennock said at trial, should science included the hypothesis that YEC is correct but God created appearance of age?"

    I think most YECers would say that God would not try to deceive us by creating the appearance of age, so that we should rule that hypothesis out. YECers try to offer other hypotheses to explain the appearance of age. I'm no scientist, but I get the impression that so far their hypotheses fail for one reason or another. So I think we could say that if YEC is correct, so far the evidence is against it. That means that YEC is a scientific theory, but that it appears to be a false scientific theory.

    "Can we exclude the idea that an IDer interested in an Avida run to make the IC structures appear? These supernatural hypotheses are not ruled out by evidence. You and Boudry seem to think they should be considered science, I guess. But that's an absurd position."

    Why is it absurd?

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    1. Hi Bilbo,

      "I think most YECers would say that God would not try to deceive us by creating the appearance of age, so that we should rule that hypothesis out."

      Some would. Most? I don't think so. The appearance-of-age argument has a long history amongst YECs, going back to Omphalos in the 1800s all the way up to Al Mohler, current head of the Southern Baptist convention, the largest (and one of the YECiest) protestant denomination in the U.S. E.g. here: http://biologos.org/resources/albert-mohler-why-does-the-universe-look-so-old

      The "God-wouldn't-'lie'" argument is more popular with theistic evolutionists who are trying to convince YECs to pay attention to the physical evidence. One common YEC response is "God didn't lie, he told us how old the Earth was, right there in the Bible."

      Aaaaaaand this exact discussion shows that making supernatural hypotheses testable requires making specific assumptions about how God would have acted, if God did something. But, as we've just seen, people differ in what those assumptions should be, and therefore if "God did it somehow" is considered an acceptable scientific hypothesis, something that should have been an empirical argument resolvable by evidence (the age of the Earth) turns into a pointless theological catfight about different and uncheckable assumptions about God. To make it worse, extremely often people make assumptions about God while claiming that they aren't (e.g. this is virtually universal with IDists) but then try to protect these from scientific scrutiny (e.g. by making the ridiculous statement that "ID isn't about the designer" and that the identity and character of the designer is a question for theologians and philosophers, outside of science). Or, other people (like Gnu Atheists) refute some supernatural hypothesis based on some very specific assumption about how God would do things, forgetting how particular those assumptions are. If God is (as is often said) really all-powerful, all-knowing, outside time, and works in mysterious ways (i.e. divine inscrutability), then any "tests" of the supernatural are always an exercise in question-begging because they rely on uncheckable assumptions.

      So, there are, well, *intrinsic* reasons, as well as pragmatic ones, to think that relying on natural processes and not invoking supernatural ones is a good rule to follow in science. The sorts of counterfactual examples that philosophers dream up, e.g. what if a priest repeatably raised people from the dead, aren't really on point. In actual real life, invoking the supernatural in science is basically always done to "explain" some scientific "mystery" (real or imagined) that is very far from everyday observations (e.g. ancient origins events, microscopic events, consciousness, complex systems like the weather, etc.).

      There are various other points that could be made, e.g., methodological naturalism wasn't invented by atheists to bias the game against Christians, instead it was invented by Christians who realized that the study of secondary causes by themselves could be productive. The actual term "methodological naturalism" was also invented by a Christian, specifically to distinguish this view *from* metaphysical naturalism, and to avoid the charge (from creationists in the 1980s) that science took materialism as an a priori truth.

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    2. "Can we exclude the idea that an IDer interested in an Avida run to make the IC structures appear? These supernatural hypotheses are not ruled out by evidence. You and Boudry seem to think they should be considered science, I guess. But that's an absurd position."

      Why is it absurd?


      Because such hypotheses destroy any possible connection between the hypothesis and the physical evidence, which hopefully everyone agrees is something that science is supposed to be about. E.g. then the hypothesis that Supernatural Ceiling Cat created the world Last Thursday, complete with artificial memories of Last Wednesday and before for everybody, becomes a scientific idea.

      Larry & Boudry contend that supernatural hypotheses should be let into science because they can be tested. At the very least, I've shown that they often cannot be. Either we can open up science to all sorts of useless crap, or we can admit that we've got some a priori principles about what is science and what isn't.

      PS: The words of John Harshmann are wise.

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    3. "E.g. then the hypothesis that Supernatural Ceiling Cat created the world Last Thursday, complete with artificial memories of Last Wednesday and before for everybody, becomes a scientific idea."

      It's not a "scientific idea" but it's a question that can be addressed by science. You can ask whether there's any evidence for the existence of Supernatural Ceiling Cat and whether there's any evidence that she wants to deceive us. You can also ask whether the hypothesis is consistent with what we know already and whether it has explanatory power. One can reasonably conclude that the idea is not scientific but you can only reach that conclusion by examining it in the first place. If you rule it out by fiat then you can never conclude that it's an example of bad science.

      Same with Intelligent Design Creationism. I have examined it in some detail and I conclude that it's bad science and that's why it isn't true. You, on the other hand, have concluded that it's not science and therefore might be true by some other way of knowing.

      "Larry & Boudry contend that supernatural hypotheses should be let into science because they can be tested."

      I'm not hung up on the word "tested." Supernatural hypotheses can be "examined" to see if they make sense but that's not the same thing. I do not define science by whether or not something can be validated by experiment.

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    4. "PS: The words of John Harshmann are wise."

      Many things that John says are wise. But most wise men make mistakes now and then.

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    5. Wise words. If incorrectly applied in the present case.

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  9. Travis: If it exist, it is natural. There can be no supernatural and therefore there is nothing supernatural to study.

    Interesting statement of faith. Do you have any supporting evidence or arguments?

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  10. Interesting rant, Carneades. Do you feel better, now?

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  11. It seems that the main problem is in the vague definition of "supernatural". What does it mean? A pretty good operational definition would seem to be "that which is not able to be studied", i.e. whatever can't be attributed to causes or to any regularity in the world. I suppose you could try to study such things using Occam's Razor: if we can find a plausible cause, that wasnt' supernatural. But what if the supernatural cause mimics a natural one? How could we ever know? And can there ever be sufficient evidence to make a miracle the preferred hypothesis?

    Another possible meaning of "supernatural" is as a placeholder for "anything could happen". It's beyond me how you could ever study that. If anything can happen, how can you decide what did happen? If balls of different weights fall at the same speed, it could be because the angels carrying them were evenly matched, and it could be something that only happened this time, not all other times. Attempting to incorporate an omnipotent deity into a hypothesis has similar problems.

    So how can science not require methodological naturalism? Only, it seems to me, if we force the supernatural to follow some kind of rules, such that hypotheses incorporating it can be tested. But if it follows rules, is it still supernatural? And so back to definitions.

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  12. However you choose to define the supernatural, it seems to me that if it has a potentially detectable effect in the material universe, science should (in principle) be able to study it. And if it has no detectable effect whatsever in the material universe, then it may as well not exist.

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  13. Tempest in a teapot. There are not two magisteria. All humans are methodological naturalists, period. Its just that some, theists and the like, are willing to base their opinions on really poor evidence (which is sometimes difficult to distinguish from no evidence at all). This is hardly unique to the theist however. Even the best scientists will have at one time or another based an opinion upon very poor evidence. Theists (and the like) just do this with profound regularity, then stick with the resulting opinions to unwarranted degrees.

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  14. Science is restricted to those things that can be studied by the kinds of rigorous observation, quantification and analysis that are the agreed to tools and methods of science. Only those things that can be successfully treated with those can be included in the set of ideas that comprise science. Or, rather, that's what turns out to be reliable in what gets called "science". Stuff that gets included as science that later gets junked is usually deficient in one or more of those criteria. The goal of science is to come up with knowledge of greater reliability about those things that are susceptible to its abilities.

    Lots of human ideas can't be successfully treated with science so the ideas we have about those shouldn't be called science. Sometimes, as in history or the law, there are other criteria for testing those ideas, among those other criteria can be consulting what science can tell them but they are more inclusive in what can be reliably considered as historically or legally valid. Ideas people have about religion and the supernatural are also ideas that can't be included within science or history but they can also consult science and history.

    As the possibility of holding ideas to strict methodology and standards decreases, the chance of coming up with consistently reliable ideas about them is less certain. Though you can deal with many more ideas and phenomena than will honestly fit into science or history or other formal disciplines, and the adoption of those ideas usually depends more on convincing people instead of asserting formal standards of evaluation.

    That's the ideal, though. Ideology often is allowed to impinge on even science, especially materialistic ideologies and especially in the social sciences and their invasion into fields such as biology, as those attempt to deal with phenomena that can't really be subjected to scientific methods. Which could account for why they are so often in conflict with religion, since they so often deal with the same body of thought and experience. Call me overly skeptical but looking at the record of success in the social sciences in maintaining an asserted methodology or body of knowledge, calling it science is not warranted.

    Science can only deal with the material universe, it can't deal with any proposed supernatural. It's not any more competent to do that than it is the laws governing contract law or to decide which flavor of ice cream someone wants.

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    1. "Science is restricted to those things that can be studied by the kinds of rigorous observation, quantification and analysis that are the agreed to tools and methods of science. "

      No it isn't, but thanks for playing.

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    2. Ah, well, Larry Moran, if you want to give up the idea that science is an attempt at producing more reliable information about things, I guess you can do that. But if what's produced doesn't honestly stick to its subject matter and methodology, it's just a matter of time before it gets thrown on to the already enormous junk pile of discontinued science. Only, don't be surprised when people notice that junk is there and they become skeptical of the claims of scientists, sadly, even those claims which are rigorously confirmed and vitally important, as in human caused global warming. And don't be hurt that they won't play along with future claims that science produces reliable information. No matter how arrogantly that is asserted.

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    3. Science is a way of knowing that relies on tools such as evidence (of all sorts), healthy skepicism, and rational thinking. As far as I'm concerned, it's the ONLY way of knowing that's been shown to produce reliabe knowledge (truth).

      The scientific way of knowing applies to fields like art history, politics, and law as well as the traditional science disciplines like biology and geology. It can also be applied to religious questions and to whether or not the tooth fairy exists.

      Does that fit into your definition of using "the agreed to tools and methods of science"? If not, then what method of knowing do YOU use when trying to decide whether god exists? And please tell me more about the other ways of knowing used in the study of history and law. What rules do they follow?

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    4. How do you discern the causes of the Korean War with science instead of history?

      Observation of physical phenomena -either directly or indirectly by means of proven relevance and reliability - , measurement, analysis, review, publication and confirmation are what I was always taught were the basic methods and tools of science.

      I'd like you to explain how you use science to address the existence of the tooth fairy. I'm especially to know what kind of mathematics you'd use to analyze your data. And what that data would consist of. You know of a non-ideological, reviewed journal that publishes that kind of paper?

      Since so many religious people believe that God created the universe as it is, at every level of physical resolution and including all of the forces of the universe, I'd like to know how you would overturn that belief using science that studies the universe. I'd think that the best you could do is describe aspects of the universe but I don't see any way to get to the belief that whatever you find there was the creation of God with science. If you can tell me how you could do that I'd really like to know. If, as I suspect, you'll point to Biblical-fundamentalist style creationism, well, people have all kinds of wrong ideas about the physical universe, even within science. Many, perhaps most, religious believers are far more willing to allow their ideas to be informed by what science can tell them. Religion isn't restricted in its use of science, though science can't be informed by religion any more than business accounting can, to borrow a point from Eddington. History, the law, paint forumlation, etc. most areas of life are not as restricted in subject and methodology as science is. While science gains reliability of what it finds out about its restricted subject matter, something that none of those other fields can claim, it can't address much of what they cover at all. Not without creating some abomination like eugenics or "race science".

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  15. The NYT has an Opinionator series. It includes a sub-series called "The Stone," which discusses philosophical issues. This week's post discusses epistemological foundations of knowledge. As philosopher Michael Lynch put it, "Epistemic principles tell us what is rational to believe and what sources and methods for forming beliefs are worthy of our trust." I posted the following comment. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

    ---------------------------

    It seems to me that a fundamental difference between philosophy and science is that philosophy requires of itself that it be built on a conceptual framework. In some sense science doesn't.

    This very discussion (of epistemic first principles) is the sort of thing philosophy cares about. Philosophy wants to live in a realm of symbols--or at least concepts.Philosophy is like mathematics in that sense. It is always striving to put things in terms of statements that can be evaluated with respect to their truth.

    I don't think science is like that. Science attempts to look at the world, to abstract from it, and to express those abstractions in symbols and equations. But that's not the same thing as looking for true propositions. Science is not looking for truth; it is looking for ways of saying what we see. In that sense science is one step closer to reality than philosophy. It does not impose the requirement that what it says be true, only that what it says is consistent, as far as we can tell, with what we see.

    Because science is not concerned with truth, just consistency of observation, it can be open to new ways of observing that aren't necessarily pre-justified by epistemic first principles. In that sense, science is like the Nike slogan: just do it. It isn't necessary to establish in advance that what one will do will be true. After one makes an observation or does an experiment one can then think about whether or not to believe it.

    This feels awkward. I wish I could express it better.

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    1. "Science is not looking for truth ..."

      Yes it is, but thanks for playing.

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  16. Larry writes,

    "It's not a "scientific idea" but it's a question that can be addressed by science. You can ask whether there's any evidence for the existence of Supernatural Ceiling Cat and whether there's any evidence that she wants to deceive us. You can also ask whether the hypothesis is consistent with what we know already and whether it has explanatory power. One can reasonably conclude that the idea is not scientific but you can only reach that conclusion by examining it in the first place. If you rule it out by fiat then you can never conclude that it's an example of bad science."

    But when you examine the evidence, you'll find none against Ceiling Cat. After all, she created the world Last Thursday with the appearance of age, of evolutionary history, and of memories of Last Wednesday. She decided to leave no evidence to test your faith and because of Feline Inscrutability.

    Ditto for explanatory power, which just means that the proposed explanation leads you to deduce that some data should exist. (In more sophisticated versions, you calculate statistical likelihoods and pick the explanation that confers the highest likelihood on the data with the fewest parameters.)

    So there's no evidence for Ceiling Cat, and no evidence against her, either. As a matter of formal philosophy, she might exist and I guess technically we should be agnostic about her. Yet no one thinks we should take her seriously as a scientific hypothesis. I think this is basically because over the last several hundred years it became apparent in field after field that Medieval-Style logical hairsplitting about God and theological questions just wasn't going to be very productive for doing what was called "natural philosophy". Natural philosophy later got called science. Rather than trying to decide every last debatable metaphysical point, the people doing science said "you're welcome to those topics if you like them, that's just not what we're interested in when we're doing science."

    This was and is supported by both a priori considerations (intrinsic-like) and a posteriori considerations (pragmatic-like), so I don't see much of a reason to abandon one and use the other exclusively.

    "I'm not hung up on the word "tested." Supernatural hypotheses can be "examined" to see if they make sense but that's not the same thing. I do not define science by whether or not something can be validated by experiment."

    Obviously by "test" I don't mean only "experiment". There are a lot of ways to empirically test explanations (well, testable explanations) besides experiments.

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    1. "So there's no evidence for Ceiling Cat..."

      Exactly. It is not scientific to believe in something extraordinary without evidence.

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    2. I take it you are more on Jerry Coyne's side than PZ's when it comes to evidence. Like if a 900ft Jesus appeared to you, you would convert to Christianity?

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  17. Let me ask you another question. You obviously believe that that this hypothesis (God created appearance of age) cannot be addressed by the scientific way of knowing. Do you think there's another way of knowing that can be applied or do you just think that it's perfectly okay for scientists to believe that most of what we see is an illusion created by a deceiving God?

    There is no other way of knowing. Nothing can address that question. You obviously agree since you didn't mention any possible test, whether definitive or otherwise. There are an infinite number of hypotheses that fit the data, none of which can be rejected. We can prune them using Occam's Razor (i.e. "I had no need of that hypothesis", but is that a scientific procedure? Is it a way of knowing? Nope to both. We can also prune them for the practical reason that to consider such hypotheses makes science impossible. Is that scientific or a way of knowing? Again, nope. But the point is that it's pointless to consider such untestable questions.

    Do you believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old but looks older? Why not? Did you do an experiment?

    I don't. But I can't think of a way to test whether I'm right. We can only reject such claims for philosophical reasons. How about we define "supernatural" as a hypothesis that, if accepted, renders it impossible to do science?

    By the way, it's been claimed that string theory is in principle untestable. Is it supernatural if so? Whoops, we're back to needing that definition.

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    1. As I understand it, there is a branch of mathematics called strings which is just as legitimate as the branch of mathematics called groups and there is nothing about it that is in any way, shape, form or regard supernatural about it. The issue is whether this branch of mathematics has application to physics. AFAIK, the jury is still out on this issue.

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  18. No rant but instead serious reasons why not to pontificate about any divine intent whether it be creationist, intelligent design or theistic evolution.I illuminate how people brainwash themselves to believe in supernatural when no evidence for that animistic superstition can ever come forth.
    Since, Thales, we've no reason to find any divine intent as that begs the question as Carneades implicitly notes in answering Chrysippus.
    Reduced animism just as full animism ranks as gross superstition!
    All the theological symbolic logic and fine language reflect that.
    Keith Ward is thus as animistic-superstitious- as any Azande.
    Rant, no. Philosophy, yes. People need to ponder my remarks instead of misunderstanding them.
    So, where can one find that divine intent? In the imagination of the superstitious as the argument from pareidolia indicates.

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  19. So what if some supernatural almighty knows-all wants the miracles to be left as miracles, it then can leave miraculous outcomes out from all situations where scientific inquiries are (ever) being conducted. So if someone is going to observe (e.g.) intercessory prayer efficiency, those individuals that take/took/will be taking part in the experiment (no matter when or how the experiment is done) will be left without the healing power of the prayers. The human science will be easily evaded by any all-powerful thing. It's, like, quantum.

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  20. It seems this argument is primarily focused on science being whether a hypothesis explains the available data. Hence, the argument that we cannot rule out the idea that ceiling made the universe last week. What about the predictive power? Using the ceiling cat hypothesis any old thing could happen tomorrow. Using evolution (I'll focus on the last few billion years of earth history), we can make predictions about the future at some level. If our predictions are wrong, we incorporate that new data into the pool are rework our hypotheses. In the ceiling cat model, all predictions are equally valid (or I can't see a reason to distinguish them).

    re: string theory being supernatural. I don't think it is. It's a set of predictions that arise from a hypothesis to explain things beyond my pay-grade. It may not be testable now, but we (well other people can anyway) can use it to make subsequent predictions that may be testable or can be compared with other hypotheses. It's like saying the idea of a planet based on gravitational effects (prediction) was supernatural before Galle actually observed Neptune.

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    1. We can agree that something that's in principle testable isn't supernatural whether or not it's testable currently. But it's contended that string theory is *in principle* untestable -- that is, that there are no conceivable observations, now or in the future, that would tell us whether any version of it is preferable to any other. That most definitely is not like saying that predicting Neptune's existence is supernatural.

      Caveat: I'm not a physicist. I don't know if the claim of untestability is true, just that it has been made repeatedly by physicists.

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  21. It is not scientific to believe in something extraordinary without evidence. Larry Moran

    First, what is "extraordinary" and what isn't? How is that defined? How do you prevent that determination from becoming a matter of prejudice and preference? Or are you willing to allow prejudice and preference to become an ordinary component of science?

    Second, I'm assuming you reject multi-universe theory because there is no evidence that it's anything but a way to get by some of the teleological conclusions some people have proposed from some of the more extraordinary seeming discoveries about the "fine tuning" of the universe? I think it might be among the top three extraordinary beliefs purporting to be hard science these days. Why atheists who pretend they don't cotton on to teleological ideas about the universe don't just admit that no one knows what the "fine tuning" means and people are free to come to their own beliefs about that instead of creating the ultimate violation of parsimony, I used to wonder. But I don't wonder about it anymore.

    You also fail to distinguish between belief, which doesn't require the same kind of evidence that assertions of knowledge do. People say "I believe in God....." for a reason. As I had to point out to another atheist recently, the creed says "I believe" over and over, it doesn't say "I know".

    However, when you get right down to it, science is ultimately based in beliefs as surely as any other branch of thought. You have to believe that things you haven't, personally, observed and analyzed are accurate, you have to believe that scientists and reviewers have done what they say they have and we know that it's not unheard of to discover later that they didn't. I forget how many successful doctoral dissertations depended on research from the disgraced Diedrik Stapel. What is to be done about those scientific credentials on the part of both the researcher and the failure of review? What do you conclude about the ubiquitous practice of relying on previous research that you don't have the time or ability to inspect? That you have to take on faith?

    As one of my current favorites, Joseph Weizenbaum, has pointed out, science is dependent on persuasion instead of absolute knowledge. Religion, when it's being honestly asserted, admits that it is a matter of persuasion and belief and, as I pointed out above, at times consulting history and science within that persuasion. It's not much different from many other parts of human thought in that. It's science that has, by choice and mutual agreement, restricted its methods in order to arrive at enhanced reliability, which it gets only by restricting what it looks at and how it looks at it. When you deal with more complex aspects of life, it's too bad, but that ability to obtain enhanced reliability is just not within human capabilities.

    On another thread, in answering you, I pointed out that science and materialism can't tell you why it's wrong to sexually abuse young children. I could have pointed out to some rather slimy pseudo-scientific excuses assert that men are "hard wired" to rape by natural selection, even very young girls. I recall Lewontin had at least one rather colorful retort to that assertion. Would you say that asserting that child molestation is immoral was an "extraordinary" statement, one that is made without evidence? And what do you make of people with accepted scientific credentials who make statements like that? I'd say without any evidence that it's true, though, apparently, it's not an extraordinary enough statement that many, many people don't seem to reject it.

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    1. When you state that naturalism cannot state that rape is wrong, you betray your prejudice that why, you'd rape little girls and - little boys,only Being Itself or Sky Pappy won't let you. Were you an atheist would you really do such? Here we, due to our evolved, refined common moral sense won't rape period! The evidence supports this,but your well-drained eyes of faith supports refusal to recognize this fact! This per Richard Carrier's goal theory or my [ Google:] covenant morality for humanity- the presumption of humanism or another theory. His and mine are eclectic- teleological and deontological.
      You refuse to accept the evidence that your divine command morality is no more than the mores of the times as who stones children now for cheeking their parents or the other absurd commands just made up by those miscreant, miserable misanthropes of yore with their egregious simple subjectivism!
      Lord Russell has a decent simple subjectivism.
      The atelic argument gainsays your simple subjectivism in that as no divine intent comes forth, and supernaturalists never will give evidence as to how Being Itself can act when science notes otherwise. How then does your reduced animism dissolve how He operates in Nature without relying on the usual arguments from ignorance and from personal incredulity?
      The evidence for the presumption of naturalism is that know that Nature exists as a basic fact unlike your Being Itself that has no way to operate unless it be by the magic of let it be! Despite, Plantinga, Being itself is not basic but just a shibboleth.

      Per Reichenbach's the argument from Existence, as Existence is all, nothing can transcend it to direct it or be material whence it comes. It is ever a transformation, not a real beginning,despite Craig's prattle! No testability therefore requires itself!
      Richard Carrier, Paul Kurtz, Dave Draper and Kai Nielsen reverberate as philosophers whilst Craig and Plantinga, despite, their symbolic language and such, rank with Ayn Rand and Sylvia Brown[e] as woo meisters!
      What evidence do you have instead of your false interpretations of science for finding that supernaturalists can overcome the presumption of naturalism and the atelic argument?
      Carneades, Thales and Strato eviscerate your woo!
      Laurence, the more evidence we give, such people will just further ensconce themselves in their objurgation of reason for the faith of woo1 They wallow in inanities as other posters here in effect note! They misunderstand logical fallacies. The revel in such inanity as the priest class,because they cannot in principle and in fact find divine intent, so that per Lamberth's reduced animism argument, they use superstition as do full animists, and ti's no category mistake to find that at the level of Nature herself or natural forces, both due to that lack of intent are the same in fact and in principle!
      We accept naturalism, rationalism and skepticism,because they are lively, forced and momentous whereas the supernatural lacks those and other qualities- no there there!
      Yes, that poster has the right moniker,because he/she commits intellectual crimes!
      Promissory naturalism leads to progress whilst faith leads to intellectual otiosity- laziness and vacuity!
      No, not Hollywood stars, but instead the approval- stars- of all scientific organizations!
      You inanely prattle about evidence but never will you provide any, just your misinterpretation of where the facts lead! " Faith doth that to people!"
      " Reason removes mountains of ignorance whilst faith rests on the argument from ignorance. Faith, that begged question is the we just say so of credulity" Fr. Griggs

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  22. "Testable in principle" is an expression of belief, not of knowledge. How do you know if something is really testable until it's been tested? How do you know what the "test" will show until it's been conducted? Something that is "testable in principle" isn't reliable evidence of anything, it's conjecture.

    The idea that the material universe is all that there is is an untestable conjecture as much as any idea about the supernatural. When that form takes the form of promissory materialism it frequently gets inserted into science in exactly the same way that atheists are always going on about "religion" getting sneaked into science by ideologically unreliable religious believers. Not that they can produce either the religious moles or evidence of their corruption of the pure vessel of science when asked for that evidence.

    The bulk of behavioral science consists of promissory materialism and, as anyone who looks at biology knows, it's come to dominate the popular conception of evolution. The careers of E.O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins are illustrative of what that can result in. Both largely featured the descent into that kind of ideological vulgarization of science. E. O. Wilson sort of gave it up to pursue science and a last ditch effort at the preservation of diversity and has become skeptical of the entirely untestable Hamiltonian speculation that was a major motivation in their brand of promissory materialism. Dawkins has made a career of peddling the stuff and, in the last decade, has gone into pop-atheism and pretty much gave up on a science career altogether for something more like show biz. That seems to be the career path of choice by a number of even real scientists lately. Let me give them some advice, in show biz, there's not always room at the top. The public can only absorb so many would be stars. There will be no Hollywood squares for the almost contenders of the new atheism and Prometheus can sell only so many books.

    I'll have to say that a lot of what I'd grown up with about science and its reliability has been shaken in the last couple of decades, not by fundamentalist religion which I've always rejected and wasn't brought up to in the first place but by the pseudo-skeptical and new atheist fads. It's pretty appalling how ignorant many of the biggest fans of science are about what science is and what it isn't, what it can and can't do and the limits of its abilities. It's even more appalling how many scientists have at least the same level of ignorance of their own profession. And yet they're surprised when the frequent lapses between their assertions and their product lead people into a real skepticism of what gets presented as science.

    Just when science is needed the most to prevent or mitigate the biggest man made catastrophe in history, it's failing because of the arrogance of its priest class.

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    1. "Testable in principle" is an expression of belief, not of knowledge. How do you know if something is really testable until it's been tested? How do you know what the "test" will show until it's been conducted? Something that is "testable in principle" isn't reliable evidence of anything, it's conjecture.

      Nonsense. For example, "What's the floor of Aristarchus crater made of?" is a scientific question. We should all be able to agree that it's testable in principle: we know how to test it, since all you have to do is go there and get a sample for analysis. We con't currently (post-Apollo) have the capability to do that. But we know that it's possible to have that capability. And it's irrelevant that you don't know the results of the test until you do it; that's why it's a test rather than a demonstration. Nor is it claimed that being testable in principle is evidence of anything other than that a theory is scientific; note that "scientific" doesn't mean "correct".

      If, on the other hand, you're saying that we can have no idea what would even constitute a test until that test has been performed, that would make science a series of random actions. I'm going to test General Relativity by spooning peanut butter into a walnut shell. After I've done that, we'll see if I have in fact tested General Relativity. And then for a replication, I'll try walking backwards around the block.

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  23. "What's the floor of Aristarchus crater made of?" It's not testable "in principle", if you could get there it's testable in fact, assuming that whatever is there is like other materials that have been tested. Although you couldn't know unless you had a sample, you could test it to see if it was consistent with those, known, materials. If you would need other, unknown and unavailable tests to give a more complete picture would depend on seeing what's there. It's possible that you'd find it was made of things unlike anything known to existing science. Your example would tend to support my point, that until you can test it. What can be observed about it now is testable, not every test is going to yield conclusive results. Which is one of the problem of things that are asserted to be "testable in principle" being used as a sort of pseudo-evidence in arguments.

    I had a very long fight last year about Dawkin's "first bird in a flock to call out" speculation that was asserted to be evidence of some of his imaginary genes. The ability to test his idea in nature would be so extraordinarily complex, especially if you include the sense of hearing into those things considered, that it's probably more realistic to consider it "untestable in reality".

    There isn't a single object in the physical universe that is entirely susceptible to being exhaustively known scientifically, science can tell you only part of what is there. I doubt that there is any possibility of science ever being able to tell you, literally, everything about an object because there will always be aspects of it that aren't observable or quantifiable and so would not be susceptible to analysis. Those unknowable aspects of objects will not be "testable in principle" and until testing can be done on those unknown aspects, they cannot be assumed to be testable in principle.

    Your second paragraph is just silly.

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    1. OK, so the problem seems to be that I don't know what you mean by "testable in principle". I know what I mean, and by my definition Aristarchus counts, i.e. "testable if we had the physical capability, which it's possible to have but which we don't have at present". So what does it mean to you?

      I agree that my second paragraph is silly. It's supposed to be. But it seems to me a valid implication of your argument, and thus a fine reductio ad absurdem.

      Your various quibbles translate into "we can't really know anything", which may be all very nice for a philosopher, but suggest that you should get out of the way of the scientists.

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    2. Well, what couldn't you test if we had the capability? I gave several things that are asserted by scientists to be science but which are untestable and which are frequently believed to be "known" by self-appointed defenders of science on many of these blogs. The ubiquitous faith in evo-psy is based largely on that kind of stuff and it has real effects. If you want to see how bad that can get, review the history of eugenics, especially forced and involuntary sterilizations in the United States and Canada up into the 1970s and, possibly, 1980s.

      If you thought your second paragraph was relevant to what I said, you didn't understand what I said.

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    3. Just what are those other scientific wrongs? Scientists themselves find our wrongdoings in science whilst others just prattle as that lying Gish in his gallop ever does about evolutionist frauds when he did approve of the Paluxy Tracks and the how can it be that the bombardier beetle ever have evolved?
      You woo meisters just prefer basking in the darkness of inanities and "criminal' thoughts!
      This gnu atheist calls the superstitious as just that! This is legitimate name -calling1 We dissolve your prattle with evidence so that no ad hominem involve themselves!
      "God is in a worse position that the Scarecrow who had a body to which a mind could enter whilst He has neither and thus cannot exist! No wonder He is ineffable!' Ignostic Morgan
      " Reason removes mountains of ignorance whilst faith relies on the arguments from ignorance and from personal incredulity. Faith, that begged questio,n is just the we say so of credulity. Science is acquired knowledge, as Sydney Hook notes, whilst faith begs the question of being knowledge." Fr. Griggs
      http://ignosticmorgan.posterous.com
      http://carneades.posterous.com
      http://inguiringlynn.wordpress.com
      http://fathergriggs.wordpress.com
      Those are four out of over 100 blogs that by Googlin lamberth's naturalistic arguments about God, people can find out the evidence goes against that square circle, Being Itself!

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  24. Carnades, I hope you've got a day job to go along with your career as a poet.

    I was just re-reading Gould's The Pleasure of Pluralism because something someone said here reminded me of it.

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/reviews/gould_pluralism.html

    What he points out about Dennett's MO of false attribution of ideas and sneering in place of reasoned argument based in an actual knowledge of what's being discussed is the model of new atheist discourse.

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  25. Geesh, Carneades Hume, I just checked out how many blogs you have, which I'd suggest to anyone taking you seriously. I assume that those others you cited are more of them. Maybe if you would concentrate your efforts you might get somewhere. But, as the career of Paul Kurtz shows, you can make a lesser effort appear to be more than it is by that strategy. I've caught a few new atheist blog commentators doing the same thing with sock puppets.

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    1. Who are those sock puppet atheist commentators?
      Why do you dissent from my arguments?
      Do you make that new implicit Omphalos argument? Do you find divine intent despite no evidence for such, and that would mean that scientists never could revise experiments as just one outcome had divine intent? Would you ten make the case for backwards causation that the future comes before the past and the effect before the cause, negating time as Paul B. Weisz notes in " The Science of Biology." No Aristotelian intent in organisms themselves [ I forget his term.].
      Science ratifies what Thales and Strato affirm that no supernatural intent lies behind natural forces. How do you gainsay that without begging the question of final causes based on intent?
      Larry, could then answer us both.
      Larry, do you favor the PMN or the IMN?
      I am building the atelic argument on Weisz's pellucid discussion of why teleology cannot fructify anything in science.
      Larry, others would claim as they do with that tea pot that no one has ever seriously come to believe in it:it is just silly. No, as it concerns the nature of claims.What do you state in support of both as defeaters?
      Lamberth's reduced animism sums up why supernaturalists are reduced animist and why reduced animism is still superstitious.
      Lamberth's argument from pareidolia sums up why supernaturalists ignore natural causes as ultimate causes and see patterns as designs.
      That is, supernaturalists read onto Nature superstition from their pareidolia.
      Why, because per Lamberth's non-genetic argument, supernaturalists themselves dissolve the accusation against us with our analysis of why they believe as they use the unsubstantiated arguments from angst and from happiness-purpose. Francisco Jose Ayala, echoing Augustine, uses the one from angst that we are forlorn without belief in Him for our values and purpose in " Darwin and Intelligent Design." Else where, he prattles that we need God to overcome angst, but why, when therapy can help anybody do that? He cannot fathom that we don't need Being Itself to find good values;he begs the question of His making values , as the Euthyphro invalidates that mere assumption.
      Such an empty claim that we need Him for happiness and purpose as this life, human love and human purposes suffice; and to wail that nevertheless, without Him we have angst and no real happiness and purpose calls for therapy! His prattling then about divine love and divine purpose and the future life bespeaks a need for therapy as is the case with Billy Lane.
      " Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate meaning to which neither God nor the future state can further validate." Inquiring Lynn
      Thus we make no genetic argument as they shout from the roof tops : woe is me! Fools deny atheism; we naturalists can rightly deny Him from the roof tops and the public square! Note my Ignostic Morgan quote in the previous post.

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  26. Laurence, what do you state as to my viewpoint and that of the thought criminal? Don't you agree with the atelic/teleonomic argument? Don't you agree with the reduced animism argument that theism is just superstition? Thus, don't you agree with the substance of my post of 10 March? How should I better phrase any of those arguments?
    Coyne and you agree with me, I think that the NCES should only state that believers can believe in evolution, not that science cannot say yea or nay about Him when Stenger illuminates that it does in fact! And the Ceiling Cat like, Lord Russells celestial tea pot, has force in being ineffable like Him,despite what others state,eh?
    So you would agree with me about that new Omphalos argument that supernaturalists implicitly make in the manner of Hick's epistemic distance argument?
    Where we disagree is that I use the term rational venues of knowing whilst you use scientific venues, including,pertaining to art,etc. I use rational to avoid others' calling it scientistic.You take the accusation by the horn, noting that you do include art,etc.
    We both then find haughty John Haught begging the question of our beggiing the question against other venues of knowing when we say scientific or rational when he alleges those other venues! He means, I take it, infirmed
    intuitions,revelations and such.
    Rem B.Edwards faults us for not considering supernaturalism as having just as much a right as naturalism but no, because his supernaturalism-God- rests on convoluted, ad hoc assumptions,violating the Ockham,despite Richard Swinburne's misunderstanding of that heuristic.
    Such twaddle is why I take on sophisticated theologians!
    I combine and permute arguments at those many blogs and elsewhere. I reblog articles to mine to which I make comments and post there my own articles, which I also reblog. I'm just trying to reach more people that way. As to elsewhere, Google skeptic griggsy.
    I invite thoughtful commentary at the blogs.
    I heartily agree with Boudry!

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  27. Larry, well, please answer sometime. I see intent as superstition. I make no category mistake as this lack of divine intent means that the spirit behind Nature is the same as for natural forces- no direction. Mayr and Simpson note no director behind evolution.
    I'll encourage my viewers to come here!
    mlg.lamberth@gmail Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth

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  28. Ever the atelic argument- no Divine director behind natural causes and, they are their own bosses!
    Were there that intent, then as Weizs notes, no one would do aexperiments,because everything was already set in place,and thus could never vary!
    Jerry Coyne and Amiel Rossow @ Talk Reason illuminate the argument!Ans this is where the NCSE, Dr. Scott and I part company as this is not only a philosophical point but also a scientific one, so that accommodationists should only state that many believers accept evolution as His way of operating in the Cosmos.
    Whilst we gnu naturalists affirm that theists must evince how He operates behind natural selection and other natural causes instead of just feeling that He and science are compatible. Then comes the atelic. Never shall theists illustrate how He operates, so they relish a mystery to solve for them a mystery- why something instead of nothing exists- such blasphemey of reason!

    Laurence, perhaps you'll do an essay on why we naturalists need to oppose the use of Divine intent.

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