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The United Methodists and NOMA

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Before I put the issue with the United Methodist Church and Discovery Institute to rest, I want to make one last comment on the UMC’s Statement on Science and Technology, which I wrote about the other day. One of the most significant assertions in the statement is “We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues.” If that sounds vaguely familiar to readers here at Uncommon Descent, it should. It is little more than a restatement of the late Stephen J. Gould’s principle of Non-Overlapping Magisteria (or NOMA).

In essence, NOMA is the idea that Science and Religion occupy different spheres of knowledge and influence and as such are subject to two completely different ruling authorities or magisterium. Science has its sphere and doesn’t tell Religion what to do and Religion has its sphere, and Science doesn’t interfere there. On the surface, this would seem to make perfect sense. Science is Science, Religion is Religion, and one can’t dictate to the other regarding its boundaries or methods. Gould himself put it this way:

No such conflict [between science and religion] should exist because each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority—and these magisteria do not overlap (the principle that I would like to designate as NOMA, or “nonoverlapping magisteria”). The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for starters, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beautyTo cite the arch cliches, we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven.

If only things could be so ordered and tidy. But, as Gould goes on to point out:

This resolution might remain all neat and clean if the nonoverlapping magisteria (NOMA) of science and religion were separated by an extensive no man’s land. But, in fact, the two magisteria bump right up against each other, interdigitating in wondrously complex ways along their joint border. Many of our deepest questions call upon aspects of both for different parts of a full answer—and the sorting of legitimate domains can become quite complex and difficult.

That’s hardly surprising considering that both Science and Religion offer much differing narratives about the origins of the cosmos or answering the question “who are we and where did we come from?”

Reading Gould’s explanation of NOMA carefully makes it pretty clear that science, so Gould thinks, deals in the realm of facts, and religion in the realm of values. The implication is pretty clear: if you want facts you should go to science because religion doesn’t deal with any facts. Gould puts it this way:

NOMA also cuts both ways. If religion can no longer dictate the nature of factual conclusions properly under the magisterium of science, then scientists cannot claim higher insight into moral truth from any superior knowledge of the world’s empirical constitution. This mutual humility has important practical consequences in a world of such diverse passions.

Thus the religious claim of the Judeo-Christian tradition that all things came to be because of the intentional and purposeful act of God the Creator is a “value” and not a “fact”. Precisely how Gould (or anyone else for that matter) comes by this knowledge is never elucidated. Did he derive it scientifically? If so, it would be interesting to read the peer reviewed research paper that confirmed that. If not, then to what “magesteria” did he appeal to make the determination?

And that reveals the fatal flaw with NOMA. As laid out by Gould, NOMA is at root a self-refuting proposition. Whether Gould realized it or not, in laying out the principle of NOMA as he did, he was, in fact, making a determination as to where the proper boundaries are between science and religion. So, was NOMA, then, a statement of Science or a statement of Religion? Given Gould’s admission that he is not a religious man, it seems likely that it was his science and not any religious impulse that informed his thinking on NOMA. But if NOMA is a statement of science, then science is clearly dictating to religion where the boundaries are and further what claims it can and cannot make. The reverse is true if NOMA is a statement of religion. Either way, the very meaning of NOMA is compromised as neither science nor religion can dictate to the other where the relevant boundaries are to which they must adhere and doing so violates the very principle of NOMA.

But let us suppose that NOMA is neither a statement of science nor religion. Well that would imply there’s a third magisteria out there, and that magisteria has the authority to oversee the magisteria of both science and religion. If that’s so, then what magisteria is that, exactly, and by what authority does it get to dictate terms to both science and religion? Gould never addresses that, of course. However, given the formulation of NOMA, there doesn’t seem to be any way to really get around the problem, and NOMA either defeats itself as self-refuting, or NOMA is meaningless because no one knows what the third magisteria is or ought to be to oversee both science and religion. A non-specified magisteria with no authority is meaningless. Either way, NOMA fails as a guiding principle for anything.

In advocating the principle of NOMA in their statement on science and technology, the UMC is relying on a flawed understanding of science and the relationship of science and religion, or more properly, science and faith. The UMC asserts as facts several statements about the origins of the cosmos, with God as the Creator of all things, including human beings. Surely if those are facts, then they would directly contradict any narrative from science that suggests the cosmos created itself out of nothing or that undirected, natural causes can explain the full panoply of life on earth, including us. A strict application of NOMA here would imply that the UMC (or any other religion asserting the same) must yield these authoritative statements to the version science wants to tell. I seriously doubt the UMC is going to give up asserting that God is the creator of all things no matter what science might say.

In the same way the UMC’s statement isn’t at all clear on what they mean by “science”, as I pointed out in my last article, neither is Gould in his explication of NOMA. To be sure Gould does seem to imply fairly strongly that when he is talking about “science”…that which deals with facts, that tells us how the heavens go, etc…he has in mind science very much constrained by the boundaries of methodological naturalism (MN), if not outright philosophical naturalism (PN). Either way, any science constrained by naturalism, even if only for “methodological” reasons, would be indistinguishable from science constrained by PN. No one makes this clearer than Del Ratzsch in his book Nature, Design and Science. Speaking of the effect of MN on science he writes:

People are, of course, perfectly free to stipulate such definitions [that is MN] if they wish. What no one is free to do, however, is to make such stipulations, erect on those stipulations various prohibitions concerning what science can and cannot consider, then claim that 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. (Del Ratzsch, Nature, Design and Science: The Status of Design in Natural Science, State University of New York Press, 2001, pg 146)

NOMA is an excellent example of what Ratzsch is saying here. Gould assumes that science, conceived as a handmaiden of PN in the guise of MN, produces “facts”, and those facts are truth or “accurate mirrors of reality”. In other words, NOMA assumes that no activity of any creator God could ever possibly be revealed in ways detectable by the methods of science. Thus science, as Gould conceives it in NOMA, is not a correlate of Nature, but of PN, which is a very different thing. That implies that where NOMA is concerned Naturalism will always trump Religion. If the UMC understood that, I doubt they would have worded their statement in such a NOMA-like fashion thus subjugating some of their key doctrines to the dictates of the non-theistic philosophy of Naturalism.

Indeed, why would the UMC, or any other Judeo-Christian tradition, think that nature itself would ignore the activity of a creator or that science and its methods would be incapable of revealing markers of that Divine activity? Ratzsch puts it this way: (speaking of actual design in nature as a possible indicator of intelligent cause)

If nature does not ignore design and if design factors into relevant empirical structures, then any science built on the 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 having been placed beyond the permissible bounds of discussion), thereby turning science from a correlate of nature into a humanly contrived artifact. (Ratzsch, ibid)

That being so, it is difficult to see how the UMC can justify a statement that would preclude it from making any authoritative claims about science, especially any science that is a correlate of non-theistic philosophical naturalism. Rather, one would expect that the UMC would expect all human spheres, including science, to be subject to the revealed Word of God, and as such nature would be replete with evidence for His activity, including such things as actual design. The Apostle Paul certainly understood this point when he wrote in his letter to the Romans:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Rom 1:20, NIV)

Poor Paul…such a blatant violation of NOMA and the UMC statement!

Some might argue that the UMC statement isn’t really a restatement of NOMA, that the language is different, and therefore the meaning is different. While it is true the UMC statement uses different words, the implication amounts to the same principle as NOMA. Saying “we preclude science from making authoritative claims about theology” and vice versa sounds very much like a recognition of two different magisteria in the sense of Gould’s formulation of NOMA. There really doesn’t seem to be any way that the Church can avoid violating its own standard while at the same time asserting some of its core beliefs about the nature of, well, Nature, and what role God had and has in creating and sustaining it. Any sermon on Romans 1:20 by a UMC pastor would almost certainly be considered out of bounds!

If, as a matter of doctrine, the UMC asserts that the first sentence of the Scripture is true, that “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth”, then it would seem to follow that the most scientific thing one could say is “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. For if that is a true statement, as most in the Judeo-Christian tradition believe, then there’s really nothing unscientific in asserting that, for no science could be properly constructed or understood outside of that overriding principle. Rather than an artificial imposition of NOMA, attempting to keep science and religion in separate spheres, the UMC should be asserting the integration of science and faith, because you need both to explain the universe and all that is in it, including us! One would think the UMC leadership would not need this explained, but apparently they do.

29 Replies to “The United Methodists and NOMA

  1. 1
    Zachriel says:

    DonaldM: If that’s so, then what magisteria is that, exactly, and by what authority does it get to dictate terms to both science and religion?

    Metaphysics.

    DonaldM: Surely if those are facts, then they would directly contradict any narrative from science that suggests the cosmos created itself out of nothing or that undirected, natural causes can explain the full panoply of life on earth, including us.

    Consider George Washington thanking Providence that the bullets which whizzed all around him in battle left him uninjured. Is he asserting that Providence steered the bullets? No. Washington fully understood that the laws of physics determined the course of the bullets. Rather, he saw it as part of an unfolding of God’s plan. Deism was a common view at the time, a clockwork universe that, once set in motion, developed according to natural principles, but still in accordance with the Deity’s plan.

    DonaldM: In the same way the UMC’s statement isn’t at all clear on what they mean by “science”, as I pointed out in my last article, neither is Gould in his explication of NOMA.

    Gould’s use of the term science is methodological.
    http://www.stephenjaygould.org.....heory.html

    DonaldM: If, as a matter of doctrine, the UMC asserts that the first sentence of the Scripture is true, that “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth”, then it would seem to follow that the most scientific thing one could say is “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

    That is incorrect. You can only assert it as a scientific finding if there is scientific evidence in support of the proposition.

    DonaldM: For if that is a true statement, as most in the Judeo-Christian tradition believe, then there’s really nothing unscientific in asserting that,

    Whether true or not, it’s not a valid scientific finding if not supported by scientific evidence.

    DonaldM: for no science could be properly constructed or understood outside of that overriding principle.

    Treating it as a religious principle is quite different than treating it as a scientific hypothesis, much less a scientific finding.

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    Zachriel, I tried to find where Donald asserted in the OP that any statement of fact was a scientific finding and could find no such statement.

    It would appear that you are making things up.

  3. 3
    mike1962 says:

    Deism was a common view at the time

    Deism in the 18th century wasn’t always clear cut with regard to free will.

    Take Franklin for example:

    “the Deity sometimes interferes by his particular Providence, and sets aside the Events which would otherwise have been produc’d in the Course of Nature, or by the Free Agency of Man. (On the Providence of God). “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men.” (The Records of the Federalist Convention)

    Washington himself was probably what could be considered a “theistic rationalist”, someone who believed that prayer could effect God’s interference in human affairs. (Gregg L. Frazer, The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution, (University Press of Kansas, 2012))

  4. 4
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: I tried to find where Donald asserted in the OP that any statement of fact was a scientific finding and could find no such statement.

    He said claiming “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” was not unscientific. We pointed out that it would be a non-scientific claim unless backed by scientific evidence.

    mike1962: “the Deity sometimes interferes by his particular Providence, and sets aside the Events which would otherwise have been produc’d in the Course of Nature”

    Then it wouldn’t be deism per se. The example of Washington was illustrative, not necessarily literal history.

  5. 5
    mike1962 says:

    Zachriel Hive: Then it wouldn’t be deism per se.

    It wouldn’t be classical deism, per se.

    Doubtful many of the founders of the USA were classical deists.

  6. 6
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: Doubtful many of the founders of the USA were classical deists.

    No. Probably not. And their views also probably changed over time.

  7. 7
    GaryGaulin says:

    What the statement is saying is that your religious organization (Discovery Institute and affiliates) should set a good example like they do and not be making authoritative claims about scientific issues:

    We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues.

    In my opinion speaking for Methodist leaders in matters regarding both science and theology only created double trouble for yourself and others who believe they are an authority on both.

  8. 8
    Phinehas says:

    GG:

    Unless you can back it up, your assertion that DI is a religious organization is obviously just a smear attempt.

  9. 9
    GaryGaulin says:

    Phinehas. Science looks like this:

    http://theoryofid.blogspot.com/

    Show us what you (don’t) have.

  10. 10
    DonaldM says:

    Gary in #7 writes: “What the statement is saying is that your religious organization (Discovery Institute and affiliates) should set a good example like they do and not be making authoritative claims about scientific issues”

    Just to make this clear, Discovery Institute is not a religious organization. ID does not spring from any religious commitment, but from the evidence of nature itself, and as such is purely scientific. Certainly it has positive implications forreligious belief, but ID is not dependent on it. Neither ID nor Discovery Institute are affiliated with any religious belief whatsoever.

  11. 11
    DonaldM says:

    Zachriel in #1 writes: “That is incorrect. You can only assert it as a scientific finding if there is scientific evidence in support of the proposition. ”

    As has been pointed out here many times over the years, and to you as well, this very statement is making an a priori assumption about what something being “scientific” is. You completely missed my point. If “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is a factually true statement, then anything we call “scientific” can only properly understood and characterized within the framework of that being true. One of the main points of my post is that you can’t have it both ways, on the one hand believing that to be a factually true statement, then on the other artificially restricting science with MN. Holding to MN gives pride of place to Naturalism, and that is completely gratuitous to the practice of science. Whatever standard of “scientific” you hold Gen 1:1 to needs to also be applied to Naturalism. “In the beginning was the particles…”(the mantra of Naturalism) doesn’t get a free pass just because it is Naturalism. The assumption you’re making only holds up if (and only if) you know that Naturalism is true.

  12. 12
    Zachriel says:

    DonaldM: As has been pointed out here many times over the years, and to you as well, this very statement is making an a priori assumption about what something being “scientific” is.

    Saying a scientific claim depends on scientific evidence is hardly a stretch.

    DonaldM: If “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is a factually true statement, then anything we call “scientific” can only properly understood and characterized within the framework of that being true.

    Even if the statement is true, we may or may not know it is true, or be able to show that it is true. You can decide to assume it to be true, but it doesn’t constitute a scientific claim unless you can show scientific support.

    DonaldM: One of the main points of my post is that you can’t have it both ways, on the one hand believing that to be a factually true statement, then on the other artificially restricting science with MN.

    We don’t prefer the term methodological naturalism, incorporating as it does the term “naturalism”. Rather, science is methodological, and we reach scientific conclusions by applying scientific methodology; in effect, through hypothesis-testing. Not to trivialize the process, but think of it as a recipe. Turns out that praying Christians, chanting Buddhists, and argumentative atheists, can all bake a cake — if they follow the recipe.

    Methodological naturalism is a useful heuristic. Generally, we don’t want to appeal to demons in the chemistry lab. However, as a philosophical matter, we can dispense with the naturalism entirely and simply refer to the methodology. The praying, chanting, and arguing, are extraneous to the recipe (though perhaps not to the cook!).

  13. 13
    GaryGaulin says:

    Just to make this clear, Discovery Institute is not a religious organization. ID does not spring from any religious commitment, but from the evidence of nature itself, and as such is purely scientific. Certainly it has positive implications forreligious belief, but ID is not dependent on it. Neither ID nor Discovery Institute are affiliated with any religious belief whatsoever.

    My very long experience with the Discovery Institute proved otherwise. Judge Jones helped confirm the obvious.

  14. 14
    DonaldM says:

    Gary in #13: “My very long experience with the Discovery Institute proved otherwise. Judge Jones helped confirm the obvious.”

    With that we’re done. You clearly don’t care to acknowledge the truth. I don’t give a rat’s tail what Judge Jones said in the infamous Dover case. The DI is NOT a religious organization, has no affiliation with ANY religious institutions and does NOT promote any religion or non-religion. ID definitely has positive implications for certain religious worldviews, but that no more makes ID or the DI religious than evolution being atheistic because it has positive implications for atheism. You can deny that all you want, but that is the case. Period. End of discussion! Have a good day.

  15. 15
    DonaldM says:

    Zachriel in #12: “Even if the statement is true, we may or may not know it is true, or be able to show that it is true. You can decide to assume it to be true, but it doesn’t constitute a scientific claim unless you can show scientific support.”

    You continue to miss the point. You’re stuck in a paradigm of science that is utterly dependent on MN. It doesn’t matter if you try to re-phrase it leaving the “naturalism” out of it. Your claim only makes sense within the construct of strictly applied MN to science, which is exactly what I’m arguing against. You argument is a perfect example of what Del Ratzsch is talking about in the quote I took from his book. Science operates in a paradigm…a conceptual framework if you will. If a significant part of reality…that is the way things really are…is that Gen 1:1 is a factually true statement, as most in the Judeo-Christian tradition believe, including the UMC, then all human endeavors, including science, must be understood within that factual frame of reference. Any science that tries to ignore that, as science restricted by MN does, will fall prey to exactly what Ratzsch was talking about in what I quoted from his book. To say we can’t know that Gen 1:1 is true unless we can show it scientifically is to merely assume that science can only work within the framework of MN…which is precisely what I’ve argued against. Just asserting that science has to be restricted by MN does not make it so. That is what you are claiming, whether you want to use the word “naturalism” or not.

  16. 16
    GaryGaulin says:

    You clearly don’t care to acknowledge the truth.

    Suggesting that I am a liar means that I am done with you, Donald.

    Have fun developing your “scientific theory” by throwing insults at religious leaders who want no part in your scam.

  17. 17
    Zachriel says:

    DonaldM: You’re stuck in a paradigm of science that is utterly dependent on MN.

    We already noted that we don’t subscribe to methodological naturalism.

    DonaldM: If a significant part of reality…that is the way things really are…is that Gen 1:1 is a factually true statement, as most in the Judeo-Christian tradition believe, including the UMC, then all human endeavors, including science, must be understood within that factual frame of reference.

    You are merely repeating your position while ignoring our own position. Given Genesis 1:1 is true, that doesn’t change the methodology of science. If Genesis 1:1 hasn’t been demonstrated by the scientific method, it simply means that some true things haven’t been demonstrated by the scientific method.

    Some things may be scientifically undemonstrable. For instance, the indisputably true statement that Led Zeppelin is the greatest rock band in history is outside the scientific method, even though we can scientifically demonstrate the influence of the band, or count the number of their records sold.

  18. 18
    DonaldM says:

    Zachriel: “You are merely repeating your position while ignoring our own position. Given Genesis 1:1 is true, that doesn’t change the methodology of science. If Genesis 1:1 hasn’t been demonstrated by the scientific method, it simply means that some true things haven’t been demonstrated by the scientific method. ”

    On the contrary, I think the framework, or worldview, within which science, or any other human endeavor, operates affects its methodologies greatly. Science operates within a conceptual hierarchy, and not all of those concepts are amenable to the scientific method, if by that you mean how one might conduct an experiment to confirm or disconfirm an hypothesis. The scientific method itself can not be tested “scientifically”, yet is foundational to the practice itself. (assuming, of course, that there is such a thing as the scientific method…but we’ll leave that for another day). The Uniformity Principle (UP) is absolutely foundational and essential to the practice of science, yet the UP is not at all “provable” by the scientific method. It is taken for granted that the UP is true. Indeed, what the results of any experiment might mean are utterly dependent on the idea that nature is uniform and not capricious. The UP is as scientific a concept as you’re going to find. To say that it isn’t scientific because it can’t be demonstrated “scientifically” is preposterous in the extreme. The same applies to saying Gen 1:1 is true. If the actual, factual creation of the cosmos and all that it contains is removed from scientific consideration on the grounds that it can’t be “proved” scientifically, then a few other scientifically necessary concepts would also be out of bounds, such as the sci-meth itself, or the UP.

    If it is not unscientific to say “nature is uniform” (affirming the UP), then neither is it unscientific to say “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Both have huge implications for both how we practice and understand the world scientifically.

    In fact, I’d take it one step further and say that the UP is true precisely because Gen. 1:1 is true. Gen 1:1 is the bedrock foundation for all the other scientifically necessary concepts to build upon in the scientific process.

    What no one can say is that when it comes to doing science, we are required to operate as if nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect, and at the same time just accept the UP as an expected property of that. If nature itself doesn’t ignore actual design, then there’s no reason to require science to ignore it either.

    Science rests squarely on such important philosophical considerations. Excluding the possibility of Gen 1:1 being factually true by fiat has a huge impact on how science is conducted. So does the reverse. Therefore, the claim that whether or not Gen 1:1 is true has no bearing on science is simply not correct.

  19. 19
    Zachriel says:

    DonaldM: On the contrary, I think the framework, or worldview, within which science, or any other human endeavor, operates affects its methodologies greatly.

    As already pointed out, a methodological definition avoids the problem of world-view. Praying Christians, chanting Buddhists, even argumentative atheists, can all bake a cake — if they follow the recipe.

    DonaldM: The scientific method itself can not be tested “scientifically”, yet is foundational to the practice itself.

    The methodological definition of science is a definition. Turns out that the scientific method has been very fruitful in understanding the universe.

    DonaldM: The Uniformity Principle (UP) is absolutely foundational and essential to the practice of science, yet the UP is not at all “provable” by the scientific method.

    The Uniformity Principle is not essential to the methodological definition. If the universe were completely chaotic, it would just mean that the scientific method would not converge on usable generalities.

    DonaldM: If it is not unscientific to say “nature is uniform” (affirming the UP), then neither is it unscientific to say “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

    We observe that the universe exhibits some aspects of uniformity. Scientists look for the anomalies, though.

    DonaldM: I’d take it one step further and say that the UP is true precisely because Gen. 1:1 is true.

    That’s nice, but doesn’t represent an argument. The Uniformity Principle may be true just ’cause. Or it may be true for now, and not later. Methodological science doesn’t have to take a position, except to note that it appears to apply at the present time.

    DonaldM: Excluding the possibility of Gen 1:1 being factually true by fiat has a huge impact on how science is conducted.

    We haven’t excluded it — indeed, accepted it as true arguendo, while noting its lack of scientific support.

  20. 20
    DonaldM says:

    Zachriel: “The Uniformity Principle is not essential to the methodological definition. If the universe were completely chaotic, it would just mean that the scientific method would not converge on usable generalities.”

    That statement demonstrates that you really do not understand the UP and how it operates within science. You said “scientists look for the anomalies”. Well, no they don’t. No anomalous data of any sort would ever make a scientist question the UP. What they would question is how the UP applies to whatever investigation revealed an anomaly and then look for the correct uniformity. The UP itself is never questioned, and always assumed. You clearly do not understand that.

    It is preposterous to say that the UP “may be true just ’cause”. If nature weren’t uniform, then we’d never be able to know that or do any science for that matter. If you don’t understand why that is so, then you really do not grasp how foundational the UP is to science.

    I’m quite sure you’ll come up with some other reason to dispute what I’m saying, but in this case, it is just flat out wrong to deny the foundational nature of the UP to science.

    This will be my last comment on this.

  21. 21
    Zachriel says:

    DonaldM: That statement demonstrates that you really do not understand the UP

    That statement demonstrates that you do not really understand the methodological definition.

    DonaldM: The UP itself is never questioned, and always assumed.

    Scientists don’t merely assume uniformity, but observe it. You clearly do not understand that.

    DonaldM: It is preposterous to say that the UP “may be true just ’cause”.

    It’s just as coherent as saying it’s because Genesis 1:1, indeed, it has one fewer entities.

    DonaldM: If nature weren’t uniform, then we’d never be able to know that or do any science for that matter.

    As already stated, scientific methodology would not converge on usable generalities.

  22. 22
    DonaldM says:

    Zachriel. As I expected, you continue to be argumentative just to be so. The bottom line is you have not the slightest idea what you’re talking about. If you made those comments in a philosophy of science class you’d merit a D- at best, likely a F. I highly recommend you spend an afternoon at the nearest university library combing through the Philosophy of Science journals reading articles on the UP. What you will discover is that the UP is considered

    …metaphysically rooted, nonnegotiable, normative, systematically protected, immune to empirical challenge, untestable, non-predictive, and unlimitedly flexible. Del Ratzsch, Nature, Design and Science,/em>State University of New York Press, 2001, pg 138

    The UP is considered by many, ie Hume & Kant (you have heard of them I suppose?), to be a regulative principle of human thought itself. Yet for all those “faults” it is as scientifically essential principle as you ever going to find. Zachriel, you clearly have no grasp of any of that as evidenced by your comments.

    Before you comment, do your homework!

  23. 23
    Zachriel says:

    DonaldM: The UP is considered by many, ie Hume & Kant (you have heard of them I suppose?), to be a regulative principle of human thought itself.

    A methodological definition of science avoids that problem. In principle, it can even be done robotically — no human mind involved.

  24. 24
    DonaldM says:

    Zachriel – You’re beginning to sound like a Cylon. A “methodological definition” of science? Really? Like I said you really need to do your homework before you comment. You haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about and you’re arguing just to argue. Its pretty tiresome. Go read up on the Philosophy of Science before you comment again. As for this discussion, I’m done.

  25. 25
    Zachriel says:

    DonaldM: A “methodological definition” of science?

    Yes, as in scientific method.

    DonaldM: You haven’t the slightest idea …

    Handwaving doesn’t substitute for an argument.

  26. 26
    DonaldM says:

    Zachriel: I don’t want to be unkind, so I’ll put this as politely as I can. You simply have no idea what you’re talking about. Science is nowhere defined as the scientific method. Nowhere. For that matter there is no such thing as a monolithic thescientific method. Go spend time reading up in the philosophy of science journals on these subjects. Its clear you have not done so for if you had you wouldn’t be making such obviously erroneous claims. My statements here are based on hours and hours of doing precisely that sort of reading and studying. Something I did long before I starting making comments on internet blogs and websites. I suggest you do the same. And now I really am done discussing this with you. Until you take time to learn what you’re talking about, it is pointless to try and have a discussion. I don’t say that with any animus toward you. I wish you well. Good day.

  27. 27
  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    GG, The Wiki article is philosophically naive. KF

  29. 29
    Zachriel says:

    DonaldM: Science is nowhere defined as the scientific method.

    We just defined it so. Also, you will find methodological definitions of science widely discussed since Bacon.

    The primary difference between methodological naturalism and strictly methodological science is that the latter only requires the ability to make a reliable record of an empirical observation, without regard to whether the underlying phenomenon is distinguished as natural or supernatural. Objectivity, then, is the consistency of these records across different observers.

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