The thesis expressed in the title of this “opening bat” post is plainly controversial, and doubtless will be hotly contested and/or pointedly ignored. However, when all is said and done, it will be quite evident that it has the merit that it just happens to be both true and well-warranted.
So, let us begin.
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, thatwe are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [Emphases added.]
No wonder, a few months later, noted Intelligent Design thinker Philip Johnson aptly rebutted, in First Things:
The matter is actually as simple as that.
In the end, that’s why there is so much heat and smoke rather than light in the controversy over Evolution, Creation and Design. For, much is at stake institutionally, educationally and culturally, and yet it turns on something so simple and obviously fallacious as aggressive materialist ideology-driven begging of worldview questions presented under the false colours of science.
Now, them’s fighting words, so let us justify them by citing what the US National Academy of Science wrote in the 2008 edition of their long-running pamphlet, Science, Evolution and Creationism:
In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing. [Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, p. 10 Emphases added.]
Observe that ever so subtly loaded imposition: science “must” explain by natural causes. That is, by matter, energy, space, time, their spontaneous interactions on chance and mechanical necessity, thence what plausibly derives from that on the evolutionary materialist narrative, including life and intelligence.
Immediately, we should ask: just what is “natural”? And, right after that: why is it contrasted to “supernatural” (instead of say, “artificial”)? [More . . . ]