Joined: Sep. 2009
|Of course I have no problem with me saying "all of science denies supernaturalism as a knowable cause" †-- because it does.|
Nope, you were presented with three separate refutations from the professionals---and to this day you remain unable to refute a one of them.
In fact, this is a good way to start presenting the "ID Is Science" portion.....by dealing with your main objection (your main presupposition, more accurately) right off the top.
First, let's review the three refutations that were given to you, and which you are totally unable to eliminate.
|"In fact, if the preceding investigations are correct, there is no compelling conceptual basis for any blanket prohibition on exploring applications or implications of the idea of supernatural design within the scientific context.|
"Some design theories may be inappropriate in some instances, but that is perfectly consistent with others being in principle legitimate.
"It is, of course, perfectly possible that such attempts could end up wholly empty, but since every scientific research program faces at least that possibility, that hardly constitutes grounds for pre-emptive prohibitions."
--- Dr. Del Ratzsch, Nature, Design and Science, c2001, p.149
|"Science is about what is testable, not necessarily what is naturalistic."|
chemist Dr. John Millam, May 2005 KS science hearings
|Naturalism: the only game in town? |
G. K. Chesterton once said that "behind every double standard lies a single hidden agenda." Advocates of descent have used demarcation arguments to erect double standards against design, suggesting that the real methodological criterion they have in mind is naturalism.
Of course for many the equation of science with the strictly materialistic or naturalistic is not at all a hidden agenda. Scientists generally treat "naturalistic" as perhaps the most important feature of their enterprise. Clearly, if naturalism is regarded as a necessary feature of all scientific hypotheses, then design will not be considered a scientific hypothesis.
But must all scientific hypotheses be entirely naturalistic? Must scientific origins theories, in particular, limit themselves to materialistic causes?
Thus far none of the arguments advanced in support of a naturalistic definition of science has provided a noncircular justification for such a limitation. Nevertheless, perhaps such arguments are irrelevant. Perhaps scientists should just accept the definition of science that has come down to them. After all, the search for natural causes has served science well. What harm can come from continuing with the status quo? What compelling reasons can be offered for overturning the prohibition against nonnaturalistic explanation in science?
In fact, there are several.
First, with respect to origins, defining science as a strictly naturalistic enterprise is metaphysically gratuitous. Consider: It is at least logically possible that a personal agent existed before the appearance of the first life on earth.
Further, as Bill Dembski argues in the next chapter, we do live in the sort of world where knowledge of such an agent could possibly be known or inferred from empirical data. This suggests that it is logically and empirically possible that such an agent (whether divine or otherwise) designed or influenced the origin of life on earth.
To insist that postulations of past agency are inherently unscientific in the historical sciences (where the express purpose of such inquiry is to determine what happened in the past) suggests we know that no personal agent could have existed prior to humans. Not only is such an assumption intrinsically unverifiable, it seems entirely gratuitous in the absence of some noncircular account of why science should presuppose metaphysical naturalism.
Second, to exclude by assumption a logically and empirically possible answer to the question motivating historical science seems intellectually and theoretically limiting, especially since no equivalent prohibition exists on the possible nomological relationships that scientists may postulate in nonhistorical sciences.
The (historical) question that must be asked about biological origins is not "Which materialistic scenario will prove most adequate?" but "How did life as we know it actually arise on earth?"
Since one of the logically and syntactically appropriate answers to this later question is "Life was designed by an intelligent agent that existed before the advent of humans," it seems rationally stultifying to exclude the design hypothesis without a consideration of all the evidence, including the most current evidence, that might support it.
The a priori exclusion of design diminishes the rationality or origins research in another way. Recent nonpositivistic accounts of scientific rationality suggest that scientific theory evaluation is an inherently comparative enterprise. Notions such as consilience and Peter Lipton's inference to the best explanation discussed above imply the need to compare the explanatory power of competing hypotheses or theories.
If this process is subverted by philosophical gerrymandering, the rationality of scientific practise is vitiated. Theories that gain acceptance in artificially constrained competitions can claim to be neither "most probably true" nor "most empirically adequate." Instead such theories can only be considered "most probable or adequate among an artificially limited set of options."
Moreover, where origins are concerned only a limited number of basic research programs are logically possible. (Either brute matter has the capability to arrange itself into higher levels of complexity or it does not. If it does not, then either some external agency has assisted the arrangement of matter or matter has always possessed its present arrangement.)
The exclusion of one of the logically possible programs of origins research by assumption, therefore, seriously diminishes the significance of any claim to theoretical superiority by advocates of a remaining program. As Phillip Johnson has argued, the use of "methodological rules" to protect Darwinism from theoretical challenge has produced a situation in which Darwinist claims must be regarded as little more than tautologies expressing the deductive consequences of methodological naturalism.
An openness to empirical arguments for design is therefore a necessary condition of a fully rational historical biology.
A rational historical biology must not only address the question "Which materialistic or naturalistic evolutionary scenario provides the most adequate explanation of biological complexity?" but also the question "Does a strictly materialistic evolutionary scenario or one involving intelligent agency or some other theory best explain the origin of biological complexity, given all relevant evidence?"
To insist otherwise is to insist that materialism holds a metaphysically privileged position. Since there seems no reason to concede that assumption, I see no reason to concede that origins theories must be strictly naturalistic.
---Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, "Methodological Equivalence of Design and Descent", ARN, www.arn.org
Okay, now those three are back on the table. †The next post answers your one question and takes everything further.