We have all heard of the NCSE, but the National Science Teachers Association [of the US], NSTA, has proposed a new definition of the nature of science, in a declaration signed off by its Board of Directors, as long ago as July, 2000. Excerpting:
Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .
Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge. [Emphases added.]
The imposition of evolutionary materialistic bias through so-called methodological naturalism is patent. We also see the tendentious contrast: natural vs. supernatural, in a context where natural [chance and/or necessity] vs. the artificial or intelligent would be a better contrast; as has been known ever since Plato wrote his The Laws, Bk X, 360 BC.
There is also a sharp and unexplained contrast with typical definitions of science and its methods from high quality dictionaries in the years before the latest push to enforce evolutionary materialistic orthodoxy in education:
science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990 — and yes, they used the “z” Virginia!]
scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster’s 7th Collegiate, 1965]
Another way to see this was recently pointed out by Uncommon Descent Blogger Barry Arrington:
Today, for the sake of argument only, let us make two assumptions:
1. First, let us assume that the design hypothesis is correct, i.e., that living things appear to be designed for a purpose because they were in fact designed for a purpose.
2. Second, let us assume [presumably, by the “rule” of methodological naturalism] that the design hypothesis is not a scientific hypothesis, which means that ID proponents are not engaged in a scientific endeavor, or, as our opponents so often say, “ID is not science.”
From these assumptions, the following conclusion follows: If the design hypothesis is correct and at the same time the design hypothesis may not be advanced as a valid scientific hypothesis, then the structure of science prohibits it from discovering the truth about the origin of living things . . . .
No one can know with absolute certainty that the design hypothesis is false. It follows from the absence of absolute knowledge, that each person should be willing to accept at least the possibility that the design hypothesis is correct, however remote that possibility might seem to him. Once a person makes that concession, as every honest person must, the game is up. The question is no longer whether ID is science or non-science. The question is whether the search for the truth of the matter about the natural world should be structurally biased against a possibly true hypothesis. [“What if it’s true?” Uncommon Descent, Aug. 6, 2010. (Emphasis added.)]
For, we did not – and cannot — directly observe the remote past, so origins science theories are in the end attempted “historical” reconstructions of what we think the past may have been like. Such reconstructions are based on investigating which of the possible explanations seems “best” to us on balance in light of the evidence.
However, to censor out a class of possible explanations ahead of time through imposing materialism plainly undermines the integrity of this abductive method.
So, we must ask: is supporting such censorship a sound approach to science education?