Intelligent Design Naturalism

Methodological naturalism? 31 great scientists who made scientific arguments for the supernatural

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It is often claimed that methodological naturalism is a principle which defines the scope of the scientific enterprise. Today’s post is about thirty-one famous scientists throughout history who openly flouted this principle, in their scientific writings, by putting forward arguments for a supernatural Deity.

The term “methodological naturalism” is defined variously in the literature. All authorities agree, however, that if you put forward scientific arguments for the existence of a supernatural Deity, then you are violating the principle of methodological naturalism. The 31 scientists whom I’ve listed below all did just that. I’ve supplied copious documentation, to satisfy the inquiries of skeptical readers.

My own researches have led me to the conclusion that the principle of methodological naturalism is not a time-honored principle of science, but that it is of comparatively recent origin, first making its appearance in the scientific realm in the 1830s (about the time when the newly minted term “scientist” began to replace the older term, “natural philosopher”), and not securing general acceptance in the scientific arena until the 1870s. Even then, there were a few hold-outs, like Lord Kelvin, who publicly argued for the existence of a Creator in a speech given in 1903.

Acknowledgments

I have made use of a variety of different sources in my biographical research, but I would like to single out the following for special mention: THE WORLD’S GREATEST CREATION SCIENTISTS From Y1K to Y2K by David Coppedge and Creation scientists and other biographies of interest by Answers in Genesis, as well as various online articles by the Institute for Creation Research. (I should add that although I am a believer in an old universe and in common descent, I am quite happy to draw upon the research of other believers in a Designer of Nature, whatever their religious persuasion, if I am convinced of the scholarly merits of their research.) I would also like to thank Stephen Snobelen, Assistant Professor in the History of Science and Technology at the University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia, for his valuable work on Newton, and Carl Frangsmyr, Magdalena Hydman and Ragnar Insulander, of Uppsala University, for their valuable biographical research on Linnaeus. I’d like to thank Michael Flannery for his research into the life of Alfred Russel Wallace, and Ian Hutchison for his research on Maxwell’s religious views

(1) Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), the founder of modern astronomy.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Nicolaus Copernicus was the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe. He was also a mathematician, astronomer, jurist with a doctorate in law, physician, quadrilingual polyglot, classics scholar, translator, artist, Catholic cleric, governor, diplomat and economist.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

In his scientific writings, Copernicus referred to God as “the Artificer of all things.” The motivation for Copernicus proposing his heliocentric hypothesis in the first place was a theological one. In his great treatise on astronomy, De revolutionibus orbium caelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, 1543), Copernicus voices his conviction that anyone who diligently contemplates the movements of the celestial bodies will be led thereby to a knowledge of God. In Chapter 8 of the same work, Copernicus even puts forward theological arguments in favor of his scientific theory that the Earth rotates on its axis once a day.

Where’s the evidence?

In the Preface to his work De revolutionibus orbium caelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, 1543), Copernicus explains that the motivation for his heliocentric hypothesis was theological. He believed that a universe that had been created by God for our sake must be comprehensible to the human mind. He states that he was forced to revive the long-forgotten heliocentric hypothesis, because it alone could yield knowledge of the movements of the heavenly bodies with the desired accuracy:

For a long time, then, I reflected on this confusion in the astronomical traditions concerning the derivation of the motions of the universe’s spheres. I began to be annoyed that the movements of the world machine, created for our sake by the best and most systematic Artisan of all, were not understood with greater certainty by the philosophers, who otherwise examined so precisely the most insignificant trifles of this world. For this reason I undertook the task of rereading the works of all the philosophers which I could obtain to learn whether anyone had ever proposed other motions of the universe’s spheres than those expounded by the teachers of astronomy in the schools. And in fact first I found in Cicero that Hicetas supposed the earth to move. Later I also discovered in Plutarch that certain others were of this opinion.

In the Introduction to his work De revolutionibus orbium caelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, 1543), Copernicus expressed his conviction that anyone who diligently contemplates the order displayed in the movements of the celestial bodies will thereby come to admire “the Artificer of all things”:

“For who, after applying himself to things which he sees established in the best order and directed by Divine ruling, would not through diligent contemplation of them and through a certain habituation be awakened to that which is best and would not admire the Artificer of all things, in Whom is all happiness and every good? For the divine Psalmist surely did not say gratuitously that he took pleasure in the workings of God and rejoiced in the works of His hands, unless by means of these things as by some sort of vehicle we are transported to the contemplation of the highest good.” (Copernicus, Nicolaus, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, Thorn: Societas Copernicana, 1873, pp. 10-11).

In the following paragraph, Copernicus refers to astronomy as a “divine rather than human science” and favorably quotes the opinion of Plato, who was inclined to think that no-one lacking a knowledge of the heavenly bodies could be called godlike:

The great benefit and adornment which this art [astronomy – VJT] confers on the commonwealth (not to mention the countless advantages to individuals) are most excellently observed by Plato. In the Laws, Book VII, he thinks that it should be cultivated chiefly because by dividing time into groups of days as months and years, it would keep the state alert and attentive to the festivals and sacrifices. Whoever denies its necessity for the teacher of any branch of higher learning is thinking foolishly, according to Plato. In his opinion it is highly unlikely that anyone lacking the requisite knowledge of the sun, moon, and other heavenly bodies can become and be called godlike.

However, this divine rather than human science, which investigates the loftiest subjects, is not free from perplexities.
(Nicholas Copernicus, De Revolutionibus (On the Revolutions), 1543. Source: Translation and Commentary by Edward Rosen, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London. Adapted from Dartmouth College, MATC, Online reader.)

At the beginning of the Introduction to his great work, Copernicus even defines the science of astronomy in theological terms, as “the discipline which deals with the universe’s divine revolutions, the asters’ motions, sizes, distances, risings and settings, as well as the causes of the other phenomena in the sky, and which, in short, explains its whole appearance.” (Nicholas Copernicus, De Revolutionibus (On the Revolutions), 1543. Source: Translation and Commentary by Edward Rosen, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London. Adapted from Dartmouth College, MATC, Online reader.)

In Chapter 8 of his De revolutionibus orbium caelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, 1543), Copernicus even adduces theological arguments in favor of the stability of the universe and the daily rotation of the Earth, after listing several scientific arguments for these ideas:

As a quality, moreover, immobility is deemed nobler and more divine than change and instability, which are therefore better suited to the earth than to the universe… You see, then, that all these arguments make it more likely that the earth moves than that it is at rest. This is especially true of the daily rotation, as particularly appropriate to the earth. This is enough, in my opinion, about the first part of the question.”
(Nicholas Copernicus, De Revolutionibus (On the Revolutions), 1543. Source: Translation and Commentary by Edward Rosen, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London. Adapted from Dartmouth College, MATC, Online reader.)

Let us review the evidence. The motivation for Copernicus proposing his heliocentric hypothesis in the first place was a theological one. In his great treatise on astronomy, Copernicus voices his conviction that anyone who diligently contemplates the movements of the celestial bodies will be led thereby to a knowledge of God. He refers to astronomy as a “divine rather than human science,” and he approvingly quotes Plato’s statement that no-one who lacks a knowledge of the heavenly bodies can be called godlike. He even defines the science of astronomy in theological terms, as “the discipline which deals with the universe’s divine revolutions.” In Chapter 8 of the same work, Copernicus even puts forward theological arguments in favor of his scientific theory that the Earth rotates on its axis once a day. Can anyone describe such a man as a methodological naturalist?

 


(2) Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), the founder of modern anatomy.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Andreas Vesalius was the author of De humani corporis fabrica (On the Structure of the Human Body). He is often referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

In his scientific writings, Vesalius repeatedly referred to God, to the Creator, to the Founder of things (Conditor rerum), and to the Great Artisan of things (or Opifex). He also declared that the construction of the human body can be used to “argue for the admirable industry of the immense Creator.” His understanding of human anatomy was thoroughly teleological: he believed that God had designed each organ of the human body for a specific purpose.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) In his scientific writings, Vesalius frequently referred to God, the Creator, the Founder of things, and the Great Artisan

The following quotes are taken from an essay by Nancy G. Siraisi, entitled, Vesalius and the reading of Galen’s teleology (Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 1, Spring 1997, pp. 1-37):

In the Fabrica, references to Natura [Nature – VJT] – always capitalized and followed by an active verb – must run into the hundreds. There is also a substantial group of references to the Opifex [Artisan – VJT] of things and a few to the Founder of things (Conditor rerum), to the Creator, or to God. For any Christian author, the terms conditor, creator, deus and probably opifex presumably all refer to the Christian God…. A few examples follow:

If only contemplating in the construction of mankind you consider in this way, you will grasp things [about the orbit of the eye] which, although they may not be greatly conducive to the art of medicine, argue for the admirable industry of the immense Creator.Rightly to be praised is the immense Opifex of things whom we think bestowed on the teeth alone of the rest of the bones a noteworthy faculty of feeling.

[I]t behooved the Opifex of things to pay attention to four particular needs when constructing the thorax, namely voice, respiration and the size of the heart and lung.

But the joints show how skilfully Nature constructed these things for obeying the motions which we endeavor [to make] with the thighs.

For unless the joints of the bones and cartilages were held together with ligaments nothing would prevent the bones or the cartilages from being dislocated in the course of some movement or other … Lest that happen God the highest opifex of things surrounded the bones of the joints and cartilages with ligaments, strong indeed but also capable of considerable stretching. Greatly to be wondered at is the industry of the Creator.

Therefore Nature by a certain marvelous artifice produced two muscles … placing one in the greater angle of the eye, the other in the lesser.

[The ligaments of the first and second sections of the cervical vertebrae] abundantly demonstrate the industry of Nature to the spectator however perfunctorily they are narrated. When therefor it was necessary to link the first cervical vertebra to the head, Nature rightly created a strong and robust ligament… But lest [the vertebra] should be dislocated … the Opifex of things created another ligament.

Nature neither carelessly nor negligently constructed the oblique course of this tendon [of the foot].

But rather, the admirable industry of Nature here should come to be considered who enginerred all those things thus divinely, nor constructed anything in the intestines unless for the highest usefulness … And considering these purposes indeed she most artfully crafted the intestines.

[W]e will rightly praise the care of the highest Opifex of things who constructed the rough artery [that is, the trachea] as simultaneously a convenient organ of respiration and voice. And he showed such great artifice in the construction of the larynx that it can be closed now more, now less.

[T]hese fibers [of the dura mater of the brain] that Nature has fastened surpass in ingenuity the cords by which Vulcan bound Mars to Venus, for they support while they tether.

The issue here is not to determine how many of these statements Vesalius took from Galen and how many he issued on his own account. Rather, the point I wish to make is simply that language of this kind is pervasive in the Fabrica. It is impossible to read more than a few pages without coming across examples. It therefore seems that it deserves to be taken seriously.

(Siraisi, 1997, pages 14-17.)

 

(b) Vesalius maintained that knowledge of human anatomy could lead to a deeper knowledge of God

In her essay, Vesalius and the reading of Galen’s teleology, which I quoted above, Siraisi attempts to explain the prevalence of teleological language in the writings of Vesalius. She contends that it sprang from his deep-seated conviction that knowledge of anatomy enables human beings to partake of the wisdom of God, their Creator:

… Vesalius repeatedly emphasized the role of his own superior anatomical skill in “exposing with certainty one skilful contrivance of Nature after another.” Thus, by providing accurate descriptions of structure, a good anatomist uncovers hitherto unknown or misinterpreted instances of Nature’s ingenuity. But once such descriptions have been made available they constitute self-evident inducements to appreciation of Nature’s skill and praise of the Creator. It is this self-evident quality that makes it possible to compress or eliminate longwinded generalizations upon the subject. (Siraisi, 1997, p. 19.)

[P]ositive moralizing themes that centered, like the example quoted from Massa above, on the idea of the human body as an outstanding example of God’s handiwork, are also frequent in sixteenth century rhetoric about anatomy. Thus Guinter of Andernach opined not only that God had made nothing better or more wonderful in the world than the harmony of the human body, but also that knowledge of the body “alone made men prudent and like gods.” When Vesalius himself characterized anatomy in his preface as “that most delightful (iucundissima) knowledge of man attesting to the wisdom of the immense Founder of things (Conditor rerum),” he was speaking the language of positive moralization as well as expressing a personal enthusiasm. (Siraisi, 1997, pp. 21-22.)

Galen, broader Renaissance philosophical currents, and the lack of any non-teleological framework for explaining biology all combined to ensure that his detailed investigations of human anatomy would strongly reinforce in him the fundamental conviction that every detail of anatomical structure revealed the forethought, ingenuity and skill of Nature, that is, ultimately of God. (Siraisi, 1997, p. 30.)

An additional reason for the wealth of paeans to the Creator lay in Vesalius’ conviction that God was not properly praised by incorrect depictions of His handiwork, such as were found in the writings of Galen. Hence, correct descriptions of human anatomy provided additional reasons to praise the ingenuity of the Creator:

In the new anatomy, at least ideally and most of the time, claims about Nature’s ingenuity were to be tied to accurate accounts of details of human structure. (Siraisi, 1997, p. 30.)

This brings me to my next point: one of the reasons why Vesalius cared so passionately about describing the human body correctly was that he considered incorrect descriptions of God’s handiwork to constitute a form of blasphemy against the Creator. Hence his insistence on getting it right.

 

(c) Vesalius declared in his medical writings that we reverence God best by describing His handiwork accurately

In his book, Andreas Vesalius of Brussels (University of California Press, 1964), Charles Donald O’Malley cites a passage from Vesalius’ on the human brain, in which he declares that poor anatomical descriptions (such as were found in the writings of his contemporaries) constitute a form of impiety towards God, and that we reverence God best by describing His handiwork accurately:

Book VII provides a description of the anatomy of the brain accompanied by a series of detailed illustrations revealing the successive steps in its dissection. Until at least the end of the fifteenth century knowledge of the brain had remained medieval, based not so much upon Galen’s doctrines as upon a debased tradition, a situation that permitted Vesalius to introduce his discussion with a notably severe criticism:

Who, immortal God, will not be amazed at that crowd of philosophers, and let me add, theologians of today who, detracting so falsely from the divine and wholly admirable contrivance of the human brain, frivolously, like Prometheans, and with greatest impiety toward the Creator, fabricate some sort of brain from their dreams and refuse to observe that which the Creator with incredible providence shaped for the uses of the body. They parade their monstrosity, shamelessly deluding those tender minds that they instruct.

(O’Malley, 1964, p. 178)

But there’s more. Vesalius also argued that each part of the human body was the human body was skilfully designed by God to accomplish its designated purpose(s).

 

(d) Intelligent Design arguments in the medical writings of Vesalius

In his book, Andreas Vesalius of Brussels (University of California Press, 1964), Charles Donald O’Malley also addresses the frequent teleological references in Vesalius’ Fabrica. On page 155, O’Malley provides an example of a typical teleological argument in the anatomical writings of Vesalius. The argument contains an explicit reference to the Mind of the Intelligent Creator of Nature. In this passage, Vesalius argues that God had a special reason for making the human back in the way He did:

Chapter XIV opens with a further teleological argument:

Quite properly nature, the parent of everything, fashioned man’s back in the form of keel and foundation. In fact, it is through the support of the back that we are able to walk upright and stand erect. However, nature gave man a back not only for this purpose, but as she has made various uses of other single members she has constructed, so here too she has demonstrated her industry.First, she carved out a foramen in all the vertebrae at the posterior part of their bodies, so preparing a passage suitable for the descent of the dorsal marrow [i.e, spinal cord] through them. Second, she did not construct the entire back out of unorganized and simple bone. This might have been preferable for stability and for the safety of the dorsal marrow, since the back could not be dislocated, destroyed or distorted unless it had a number of joints. Indeed, if the Creator had in mind only the ability to withstand injury and had no other or more worthy goal in the structure of the organs, then the back would have been created as unorganized and simple. If anyone constructs an animal of stone or wood, he makes the back as a single continuous part, but since man must bend his back and stand erect it was better not to make it entirely from a single bone. On the contrary, since man must perform many different motions with the aid of his back it was better that it be constructed from many bones, even though in this way it was rendered more liable to injury.

(O’Malley, 1964, p. 155)

I’ll let my readers be the judge. Vesalius was a man who, with Copernicus, could be described as a co-founder (along with Copernicus) of the Scientific Revolution. This great thinker’s medical writings abound in references to to God, to the Creator, to the Founder of things, and to the Great Artisan. Vesalius even declares that a proper knowledge of anatomy makes us godlike, and reproaches those who make incorrect assertions about human anatomy with impiety. Finally, he argues that God did an excellent job in the way He constructed the various parts of the human body, including the human back. In other words, he was an Intelligent Design proponent. Is this a man whom you would describe as a methodological naturalist?

 


(3) Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the author of an inductive methodology for scientific enquiry which bears his name (the Baconian method) and which had a lasting influence on the course of the Scientific Revolution.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Francis Bacon was the author of an inductive methodology for scientific enquiry which bears his name (the Baconian method) and which had a lasting influence on the course of the Scientific Revolution.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Bacon clearly stated in his writings that an investigation of the natural world could lead scientists to a sure knowledge of God. But if he reasoned in this way, then he cannot have believed, as many modern philosophers of science falsely allege, that science can only yield natural knowledge, and that the supernatural is barred to scientific enquiry. In other words, Bacon was not a methodological naturalist.

Bacon also referred to natural philosophy (science) as the “most faithful handmaid” of religion.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Bacon maintained that the existence of God is obvious, and that the human mind is capable of inferring the existence of a supernatural Deity even from ordinary natural phenomena

In his famous essay Of Atheism, Bacon treats the existence of God as an obvious fact – a fact so obvious from God’s ordinary works (which are found in Nature) that it needs no miracle to confirm it.

It is important to understand Bacon’s meaning correctly here. Bacon is not rejecting the existence of miracles; after all, he was a Christian, as his own personal Confession of Faith clearly shows, and he acknowledges in his confession of faith that on rare occasions, “God doth transcend the law of nature by miracles,” as for instance when Jesus Christ “took flesh of the Virgin Mary.” Rather, what Bacon is saying is in his essay Of Atheism is that the human mind is capable of inferring the existence of a supernatural Deity even from ordinary natural phenomena. The human mind has a lazy tendency to cease its rational enquiry into the explanation of a phenomenon when it discovers a natural second[ary] cause. Viewed in isolation from other causes (i.e. “scattered,” as Bacon puts it), secondary causes at first appear sufficient to account for phenomena, and a shallow human mind may “rest in them, and go no further.” However, when the human mind beholds the ensemble or “chain” of secondary causes in Nature, “confederate and linked together,” it cannot help but conclude that there is a God – or as Bacon puts it, “it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.”

Bacon then goes on to express incredulity at the absurd idea that an infinite number of scattered atoms (“seeds unplaced”) could generate the order and beauty we find in the cosmos:

I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore, God never wrought miracle, to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity. Nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus and Democritus and Epicurus. For it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite small portions, or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty, without a divine marshal.

This is an Intelligent Design argument, in broad outline, and it is totally incompatible with methodological naturalism. Bacon treats the existence of God as an evident fact which needs no miraculous sign to confirm it; but according to methodological naturalism, scientists can only infer natural causes for natural phenomena. Bacon, however, does not hesitate to go beyond secondary causes and “fly to Providence and Deity” when he beholds the chain of secondary causes in Nature.

 

(b) Bacon referred to science (natural philosophy) as the “most faithful handmaid” of religion

Bacon’s supernaturalism becomes even more evident when one examines his classic work, The New Organon (1620). In chapter LXXXIX, Bacon talks about the obstacles that natural philosophy has had to contend with in the past – in particular, “superstition, and the blind and immoderate zeal of religion.” Bacon cites historical instances in which scientists investigating the causes for natural phenomena were accused of impiety by the ancient Greeks, as well as some of the early Christian Fathers. He then criticizes what he regards as the unfortunate incorporation of Aristotle’s philosophy into the Christian religion by medieval schoolmen, which impeded the investigation of natural phenomena. Later on, other theologians made the fatal mistake of mingling the divine and the human by attempting to deduce the Divine truths of the Christian faith from human philosophical principles. Finally, Bacon attacks the simple-minded attitude of some clerics (or divines) who feared a no-holds-barred philosophical investigation of the natural world. It is worth recalling, when reading the following passage, that science was referred to as “natural philosophy”, in Bacon’s time:

Lastly, you will find that by the simpleness of certain divines, access to any philosophy, however pure, is well-nigh closed. Some are weakly afraid lest a deeper search into nature should transgress the permitted limits of sober-mindedness, wrongfully wresting and transferring what is said in Holy Writ against those who pry into sacred mysteries, to the hidden things of nature, which are barred by no prohibition. Others with more subtlety surmise and reflect that if second causes are unknown everything can more readily be referred to the divine hand and rod, a point in which they think religion greatly concerned — which is in fact nothing else but to seek to gratify God with a lie. Others fear from past example that movements and changes in philosophy will end in assaults on religion. And others again appear apprehensive that in the investigation of nature something may be found to subvert or at least shake the authority of religion, especially with the unlearned. But these two last fears seem to me to savor utterly of carnal wisdom; as if men in the recesses and secret thought of their hearts doubted and distrusted the strength of religion and the empire of faith over the sense, and therefore feared that the investigation of truth in nature might be dangerous to them. But if the matter be truly considered, natural philosophy is, after the word of God, at once the surest medicine against superstition and the most approved nourishment for faith, and therefore she is rightly given to religion as her most faithful handmaid, since the one displays the will of God, the other his power. For he did not err who said, “Ye err in that ye know not the Scriptures and the power of God,” thus coupling and blending in an indissoluble bond information concerning his will and meditation concerning his power. Meanwhile it is not surprising if the growth of natural philosophy is checked when religion, the thing which has most power over men’s minds, has by the simpleness and incautious zeal of certain persons been drawn to take part against her.

Notice that Bacon here refers to natural philosophy or science as the “most faithful handmaid” of religion, insofar as it reveals the power of God. Notice also that Bacon regards religion and natural philosophy as coupled and blended “in an indissoluble bond.” For Bacon, there was no wall of separation between the two, and he would have been puzzled by the suggestion that natural philosophy is limited to investigating the secondary causes of phenomena.

 


(4) Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the Father of modern astronomy and the father of modern physics.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Galileo Galilei was the Father of modern astronomy and the father of modern physics.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Galileo affirmed the reality of miracles in his writings. He also wrote that birds were beautifully designed for flight, and that fish were admirably designed for swimming in water. That’s an Intelligent Design-style argument. Finally, he believed that the human mind was not the product of Nature, but must have been specially created by God.

Where’s the evidence?

Was Galileo a methodological naturalist? Ronald Numbers (2003) seems to think so. He quotes Galileo in support of a claim that the laws of Nature are never broken. As we shall see, Galileo says nothing of the sort. Before I do so, however, I would like to clear up a number of popular misconceptions.

It needs to be kept in mind that Galileo remained a devout Catholic all his life. His famous aphorism, “The Bible was written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go,” was not intended as a criticism of the Church, but was actually a citation from the writings of a cardinal of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Baronius, who made this statement in 1598, long before Galileo ever looked through a telescope (Stillman Drake, Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, Doubleday Anchor Books, 1957, p. 136). Indeed, Pope Urban VIII sent his special blessing to Galileo as he was dying. After his death, Galileo was interred not only in consecrated ground, but within the church of Santa Croce at Florence.

There are four grounds for denying that Galileo could have been a methodological naturalist.

 

(a) Galileo believed in Nature miracles, such as the Biblical miracle of Joshua

“Even if Galileo was a Catholic, those were his personal views,” you may object. “They have absolutely no relevance to his work as a scientist.” But wait, there’s more! Galileo believed in miracles, too. That means that he could not have believed that the laws of Nature are never violated, as Ronald Numbers claims. Take a look at his Letter to Madame Christina of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany: Concerning the Use of Biblical Quotations in Matters of Science (1615). In his letter, Galileo discusses the Biblical miracle in which Joshua commanded the Sun to stand still. What is interesting is that Galileo, the father of modern science, expressly affirms the reality of this miracle. The only point on which he differs from his Christian contemporaries is in his explanation of the mechanics of the miracle:

The sun, then, being the font of light and the source of motion, when God willed that at Joshua’s command the whole system of the world should rest and should remain for many hours in the same state, it sufficed to make the sun stand still. Upon its stopping all the other revolutions ceased; the earth, the moon, and the sun remained in the same arrangement as before, as did all the planets; nor in all that time did day decline towards night, for day was miraculously prolonged. And in this manner, by the stopping of the sun, without altering or in the least disturbing the other aspects and mutual positions of the stars, the day could be lengthened on earth — which agrees exquisitely with the literal sense of the sacred text.

So the father of modern science believed in miracles – and not just private little miracles, but big, public spectacles that everyone could see, and whose occurrence was a matter of public record (Joshua 10:12-14). So much for Galileo’s alleged methodological naturalism.

 

(b) How Ronald Numbers misreads Galileo on the laws of Nature

Ronald Numbers completely overlooks this point, in his discussion of Galileo. What’s more, he completely misinterprets Galileo, even making him out to be a disbeliever in miracles:

The Italian Catholic Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), one of the foremost promoters of the new philosophy, insisted that nature “never violates the terms of the laws imposed upon her.” (Numbers, 2003, p. 267)

The selective quotation from Galileo is taken from the letter to Madame Christina of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany, which I quoted from above. When we consider that in the same letter, Galileo expressly affirms the reality of the miracle of the sun standing still, it is obvious that Galileo cannot have intended to say that the laws of Nature are never broken, as Numbers mistakenly construes him as saying.

What is Galileo saying in the passage selectively quoted by Numbers? He is saying that Nature is obedient. Matter, in his mechanical view of Nature, is inert and passive, and does what it is told. A body will react in a fixed way to whatever forces are applied to it. But in the passage cited by Numbers, Galileo is not concerned with the question of whether those forces are natural forces, pushing and pulling other particles, or supernatural forces (i.e. the will of God, moving matter). Nowhere does Galileo assert that that Nature is a causally closed system; in any case, as we have seen above, belief in the causal closure of Nature was not common until the mid-nineteenth century. Instead, what Galileo is arguing is that Nature cannot fail to respond to the forces acting on it. There can be no question of Nature rebelling against the command of these forces; for Nature is unable to defy any command imposed upon her. Hence, if sense-experience tells us that something happened, we should not doubt for a moment that it actually did, for Nature, which causes our sense-experiences, cannot deceive. The thinking here is the same as in the old adage, “The camera does not lie.” As Galileo puts it:

But Nature, on the other hand, is in­exorable and immutable; she never transgresses the laws imposed upon her, or cares a whit whether her abstruse reasons and methods of operation are understandable to men. For that reason it appears that nothing physical which sense-experience sets before our eyes, or which necessary demonstrations prove to us, ought to be called in question (much less condemned) upon the testimony of biblical passages which may have some different meaning beneath their words.

Galileo then goes on to discuss the miracle of Joshua. Not for a moment does he contest its reality. The only point at issue is whether the Sun stopped moving, or the Earth.

 

(c) Galileo was an Intelligent Design advocate

It gets even worse for Numbers. It turns out that Galileo was something of an Intelligent Design theorist. I am deeply indebted to Michael Caputo for the following quotes, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to him, for his valuable research.

Galileo’s observations and meditations on God’s wonders led him to conclude: “To me the works of nature and of God are miraculous.” (Brunetti, F. Opere di Galileo Galilei. Torino: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1964, p. 506.)

Poetic license, you say? I haven’t finished yet; there’s more. Galileo often mused on what he saw as the stunning manifestations of God’s creative wisdom. He was particularly impressed with birds and their ideal design for flight, and with fish and their perfect design for swimming in water:

God could have made birds with bones of massive gold, with veins full of molten silver, with flesh heavier than lead and with tiny wings… He could have made fish heavier than lead, and thus twelve times heavier than water, but He has wished to make the former of bone, flesh, and feathers that are light enough, and the latter as heavier than water, to teach us that He rejoices in simplicity and facility. (Sobel, Dava, Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love. Toronto: Viking Press, 1999, p. 99.)

So according to Galileo, God not only personally designed fish, but He also designed the bones, veins, flesh and feathers of birds, in exquisite detail.

 

(d) Galileo held that the human mind had been created by God, and he believed that God spoke to him

To add insult to injury, it appears that Galileo, “the father of modern science,” was what the Darwinian philosopher Daniel Dennett disparagingly describes as a “mind-creationist”: he believed that the human mind was not the product of Nature, but must have been specially created by God. The human mind was, according to Galileo, one the greatest of God’s achievements: “When I consider what marvelous things men have understood, what he has inquired into and contrived, I know only too clearly that the human mind is a work of God, and one of the most excellent.” Yet the potential of the human mind “… is separated from the Divine knowledge by an infinite interval.” (Poupard, Cardinal Paul. Galileo Galilei. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1983, p. 101.)

Galileo saw himself as a man privileged by God. He believed that God, in His mercy, occasionally deigns to reveal a new insight to some chosen individual, thus augmenting the stock of knowledge revealed to humanity: “One must not doubt the possibility that the Divine Goodness at times may choose to inspire a ray of His immense knowledge in low and high intellects, when they are adorned with sincere and holy zeal.” (Chiari, A. Galileo Galilei, Scritti Letterari. Florence: Felice Le Monnier, 1970, p. 545.) Galileo saw himself as the recipient of great truths that were previously known only to God, and he expressed his gratitude to God for being the first to experience these revelations: “I render infinite thanks to God, for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries.” (Sobel, Dava, Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love. Toronto: Viking Press, 1999, p. 6.)

Seer. Supernaturalist. Miracle believer. Intelligent Design theorist. Mind creationist. This is the secularists’ hero, Galileo Galilei. And he was a great scientist, too. I hope, that they will be gracious enough to allow Louisiana high school students the right to freely hold and publicly defend the same views as those held by the father of modern science.

 


(5) Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), best known for his three laws of planetary motion.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Kepler was a German mathematician and astronomer, who is best known for his three laws of planetary motion.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Kepler wisely refused to treat the Bible as a science textbook, maintaining that it was never meant to be used in such a fashion. However, he explicitly incorporated religious arguments and reasoning into his scientific works, arguing that because the universe was designed by an intelligent Creator, it should function in accordance with some mathematical pattern. That’s theological reasoning, and it played a vital part in Kepler’s scientific discoveries.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Kepler’s principal axiom, when doing science, was that everything in the world was created by God according to a plan

Let me begin by quoting from a biography, Kepler, by Max Caspar, translated and edited by Clarise Doris Hellman (Dover Publications, 1993, p. 62):

Nothing in the world was created by God without a plan; this was Kepler’s principal axiom. His undertaking was no less than to discover this plan for creation, to think the thoughts of God over again, because he was convinced that “just like a human architect, God has approached the foundation of the world according to order and rule and so measured out everything that one might suppose that architecture did not take Nature as a model but rather that God had looked upon the manner of building the coming [ED. NOTE: “about to be created”] human.”

But don’t take my word for i. Just take a look at chapters four and ten from Kepler’s Harmonices Mundi (Harmonies of the World) (1619), the scientific treatise in which he announced the discovery of his famous third law of planetary motion. If Kepler had been a methodological naturalist, there’s no way he could have written those chapters.

 

(b) Kepler used theological arguments in his scientific works

Recent historians of science have highlighted the theological underpinnings of Kepler’s astronomical arguments. In an article entitled, “Theological Foundations of Kepler’s Astronomy” (Osiris 16: Science in Theistic Contexts. University of Chicago Press, 2001, pp. 88-113), Professors Peter Barker and Bernard Goldstein demonstrate that Kepler incorporated religious arguments and reasoning into his work. Ms. Genevieve Gebhart takes their argument further in her award-winning essay, Convinced by Comparison: Lutheran Doctrine and Neoplatonic Conviction in Kepler’s Theory of Light (intersections 11, no. 1 (2010): 44-52). She illustrates how Kepler, in his scientific works, made use of a special three-step proof (called a regressus) which had been originally proposed by the Lutheran theologian Philip Melanchthon, when identifying the cause of planetary motion, and also when attempting to derive a theory of light. A few highlights:

Kepler sought to find logically the “true cause” behind the virtus motrix (motive power) that moved the planets and determined their organization. (p. 44)

Kepler imposed fundamentally Lutheran principles onto the Neoplatonic concept of emanation, which he used as a guide in his physical investigation of the mechanical motive force of the solar system. (p. 52)

These conclusions allowed Kepler to theologically, mystically, and empirically confirm the motion of the planets as the effects of a universal, physical law. (p. 44)

Kepler claimed that the arrangement of the cosmos could have been proven logically using the idea of creation and appealing to the “divine blueprint” of a priori reasoning. (p. 47)

Now, if you believed that science cannot go outside the bounds of the natural world, as methodological naturalists do, then you certainly wouldn’t engage in a priori reasoning about a “divine blueprint” for the cosmos, while writing a scientific treatise. Obviously Kepler didn’t subscribe to methodological naturalism, as most modern scientists do. But if he didn’t, then why should we? And now ask yourself: would you allow Kepler’s scientific works into a high school science classroom? Or would you censor Kepler too?

 


(6) William Harvey (1578-1657), the founder of modern medicine.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

William Harvey founded modern physiology and embryology. He is famous for elucidating the complex nature of the heart’s functions and discovering the circulation of the blood.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

In his scientific writings, he claimed that because things are “contrived and ordered with … most admirable and incomprehensible skill,” they point to “God, the Supreme and Omnipotent Creator.” Harvey also used Intelligent Design reasoning when making his most important scientific discovery: the circulation of the blood. Finally, he was a Christian who believed that the existence of purpose in nature reflected God’s design and intentions.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Harvey put forward an Intelligent Design argument for a supernatural Creator in his scientific writings

In his book, Anatomical Exercises on the Generation of Animals (1651), William Harvey wrote:

“We acknowledge God, the Supreme and Omnipotent Creator, to be present in the production of all animals, and to point, as it were, with a finger to His existence in His works. All things are indeed contrived and ordered with singular providence, divine wisdom, and most admirable and incomprehensible skill. And to none can these attributes be referred save to the Almighty.”
(Harvey, William. 1989. Anatomical Exercises on the Generation of Animals. Toronto: Great Books of the Western World, William Benton, Publisher, Vol. 28, p. 443).

Harvey here states that all things, and especially animals, are “contrived and ordered with singular providence, divine wisdom, and most admirable and incomprehensible skill.” That’s theological talk. Harvey goes further, explicitly ascribing the design to God the Creator: “And to none can these attributes be referred save to the Almighty.” Hence Harvey is willing to “acknowledge God, the Supreme and Omnipotent Creator to be present in the production of all animals.” And remember, Harvey is writing all this in a scientific treatise, entitled: Anatomical Exercises on the Generation of Animals!

Does that sound like methodological naturalism to you? It looks like someone forgot to tell Harvey about the “rule” that science and the supernatural belong in separate compartments!

Notice also that Harvey is making, in broad outline, an Intelligent Design argument here. He is saying that because things are “contrived and ordered with … most admirable and incomprehensible skill,” they point to “God, the Supreme and Omnipotent Creator,” and to no-one else. In other words, Harvey believed that only a supernatural Creator could have designed the bodies of animals! That’s the polar opposite of methodological naturalism.

I should like to note in passing that the modern Intelligent Design movement is much more cautious in its claims: it simply asserts that biological complexity points to an Intelligent Designer, who may or may not be supernatural.

 

(b) The principles of Intelligent Design informed Harvey’s approach to science, when making his discovery of the circulation of the blood

It gets worse. Harvey used Intelligent Design reasoning when making his most important scientific discovery: the circulation of the blood. How do we know this? We have it on the testimony of the chemist Robert Boyle, who was a contemporary of Harvey’s. Dr. David Coppedge, who is a network engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, takes up the story in his online work, THE WORLD’S GREATEST CREATION SCIENTISTS From Y1K to Y2K:

In a recollection by Robert Boyle, Harvey, shortly before he died, related to the young chemist the clue to his discovery. Writing 31 years after Harvey’s death, Boyle recalls how he had asked the eminent physician about the things that induced him to consider the circulation of the blood:

He answer’d me, that when he took notice that the Valves in the Veins of so many several Parts of the Body, were so Plac’d that they gave free passage to the Blood Towards the Heart, but oppos’d the passage of the Venal Blood the Contrary way: He was invited to imagine, that so Provident a Cause as Nature had not so Plac’d so many Valves without design; and no Design seem’d more probable than that, since the Blood could not well, because of the interposing Valves, be sent by the Veins to the Limbs; it should be sent through the Arteries, and Return through the Veins, whose Valves did not oppose its course that way. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)

Lest this design by “Nature” appear Deistic, Emerson Thomas McMullen in Christian History (Issue 76, XXI:4, p. 41) stated that Harvey frequently “praised the workings of God’s sovereignty in creation — which he termed ‘Nature.'” We must not, in other words, read back 18th-century French concepts into 17th-century English terminology. McMullen, a PhD in the history and philosophy of science and a specialist in the life of Harvey, provides quotes that show Harvey’s provident Nature was an active, intelligent, wise, personal agent: Nature destines, ordains, intends, gives gifts, provides, counter-balances, institutes, is careful. Harvey spoke of the “skillful and careful craftsmanship of the valves and fibres and the rest of the fabric of the heart.” According to McMullen, Harvey’s primary achievement, the explanation of the circulation of the blood, was occasioned in part “by asking why God put so many valves in the veins and none in the arteries.” He believed that nature does nothing “in vain” (in Vein, perhaps, but not in Vain).

In the same article (No Vein Enquiry, in Christian History, Issue 76, XXI:4, p. 41), biographer Emerson Thomas McMullen explains that Harvey understood the Aristotelian principle, “Nature does nothing in vain,” in a theological sense:

Throughout his written works, Harvey reinterpreted the classical principle “Nature does nothing in vain” as a statement of God’s sovereign purposefulness in creating and sustaining the natural world (reflected in Isaiah 45:18).

 

(c) Harvey saw Creation as a reflection of God

We have seen how Harvey used theological reasoning in order to make scientific discoveries about Nature. But Harvey also believed that Nature could tell us about God, because for Harvey, the wonders of Nature were a reflection of their Creator. As he put it:

“The examination of the bodies of animals has always been my delight, and I have thought that we might thence not only obtain an insight into the lighter mysteries of nature, but there perceive a kind of image or reflection of the omnipotent Creator Himself.
(Harvey, as cited in Keynes, Geoffrey. 1966. The Life of William Harvey. Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 330. Bold emphases mine – VJT.)

The foregoing quote from Harvey can also be found in an online article, No Vein Enquiry, by his biographer, Emerson Thomas McMullen, in Christian History (Issue 76, XXI:4, p. 41). Commenting on this quote, Dr. David Coppedge remarks in his online work, THE WORLD’S GREATEST CREATION SCIENTISTS From Y1K to Y2K:

This glimpse into Harvey’s leitmotiv shows him to be acting freely in a worshipful spirit as he undertook his scientific studies, not under compulsion as a naturalist trapped in a predominantly Christian culture. [Biographer Emerson Thomas] McMullen says that William Harvey was a “lifelong thinker on purpose” in anatomy and physiology, mentioning this throughout his writings in an effort to discern the final causes of things. This was not mere Aristotelianism. “Harvey was a Christian,” McMullen states unequivocally, “who believed that purpose in nature reflected God’s design and intentions.” The appeal of being able to glimpse something of the mind of God, to understand how he had made things work, in the hope of understanding more fully both God and his works, has been a frequent and productive force in the development of modern science.

I put it to my readers that Harvey’s whole approach to science was at odds with the tenets of methodological naturalism, which eschews any scientific appeal from the creature to the Creator, or vice versa.

 


(7) Bishop John Wilkins (1614–1672), Fellow of the Royal Society and one of its Twelve Founding Members

Who was he and what was he famous for?

John Wilkins FRS was an English clergyman, natural philosopher and author, as well as a founder of the Invisible College and one of the founders of The Royal Society. Wilkins was educated at Magdalen Hall (which later became Hertford College), Oxford, graduating with a B.A. in 1631 and an M.A. in 1634. He studied astronomy under John Bainbridge. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1637, and was Bishop of Chester from 1668 until his death.

John Wilkins is particularly known for his work, An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, in which he proposed a universal language and a decimal system of weights and measures, not unlike our modern metric system.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Wilkins was also one of the leading founders of the new natural theology, which was highly compatible with the best science of his day. He also put forward an Intelligent Design argument for a supernatural Creator of the natural world.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Bishop Wilkins put forward an Intelligent Design argument, based on the laws governing the movements of the heavenly bodies

In his work, Of the Principle and Duties of Natural Religion, London: 1675, he sets forth what can only be described as an Intelligent Design argument for a supernatural Creator of the cosmos:

Chapter VI Argument from the Admirable Contrivance of Natural Things

From that excellent contrivance which there is in all natural things. Both with respect to that elegance and beauty which they have in themselves separately considered, and that regular order and subserviency wherein they stand towards one another; together with the exact fitness and propriety, for the several purposes for which they are designed. From all which it may be inferred, that these are the productions of some Wise Agent.
The most sagacious man is not able to find out any blot or error in this volume of the world, as if any thing in it had been an imperfect essay at the first
, which afterwards stood in need of mending: but all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Tully [= Cicero – VJT] doth frequently insist on this, as that most natural result from that beauty to be observed in the universe. Esse praestantem aliquam, aeternamq; naturam & eam suspiciendam adoramq; hominem generi, pulchritudo ordoq; rerum celestium cogit confiteri. “The great order and elegance of things in the world, is abundant enough to evince the necessity of some eternal and absolute Being, to whom we owe adoration.” And in another place, quid potest esse tam apertam, tamque perspicuum, cum caelum suspeximus, caelestiaq; contemplati sumus, quam aliquod; esse Numen praestantissime mentis, quo haec regantur. “What can be more obvious, than to infer a supreme Deity, from that order and government we may behold amongst the heavenly bodies?”
The several vicissitues of night and day, winter and summer, the production of minerals, the growth of plants, the generation of animals, according to their several species, with the law of natural instinct, whereby everything is inclined and enabled, for its own preservation: The gathering of the inhabitants of the earth into nations, under distinct policies and governments, those advantages which each of them have of mutual commerce, for supplying the wants of the other, are so many arguments to the same purpose.

 

(b) Bishop Wilkins put forward an Intelligent Design argument, based on the laws governing the movements of the heavenly bodies

But Bishop Wilkins didn’t stop there. He immediately went on to say that the excellent contrivance of parts within the bodies of tiny animals (such as insects) proved beyond all doubt that God exists.

I cannot here omit the observations which have been made in these latter times, since we have had the use and improvement of the microscope, concerning that great difference which by the help of that, doth apppear betwixt natural and artificial things. Whatever is natural doth by that appear adorned in all elegance and beauty. There are such inimitable gildings and embroideries in the smallest seeds of plants, but especially in the parts of animals, in the head or eye of a small fly: such accurate order and symmetry in the frame of the most minute creatures, a louse or a mite, as no man were able to conceive without seeing of them. Whereas the most curious works of Art, the sharpest finest needle, doth appear as a blunt rough bar of iron coming from the furnace or the forge. The most accurate engravings or embossments seem such rude bungling deformed works, as if they had been done with a mattock or a trowel. So vast a difference is there between the skill of Nature and the rudeness or imperfection of Art.

And for such kind of bodies, as we are able to judge by our naked eyes, that excellent contrivance which there is in the several parts of them; their being so commodiously adapted to their proper uses, may be another argument to this purpose. As particularly those in human bodies, the consideration of which Galen himself, no great friend to religion, could not but acknowledge a Deity. In his book de Formatione Foetus, he takes notice, that there are in a human body above 600 several [= various – VJT] muscles, and there are at least 10 several intentions, or due qualifications, to be observed in each of these; proper figure, just magnitude, right disposition of its several ends, upper and lower position of the whole, the insertion of its proper nerves, veins and arteries, which are each of them to be duly placed, so that about the muscles alone, no less than 6,000 several ends or aims are to be attended to. The bones are reckoned to be 284; the distinct scopes or intentions of these, above forty; in all, about 100,000. And thus it is in some proportion all the other parts, the skin, ligaments, vessels, glandules, humours, but more especially with the several members of the body, which do in regard to the great variety and multitude of those several intentions which are required to them, very much exceed the homogeneous parts. And the failing in any one of these, would cause an irregularity of the body, and in many, such as would be very notorious.

And thus likewise is it in proportion with all other kinds of beings; minerals, vegetables: but especially such as are sensitive, insects, fishes, birds, Beasts; and in these yet more especially, for those organs and faculties that concern sensation: but most of all, for that kind of frame which relates to our understanding power, whereby we are able to correct the errors of our senses and imaginations, to call before us things past and future, and to behold things that are invisible to sense.

Now to imagine that all these things, according to their several kinds, could be brought into this regular frame and order, to which such an infinite number of intentions are required, without the contrivance of some Wise Agent, must needs be irrational in the highest degree.

 

(c) Bishop Wilkins argued that the general tendency of human psychological faculties to seek out what is good, points to a benevolent Creator

Wilkins went on to argue that human beings’ psychological faculties were oriented towards their well-being as individuals – a fact that could not be satisfactorily explained if they were the product of chance or necessity:

And then, as for the frame of human nature itself. If a man doth but consider how he is endowed with such a natural principle, whereby he is necessarily inclined to seek his own well-being and happiness: and likewise with one faculty whereby he is enabled to judge of the nature of things, as to their fitness or unfitness for this end: and another faculty whereby he is enabled to choose and promote such things as may promote his end, and to reject and avoid such things as may hinder it. And that nothing properly is his duty, but wht is really his interest: this may be another argument to convince him, that the author of his being must be infinitely wise and powerful.

The wisest man is not able to imagine how things should be better than now they are, supposing them to be contrived by the Wisest Agent; and where we meet with all the indications and evidences of such things as the Thing is capable of, supposing it to be true, it must needs be very irrational to make any doubt of it.
Now I appeal to any considering man, unto what Cause all this exactness and regularity can reasonably be ascribed, whether to blind Chance, or blind Necessity, or to the conduct of some wise intelligent Being.

Wilkins’ argument can be elucidated with the aid of a thought experiment. Imagine a race of beings who were physically like us in every respect, but whose psychological tendencies were totally unlike ours. For example, at breakfast time, they crave harmful drugs instead of cereal and fruit juice. If this race of beings were to follow their wishes, they would soon die. They could only continue as a race by continually fighting against their natural desires. Wilkins is saying that we are in no such unfortunate position. Our desires are actually conducive to our well-being. How lucky for us.

One might attempt to counter Wilkins’ argument by saying that a race of beings whose desires were conducive to their biological well-being would rapidly out-compete a race of psychologically twisted beings like the ones I have described in any Darwinian struggle for survival, and that the fact that animals generally tend to crave what is good for them is no mystery. Wilkins’ reply, if I read him aright, is that our general psychological tendencies as human beings – as distinguished from the perverted cravings of some depraved individual – are invariably oriented towards our own good, both as individuals and as social beings. Chance, he thinks, would not bring about such an optimal orientation.

From a modern perspective, Wilkins’ rosy view of human nature appears positively Pollyannaish. Nevertheless, it is a remarkable fact that individual and social interests almost invariably coincide, and that most individuals, most of the time, want what is good for them. Evolutionary theory is so far from explaining this fact that it cannot even account for why we want anything at all – in other words, it fails to account for the existence of consciousness. Leaving this point aside, however, there is another, more fundamental point that Wlikins makes in his argument: neither Chance nor Necessity can systematically produce good results.

 

(d) Bishop Wilkins argued that neither Chance nor Necessity can systematically produce good results

Wilkins finally delivers his coup de grace against atheistic accounts of the world: if the world is not governed by Wisdom, it must be governed by chance or necessity. Neither of these is systematically able to deliver good results. Yet in the world around us, creatures of various kinds do attain their good on a systematic basis. Consequently, the world must be governed by a wise Creator.

Though we should suppose both matter and motion to be eternal, it is not in the least credible, that insensible matter could be the author of all those excellent contrivances which we behold in these natural things. If anyone shall surmise, that these effects should proceed from the Anima Mundi [pantheistic World Soul – VJT], I should ask such a one, is this Anima Mundi an Intelligent Being, or is it void of all sense and perception? If it have no kind of sense or knowledge, then it is altogether needless to assert any such Principle, because matter and motion may serve for this purpose equally welll. If it be an Intelligent Wise, Eternal Being, this is GOD under another name.

As for Fate or Necessity, this must be as blind and unable to produce wise effects, as Chance itself.
From which it will follow, that it must be a Wise Being that is responsible for these wise effects.
By what hath been said upon this subject, it may appear, that these visible things of the world are sufficient to leave a man without excuse, as being the witnesses of a Deity, and such as do plainly declare his great Power and Glory.

Source: http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=oOpXqTPfxNsC&pg=PA55&hl=ja&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

Recommended reading

John Wilkins 1614-1672 by Barbara Shapiro.

Scientific Theology: Nature by Alister McGrath.

 


(8) Robert Boyle (1627-1691), Founding Member of The Royal Society and the founder of modern chemistry, best known for Boyle’s law.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

The seventeenth century chemist Robert Boyle was a Founding Member of the Royal Society. He was also the founder of modern chemistry. Today, he is best known for Boyle’s law (P.V = k).

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Robert Boyle asserted that scientific discoveries revealing the astonishing complexity of living things, particularly tiny organisms such as insects, could be used to prove the existence of God.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Boyle put forward Intelligent Design arguments in his works

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Boyle fastens on two main types of design arguments: those involving the complexity of animate beings, particularly very small animate beings, and those which highlight the need to explain the origin and continuing function of natural laws: God must not only sustain God’s creatures, Boyle argues, he must also sustain the regularities which we recognize as lawlike.
(MacIntosh, J. J. and Anstey, Peter, Robert Boyle, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2010/entries/boyle/#2.)

Boyle genuinely admired the exquisite workmanship involved in the way God made insects, and he saw these creatures as providing a cogent proof of God’s existence:

“God, in these little Creatures, oftentimes draws traces of Omniscience, too delicate to be liable to be ascrib’d to any other Cause… my wonder dwells not so much on Nature’s Clocks (is I may so speak) as on her Watches.”
(The Works of Robert Boyle, Hunter, M., and Davis, E. B. (eds.), 14 vols., London: Pickering and Chatto, 1999–2000. Citation is from vol. 3, p. 223. See also Birch, T., 1772, The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, Thomas Birch, (ed.), 6 vols. (London, 1772; reprinted Hildesheim: George Olms, 1966), a reprinting of the five volume 1744 edition. Citation is from vol. 2, p. 22.)

Clocks, watches, complexity of little creatures … does that sound familiar to my readers? Robert Boyle, the scientist, is making an Intelligent Design argument! He didn’t feel in the least embarrassed about putting forward such an argument, as he undoubtedly would have done, had there been a widely observed convention in the 17th century that scientific reasoning should not be used to argue for the existence of God. Evidently there was no such convention. Which prompts me to ask: if 17th century scientists felt free to put forward Intelligent Design style arguments, then on what basis do modern scientists assert that these arguments fall outside the boundaries of science? Who decides what “real science” is?

 

(b) Boyle argued on empirical grounds for the reality of miracles

Finally, Boyle firmly believed in the reality of miracles. He was extremely skeptical of miracles outside the Bible, but he was also worried about the possibility of deceptive, demonic miracles. He wrote:

I first assent to a Natural Religion upon the score of Natural Reason antecedently to any particular Revelation. And then; if a Miracle be wrought to attest to a particular doctine concerning Religion, I endeavor according to the principles of Natural Religion and right Reason, to discover or not, this proposd Doctrine be such, that I ought to looke upon a Miracle that is vouch’d for it, as comeing from God or not. And lastly if I find, by the Agreeableness of it to the best notions that natural Theology gives us of God and His Attributes, that His Religion cannot in reason be doubted to come from Him; I then judge the body of the Religion to be true.
(BP 7: 122-3). Quoted in Boyle on atheism by Robert Boyle, transcribed and edited by John James Macintosh, University of Toronto Press, 2006, p. 206.)

Boyle went on to acknowledge that there may be “Lying Miracles” which God permits “to try men.”

 

(c) Boyle on mechanical and final causes in Nature

Boyle is believed by some to have been opposed to Aristotle’s appeal to final causes in Nature. In fact, his real position was considerably more nuanced. Boyle was no ant-teleologist. In his work, A Disquisition About the Final Causes of Natural Things, Boyle argued that the appeal to final causes in science is valid, but that they must be used with caution:

The result of what has been hitherto discoursed, upon the four questions proposed at the beginning of this small treatise, amounts in short to this:

  • That all consideration of final causes is not to be banished from natural philosophy; but that it is rather allowable, and in some cases commendable, to observe and argue from the manifest uses of things, that the author of nature pre-ordained those ends and uses.
  • That the sun, moon and other celestial bodies, excellently declare the power and wisdom, and consequently the glory of God; and were some of them, among other purposes, made to be serviceable to man.
  • That from the supposed ends of inanimate bodies, whether celestial or sublunary, it is very unsafe to draw arguments to prove the particular nature of those bodies, or the true system of the universe.
  • That as to animals, and the more perfect sorts of vegetables, it is warrantable, not presumptuous, to say, that such and such parts were pre-ordained to such and such uses, relating to the welfare of the animal (or plant) itself, or to the species it belongs to: but that such arguments may easily deceive, if those, that frame them, are not very cautious, and careful to avoid mistaking, among the various ends, that nature may have in the contrivance of an animal’s body, and the various ways, which she may successfully take to compass the same ends. And,
  • That, however, a naturalist, who would deserve that name, must not let the search or knowledge of final causes make him neglect the industrious indagation of efficients.

[Works, V, 444]

In his work, Boyle on atheism, Professor Macintosh notes:

For Boyle there was the realm of things to be explained scientifically, … but there were also many things that required supernatural intervention, including God’s sustaining His creatures in existence, sustaining the system as a lawlike entity or automaton, granting incorproeal souls to corporeal humans (‘physical miracles’ which occur hundreds of times each day), and ensuring that there was a lawlike connection between the sensory input of animals and the intellectual abstractions they were able to perform. Also in need of explanation was the mechanically inexplicable ability of people – that is, incorporeal souls – to move matter. Additionally, people seemed to be able to acquire knowledge beyond their ordinary ken, providing a prima facie case for angelic intervention. There were apparent miracles of healing and apparent cases of diabolical communication. There were cases of things that could in some sense be explained naturally but that seemed to Boyle to be much happier wearing supernatural explanations than natural ones, the most interesting being the spreas and survival of the Christian religion – a ‘permanent’ as opposed to other, ‘transient,’ miracles. There were cases of created intellects apparently being able to foretell the future. And then there were cases of supernatural with an apparent intention to validate a particular instituted religion or one in the process of becoming instituted.

For Boyle the world is split up into events which have a mechanical explanation and those which do not. The ones that have a mechanical explanation are thereby lawlike. Of the ones which do not, some are lawlike in their regularity and some are not, but it is clear that supernatural intervention in Boyle’s system is pretty much a commonplace. (Boyle on atheism by Robert Boyle, transcribed and edited by John James Macintosh, University of Toronto Press, 2006, pp. 207-208.)

Supernatural explanation is “pretty much a commonplace”? That certainly doesn’t sound like a methodological naturalist to me!

 


(9) John Ray, (1627-1705), founder of Modern Biology and Natural History, and the first to put forward a rigorous definition of a species.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

John Ray founded the science of modern biology, just as Robert Boyle founded modern chemistry. In his book, The Founders of British Science: John Wilkins, Robert Boyle, John Ray, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton (Cresset Press, London, 1960, p. 94), J.G. Crowther describes the relationship between the work of these two scientists as follows:

‘The work of recording and classifying the contents of nature, which, as Bacon had indicated, was the first step in creating a modern universal science, was led in chemistry by Boyle. In biology the comparable work was carried out by John Ray.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

In the course of his scientific research, John Ray found abundant evidence that all things – not only the heavens and the earth, but also living organisms – had been created by an infinitely wise and loving God. He maintained that the exquisite detail of the structure and function of living organisms was clear evidence of God’s wisdom.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Ray argued that the scientific refutation of the doctrine of spontaneous generation discredited atheism

Ray mounted a powerful cumulative case for a Creator of Nature in a book entitled The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691), which became a best-selling classic. In his book, Ray argued forcefully against the doctrine of spontaneous generation (the notion that life can arise from non-living matter), which he contemptuously described as “the Atheist’s fictitious and ridiculous Account of the first production of Mankind, and other Animals“:

Another Observation I shall add concerning Generation, which is of some moment, because it takes away some Concessions of Naturalists that give countenance to the Atheist’s fictitious and ridiculous Account of the first production of Mankind, and other Animals, viz. that all sorts of Insects, yea, and some Quadrupeds too, as Frogs and Mice, arc produced spontaneously. My Observation and Affirmation is, that there is no such thing in Nature, as AEquivocal or Spontaneous Generation, but that all Animals, as well small as great, not excluding the vilest and most contemptible insect, are generated by Animal Parents of the same Species with themselves; that Noble Italian Vertuoso, Francisco Redi, having experimented, that no putrified Flesh (which one would think were the most likely of any thing) will of itself, if all Insects be carefully kept from it, produce any: The same Experiment, I remember, Dr. Wilkins, late Bishop of Chester, told me, had been made by some of the Royal Society. No Instance against this Opinion doth so much puzzle me, as Worms bred in the Intestines of Man, and other Animals. But Seeing the round Worms do manifestly generate, and probably the other Kinds too, it’s likely they come originally from Seed, which how it was brought into the Guts, may afterwards possibly be discovered.

Moreover, I am inclinable to believe, that all Plants too, that themselves produce Seed, which are all but some very imperfect ones, which scarce deserve the Name of Plants) come of Seeds themselves. For that great Naturalist Malpighius, to make Experiment whether Earth would of itself put forth Plants, took some purposely digged out of a deep place, and put it into a Glass-Vessel, the Top whereof he covered with Silk many times doubled, and strained over it, which would admit the Water and Air to pass through, but exclude the least Seed that might be wafted by the Wind; the Event was that no Plant at all sprang up in it… (The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation, Part II, pp. 298-299, available online here ).

 

(b) Ray was a proponent of Intelligent Design

Ray also put forward an Intelligent Design argument in his book, when he reasoned that the absence of any maladaptive parts in the human body attests to the existence of an infinitely wise and benevolent God as our Creator:

Had we been born with a large Wen upon our Faces, or a Bavarian Poke under our Chins, or a great Bunch upon our Backs like Camels, or any the like superfluous Excrescency; which should be not only useless but troublesome, not only Stand us in no stead, but also be ill-favoured to behold, and burdensome to carry about, then we might have had some Pretence to doubt whether an intelligent and bountiful Creator had been our Architect; for had the Body been made by Chance, it must in all likelihood have had many of these superfluous and unnecessary Parts.

But now seeing there is none of our Members but hath its Place and Use, none that we could spare, or conveniently live without were it but those we account Excrements, the Hair of our Heads, or the Nails on our Fingers ends; we must needs be mad or sottish if we can conceive any other than that an infinitely Good and Wise God was our Author and Former…
(The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation, Part II, pp. 228-229, available online here).

Modern biologists would vigorously contest Ray’s assertion that none of our body parts are maladaptive, but regardless of whether you agree with Ray or not, the point is that he intended his argument for the existence of an Infinite God as a scientific one. He knew nothing of any “bright-line” rule saying that science cannot furnish arguments for the supernatural.

The modern Intelligent Design movement is much more modest than John Ray in its claims: it does not state that only God could have produced the first living things, but that only an Intelligent Agent could have done so. One cannot therefore accuse the Intelligent Design movement of bringing religion into the classroom.

 


(10) Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), the father of microscopy.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is popularly known as “the Father of Microbiology.” Although he did not invent the microscope, he greatly improved its design, and he also made significant contributions towards the establishment of the science of microbiology. He was the first to observe and describe single-celled micro-organisms, which he originally referred to as animalcules, as well as being the first to record microscopic observations of muscle fibers, bacteria, spermatozoa, and blood flow in capillaries (small blood vessels).

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was an eminent scientist and naturalist, whose scientific writings repeatedly expressed his conviction that science could tell us more about the Creator, as well as his firm belief as a scientist that the wonders of Nature had all been created for a purpose.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Van Leeuwenhoek believed that the purpose of science was to glorify God

Van Leeuwenhoek’s whole approach to science was very much grounded in his theological thinking, as Dr. David Coppedge informs us in his masterly online work, THE WORLD’S GREATEST CREATION SCIENTISTS From Y1K to Y2K:

A. Schierbeek, the Editor-in-Chief of the collected letters of Leeuwenhoek, explains that he was part of the ‘New Philosophy’ of scientists like Robert Boyle, who regarded the study of nature as “a work to the glory of God and the benefit of Man.” The newly-formed Royal Society was made up largely of Puritans with similar convictions, from which we can infer Leeuwenhoek shared with them a common bond of belief, since he took great pride in his relationship with the Royal Society, mentioning it on his title pages and even on his tombstone. Schierbeek observes, “His works are full of his admiration of creation and the Creator, a theme which is frequently found in writings of this period; in becoming better acquainted with creation, men wanted to get nearer the Creator, a conviction which is found among many of the early members of the Royal Society.” (Schierbeek, p. 200). Thus we see again that Christianity was the driving force during the rise of modern science.

Of Leeuwenhoek’s personal faith, Schierbeek says, “To this we must add his deep religious assurance, his complete faith in the ‘All-wise Creator,’ a never-flagging admiration for the perfection of the most minute, hidden mysteries of the work of His hands and the conviction that his researches would surely help to make His Omnipotence more universally known. Without ever lapsing into high-flown phrases he repeatedly gave evidence of his religious faith: ‘Let us lay the hand on our mouth, and reflect that the All-wise hath deemed this needful for the reproduction of all that hath received movement and growth, and so, the why and the wherefore we can but guess after.'” (Schierbeek, p. 31).

Let us pause here and recapitulate. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was an eminent scientist and naturalist, whose scientific writings repeatedly expressed his conviction that science could tell us more about the Creator, as well as his firm belief as a scientist that the wonders of Nature had all been created for a purpose – even if it was one of which we are wholly ignorant. That’s not methodological naturalism. That’s methodological theism.

 

(b) Van Leeuwenhoek was an ardent proponent of Intelligent Design

But Dr. Coppedge doesn’t stop there. He also informs us that Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was an early proponent of Intelligent Design: he argued that the complexity of micro-organisms constituted evidence for their having had a Creator, as well as powerful evidence against the proposition that something as complex as life could evolve from inanimate matter as a result of undirected natural processes:

Leeuwenhoek refuted the doctrine of spontaneous generation that was popular in his day, the idea that living things emerge spontaneously from inanimate matter – eels from dew, shellfish from sand, maggots from meat, and weevils from wheat. He observed the complete life cycle of ants, fleas, mussels, eels, and various insects, proving that all organisms had parents. It would take another 150 years for the false notion of spontaneous generation to be dealt its final death blow under Louis Pasteur (although a new form of the doctrine arose in the twentieth century, of necessity under Darwinian philosophy, under the name “chemical evolution”)…

It is clear, too, from his stand against non-Christian superstitions such as the doctrine of spontaneous generation, that he held to a Biblical doctrine of creation. He believed it foolish to think his little “animalcules” could have formed by chance, and he worked diligently to prove that all things reproduce after their kind, as the book of Genesis teaches. For example, after working for weeks observing the propagation of insects, Leeuwenhoek stated confidently, “…This must appear wonderful, and be a confirmation of the principle, that all living creatures deduce their origin from those which were formed at the Beginning.” (Schierbeek, p. 137). After another remarkable series of experiments on rotifers in 1702 he concluded:

The preceding kinds of experiments I have repeated many times with the same success, and in particular with some of the sediment which had been kept in my study for about five months… From all these observations, we discern most plainly the incomprehensible perfection, the exact order, and the inscrutable providential care with which the most wise Creator and Lord of the Universe had formed the bodies of these animalcules, which are so minute as to escape our sight, to the end that different species of them may be preserved in existence. And this most wonderful disposition of nature with regard to these animalcules for the preservation of their species; which at the same time strikes us with astonishment, must surely convince all of the absurdity of those old opinions, that living creatures can be produced from corruption of putrefaction. [Schierbeek, p. 171]

From Leeuwenhoek’s writings we frequently sense the awe and wonder that can only emanate from a man who has a joyful, personal relationship with God the Creator. Dan Graves, in Scientists of Faith (Kregel, 1996), writes, “He often referred with reverence to the wonders God designed in making creatures small and great. His virtues were perseverance, simplicity, and stubbornness. He loved truth above any theory, even his own. He asked of his challengers only that they prove their points as he proved his.” Schierbeek says, “Leeuwenhoek was driven by a passionate desire to penetrate more deeply into the mysteries of creation. To him, as to many others of his time, a watch was a greater specimen of craftsmanship than a clock in a tower; this opinion is reflected in his biological views. The microscope gave him the opportunity to study and admire the small organisms, the “animalcules,” and whenever he was able he expressed his admiration of the beautiful things he saw.” (Schierbeek, p. 196).
(Bold emphases are mine – VJT.)

The picture that emerges here is that Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the father of microscopy, conducted his scientific research in a manner that was wholly anti-thetical to that proposed by today’s methodological naturalists. He would have found their insistence that science can tell us nothing about the supernatural very puzzling.

 


(11) Robert Hooke FRS (1635-1703), the discoverer of Hooke’s law.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Robert Hooke was an English natural philosopher, architect and polymath. In 1660, Hooke discovered the law that bears his name. Hooke’s law (F = k.x) states that the tension in an elastic spring is proportional to the displacement, or extension, of the spring. Hooke also built the vacuum pumps used in Boyle’s gas law experiments. In 1665, Hooke published Micrographia, a book describing microscopic and telescopic observations, and some original work in biology. Hooke coined the term cell to describe the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. He built some of the earliest Gregorian telescopes, observed the rotations of Mars and Jupiter and, based on his observations of fossils, was an early proponent of biological evolution. He investigated the phenomenon of refraction, deducing the wave theory of light, and was the first to suggest that matter expands when heated and that air is made of small particles separated by relatively large distances. Hooke also developed a scientific model of human memory.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

He referred to God in his scientific writings. Not only that, but he also referred to Adam and quoted Scripture.

Where’s the evidence?

The following is a quote from Hooke’s Micrographia, a work in which he makes repeated references to the Creator.

And indeed, so various, and seemingly irregular are the generations or productions of Insects, that he that shall carefully and diligently observe the several methods of Nature therein, will have infinitely cause further to admire the wisdom and providence of the Creator; for not onely the same kind of creature may be produc’d from several kinds of ways, but the very same creature may produce several kinds: For, as divers Watches may be made out of several materials, which may yet have all the same appearance, and move after the same manner, that is, shew the hour equally true, the one as the other, and out of the same kind of matter, like Watches, may be wrought differing ways; and, as one and the same Watch may, by being diversly agitated, or mov’d, by this or that agent, or after this or that manner, produce a quite contrary effect: So may it be with these most curious Engines of Insect’s bodies; the All-wise God of Nature, may have so ordered and disposed the little Automatons, that when nourished, acted, or enlivened by this cause, they produce one kind of effect, or animate shape, when by another they act quite another way, and another Animal is produc’d. So may he so order several materials, as to make them, by several kinds of methods, produce similar Automatons. (Chapter XLIV)

 


(12) Nicolas Steno (1638-1686), the founder of modern geology.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Nicolas Steno, the Dutch geologist, anatomist and (in later life) bishop, is regarded as the co-founder of modern human stratigraphy and modern geology, along with James Hutton.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

He declared that his observations of the structure of the heart and the other inner organs of the human body had led him to conclude that such a wonderfully elaborate “work of art” could not be the product of chance or necessity, and that it must have been designed by a wise, personal God.

Where’s the evidence?

The following is a quote from Blessed Nicholas Steno: Natural History Research and Science of the Cross by Frank Sobiech, in the Australian eJournal of Theology 5 (August 2005), pp. 1-5.

But what did Steno believe during the years up to his conversion? During his study in the Netherlands (1660–64), he made acquaintance with Cartesian, deistic, and atheistic thinking, all of which shook his Lutheran faith and consequently led him to a religious crisis. Influenced especially by deism, he believed that it would be possible to grasp all mysteries of faith with the help of the natural reason alone. During a dissection performed as bishop in Celle on 7 May, 1680 he even confessed that he had been nearly seduced by atheism, by doubting a personal God and accepting an impersonal fate. After his discovery that the heart was a muscle in 1662/63, his observations of the structure of the heart and the other inner organs of the human body led him to conclude that such a wonderfully elaborate “work of art” could not be accidental or determined by blind fate. A personal, wise God was involved. This realisation led him back to faith in a personal Creator.

 


(13) Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the greatest scientist who ever lived.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Isaac Newton, who was arguably the greatest scientist who ever lived, was famous for the publication of his Principia in 1687 and for his formulation of Newton’s three laws of motion. He also developed a corpuscular theory of light, and invented calculus independently of Leibniz. (Who invented it first remains a controverted question.)

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Newton was an advocate of natural theology and thus saw the study of nature as revealing the creative hand of God, as his Principia and Opticks both abundantly illustrate. Newton also put forward Intelligent Design arguments in a scientific treatise on optics.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Newton argued for Intelligent Design in a scientific treatise on optics

Newton put forward Intelligent Design arguments in a scientific treatise on optics. Stephen Snobelen, Assistant Professor in the History of Science and Technology at the University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia, discussed Newton’s views in a 2005 interview with Paul Newall, entitled Newton Reconsidered:

In my view, Newton’s theology and his natural philosophy can be distinguished in certain ways, but were never completely separate. First, Newton was stimulated by his religious beliefs to study nature. Like his contemporary the alchemist/chemist Robert Boyle, Newton likely saw himself as a sort of high priest of nature. This religious stimulus to work in natural philosophy, which can be termed an example of a weak relationship between science and religion, did not directly shape the specifics of the content of his natural philosophy. But there are many examples of what can be called a strong relationship between Newton’s science and his religion, namely examples where Newton’s religion helps shape the cognitive content of his natural philosophy.

Newton was an advocate of natural theology and thus saw the study of nature as revealing the creative hand of God. This commitment to natural theology can be found briefly in the first edition of the Principia (1687) and more extensively in the later editions of the Principia and the Opticks.

So what did Newton actually say? In the 1717 edition of his Opticks, he attached an appendix with queries about scientific matters. In Query 28, he poses a rhetorical question about the skill (or art) with which animals were fashioned:

How came the Bodies of Animals to be contrived with so much Art, and for what ends were their several Parts? Was the Eye contrived without Skill in Opticks, and the Ear without Knowledge of Sounds? How do the Motions of the Body follow from the Will, and whence is the Instinct in Animals? Is not the Sensory of Animals that place to which the sensitive Substance is present, and into which the sensible Species of Things are carried through the Nerves and Brain, that there they may be perceived by their immediate presence to that Substance? (Newton, Opticks (1717), Query 28, pp. 344-45.)

Newton answers his own rhetorical question by appealing to an incorporeal intelligent Being whose omnipresence grounds the unity of natural phenomena, and who is immediately aware of events occurring in the world and thus able to respond to them:

And these things being rightly dispatch’d, does it not appear from Phaenomena that there is a being incorporeal, living, intelligent, omnipresent, who in infinite Space, as it were in his Sensory, sees the things themselves intimately, and as it were thoroughly perceives them, and comprehends them wholly by their immediate presence to himself: Of which things the Images only carried through the Organs of Sense into our little Sensoriums, are there seen and beheld by that which in us perceives and thinks (Newton, Opticks (1717), Query 28, p. 345.)

Later on in his Opticks, Newton adds that “the first Contrivance of those very artificial Parts of Animals, the Eyes, Ears, Brain, Muscles, Heart, Lungs, Midriff, Glands, Larynx, Hands, Wings, Swimming Bladders, natural Spectacles, and other Organs of Sense and Motion”, along with their instinct, “can be the effect of nothing else than the Wisdom and Skill of a powerful ever-living Agent, who being in all Places, is more able by his Will to move the Bodies within his boundless uniform Sensorium, and thereby to form and reform the Parts of the Universe, than we are by our Will to move the Parts of our own Bodies”. (Newton, Opticks (1717 ), Query 31, pp. 378-79.)

“Artificial” here means “made with skill.” Newton is putting forward an Intelligent Design argument: the elaborately contrived parts of animals points to their having been made by an intelligent living Agent, who can sense what’s going on anywhere and move a body by an act of his Will.

Newton is still more explicit about his theology in a private manuscript (Newton, Keynes, MS. 7, p. 1) where he puts forward an Intelligent Design argument against atheism:

Atheism is so senseless & odious to mankind that it never had many professors. Can it be by accident that all birds beasts & men have their right side & left side alike shaped (except in their bowells) & just two eyes & no more on either side the face & just two ears on either side [of] the head & a nose with two holes & no more between the eyes & one mouth under the nose & either two fore leggs or two wings or two arms on the sholders & two leggs on the hipps one on either side & no more? Whence arises this uniformity in all their outward shapes but from the counsel & contrivance of an Author? Whence is it that the eyes of all sorts of living creatures are transparent to the very bottom & the only transparent members in the body, having on the outside an hard transparent skin, & within transparent juyces with a crystalline Lens in the middle & a pupil before the Lens all of them so truly shaped & fitted for vision, that no Artist can mend them? Did blind chance know that there was light & what was its refraction & fit the eys of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it? These & such like considerations always have & ever will prevail with man kind to believe that there is a being who made all things & has all things in his power & who is therfore to be feared.

 

(b) Newton vs. methodological naturalism: Newton drew a different dividing line between science and religion

Now, I’m sure that readers will point out that Newton died 132 years before Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species was published in 1859, and that had Newton known what we know now, he would have argued differently. Maybe; maybe not. But here’s my point: when Newton put forward his Intelligent Design arguments, he thought he was doing science. Newton wasn’t aware of any “bright-line rule” that prohibited scientists from reasoning about the supernatural. For Newton, the dividing line between science and religion lay not in the distinction between the natural and the supernatural, but in the sources of truth appealed to by science and religion: unlike religion, science could not appeal to any statements based on Divine revelation (e.g. verses from the Bible); instead, it had to obtain its data from the world of natural phenomena. As Newton put it in an abandoned draft of a preface to a later edition of the Principia:

What is taught in metaphysics, if it is derived from divine revelation, is religion; if it is derived from phenomena through the five external senses, it pertains to physics; if it is derived from knowledge of the internal actions of our mind through the sense of reflection, it is only philosophy about the human mind and its ideas as internal phenomena likewise pertain to physics. To dispute about the objects of ideas except insofar as they are phenomena is dreaming. In all philosophy we must begin from phenomena and admit no principles of things, no causes, no explanations, except those which are established through phenomena. (I. Bernard Cohen, “A Guide to Newton’s Principia” in Newton, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philsophy, trans. by I. Bernard Cohen and Ann Whitman, University of California Press, 1999, p. 54.)

Quite right. However, a Cause that is established through the study of natural phenomena need not be itself natural. That was the whole point of Newton’s arguments for an Intelligent Designer of Nature in the 1717 edition of Opticks. In other words, Newton believed that natural phenomena could be used to scientifically infer the existence of a supernatural Being, as the statements cited above from the 1717 edition of Newton’s Opticks clearly demonstrate.

So I would like to ask: if Isaac Newton, the greatest scientist who ever lived, didn’t know of any “rule” prohibiting scientists from reasoning about the supernatural, then why should we consider ourselves bound by such a rule?

 


(14) William Derham, FRS (1657-1735), the first scientist to accurately measure the speed of sound.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

William Derham was an English clergyman and natural philosopher. He produced the earliest, reasonably accurate estimate of the speed of sound. Derham was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1703. He was Boyle lecturer in 1711–1712.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Derham’s Wikipedia biography describes how he freely mixed science and theology in his scientific works:

In 1696, he published his Artificial Clockmaker, which went through several editions. The best known of his subsequent works are Physico-Theology, published in 1713; Astro-Theology, 1714; and Christo-Theology, 1730. All three of these books are teleological arguments for the being and attributes of God, and were used by William Paley nearly a century later. However, these books also include quantities of original scientific observations. For example, Physico-Theology contains his recognition of natural variation within species and that he knew that Didelphis virginialis (the Virginia opossum) was the only marsupial in North America. Similarly, Astro-Theology includes several newly identified nebulae, albeit one or two now known to be star clusters; his 16-feet long telescope (also used when measuring the velocity of sound) was at the top of the tower of St Laurence’s Church, where the necessary doors are still in place.

Where’s the evidence?

The following is a selection of quotes from Derham’s Physico and Astro Theology: Or, A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God. The author employs Intelligent Design-style arguments which were common in the eighteenth century:

pp. 47-49
And now from this transient view of no other than the out-works, than the bare appendages of the terraqueous globe, we have so manifest a sample of the wisdom power and goodness of the infinite Creator, that it is easy to imagine the whole fabric is of a piece, the work at least of a skillful artist. A man that should meet with a palace beset with pleasant gardens, adorned with stately avenues, furnished with well contrived aqueducts, cascades, and all other appendages conducing to convenience or pleasure, would easily imagine, that proportionable architecture and magnificence were within; but we should conclude the man was out of his wits that should assert and plead that all was the work of chance, or other than of some wise and skillful hand. And so when we survey the bare out-works of this our globe, when we see so vast a body accoutered with so noble a furniture of air, light and gravity ; with every thing in short, that is necessary to the preservation and security of the globe itself, or that conduceth to the life, health, and happiness to the propagation and increase of all the prodigious variety of creatures the globe is stocked with & when we see nothing wanting, nothing redundant or frivolous, nothing botching or ill made, but that every thing, even in the very appendages alone exactly answereth all its ends and occasions: what else can be concluded, but that all was made with manifest design, and that all the whole structure is the work of some intelligent being, some artist of power and skill, equivalent to such a work.

pp. 366-368
Thus I have, as briefly as I well could, (and much more briefly than the matters deserved) dispatched the decade of things I proposed in common to the sensitive creatures. And now let us pause a little, and reflect. And upon the whole matter, what less can be concluded, than that there is a being infinitely wise, potent, and kind, who is able to contrive and make this glorious scene of things, which I have thus given only a glance of! For, what less than infinite could stock so vast a globe with such a noble set of animals! all so contrived, as to minister to one another’s help some way or other, and most of them serviceable to man peculiarly, the top of this lower world, and who was made, as it were, on purpose to observe, and survey and set forth the glory of the infinite Creator, manifested in his works! Who? what but the great God, could so admirably provide for the whole animal world, every thing serviceable to it, or that can be wished for, either to conserve its species, or to minister to the being or well being of individuals! Particularly, who could feed so spacious a world, who could please so large a number of palates, or suit so many palates to so great a variety of food, but the infinite conservator of the world! And who but the same great He, could provide such commodious clothing for every animal; such proper houses, nests, and habitations; such suitable armature and weapons; such subtilty, artifice, and sagacity, as every creature is more or less armed and furnished with, to fence off the injuries of the weather, to rescue itself from dangers, to preserve itself from the annoyances of its enemies, and, in a word, to conserve itself, and its species! What but an infinite superintending Power could so equally balance the several species of animals, and conserve the numbers of the individuals of every species so even, as not to over- or under-people the terraqueous globe! Who, but the infinite wise Lord of the world, could allot every creature its most suitable place to live in, the most suitable element to breathe, and move, and aft in! And who, but He, could make so admirable a set of organs, as those of respiration are, both in land and water animals! Who could contrive so curious a set of limbs, joints, bones, muscles, and nerves to give to every animal the most commodious motion to its state and occasions! And, to name no more, what anatomist, mathematician, workman, yea, angel, could contrive and make so curious, so commodious, and every way so exquisite a set of senses, as the five senses of animals are; whose organs are so dexterously contrived, so conveniently placed in the body, so neatly adjusted, so firmly guarded, and so completely suited to every occasion, that they plainly set forth the agency of the infinite Creator and conservator of the world!

pp. 414-416
Having thus taken a view of the posture, shape, and size of man’s body, let us in this chapter survey the structure of its parts. But here we have so large a prospect, that it would be endless to proceed upon particulars. It must suffice therefore to take notice, in general only, how artificially every part of our body is made. No botch, no blunder, no unnecessary apparatus, or in other words, no signs of chance; but everything curious, orderly, and performed in the shortest and best method, and adapted to the mod compendious use. What one part is there throughout the whole body, but what is composed of the fittest matter for that part; made of the most proper strength and texture; shaped in the completed form; and, in a word,
accoutered with every thing necessary for its motion, office, nourishment, guard, and what not! What so commodious a structure and texture could have been given to the bones, for instance, to make them firm and strong, and withal lights as that which every bone in the body hath! Who could have shaped them so nicely to every use, and adapted them to every part, made them of such just lengths, given them such due sizes and shapes, channelled, hollowed, headed, lubricated, and every other thing ministering, in the best and most compendious manner, to their several places and uses! What a glorious collection and combination have we also of the most exquisite workmanship and contrivance in the eye, in the ear, in the hands, in the foot, in lungs, and other parts already mentioned!

 


(15) Carol Linnaeus (1707-1778), the father of modern taxonomy.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Carol Linnaeus is regarded as the father of modern taxonomy.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Linnaeus, like John Ray, was an eloquent advocate of physicotheology. Nature was likened to a book in which God had written down messages, and just as one could read the Bible, one could also read the Book of Nature. Linnaeus believed that organisms had their place in nature, and that everything worked together like a perfect machine. As a naturalist, he continually asked himself what the purpose of everything was. Because he believed that God never created anything unnecessarily, he endeavored to show that everything was part of God’s great scheme.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Linnaeus believed that everything in Nature had a purpose, pointing to the existence of a wise Creator

Most of Linnaeus’ works are not yet available online in English. However, Uppsala University has created an excellent online Web site, Linne online, dealing with Carl Linnaeus, his life and his scientific discoveries. The Web site includes several topical essays contributed by researchers in various fields. One of these, The History of Ideas, was written in Swedish by Carl Frangsmyr, Magdalena Hydman and Ragnar Insulander, and subsequently translated into English. In the section entitled, Linnaeus’ view of nature, the authors discuss Linnaeus’ beliefs regarding the relationship between God and Nature:

Together with scientists like John Ray, William Derhamn, and William Paley, Linnaeus is one of the great thinkers in the physicotheological tradition. Nature was a key word and a sort of model during the 18th century. Nature was likened to a book in which God had written down messages, and just as one could read the Bible, one could also read the Book of Nature. Linnaeus was probably the foremost interpreter of his time in regard to the glorious plan of Creation.

The concept of the ‘economy of nature’ was used for the first time in the 17th century, then denoting basically how God governed his Creation — Nature. The notion that there existed an organized principle in nature, a perfect administration that meant that nothing was wanting and nothing was superfluous became a popular way of thinking during the 18th century. In treatises like Curiositas Naturalis 1748, Oeconomia Naturae 1749 (Husbandry of Nature), and Politia Naturae 1760 (Polity of Nature) Linnaeus developed ideas in this field that point forward to an ecological view. He wrote about the cycle of nature and the importance of mulching in nature, about how organisms had their place in nature, and that everything worked together like a perfect machine.

The authors continue their discussion of Linnaeus’ views in the section entitled, Physicotheology,

The relationship between God, nature, and humans was something that thoroughly occupied the minds of 18th-century scientists and philosophers. This issue was of crucial importance in the branch of thought that is usually called ‘physicotheology’ and was embraced by many natural scientists both in Sweden and abroad. The Englishman William Derham, who in 1713 published the book Physico-theology, is usually claimed to be the creator of physicotheology and its greatest exponent. In Sweden Linnaeus is usually counted among the leading representatives. He perceived nature as a wonder created by God, which is expressed, among other places, in the speech “On the Remarkableness of Insects,” which he gave at the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1739.

Unfortunately I have not been able to locate an online copy of this speech in English. I would be very grateful if anyone could email me a copy, or direct me to where I might find one.

 

(b) Linnaeus held that the purpose of studying Nature was to discover God’s purposes

Frangsmyr, Hydman and Insulander continue:

The physicotheologists asserted that both religion and nature research were vital to humankind. Through the study of nature our knowledge of God and His Creation would be enhanced; it can therefore be said that science had a religious utility. This way of thinking was typical of Linnaeus, see Linnaeus’ view of nature. In his treatise Cui bono? (“To What Good?”), he asks what the purpose of everything is, and his answer is that everything is part of God’s grand scheme.

By this he means that God never created anything unnecessarily, that every object is an important part of Creation. The task of the naturalist is therefore to discover this purpose. In doing so, the glory of God would be made manifest and economic utility would be promoted.

I hope it is apparent by now that this view of Nature, which Linnaeus expounded in his scientific works and writings, is diametrically opposed to the tenets of methodological naturalism.

 


(16) Ruder Josip Boskovic (1711-1787).

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Ruder Josip Boskovic was a physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, diplomat, poet, theologian, Jesuit, and a polymath from the city of Dubrovnik in the Republic of Ragusa (today Croatia), who studied and lived in Italy and France, where he also published many of his works.

Boskovic is famous for his atomic theory. His atomic theory, given as a clear, precisely-formulated system utilizing principles of Newtonian mechanics inspired Michael Faraday to develop field theory for electromagnetic interaction. He also made many important contributions to astronomy, including the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position. In 1753 he also discovered the absence of atmosphere on the Moon.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

According to his Wikipedia biography:

Boskovic was a devout Catholic and in expressing his religious views was straightforward. In his most famous book A Theory of Natural Philosophy (1758) he says: “Regarding the nature of the Divine Creator, my theory is extraordinarily illuminating, and the result from it is a necessity to recognize Him … therefore vain dreams of those who believe that the world was created by accident, or that it could be built as a fatal necessity, or that it was there for eternity lining itself along his own necessary laws are completely eliminated.”[24]

Where’s the evidence?

The following quotes are taken from A theory of natural philosophy by Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787; translated by Child, J. M. (James Mark). Open Court Publishing Company, Chicago, 1922.
In his Synopsis of the Whole Work (p. 33), Boskovic declares that he will prove God’s existence, Wisdom and Providence in an Appendix on Metaphysics:

I will mention here but this one thing with regard to the appendix on Metaphysics; namely, that I there expound more especially how greatly different is the soul from matter, the connection between the soul & the body, & the manner of its action upon it. Then with regard to GOD, I prove that He must exist by many arguments that have a close connection with this Theory of mine; I especially mention, though but slightly, His Wisdom and Providence, from which there is but a step to be made towards revelation. But I think that I have, so to speak, given my preliminary foretaste quite sufficiently.

It may be objected that the fact that Boskovic relegates God’s existence to a metaphysical appendix suggests that he regards it as falling outside the scope of science proper. However, as we’ll see below, Boskovic’s Appendix refutes such a minimalistic interpretation. In his Appendix, Boskovic makes it quite clear that God’s existence and attributes are a direct implication of his scientific theories. Also, in the last paragraph of his Appendix, Boskovic declares that it is Divine Revelation (rather than God’s existence, which we can know by reason alone), which is beyond the bounds of natural philosophy (or what we now call science). I am forced to conclude that Boskovic believed that the existence, wisdom and goodness of God were scientifically provable.

At the beginning of his Appendix, Boskovic declares that not only the existence of God, but also His infinite Power, Wisdom, & Foresight, “shine forth very clearly” from his theory: in other words, they are directly implied by his system of natural philosophy (or what we now call science).

Boskovic begins by putting forward the skeptical argument: that in an infinite amount of time, anything can happen, including an ordered universe. Boskovic concedes that if the order in the universe were like the order of the letters and words in a book, such order would inevitably emerge sooner or later. But, he says, the order of the universe is not like that. To begin with, there are infinitely more ways in which the behavior of matter can be chaotic than the number of ways in which it can behave in an orderly fashion; thus, at the very least, it would take an infinite amount of time to guarantee the emergence of an orderly cosmos. But even this will not be enough. The reason is that space, unlike time, is three-dimensional. Since, even for one dimension of space, chaotic outcomes are infinitely more likely than orderly outcomes, this means that for three dimensions of space, chaos is infinity-cubed times more likely than order. In addition, says Boskovic, the velocity of each particle can vary indefinitely, and once again, only an infinitesimal proportion of these variations are compatible with an orderly cosmos. Thus chaos is more likely than order by a factor of infinity to the power of four. If we compare this with the single dimension of time, we can see at once what’s wrong with the skeptical argument that given an infinite amount of time, an orderly universe will arise sooner or later. The flaw in the skeptic’s argument is that he overlooks the fact that some infinities are larger than others. Infinity raised to the power of four is three orders of infinitude greater than the infinity of time, which means that the likelihood of an orderly cosmos arising in even an infinite amount of time is infinitesimal to the third degree – in other words, zero. Only an intelligent and benevolent Being can explain this order. Moreover, such a Being must be infinite, in order to make a wise and benevolent selection from an infinite number of possibilities, the vast majority of which are chaotic.

Appendix pp. 379, 381, 383
539. So much for the mind; now, as regards the Divine Founder of Nature Himself, there shines forth very clearly in my Theory, not only the necessity of admitting His existence in every way, but also His excellent & infinite Power, Wisdom, & Foresight; which demand from us the most humble veneration, along with a grateful heart, & loving affection. The truly groundless dreams of those, who think that the Universe could have been founded either by some fortuitous chance or some necessity of fate, or that it existed of itself from all eternity dependent on necessary laws of its own, all these must altogether come to nothing.

540. Now first of all, the argument that it is due to chance is as follows. The combinations of a finite number of terms are finite in number; but the combinations that throughout the whole of infinite eternity must have been infinite in number, even if we assume that what is understood by the name of combinations is the whole series pertaining to so many thousands of years. Hence, in a fortuitous agitation of the atoms, if all cases happen equally, as is always the case in a long series of fortuitous things, one of them is bound to recur an infinite number of times in turn. Thus, the probability of the recurrence of this individual combination, which we have, is infinitely more probable, in any finite number of succeeding returns by mere chance, than of its non-recurrence. Here, first of all, they err in the fact that they consider that there is anything that is in itself truly fortuitous; for, all things have definite causes in Nature, from which they arise; & therefore some things are called by us fortuitous, simply because we are ignorant of the causes by which their existence is determined.

541. But, leaving that out of account, it is quite false to say that the number of combinations from a finite number of terms is finite, if all things that are necessary to the constitution of the Universe are considered. The number of combinations is indeed finite, if by the term combination there is implied merely a certain order, in which some of the terms follow the others. I readily acknowledge this much; that, if all the letters that go to form a poem of Virgil are shaken haphazard in a bag, & then taken out of it, & all the letters are set in order, one after the other, & this operation is carried on indefinitely, that combination which formed the poem of Virgil will return after a number of times, if this number is greater than some definite number. But, for the constitution of the Universe, we have first of all the arrangement of the points of matter, in a space that extends in length, breadth & depth; further, there are an infinite number of straight lines in any one plane, an infinite number of planes in space, & for any straight line in any plane there are an infinite number of classes of curves, which will start from a given point in the same direction as the straight line; & in every one of these classes there are infinitely more which do not pass through a given number of points. Hence, when a curve has to be selected which shall pass through all points of matter, we now have an infinity of at least the third order. Besides, after any curve has been chosen, the distance of each point from the one next to it can be varied indefinitely; hence the number of possible arrangements for any one point of matter, while the rest remain fixed, is infinite. Therefore it follows that the number derived from the possible changes in all of these things is infinite, of the order determined by the number of points increased at least three times. Again, the velocity which any point has at a given time can be varied indefinitely; & the direction of motion can be varied to an infinity of the second order, on account of the infinity of directions in the same plane & the infinity of planes in space. Hence, since the constitution of the Universe, & the series of consequent phenomena, depend on the velocity & the direction of motion; the number, which expresses the degree of infinity to which the number of different cases mounts up, must be multiplied three times by the number of points of matter.

542. Therefore the number of cases is not finite, but infinite of the order expressed by the fourth power of the number of points increased threefold at least; & that is so, if there is a definite curve of forces which also can be varied in an infinity of ways. Hence the number of relative combinations necessary to the formation of the Universe is not finite for any given instant of time; but it is infinite, of an exceedingly high order with respect to an infinity of the kind to which belongs the infinity of the number of points of space in any straight line, which is conceived to be produced to infinity in both directions. To this infinity the infinity of the instants in the whole of eternity past & present is analogous; for time has but one dimension. Hence, the number of combinations is infinite of an order that is immensely higher than the order of the infinity of instants of time; & thus, not only does it follow that not all the combinations are not bound to return an infinite number of times, but the ratio even of those that do not return is infinite, of a very high order, namely that which is expressed by the fourth power of the number of points increased twofold at least, or threefold at least if we choose to vary the laws of forces. Hence, the arguments of this sort that are brought forward are futile & worthless.

543. Moreover from this it also follows that, in this immense number of combinations, there will be, for any kind, infinitely more irregular combinations, such as represent indefinite chaos & a mass of points flying about haphazard, than there are of those that exhibit the regular combinations of the Universe, which follow definite & everlasting laws. For instance, in order to form particles which continually maintain their form, there is required their grouping together in those points in which there are limit-points; & of these the number must be infinitely less than the number of points situated without them. For the intersections of the curve with the axis must take place in certain points; & between these points there must lie continuous segments of the axis, having on them an infinite number of points of space. Hence, unless there were One to select, from among all the combinations that are equally possible in themselves, one of the regular combinations, it would be infinitely more probable, the infinity being of a very high order, that there would happen an irregular series of combinations & chaos, rather than one that was regular, & such an Universe as we see & wonder at. Then, to overcome definitely this infinite improbability, there would be required the infinite power of a Supreme Founder selecting one from among those infinite combinations.

In the following passage, Boskovic argues that the Being responsible for ordering the cosmos must be infinitely powerful, knowledgeable and wise:

p. 387
550. Now, the Being external to the series, which chooses this series in preference to all others of the infinite number in the same class, must have infinite determinative & elective force, in order that He may select this one out of an infinite number. Also He must have knowledge & wisdom, in order to select this regular series from among the irregular series; for, if He had acted without knowledge & selection, it would have been infinitely more probable that there would have been a determination by Him of one of the irregular series, than of one of the regular series, such as the one in question. For the ratio of the number of irregular series to the number of regular series is infinite, & that too of a very high order; & thus, the excess of the probability in favour of knowledge, wisdom, & arbitrary selection is infinitely greater than the probability in favour of blind choice, fatalism & necessity; & this therefore leads to a certainty.

Next, Boskovic puts forward an Intelligent Design-style argument, to the effect that the order we see in the biological world is vanishingly unlikely; hence, an Intelligent Being must be responsible for it. Indeed, Boskovic contends that the order we observe in the biological realm is so blindingly obvious that only a willfully blind person could fail to make the inference to a Designer:

pp. 387, 389
553. But why do I enumerate these separate things? Consider how much geometry was needed to discover those combinations which were to display to us so many organic bodies, produce so many trees & flowers, & supply so many instruments of life to living brutes & men. For the formation of a single leaf, how great was the need for knowledge & foresight, in order that all those motions, lasting for so many ages, & so closely connected with all other motions, should so bring together those particular particles of matter, that at length, at a certain determinate time, they should produce that leaf with that determinate curvature. What is this in comparison with those things to which none of our senses can penetrate, things that lie hidden far & away beyond the power of telescopes, & too small for the microscope? What of those which we can never understand no matter how hard we think about them, of which we can never attain not even the slightest idea; concerning which therefore, to use a phrase I have elsewhere employed to express something of the same sort, of which I say this: “We do not know the very fact of our ignorance.” Undoubtedly he alone can be ignorant of the immeasurable power, wisdom & foresight of the Divine Creator, far surpassing all comprehension of the human intellect, whose mind is altogether blind, or who tears out his eyes, & dulls every mental power, who shuts his ears to Nature, so that he shall not hear her as she proclaims in accents loud on every side, or rather (for to shut them is not enough) cuts away, tears up & destroys, & hurls far from him the cochlea & the tympanum & anything else that helps him to hear.

Finally, Boskovic suggests that since the benevolent Being Who orders the cosmos cares about us so much, He must have arranged some way for us to know the truth about Him – in other words, a revelation of Himself. However, says Boskovic, discussing such matters would take us outside the field of natural philosophy (i.e. science). The clear implication here is that the preceding discussion of the existence and attributes of God did not fall outside of the scope of science. Such a position places Boskovic at odds with the principle of methodological naturalism:

p. 391
558. It now remains but to mention that there is no man of sound mind who could possibly doubt that One, Who has shown such great foresight in the arrangement of Nature, such great beneficence towards us in selecting us, & in looking after both our needs & our comforts, would not also wish to accomplish this also; namely that, since our mind is so weak & dull that it can scarcely of itself arrive at any sort of knowledge about Him, He
would have wished to present Himself to us through some kind of revelation much more fully to be known, honoured & loved.
This being done, we should indeed quite easily perceive which was the only true one, from amongst so many of those absurdities falsely brought forward as revelations. But such things as this already exceed the scope of a Natural Philosophy, of which in this work I have explained my Theory, & from which I have finally gathered such ripe & solid fruit.

 


(17) Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), Fellow of the Royal Society, chemist and discoverer of oxygen

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Joseph Priestley was a Fellow of the Royal Society, chemist and discoverer of oxygen. His innovative techniques influenced the whole teaching of chemistry: the American Chemical Society has as its most prestigious award the Priestley Medal. Priestley was also a Doctor of Divinity and a Christian minister. His theological views, though, were very unorthodox for his day: he was a Unitarian, who held to a materialistic account of human nature and believed in a deterministic cosmos, in which everything happened for the best in the long run, because God had arranged it that way.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

In his philosophical works, he argued that the existence of an infinite, supernatural Deity could be demonstrated on rational grounds alone. In his scientific works, he expressed his belief in a Governor and Maker of the world.

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Priestley believed that reason alone could establish the existence of a supernatural Deity

In his two-volume work, The Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion (London, 1794), Priestley sets forth an argument for the existence of a supernatural Deity, based on reason alone (Volume I, Part I, section 1, p. 3 ff.):

When we say there is a GOD, we mean that there is an intelligent designing cause of what we see in the world around us, and a being who was himself uncaused. Unless we have recourse to this supposition, we cannot account for present appearances; for there is an evident incapacity in every thing we see of being the cause of its own existence, or of the existence of other things. Though in some sense, some things are the causes of others, yet they are only so in part; and when we give sufficient attention to their nature, we shall see, that it is very improperly that they are termed causes at all: for when we have allowed all that we can to their influence and operation, there is still something that must be referred to a prior and superior cause. Thus we say that a proper soil, together with the influences of the sun and rain, are the causes of the growth of plants; but all that we mean, and all that, in strictness, we ought to say, is, that according to the present constitution of things, plants could not grow but in those circumstances; for, if there had not been a body previously organized like a plant, and if there had not existed what we call a constitution of nature, in consequence of which plants are disposed to thrive by the influences of the soil, th sun and the rain, those circumstances would have signified nothing; and the fitness of the organs of a plant to receive nourishment from the soil, the rain, and the sun, is a proof of such wisdom and design, as those bodies are evidently destitute of. If the fitting of a suit of cloaths [= clothes – VJT] to the body of a man be an argument, and consequently prove the existence of an intelligent agent, much more is the fitness of a thousand things to a thousand other things in the system of nature a proof of an intelligent designing cause; and this intelligent cause we call GOD.

If, for argument’s sake, we should admit that the immediate author of this world was not himself the first cause, but that he derived his being and powers from some other being, superior to him; still in tracing the cause of this being, and the cause of his cause, &c. we shall at length be constrained to acknowledge a first cause, one who is himself uncaused, and who derives his being and cause from no superior whatsoever.

It must be acknowledged, however, that our faculties are unequal to the comprehension of this subject. Being used to pass from effects to causes, and being used used to look for a cause adequate to the thing caused, and consequently to expect a greater cause for a greater effect, it is natural to suppose, that, if the things we see, which we say are the production of some divine power, required a cause, the divine being himself must have required a greater cause. But this train of thinking would lead us into a manifest absurdity, in inquiring for a and a higher cause, ad infinitum. It may perhaps be true, although we cannot distinctly see it so, that as all finite things require a cause, infinities admit of none. It is evident, that nothing can begin to be without a cause; but it by no means follows from thence, that that must have had a cause that had no beginning. But whatever there may be in this conjecture, we are constrained, by following the chain of causes and effects, to stop at last at something uncaused.

That any being should be self created is evidently absurd, because that would suppose that he had a being before he had, or that he existed, and did not exist, at the same time. For want of clearer knowledge of the subject, we are obliged to content ourselves with terms that convey only negative ideas, and say that God is a being uncreated or uncaused, and this is all we mean when we sometimes say that he is self-existent.

It has been said by some, that if we suppose an infinite succession of finite beings, there will be no necessity to admit anything to have been uncaused. The race of men, for instance, may have been from eternity, no individual of the species being much superior to the rest. But this supposition only involves the question in more obscurity, and does not approach, in the least, to the solution of any difficulty. For if we carry this imaginary succession ever so far back in our ideas, we are in just the same situation as when we set out; for we are still considering a species of beings who cannot so much as comprehend their own make and constitution; and we are, therefore, still in want of some being, who was capable of thoroughly knowing, and of forming them, and also of adapting the various parts of their bodies, and the faculties of their minds, and to the sphere of life in which they act. In fact, an infinite succession of finite beings as much requires a cause as a single finite being, and we have as little satisfaction in considering one of them as uncaused, as in considering the other.

It was said, by the Epicureans of old, that all things were formed by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, that, originally, there were particles of all kinds floating at random in infinite space; and that, since certain combinations of particles constitute all bodies, and since, in infinite time, these particles must have been combined in all possible ways, the present system at length arose without any designing cause. But still, it may be asked, how could these atoms move without a mover; and what could have arisen from their combinations, but mere heaps of matter, of different forms and sizes. They could of themselves, have had no power of acting upon one another, as bodies now have, by such properties as magnetism, electricity and gravitation, &c. unless these powers had been communicated to them by some superior being.

 

(b) Priestley believed that reason could establish that God is an infinite and benevolent being

In Volume I, Part I, Section III of The Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion, (London, 1794), Priestley goes on to argue for that the Intelligent Designer of Nature must be an infinite and benevolent Being:

That God is eternal, and immutable follows necessarily, as we have seen, from his being uncaused; but if we consider the effects of which he is the cause, or in other words, the works of which he is the author, we shall be led to ascribe to him other attributes, particularly those of power, wisdom, and goodness, and consequently all the attributes which are necessarily connected with, and flow from, them.

If we call a being powerful, when he is able to produce great effects, or to accomplish great works, then we cannot avoid ascribing this attribute to God, as the author of every thing that we behold; and when we consider the apparent greatness, variety, and extent of the works of God, in the whole frame of nature; as in the sun, moon and stars; in the earth which we inhabit, and the vegetables and animals which it contains, together with the powers of reason and understanding possessed by man, we cannot suppose any effect to which the divine power is not equal, and therefore we are authorised to say that it is infinite, or capable of producing any thing, that is not in its own nature impossible; so that whatever purposes the divine being forms, he is always able to execute.

The designs of such a being as this, who cannot be controlled in the execution of any of his purposes, would be very obvious to us if we could comprehend his works, or see the issue of them; but this we cannot do with respect to the works of God, which are both incomprehensible to our finite understandings, and also are not yet compleated; for as far as they are subject to our inspection, they are evidently in a progress to something more perfect. Yet from the subordinate parts of this great machine of the universe, which we can in some measure understand, and which are compleated; and also from the manifest tendency of things, we may safely conclude, that the great design of the divine being, in all the works of his hands, was to produve happiness…

It is a considerable evidence of the goodness of God, that the inanimate parts of nature, as the surface of the earth, the air, water, salts, minerals, &c. are adapted to answer the purposes of vegetable and animal life, which abounds every where; and the former of these is evidently subservient to the latter; all the vegetables which we are acquainted with either directly contributing to the support of animal life or being, in some other way, useful to it; and all animals are furnished with a variety of appetites and powers, which continually prompt them to seek, and enable them to enjoy some kind of happiness.

It seems to be an evident argument that the author of all things intended the animal creation to be happy, that when their powers are at their full strength, and exercise, they are always happy; health and enjoyment having a natural and necessary connection through the whole system of nature; whereas it can hardly be imagined, but that a malevolent being, or one who should have made creatures with a design to make them miserable, would have constituted them so, that when any creature was the most perfect, it would have also been the most unhappy.

It agrees with the supposition of the benevolence of the divine being, that there is the most ample provision made for the happiness of those creatures which are naturally capable of the most enjoyment, particularly the human species. We have a far greater variety and extent of powers, both of action and enjoyment, than any other inhabitants of the earth; and the world abounds with more sources of happiness to us than any other order of beings upon it…

Priestley then goes on to argue that natural evils cannot be used to argue against the goodness of God, for the following reasons:

(i) things in nature which we call noxious may have good uses which are as yet unknown to us;

(ii) natural evils are only partial: they may be bad for this or that compoenent of the system of nature, but they are good for the system as a whole;

(iii) we shouldn’t call any particular thing in the system of nature “bad” unless we are sure that we would be better off without it. Fire, for instance, can wreak great harm, but the benefits it brings are immense;

(iv) predation in the animal kingdom might seem difficult to reconcile with the goodness of God, but the alternatives are far more horrible. Without predators, the earth would rapidly be over-run with organisms, and life would rapidly die out;

(v) in any case, natural evils are the consequence of general laws, the benefits of which vastly outweigh the consequences. Without laws, the world would be a buzzing, blooming mass of confusion; and finally,

(vi) should it be objected that God could have made the world in some other way, or that He need not have created general laws, the reply can be made that when judging whether nature is the work of a benevolent Deity, the only fair way to answer the question is to ask if any thing in the system of nature could be made better while keeping the other components the same. If it cannot, then we have no right to complain about nature.

 

(c) Priestley affirmed the existence of an infinite, supernatural Deity in a scientific treatise

In the preface of his scientific treatise, Experiments and observations on different kinds of air, Priestley avowed his belief in an infinite God, whom he described as a governor and maker of the world – in other words, a supernatural being:

As to myself, I find it absolutely impossible to produce a work on this subject that shall be any thing like complete. My first publication I acknowledged to be very imperfect, and the present, I am as ready to acknowledge, is still more so. But, paradoxical as it may seem, this will ever be the case in the progress of natural science,
so long as the works of God are, like himself, infinite and inexhaustible. (p. vi)

The best founded praise is that which is due to the man, who, from a supreme veneration for the God of nature, takes pleasure in contemplating his works and from a love of his fellow-creatures, as the offspring of the same all-wise and benevolent parent, with a grateful sense and perfect enjoyment of the means of happiness of which he is already possessed, seeks, with earnestness, but without murmuring or impatience, that greater command of the powers of nature which can only be obtained by a more extensive and more accurate knowledge of them; and which alone can enable us to avail ourselves of the numerous advantages with which we are surrounded, and contribute to make our common situation more secure and happy. (p. xii)

Besides, the man who believes that there is a governor as well as a maker of the world (and there is certainly equal reason to believe both) will acknowledge his providence and favour at least as much in a successful pursuit of knowledge as of wealth which is a sentiment that entirely puts off all boasting with respect to ourselves, and all envy and jealousy with respect to others and disposes us mutually to rejoice in every new light that we receive, through whose hands soever it be conveyed to us. (pp. xii-xiii)

This rapid progress of knowledge, which, like the progress of a wave of the sea, of sound, or of light from the sun, extends itself not this way or that way only, but in all directions, will, I doubt not, be the means, under God, of extirpating all error and prejudice, and of putting an end to all undue and usurped authority in the business of religion, as well as of science, and all the efforts of the interested friends of corrupt establishments of all kinds will be ineffectual for their support in this enlightened age: though, by retarding their downfall, they may make the final ruin of them more complete and glorious. (p. xiv)

From the foregoing, it should be clear that methodological naturalism would have been utterly alien to Priestley’s way of thinking.

Recommended Reading

Priestley, J. 1794. The Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion. London. Two volumes.

Priestley, J. 1820. The theological and miscellaneous works of Joseph Priestley, Volume 17. Priestley’s Letters to M. Volney begin on page 113, and his Letter III to M. Volney begins on page 119.

Dybikowski, James. 2008. Joseph Priestley, Metaphysician and Philosopher of Religion. In Joseph Priestley, Scientist, Philosopher, and Theologian by Isabel Rivers and David L. Wykes. Oxford University Press. Chapter 3 (pp. 80-112).

Kingston, Elizabeth. 2008. Joseph Priestley (1733-1804). Article in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Seeger, Raymond F. (NSF, retired). Priestley, Nonconformist Minister. From JASA 36 (December 1984): 241-242.

The Religious Affiliation of Chemist, Minister
Joseph Priestley
. Article at www.adherents.com.

 


(18) William Kirby, FRS (1759-1850), the father of entomology.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

William Kirby was an English entomologist, an original member of the Linnean Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is considered the “founder of entomology”.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

According to his Wikipedia biography:

Kirby produced his first major work, the Monographia Apum Angliae (Monograph on the Bees of England), in 1802. His purpose was both scientific and religious:

‘The author of Scripture is also the author of Nature: and this visible world, by types indeed, and by symbols, declares the same truths as the Bible does by words. To make the naturalist a religious man – to turn his attention to the glory of God, that he may declare his works, and in the study of his creatures may see the loving-kindness of the Lord – may this in some measure be the fruit of my work…’ (Correspondence, 1800)

This, the first scientific treatise on English bees, brought him to the notice of leading entomologists in Britain and abroad…

In 1830 he was invited to write one of the Bridgewater Treatises, his subject being The History, Habits, and Instincts of Animals (2 vols., 1835).

Where’s the evidence?

The following passages are all taken from the Institute for Creation Research article, Man of Science, Man of God: William Kirby by Christine Dao, Acts & Facts 37 (7): 8.

Between 1815 and 1826, he and fellow British entomologist William Spence coauthored the four-volume An Introduction to Entomology: or Elements of the Natural History of Insects. Considered the foundational work in the field of entomology, Kirby introduced it in this way:

Having given you this full account of the external parts of insects, and their most remarkable variations; I must next direct your attention to such discoveries as have been made with regard to their Internal Anatomy and Physiology: a subject still more fertile, if possible, than the former in wonderful manifestations of the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of the Creator. (Kirby, W. 1826. An Introduction to Entomology: Vol. IV. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1.)

… [W]hen we ascribe a certain degree of intellect to these animals, we do not place them upon a par with man; since all the most wonderful parts of their economy, and those manipulations that exceed all our powers, we admit not to be the contrivance of the animals themselves, but the necessary results of faculties implanted in their constitution at the first creation by their Maker. (ibid. p. 32)

Mankind and the animal kingdom were two distinct creations that shared no ancestors and were defined by wisdom.

There is this difference between intellect in man, and the rest of the animal creation. Their intellect teaches them to follow the lead of their senses, and make such use of the external world as their appetites or instincts incline them to,–and this is their wisdom; while the intellect of man, being associated with an immortal principle, and being in connexion with a world above that which his sense reveal to him, can, by aid derived from heaven, control those senses, and bring under his instinctive appetites, so as to render them obedient to the to hegemonichon, or governing power of his nature: and this is his wisdom. (ibid. p. 33)

In 1835, Kirby authored the seventh Bridgewater Treatise, titled The History, Habits and Instincts of Animals. The first chapter, “Creation of Animals,” argues that the very existence of animals testify to the Creator.

The infinite diversity of their forms and organs; the nice adaptation of these to their several functions; the beauty and elegance of a large number of them; the singularity of others; the variety of their motions; their geographical distribution; but, above all, their pre-eminent utility to mankind in every state and stage of life, render them objects of the deepest interest . . . so that arguments in proof of these primary attributes of the Godhead, drawn from the habits, instincts, and other adjuncts of the animal creation, are likely to meet with more universal attention.
(Kirby, W. 1835. The Seventh Bridgewater Treatise on the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Creation: The History, Habits and Instinct of Animals, Vol. 1. London: William Pickering, 1-2.)

 


(19) Thomas Chalmers, FRS (1780-1847).

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Thomas Chalmers was a Scottish mathematician, astronomer, political economist, and a leader of the Free Church of Scotland.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

According to Wikipedia:

A series of sermons on the relation between the discoveries of astronomy and the Christian revelation was published in January 1817, and within a year nine editions and 20,000 copies were in circulation. When he visited London Wilberforce wrote, “all the world is wild about Dr Chalmers.”…

Chalmers’ Bridgewater Treatise, in the series On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man, appeared in two volumes 1833 and went through 6 editions. As noted by Robert M. Young, these books effectively represent an encyclopedia of pre-evolutionary natural history, commissioned and published whilst Charles Darwin was on board The Beagle.

In the department of natural theology and the Christian evidences he ably advocated that method of reconciling the Mosaic narrative with the indefinite antiquity of the globe which William Buckland (1784–1856) advanced in his Bridgewater Treatises, and which Dr. Chalmers had previously communicated to him. His refutation of David Hume’s objection to the truth of miracles is perhaps his intellectual chef d’oeuvre.

Where’s the evidence?

The following selection of quotes from the Introductory Chapter of Dr. Chalmers’ Bridgewater treatise (Vol. I), On the power, wisdom and goodness of God as manifested in the the adaptation of external nature to the moral and intellectual constitution of man (1833):

p. 18
The chief then, or at least the usual subject-matter of the argument for the wisdom and goodness of God, is the obvious adaptation wherewith creation teems, throughout all its borders, of means to a beneficial end. And it is manifest that the argument grows in strength with the number and complexity of these means. The greater the number of independent circumstances which must meet together for the production of a useful result — then, in the actual fact of their concurrence, is there less of probability for its being the effect of chance, and more of evidence for its being the effect of design.

p. 19
One uniform law of gravitation, with a force of projection impressed by one impulse on each of the bodies, could suffice to account for the revolutions of the planets round the sun, and of the satellites around their primaries, along with the diurnal revolution of each, and the varying inclinations of the axes to the planes of their respective orbits. Out of such few contingencies, the actual orrery of the heavens has been framed. But in anatomy, to fetch the opposite illustration from another science, what a complex and crowded combination of individual elements must first be selected, ere we obtain the composition of an eye, — for the completion of which mechanism, there must not only be a greater number of separate laws, as of refraction and muscular action and secretion; but a lastly greater number of separate and distinct parts, as the lenses, and the retina, and the optic nerve, and the eye-lid and eye-lashes, and the various muscles wherewith this delicate organ is so curiously beset, and each of which is indispensable to its perfection, or to the right performance of its functions. It is passing marvellous that we should have more intense evidence for a God in the construction of an eye, than in the construction of the mighty planetarium — or that, within less than the compass of a handbreadth, we should find in this lower world a more pregnant and legible inscription of the Divinity, than can be gathered from a broad and magnificent survey of the skies, lighted up though they be, with the glories and the wonders of astronomy.

p. 25
The laws of nature may keep up the working of the machinery — but they did not and could not set up the machine. The human species, for example, may be upholden, through an indefinite series of ages, by the established law of transmission — but were the species destroyed, there are no observed powers of nature by which it could again be originated. For the continuance of the system and of all its operations, we might imagine a sufficiency in the laws of nature; but it is the first construction of the system which so palpably calls for the intervention of an artificer, or demonstrates so powerfully the fiat and finger of a God.

pp. 25-26
[T]he necessity for a divine intervention, and, of course, the evidence of it would have been more manifest, had the distinction between the laws of matter and its collocations [configurations or arrangements – VJT] been more formally announced, or more fully proceeded on by the writers on natural theism. And yet it is a distinction that must have been present to the mind of our great Newton, who expressly affirms that a mechanism of wonderful structure could not arise by the mere laws of nature. In his third printed letter to Bentley, he says, that “the growth of new systems out of old ones, without the mediation of a divine power, seems to me apparently absurd;” and that “the system of nature was set in order in the beginning, with respect to size, figure, proportions, and properties, by the counsels of God’s own intelligence.”

pp. 26-27
We do not deny that there is argument for a God in the number of beneficial, while, at the same time, distinct and independent laws wherewith matter is endowed. We only affirm a million-fold intensity of argument in the indefinitely greater number of beneficial, and at the same time distinct and independent number of coliocations whereinto matter has been arranged. In this respect the human body may be said to present a more close and crowded and multifarious inscription of the divinity, than any single object within the compass of visible nature. It is instinct throughout with the evidence of a builder’s hand; and thus the appropriate men of science who can expound those dispositions of matter which constitute the anatomy of its framework, and which embrace the physiology of its various processes, are on secure and firm vantage ground for an impressive demonstration.

 


(20) Rev. Dr. William Buckland, (1784-1856), Fellow of The Royal Society, geologist and paleontologist.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

The Very Rev. Dr William Buckland DD FRS (12 March 1784 – 14 August 1856) was an English geologist, palaeontologist and Dean of Westminster. He also wrote the first full account of a fossil dinosaur, which he named Megalosaurus. The short biography of Buckland in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica lists his numerous contributions to geology and mineralogy.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

He argued that geology could furnish proofs of a supernatural Deity, Who is one, intelligent, benevolent and infinite. He also spoke of science as “the efficient Auxiliary and Handmaid of Religion.”

Where’s the evidence?

The 8th Earl of Bridgewater, Francis Henry Egerton (1756-1829) left a sum of money in his will to direct leading scientists to write treatises “for the purpose of advancing arguments in favour of Natural Religion.” William Buckland was commissioned to contribute one of the set of eight Bridgewater Treatises, “On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation”. Buckland’s treatise took him almost five years, and it was finally published in 1836 with the title, Geology and Mineralogy Considered with Reference to Natural Theology (London, William Pickering, two volumes).

 

(a) Buckland believed that the mathematical laws we find in the natural world attest to the existence of a Creator

In Chapter 23 of his scientific treatise, Buckland argued against atheism on scientific grounds, from the existence of universal laws of Nature which work together in harmony and which are admirably adapted to the economy of the natural world. Even if the universe were eternal, the existence of laws alone would be enough to establish the existence of a Designer of Nature:

When we have in this manner traced back all kinds of mineral bodies, to the first and most simple condition of their component Elements, we find these Elements to have been at all times regulated by the self-same system of fixed and universal laws, which still maintains the mechanism of the material world. In the operation of these laws we recognize such direct and constant subserviency of means to ends, so much of harmony, and order, and methodical arrangement, in the physical properties and proportional quantities, and chemical functions of the inorganic Elements, and we further see such convincing evidence of intelligence and foresight in the adaptation of these primordial Elements to an infinity of complex uses, under many future systems of animal and vegetable organizations, that we can find no reasonable account of the existence of all this beautiful and exact machinery, if we accept not that which would refer its origin to the antecedent Will and Power of a Supreme Creator; a Being, whose nature is confessedly incomprehensible to our finite faculties, but whom the “things which do appear” proclaim to be supremely Wise, and Great, and Good.

To attribute all this harmony and order to any fortuitous causes that would exclude Design, would be to reject conclusions founded on that kind of evidence, on which the human mind reposes with undoubting confidence in all the ordinary business of life, as well as in physical and metaphysical investigations…

Such was the interrogatory of the Roman Moralist [Cicero], arising from his contemplation of the obvious phenomena, of the natural world; and the conclusion of Bentley from a wider view of more recondite phenomena, in an age remarkable for the advancement of some of the highest branches of Physical Science, has been most abundantly confirmed by the manifold discoveries of a succeeding century. We therefore of the present age have a thousand additional reasons to affirm with him, that “though universal matter should have endured from everlasting, divided into infinite particles in the Epicurean way, and though motion should have been coeval and coeternal with it; yet those particles or atoms could never of themselves, by omnifarious kinds of motion, whether fortuitous or mechanical, have fallen, or been disposed into this or a like visible system.” * — Bentley, Serm. vi. of Atheism, p. 192.

 

(b) Buckland also believed that the laws of the natural world point to the unity of the Creator

In the Conclusion (Chapter 24) to his geological treatise, Buckland goes further, and attempts to derive, on purely scientific grounds, the attributes of the Designer of Nature. The systematic recurrence of various designs in Nature, coupled with their mathematical order, point to their having been produced by one and the same Creator:

Chapter XXIV
Conclusion

IN our last Chapter we have considered the Nature of the Evidence afforded by unorganized mineral bodies, in proof of the existence of design in the original adaptation of the material Elements to their various functions, in the inorganic and organic departments of the Natural World, and have seen that the only sufficient Explanation we can discover, of the orderly and wonderful dispositions of the material Elements “in measure and number and weight,” throughout the terraqueous globe, is that which refers the origin of every thing above us, and beneath us, and around us, to the will and workings of One Omnipotent Creator. If the properties imparted to these Elements at the moment of their Creation, adapted them beforehand to the infinity of complicated useful purposes, which they have already answered, and may have further still to answer, under many successive Dispensations in the material World, such an aboriginal constitution so far from superseding an intelligent Agent, would only exalt our conceptions of the consummate skill and power, that could comprehend such an infinity of future uses under future systems, in the original groundwork of his Creation…

We have moreover seen such a systematic recurrence of analogous Designs, producing various ends by various combinations of Mechanism, multiplied almost to infinity in their details of application, yet all constructed on the same few common fundamental principles which pervade the living forms of organized Beings, that we reasonably conclude all these past and present contrivances to be parts of a comprehensive and connected whole, originating in the Will and Power of one and the same Creator.

Had the number or nature of the material Elements appeared to have been different under former conditions of the Earth, or had the Laws which have regulated the phenomena of inorganic matter, been subjected to change at various Epochs, during the progress of the many formations of which Geology takes cognizance, there might indeed have been proofs of Wisdom and Power in such unconnected phenomena, but they would have been insufficient to demonstrate the Unity and Universal Agency of the same eternal and supreme First Cause of all things.

Again, had Geology gone no further than to prove the existence of multifarious examples of Design, its evidences would indeed have been decisive against the Atheist; but if such Design had been manifested only by distinct and dissimilar systems of Organization, and independent Mechanisms, connected together by no analogies, and bearing no relations to one another, or to any existing types in the Animal or Vegetable kingdoms, these demonstrations of Design, although affording evidence of Intelligence and Power, would not have proved a common origin in the Will of one and the same Creator; and the Polytheist might have appealed to such non-accordant and inharmonious systems, as affording indications of the agency of many independent Intelligences, and as corroborating his theory of a plurality of Gods.

But the argument which would infer an Unity of cause, from unity of effects, repeated through various and complex systems of organization widely remote from each other in time and place and circumstances, applies with accumulative force, when we not only can expand the details of facts on which it is founded, over the entire surface of the present world, but are enabled to comprehend in the same category all the various extinct forms of many preceding systems of or ganization, which we find entombed within the bowels of the Earth. It was well observed by Paley, respecting the variations we find in living species of Plants and Animals, in distant regions and under various climates, that “We never get amongst such original or totally different modes of Existence, as to indicate that we are come into the province of a different Creator, or under the direction of a different Will”*….

In all the numerous examples of Design which we have selected from the various animal and vegetable remains, that occur in a fossil state, there is such a never failing Identity in the fundamental principles of their construction, and such uniform adoption of analogous means, to produce various ends, with so much only of departure from one common type of mechanism, as was requisite to adapt each instrument to its own especial function, and to fit each Species to its peculiar place and office in the scale of created Beings, that we can scarcely fail to acknowledge in all these facts, a demonstration of the Unity of the Intelligence, in which such transcendant Harmony originated; and we may almost dare to assert that neither Atheism nor Polytheism would ever have found acceptance in the World, had the evidences of high Intelligence and of Unity of Design, which are disclosed by modern discoveries in physical science, been fully known to the Authors, or the Abettors of Systems to which they are so diametrically opposed. “It is the same hand writing that we read, the same system and contrivance that we trace, the same unity of object, and relation to final causes, which we see maintained throughout, and constantly proclaiming the Unity of the great divine Original.”*…

 

(c) Buckland believed that geology could support the claims of Natural Theology

In the Conclusion (Chapter 24) to his geological treatise, Buckland also argued that geology had rendered a service to theology, by establishing that the world had not existed forever, as many atheists contended:

It has been stated in our Sixth Chapter, on primary stratified rocks, that Geology has rendered an important service to Natural Theology, in demonstrating by evidences peculiar to itself; that there was a time when none of the existing forms of organic beings had appeared upon our Planet, and that the doctrines of the derivation of living species either by Development and Transmutation from other species, or by an Eternal Succession from preceding individuals of the same species, without any evidence of a Beginning or prospect of an End, has no where been met by so full an answer, as that afforded by the phenomena, of fossil Organic Remains.

In the course of our enquiry, we have found abundant proofs, both of the Beginning and the End of several successive systems of animal and vegetable life; each compelling us to refer its origin to the direct agency of Creative Interference…

 

(d) Buckland on the dividing line between science and religion

In the Conclusion (Chapter 24) to his geological treatise, Buckland also addressed the dividing line between science and religion. Buckland held that science, led by the light of reason, could establish the existence and fundamental attributes of a supreme Creator of the universe – a view that immediately puts him at odds with the tenets of methodological naturalism. What science could not do was tell us anything about the revelations which such a Creator might want to make to His human creatures. For Buckland, then, God-talk was perfectly acceptable within science; what was not allowed was the invocation of science to establish the truth of a particular religion:

The disappointment which many minds experience, at finding in the phenomena of the natural world no indications of the will of God, respecting the moral conduct or future prospects of the human race, arises principally from an indistinct and mistaken view of the respective provinces of Reason and Revelation.

By the exercise of our Reason, we discover abundant evidences of the Existence, and of some of the Attributes of a supreme Creator, and apprehend the operations of many of the second causes or instrumental agents, by which He upholds the mechanism of the material World; but here its province ends: respecting the subjects on which, above all others, it concerns mankind to be well informed, namely, the will of God in his moral government, and the future prospects of the human race, Reason only assures us of the absolute need in which we stand of a Revelation. Many of the greatest proficients in philosophy have felt and expressed these distinctions. “The consideration of God’s Providence (says Boyle) in the conduct of things corporeal may prove to a well-disposed Contemplator, a Bridge, whereon he may pass from Natural to Revealed Religion.”

“Next (says Locke) to the knowledge of one God, Maker of all things, a clear knowledge of their duty was wanting to mankind.”

And He, whose name, by the consent of nations, is above all praise, the inventor and founder of the Inductive Philosophy, thus breathes forth his pious meditation, “Thy creatures have been my books, but thy scriptures much more. I have sought thee in the courts, fields, and gardens, but I have found thee in thy temples.” Bacon’s Works, V 4. fol. p. 487….

Having then this broad line marked out before us, and with a clear and perfect understanding, as to what we ought, and what we ought not to expect from the discoveries of Natural Philosophy, we may strenuously pursue our labours in the fruitful fields of Science, under the full assurance that we shall gather a rich and abundant harvest, fraught with endless evidences of the existence, and wisdom, and power, and goodness of the Creator.

“The Philosopher (says Professor Babbage) has conferred on the Moralist an obligation of surpassing weight; in unveiling to him the living miracles which teem in rich exuberance around the minutest atom, as wel1 as through the largest masses of ever active matter, he has placed before him resistless evidence of immeasurable design.

“See only (says Lord Brougham) in what contemplations the wisest of men end their most sublime enquiries! Mark where it is that a Newton finally reposes after piercing the thickest veil that envelopes nature — grasping and arresting in their course the most subtle of her elements and the swiftest — traversing the regions of boundless space — exploring worlds beyond the solar way — giving out the law which binds the universe in eternal order! He rests, as by an inevitable necessity, upon the contemplation of the great First Cause, and holds it his highest glory to have made the evidence of his existence, and the dispensations of his power and of his wisdom better understood by men.”*….

 

(e) Buckland viewed science as the handmaid of religion

Buckland finishes his geological treatise with a ringing declaration that science was “the efficient Auxiliary and Handmaid of Religion” – words which should conclusively lay to rest any claim that at the time when he wrote (1837), methodological naturalism was considered part-and-parcel of science:

Shall it any longer then be said, that a science, which unfolds such abundant evidence of the Being and Attributes of God, can reasonably be viewed in any other light than as the efficient Auxiliary and Handmaid of Religion? Some few there still may be, whom timidity or prejudice or want of opportunity allow not to examine its evidence who are alarmed by the novelty, or surprised by the extent and magnitude of the views which Geology forces on their attention, and who would rather have kept closed the volume of witness, which has been sealed up for ages beneath the surface of the earth, than impose on the student in Natural Theology the duty of investigating its contents; a duty, in which for lack of experience they may anticipate a hazardous or a laborious task, but which by those engaged in it is found to afford a rational and righteous and delightful exercise of their highest faculties, in multiplying the evidences of the Existence and attributes and Providence of God.*

The alarm however which was excited by the novelty of its first discoveries has well nigh passed away; and those to whom it has been permitted to he the humble instruments of their promulgation, and who have steadily persevered, under the firm assurance that “Truth can never be opposed to Truth,” and that the works of God when rightly understood, and viewed in their true relations, and from a right position, would at length be found to be in perfect accordance with his Word, are now receiving their high reward, in finding difficulties vanish, objections gradually withdrawn, and in seeing the evidences of Geology admitted into the list of witnesses to the truth of the great fundamental doctrines of Theology.*

The whole course of the enquiry which we have now conducted to its close, has shewn that the physical history of our globe, in which some have seen only Waste, Disorder, and Confusion, teems with endless examples of Economy, and Order, and Design; and the result of all our researches, carried back through the unwritten records of past time, has been to fix more steadily our assurance of the Existence of One supreme Creator of all things, to exalt more highly our conviction of the immensity of his Perfections, of his Might, and Majesty, his Wisdom, and Goodness, and all sustaining Providence; and to penetrate our understanding with a profound and sensible perception,* of the “high Veneration man’s intellect owes to God.”

The Earth from her deep foundations unites with the celestial orbs that roll through boundless space, to declare the glory and shew forth the praise of their common Author and Preserver; and the voice of Natural Religion accords harmoniously with the testimonies of Revelation, in ascribing the origin of the Universe to the will of One eternal, and dominant Intelligence, the Almighty Lord and supreme first cause of all things that subsist — “the same yesterday, to-day and for ever” — “before the Mountains were brought forth, or ever the Earth and the World were made, God from everlasting and world without End.”

 


(21) Adam Sedgwick, FRS (1785-1873), one of the founders of modern geology.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Adam Sedgwick was one of the founders of modern geology. He proposed the Devonian period of the geological timescale. Later, he proposed the Cambrian period, based on work which he did on Welsh rock strata.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Adam Sedgwick put forward scientific arguments for the existence of God in his work, A discourse on the studies of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge: Deighton, 1850).

Where’s the evidence?

The following excerpts are taken from Adam Sedgwick’s work,
A discourse on the studies of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge: Deighton, 1850). In his Preface to the Fifth Edition, Sedgwick summarizes the empirical arguments for the existence of God, which he sees as having been buttressed by recent scientific discoveries:

p. XI
(1) The kingdoms of nature are presented to our senses in a succession of material actions, so adapted to one another as to end in harmony and order. All these changes and movements among the things around us seem to be produced by powers of nature we call second causes: but the mind of man cannot and will not rest content with second causes, and is constrained to look above them to some First Cause. Among the things produced by the hands of man we are able to separate works of accident from works of design: we gain this knowledge by experience, and by reflecting on what passes within ourselves: and it is by taking this knowledge with us in our judgments on the works of God, that we are naturally led to a conception of an intelligent First Cause, capable of producing all the phenomena of the visible world.

p. XII
(2) The doctrine of Final Causes, drawn from the structure of the organic world, has perhaps been stated at sufficient length in the following Discourse, and the Notes of the Appendix. It cannot be better stated than in the homely and graphic argument of Socrates {infra p. 151): The eye is made to see, the ear is made to hear, and the organs of every living being, so far as we can comprehend them, have a design and purpose. Under this point of view “these various organs seem altogether the contrivance of some wise artificer who loves the beings he has created,” {infra p. 152). Organic structures give us, therefore, a clear proof of the doctrine of Final Causes; and these causes have not, according to one of the quaint conceits of Bacon, been unfruitful, like virgins dedicated to God; but in the hands of Cuvier, Owen, and many other great physiologists, have not only rationalized a multitude of known truths, but have also been continually pregnant with new discoveries.

p. XIV
(3) Of organized beings we know the beginning and the end, and we know the leading purposes to which their organs are subservient. Hence in speculating about the functions of organic structures, we may often use the doctrine of Final Cause as the foundation of our reasoning and the source of true induction...

p. XV
(4) While considering the orderly movements of nature, we speak of second causes, and our language defines correctly the manner in which the phenomena of nature are reflected in the human mind. But how did these phenomena begin, and by what power were they first set in movement? These questions inevitably lead us to a conception of a creative power of nature, quite distinct from the vulgar operations carried on before our eyes: and thus are we led to speak of the creative power, as well as of the sustaining power of God.

 


(22) William Prout, FRS (1785-1850), one of the founders of modern geology.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

William Prout FRS was an English chemist, physician, and natural theologian. He is remembered today mainly for what is called Prout’s hypothesis.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

According to Wikipedia:

Prout wrote the eighth Bridgewater Treatise, Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion, considered with reference to Natural Theology.

Where’s the evidence?

The following is a selection of quotes from the eighth Bridgewater Treatise, written by Prout, titled, Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion, considered with reference to Natural Theology (London, William Pickering, 1834):

p. 92
In the preceding chapter we have endeavoured to show that the minutest fragment of homogeneous matter cognizable by our senses is composed of innumerable molecules, all of which are exactly alike in size, in shape, in properties, in short, of every kind ; and we argued that these facts incontestibly prove that these molecules could not always have existed in their present form, nor have been formed by chance, but that they must have had a beginning, and have been the work of a Creator.

pp 175-176
Hence as these laws [of nature – VJT] cannot be proved to have a necessary existence, or to have existed from eternity as they now are; it becomes more than probable that they have had a beginning ; and thus the inference of a pre-existent Law-maker, and all its consequences are at once inevitable.

p. 177
When man, indeed, compares himself with the universe, his own insignificance appears quite overwhelming; but the argument of design assures him that, insignificant as he is, while he investigates and approves of the order and harmony around him, he is exerting faculties truly god-like — that his reason though limited in degree, must be immortal in kind, and thus differ from that of the great Architect of all, only in not being infinite. And hence the proud relationship in which man justly considers himself to stand with respect to his Maker! hence the grand source of that longing after a future state, where his knowledge will be consummated, and where he will no longer “see through a glass darkly” — notions at once the result and reward of his reason, and which raise him far above all other animals.

pp. 402-403
Would an intelligent Creator have made such a world, and have left it thus incomplete? It is evident that the other beings inhabiting this earth, live and die, without in the slightest degree comprehending the vast system of which they constitute a part. Hence they are merely unconscious agents, from which their Maker, while he has furnished them with the instincts necessary to their existence, and has awarded equal justice to all, has yet chosen to withhold the privilege of reason. That a Creator, evidently as benevolent as he is wise, might, for his own gratification, have made such a world, and without any other inhabitants, is indeed possible. But, even admitting that possibility, the probability surely is, that he would not there have finally “rested from his labour.” His benevolence would have prompted him to communicate to other beings a portion of the gratification, which he himself is supposed to derive from the contemplation of his works. In the beautiful world which he had created, He would have wished to see one being at least, capable of appreciating to a certain extent his design and his objects. Such is a plain inference deducible from the manifest attributes of the Creator ; and what is the fact? Is not man such a being as we have supposed?

p. 410
And what a splendid evidence of design and of preconcerted arrangement on the part of the great Creator is thus exhibited, by viewing the inherent properties of matter, and its various conditions, with reference to the works of man. Had water, for instance, not been constituted as it is, man could never have formed the steam engine.

p. 412
Can that, within man, which reasons like his immortal Creator — which sees and acknowledges His wisdom, and approves of His designs, be mortal like the rest? Is it probable, nay, is it possible, that what can thus comprehend the operations of an immortal Agent, is not itself immortal?

pp. 440-441 (footnote)
* Since there is nothing peculiar in the elements of which organized beings are composed, and no reason can be assigned why carbon and other elements have been chosen for their formation, we are compelled to ascribe the choice of these materials to the will of the Great Creator. But as He never acts without a purpose, we cannot doubt that these elements have been selected for some specific design; which design has probably been, that the fabric of the beings dwelling on this earth, might be adapted to its general position in the Solar system. When we consider that the same heat, and the same light are diffused by the same central sun; that the whole system obeys the same laws; and that the different planets influence, and are influenced by each other; we are warranted in believing that the planets are essentially composed of the same elementary principles. But admitting that the heat and light of the sun are distributed according to the laws which they seem universally to obey; the heat in Mercury, close to the sun, and the cold in Saturn, at the other extreme, must be alike so intense, that organized beings, such as inhabit this earth, could not exist for a moment. In the different planets, therefore, may not the living principle be attached to different elements, more or less fixed or volatile, as the distance of the planet from the sun may require?

 


(23) Charles Babbage (1791-1871), the inventor of the world’s first mechanical computer.

Charles Babbage. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Charles Babbage was an English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer, and invented the first mechanical computer.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

I take it that my readers will agree that a scientist who attempts to show, on rigorous mathematical grounds, that it is possible to prove the truth of a miracle, cannot be called a methodological naturalist. Such a man was the mathematician and computer scientist, Charles Babbage.

Where’s the evidence?

Dr. David Coppedge informs us of the theological motivation for Babbage writing his Ninth Bridgewater Treatise (2nd ed., London, 1838; digitized for the Victorian Web by Dr. John van Wyhe and proof-read by George P. Landow) in his masterly online work, THE WORLD’S GREATEST CREATION SCIENTISTS From Y1K to Y2K:

The Earl of Bridgewater had left a sum of money in his will to direct leading scientists to write treatises “for the purpose of advancing arguments in favour of Natural Religion.” By the time Babbage was 46 and fully involved in developing his calculating machine, eight prominent British scientists had published their entries in what had become a well-known and popular set of books, the Bridgewater Treatises. The suite included works by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers on “The Adaptation of External Nature to the Intellectual and Moral Constitution of Man,” William Buckland on geology, William Whewell on astronomy and physics, William Kirby on zoology, John Kidd on the same subject as Chalmers, Charles Bell on design in the human hand, and Peter Mark Roget on animal and vegetable physiology. Perhaps Babbage felt the series need a ninth, like the Beethoven Symphonies, so in 1837 he added his own unofficial submission. He said, “I have, however, thought, that in furthering the intentions of the testator, by publishing some reflections on that subject, I might be permitted to connect with them a title which has now become familiarly associated, in the public mind, with the evidences in favour of Natural Religion.”

Employing his skill at mathematics and statistics, Babbage tackled the subject of the Biblical miracles: specifically, to counter the arguments of David Hume who had called miracles violations of natural law, and therefore impossible. Though slightly off topic from the rest of the series, Babbage felt “I was led so irresistibly, by the very nature of the illustrations employed in the former argument [of the first eight treatises], to the view there proposed, that I trust to being excused for having ventured one step beyond the strict limits of that argument, by entering on the first connecting link between natural religion and revelation.” In other words, he wanted to take the arguments of natural theology beyond the conclusion of an unspecified Designer, and link them to the historical accounts in Scripture. Babbage set out to prove mathematically that the Biblical miracles were not necessarily violations of natural law.

Babbage’s Ninth Bridgewater Treatise (hereafter, NBT) is available online and makes for interesting reading … Most interesting is his rebuttal to the arguments of David Hume (1711-1776), the skeptical philosopher who had created quite a stir with his seemingly persuasive argument against miracles. Again, it was based on the Newtonian obsession with natural law. Hume argued that it is more probable that those claiming to have seen a miracle were either lying or deceived than that the regularity of nature had been violated. Babbage knew a lot more about the mathematics of probability than Hume. In chapter X of NBT, Babbage applied numerical values to the question, chiding Hume for his subjectivity. A quick calculation proves that if there were 99 reliable witnesses to the resurrection of a man from the dead (and I Corinthians 15:6 claims there were over 500), the probability is a trillion to one against the falsehood of their testimony, compared to the probability of one in 200 billion against anyone in the history of the world having been raised from the dead. This simple calculation shows it takes more faith to deny the miracle than to accept the testimony of eyewitnesses. Thus Babbage renders specious Hume’s assertion that the improbabiliy of a miracle could never be overcome by any number of witnesses. Apply the math, and the results do not support that claim, Babbage says: “From this it results that, provided we assume that independent witnesses can be found of whose testimony it can be stated that it is more probable that it is true than that it is false, we can always assign a number of witnesses which will, according to Hume’s argument, prove the truth of a miracle. (Italics in original.) Babbage takes his conquest of Hume so far that by Chapter XIII, he argues that “It is more probable that any law, at the knowledge of which we have arrived by observation, shall be subject to one of those violations which, according to Hume’s definition, constitutes a miracle, than that it should not be so subjected.”

The heart of NBT [the Ninth Bridgewater Treatise – VJT] is an argument that miracles do not violate natural law, using Babbage’s own concept of a calculating machine. This forms an engaging thought experiment. With his own Analytical Engine undoubtedly fresh on his mind, he asks the reader to imagine a calculating engine that might show very predictable regularity, even for billions of iterations, such as a machine that counts integers. Then imagine it suddenly jumps to another natural law, which again repeats itself with predictable regularity. If the designer of the engine had made it that way on purpose, it would show even more intelligent design than if it only continued counting integers forever. Babbage extends his argument through several permutations, to the point where he convinces the reader that it takes more intelligence to design a general purpose calculating engine that can operate reliably according to multiple natural laws, each known to the designer, each predictable by the designer, than to design a simple machine that mindlessly clicks away according to a single law. So here we see Babbage employing his own specialty – the general-purpose calculating machine – to argue his point. He concluded, therefore, as he reiterated in his later autobiographical work Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1864), miracles are not “the breach of established laws, but… indicate the existence of far higher laws.”

I’d like to close by making a couple of comments. First, the mere fact that in the nineteenth century, the Earl of Bridgewater could leave a sum of money in his will to direct leading scientists to write treatises “for the purpose of advancing arguments in favour of Natural Religion” proves beyond a doubt that methodological naturalism was not yet considered part-and-parcel of science.

Second, the fact that a scientist like Babbage could write a treatise with the express aim of refuting skeptical arguments against the possibility of miracles, without attracting any criticism from his fellow-scientists for doing so, points to just how different the scientific Zeitgeist was, back in 1837.

 


(24) Edward Hitchcock, FRS (1793-1864).

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Edward Hitchcock was a noted American geologist and the third President of Amherst College (1845–1854).

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

According to his Wikipedia biography:

Hitchcock saw a Deity as the agent of change. He explicitly rejected both atheistic evolution, and a religious six-day creation. He perceived that new species were introduced by a Deity at the right time in the history of the earth... In 1863 Hitchcock wrote an article in which he refuted Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Arguing in a science textbook (see below for references) that a Deity created new species at just the right time in geological history sure doesn’t sound like methodological naturalism to me!

Where’s the evidence?

For the quotes below, I am indebted to J. David Archibald, author of an illuminating essay titled, Edward Hitchcock’s Pre-Darwinian (1840) “Tree of Life” (Journal of the History of Biology (2009) 42:561–592, DOI 10.1007/s10739-008-9163-y).

The following quote is taken from the 8th edition of Hitchcock’s Elementary Geology (New York: Mark H. Newman; 1852, p. 168). It was written in response to the publication in 1844 of Robert Chambers’ (1802–1871) then-anonymous Vestiges of Creation, which argued that all living things sprang from a common stock, via law-governed natural processes. In his response, Hitchcock openly invokes the creative action of a Deity, which he characterizes as “miraculous.” He suggests that the Deity introduced new species at just the right time in geological history:

… no plants have been found below the upper part of the Silurian rocks; yet it seems certain that they must have existed as early as animals. It is also true, that no vertebral animals have been found in the lower Silurian group. Hence a late anonymous writer very strenuously maintains the doctrine of the creation and gradual development of animals by law, without any special creating agency on the part of the Deity. Vestiges of the Natural History of the Creation and a Sequel to the Same: New York 1844 and 1846. But the facts in the case show us merely that the different animals and plants were introduced at the periods best adapted to their existence, and not that they were gradually developed from monads. In the whole records of geology, there is not a single fact to make such a metamorphosis probable; but on the other hand, a multitude of facts to show that the Deity introduced the different races [species – VJT] just at the right time. That he did this according to certain laws though not by their inherent force, – for laws have no such force – may be admitted; as may be done in respect to all his operations: but this does not prove them any the less special or miraculous.

By the time of the 31st edition in 1860, which he wrote with his son Charles, all mention of Robert Chambers’ Vestiges had been dropped, although there is still a discussion of whether the appearance of new species could be explained in terms of “creation by laws” as opposed to Hitchcock’s “special Divine creating power.” However, on page 270 of the book, Hitchcock attacks Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Hitchcock argues that the connection between living things is a formal rather than a material one: they are linked to one another in the mind of God, their Creator:

“We find in the history of fishes,” says Pictet, “many arguments against the hypothesis of the transition of species from one into the other. The Teleosteans could not have had their origin in the fishes which existed before the cretaceous epoch, and it is impossible to derive the Placoids and Ganoids from the Teleosteans. The connection of faunas, as Agassiz has said, is not material, but resides in the thought of the Creator.” It is well to take heed to the opinions of such masters in science, when so many, with Darwin at their head, are inclined to adopt the doctrine of gradual transmutation in species.

 


(25) William Whewell (1794-1866), the polymath who coined the word “scientist.”

Who was he and what was he famous for?

William Whewell was an English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

William Whewell was the author of the third Bridgewater Treatise, Astronomy and General Physics considered with reference to Natural Theology (1833), in which he argues on scientific grounds for the existence of an Intelligence behind Nature, Who is the Author of its laws.

Where’s the evidence?

The following is a selection of quotes from Whewell’s Third Bridgewater Treatise:

pp. 300-301
2. The connexion of the laws of the material world with an intelligence which preconceived and instituted the law, which is thus, as we perceive, so generally impressed on the common apprehension of mankind, has also struck no less those who have studied nature with a more systematic attention, and with the peculiar views which belong to science. The laws which such persons learn and study, seem, indeed, most naturally to lead to the conviction of an intelligence which originally gave to the law its form.

What we call a general law is, in truth, a form of expression including a number of facts of like kind. The facts are separate ; the unity of view by which we associate them, the character of generality and of law, resides in those relations which are the object of the intellect. The law once apprehended by us, takes in our minds the place of the facts themselves, and is said to govern or determine them, because it determines our anticipations of what they will be. But we cannot, it would seem, conceive a law, founded on such intelligible relations, to govern and determine the facts themselves, any otherwise than by supposing also an intelligence by which these relations are contemplated, and these consequences realised. We cannot then represent to ourselves the universe governed by general laws otherwise than by conceiving an intelligent and conscious Deity, by whom these laws were originally contemplated, established, and applied.

pp. 352-353
Final causes are to be excluded from physical enquiry; that is, we are not to assume that we know the objects of the Creator’s design, and put this assumed purpose in the place of a physical cause. We are not to think it a sufficient account of the clouds that they are for watering the earth, (to take Bacon’s examples,) or “that the solidness of the earth is for the station and mansion of living creatures.” The physical philosopher has it for his business to trace clouds to the laws of evaporation and condensation ; to determine the magnitude and mode of action of the forces of cohesion and crystallization by which the materials of the earth are made solid and firm. This he does, making no use of the notion of final causes: and it is precisely because he has thus established his theories independently of any assumption of an end, that the end, when, after all, it returns upon him and cannot be evaded, becomes an irresistible evidence of an intelligent legislator. He finds that the effects, of which the use is obvious, are produced by most simple and comprehensive laws; and when he has obtained this view, he is struck by the beauty of the means, by the refined and skilful manner in which the useful effects are brought about …

pp. 359-361
Man can construct exquisite machines, can call in vast powers, can form extensive combinations, in order to bring about results which he has in view. But in all this he is only taking advantage of laws of nature which already exist ; he is applying to his use qualities which matter already possesses. Nor can he by any effort do more. He can establish no new law of nature which is not a result of the existing ones. He can invest matter with no new properties which are not modifications of its present attributes…

We may and must, therefore, in our conceptions of the Divine purpose and agency, go beyond the analogy of human contrivances. We must conceive the Deity, not only as constructing the most refined and vast machinery, with which, as we have already seen, the universe is filled; but we must also imagine him as establishing those properties by which such machinery is possible: as giving to the materials of his structure the qualities by which the material is fitted to its use.

[W]e are led to consider the Divine Being as the author of the laws of chemical, of physical, and of mechanical action, and of such other laws as make matter what it is; — and this is a view which no analogy of human inventions, no knowledge of human powers, at all assists us to embody or understand. Science, therefore, as we have said, while it discloses to us the mode of instrumentality employed by the Deity, convinces us, more effectually than ever, of the impossibility of conceiving God’s actions by assimilating them to our own.

p. 361
3. The laws of material nature, such as we have described them, operate at all times, and in all places; affect every province of the universe, and involve every relation of its parts. Wherever these laws appear, we have a manifestation of the intelligence by which they were established. But a law supposes an agent, and a power; for it is the mode according to which the agent proceeds, the order according to which the power acts. Without the presence of such an agent, of such a power, conscious of the relations on which the law depends, producing the effects which the law prescribes, the law can have no efficacy, no existence. Hence we infer that the intelligence by which the law is ordained, the power by which it is put in action, must be present at all times and in all places where the effects of the law occur; that thus the knowledge and the agency of the Divine Being pervade every portion of the universe, producing all action and passion, all permanence and change. The laws of nature are the laws which he, in his wisdom, prescribes to his own acts ; his universal presence is the necessary condition of any course of events, his universal agency the only origin of any efficient force.

 


(26) Richard Owen (1804-1892), the Victorian naturalist.


Richard Owen. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Richard Owen was a nineteenth century English biologist, anatomist and paleontologist. In his day, he was considered to be the world’s greatest living naturalist, and he published more than 600 books and papers during his lifetime. Owen was the driving force behind the establishment of the British Museum of Natural History in London, in 1881.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

He held that the unity of plan in animals’ body types testified to the oneness of their Creator, while the various modifications in that plan argue for His beneficence. The analogy of man-made machines could explain the purpose of some organs in animals; while others had a higher purpose, as illustrations of an Idea, or Exemplar, in the Mind of God.

Where’s the evidence?

Richard Owen was a complex character, whose views on origins cannot be easily pigeonholed. Owen was not a special creationist; he was quite willing to accept that the Creator may have generated new species through the action of secondary causes, and as early as 1849, he declared his belief that evolution had occurred as a result of natural laws. Unlike Darwin, Owen considered evolution to be an internally directed process, rather than an undirected process: he ascribed the origin of new species to “an innate tendency to deviate from parental type” (On the Anatomy and Physiology of the Vertebrates, III, p. 807), rather than the selective action of external circumstances. Owen advanced the view that animals conformed to certain basic plans or archetypes, in their anatomical characteristics, and that these archetypes could be used to classify animals. For Owen, the archetypes could also be understood in a Platonic sense, as ideas in the Mind of God, who created the universe with certain built-in laws that guaranteed the emergence of certain biological forms over the course of time.

 

(a) Owen explicitly construed archetypes as ideas in the Mind of God, in his scientific writings

The theological implications of Owen’s views are spelt out in a fascinating essay by Vaclav Petr (Zoological Library, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Prague) entitled, British metaphysics as reflected in Robert Broom’s evolutionary theory:

Interested in Cuvier’s work on functional adaptation as well as German non-materialistic science (idealism of romantic Naturphilosophie) of form, Owen advanced the idea of synthesis between functionalism and transcendentalism in vertebrate palaeontology. The latter, transcendental aspect of the biological form (intrinsic structural order of it), was prime for Owen. He suggested that organismal morphologies are variants on perfect or ideal forms (Archetypes or “primal patterns” as the First Cause) and proposed the so-called ‘secondary causes’ (metagenesis) which were the means of “translating the Word into flesh” (meaning exactly the paraphrase of the New Testament, John 1, 14).

In his 1849 work, On the Nature of Limbs (J. van Voorst, London), Owen hinted at his belief in the evolution of human beings from fish, but ascribed this evolution to the unfolding of an archetype implanted in Nature by God:

To what natural laws or secondary causes the orderly succession and progression of such organic phenomena may have been committed we as yet are ignorant. But if, without derogation of the Divine power, we may conceive the existence of such ministers, and personify them by the term ‘Nature’, we learn from the past history of our globe that she has advanced with slow and stately steps, guided by the archetypal light, amidst the wreck of worlds, from the first embodiment of the Vertebrate idea, under its old Ichthyic vestment, until it became arrayed in the glorious garb of the human form.
(1849, p. 86. This was the closing paragraph of Richard Owen’s 1849 address, On the nature of limbs, delivered to the Royal Institution of Great Britain and published that same year.)

Vaclav Petr, in his essay on Robert Broom, which I cited above, highlights Owen’s belief in an Intelligent First Cause who designed Nature to accomplish its ends through the agency of laws pertaining to form, rather than simple mechanical laws:

In his Palaeontology, Richard Owen has pointed out that everywhere “in organic nature we see the means not only subservient to an end, but that end accomplished by the simplest means. Hence we are compelled to regard the Great Cause of all, not like certain philosophic ancients, anima mundi, but as an active and anticipating intelligence.” And he concluded that “we not only show intelligence evoking means adapted to the end; but, at successive times and periods, producing a change of mechanism adapted to a change in external conditions. Thus the highest generalizations in the science of organic bodies, like the Newtonian laws of universal matter, lead to the unequivocal conviction of a great First Cause, which is certainly not mechanical.” (Owen 1860).
[The quotations are taken from pages 413 and 414 respectively of Owen’s 1860 work, Palaeontology, or a Systematic Summary of Extinct Animals and Their Geological Relations, Adam and Charles Black, Edinburgh. – VJT.]

The thinking here, as Nicolaas Rupke explains in his work, Richard Owen: Biology Without Darwin (University of Chicago Press, 2009), is that human machines, unlike the bodies of animals, are not built according to a common plan, as their design is wholly determined by the end or function for which they are built. Animals, by contrast, are defined by their form:

Form rather than function leads us to the conclusion of design in Nature. The pectoral fin of the dugong, used for swimming, the forelimb of the mole, employed as a trowel, the wing of the bat, which makes flight possible, or the foreleg of the horse, made for running, all contain the same set of bony pieces. This fact could not be explained by function. Take, for example, human machines, each operating in a different medium. They share no common ground plan. “There is no community of plan or structure between the boat and the balloon, between Stephenson’s locomotive engine and Brunel’s tunneling machinery: a very remote analogy, if any, can be traced between the instruments designed by man to travel in the air and on the sea, through the earth or along its surface.”(74) The presence of such a common plan, as in the forelimbs of all animals, carries our thoughts beyond functional adaptations to a “deep and pregnant principle in philosophy,” namely “some archetypal exemplar on which it has pleased the Creator to frame certain of His living creatures.”(75)
(Rupke, 2009, p. 112)

Footnotes
(74) Owen, R. 1849. On the Nature of Limbs, J. van Voorst, London, p. 10.
(75) Owen, R. 1860. Palaeontology, or a Systematic Summary of Extinct Animals and Their Geological Relations, Adam and Charles Black, Edinburgh. p. 172.

The foregoing remarks explain Owen’s remark that “The fallacy lies in judging of created organs by the analogy of made machines” (Owen, R. 1849. On the Nature of Limbs, J. van Voorst, London, p. 85). For Owen, the mechanical analogy failed to do justice to these organs: they were not merely mechanisms, but embodiments of forms. As an Intelligent Design proponent, I think Owen is correct here: nevertheless, when we look at the components of the cell, we do indeed find biological machines which are exquisitely adapted for their function.

 

(b) The theological motivations underlying Owen’s scientific work

In recent years, some of Owen’s biographers have questioned the sincerity of Owen’s religious convictions, pointing out that Owen’s structuralism, with its focus on form rather than teleology, had attracted theological criticism from Oxbridge Paleyites, to whom it smacked of pantheism, and suggesting that after 1848, Owen made the decision to “Christianize” his concept of archetype by construing it as an idea in the mind of God, purely in order to advance his career. To my mind, these suggestions sound extremely cynical. It should also be recalled that at that time, belief in God was almost universal, even among scientists; and Owen, with his British empiricist training, had no leanings towards pantheism, in any case. Finally, what these biographers overlook is the theological outlook that pervaded Owen’s later scientific controversies with Huxley regarding the uniqueness of the human brain: for Owen, it was precisely because he believed that man possessed unique mental capabilities, and additionally that any such unique capabilities must be based in some unique anatomical structure or structures, that he inferred that man could be distinguished from the anthropoid apes by unique structures in his brain – a point on which Huxley, aided by William Henry Flower, proved him wrong.

One scholar who fully appreciated the theological motivations behind Owen’s scientific work was Adrian Desmond, who situated in its contemporary context in his masterly work, Archetypes and Ancestors: Palaeontology in Victorian London, 1850-1875 (Blond & Briggs Ltd., London, 1982):

“Owen needed a sensible alternative to transmutation embedded in a non-materialist framework, and he too turned to German transcendentalism, which he blended and muted with a liberal appeal to law. Far from the sterile hybrid that Huxley would have us believe, the union was astonishingly productive. First, it gave him the ideal Archetype, the ‘primal pattern’ on which all vertebrates were based. This was a kind of creative blueprint, “what Plato would have called the ‘Divine Idea'”. In practical terms, it was simply a picture of a generalised or schematic vertebrate; but this in itself provided him with a standard by which to gauge the degree of specialisation of fossil life, and in 1853 he saw it as an indispensable aid in determining the true pattern of emergence ‘of new living species’.” (Desmond 1982, p. 43.)

The moral purpose behind Owen’s science is clear: to prove that Man was in the Divine Mind at the time of Creation. Owen knew of course that not all fossil lines pointed the human way, in fact only one of many did – still, there was a timeless purpose behind nature’s veneer. Romanticism this was, though of a typical British variety: shadows of change masked an eternal truth, a preordained Plan. But Owen was never one to accept the panpsychic mysticism of the German nature-philosophers, under the influence of F. W. J. Schelling, the Prince of Romantics. For Schelling nature was immanent in God and the Divine Intelligence reached out to express itself through a kind of cosmic poetry. Owen denied that the ‘Great Cause of all ‘ was an ‘all-pervading anima mundi’, the more pointedly, perhaps, because Schelling had actually pleaded guilty to a sort of pantheism, and Owen himself had been accused of it by Puseyites. Rather, his God was a traditional British craftsman working to a blueprint.” (Desmond 1982, pp. 47-48.)

 

(c) Owen argued for the goodness of God in a science textbook

In his work, The Principal Forms of the Skeleton and Teeth (Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lea, 1854), Owen put forward scientific evidence in support of his theory that animals conformed to certain basic plans or archetypes, in their anatomical features. In the same work, Owen also argued that these plans illustrate God’s beneficence:

Of the nature of the creative acts by which the successive races of animals were called into being, we are ignorant. But this we know, that as the evidence of unity of plan testifies to the oneness of the Creator, so the modifications of the plan for different modes of existence illustrate the beneficence of the Designer. Those structures, moreover, which are at present incomprehensible as adaptations to a special end, are made comprehensible on a higher principle, and a final purpose is gained in relation to human intelligence; for in the instances where the analogy of humanly invented machines fails to explain the structure of a divinely created organ, such organ does not exist in vain if its truer comprehension, in relation to the Divine idea, or prime Exemplar, lead rational beings to a better conception of their own origin and Creator. (p. 228)

Taken together, the terminology Owen uses (“Creator,” “Designer,” “Divine idea”) makes it quite clear that Owen is envisaging a supernatural Being. This places him firmly in opposition to methodological naturalism.

 

Recommended Reading

Richard Owen: Biology Without Darwin by Nicolaas Rupke.

On the Nature of Limbs: A Discourse by Richard Owen. Edited by Ron Amundson. With a Preface by Brian K. Hall. Paperback edition. University Of Chicago Press, 2008.

Appendix B: A Criticism on Prof. Owen’s Theory of the Vertebrate Skeleton by Herbert Spencer, in The Works of Herbert Spencer, Vol. 3: The Principles of Biology, Vol. 2 by Herbert Spencer. (Otto Zeller, Osnabruck, Germany, 1966). pp. 548-566.

Accounting for Vertebrate Limbs: From Owen’s Homology to Novelty in Evo-Devo by Ingo Brigandt. A review of Richard Owen’s On the Nature of Limbs: A Discourse, edited by Ron Amundson, University of Chicago Press, 2007.

“Owen, Richard.” Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2012 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2830903259.html.

Richard Owen’s archetype by Roberto Keller. Blog article. March 4, 2009.

Richard Owen. Selected quotations from Owen’s writings, by Vaclav Petr.

Jettison the Arguments, or the Rule? The Place of Darwinian Theological Themata in Evolutionary Reasoning by Paul A. Nelson. Access Research Network.

 


(27) Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), Harvard paleontologist.


Louis Agassiz. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Louis Agassiz was a Swiss paleontologist, glaciologist, geologist and a prominent innovator in the study of the Earth’s natural history. He grew up in Switzerland and became a professor of natural history at University of Neuchâtel. Later, he accepted a professorship at Harvard University in the United States.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

He argued that evidence of an Intelligent Creator can be clearly seen in the natural world.

Where’s the evidence?

The following excerpt is taken from the Institute for Creation Research article, Louis Agassiz: Anti-Darwinist Harvard Paleontology Professor by Dr. Jerry Bergman (2011, Acts & Facts 40 (3): 12-14).

A founding father of the modern American scientific establishment, Agassiz was also a lifelong opponent of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Agassiz “ruled in professorial majesty at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.”

[He] was a brilliant…man, an essentialist who detested evolutionism—Darwin’s brand in particular—and clung to a vision of well-ordered nature assembled by special creations. The zoology of Agassiz was consonant with the natural theology of William Paley.1

Agassiz wrote that “evidence of the existence of a Creator, constantly and thoughtfully working among the complicated structures that He has made” is found throughout the natural world.2 He concluded that in the living world “is clearly seen the intervention of an intelligent Creator” and that when we evaluate the living world we can see “the mental operations of the Creator at every step.”3…

Agassiz concluded from his lifelong study of nature that purpose and design were manifested everywhere in nature.6 He noted that if it required an intelligent mind just to study the facts of biology, “it must have required an intelligent mind to establish them.”7 Following his famous teacher Cuvier, he asserted that the major groups of animals do not represent ancestral branches of a hypothetical evolutionary tree but, instead, document a great plan that was used by the Creator to design the many different species in existence today….

Agassiz saw the divine plan of God omnipresent in nature, and could not accept a theory that denied the intelligent design he saw everywhere in the natural world. Agassiz even once defined a species as “a thought of God.” As Agassiz wrote in his Essay on Classification, his lifelong study of the natural world eloquently documented the “premeditation, power, wisdom, greatness, prescience, omniscience, providence” of God. He declared that “all these facts in their natural connection proclaim aloud the One God, whom man may know, adore, and love; and Natural History must in good time become the analysis of the thoughts of the Creator of the Universe.”13

Long before the mutational theory of evolution was popularized, Agassiz foresaw the overwhelmingly harmful nature of mutations and the inability of “selection” to produce new life forms.16 He recognized that the problem with Darwinism was not the survival of the fittest, but rather the arrival of the fittest…

Darwin sent Agassiz a copy of his now-famous Origin of Species published in 1859. Although very “familiar with the factual evidence advanced by Darwin,” Agassiz carefully examined his ideas and the evidence on which they were based. As Agassiz studied the Origin, “mounting annoyance” resulted as he continued to read because he recognized that the “ideas it contained were plainly no different from the notions… he had long since rejected.”18

Two years after Origin was published, Agassiz wrote that Darwin’s theory was scientifically wrong and was “propounded by some very learned but… rather fanciful scientific men” who taught that the forms of life presently inhabiting our earth “had grown out of a comparative simple and small beginning.”19 Agassiz concluded that a great variety of evidence discovered in times past has refuted evolutionary theory. He considered this fact based on his paleontological research “a most powerful blow at that theory which would make us believe that all the animals have been derived from a few original beings, which have become diversified and varied in [the] course of time.”20

 


(28) James Joule (1818-1889), known for the First Law of Thermodynamics.


James Joule. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

James Joule was an English physicist (and brewer) who studied the nature of heat and discovered its relationship to mechanical work, which led to the formulation of the law of the conservation of energy (with which he and Helmholtz are jointly credited). This law is also known as the first law of thermodynamics.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

His own writings make it clear that his original belief in the law of the conservation of energy was theologically driven: “Believing that the power to destroy belongs to the Creator alone I affirm … that any theory which, when carried out, demands the annihilation of force, is necessarily erroneous.” Along with 85 other Fellows of the Royal Society, he also signed a remarkable manifesto entitled The Declaration of Students of the Natural and Physical Sciences, issued in London in 1864, in which the signatories affirmed their confidence in the scientific integrity of the Holy Scriptures.

Where’s the evidence?

http://nobelist.tripod.com/id4.html

I’d like to thank Ann Lamont of Answers in Genesis for her 1993 article, The Great Experimenter Who Was Guided by God, from which the following excerpt is taken.

Excerpt:

James Prescott Joule was born at Salford, near Manchester, England, on December 24, 1818. He was the second of five children born to a wealthy brewery owner…

James was educated at home until he was 15. He then went to work in the family brewery. However, he and his older brother continued their education part-time with private tutors in Manchester.

From 1834 until 1837, they were taught chemistry, physics, the scientific method, and mathematics by the famous English chemist John Dalton. (Like James Joule, Dalton was a Bible-believing Christian.) James gratefully acknowledged the key role that Dalton played in his becoming a scientist…

When their father became ill, James and his brother took over running the brewery. James therefore did not have the opportunity to attend university. However, his great desire was to continue to study science, so he set up a laboratory in his home and began experimenting before and after work each day. James saw this desire to study science as a natural consequence of his Christian faith. As he later wrote, ‘it is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.‘2

The principle of energy conservation involved in Joule’s work gave rise to the new scientific discipline known as thermodynamics. While Joule was not the first scientist to suggest this principle, he was the first to demonstrate its validity… Joule’s principle of energy conservation formed the basis of the first law of thermodynamics. This law states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be changed from one form into another. Isaac Asimov called this law ‘one of the most important generalizations in the history of science.’4 It means that the total amount of energy (including matter) in the universe is constant. As S.M. Huse points out in his book, The Collapse of Evolution, ‘This law teaches conclusively that the universe did not create itself! … The present structure of the universe is one of conservation, not innovation as required by the theory of evolution.’5

Joule was aware of the religious implications of his findings. He wrote that ‘it is manifestly absurd to suppose that the powers with which God has endowed matter can be destroyed any more than they can be created by man’s agency.’6 The law of conservation of energy was completely consistent with the Bible, whereas Joule considered that some aspects of the caloric theory had not been consistent with the Bible.

On another occasion, Joule wrote that ‘the phenomena of nature, whether mechanical, chemical, or vital, consist almost entirely in a continual conversion … into one another. Thus it is that order is maintained in the universe – nothing is deranged, nothing ever lost, but the entire machinery, complicated as it is, works smoothly and harmoniously … the whole being governed by the sovereign will of God.‘7

He saw no contradiction between his work as a scientist and his confidence in the truth of the Bible. Many of his fellow scientists shared his views. ‘In response to the tide of Darwinism then sweeping the country … 717 scientists signed a remarkable manifesto entitled The Declaration of Students of the Natural and Physical Sciences, issued in London in 1864. This declaration affirmed their confidence in the scientific integrity of the Holy Scriptures. The list included 86 Fellows of the Royal Society.’9 James Joule was among the more prominent of the scientists who signed the document.
References

2. J.P. Joule, in a paper found with his scientific notebooks, as cited in: J.G. Crowther, British Scientists of the Nineteenth Century, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1962, p. 139.
4. I. Asimov, Biographical Encyclopaedia of Science and Technology: The Lives and Achievements of More Than 1000 Great Scientists from Ancient Greece to the Space Age, second ed., 1982, Doubleday & Co. Inc., Garden City, New York, p. 399.
5. S.M. Huse, The Collapse of Evolution, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1983, p. 59.
6. J.P. Joule, quoted in: O. Reynolds, Memoir of James Prescott Joule, Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, 1892, p. 27.
7. Ref. 1, p. 110. H.J. Steffens, James Prescott Joule and the Concept of Energy, Folkestone, Dawson, 1979, p. 142.
9. J.P. Joule, in a paper found with his scientific notebooks, as cited in: J.G. Crowther, British Scientists of the Nineteenth Century, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1962, p. 138.

The reader may be wondering what was in the Declaration of Students of the Natural and Physical Sciences, which Joule signed. Here it is:

We, the undersigned Students of the Natural Sciences, desire to express our sincere regret, that researches into scientific truth are perverted by some in our own times into occasion for casting doubt upon the Truth and Authenticity of the Holy Scriptures. We conceive that it is impossible for the Word of God, as written in the book of nature, and God’s Word written in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, however much they may appear to differ. We are not forgetful that Physical Science is not complete, but is only in a condition of progress, and that at present our finite reason enables us only to see as through a glass darkly, and we confidently believe, that a time will come when the two records will be seen to agree in every particular. We cannot but deplore that Natural Science should be looked upon with suspicion by many who do not make a study of it, merely on account of the unadvised manner in which some are placing it in opposition to Holy Writ. We believe that it is the duty of every Scientific Student to investigate nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and that if he finds that some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the Written Word, or rather to his own interpretations of it, which may be erroneous, he should not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and the statements of Scripture wrong; but rather, leave the two side by side till it shall please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled; and, instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between Science and the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which they agree.

I rest my case. Could a methodological naturalist have approved those words? I think not.

 


(29) Alfred Russel Wallace, the scientist who proposed a theory of evolution by natural selection independently of Darwin


Alfred Russel Wallace. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace was the co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution. He was a naturalist who provided Darwin with his parallel theory, including the “survival of the fittest,” before Darwin went public with their two theories.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

Wallace was a hard-core materialist until he began investigating mediums in 1865. He soon became one of Spiritualism’s most enthusiastic advocates.

In the 1860s, Wallace became a Spiritualist, and maintained that natural selection could not account for mathematical, artistic, or musical genius, as well as metaphysical musings, and wit and humour. He eventually said that something in “the unseen universe of Spirit” had interceded at least three times in history. The first was the creation of life from inorganic matter. The second was the introduction of consciousness in the higher animals. The third was the generation of the higher mental faculties in mankind. He also believed that the raison d’etre of the universe was the development of the human spirit. (Wikipedia)

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Wallace believed that evolution had to be guided by some governing Intelligence, which had created the first life

Wallace firmly adhered to the theory of evolution by natural selection until the end of his life, but unlike Darwin, he also maintained that evolution has a purpose – namely, the production of intelligent life – and that some kind of Intelligence in “the unseen universe of Spirit” had intervened on at least three occasions in the Earth’s history: the emergence of life from non-living matter, the subsequent appearance of sentient beings and finally, the arrival of intelligent beings.

The evidence that Wallace was skeptical about attempts to explain the origin of life or its development in purely materialistic terms and that he saw the need for a guiding Intelligence can be found in his essay, The Origin of Life. A Reply to Dr. Schaefer (S700: 1912), which was printed in the Everyman issue of 18 October 1912:

We see then that in the whole vast world of life, in all its myriad forms, whether we examine the lowest types possessed of the simplest characteristics of life, or whether in the higher forms, we follow the process of growth from a single cell up to the completed organism –even to that of a living, moving, feeling, thinking, reasoning being such as man himself — we find everywhere a stupendous, unceasing series of continuous motions of the gases, fluids and solids of which the body consists. These motions are strictly co-ordinated, and, taken together with the requisite directing and organising forces, imply the presence of some active mind-power.

Hence the conclusion of John Hunter, accepted as indisputable by Huxley, that “life is the cause, not the consequence, of organisation.” Hence also the “cell-soul” of Haeckel, though minimised to complete ineffectiveness by being unconscious.

In view of all these marvellous phenomena, how totally inadequate are references to “growing crystals,” and repeated assertions that we shall some day produce the living matter of the nucleus by a chemical process; that “the nucleus” is in fact “the directing agent” in all the changes which take place within the living cell, and that “without doubt this substance (when produced chemically) will be found to exhibit the phenomena which we are in the habit of associating with the term life.”

Finally, Dr. Schafer assures us that, as supernatural intervention is unscientific, “we are compelled to believe that living matter must have owed its origin to causes similar in character to those which have been instrumental in producing all other forms of matter in the universe; in other words, to a process of gradual evolution.”

I submit that, in view of the actual facts of growth and organisation as here briefly outlined, and that living protoplasm has never been chemically produced, the assertion that life is due to chemical and mechanical processes alone is quite unjustified. NEITHER THE PROBABILITY OF SUCH AN ORIGIN, NOR EVEN ITS POSSIBILITY, HAS BEEN SUPPORTED BY ANYTHING WHICH CAN BE TERMED SCIENTIFIC FACTS OR LOGICAL REASONING.
(The capitals are Wallace’s. – VJT.)

 

(b) Wallace was a human exceptionalist, who believed that an Overruling Intelligence had directed man’s physical evolution and the first appearance of the human intellect

Wallace’s human exceptionalism also puts his theory of evolution in striking contrast to Darwin’s. Wallace, like his contemporaries, regarded European civilization as culturally superior to all others that had gone before it, but unlike most of his contemporaries, he was a firm believer in racial equality. Thus he did not view other races as intermediates between civilized man and the apes, because he was convinced that their rational faculties were the equal of his own. But precisely because he could see no survival advantage in human musical, artistic and abstract reasoning abilities in the wild, Wallace became firmly convinced that the appearance of these abilities in human beings could not be the result of natural selection – a view which put him at odds with his fellow evolutionist, Charles Darwin. Historian Michael Flannery narrates the rift between the two scientists developed as a result of an article Wallace wrote for the Quarterly Review in April 1869:

Perhaps emboldened by his fertile discussions with Lyell, Wallace used his review to, in Martin Fichman’s words, present “to the world the unambivalent evolutionary teleology that he would expound in ever greater detail during the remainder of his life.”118 Wallace basically pointed to the human intellect as being too great for that simply allowable by natural selection because, by definition, the law of natural selection guided by the principle of utility (the idea that “no organ or attribute can exist in a natural species unless it is or has been useful to the organisms that possess it….”119) would be an effective barrier to its development. One could not, Wallace argued, explain the uniquely human attributes of abstract reasoning, mathematical ability, wit, love of music and musical aptitude, art appreciation and artistic talent, and moral sense as necessary for survival in a state of pure nature through which (by Darwin’s own principle) natural selection must operate. Therefore, some other cause or action must be invoked. That cause of action Wallace called “an Overruling Intelligence.”120

Darwin was devastated and scratched an emphatic “NO!!!” in the margin of his copy of the Quarterly. He wrote back to Wallace, “I presume that your remarks on Man are those to which you alluded in your note. If you had not told me I should have thought that they had been added by someone else. As you expected, I differ grievously from you, and I am very sorry for it.”121 Nine months later Darwin was still reminding Wallace, “But I groan over Man—you write like a metamorphosed (in retrograde direction) naturalist, and you the author of the best paper [“On the Origin of Human Races and the Antiquity of Man”] that ever appeared in the Anthropological Review! Eheu! Eheu! Eheu!—Your miserable friend, C. Darwin.”122 (Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life by Michael Flannery, Discovery Institute Press, Seattle, 2011, pp. 61-62.)

In a letter to Darwin dated April 28, 1869, responding to Darwin’s dismay over a recent article he had published in the Quarterly Review, Wallace elaborated his views, and argued that not only human mental faculties, but also many aspects of human anatomy, could not be explained as a result of natural selection:

It seems to me that if we once admit the necessity of any action beyond “natural selection” in developing man, we have no reason whatever for confining that agency to his brain. On the mere doctrine of chances it seems to me in the highest degree improbable that so many points of structure, all tending to favour his mental development, should concur in man alone of all animals. If the erect posture, the freedom of the anterior limbs from purposes of locomotion, the powerful and opposable thumb, the naked skin, the great symmetry of form, the perfect organs of speech, and, in his mental faculties, calculation of numbers, ideas of symmetry, of justice, of abstract reasoning, of the infinite, of a future state, and many others, cannot be shown to be each and all useful to man [on the principle of utility] in the very lowest state of civilization — how are we to explain their co-existence in him alone of the whole series of organized being? Years ago I saw in London a bushman boy and girl, and the girl played very nicely on the piano. Blind Tom, the half-idiot negro slave, had a “musical ear” or brain, superior, perhaps, to that of the best living musicians. Unless Darwin can show me how this latent musical faculty in the lowest races can have been developed through survival of the fittest, can have been of use to the individual or the race, so as to cause those who possess it in a fractionally greater degree than others to win in the struggle for life, I must believe that some other power (than natural selection) caused that development. It seems to me that the onus probandi will lie with those who maintain that man, body and mind, could have been developed from a quadrumanous [four-handed – VJT] animal by “natural selection.”15

Recommended Reading

Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life by Michael Flannery, Discovery Institute Press, Seattle, 2011.

Alfred Russel Wallace on Man: A Famous ‘Change of Mind’–Or Not? Reproduced from the preprint of an article published in Volume 26, Number 2 of History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (publisher Taylor and Francis Ltd.), copyright 2004 (Charles H. Smith).

 


(30) James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), the Scottish physicist and founder of electromagnetic theory

James Clerk Maxwell. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

James Clerk Maxwell FRS FRSE, was a Scottish physicist and mathematician, whose greatest achievement was the formulation of classical electromagnetic theory, which united all observations, experiments and equations of electricity, magnetism and optics into a single, consistent theory. Maxwell’s equations explained how electricity, magnetism and light could all be understood as manifestations of the same phenomenon, namely the electromagnetic field.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

He argued that the matter of the universe must have been created, and that the hydrogen molecules we find in stars must have had a supernatural cause.

Where’s the evidence?

Maxwell argued that while science cannot tell us about the creation of matter out of nothing, science can tell us that molecules of matter were made, and that they were not made by a natural process.

(a) Maxwell’s scientific argument for the existence of a supernatural Creator

I would like to quote from Maxwell’s famous Discourse on Molecules, delivered before the British Association at Bradford in September 1873. In the concluding paragraphs, Maxwell puts forward a scientific argument for the existence of a supernatural Creator:

But in the heavens we discover by their light, and by their light alone, stars so distant from each other that no material thing can ever have passed from one to another; and yet this light, which is to us the sole evidence of the existence of these distant worlds, tells us also that each of them is built up of molecules of the same kinds as those which we find on earth. A molecule of hydrogen, for example, whether in Sirius or in Arcturus, executes its vibrations in precisely the same time.

Each molecule therefore throughout the universe bears impressed upon it the stamp of a metric system as distinctly as does the metre of the Archives at Paris, or the double royal cubit of the temple of Karnac.

No theory of evolution can be formed to account for the similarity of molecules [here Maxwell is talking about molecular evolution, not Darwinian evolution – VJT], for evolution necessarily implies continuous change, and the molecule is incapable of growth or decay, of generation or destruction.

None of the processes of Nature, since the time when Nature began, have produced the slightest difference in the properties of any molecule. We are therefore unable to ascribe either the existence of the molecules or the identity of their properties to any of the causes which we call natural.

On the other hand, the exact equality of each molecule to all others of the same kind gives it, as Sir John Herschel has well said, the essential character of a manufactured article, and precludes the idea of its being eternal and self-existent.

Thus we have been led, along a strictly scientific path, very near to the point at which Science must stop, – not that Science is debarred from studying the internal mechanism of a molecule which she cannot take to pieces, any more than from investigating an organism which she cannot put together. But in tracing back the history of matter, Science is arrested when she assures herself, on the one hand, that the molecule has been made, and, on the other, that it has not been made by any of the processes we call natural.

Science is incompetent to reason upon the creation of matter itself out of nothing. We have reached the utmost limits of our thinking faculties when we have admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent it must have been created. It is only when we contemplate, not matter in itself, but the form in which it actually exists, that our mind finds something on which it can lay hold. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

What Maxwell is proposing here is an interesting design argument for a Creator, on scientific grounds: the fact that molecules are perfectly identical to one another suggests that they were manufactured according to an intelligent plan. What he had in mind was a “uniformity intended and accomplished by the same wisdom and power of which uniformity, accuracy, symmetry, consistency, and continuity of plan are … important attributes…” as he wrote in a letter to a friend. (See E.Garber, S.G.Brush, and C.W.F.Everitt, (Eds) Maxwell on Molecules and Gases, 1986, MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, p. 242.)

 

(b) Maxwell on the dividing line between science and religion

Note that the dividing line between science and religion is quite different for Maxwell than it is for modern scientists. For Maxwell, science could not explain the modus operandi of the Creator (especially the creation of matter out of nothing). But Maxwell felt quite confident in pronouncing, as a scientist, that certain entities (hydrogen atoms) did not have a natural origin. Today, proponents of the cosmological version of Intelligent Design have refined Maxwell’s position somewhat: they would argue that the laws of nature describing the behavior of hydrogen atoms do not have a natural origin.

 

(c) Maxwell on evolution

In addition, the modern Intelligent Design movement claims to be able to identify certain complex patterns in the biological realm, which can only have been made by some sort of Intelligence. However, Maxwell himself never criticized Darwin’s theory of evolution, and his article, “Atom,” for the 9th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1875, Vol. III, p 48) indicates that he was probably an evolutionist:

In the case of living beings, … the generation of individuals is always going on, each individual differing more or less from its parent. Each individual during its whole life is undergoing modification, and it either survives and propagates its species, or dies early, accordingly as it is more or less adapted to the circumstances of its environment. Hence, it has been found possible to frame a theory of the distribution of organisms into species by means of generation, variation, and discriminative destruction.

 

For those readers who are curious about Maxwell, I would also recommend this highly readable article, entitled James Maxwell and the Christian Proposition by Ian Hutchinson. It provides a history of Maxwell’s religious views, and how they influenced his science.

In conclusion, I submit that James Clerk Maxwell’s approach to science, and his willingness to assert on scientific grounds that certain phenomena could not have had a natural origin, places him at odds with the modern-day National Academy of Sciences, which espouses methodological naturalism. Even if he did not put forward any arguments for the Intelligent Design of living creatures, his scientific methodology would leave open the possibility of doing so.

 


(31) Sir William Thompson (Lord Kelvin) (1824-1907), the founder of thermodynamics and energetics.


Sir William Thompson (Lord Kelvin). Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Who was he and what was he famous for?

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin OM, GCVO, PC, PRS, PRSE, was a mathematical physicist and engineer. At the University of Glasgow he did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and formulation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form.

How did he violate the principle of methodological naturalism?

He publicly declared that science forces us to “belief in God, which is the foundation of all Religion,” that “overpoweringly strong proofs of intelligent and benevolent design lie all around us,” and that Nature herself teaches us that “all living things depend on one ever-acting Creator and Ruler.”

Where’s the evidence?

(a) Lord Kelvin’s presidential address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1871)

Lord Kelvin (Sir William Thomson) gave a presidential address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science (Edinburgh, August 1871) On the Origin of Life. In the speech, eh favored the hypothesis that the first living organisms on Earth originally came from outer space (the hypothesis of panspermia). Lord Kelvin was quite willing to allow that this primitive life had evolved into the modern life-forms that we see today. However, he objected to the notion that natural selection had been responsible for the evolution of life, and stated his belief in “intelligent and benevolent design.”

Here is Lord Kelvin discussing panspermia and the subsequent evolution of life on Earth in his address:

From the Earth stocked with such vegetation as it could receive meteorically, to the Earth teeming with all the endless variety of plants and animals which now inhabit it, the step is prodigious; yet, according to the doctrine of continuity, most ably laid before the Association by a predecessor in this Chair (Mr. Grove), all creatures now living on earth have proceeded by orderly evolution from some such origin. Darwin concludes his great work on “The Origin of Species” with the following words:—

“It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.” …. “There is grandeur in this view of life with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms, most beautiful and most wonderful, have been and are being evolved.”

With the feeling expressed in these two sentences I most cordially sympathise. I have omitted two sentences which come between them, describing briefly the hypothesis of “the origin of species by natural selection,” because I have always felt that this hypothesis does not contain the true theory of evolution, if evolution there has been, in biology. Sir John Herschel, in expressing a favourable judgment on the hypothesis of zoological evolution, with, however, some reservation in respect to the origin of man, objected to the doctrine of natural selection, that it was too like the Laputan method of making books, and that it did not sufficiently take into account a continually guiding and controlling intelligence. This seems to me a most valuable and instructive criticism. I feel profoundly convinced that the argument of design has been greatly too much lost sight of in recent zoological speculations. Reaction against frivolities of teleology, such as are to be found, not rarely, in the notes of learned Commentators on Paley’s “Natural Theology,” has I believe had a temporary effect in turning attention from the solid and irrefragable argument so well put forward in that excellent old book.
(Kelvin, Lord. 1871. “Address of Sir William Thomson, Knt., LL.D., F.R.S, President,” in Report of the Forty-First Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Edinburgh in August 1871, pages lxxxiv-cv. Reprinted in Kelvin’s Popular Lectures and Addresses, Macmillan and Co., 1894, p. 132-205. )

Let’s stop right there. Despite believing in evolution, Lord Kelvin was a fan of William Paley! But there’s more. Lord Kelvin concludes his address with these words:

Overpoweringly strong proofs of intelligent and benevolent design lie all around us; and if ever perplexities, whether metaphysical or scientific, turn us away from them for a time, they come back upon us with irresistible force, showing to us through Nature the influence of a free will, and teaching us that all living things depend on one ever-acting Creator and Ruler.
(Kelvin, Lord. 1871. “Address of Sir William Thomson, Knt., LL.D., F.R.S, President,” in Report of the Forty-First Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Edinburgh in August 1871, pages lxxxiv-cv. Reprinted in Kelvin’s Popular Lectures and Addresses, Macmillan and Co., 1894, p. 132-205. See also Ralph Seeger, 1985, “Kelvin, Humble Christian,” in The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 37 (June 1985), pp. 100-101).

 

(b) Lord Kelvin’s 1903 speech, Science Affirms the Creative Power (1903)

In a much later speech, Science Affirms the Creative Power, given by Lord Kelvin on May 1, 1903, as a vote of thanks following a course of lectures on “Christian Apologetics” given at University College, London by Rev. Professor Henslow, Lord Kelvin declared:

We only know God in His works, but we are absolutely forced by science to admit and to believe with absolute confidence in a Directive Power in an influence other than physical, or dynamical, or electrical forces. Cicero, editor of Lucretius, denied that men and plants and animals could have come into existence by a fortuitous concourse of atoms. There is nothing between absolute scientific belief in Creative Power and the acceptance of the theory of a fortuitous concourse of atoms. Just think of a number of atoms falling together of their own accord and making a crystal, a sprig of moss, a microbe, a living animal.

I admire throughout the healthy, breezy atmosphere of free-thought in Professor Henslow’s lecture. Do not be afraid of being free thinkers. If you think strongly enough you will be forced by science to the belief in God, which is the foundation of all Religion. You will find science not antagonistic, but helpful to Religion.

In a subsequent letter to The Times, dated May 4, 1903, Lord Kelvin published a minor amendment to his address: he acknowledged that “while ‘fortuitous concourse of atoms’ is not an inappropriate description of the formation of a crystal, it is utterly absurd in respect to the coming into existence, or the growth, or the continuation of the molecular combinations presented in the bodies of living things.” He continued:

Forty years ago I asked Liebig [Justus von Liebig, a German chemist and father of the fertilizer industry – VJT], walking somewhere in the country, if he believed that the grass and flowers which we saw around us grew by mere chemical forces. He answered, “No, no more than I could believe that a book of botany describing them could grow by mere chemical forces.”

Every action of human free will is a miracle to physical and chemical and mathematical science.

Evidently Lord Kelvin was a “mind creationist,” too!

 

(c) Why Lord Kelvin could not have been a methodological naturalist

According to Kelvin, science forces us to “belief in God, which is the foundation of all Religion.” No methodological naturalist could say that. To add insult to injury, Kelvin puts forward an Intelligent Design argument in his address: he even appeals to Cicero and his famous argument against Nature being the product of chance, as modern Intelligent Design proponents do. And Lord Kelvin made this argument in a public forum, without the slightest trace of embarrassment or apprehension that he may have been violating some cardinal rule of science. Evidently Kelvin had not heard of any directive that science should confine itself to naturalistic explanations.

Darwinists may be tempted to criticize Lord Kelvin for overlooking the fact that the theory of evolution invokes necessity as well as chance. But Kelvin did not deny evolution as such, as his 1871 address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science On the Origin of Life makes clear: her even quoted from what he called Darwin’s “great work on ‘The Origin of Species'”: what he objected to was the claim that natural selection alone could account for evolution. Nor did he claim that God must have created life on earth; he explicitly allowed for the possibility of panspermia (life from outer space), as Intelligent Design proponent Rob Sheldon does. The important point which he realized, however, was that the information in life had to have had an intelligent source.

 

199 Replies to “Methodological naturalism? 31 great scientists who made scientific arguments for the supernatural

  1. 1

    Excellent post. Thank you!

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    Wow! Great work. Thank you.

  3. 3
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Barry and Truth Will Set You Free,

    My pleasure. Thank you for your kind words.

  4. 4
    Charles says:

    Dr. Torley;
    at

    (8) Robert Boyle (1627-1691)
    (a) Boyle put forward Intelligent Design arguments in his works
    According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
    …. URL = .)

    the url is missing.

    and at

    (16) Ruder Josip Boskovic (1711-1787).
    Where’s the evidence?

    The following is a quote

    the quote is missing.

    I presume you’d want to fix those.

    I only saw them because I was archiving your (typically) excellent post on my computer for future reference, and I saw the ommissions as I reformatted each section.

  5. 5

    Hello VJ,

    Thanks for your long and thoughtful piece. I appreciate your work here.

    As you know, I am not part of the ID movement, and do support methodological naturalism in current scientific work. I had the privilege of going over your article with Ted Davis, a leading historian of science. A few brief thoughts…

    1. He largely (entirely?) agrees with all the references here. Your quotations seem to be correct and within context. Though Ted didn’t look at everything in precise detail, this is really high praise coming from him.

    2. We think it is important to distinguish between statements made by scientists and statements made by science. There is a very big difference between philosophizing about design, final causes and God, and including this as the scientific conclusion of a body of empirical study. In contrast, many of the references you give here are of scientists to scientific bodies, reflecting philosophically about their understanding of science. These references have no real bearing on the debate. This, even by today’s standards, does not run afoul of methodological naturalism at all. Of course, some references you make are to God in scientific studies too, but only those references are relevant to the methodological naturalism debate.

    3. We would also emphasize that many scientists agree with you (and for example Lord Kelvin) in making an inference to design in our philosophical reflections of science, even today. Maxwells argument is a great example. I can, in principle, agree with him (it is a type of fine tuning argument), and I can see why he makes it to his colleagues. However, it reads to me as a “science inspired” argument not a “science” arguement. He appears to be philosophically reflecting on meaning of scientific discoveries, not doing science per se. Similarly, Polkinghorne, Owen Gingerich, and myself are all critics of the ID movement, but make design inferences regularly outside of science in the same way. None of us are violating methodological naturalism (and neither is Maxwell in your quote). These distinctions are important, and I fear that many of your examples do not actually violate MN. (though certainly, some of the actually do).

    4. As another example of a strange categorization. You write:

    > Along with 85 other Fellows of the Royal Society, he also signed a remarkable manifesto entitled The Declaration of Students of the Natural and Physical Sciences, issued in London in 1864, in which the signatories affirmed their confidence in the scientific integrity of the Holy Scriptures.

    How exactly is this violating MN? I could sign that same statement. It is a statement of personal religious belief, not a violation of MN in any way. While most of your quotes are correct, in most cases (but not all) I do not see these as violations of MN. I haven’t had a chance to go through and categorize everything, but even this one example raises real questions about the significance of this list int he MN debate.

    5. We also do agree that something changed during the enlightenment in science. Before this point, science and philosophy had very fluid boundaries, as can be seen in all that you have quoted. However, in modern science (i.e. today’s mainstream science), the rules are very fixed against considering God as a cause. It is not to deny God, but to limit scientific inquiry into what natural things can do on their own.

    6. This raises a question. Are you arguing to, in this one respect, “turn back the clock” so that science would operate now in the same way it did in the 1600s?

    7. You also raise the point: who gets to set the rules of science? Our answer is not what you will like. We think, in the same way that philosophers set the rules of philosophy, scientists (a community) get to set the rules science. Science, like all disciplines, is defined for sociological reasons more than to be philosophically consistent. Frankly, very little in science is philosophically consistent.

    One last thing. Today I did a video-taped interview with Ted Davis where some of this is touched on. I mentioned one of your questions directly VJ. Hopefully this will all be a useful part of the dialogue.

    Josh

  6. 6
    Ted Davis says:

    I commend VJ for the very careful work on display here. To the best of my knowledge, none of the quotations is taken out of context, and every one is correctly interpreted. Given my prior experience with his work, I’m not surprised, but a commendation is still in order. Lots of people have written things about MN and/or its history that are either silly or just plain wrong, so this collection of important statements, accurately understood, is a solid contribution to the history of a topic whose full history has not yet been written.

    As I say, we don’t yet have a proper history of MN, although a large group of accomplished historians is presently working toward that goal and perhaps will get us closer to it: http://hps.fsu.edu/News-and-Ev.....Conference.

    That conference convened at Florida State in honor of Ron Numbers, a distinguished historian of science who earned a master’s degree at FSU. Early this century Numbers wrote one of the few good accounts of MN that we already have. VJ briefly quotes that piece, particularly a sentence in which Numbers quoted a few famous words from Galileo’s “Letter to Christina.” In VJ’s opinion, “he completely misinterprets Galileo, even making him out to be a disbeliever in miracles,” simply by quoting Galileo’s words that nature “never violates the terms of the laws imposed upon her.” Numbers used the translation of Galileo’s Italian by his friend Maurice Finocchiaro, not the older translation by the late Stillman Drake that I prefer and is probably more familiar to most of us. Drake’s version is at http://inters.org/Galilei-Mada.....a-Lorraine, and this is his rendition of the longer passage in question:

    “I think that in discussions of physical problems we ought to begin not from the authority of scriptural passages, but from sense-experiences and necessary demonstrations; for the holy Bible and the phenomena of nature proceed alike from the divine Word, the former as the dictate of the Holy Ghost and the latter as the observant executrix of God’s commands. It is necessary for the Bible, in order to be accommodated to the understanding of every man, to speak many things which appear to differ from the absolute truth so far as the bare meaning of the words is concerned. But Nature, on the other hand, is in¬exorable and immutable; she never transgresses the laws imposed upon her, or cares a whit whether her abstruse reasons and methods of operation are understandable to men.”

    The paragraph in which Numbers quotes Galileo opens with this topic sentence: “Enthusiasm for the naturalistic study of nature picked up in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as more and more Christians turned their attention to discovering the so-called secondary causes that God employed in operating the world.” The rest of the paragraph is all about Galileo and no one else. I don’t agree that Numbers “completely misrepresents Galileo.” Nowhere does he say or imply that Galileo didn’t believe in miracles; rather he is making the pertinent point that Galileo stressed the need to understand the regularities of nature on their own terms, apart from biblical passages. This aspect of early modern science—the perceived need to keep the Bible out of scientific arguments—was not limited to Galileo and is an important piece of the history of MN.
    Otherwise I think VJ’s analysis is on target.

    This does not mean, however, that his analysis is without its limits. The same could be said of any piece of scholarship, including my own, no matter how carefully done. So, this isn’t a criticism at all. I simply want readers without VJ’s academic background and expertise to understand that his account of the history of MN is incomplete, and that to take it as the last word would be a mistake. There’s so much more that needs to be said, and I hardly have the time or space to say it here (or anywhere else for that matter, at least in the near future). Thus I will nuance VJ’s account by drawing attention to some places where he and I agree or (perhaps) would differ if we both had time to have a more extensive exchange.

    (1) VJ says: The term “methodological naturalism” is defined variously in the literature. All authorities agree, however, that if you put forward scientific arguments for the existence of a supernatural Deity, then you are violating the principle of methodological naturalism.

    I fully agree with this, as far as it goes. This is a statement in the present tense that about science as we find it today, and that is indeed how things are done. All things considered, it’s probably good that modern science leaves the existence of God (the word I prefer for a “supernatural Deity”) outside of the bounds of scientific discourse and competence. This leaves both Richard Dawkins and ID, not to mention AiG or BioLogos, on the “outside” of scientific discourse. I defend that practice here: http://biologos.org/blogs/ted-.....roposition

    (2) Immediately after this, VJ says, “The 31 scientists whom I’ve listed below all did just that. I’ve supplied copious documentation, to satisfy the inquiries of skeptical readers.”

    I’ve already affirmed almost entirely his presentation of that information. MN is a very modern concept with very long historical roots, going back to the pre-Socratic philosophers, but it’s hardly an unbroken chain from then to now, and until relatively recently science was not defined quite so narrowly. VJ’s timeline is basically right: it’s really in the nineteenth century that “God” mostly disappears from scientific discourse. I’ve held that view for decades (though it’s not something I’ve said much about in print), and it’s basically the position argued in a famous paper by Andrew Cunninghan and Perry Williams: http://journals.cambridge.org/.....7400031447

    In their view, “natural philosophy” (what many of VJ’s 31 scientists were doing) prior to the nineteenth century was about God, whereas “science” since then is no longer about God. As I keep saying, the whole story hasn’t yet been told and is likely to be even more complicated and nuanced than we think, but this much at least seems well established.

    VJ pulls together some lovely examples of God language in early modern natural philosophy (and some also from nineteenth century scientists), but one can also pull together lovely examples of natural philosophers and scientists carefully separating God from scientific practice. Here’s a recent paper to that point: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2.....Bishop.pdf
    Overall, my sense is that a stricter naturalism became the norm in various scientific fields at different points in history, ending with natural history in the nineteenth century.

    Since I have a plane to catch soon, I’ll cut to the chase.

    (3) The really big question here, IMO, is this: who gets to define science? The answer is, scientists get to do that, not philosophers or historians. The definition of what counts as science and what doesn’t changes over time, for reasons that are not always simple and certainly defy my ability to spell them out in a few hundred words. (Perhaps I can attempt that someday, but unfortunately not on this day.) But the bottom line can be briefly summed up as follows: Science as we find it today is a worldwide enterprise, carried out by men and women with highly diverse fundamental metaphysical and religious beliefs. Just like the founders of the Royal Society, they can agree to leave religion and politics to one side (as the founders of the Royal Society usually did in their scientific discourses, even if there are many obvious exceptions), in order to try to create a kind of knowledge that transcends such differences of opinion. They aren’t always going to succeed, but it’s important to try to do that, as far as possible. Otherwise, IMO, the barbarians (and I leave it to my readers to attach that label to specific individuals or groups) will soon be at the gates, and science becomes just one more example of political or religious warfare. As I say, we can’t achieve this fully, but surely we ought to try.

    That’s my twenty-five cents.

  7. 7
    vjtorley says:

    Hi everyone,

    I very much appreciate the kind comments by Professors Joshua Swamidass and Ted Davis. I’m off to work in a few minutes, but I’ll respond at further length in about 16 hours.

    Thanks for pointing out the missing references, Charles. I’ll try to fix those tonight.

  8. 8
    jdk says:

    An ambitious OP, but my thanks to Josh and Ted for their responses. I really don’t see how the religious and philosophical beliefs of people, many who lived centuries ago, bears very much on the idea that today science looks for natural explanations for natural phenomena, even though many (all of us, really) also have beliefs about the world that are not scientific in nature.

  9. 9
    Origenes says:

    Swamidass @5,

    S: However, in modern science (i.e. today’s mainstream science), the rules are very fixed against considering God as a cause. It is not to deny God, but to limit scientific inquiry into what natural things can do on their own.

    If it is not to deny God, then would do we make of the following admission by Professor Richard Lewontin:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. 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, that we 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. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    [Professor Richard Lewontin, in a memorable review (New York Times, January 9, 1997) of Carl Sagan’s book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark]

    As to “limit scientific inquiry into what natural things can do on their own”. Assuming that by ‘natural things’ you mean matter governed by natural law, then natural things, embarrassingly, fail to ground rationality — an obvious prerequisite of scientific inquiry.

  10. 10
    J-Mac says:

    VJ,

    I think you may have missed one scientist, though not really considered to be great by the large majority;

    Richard Dawkins:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoncJBrrdQ8

  11. 11
    J-Mac says:

    It just hit me. What about Darwin? Didn’t he at least propose the origin of life to be …… you fill in the dots?

  12. 12
    sagebrush gardener says:

    I like Robert A. Heinlein’s thoughts on the supernatural:

    One man’s “magic” is another man’s engineering. “Supernatural” is a null word.

    The “supernatural” is just science we don’t understand yet. What would a primitive man think of a device he could hold in his hand that allows him to talk to (or even see) other people anywhere in the world, to view a map of the globe and see his own exact location on it, or to access the accumulated knowledge of mankind just by typing a few words on a screen? Even fifty years ago — within many of our lifetimes — such a thing would have been barely imaginable. Today it is commonplace.

    Isn’t “natural vs. supernatural” a false dichotomy? The same book that says “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens” never uses the word “supernatural”, but invites us to seek out that wisdom and understanding. The supernatural is a short-sighted materialist concept that says not only is a thing unknown, but it is beyond knowing. Now who is “anti-science”?

  13. 13

    On some reflection, I think an important distinction needs to be made between “science-engaged philosophy” and “arguments within science” (“science” or “scientific arguments”) for this post.

    Science-engaged philosophy has never been required to follow the rules of science. It has never been subject to MN. Scientists regularly engage in it, even in the current moment. Sometimes (usually?) our forays into philosophy are flawed (just like most philosopher’s forays into science are flawed). Ultimately, this should be subject to the rules of philosophy, and this gives authority to people like VJ to push back on Dawkins to tell him that he is doing really bad philosophy when he claims science disproves God.

    In contrast, arguments in science have to follow the rules of science, as defined by the scientific community of discourse (scientists). Many early scientists (including Boyle and Bacon) held to versions of MN (without using that name) when doing what we could call their “scientific” work (the word “science” didn’t exist in current form till later).

    In todays world, design inferences are entirely allowed and encouraged in science-engaged philosophy, but science has disallowed it entirely. At this point the ID movement faces a decision: accept the current situation or fight it? Right now, they appear to be devoted to fighting it.

    Why? The restriction from science itself doesn’t matter if the primary question is: are design arguments true? We will all embrace good design arguments if they are made correctly in philosophy and are based on good science. However, if other questions and goals dominate (i.e. political action against evolution), then the current situation will not do for the ID movement. The ID movement does not appear content with science-engaged philosophy. So what are the goals that motivate them? Why isn’t science-engaged philosophy enough?

    To reiterate, a large number of references in this article do not actually violate MN because they are actually examples of science-engaged philosophy (which is allowed and encouraged), not science. It is true that some early philosophers appear to violate the modern notions of MN, but many (most?) of these references do not qualify.

  14. 14
    Andre says:

    Dr Torley

    Thank you for a wonderful post. If I may ask is there any reason why Nikola Tesla did not make the cut?

  15. 15
    Andre says:

    Prof Swamidass

    I am trying my best to understand your point, so we can infer design but we may not conclude it? Is that what you are saying?

  16. 16
    Dionisio says:

    Prof. S. Joshua Swamidass @5 & @13

    Glad to see you back here.

    FYI – Please note that your highly appreciated comments have been kindly requested in this recent discussion thread started by gpuccio:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-613672

    By now the discussion has transcended this UD site and has spilled over into the TSZ blog too.

    The discussion is very technical, above the pay grade of biology-illiterate folks like me. But I still enjoy it and can learn from it.

    Perhaps you could offer some insightful comments on the ongoing discussion?

    Thank you.

  17. 17
    Anaxagoras says:

    May I ask why Rev William Paley is not included in this list??

  18. 18
    Andre says:

    Dr. Torley

    Also Pasteur. Afterall he proved abiogenesis impossible.

  19. 19

    Post #13 betrays a … (speechless) … a massive and pervasive misunderstanding/misrepresentation of ID. I’m not trying to be disrespectful here, but c’mon professor. For crying out loud. At some point rational people have to put away the strawmen and actually deal with the reality on the table. You apparently believe that the inference to design in biology violates methodological naturalism (i.e. is inconsistent with methodological naturalism as it is practiced in science), but it does no such thing. ID is attacked in science not because it breaks the rules (such as they are) but because it’s consistent with theism. If you are unable to critique ID on the merit of its arguments, then what motivates you to say anything at all?

  20. 20
    Origenes says:

    Swamidass @13,

    Swamidass: In todays world, design inferences are entirely allowed and encouraged in science-engaged philosophy, but science has disallowed it entirely.

    This statement is simply false. Archaeology, forensics, cryptology, informatics, SETI and SEETI are all sciences which employ the design inference.
    This has been pointed out to Swamidass in the thread “In defense of Swamidass”. In response Swamidass chose to focus on SETI and claimed that SETI uses an entirely different methodology than ID:

    Swamidass:
    Of the top of my head, I can come up with about five material differences. Now you try. What are the differences? For each difference, why do you think they are immaterial or material? After a few people post on it, I’ll show you why I think the differences are so substantial as to make the original argument unconvincing.

    Needless to say that no one came forward to assist Swamidass, because there are no methodological differences.

    StephenB:
    ID’s methodology is formulated to detect physical patterns in nature that appear to have been arranged for a purpose. SETI uses the same methodology.
    (…)
    ID, does, indeed, use the scientific method:
    Observation>>Hypothesis>>Experiment>>Conclusion. If that isn’t the scientific method, then what is? Please be specific.

    Upright BiPed:
    SETI’s methodology uses an operational definition of intelligence based on a measurable artifact of intelligence. The exact same methodology is available to ID, and is valid for the same reasons.
    Your comment is mistaken.

    Swamidass never responded to the corrections, nor did he list any of the alleged “five material differences” between the methodology of SETI and ID. Maybe now the time has come that he does.

  21. 21
    Andre says:

    Ted Davis

    Otherwise, IMO, the barbarians (and I leave it to my readers to attach that label to specific individuals or groups) will soon be at the gates, and science becomes just one more example of political or religious warfare.

    This is the case already, the materialistic creation story is forced down the throat of every child, and yet there is simply no evidence that absolutely verifies that man is from an ape. There are many assumptions but concrete facts? Show me…..

    Science was hijacked by materialists in the 19th century and its been unable to recover from its former glory of what it means to gain knowledge.

    Lastly people that try and complicate science are the real problem, it’s a simple enterprise and it goes like this;

    What causes what?

  22. 22
    Andre says:

    Ted Davis

    The really big question here, IMO, is this: who gets to define science? The answer is, scientists get to do that, not philosophers or historians.

    Really? And if there is a group that leans towards a certain point of view and they have the majority their collective might, makes it right then?

  23. 23
    Andre says:

    Prof Swamidass

    are design arguments true? We will all embrace good design arguments if they are made correctly in philosophy and are based on good science.

    Can I ask you a simple question? Can any unguided or unintelligent process create this? Do we have any examples?

    https://blenderartists.org/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=382410&d=1433385631

    How about this?

    http://www.kreedmd.com/wp-cont.....-joint.jpg

    In our uniformed experience we know with absolute certainty that natural processes are incapable of generating or creating these, why? Because this is an engineering solution to a modal problem. Natural processes will never be able to figure this out, ever!

  24. 24
    Jon Garvey says:

    Maybe we can resolve this all peacefully :-).

    Joshua says that scientists may be exempted from the constraints of methodological naturalism when engaging in “science-informed philosophy” to promote metaphysical materialism or atheism.

    But we all know that they sometimes do that without being aware of the niceties of the distinction (ie they think they speak as scientists not realising they do not speak as science, which is in some way a Platonic universal distinct from actual scientists). So, for example, we might think of Lewontin writing his book review, Dawkins speaking out of turn as Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, Ken Miller writing metaphysically-loaded science textbooks for schools, or John van Wyhe writing a feature in New Scientist this month about evolution’s irrefutable denial of both human exceptionalism and God.

    For some reason these people are all less aware than they should be that they’re doing philosophy, not science, and so the public gets confused about the distinction too and wrongly thinks that science itself is in conflict with their religion.

    Very well, it seems that ID proponents too may well often be doing science-informed philosophy , and making the same error as these leading scientists in calling it “science”. If so, they are following a hallowed precedent indeed.

    That surely means, then, their philosophical writings should be treated in exactly the same manner as these others. That is, in an ideal world neither type of discourse should be called “science”, and all the criticisms about lack of peer review, failing to identify the designer and so on would fall to the ground together with the criticisms of the unscientific nature of claims that science should be atheistic on the other side.

    But in the meantime in our imperfect world, as quid pro quo, we should expect to see ID science-informed philosophers offered articles in *New Scientist*, Chairs in Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, authorship of school textbooks on biology, and so on.

    The only flaw in that which I can see in that scenario is that these decisions may turn out to be made by the same scientists who sit loose to the category distinctions between their disciplines and their beliefs, rather than by the more dispassionate Science, wherever he may live.

  25. 25

    Science is a set of practices guided entirely by philosophy. Everything anyone infers from raw scientific data and empirical fact is a philosophical interpretation. Every experiment is constructed according to a philosophical framework.

    Calling other frameworks that employ science and infer accordingly “philosophy”, while attempting to sneak one’s own ideological naturalism in as if it is a non-philosophical part of science, is at best a case of cognitive bias.

    Perhaps VJTorley’s very impressive post here can put to rest the bogus conflict thesis once and for all.

  26. 26
    Barry Arrington says:

    Prof. S. Joshua Swamidass

    arguments in science have to follow the rules of science, as defined by the scientific community of discourse (scientists)

    Translation: Oh dear, in comment 5 I got dangerously close to sanctioning an attempt by the hoi polloi to infringe on the power, prestige and prerogatives we scientists reserve unto ourselves and guard vociferously. Now I will walk it back. After all, when one is the beneficiary of a cultural hegemony, it is imperative to stamp out even the slightest challenge.

    Thanks for showing us the ugly authoritarian underbelly of the scientific community prof.

  27. 27
    Barry Arrington says:

    Ted Davis:

    who gets to define science? The answer is, scientists get to do that

    Translation: We must never allow the hoi polloi to infringe on the power, prestige and prerogatives we scientists reserve unto ourselves and guard vociferously. After all, when one is the beneficiary of a cultural hegemony, it is imperative to stamp out even the slightest challenge.

    Thank you for joining your colleague in showing us the ugly authoritarian underbelly of the scientific community prof.

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, could I take a moment to suggest there is a considerable body of historical practice (some of which VJT gives above) which is material to understanding science. Further, what is sci is inherently a phil of sci question, and the discussion cannot properly be monopolised by a guild. Especially, one notoriously dominated by evolutionary materialistic scientism. Which, BTW is multiply self referentially incoherent. Where also as science is concerned with truth and warrant regarding truth about our common world, with huge impacts, what science is and how it grounds conclusions will be of absolutely general interest.Gotta go. KF

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: As a telling example of definitional failure by ideological imposition with significant educational and thus policy and cultural impact, we may note the US National Science Teachers’ Association [NSTA] in a notorious July 2000 Board declaration:

    The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

    [S]cience, along with its methods, explanations and generalizations, must be the sole focus of instruction in science classes to the exclusion of all non-scientific or pseudoscientific [–> loaded word that cannot be properly backed up due to failure of demarcation arguments] methods, explanations, generalizations and products [–> declaration of intent to ideologically censor education materials] . . . .

    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 [–> undermined by the question-begging ideological imposition and associated censorship] . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements [–> question-begging false dichotomy, the proper contrast for empirical investigations is the natural (chance and/or necessity) vs the ART-ificial, through design] in the production of scientific knowledge.

  30. 30
    StephenB says:

    Ted and Joshua, have you informed the big bang cosmologists that they are breaking your self serving “rule” and had better stop it?

    Have you informed the medical scientists at the Lourdes commission to cease and desist from offering their expert opinion about the limits of nature to heal?

    Ted, have you told your associate Robert Russell that he, too, is breaking your rule by positing Non Interventionist Objective Divine Action?

    Have you told yourself, Ted, that you are violating your own rule by citing his work and proposing a similar solution to rescue and retain Darwin’s purposeless, mindless mechanism?

    While you are at it, can you provide even one historical example of the scientific community imposing a universal methodological rule on other scientists and ostracizing them for refusing to play ball?

  31. 31
    mike1962 says:

    Ted Davis: who gets to define science? The answer is, scientists get to do that

    No they don’t. When it comes to work-a-day, practical application of policy – and that’s what really matters – it is politicians who define what science is. And that is subject to the whims of the electorate, at least in democracies. And of course, individuals are free to accept whatever definition they choose. Scientists are much farther down on the totem pole than they think.

  32. 32
    bill cole says:

    VJT Josh
    I have been having a long discussion regarding common descent at TSZ. We have been going through the detail of how tree nodes are formed etc. It appears that common descent is an inference argument based on observed similarities of DNA.

    If you ask for data that will test if one node that claims the two species descended from a common ancestor you get a blank stare.

    An inference argument means that the best hypothesis is selected. So you have common descent which is not testable against what competing hypothesis?

    I guess it cannot be design because it does not follow the rules of MN.

    Darwin’s original argument for evolution was against creationism as the competing hypothesis.
    ref

    Van Fraassen’s Critique of Inference to the Best Explanation
    Samir Okasha*

    So now we have a theory of evolution that is an inference argument with no competing hypothesis and takes up 10% of high school biology text books.

    Does anyone else believe this situation is badly broken.

  33. 33
    harry says:

    VJT,

    I saved your article for future reference. Great stuff!

  34. 34
    vjtorley says:

    Hi everyone,

    In response to Charles’ requests in #4, I’ve supplied the Boyle reference he asked for, as well as documenting Boskovic’s opposition to methodological naturalism. I’ve also removed a couple of typos. That took me a few hours, as the quotes from Boskovic were rather long, and I had to get them from an archived edition of his work, online.

    I have to get up in an hour-and-a-half to go to work, so I must get some shut-eye. I’ll be happy to take part in the discussion here (and on Biologos) in about 18 hours. I hope Professor Swamidass will be kind enough to inform the people over at Biologos that I will be getting in touch with them. Thank you very much.

  35. 35
    aap says:

    A 21st century methodological naturalistic limitation on science assumes that there is no god, no intelligent designer that had any direct recognizable impact on the origin or development of our universe, world and life. Joshua and Ted and others argue that in their understanding of science it does not and cannot come to any conclusions regarding the existence or non-existence of a god or intelligent designer. However, their science does in fact conclude that if there is a god or intelligent designer of our universe and life that this being did not and could not have used any means of creation outside of the understanding of 21st century science involving the known laws of nature that this god may have set in motion, presumably at the time of the big bang which is a theory in deep space trouble right now with 95 percent of the universe missing. To be sure it is still believed, but it is faith and not science. It is not wise to jump to conclusions based on a very limited amount of information, some of which will be based on faulty human understanding. Their assumptions limit the intelligent designer to working within the laws of nature as they are presently understood by 21st century scientists, which is a very limited understanding with more mysteries than answers, and not a wise foundation upon which to base conclusions about origins. It places the creator into a 21st century methodological naturalistic box. That assumption is not based on any data, but on their methodological naturalistic presuppositions.
    The Christian understanding of GOD has always been that although He has created the universe, world and life to be governed by certain laws of nature, many of which we do not yet understand, that according to His own testimony He created it all by His wisdom and power and in His sovereignty can and does intervene by using a higher unknown wisdom for His Holy and gracious purposes. Anyone who puts a limit on the power, wisdom or freedom of GOD to act according to His will does not know Him and does not hold to a Christian understanding of GOD. As JESUS said: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of GOD.” Matthew 22:29 JESUS was not implying that they had not heard or read the testimony of the Scriptures, but rather that they had chosen not to believe them, and therefore were indeed ignorant of GOD’S power and wisdom. 21st Century methodological naturalistic science fits in well with deism or atheism, but not with a Christian understanding of the living GOD. I believe the evidence of the testimony of creation around us is all about devolution or corruption of the created order, and not evolution.

  36. 36

    Hello all, some of us are continuing the conversation on BioLogos. You are welcome to join.

    https://discourse.biologos.org/t/davis-swamidass-and-methodological-naturalism/5441/

    @20 origens, I should clarify. I should have said:

    “In today’s world, [divine] design inferences are entirely allowed and encouraged in science-engaged philosophy, but science has disallowed it entirely.”

    Al the examples you point to are inference to design by humans, or (presumably) intelligent but not divine life. In my view MN is a restriction away from making statements about God’s action, because to do so requires theology, something clearly outside the bounds of science.

    Yes, I know that ID tries to restrict itself to the “design inferences” without considering the nature of the designer. This, however, is a strange line. In no other area of science do we arbitrarily limit our inquiry into the nature of the designer. This also creates a great gap in explanations in ID theories. Most are very reticent to explain why the designer (God) designs the way He does. Of course, in every other field of science where design is considered, we start from a model of the designer’s psychology. So ID is really an outlier here.

    Regardless, even if it isn’t consistent (which I believe it is), the scientific community has already kicked ID out of science in very clear terms. I have no say in this, nor does anyone posting on this board. As it is in all fields (like philosophy, medicine, history, theology, etc.) the practitioners decide together what the rules are. Right now, ID (and also Dawkins) runs afoul the rules.

    Even if you can’t be science, there might be value in moving forward as “science-engaged philosophy”. That might be just as effective in making your case. In fact, you might find friends among many outside the ID movement. You are welcome to join us =).

  37. 37
    harry says:

    Prof. S. Joshua Swamidass @36,

    Intelligence is a known reality. Like other realities it can be a causal factor in a phenomenon coming into being. If it is “clearly outside the bounds of science” to acknowledge this self evident fact regardless of who the intelligent agent may be, then science is no longer rational, which means it is no longer science. So, actually, MN isn’t science, ID is.

  38. 38
    jdk says:

    Josh says,

    Even if you can’t be science, there might be value in moving forward as “science-engaged philosophy.

    This is a good point. In Kansas and elsewhere, the attempts to get ID ideas into the science standards back in the 2000’s was an attempt to validate ID by getting it considered science. In my opinion, this was clearly disengenuous: the more straightforward thing to do would have been to be upfront about the theological and metaphysical goals of ID, and work explicitly to convince people that accepting non-material metaphysics was a reasonable philosophical thing to do.

    One of the ironic things about the ID movement is that in trying to justify ID as science, many IDists seemed to implicitly accept that in fact science is the only truly valid form of knowledge. In my opinion, again, striving to defend the view that people adopt metaphysical interpretations that lie on top of the scientific body of knowledge, so to speak, would be a more effective and appropriate strategy than continuing to claim that ID inferences are in fact science.

    I appreciate all Josh’s thoughts on this subject.

  39. 39

    @38 JDK

    I think that would have been better received in the 90s, and it is not to late if that is what th ID shifts to now.

    I’d also point out to those that are so offended by me, my position on ID not being science is virtually identical to Dr. James Tour, one of the heros of the ID movement. He writes,

    “I have been labeled as an Intelligent Design (ID) proponent. I am not. I do not know how to use science to prove intelligent design although some others might. I am sympathetic to the arguments on the matter and I find some of them intriguing, but the scientific proof is not there, in my opinion. So I prefer to be free of that ID label. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaise_Pascal), one of the finest scientists, mathematicians and inventors that the world has ever enjoyed, and also among the most well-respected and deepest thinking Christian apologists, wrote in his Pensees 463, “It is a remarkable fact that no canonical [biblical] author has ever used nature to prove God. They all try to make people believe in him. David, Solomon, etc., never said: ‘There is no such thing as a vacuum, therefore God exists.’ They must have been cleverer than the cleverest of their successors, all of whom have used proofs from nature. This is very noteworthy.’” As Kreeft (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Kreeft) points out in his commentary on Pascal’s Pensees, “If the Scripture does not use nature to prove God, it can’t be the best strategy. Notice that Pascal does not say that there are no good proofs of God or that none of them begin with data from nature. Elsewhere, he specifies merely that such proofs are psychologically weak, but he does not say they are logically weak. More important, they are salvifically weak, [meaning that] they will not save us. If nature proved God clearly, we would not have to search for him with all our hearts.” Pascal further writes in his Pensees 429 , “This is what I see that troubles me: Nature has nothing to offer me that does not give rise to doubt and anxiety; if there is a God supporting nature, she should unequivocally proclaim him, and that, if the signs in nature are deceptive, they should be completely erased; that nature should say all or nothing so that I could see what course I ought to follow.” Though 350 years since Pascal penned his dilemma, as a modern-day scientist, I do not know how to prove ID using my most sophisticated of analytical tools. I share Pascal’s frustration. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if, when scientists had obtained the first molecular resolution images of human DNA, it had self-assembled (a thermodynamic process) into the Hebrew script to say, “The God of Heaven and Earth was here.”? But it did not, and I suppose that the wonder would have elicited no love from the skeptic anyway. Therefore, God seems to have set nature as a clue, not a solution, to keep us yearning for him.”

    http://www.jmtour.com/personal.....%E2%80%9D/

    I agree with Tour here. If you are going to fight with me on this, please explain also why you disagree with Tour.

  40. 40
    mike1962 says:

    I wonder what Blaise Pascal would have thought about the protein based nano-technology operating inside biological cells, coded information of DNA, origin of life difficulties, etc.

  41. 41
    Andre says:

    Prof Swamidass

    There is a gross misunderstanding on your part here. Where has ID ever tried to prove God using science?

  42. 42

    @41

    No misunderstanding. I am just quoting James Tour, one of the ID heroes. You have heard of him, right?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    I know you are not trying to “prove God” per se. Rather, you are trying to demonstrate divine design in nature. Of course you want to do this to point to this as evidence for God. So sometimes we just group steps 1 and 2 into the same activity. Unless you legitimately believe some non divine being other than God is the designer, and have a mechanism for design that would be reachable for this mere mortal, you fall into this pattern. Sometimes people will describe the effort as “proving God” though I do agree you are trying split this effort into two steps.

    And, if you do not like the quote, you could always dispute it with Tour.

    @23 yes, a random process can design things:
    https://discourse.biologos.org/t/defense-of-di-in-debate-with-swamidass/5336/131

    @16 Thanks for the invitation, but I am staying out of that one. I’m not as interested in arguing for or against design as I am in explaining the strong evidence for common descent. Maybe another day…

    @26 and @27, cute but your translator is broken =).

  43. 43
  44. 44

    Prof Swamidass,

    My question in #19 stands unanswered. Since you clearly do not attack ID arguments on their merit, what motivates you to attack ID at all? It seems odd that someone who wraps themselves in the flag of science would be so reluctant to engage physical evidence – particularly given that you appear so certain to have the upper hand, and so motivated to carry on the attack. Perhaps erecting strawmen reflects something about the true character of your attack.

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    Professor Swamidass:

    I can only address briefly [–> it grew of its innate nature as an issue . . . ] a snippet:

    I know you are not trying to “prove God” per se. Rather, you are trying to demonstrate divine design in nature. Of course you want to do this to point to this as evidence for God. So sometimes we just group steps 1 and 2 into the same activity. Unless you legitimately believe some non divine being other than God is the designer, and have a mechanism for design that would be reachable for this mere mortal, you fall into this pattern.

    Pardon, but this erects and knocks over a strawman, changing the subject from a matter of inductive inference on tested, empirically reliable sign to a contentious debate over worldviews. One, in which — as I pointed to at 29 above — there has been an ideological, question-begging imposition of evolutionary maerialistic scientism on the very definition of science.

    I suggest instead that as far back as Plato in The Laws, Bk X, we see a very different contrast of alternatives from the “natural vs supernatural” one commonly imposed by champions of evolutionary materialistic scientism and/or fellow travellers.

    Namely, that:

    a –> per observable, testable signs,

    b –> one may inductively and properly infer that,

    c –> material causal factors credibly at work or potentially at work in an aspect of an object, process or phenomenon

    d –> include natural [= blind chance and/or mechanical necessity] and/or ART-ificial [= intelligent action] forces. Where,

    e –> The default is first that mechanical necessity and/or blind chance acting on plausible initial and intervening circumstances have led to an observed result. Thus,

    f –> Per Newton’s rules of reasoning, to infer to a plausible causal explanation of an object or phenomenon whose origin we did not directly observe, we must revert to factors demonstrated to be causally adequate to produce the like or sufficiently like in the here and now . . . a common-sense control on empirically unjustified, ideologically loaded speculation. Also,

    g –> such an inductive inference is inherently subject to onward further evidence and argument, per Newton’s remarks in his 1704 Opticks, Query 31. To wit:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses [–> roughly, metaphysical speculations] are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations.

    The pivotally relevant issue regarding the design inference is that functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information [FSCO/I] and especially digitally coded functionally specific complex information dFSCI, is a commonplace, where we have literally observed trillions of cases of its cause.

    In EVERY observed case, its cause is purposeful, knowledgeable and skilled, capable intelligent action. For simple instance, consider text strings in English in this thread. (Which are actually adding to the observation base.)

    When it comes to something where functionally organised specific components must be properly arranged to get a result, such as say the Abu 6500 C3 fishing reel I have commonly used as a case in point, the pattern of part selection, arrangement and coupling can be represented as a string of yes/no questions in some description language. That is, FSCO/I patently has associated quantifiable information.

    Comparing the atomic resources of the observed solar system [~10^57 atoms] or the observed universe [~10^80 atoms] and fast chemical reaction rates, about 10^-13 – 10^-15 s, we may then readily show that 500 – 1,000 bits of FSCO/I specifies a configuration space of 3.27 x 10^150 – 1.07 x 10^301 states across 13.7 – 13.8 BY, so that islands of function based on specific configuration will be maximally unlikely to be discovered by blind chance and/or blind mechanical necessity. This is because the fraction of states that may be scanned by a random walk, or a dust or a combination or the like, of possible configurations, will be maximally small relative to the scope of search required to credibly find such islands.

    Where, a search is a sample of a config space by some means.

    Therefore, the set of possible searches is tantamount to the power set of the space. That is, for a space of scale n, the set of possible searches is of order 2^n. This implies that the search for a golden search is in a far harder space than the direct search. This is the issue pointed out by Dembski when he spoke of search for search, S4S.

    So, it is reasonable to focus on the direct search as the search for a golden search will be exponentially harder.

    But of course, intelligent actions routinely produce phenomena that exceed this threshold, 72 – 143 ASCII characters worth of information.

    As a result, it is reasonable — absent the sort of a priori ideological lockout shown in 29 above — to infer that such FSCO/I beyond such a threshold is a reliable sign of design as material causal factor. On both the trillion member observational base and the search space analysis.

    The problem of course is that on origins, cell based life is replete with FSCO/I and dFSCI well beyond the 500 – 1,000 bit threshold.

    The inductive inference, then, is reasonable that cell based life, from the root up to the major branches — body plans clearly require increments of 10 – 100+ mn bits of additional information beyond the 100k – 1 mn bits for a plausible first functional cell based life form — has but one empirically reliable causal explanation: design, working by art, as opposed to blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    This is independent of debates over common decent degrees up to and including universal common decent.

    This is controversial, not because it is inductively unsupported, but because there is an acting ideological a priori as was pointed out at 29 above, that patently seeks to lock it out. Let me clip again from the NSTA of the USA, Board declaration of 2000:

    The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

    [S]cience, along with its methods, explanations and generalizations, must be the sole focus of instruction in science classes to the exclusion of all non-scientific or pseudoscientific [–> loaded word that cannot be properly backed up due to failure of demarcation arguments] methods, explanations, generalizations and products [–> declaration of intent to ideologically censor education materials] . . . .

    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 [–> undermined by the question-begging ideological imposition and associated censorship] . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements [–> question-begging false dichotomy, the proper contrast for empirical investigations is the natural (chance and/or necessity) vs the ART-ificial, through design] in the production of scientific knowledge.

    Nor, does the matter stop there.

    As I recently cited from Luke Barnes:

    Today, our deepest understanding of the laws of nature is summarized in a set of equations. Using these equations, we can make very precise calculations of the most elementary physical phenomena, calculations that are confirmed by experimental evidence. But to make these predictions, we have to plug in some numbers that cannot themselves be calculated but are derived from measurements of some of the most basic features of the physical universe. These numbers specify such crucial quantities as the masses of fundamental particles and the strengths of their mutual interactions. After extensive experiments under all manner of conditions, physicists have found that these numbers appear not to change in different times and places, so they are called the fundamental constants of nature.

    These constants represent the edge of our knowledge. Richard Feynman called one of them — the fine-structure constant, which characterizes the amount of electromagnetic force between charged elementary particles like electrons — “one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man.” An innovative, elegant physical theory that actually predicts the values of these constants would be among the greatest achievements of twenty-first-century physics.

    Many have tried and failed. The fine-structure constant, for example, is approximately equal to 1/137, a number that has inspired a lot of worthless numerology, even from some otherwise serious scientists. Most physicists have received unsolicited e-mails and manuscripts from over-excited hobbyists that proclaim, often in ALL CAPS and using high-school algebra, to have unlocked the mysteries of the universe by explaining the constants of nature.

    Since physicists have not discovered a deep underlying reason for why these constants are what they are, we might well ask the seemingly simple question: What if they were different? What would happen in a hypothetical universe in which the fundamental constants of nature had other values?

    There is nothing mathematically wrong with these hypothetical universes. But there is one thing that they almost always lack — life. Or, indeed, anything remotely resembling life. Or even the complexity upon which life relies to store information, gather nutrients, and reproduce. A universe that has just small tweaks in the fundamental constants might not have any of the chemical bonds that give us molecules, so say farewell to DNA, and also to rocks, water, and planets. Other tweaks could make the formation of stars or even atoms impossible. And with some values for the physical constants, the universe would have flickered out of existence in a fraction of a second. That the constants are all arranged in what is, mathematically speaking, the very improbable combination that makes our grand, complex, life-bearing universe possible is what physicists mean when they talk about the “fine-tuning” of the universe for life . . . .

    we can calculate all the ways the universe could be disastrously ill-suited for life if the masses of these [fundamental] particles were different. For example, if the down quark’s mass were 2.6 x 10-26 grams or more, then adios, periodic table! There would be just one chemical element and no chemical compounds, in stark contrast to the approximately 60 million known chemical compounds in our universe.

    With even smaller adjustments to these masses, we can make universes in which the only stable element is hydrogen-like. Once again, kiss your chemistry textbook goodbye, as we would be left with one type of atom and one chemical reaction. If the up quark weighed 2.4 x 10-26 grams, things would be even worse — a universe of only neutrons, with no elements, no atoms, and no chemistry whatsoever.

    The universe we happen to have is so surprising under the Standard Model because the fundamental particles of which atoms are composed are, in the words of cosmologist Leonard Susskind, “absurdly light.” Compared to the range of possible masses that the particles described by the Standard Model could have, the range that avoids these kinds of complexity-obliterating disasters is extremely small. Imagine a huge chalkboard, with each point on the board representing a possible value for the up and down quark masses. If we wanted to color the parts of the board that support the chemistry that underpins life, and have our handiwork visible to the human eye, the chalkboard would have to be about ten light years (a hundred trillion kilometers) high.

    And that’s just for the masses of some of the fundamental particles. There are also the fundamental forces that account for the interactions between the particles. The strong nuclear force, for example, is the glue that holds protons and neutrons together in the nuclei of atoms. If, in a hypothetical universe, it is too weak, then nuclei are not stable and the periodic table disappears again. If it is too strong, then the intense heat of the early universe could convert all hydrogen into helium — meaning that there could be no water, and that 99.97 percent of the 24 million carbon compounds we have discovered would be impossible, too. And, as the chart to the right shows, the forces, like the masses, must be in the right balance. If the electromagnetic force, which is responsible for the attraction and repulsion of charged particles, is too strong or too weak compared to the strong nuclear force, anything from stars to chemical compounds would be impossible.

    Stars are particularly finicky when it comes to fundamental constants. If the masses of the fundamental particles are not extremely small, then stars burn out very quickly. Stars in our universe also have the remarkable ability to produce both carbon and oxygen, two of the most important elements to biology. But, a change of just a few percent in the up and down quarks’ masses, or in the forces that hold atoms together, is enough to upset this ability — stars would make either carbon or oxygen, but not both.

    And more.

    For instance, a super-law that forces the cosmos to be at such a deeply isolated operating point would itself cry out for fine tuning as explanation, i.e. there pushing back of the tuning by stages does not eliminate it.

    In other words, the physics of the observed cosmos shows credible signs of being fine-tuned for C-chemistry, aqueous medium, protein using, terrestrial planet cell based life. Fine tuned in a way that sets the local operating point in a deeply isolated zone of the space of plausible parameter values etc. This too is FSCO/I and it raises issues of design as best explanatory cause.

    It matters not whether intelligent designers are postulated to be within or beyond the cosmos, the issue is, do they often leave reliable signs such as FSCO/I or dFSCI. If so, we have epistemological entitlement to infer empirically and inductively from observed tested sign to signified meaning. A meaning, here, of credible cause by intelligent design acting through ART, as opposed to blind chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on plausible initial conditions that are not particularly special [i.e. a sort of extended so-called Copernican principle].

    That is the pivotal issue, and it is not going 6to go away.

    Not even by making debates over common descent.

    Indeed, that raises issues of the origin of the FSCO/I-rich root of the tree of cell based life, and of the cause for jumps in such FSCO/I to explain major novel body plans up to and including our own. Where this one includes our linguistic capability as a major issue to be soundly and empirically explained.

    Which is self-referential.

    That is, if the generally imposed a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism is found wanting to explain intelligent, linguistically capable, credibly responsibly and rationally free humans, it fails at the outset. Fails irrecoverably by self falsification.

    Which is exactly what is on the table today, e.g. as Nancy Pearcey recently summarised:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . . An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

    [–> that is, responsible, rational freedom is undermined. Cf here William Provine in his 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day keynote:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.” [ENV excerpt, Finding Truth (David C. Cook, 2015) by Nancy Pearcey.]

    I think you will understand why a significant and growing number of people find the evolutionary materialistic scientism orthodoxy of our day decidedly wanting. And, why we find the imposition of such by the back door of a pretended simple and centuries deep established methodological constraint, a serious piece of distortion of actual history and a case of ideological question begging imposed by institutional power not credibility on the merits.

    Where VJT’s OP is a case of documenting the point that the alleged centuries deep principle of methodological naturalism is anything but that.

    KF

  46. 46
    Barry Arrington says:

    Prof. S. Joshua Swamidass @ 42:

    I give you points for efficiency. You managed to pack a lot of error into a small space.

    1. “I know you are not trying to “prove God” per se. Rather, you are trying to demonstrate divine design in nature.”

    No and no. We are not trying to prove God per se or otherwise; nor are we trying to demonstrate the divine. For someone who comments on ID from an assumed position of authority, you don’t seem to understand the first thing about it. ID posits that some aspects of nature are best explained as the result of design. Period. Full stop. Certainly many people go on to nominate God as the designer. But ID has always taken great pains to make clear that proving God is beyond the ID project as such.

    2. “Of course you want to do this to point to this as evidence for God.”

    No. See 1 above. See also “the principle of charity.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity

    3. “So sometimes we just group steps 1 and 2 into the same activity.”

    I don’t know who this “we” is. It is certainly not ID proponents.

    4. “Unless you legitimately believe some non divine being other than God is the designer”

    Why is this such a leap for you? You believe that blind, unguided natural forces can produce life through sheer dumb luck filtered through natural selection. Yet you strain at the suggestion that life might be the product of a super-sophisticated technology directed by an intelligence as if you know for a certainty this could not possibly have been the case. How strange.

    5. “and have a mechanism for design that would be reachable for this mere mortal”

    Oh, I can help you here. Please describe the mechanism you employed to post your comment. When you do, you will have described the same “mechanism” that a designer uses to produce any product of design.

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Plato in The Laws, Bk X, c 360 BC:

    Ath. . . . we have . . . lighted on a strange doctrine.
    Cle. What doctrine do you mean?
    Ath. The wisest of all doctrines, in the opinion of many.
    Cle. I wish that you would speak plainer.
    Ath. The doctrine that all things do become, have become, and will become, some by nature [–> mechanical necessity], some by art [–> design], and some by chance [–> cf to a fair die, a biased one, a loaded one, a quantum noise process such as Zener noise, etc].
    Cle. Is not that true?
    Ath. Well, philosophers are probably right; at any rate we may as well follow in their track, and examine what is the meaning of them and their disciples.
    Cle. By all means.
    Ath. They say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art, which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . . . fire and water, and earth and air, all exist by nature and chance [–> classic elements of the world] . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them . . . After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [–> ancient statement of evolutionary materialism, here revealed to be at root a philosophical assertion] . . . . Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [i.e. mind, LATER DISCUSSED AS THE SELF MOVED, AS LIFE WITH AGENCY OF SOME RELEVANT DEGREE], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. [–> he goes on to a first cause argument] And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body? [–> he will speak of an onward chain of cause-effect bonds, as second, third etc] . . . . if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.

    Thus, the explanatory trichotomy (and lest there be a rabit trail, we can see chance and/or necessity and/or degisn at work in various aspects of an entity or process; the issue is whether design in particular has characteristic and reliable signs] has long been on the table, in a well known work of one of the top ten thinkers of our civilisation.

    KF

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: The General Scholium of Newton for Principia, which perhaps should have been cited in the OP, illustrating just how far removed Newton was from the Methodological naturalism constraint:

    . . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another.

    This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator , or Universal Ruler; for God is a relative word, and has a respect to servants; and Deity is the dominion of God not over his own body, as those imagine who fancy God to be the soul of the world, but over servants. The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect; but a being, however perfect, without dominion, cannot be said to be Lord God; for we say, my God, your God, the God of Israel, the God of Gods, and Lord of Lords; but we do not say, my Eternal, your Eternal, the Eternal of Israel, the Eternal of Gods; we do not say, my Infinite, or my Perfect: these are titles which have no respect to servants. The word God usually signifies Lord; but every lord is not a God. It is the dominion of a spiritual being which constitutes a God: a true, supreme, or imaginary dominion makes a true, supreme, or imaginary God. And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present; and by existing always and every where, he constitutes duration and space. Since every particle of space is always, and every indivisible moment of duration is every where, certainly the Maker and Lord of all things cannot be never and no where. Every soul that has perception is, though in different times and in different organs of sense and motion, still the same indivisible person. There are given successive parts in duration, co-existent puts in space, but neither the one nor the other in the person of a man, or his thinking principle; and much less can they be found in the thinking substance of God. Every man, so far as he is a thing that has perception, is one and the same man during his whole life, in all and each of his organs of sense. God is the same God, always and every where. He is omnipresent not virtually only, but also substantially; for virtue cannot subsist without substance. In him are all things contained and moved [i.e. cites Ac 17, where Paul evidently cites Cleanthes]; yet neither affects the other: God suffers nothing from the motion of bodies; bodies find no resistance from the omnipresence of God. It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always, and every where. [i.e accepts the cosmological argument to God.] Whence also he is all similar, all eye, all ear, all brain, all arm, all power to perceive, to understand, and to act; but in a manner not at all human, in a manner not at all corporeal, in a manner utterly unknown to us. As a blind man has no idea of colours, so have we no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things. He is utterly void of all body and bodily figure, and can therefore neither be seen, nor heard, or touched; nor ought he to be worshipped under the representation of any corporeal thing. [Cites Exod 20.] We have ideas of his attributes, but what the real substance of any thing is we know not. In bodies, we see only their figures and colours, we hear only the sounds, we touch only their outward surfaces, we smell only the smells, and taste the savours; but their inward substances are not to be known either by our senses, or by any reflex act of our minds: much less, then, have we any idea of the substance of God. We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [i.e from his designs]: we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature. Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [i.e necessity does not produce contingency] All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [That is, implicitly rejects chance, Plato’s third alternative and explicitly infers to the Designer of the Cosmos.] But, by way of allegory, God is said to see, to speak, to laugh, to love, to hate, to desire, to give, to receive, to rejoice, to be angry, to fight, to frame, to work, to build; for all our notions of God are taken from. the ways of mankind by a certain similitude, which, though not perfect, has some likeness, however. And thus much concerning God; to discourse of whom from the appearances of things, does certainly belong to Natural Philosophy.

    Notice, how Newton uses the trichotomy as well known and not in dispute.

    It is worth underscoring that in looking at the world of life as we observe it, modern design thinkers have consistently argued from the very first technical work by Thaxton et al, that inference of design on signs is not an inference to a designer within or beyond the cosmos. In my case (as discussion at UD is relvant here at UD), I have typically suggested that a molecular nanotech lab some gnerations beyond Venter et al would suffice to account for cell based life.

    Where a cause beyond the cosmos is material would be the fine tuning of the cosmos. And, arguably, to explain the world of responsibly and rationally free mind such as we arguably have and exhibit, another “big bang.”

    KF

  49. 49

    One last comment, then you guys are welcome to join me at BioLogos.

    For the record, I do dispute many design arguments on merit. Just not interested in making that case now. Besides, I am a Christian that believes God created us. I’m not trying to prove God was unnecessary. He was.

    @46

    Barry, I understand exactly what you are trying to do. My use of your forbidden word (God) when discussing the obvious is not because I do not understand ID.

    I understand you are trying to say in science that “design” exists, without considering anything about the designer, or even articulating design principles to explain anything about that design (other than natural processes cannot produce it). But this is not ever how “design” is ever considered in science. In every case where design is considered, we think about the capabilities and identity of the putatutive designer. This gives us limits as to what is possible by design, so as to protect us from a “Design of the Gaps” fallacy.

    Of course ID resists the notion of considering the designers identity, but only because this would be a clear violation of MN. (Reaching back to Phil Johnson’s reasons for artificially limiting ID to exclude consideration of the Designer.) At least he was clear that he wanted to argue for God so that is why he refused to discuss the designers identity in science. Of course, Phil’s lawyerly strategy continues to this day.

    In this way, I’m much more like the scientists in this article. I’d rather make a clear case for “God” in science-engaged philosophy (as most of these references are), rather than arguing for “design” in “science” using my own idiosyncratic rules.

    But to each his own. ID has been trying this for over 25 years now. Maybe it will take another 25 years to try something new.

  50. 50
    StephenB says:

    Ted and Joshua, I know that you both believe that the “scientific community” is responsible for defining the science of evolution. I am, therefore, going to share with you the science of evolution as presented by that same community.

    From Miller & Levine: Biology
    Evolution works without either plan or purpose … Evolution is random and undirected.

    Douglass Futuyma: This experiment conveys the essence of natural selection: it is a completely mindless process without forethought or goal.

    In 2005, 39 Nobel Laureates wrote the Kansas State Board of Education to inform them that “evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.”

    Since you have granted this body of scientists the authority to define evolution, I must assume that you also believe that evolution is not the result of a purpose or plan. Is that a fair assumption? Do you agree that your community’s description of evolution includes non-scientific, metaphysical presumptions that rule out God in principle?

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect an answer. I just wanted to put it out there so that readers can draw their own conclusions about your sincerity.

  51. 51

    @50

    Wow, I think I have explained this at least 2 times to you in past posts. Of course I believe that evolution is (in fact) purposeful and with forethought. However, as far as science can tell it is not. Your quotes are of scientists making ill fated forays into philosophy, without realizing it. And, their position is now outside the mainstream any ways. So, on several levels, they are wrong. Just ask Eugenie Scott of you doubt me.

    If you want to rehash this conversation yet again, please join us on the other site.

  52. 52

    For the record, I do dispute many design arguments on merit. Just not interested in making that case now. Besides, I am a Christian that believes God created us. I’m not trying to prove God was unnecessary. He was.

    At this stage, this comment is no less than a complete concession. Just speak the words:

    I, Joshua Swamidass, am aware of ID arguments that I cannot reconcile on either evidentiary or philosophical grounds. I choose to avoid those arguments, and will stand outside the ring and shout with materialists at the advocates of that evidence.

    Enjoy the faculty lounge professor.

  53. 53

    Your quotes are of scientists making ill fated forays into philosophy, without realizing it.

    They know exactly what they are doing, and so do you.

  54. 54
    StephenB says:

    Joshua Swamidass

    Your quotes are of scientists making ill fated forays into philosophy, without realizing it. And, their position is now outside the mainstream any ways. So, on several levels, they are wrong. Just ask Eugenie Scott of you doubt me.

    You and Ted just said that it is the scientists themselves who define the science. My quotes are from scientists defining evolutionary science. You will note that I referenced 41 people, including 39 nobel laureates. It is, by your own admission, the majority of evolutionary biologists who define evolutionary biology. Since you say that the consensus opinion rules, your dissent (however sincere or insincere it might be) is irrelevant.

    I know all about Eugenie Scott. (You have one name, I have at least a hundred) She scolded some scientists for telling the truth, explaining that it is bad PR and makes it more difficult to recruit Christians and help TEs like yourself. So she changed the language in one document. That has nothing to do with the majority of evolutionary biologists (your standard, not mine), who ignore her when they write their textbooks.

    If you think that all these scientists are “outside the mainstream,” you need to provide some evidence. Provide examples from just one or two biological textbooks that are neutral about purpose in evolution.

  55. 55
    StephenB says:

    Professor Swamidass

    Hello all, some of us are continuing the conversation on BioLogos. You are welcome to join.

    You and Ted are welcome to remain here are defend your claims in front of a larger audience, which is also the same audience to which you first made those claims.

  56. 56
    StephenB says:

    Joshua Swamidass

    Of course I believe that evolution is (in fact) purposeful and with forethought. However, as far as science can tell it is not.

    So, in your judgment, there is no conflict between science and religion, except for the fact that religion says evolution is guided and science says that it is not.

    In other words, you think that there is no conflict between religion and science, except for the fact that they produce opposite conclusions about evolution.

    Is that what you tell your students?

  57. 57
    StephenB says:

    I am still waiting for Ted Davis, who claims that methodological naturalism is historical, to provide even one example from another era in which the scientific community imposed a universal methodology on its members as a “rule” of science.

  58. 58
    vjtorley says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’d like to thank Kairosfocus for his very helpful quotes from Isaac Newton, which add to the body of evidence showing that methodological naturalism is a novelty, in historical terms, and that it only goes back to the nineteenth century.

    Regarding Professor Swamidass’s quotes from Professor James Tour: it is true that he does say, “I do not know how to use science to prove intelligent design although some others might. I am sympathetic to the arguments on the matter and I find some of them intriguing, but the scientific proof is not there, in my opinion.” But the key words are “prove” and “proof.” Not even I would say that science can prove Intelligent Design.

    In his recent talk, “The Origin of Life: An Inside Story,” Professor Tour decided to focus on the origin of just one of the four basic building blocks of life: carbohydrates. He then proceeded to list eleven enormous hurdles faced by any blind, unguided process, in generating these compounds, before concluding:

    Therefore, small changes in ultimate functioning require major rerouting in the synthetic approaches. All changes, when doing chemistry, are hard and cannot be done by the usual hand-waving arguments or simple erasures on a board. Laborious and intentional elements of forethought are required.

    Next, Professor Tour explained why chemists need to engage in reverse engineering, when trying to synthesize desired products:

    Why do synthetic chemists use retrosynthetic approaches to build complex molecules? Because without the retrosynthetic approach, discerning one’s way to desired products is far too complex, leading to dead-ends that are overwhelmingly abundant, generating massive amounts of undesired products, and exhausting precious supplies that might have taken huge efforts to prepare. But Nature cannot perform retrosynthetic analyses, if we presuppose that the starting points progressed to a non-predefined endpoint. Again, this is utterly perplexing for the synthetic chemist.

    How could this have happened in prebiotic chemistry? How do you go from a starting material to a product that’s a complex product? What we do is we work our way back slowly. But Nature doesn’t know what its product is going to be at the end! It doesn’t know! It’s just blindly going along.

    OK, it’s not proof, and he never mentions the phrase “Intelligent Design” in his talk. Nevertheless, it seems to me that he makes a pretty good case that intelligent design of some sort was required in order to produce life. Wouldn’t you?

    I know that Professor Swamidass shares Professsor Tour’s skepticism regarding abiogenesis, and that he also believes life was designed. So perhaps we are not so far apart on this one.

    Professor Swamidass also wrote:

    I understand you are trying to say in science that “design” exists, without considering anything about the designer, or even articulating design principles to explain anything about that design (other than natural processes cannot produce it). But this is not ever how “design” is ever considered in science. In every case where design is considered, we think about the capabilities and identity of the putative designer.

    Hmm. Right off the top of my head, I can think of two exceptions to this claim. Consider the following quote from Fred Hoyle:

    Would you not say to yourself, “Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” (“The Universe: Past and Present Reflections.” Engineering and Science, November 1981, pp. 8–12.)

    The other example that springs to mind is the prime number sequence in Carl Sagan’s novel, Contact. In the story, Ellie realizes that the sequence of primes could only have come from an intelligent source, but until she receives instructions from the aliens, she is frustratingly unable to say any more about them:

    “Finally, what’s being sent seems to be a long sequence of prime numbers, integers that can’t be divided by any other number except themselves and one. No astrophysical process is likely to generate prime numbers. So I’d say – we want to be cautious of course – but I’d say that by every criterion we can lay our hands on, this looks like the real thing.” (p. 79)

    She tried to make a bigger leap, into the mind of someone who was enormously, orders of magnitude, more intelligent than she was, smarter than Drumlin, say, or Eda, the young Nigerian physicist who had just won the Nobel Prize. But it was impossible. She could muse about demonstrating Fermat’s Last Theorem or the Goldbach Conjecture in only a few lines of equations. She could imagine problems enormously beyond us that would be old hat to them. But she couldn’t get into their minds; she couldn’t imagine what thinking would be like if you were much more capable than a human being. Of course. No surprise. What did she expect? It was like trying to visualize a new primary color or a world in which you could recognize several hundred acquaintances individually only by their smells…She could talk about this, but she couldn’t experience it. By definition, it has to be mighty hard to understand the behavior of a being much smarter than you are. (p. 87)

    (Excerpts from Contact, Simon & Schuster, 1986.)

    I’d say that’s where we’re at currently, with the biological and cosmological evidence for Intelligent Design.

    Thoughts?

  59. 59
    vjtorley says:

    Andre asked why William Paley wasn’t included in my list of 31 great scientists who flouted the principle of methodological naturalism in their writings. Short answer: Paley wasn’t a scientist, although he was quite an accomplished philosopher.

    Andre also asked about Pasteur. However, Pasteur never claimed that he’d disproved abiogenesis, and he was always very circumspect about the theological implications of his work. He was also against mixing science and religion, and seems to have held a view similar to Stephen Jay Gould’s NOMA. So frankly, he wasn’t much help to me, in making my case.

  60. 60
    vjtorley says:

    Professor Red Davis writes:

    The really big question here, IMO, is this: who gets to define science? The answer is, scientists get to do that, not philosophers or historians. The definition of what counts as science and what doesn’t changes over time, for reasons that are not always simple and certainly defy my ability to spell them out in a few hundred words.

    My response would be: it’s fine by me if scientists define their enterprise. Why shouldn’t they? But if scientists get to define it, then they can also redefine it, in a way that dispenses with the principle of methodological naturalism, if they so choose.

    Professor Swamidass asks whether I’d like to take science back to the 1600s, theologically speaking. I certainly wouldn’t be sorry if science became avowedly theistic at some future date, although I think that step would require a further tightening of the fine-tuning argument, and a more rigorous demonstration that even the multiverse must have been fine-tuned – which would leave room for only a Transcendent Designer (which you might call God). Currently I’d say that a good case can be made that the multiverse would have to have been fine-tuned, but I’d like to see it further generalized. (Right now, I believe it’s tied to a particular model of physics.)

  61. 61
    Andre says:

    Hi Dr Torley

    Thank you for your reponse. I actually asked about Pasteur and Tesla.

    Regards

  62. 62
    Andre says:

    Prof Swamidass

    I am gutted who here has ever claimed they want to prove a divine designer or even device design? It is at this point that you confirm my suspicions about your very own commitment to truth.

  63. 63
    Mung says:

    They know exactly what they are doing, and so do you.

    ^ ^ ^
    | | |

    What he said.

  64. 64
    jdk says:

    Governing Goal #1 from the DI “Wedge” Diocument:

    Governing Goals
    • To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
    • To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

  65. 65
    jdk says:

    From a speech about ID and the Wedge strategy by Philip Johnson in 2001 in Kansas:

    This is a way of phrasing the issue that ought to bring together Protestants of different views, young-earth believers in the scriptures, old-earthers who interpret Genesis differently, even the people who take the whole thing allegorically. Again, they should have a common interest in the issue.

    In the beginning was the Word – in the beginning God created: true or false.

  66. 66
    Dionisio says:

    kairosfocus @29, 45, 47, 48

    Very insightful comments. Thank you.

  67. 67
    StephenB says:

    jdk referring to the Wedge Document:

    , Governing Goals
    • To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
    • To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

    Sounds like a good idea to me. Those are my goals as well. Do you have a problem with that? What does that have to do with IDs scientific methods. Nothing. But thank you for playing.

    Jdk referring to Johnson’s speech:

    This is a way of phrasing the issue that ought to bring together Protestants of different views, young-earth believers in the scriptures, old-earthers who interpret Genesis differently, even the people who take the whole thing allegorically. Again, they should have a common interest in the issue.

    In the beginning was the Word – in the beginning God created: true or false.

    I love it. Christians should unite to challenge the atheists (and their TE lapdogs) by using good science to counter their bad science. Do you have a problem with that?

  68. 68

    jdk, if there is going to be life on this planet, you’ll have to specify objects among alternatives. How do you specify an object in a universe where no object specifies any other object? We know how it’s done in nature. Is that off limits? Is that evidence made void by anything any person has ever said or done?

  69. 69
    jdk says:

    Sorry, UB, I have no idea what comment of mine you are referring to, or what you mean???

  70. 70

    jdk,
    Your comments on this thread seemed to suggest that ID proponents should somehow be cut off from their senses and reasoning abilities, and should seek out the validation of those who are forcing science to conform to their personal metaphysics. This is consistent with the belief that ID arguments aren’t science (i.e. demarcation derby). You then came back and presented the wedge document without comment. People on this forum who present the wedge typically do it because they feel like it helps discredit the evidence that ID people present. Thus, my question about the evidence:

    ”jdk, if there is going to be life on this planet, you’ll have to specify objects among alternatives. How do you specify an object in a universe where no object specifies any other object? We know how it’s done in nature. Is that off limits? Is that evidence made void by anything any person has ever said or done?”

    If your answer to this question is that the evidence is not off limits, and of course, nothing anyone could ever do would ever make any evidence invalid, then your presentation of the wedge is irrelevant to ID arguments, and I would ask you why you are doing what you are doing?

  71. 71
    Andre says:

    I honestly think that the only people who don’t know where or how to separate science from philosophy is our materialist friends. It appears to me rather blatantly that they don’t know the difference.

    I also observe it is like this because of their emotional commitments to materialism.

  72. 72
    Dionisio says:

    “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is His name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
    [Jeremiah 33:2-3 (ESV)]

  73. 73
    Andre says:

    Dr Torley

    In Regards to Louis Pasteur, some quotes

    1. “Nothing is lost and nothing is created in the operations of art as those of nature.”

    2. “Posterity will one day laugh at the sublime foolishness of the modern materialistic philosophy. The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. I pray while I am engaged at my work in the laboratory.”

    3. “The controls of life are structured as forms and nuclear arrangements, in a relation with the motions of the universe.”

    4. “The universe is asymmetric and I am persuaded that life, as it is known to us, is a direct result of the asymmetry of the universe or of its indirect consequences. The universe is asymmetric.”

    5. “Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow struck by this simple experiment.”

    Also see if you can find the English translation of The Life of Pasteur, published in 1900. I’m sure you will change your mind after you have read it. Over time our opponents have eroded many facts about Pasteur and your response seems likely that you have embraced these erroneous “facts”.

    Here is where you can start

    https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100538617

  74. 74
    Andre says:

    Dr Torley

    Like you Pasteur was a devout Catholic.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11536a.htm

    So when you say the following;

    Andre also asked about Pasteur. However, Pasteur never claimed that he’d disproved abiogenesis, and he was always very circumspect about the theological implications of his work. He was also against mixing science and religion, and seems to have held a view similar to Stephen Jay Gould’s NOMA. So frankly, he wasn’t much help to me, in making my case.

    May I inquire where you got your information from?

  75. 75
    computerist says:

    Amazing post by VJTorley

    Professor Swamidass asks whether I’d like to take science back to the 1600s, theologically speaking. I certainly wouldn’t be sorry if science became avowedly theistic at some future date, although I think that step would require a further tightening of the fine-tuning argument,

    One doesn’t need to show these things in order for science to be theistic.

    Science would only be atheistic if atheism was the correct position.

    Scientists can be atheists but that doesn’t translate into science being atheistic.

    One only needs to point out that the opposite of theism/deism is atheism and atheism is fully dependent on the god of chance, a silly position based on false extrapolation and anti-common sense reasoning.

    The god of chance/serendipity is not a scientifically verified position.

    One can make a case for micro-serendipity in various contexts but they do not translate into macro explanatory context.

  76. 76
    jdk says:

    UB, my quote of the Wedge document was in response to Andre’s question at 62:

    who here has ever claimed they want to prove a divine designer or even device design.

  77. 77

    Does this mean that you won’t be answering the question as to whether or not the wedge document is irrelevant to ID evidence?

  78. 78
    jdk says:

    My comment really wasn’t about that. The Wedge document was about the purposes of the ID movement, which is/was primarily to combat the metaphysical view of materialism. All of ID is primarily aimed at philosophy, although the ID big tent (as expressed in the Johnson quote I offered) includes a large range of views about the state of the scientific theory of evolution and/or what exactly the “theory” of ID includes.

  79. 79

    So … Your comments about ID weren’t about the simple fact that your comments are completely irrelevant to ID arguments. Furthermore, you have no intention of answering the question I asked, thereby acknowledging the fact. Got it. Good to know.

  80. 80
    jdk says:

    I think I am being clear that my comments were about the goals and purposes of the ID movement, not about “the evidence for ID”, such as it is. It is true that right now I am not interested in discussing the latter issue.

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, I challenge you to address on the merits the points I made in 45 above:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-614000

    Otherwise, you are doing little more than dragging a red herring away to a motive mongering strawman caricature that you are then pummelling and acting as though this is the real issue (when all the while we see clear demonstration of atheistical ideological imposition on even the definition of science and its methods, which is the focus of the OP). The inductive inference to design is the pivotal real issue, the warrant for there to be a design theory view in the first place. Kindly, address it.

    KF

  82. 82

    jdk, I assume you’re a good soldier for attacking ID. You’d never be caught answering the question of why you’re motivated to attack ID with irrelevant arguments. So there is no need for us to belabor the point. But just so you know, your politics don’t matter. Phillip Johnson’s politics don’t matter. The “ID movement” doesn’t matter. To the design inference, the only thing that matters is the evidence — the very thing being avoided.

  83. 83
    jdk says:

    No thanks, kf.

    Why in the world would I expect a productive discussion, even if I wanted to take the time to do it, with someone who begins their challenge with

    Otherwise, you are doing little more than dragging a red herring away to a motive mongering strawman strawman caricature that you are then pummelling and acting as though this is the real issue (when all the while we see clear demonstration of atheistical ideological imposition on even the definition of science and its methods, which is the focus of the OP).

    Try writing short, coherent sentences, without name-calling and hyperbolic categorizing, and without long quotes from others. That would improve the possibility that discussing things with you would be a worthwhile use of anyone’s time.

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, then you are guilty — by your own admission — of speaking with disregard to the truth, in the hope of what you have said or suggested being taken as true. That is a grave moral offence and in context constitutes a willfully insistent smear. The issue is whether inductive reasoning is a legitimate exercise in general, and in that context, whether the design inference on empirical signs and linked analysis is reasonable and responsible. That, you choose not to even address, even as you set about smearing millions with an insinuation of hidden deceitful agenda. On the strength of a loaded misreading of a 20-year-old document, despite that misreading being corrected on record any number of times, including here at UD. That speaks saddening volumes, and as the underlying rhetorical tactics are all too commonplace among typical design objectors, it speaks to the nature of the rhetorical agenda against design thought. It is high time to do better, sir. KF

    PS: DI response on the Wedge document agit prop talking point agenda: https://www.discovery.org/f/349

  85. 85

    Try writing short, coherent sentences, without name-calling and hyperbolic categorizing, and without long quotes from others.

    You mean like this:

    jdk, if there is going to be life on this planet, you’ll have to specify objects among alternatives. How do you specify an object in a universe where no object specifies any other object?

    Let’s not pretend that KF is the reason you won’t engage evidence, and he certainly isn’t the reason your arguments (such as they are) are irrelevant.

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Richard Lewontin lets the cat out of the bag on a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism in institutions of science, in education, in public policy, and in society — NYRB, Jan 1997:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads [==> as in, “we” have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge] we must first get an incorrect view out [–> as in, if you disagree with “us” of the secularist elite you are wrong, irrational and so dangerous you must be stopped, even at the price of manipulative indoctrination of hoi polloi] . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations,

    [ –> as in, to think in terms of ethical theism is to be delusional, justifying “our” elitist and establishment-controlling interventions of power to “fix” the widespread mental disease]

    and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth

    [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]

    . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists [–> “we” are the dominant elites], it is self-evident

    [–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . . and in fact it is evolutionary materialism that is readily shown to be self-refuting]

    that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> = all of reality to the evolutionary materialist], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us [= the evo-mat establishment] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] 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 [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [–> irreconcilable hostility to ethical theism, already caricatured as believing delusionally in imaginary demons]. [Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997,cf. here. And, if you imagine this is “quote-mined” I invite you to read the fuller annotated citation here.]

    If JDK wants to play at motive mongering, let us show that there is a reason why someone such as Philip Johnson may have had excellent reason to be very concerned circa 1996 – 1997 to correct the impacts of a runaway, manifestly self-referentially incoherent, self-falsifying (thus necessarily false) and inescapably amoral atheistical agenda in science and society.

    And it is notorious that the easiest way to get rid of whistleblowing complaints is to attack and use insitutional power to seek to smear and discredit the man.

    Deal with the issue of the design inference, or there is every reason to conclude that there being no good answer to the design inference itself, there is an intent of an entrenched domineering ruthless and in some cases amoral elite to marginalise and discredit the people who dare to ask questions. Thus, silencing opposition to the domineering agenda.

    Enough is enough.

    KF

  87. 87
    jdk says:

    Guys, all I did was quote the Wedge document and a Johnson speech in response to Andre’s question “who here has ever claimed they want to prove a divine designer or even device design?” I haven’t made any statements whatsoever about what I think about the arguments for design.

    I have supported Josh’s point that there is an important distinction between science and science-related metaphysics, and that much of the arguments that go on in relationship to materialism, atheism, theistic evolution, and design are metaphysical and philosophical.

    And UB, your italicized question still doesn’t make sense to me. What do you mean by “specify objects among alternatives.” What do you mean by “a universe where no object specifies any other object”? How are you using the word “specify” here?

  88. 88
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N2: In The Laws, Bk X, 2355 years ago now, Plato long ago exposed the worldview and cultural agenda of evolutionary materialism:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    I suggest that it is time to set aside the red herring of the Wedge Document as willfully distorted and twisted into a motive mongering accusation.

    Deal with the issue in 45 above: the grounding of the design inference as an application of inductive reasoning.

    Failing that, a much more serious motives and agendas case can be made against evolutionary materialistic scientism and its fellow travellers.

    KF

  89. 89
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, no you did not “merely” quute what has been labelled the wedge document by those who pounced on it to twist it into a strawman caricature for the purposes of a massive smear. You are carrying on with enabling behaviour for a notorious deceitful smear. Kindly stop it, and instead deal with the focal issue, the design inference as an empirically grounded, inductive and even scientific argument. Where, part of that issue is that the definition of science and its methods has been warped by a distortion of the history of ideas and of approaches connected to science, which is what VJT addressed in his OP. As in, Judge “copycat” Jones’ ACLU and NCSE influenced assertion that so-called methodological naturalism has been a centuries-long well-grounded premise of science. VJT is documenting, on 31 cases, not so. KF

  90. 90
    jdk says:

    kf writes,

    labelled the wedge document by those who pounced on it.

    No, it was labelled the Wedge document by the people who wrote it – that’s the title of the document, and the strategy was explicitly named and described by Philip Johnson. Let’s at least get the facts straight about that.

  91. 91
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I suggest that it is time to set aside the red herring of the Wedge Document as willfully distorted and twisted into a motive mongering accusation.

    Heh. In the same post, while complaining about motive-mongering, you refer to “the worldview and cultural agenda of evolutionary materialism”.

    To be blunt, many (if not most) of your own posts contain restatements of the wedge-document passages that jdk posted.

  92. 92
    Mung says:

    Let’s at least get the facts straight about that.

    Who here wrote the Wedge document?

  93. 93
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, Look carefully, you will see I asked for a response to the focal issue on something longstanding in the thread. This was repeatedly refused. Only then did I point out that the Wedge Document tactic is a motive mongering strawman tactic that is driven by a demonstrated domineering and ruthless agenda. In short, your turnabout fails. And notice, I again called for a return to the focal substantial issues. KF

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, nope, you have already been directed to the corrective by DI; which you should read. And, again, the pivotal issue is the design inference as an application of scientific inductive reasoning, where the point of the OP, on 31 examples, is that the perception that so-called methodological naturalism is a proper part of the definition of science and its methods is ill-founded. I should add for record that substantiating cites from relevant times and figures are material. Similarly, it is easy to say something is incoherent (especially when it cuts across your views . . . ), it is a bit harder to actually show it. To do the latter, kindly start with, the inference to design on empirically tested, reliable sign. And yes, I know, you wish to set that aside the better to get on with the usual side tracks that work elsewhere such as see, Wedge Document. Reminds me of the old cold war Russian agit prop trick: see American military forces here there everywhere. Neatly omitted, the Russian forces which were why a cold war had to be fought in the first place. KF

  95. 95
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Only then did I point out that the Wedge Document tactic is a motive mongering strawman tactic that is driven by a demonstrated domineering and ruthless agenda.

    There it is again. Accusations of motive mongering while simultaneously engaging in, err, motive mongering.

    jdk was simply responding to a post by Andre above. She is not required to address other issues which you raise.

    I’ll let you have the last word.

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, it is not a matter of empty accusation when the facts are there. Facts, you have not addressed. Start with what Lewontin wrote in NYRB Jan 1997, at just about the time the DI fund-raising letter came out. The context in which an eminent scientist could write like that in a serious medium, NYRB, alone is quite enough to raise serious questions that would provoke a whistle-blowing response from Johnson, and there is a lot more out there. KF

  97. 97
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Notice, how the pivotal issue of the design inference as an application of scientific, inductive reasoning on empirically grounded signs, is not being addressed. And yet, that is the pivotal question.

  98. 98
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Pardon my repeating the annotated clip from Lewontin in NYRB Jan 1997:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads [==> as in, “we” have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge] we must first get an incorrect view out [–> as in, if you disagree with “us” of the secularist elite you are wrong, irrational and so dangerous you must be stopped, even at the price of manipulative indoctrination of hoi polloi] . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations,

    [ –> as in, to think in terms of ethical theism is to be delusional, justifying “our” elitist and establishment-controlling interventions of power to “fix” the widespread mental disease]

    and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth

    [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]

    . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists [–> “we” are the dominant elites], it is self-evident

    [–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . . and in fact it is evolutionary materialism that is readily shown to be self-refuting]

    that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> = all of reality to the evolutionary materialist], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us [= the evo-mat establishment] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] 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 [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [–> irreconcilable hostility to ethical theism, already caricatured as believing delusionally in imaginary demons]. [Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997,cf. here. And, if you imagine this is “quote-mined” I invite you to read the fuller annotated citation here.]

    I suggest that there is need to look again at what is said, implied and suggested in that, about the agenda presented as having a right to rule and to indoctrinate hearts and minds while wearing the holy lab coat. Then ask, what was going on 20 years ago that would have made a respectable publication put forth an article like this? Didn’t warning bells that this was way over the top go off? Why not? Something was going seriously wrong in our civilisation 20 years ago and more. It is much worse today. Demonstrated, domineering and ruthless are in my considered view, entirely warranted by the words and deeds that Lewontin’s remarks as cited point to.

  99. 99
    Axel says:

    ‘The “supernatural” is just science we don’t understand yet.’

    Almost right, sagebrush gardener. Just inverted. Science is the routinely supernatural.

    A strange thought that the supernatural could be mundane, in a sense, even banal, but that’s the reality, as quantum physics pellucidly demonstrates – were it necessary.

  100. 100

    And UB, your italicized question still doesn’t make sense to me. What do you mean by “specify objects among alternatives.” What do you mean by “a universe where no object specifies any other object”? How are you using the word “specify” here?

    jdk, if you are going to have protein-based self-replicating life, and if those proteins are going to be constructed of amino acids, and if the order of those amino acids is going to determine the function of each of those individual proteins, then you are going to need the capacity to specify those amino acids and place them in the proper order. Capiche? My question was how does this happen in a universe where no object inherently specifies any other object. But we already know how this little trick is accomplished in nature. It uses one arrangement of matter to act as a representation, and a second arrangement of matter to establish what is being represented. Do you understand this?

    So my point to you is that this physical system required to ‘specify objects’ can be positively and exclusively identified by science, and as it turns out, it’s a universal correlate of intelligent action. No amount of mud-slinging, sociopolitical hand-wringing, or deliberate avoidance is going to change that fact.

    Biosemiosis.org

    So now answer the question, does the existence of the wedge document (or anything else like it) invalidate any part of the physical evidence presented by ID, or is it irrelevant to that evidence?
    .

  101. 101
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    All of ID is primarily aimed at philosophy,

    I am going to ask that you defend that claim. Just fill in missing blank: ID’s inference to the best scientific explanation aims at philosophy because…………

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    SB (attn JDK), and the inductive, scientific inference to design on empirical signs fails because _________________,

    on the grounds that _________________ .

    KF

  103. 103
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    I have supported Josh’s point that there is an important distinction between science and science-related metaphysics, and that much of the arguments that go on in relationship to materialism, atheism, theistic evolution, and design are metaphysical and philosophical.

    Josh says a lot of things he can neither explain or defend, as this thread has made clear. It is the TE approach that drags philosophy into the discussion as is evident from my comments @50. TE literally takes its cues from materialistic assumptions of unguided evolution. ID is based solely on scientific methods that do not draw on any metaphysical assumptions at all (except for the rules of right reason). TE is ideology based; ID is empirically based. That is why both Ted and Joshua flee the scene when their ideas are subjected to rational scrutiny.

  104. 104
    Mung says:

    kairosfocus:

    PS: Notice, how the pivotal issue of the design inference as an application of scientific, inductive reasoning on empirically grounded signs, is not being addressed. And yet, that is the pivotal question.

    I beg to differ my friend. The pivotal question is, how can I avoid addressing ID on the scientific merits.

  105. 105
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung, sadly, you may have a point. KF

  106. 106
    Mung says:

    It is the YEC approach that drags religion into the discussion. YEC literally takes its cues from materialistic assumptions of unguided evolution. God would not do it that way.

  107. 107

    jdk,

    …there is an important distinction between science and science-related metaphysics

    There certainly is, my friend, and you are on the metaphysics side of that distinction, arguing from a position that is irrelevant to the science.

  108. 108
    Mung says:

    I agree with Axel, there is nothing at all natural about the natural. And there’s nothing natural about our abilities to produce theories about nature and test those theories against reality. It’s about the most unnatural thing I can think of.

  109. 109
    jdk says:

    I understand your question now, UB, and see how you are using the word “specify”.

    As to your statement, “So now answer the question, does the existence of the wedge document (or anything else like it) invalidate any part of the physical evidence presented by ID, or is it irrelevant to that evidence?”, I answered that question at #80, when I wrote,

    I think I am being clear that my comments were about the goals and purposes of the ID movement, not about “the evidence for ID”, such as it is. It is true that right now I am not interested in discussing the latter issue.

    I’m not sure I could answer your question any more directly: the Wedge document is about the purpose and goals of the Wedge movement, not about actual evidence for ID.

  110. 110
    jdk says:

    to Mung at 92: you are correct that the quotes are offered from the Wedge document and Johnson are not by anyone “here” at UD.

  111. 111
    Mung says:

    Yet you offered it as if gave an answer to a question posed about people here at UD.

    Guys, all I did was quote the Wedge document and a Johnson speech in response to Andre’s question “who here has ever claimed they want to prove a divine designer or even device design?”

  112. 112
    jdk says:

    at 107, in response to my statement that “there is an important distinction between science and science-related metaphysics”, UB wrote

    There certainly is, my friend, and you are on the metaphysics side of that distinction, arguing from a position that is irrelevant to the science.

    I’m not quite sure I’m your friend, although I’m willing to be a civil participant in a discussion with you. But I will say, again, that yes, I am interested in metaphysics, and the role it plays in human belief systems, quite a bit more than I am in arguments about the scientific evidence for design.

    I don’t think the metaphysical issues are “irrelevant to the science”, but I recognize that they are different.

  113. 113
    jdk says:

    Mung, I plead guilty. Andre said “here” and I quoted people not here. Got it: I accept your reprimand.

  114. 114
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, the intellectual integrity of design thought pivots on the empirically based inductive reasoning that drives the design inference. By refusing to address this while making all sorts of suggestions about ideological motivations and agendas is tantamount to attacking the integrity of millions of people and thousands educated in scientific disciplines, without addressing the grounds for their thinking. I point out to you that such behaviour — including assertions and suggestions about the so-called wedge document etc — can very reasonably be understood as constituting an attack- the- man- instead- of- address- the- issue rhetorical gambit. I suggest that you change the approach you have taken, to a more reasonable one. KF

  115. 115
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Andre,

    You asked me about Tesla and Pasteur. Short answer: Tesla was a materialistic determinist who regarded not only free-will, but also the very concept of the self, as an illusion, while Pasteur, although Catholic, said very little about religion, and apparently believed that religion and science should be kept separate.

    On Tesla’s determinism, see here:
    http://www.pbs.org/tesla/res/res_art10.html
    https://www.teslametamorphosis.com/p_p7_metaphysic_cosmology.html

    Here’s what Tesla wrote in an article titled, How Cosmic Forces Shape Our Destinies (New York American, February 7, 1915):

    The same law governs all matter, all the universe is alive. The momentous question of Spencer, “What is it that causes inorganic matter to run into organic forms!” has been answered. It is the sun’s heat and light. Wherever they are there is life…

    [1.] The human being is a self-propelled automaton entirely under the control of external influences. Willful and predetermined though they appear, his actions are governed not from within, but from without. He is like a float tossed about by the waves of a turbulent sea…

    Though it may seem so, a war can never be caused by arbitrary acts of man.

    It is invariably the more or less direct result of cosmic disturbance in which the sun is chiefly concerned.

    In many international conflicts of historical record which were precipitated by famine, pestilence or terrestrial catastrophes the direct dependence of the sun is unmistakable. But in most cases the underlying primary causes are numerous and hard to trace.

    In the present war it would be particularly difficult to show that the apparently willful acts of a few individuals were not causative. Be it so, the mechanistic theory, being founded on truth demonstrated in everyday experience, absolutely precludes the possibility of such a state being anything but the inevitable consequence of cosmic disturbance.

    And here’s a quote from the final paragraph of an article titled, Tesla’s Metaphysics and Cosmology by Professor Velimir Abramovic:

    Tesla’s attitude to the concepts of Buddhism is that “I” is illusionary. “Really, we are some different, like waves in subjective time and space, and when these waves disappear, nothing remains from us. There is no personality. We cannot say that waves in the ocean have individuality. There is only an illusionary sequence of waves, which go one after another. We are not the same that was yesterday; I am only a sequence of relatively existences, which are not similar. This sequence is that thing, which create an effect of continuity, but not my subjective and mistaken understanding of my real life.”

    Re Louis Pasteur, the following articles may prove useful (bolding is mine – VJT):

    Louis Pasteur (Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 2008):

    At the center of Pasteur’s public views on religion and philosophy lay his insistence on an absolute separation between matters of science and matters of faith or sentiment.[25] Although he was reared and died a Catholic, religious ritual and sectarian doctrine held little attraction for him. He cared as little for formal philosophy. By 1865 he had read only a few “absurd passages” in Comte, and he described his own philosophy as one “entirely of the heart.”[26] Throughout his life he disdained materialists, atheists, freethinkers, and positivists… Pasteur never doubted the existence of the spiritual realm or of the immortal soul. In that sense, and in his opposition to philosophical materialism, he was a spiritualist. Indeed, in his inaugural address he spoke of the service his research had rendered to the “spiritualistic doctrine, much neglected elsewhere, but certain at least to find a glorious refuge in your ranks.”[27]

    Pasteur’s chief contribution to the “spiritualist doctrine” was his campaign against spontaneous generation, the religio-philosophical consequences of which he emphasized in an address at the Sorbonne in 1864 while fervently denying that these broader issues had influenced his actual research. To the extent that any question was truly scientific, he argued, neither spiritualism nor any other philosophical school had a place in it… Despite this public posture, Pasteur sometimes speculated on the origin of life and attempted to create it experimentally, as he finally confessed in 1883.[28]

    Footnotes

    25. On Pasteur’s general philosophical and religious positions, see René Vallery-Radot, op. cit., 242–245, 342–343; Dubos, op. cit., 385–400; Pasteur Vallery-Radot, Pasteur inconnu, 221–238; André George, Pasteur (Paris, 1958); and Pasteur, Oeuvres, II, 328–346; VI, 55–58; VII, 326–339.

    26. Pasteur, Correspondance, II, 213–214.

    27. Pasteur, Oeuvres, VII, 326–339, quote on 326. For an English trans. of Pasteur’s inaugural address, see Eli Moschcowitz, “Louis Pasteur’s Credo of Science: His Address When He Was Inducted Into the French Academy,” in Bulletin of the History of Medicine,22 (1948), 451–466.

    28. Pasteur, Oeuvres, I, 376. For the Sorbonne address of 1864, see ibid., II, 328–346. More generally, see Farley and Geison, “Science, Politics and Spontaneous Generation…” (in press).

    The following extract is from the online article, Louis Pasteur: A Religious Man? by Brendon Barnett (Pasteur Brewing, 2011):

    Pasteur rarely, if at all, spoke of religion explicitly. He tended to generalize the subject, but with the debate around the theory of spontaneous generation, Pasteur was forced to address it. Pasteur could not deny that he didn’t understand the origin of life, but only insisted that life comes from life, not from non-life or simple chemical reactions, as spontaneous generation would suggest. So, Pasteur never negated the possibility of life beginning from divine creation, only that the discussion and discoveries at hand were a matter of science. Debré describes Pasteur by saying that, “his attitude was that of a believer, not of a sectarian,” and that Pasteur was, “A biologist more than a chemist, a spiritual more than a religious man, Pasteur was held back only by the lack of more powerful technical means and therefore had to limit himself to identifying germs and explaining their generation.”

    Pasteur also spoke of his doubts regarding the creation of the universe:

    “The idea of God is a form of the idea of the Infinite. As long as the mystery of the Infinite weighs on human thought, temples will be erected for the worship of the Infinite, whether God be called ‘Brahma,’ ‘Allah,’ ‘Jehovah,’ or ‘Jesus’; and on the pavement of those temples men will be seen kneeling, prostrate, annihilated, in the thought of the Infinite. At these supreme moments there is something in the depths of our souls which tells us that the world may be more than a mere continuation of phenomena proper to a mechanical equilibrium brought out of the chaos of the elements through the gradual action of the forces of matter.”

    Louis Pasteur did not deny religion, but was compelled to say that, “religion has no more place in science than science has in religion.” The role of religion in his mind was clear:

    “In each one of us there are two men, the scientist and the man of faith or of doubt. These two spheres are separate, and woe to those who want to make them encroach upon one another in the present state of our knowledge!”

    Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Louis Pasteur:

    Maurice Vallery-Radot, grandson of the brother of the son-in-law of Pasteur and outspoken Catholic, … holds that Pasteur fundamentally remained Catholic.[75] According to both Pasteur Vallery-Radot and Maurice Vallery-Radot, the following well-known quotation attributed to Pasteur is apocryphal:[76] “The more I know, the more nearly is my faith that of the Breton peasant. Could I but know all I would have the faith of a Breton peasant’s wife”.[3] According to Maurice Vallery-Radot,[77] the false quotation appeared for the first time shortly after the death of Pasteur.[78] However, despite his belief in God, it has been said that his views were that of a freethinker rather than a Catholic, a spiritual more than a religious man.[79][80][81] He was also against mixing science with religion.[82][83]

    Footnotes

    [3] James J. Walsh (1913). “Louis Pasteur”. In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
    [75] Vallery-Radot, Maurice (1994). Pasteur. Paris: Perrin. pp. 377–407.
    [76] Pasteur Vallery-Radot, Letter to Paul Dupuy, 1939, quoted by Hilaire Cuny, Pasteur et le mystère de la vie, Paris, Seghers, 1963, p. 53–54.
    [77] Pasteur, 1994, p. 378.
    [78] In Pasteur’s Semaine religieuse … du diocèse de Versailles, October 6, 1895, p. 153.
    [79] Joseph McCabe (1945). A Biographical Dictionary of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Freethinkers. Haldeman-Julius Publications. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
    [80] Patrice Debré (2000). Louis Pasteur. JHU Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-8018-6529-9.
    [81] Brendon Barnett (May 31, 2011). “Louis Pasteur: A Religious Man?”. Pasteur Brewing. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
    [82] Brendon Barnett (May 31, 2011). “Louis Pasteur: A Religious Man?”. Pasteur Brewing. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
    [83] Patrice Debré (2000). Louis Pasteur. JHU Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-8018-6529-9.

    And here’s a short quote from the Biologos article, Pasteur vs. Pouchet and the Demise of Spontaneous Generation: Lessons for Today from an Old Controversy (Part 2) by Larry Funck:

    While he was careful to contend that his theological/philosophical beliefs did not influence his science, Pasteur was not hesitant to expound on the significance of his science on the related theological questions. Before an audience that included the elite of French society including authors Dumas and George Sand, Pasteur began with a list of the great issues confronting mankind, including “the unity or multiplicity of human races; the creation of man…; the fixity of species or the slow and progressive transformation of one species into another; the reputed eternity of matter…; and the notion of a useless God.” [4] After a brief historical sketch of the spontaneous generation controversy, he continued: “…What a triumph, gentlemen, it would be for materialism if it could affirm that it rests on the established fact of matter organizing itself, taking on life of itself;…what would be more natural than to deify such matter? What good then would it be to resort to the idea of a primordial creation….Of what use then would be the idea of a Creator-God.” [5] Pasteur thus left little doubt which side of the religious controversy he was on. In short, the scientific theory of spontaneous generation was to be viewed as a threat to the traditional religious beliefs regarding the creation of life… Pasteur concluded his talk with a denial that his scientific work had been motivated or influenced by these concerns and followed with an account of the evidence he had garnered against spontaneous generation. There is no evidence that Pasteur ever criticized Pouchet directly on philosophical or theological grounds. Nevertheless it is apparent from his comments in the Sorbonne lecture where his sentiments lay.

    Finally, here’s an extract from the online article, Louis Pasteur’s Views on Creation, Evolution, and the Genesis of Germs by Dr. Alan Gillen and Frank Sherwin, Answers in Genesis, February 25, 2008; last featured March 12, 2008:

    Thus, in a simple but elegant set of experiments, Pasteur not only struck the doctrine of spontaneous generation a “mortal blow” but also helped to establish the germ theory of disease. This was a milestone in creation microbiology. Pathogens are real. Pasteur said,

    “It is dumb, dumb since these experiments were begun several years ago; it is dumb because I have kept it sheltered from the only thing man does not know how to produce, from the germs which float in the air, from Life, for Life is a germ and a germ is Life. Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow of this simple experiment! No, there is now no circumstances known in which it could be affirmed that microscopic beings come into the world without germs, without parents, similar to themselves.”
    (Vallery-Radot 1901, vol. 1, p. 142).

    Pasteur not only refuted the strange idea that one can get something from nothing, but he maintained life must come from other life or the Author of Life…

    Then, for those who are skeptical about his belief in Christ, we go to the last day of his life, September 28, 1895 (4:40 p.m.), Louis Pasteur was found holding his wife’s hand with one hand and a crucifix with the other. He tightly gripped both for twenty-four hours. Does this sound like a man who had lost his faith in the Creator and in Christ?

    My own conclusion is that Pasteur died a Catholic, and was genuinely concerned about the theological implications of abiogenesis and Darwinism. However, he seemed to believe that science and religion should be compartmentalized, and he never used his scientific discoveries to publicly argue for belief in God. Consequently, I cannot include him in my list of great scientists who flouted methodological naturalism.

    Perhaps I should have included Francesco Redi, however.

  116. 116
    jdk says:

    kf writes,

    so-called wedge document.

    No kf, it is called the Wedge document by the very people who wrote it. That is the title they gave it. There is nothing “so-called” about it. Can you at least acknowledge this simple fact?

    Here’s a link to a copy of the original document. http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.pdf

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, You clearly have continued to refuse to read here — as was long since linked above — which explains and incorporates the fund raising document, which describes a “wedge” strategy of addressing the imposition of a priori evolutionary materialist scientism on science and society, through sound science and through communication and advocacy initiatives rooted in addressing that sound science. And again, you have ducked addressing the inductive, empirically grounded basis for the design inference, in favour of ideological reframing and talking points that set up and knock over a strawman. At this point, it is becoming obvious that you do not have a cogent answer to the design inference. And since, were such actually existent it would be even more prominently displayed all over the Internet than the so-called wedge document, it is a reasonable conclusion that you refuse to address that inference on its logical and empirical merits because you cannot do so yourself and patently cannot find an objection that does so cogently in a responsible fashion that you can link or cite. KF

    PS: Anti evolution is a hate and slander site that has spent years in the most nastily personal, irresponsible attacks constituting cyberstalking.

  118. 118
    jdk says:

    kf, you are amazing. I know what the “So What” document says. My only point right now is that the real title of the document is “The Wedge”. I supplied documentary proof of this statement by linking to a copy of the original document.

    So everything you wrote doesn’t pertain to this simple fact: the real title of the document is the Wedge, and the strategy described was called the Wedge Strategy.

    So unless you believe this is false, and can prove it, you ought to accept that I am right and let this go.

  119. 119
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: I again point to the summary on the design inference at 45 above: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-614000

  120. 120
    StephenB says:

    jdk, (Attn:: KF),

    As a matter of social strategy, like minded people often join hands to achieve cultural aims. The Wedge document is one such effort and it is so modest and short-lived as to constitute a mere blip on the radar screen. The ID community abandoned it long ago.

    Darwinists, on the other hand, have a much longer and persistent history of grounding their social aims and banding together as a community. To be more specific, they have been formaly united for 83 years. They began with the “Humanist Manifesto” in 1933. Unlike the early Discovery institute, which abandoned its Wedge strategy shortly after is was initiated, the Darwinists continue on with their social agenda. Humanist Manifesto II arrived in 1973 and Humanist Manifesto III made its debut in 2003.

    While the Discovery Institute decided leave the cultural problems to chance and focus solely on the science, the Darwinists continue to double down on their ideological commitments and ignore the science. They know they have not a shred of evidence to support their extravagant claims, so they rely solely on political and institutional power, both of which are founded on the same secular Humanism expressed in their continued stream of Manifestos. For the Darwinists, it is their bible. ID has nothing like it.

  121. 121
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, I am perfectly willing to accept that the document may be titled the wedge. However, except under duress I will not go to a hate and slander site that has spent years targetting me and my colleagues. I will not ever view it as a credible source for anything. For excellent reason as I have seen its tactics firsthand. Just linking that site is offensive, period. I hope that registers. KF

  122. 122

    I’m not sure I could answer your question any more directly: the Wedge document is about the purpose and goals of the Wedge movement, not about actual evidence for ID.

    It is equally clear and direct that such things as the wedge document are irrelevant to ID arguments. They are a rhetorical device.

    I’m not quite sure I’m your friend, although I’m willing to be a civil participant in a discussion with you.

    Good. Attack ID with idle rhetoric and ignore the evidence, and we’ll get along just fine.

  123. 123
    jdk says:

    may be titled the wedge.

    Why not is titled the Wedge.

    And here’s a link to the document from my website: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxqa3JlYnMwNDR8Z3g6MjJkYzU3NzBjZWFjNDJhYg

  124. 124
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    it is now absolutely clear that you have no answer and can find and link no answer to the basis in inductive, logicand empirical evidence for the design inference (cf 45 above for an introductory summary in this thread).

    Instead of facing the import of this, that we may properly and reasonably infer design on empirically tested, reliable signs, in the world of life and in features of our cosmos, you have elected to go off on a red herring side track led away to a straw bogeyman caricature of some imagined grand conspiracy of ID thinkers.

    The turning away from truth to insistently enable a smear that has long been corrected — a correction you have been repeatedly pointed to but have studiously ignored (now focussing on oh the fundraising proposal that has been turned into a straw bogeyman is titled “wedge” or the like . . . straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel) — speaks volumes.

    And it speaks volumes on the agendas of too many who spend ever so much effort on such ill advised tactics in attempts to discredit and polarise people against the design inference.

    Why?

    Patently, because the possibility of evidence pointing to the design of life and the cosmos that is evidently fine tuned to support such life opens up possibilites that may lead where ever so many are utterly desperate not to go.

    Saddening.

    KF

  125. 125
    mw says:

    Hi Mung, # 106:

    _____________________________________________
    “It is the YEC approach that drags religion into the discussion. YEC literally takes its cues from materialistic assumptions of unguided evolution. God would not do it that way.”
    ____________________________________________

    It is ID, OEC, YEC, and theistic evolutionism that drags religion into the discussion, in a wide range of spiritual formats.

    It is inevitable when speaking of the beginning, design and creation. Scripture begins: “In the beginning….”

    You say, “YEC literally takes its cues from materialistic assumptions of unguided evolution.” That is plain wrong. You surprise me Mung.

    God literally said, and wrote in stone, that He created, direct, fast, in kinds and in six days; all fit for purpose to begin with; the cosmos, the lot. Almost an act of pure faith to believe: almost, that is.

    To then say, that God created totally opposite to what he said,when commanding the holy remembrance of the Creation every seven days, would be the act of a schizophrenic God.

  126. 126
    Dionisio says:

    kairosfocus:

    Some of your interlocutors may want to go back to their natural habitat in the beautiful Norwegian fjords?

    🙂

  127. 127
    kairosfocus says:

    D, Anti Evo and the like are nothing like a fjord. Fever-riddled swamp, maybe. KF

  128. 128
    Andre says:

    Dr Torley

    Thank you for the response ans sources. Please read The Life of Pasteur. You owe it to yourself. After which you will realize how materialists have skewed information over the years. You see Dr Torley Pasteur single handedly refuted Darwinism why back then.

  129. 129
    mw says:

    Andre # 128,
    “You see Dr Torley Pasteur single handedly refuted Darwinism why (sic) back then.”

    Of course, Jesus single handedly refuted Darwinism at the Creation, as “I am:” reinforced at Sinai in divine law.

    Of course, He does not count, as He was not a scientist.

    No; he just put all those scientists that vjt skillfully cites in their place, and at the time of His choosing, to benefit humankind.

    As for the science of Christ, it was superscientific. He created miracles instantly: water to wine, calmed storms, raised the dead, healed the sick, and rased Himself from the dead.

    Not one of His miracles took over an instant! He is not the handmaiden of evolution theory.

  130. 130
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, 120:

    Yes, the three Humanist Manifesto documents to date (where, we must not overlook the lists of primary signatories . . . ) speak to a stunning social- cultural- civilisational agenda driven by evolutionary materialist scientism and fellow traveller ideologies.

    Couple that to the sort of personal and official statements as have been cited above (and others not brought to bear) and you will see why it is clear that there is a dominant and domineering agenda that has sought to usurp control over the path and policies of our civilisation.

    Nor is such language echoing the US DoI of 1776 improper, for we have seen a long train of abuses and usurpations constituting a Cultural Marxist-style “long march through the institutions” takeover, marginalisation and exclusion of legitimate alternatives; leading to patently abusive behaviour such as stereotyping, smearing and scapegoating. (Also, yes, the Frankfurt School and the like have been . . . and through so-called critical theories very much continue to be, a big part of the process.)

    In that general context, it is highly instructive to observe the evasiveness above when the pivotal question of the empirically grounded, inductive inference to design using scientific methods, was put on the table. (Cf. 45 above, in context.)

    Note, I was replying to a specific cluster of claims prof Swamidass made, as quoted:

    I know you are not trying to “prove God” per se. Rather, you are trying to demonstrate divine design in nature. Of course you want to do this to point to this as evidence for God. So sometimes we just group steps 1 and 2 into the same activity. Unless you legitimately believe some non divine being other than God is the designer, and have a mechanism for design that would be reachable for this mere mortal, you fall into this pattern.

    The fact that “divine design” is substituted for intelligent design already tells us the rhetorical trajectory at work. This is multiplied by a demand for stating a non-theistic worldview and mechanism for the design of life and/or observed cosmos; on pain of disqualification from serious consideration.

    The undue personalising is already unacceptable; pointing to a crucial distortion of modern, scientific design thought — pivoting on the empirically grounded design inference.

    That is,

    a: the material issue is not motive-mongering, but instead,

    b: is it the case that designers exist or are possible and may leave traces of their work embedded in entities they have shaped? In particular,

    c: functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information [FSCO/I], and/or

    d: fine-tuning to achieve an operating point in a configuration space (such spaces naturally tending to exhibit isolated islands of function patterns), and/or

    e: some degree of irreducible complexity such that cumulative agglomeration through incremental complexity will not attain to gradually increasing degree of function.

    The comments in this thread are themselves cases in point of the relevant patterns, and extend a base of observed cases that is in the trillions. Such characteristics, per observation, are indeed strong, tested and reliable signs of intelligent design as material causal factor. This is tied to analysis of search space challenges confronting the alternative, blind chance and/or blind mechanical necessity.

    Thus, we are entitled to infer to design as empirically warranted credible cause when we see such patterns, such signatures or signs of design. Yes, open-endedly, subject to further observations and analysis; that is always the case with inductive reasoning. As Newton highlighted in Opticks, Query 31 . . . as was cited in 45 above. Such does not undermine the ability to make such an inference with high confidence.

    It is worth the while to pause and examine a June 23, 2016 discussion at Arxiv by Walker and Davies:

    In physics, particularly in statistical mechanics, we base many of our calculations on the assumption of metric transitivity, which asserts that a system’s trajectory will eventually [–> given “enough time and search resources”] explore the entirety of its state space – thus everything that is phys-ically possible will eventually happen. It should then be trivially true that one could choose an arbitrary “final state” (e.g., a living organism) and “explain” it by evolving the system backwards in time choosing an appropriate state at some ’start’ time t_0 (fine-tuning the initial state). In the case of a chaotic system the initial state must be specified to arbitrarily high precision. But this account amounts to no more than saying that the world is as it is because it was as it was, and our current narrative therefore scarcely constitutes an explanation in the true scientific sense.

    We are left in a bit of a conundrum with respect to the problem of specifying the initial conditions necessary to explain our world. A key point is that if we require specialness in our initial state (such that we observe the current state of the world and not any other state) metric transitivity cannot hold true, as it blurs any dependency on initial conditions – that is, it makes little sense for us to single out any particular state as special by calling it the ’initial’ state. If we instead relax the assumption of metric transitivity (which seems more realistic for many real world physical systems – including life), then our phase space will consist of isolated pocket regions and it is not necessarily possible to get to any other physically possible state (see e.g. Fig. 1 for a cellular automata example).

    [–> or, there may not be “enough” time and/or resources for the relevant exploration, i.e. we see the 500 – 1,000 bit complexity threshold at work vs 10^57 – 10^80 atoms with fast rxn rates at about 10^-13 to 10^-15 s leading to inability to explore more than a vanishingly small fraction on the gamut of Sol system or observed cosmos . . . the only actually, credibly observed cosmos]

    Thus the initial state must be tuned to be in the region of phase space in which we find ourselves [–> notice, fine tuning], and there are regions of the configuration space our physical universe would be excluded from accessing, even if those states may be equally consistent and permissible under the microscopic laws of physics (starting from a different initial state). Thus according to the standard picture, we require special initial conditions to explain the complexity of the world, but also have a sense that we should not be on a particularly special trajectory to get here (or anywhere else) as it would be a sign of fine–tuning of the initial conditions. [ –> notice, the “loading”] Stated most simply, a potential problem with the way we currently formulate physics is that you can’t necessarily get everywhere from anywhere (see Walker [31] for discussion).

    In short, the fine tuning, functionally and often irreducibly complex organisation issue is very real and points to design. Which is typically viewed as unacceptable in many quarters.

    As for divine designers, from the outset of modern design thought (TMLO, 1984) Thaxton et al pointed out that the evidence in the observed world of life does not constitute by itself a basis to determine whether a putative designer of cell based life on earth was within or beyond the cosmos. I have often put that in terms such as: a sufficient candidate cause for C-chemistry, aqueous medium, protein, carbohydrate and r/dna-using, cell-based life on earth would be a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond Venter et al.

    When the phenomena of cell based life are integrated with evidence pointing to cosmological fine-tuning that facilitates such, then that points to a designer sufficiently capable to account for a cosmos. A possible candidate is a grand computer simulation by intelligences at a different level. Some have even argued that, per the trajectory of computer technology and simulation modelling, such would become the statistically favoured candidate.

    Such, I doubt, on the fineness and complexity of detail involved [the processor complexity explodes exponentially with the fineness of details and the linked need to account for fine-grained interactions . . . a challenge faced by say climate models]. Though, such does point to a way we may understand “in Him we live and move and have our being,” or “upholding everything by the word of His power.” (That is, ironically, global simulation models give us a crude analogy to compare what sort of job the God of ethical theism would have to do.)

    Instead, the design inference shows that design of the world of life and of the cosmos in which we find ourselves, is a reasonable, inductively grounded account of a relevant, material causal factor.

    To address the worldview question, I suggest that we ponder ourselves as cell-based life forms who — just to argue credibly — must be responsibly and rationally free. Evolutionary materialist models of mind and moral governance simply cannot account for such, collapsing instead in self-referential incoherence.

    Multiply this by the need for a sufficient causal root of a world such as we observe. For, were there ever utter nothing; as such can have no causal capabilities, such would forever obtain. If a world now is, something always was, something causally capable of a cosmos as we observe, with morally governed responsibly and rationally free but contingent beings in it — us.

    I have repeatedly pointed out that, after centuries of debates, there is just one serious candidate world-root being that fills the bill: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of ultimate loyalty and the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    If you doubt, simply put forward a serious alternative: __________________ (Then, we may sit to the table of comparative difficulties analysis across factual adequacy, logical & dynamical coherence and balanced explanatory power.)

    KF

  131. 131
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It is worth noting for record that it seems that the relevant 1999 strategy & fund-raising document actually begins/is entitled:

    THE WEDGE STRATEGY

    [–> note the actual title, a descriptive phrase for a strategy pivoting on a foundational engagement of scientific issues and going on to engage forces credibly implicated in undermining our civilisation]

    CENTER FOR THE RENEWAL OF SCIENCE & CULTURE

    [–> cf. http://www.public.asu.edu/~jml.....1.7ffc.bak and cf https://www.discovery.org/f/349 for the explanatory defense offered by DI]

    INTRODUCTION

    The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West’s greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

    [–> well-established facts of history, esp. history of ideas]

    Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art

    [ –> fair summary of questionable trends over the past 150+ years]

    The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating. Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

    [–> fair summary]

    Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. The results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.

    Finally, materialism spawned a virulent strain of utopianism. Thinking they could engineer the perfect society through the application of scientific knowledge, materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that falsely promised to create heaven on earth.

    [–> fair comment, made for cause]

    Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature. The Center awards fellowships for original research, holds conferences, and briefs policymakers about the opportunities for life after materialism.

    [–> theistically motivated doubtless [cf the atheistical motives of others], but pivoting on a sound grounding in scientific findings then existing or reasonably anticipated. And the anticipations have been significantly fulfilled]

    The Center is directed by Discovery Senior Fellow Dr. Stephen Meyer. An Associate Professor of Philosophy at Whitworth College, Dr. Meyer holds a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. He formerly worked as a geophysicist for the Atlantic Richfield Company.

    [–> credentials of operational leaders]

    THE WEDGE STRATEGY

    Phase I.

    Scientific Research, Writing & Publicity

    [–> research-led]

    Phase II.

    Publicity & Opinion-making

    Phase III.

    Cultural Confrontation & Renewal

    [ . . . ]

    FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN SUMMARY

    The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the “thin edge of the wedge,” was Phillip ]ohnson’s critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeatng Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe’s highly successful Darwin’s Black Box followed Johnson’s work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions . . .

    [ –> declaration of intent, pivoting on research and analysis that grounds a case. Thus, the pivotal issue is the evidence as existing and discovered, and linked analysis. Therefore a fair-minded assessment MUST first and foremost address the issue of the empirically based, inductive logic driven inference to design on observed signs in the cosmos and the world of life. Linked, issues of the challenges of evolutionary materialist grounding of responsible, rational freedom. And, per further fair comment, that leads straight to self-referential incoherence and amorality inviting might and manipulation make right nihilism.]

    It is to be noted that the pivotal issue is phase I, a scientific research programme. In short, unless it is fundamentally a reasonable and responsible view that we may properly infer design in the world of life [and — not addressed, the cosmos] then it does not make sense to go further.

    It is therefore doubly significant to see that the sustained agenda has been to divert attention from that priority and to resort to marginalisation based on trying to improperly conflate the design inference with creationism, twist the concerns and responses to the destructive effects of evolutionary materialist secularism into an imagined grand right wing theocratic agenda and to play at defending freedom from theocracy. Whilst, all along, evolutionary materialistic scientism — because of its physicalist reductionism and self-referentiality — drastically undermines confidence in our responsible rational freedom and invites might and manipulation make right nihilism. With all too abundant cases in point across the past 100+ years. Not the least of which has been the drastic undermining of the respect for life, materially contributing to the in-progress worst holocaust in history. Just multiply the Guttmacher institute’s 50+ mn abortions per year by 40 years and by 1/2 to account for growth, to see why I must say this.

    And these are the folks who so often twist exposes of quite patent cyber-stalking and outright on- the- ground stalking into in effect, you are a conspiracist nutter?

    And we dare to look back at past eras and accuse them of being dark ages?

    Blood-guilt is plainly among the most morally blinding of influences.

    It has been a longstanding and historically well warranted concern since Plato c 360 BC in The Laws, Bk X, that evolutionary materialism is inherently radically relativist and utterly, irretrievably amoral, inviting the doctrine, might and manipulation make right. In our time, this is multiplied by the persuasive power of the holy lab coat. Where also, it is quite evident that such ideological, evolutionary materialism is inherently self-refuting by undermining responsible, rational freedom. So also, fellow travellers taint themselves with that self-falsification.

    It is time for the main focus to go back to what is pivotal: the evidence and inductive logic behind the design inference. That is where the case is to be made or broken on the merits. And in my considered view: on a trillion case observational basis, it has been made.

    KF

  132. 132
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Collins Dict on consonance:

    consonance (?k?ns?n?ns) or consonancy
    n, pl -nances or -nancies
    1. agreement, harmony, or accord [–> as opposed to fundamentally incompatible and hostile, here in a context where ideas have consequences]
    2. (Poetry) prosody similarity between consonants, but not between vowels, as between the s and t sounds in sweet silent thought. Compare assonance1
    3. (Classical Music) music
    a. an aesthetically pleasing sensation or perception associated with the interval of the octave, the perfect fourth and fifth, the major and minor third and sixth, and chords based on these intervals. Compare dissonance3
    b. an interval or chord producing this sensation
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

    . . . just to make a key term used by Johnson clear.

    KF

  133. 133
    daveS says:

    KF,

    THE WEDGE STRATEGY

    [–> note the actual title, a descriptive phrase for a strategy pivoting on a foundational engagement of scientific issues and going on to engage forces credibly implicated in undermining our civilisation]

    It seems you’re insinuating that jdk got the title of the document wrong. Did you look at the actual cover page that she posted?

  134. 134
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the point is there is no one clear actual title coming from an indisputable source and the issue being made much over is a descriptive phrase — follow my link and you will see what I mean. I am however also underscoring how there is a clear pattern of straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. That camel is, first, the pivotal issue — one being studiously ducked — is the empirical and inductive basis of the design inference [notice what has happened since comment no 45 above]. Then secondly, lo and behold, the actual substance of this horrible revelation of a grand conspiracy on a theocratic, right-wing takeover of our civilisation turns out to be instead a reasonable and well warranted view as to the history involved and the responsible concerns over the impacts of evolutionary materialist scientism and its fellow travellers, leading to a proposal to try to counter it by first addressing scientific issues then taking a stance in the wider culture and in the policy space. You may disagree with the intent to have a move back to a cultural frame that is less hostile to ethical theism and to the Christian faith, but one can hardly responsibly pretend that this is Torquemada at work or the like. Especially given the incoherence and amorality of evolutionary materialism, and its track record when it has held power or influence, over the past 100 years. That, thirdly, raises serious questions as to the (at minimum over-wrought) twisting of this document into a grand conspiracy narrative, especially when it can readily be shown that there are powerful evolutionary materialistic ideologies and fellow traveller schemes out there that have done a lot of damage to our civilisation. Damage, that is clearly ongoing and even accelerating. Start with 50+ million unborn children slaughtered under false colour of law every year (easily the worst holocaust in history), and the ruthless, manipulative twisting of concepts such as rights and health to sustain that bloodshed. I say, something is very wrong with our civilisation and those who have tried to do something about it should be commended not turned into straw bogeymen. KF

  135. 135
    jdk says:

    I understand that this is a very minor point, but it baffles the hell out of me that kf can’t just simply say, yes, the title is the Wedge.

    He writes,

    the point is there is no one clear actual title coming from an indisputable source,

    and that’s ludicrous. Does he think the document I posted is a fake?

  136. 136
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, the point is there is no one clear actual title coming from an indisputable source and the issue being made much over is a descriptive phrase — follow my link and you will see what I mean.

    Well, in that case it would be best to avoid referring to “the actual title” as you did [in #131].

    I am however also underscoring how there is a clear pattern of straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. That camel is, first, the pivotal issue — one being studiously ducked — is the empirical and inductive basis of the design inference [notice what has happened since comment no 45 above].

    There are many issues having to do with the wedge document (and ID generally) that one could discuss. Just because one chooses not to focus on one issue or another in a particular post or thread does not mean that person is “ducking” anything [cf. motive mongering above]. We’ve seen this pattern many times here: Someone raises a criticism pertaining to issue X, and you respond “well what about Y?”, leaving the original criticism unrefuted.

  137. 137

    I understand that this is a very minor point, but it baffles the hell out of me that kf can’t just simply say, yes, the title is the Wedge.

    Yes, the major point is that the wedge is completely irrelevant to ID arguments, having no bearing whatsoever on the validity of those arguments. It is a rhetorical tool used to attack ID without having to engage physical evidence (i.e. anti-science).

  138. 138
    Mung says:

    mw:

    To then say, that God created totally opposite to what he said, when commanding the holy remembrance of the Creation every seven days, would be the act of a schizophrenic God.

    I was not talking about the Creation.

  139. 139
    Mung says:

    @137 Upright BiPed nailed it again.

    Plus, no one here wrote the wedge strategy. It’s a red herring, but one that appears to be useful.

  140. 140
    jdk says:

    Re137 and139: I’ve already agreed that you guys are right about both points.

  141. 141
    Ted Davis says:

    For SB@50, where he says all this:

    “Ted and Joshua, I know that you both believe that the “scientific community” is responsible for defining the science of evolution. I am, therefore, going to share with you the science of evolution as presented by that same community.

    From Miller & Levine: Biology
    Evolution works without either plan or purpose … Evolution is random and undirected.

    Douglass Futuyma: This experiment conveys the essence of natural selection: it is a completely mindless process without forethought or goal.

    In 2005, 39 Nobel Laureates wrote the Kansas State Board of Education to inform them that “evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.”

    Since you have granted this body of scientists the authority to define evolution, I must assume that you also believe that evolution is not the result of a purpose or plan. Is that a fair assumption? Do you agree that your community’s description of evolution includes non-scientific, metaphysical presumptions that rule out God in principle?

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect an answer. I just wanted to put it out there so that readers can draw their own conclusions about your sincerity.”

    How is my sincerity involved in any of this, Stephen? I invite readers to draw their own conclusions about why you even suggest that. I challenge you to find any ad hominems on my part anywhere in this thread.

    When I said that scientists get to define the rules of science, that is (IMO) a factual observation, pure and simple. If I said (e.g.) that attorneys (including judges, who are also attorneys) get to define the rules of the courts, that would also be a factual observation, pure and simple. Don’t shoot the messenger.

    The examples you provided, in which scientists are making pronouncements about the alleged lack of foresight in evolutionary history are going well beyond science, IMO, despite the fact that many evolutionary biologists agree with them. I don’t agree with them. As I am sure you know, a philosopher (Al Plantinga) and a scholar of religion (wasn’t it Holmes Rolston?) called their bluff, pointing out that scientists are straying off the ranch when they say such things.

    As I say, scientists get to define their own rules. Sometimes those who live outside their borders report territorial violations, but scientists themselves sometimes also do this within their own communities of discourse. A recent, very important example is found in the journal “Nature,” in Dec 2014, when George Ellis and Joe Silk (a pair of world-class cosmologists) quite rightly stated that certain colleagues were breaking the rules of science by trying to skate past the need to test their theories against observations. As the headline puts it, “Attempts to exempt speculative theories of the Universe from experimental verification undermine science, argue George Ellis and Joe Silk.”

    http://www.nature.com/news/sci.....cs-1.16535

    Again, don’t shoot the messenger. (The same goes for BA@27.)

  142. 142
    Paul Giem says:

    vjtorley,

    Thank you for your list of those who believed that Science could provide evidence for design in nature, and in turn evidence for a designer, whom they were happy to identify (often not very tentatively) as God. I think you have proved the point that science can easily be done without the stricture of methodological naturalism.

    I see with some amusement the insistence that scientists define what science is. Then it can be reasonably proved that science originally did not require methodological naturalism, and changed somewhere between 1800 and 1900 or so. So there are two (at least) competing ideas of what science should be. This has several implications.

    First, defining science in this way means that there is no particular reason why science should be respected by the rest of society. At least one iteration of science was wrong on a fundamental issue (regardless of which one it was), and there is no guarantee that the iteration we have now is the correct one, on this issue or any similar definitional question. This means science is on shaky ground even within science, let alone on metaphysical questions that are outside the competence of most scientists.

    Lest one think this is merely a theoretical point, let me point out that when I was in training, the vast majority view was that peptic ulcers were due to various local and systemic effects, but that infection had been safely ruled out. No bacteria or viruses could be found on thorough examination of ulcers, nor could a cause of infection be demonstrated to spread from one person to the next.

    Then some enterprising doctors discovered Helicobacter pylori, and the entire paradigm was transformed. Now ulcers are routinely tested for H. pylori, and treated with antibiotics if positive, with routinely positive results for the patient. We were demonstrably wrong earlier.

    Revolutions like this are not that unusual in the life sciences (e.g. Biochemical Predistination), or even in geology (e.g. the Bretz flood(s) and continental drift). There are even long-rejected theories that make a comeback (e.g. the particle theory of light). This idea that science is what scientists say it is can only have teeth if the unspoken, and ridiculous, addition is made that authoritative science is what scientists right now say it is and it will never change. One can call that science if one wants to. But it is certainly not authoritative if past experience is any guide.

    One can insist that this is the social reality we have to deal with. But in that case there is no particular reason, other than status and money, why we should assent to such a way of determining truth, and most of us would see the inherent insufficiency of those criteria for finding truth.

    Second, supposing that some combination of events establishes that the majority of the scientific community now favors the disregarding of MN as a criterion for “true science”. Would people like Ted Davis and Joshua Swamidass now change their minds? If so, was their insistence on MN in science truly principled?

    Third, how does science ever change its mind? Is it legitimate for one person to take a stand that is not approved by the majority of the scientific community? Two people? 1% of scientists? 49% of scientists? Is science merely a sociological construct? If so, does science have any more claim to hegemony than any other social group?

    As I understand it, science lays claim to a better understanding of reality. If and when science becomes democratic without regard to a better understanding of reality, it loses its true authority and can only retain a pseudo-authority for those who have not figured out yet that it has lost its legitimacy.

  143. 143
    Ted Davis says:

    For SB@30, who said, “Ted, have you told your associate Robert Russell that he, too, is breaking your rule by positing Non Interventionist Objective Divine Action?”

    Bob Russell isn’t offering his NIODA idea as a scientific idea, Stephen. He’d be the first to say that it’s a theological idea *about* science, not a scientific idea per se. So, he’s not breaking “my rule.” Furthermore, it’s not “my rule” at all. As I just explained @141, I was simply giving my assessment of how things actually work, my reading of rules that others have made.

    If propositions such as Russell’s are within the rules of science, Stephen, then so are books promoting scientific atheism like those of Dawkins, Coyne, and Sam Harris–which also offer religious interpretations of science. In fact, those books are not scientific. They aren’t based on competitively awarded research grants (such as those awarded by the NSF or NIH), and those particular ideas don’t go through peer review and get published in scientific journals.

    IMO, Stephen, your position seems to commit you the proposition that the existence of God and/or ultimate purpose is a claim that science can actually “prove” or “disprove.” Dawkins certainly believes that. I do not. Do you?

  144. 144
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the obvious pivotal question is whether inductive reasoning is credible, and whether on such logic and linked observation, there are reliable signs of design. As 45 above discusses, there are. The world of life and the fine-tuned cosmos exhibit such signs. This means one may responsibly hold that life and the cosmos that supports it, are credibly designed. On this, there is a significant challenge to scientific schools of thought, science education, institutionally dominant factions, cultural agendas and the like that are keyed to the idea that the world and science must lock out such signs and their import. This is first and foremost, all else hinges on this. So, no it is not an option to discuss this; not if one intends to be responsible. And it is astonishing to see how in the thread above this issue has been consistently evaded by design objectors. Like unto it, it is highly material that there are agendas imposed on science and society through a priori evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers, that would try to so redefine science and its methods that the evidence cannot speak for itself uncensored by the new magisterium. All of these are telling signs of the dark, dark, bloodguilt ridden age we are in. An era in which evolutionary materialistic secular humanism has opened the door to might and manipulation making ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘rights,’ ‘knowledge/science’ and much more. As can be abundantly shown. KF

  145. 145
    jdk says:

    I’ll note that, again and as usual, kf’s post does not relate to what Dave wrote at all, but just rehashes what he has said numerous times in this thread alone. I also note the extreme tone and hyperbolic accusations.

    There is never any sense ever in engaging kf on a specific point, no matter how small and clear-cut.

    Amazing.

  146. 146
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, with all due respect, your side track is now past sell-by date. The pivotal issue remains what it has been from the OP. The inserted constraint on science, methodological naturalism, fails the history test. Part of why it does so is that it fails the inductive logic and evidence test. Which is what I pointed out from 45 on in reply to SJS just above that, as I cited and responded to. KF

    PS: When the agenda of evolutionary materialist scientism can be shown to be a material contribution to manipulating the concept of rights such that we are seeing 50 million abortions under false colour of law and rights per year, it is not hyperbole or distortion or extreme tone to point that out or to indicate that this is the — in progress — worst holocaust in history. That, though we may find it disturbing, is part of what is at stake; and, we need to face it. (Part of that: what is a right but a binding moral claim on others rooted in our nature and value. Thus, we must face the basis for morality apart from the self-refuting, might and manipulation. Then, we need to recognise that we cannot properly demand that others do or enable the wrong under the colour of claimed rights. To justly claim a right, we must first be in the right. Where, the first right is: life.)

  147. 147
    Mung says:

    jdk: I’ve already agreed that you guys are right about both points.

    Yet here we are, still talking about The Wedge, even granted it’s utter irrelevance.

  148. 148
    Mung says:

    Ted: Don’t shoot the messenger.

    But that’s what we do best!

    😉

  149. 149
    Seversky says:

    It is often claimed that methodological naturalism is a principle which defines the scope of the scientific enterprise. Today’s post is about thirty-one famous scientists throughout history who openly flouted this principle, in their scientific writings, by putting forward arguments for a supernatural Deity.

    The term “methodological naturalism” is defined variously in the literature. All authorities agree, however, that if you put forward scientific arguments for the existence of a supernatural Deity, then you are violating the principle of methodological naturalism. The 31 scientists whom I’ve listed below all did just that. I’ve supplied copious documentation, to satisfy the inquiries of skeptical readers.

    How is putting forward scientific arguments for the existence of a supernatural deity a violation of the principle of methodological naturalism? If such a being exists and if it is observable by us in some way then how is a methodical investigation of its nature a violation of any scientific principle? Who are the authorities who deny this and what are their grounds for such a denial?

    The problem for all such arguments lies in the lack of an accepted operational definition of “naturalism” and, by extension, “methodological naturalism. I think many of us are familiar with the opening paragraphs of the entry on “naturalism” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    The term “naturalism” has no very precise meaning in contemporary philosophy. Its current usage derives from debates in America in the first half of the last century. The self-proclaimed “naturalists” from that period included John Dewey, Ernest Nagel, Sidney Hook and Roy Wood Sellars. These philosophers aimed to ally philosophy more closely with science. They urged that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality, including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944; Kim 2003).

    So understood, “naturalism” is not a particularly informative term as applied to contemporary philosophers. The great majority of contemporary philosophers would happily accept naturalism as just characterized—that is, they would both reject “supernatural” entities, and allow that science is a possible route (if not necessarily the only one) to important truths about the “human spirit”

    If you say that science is limited to the investigation of those phenomena that can be observed, however indirectly, or which can be inferred from such observation then I would agree. I would then ask, in what way is that a limitation? What else is there? Isn’t the “supernatural” an empty set?

    Ghosts, for example, are popularly thought to be a supernatural phenomenon. But if such entities exist in objective reality, if they have a nature which can be observed and described, however elusive they might be, then how are they not a natural phenomenon? The same would also be true of any putative deity.

    On the other hand, if you assume that the set of supernatural phenomena includes those that are forever inaccessible to scientific investigation, such that we cannot know if they even exist, then how does that provide any explanatory purchase in the natural world? Take, for example, the case of epileptic seizures. Two explanations are proposed. The first argues that they are the effect of misfiring brain cells, the second claims that they are a sign of demonic possession. In the first case, we can observe the physical brain and the neurons of which it is partially composed and look for any abnormal activity that might be associated with the seizures. In the second case, if we cannot have any knowledge of the existence of demons, of their nature, of how they might “possess” a human being and influence their behavior then of what possible use is it as an explanation, let alone a scientific explanation?

    I do not doubt that all the scientists listed in the OP held the religious beliefs attributed to them. I’m sure that, in many cases, they provided the context for their research. But, unless those beliefs are embodied as operational elements in the explanations they constructed then I would argue there is no violation of the principle of methodological naturalism – whatever that might be. James Clerk Maxwell was by all accounts a devout evangelical Presbyterian. He believed the universe was created by God. But unless his equations include a term for divine intervention then there is no violation of MN. Scientists can believe whatever they like about the origins of life, the universe and everything but, as long as their hypotheses and theories don’t include explanatory gaps labelled “Here there be Miracles” then there is no violation of MN>

  150. 150
    mw says:

    Mung #106:

    “YEC literally takes its cues from materialistic assumptions of unguided evolution.”
    _________________________

    Mung #138, in reply to me # 125:

    You say you were “not talking about the Creation,” but do not elaborate.
    _____________________________________________________
    Is your reply somewhat on the style of a Zen Koan, in that I have to guess against all logic what you really mean, and supply my own answer?

    However, as a reminder.

    I take my cue from belief in a holy, divine law given at Sinai, of which you know. At no point of miraculous creation did God not guide creation, or afterwards at the regeneration, of which we are in. Of course, things have varied, buy always within the limits of form, and without the addition of greater information input.

    Let’s apply your logic to the resurrection. In an instant Jesus created a brand new species of human, regenerating himself from the dead with a body that is duality, a super creation. That is, a body able to transcend both the spiritual and physical realms.

    Did He use unguided evolution to create anything about His new Self?
    Where did He get His cues from when He was dead?
    The Father at Sinai, was, is and remains a six day creationist. The Son died keeping divine law.

    I am sure you understand the basics of the belief of creation in six days, but not what is the sound of six day creation evolving. Madness.

  151. 151
    mw says:

    Seversky #149.

    Some credit must be given to your reasoning: fair points.

    However, the outcome is, science must shackle itself to science, and therefore itself is captive in some form.

    There is ample evidence for the supernatural. It is just not amply seen because it seems more aborhant than believing we are products or worms, and we are only the offspring of a degrading animal unto the end, death.

    As for epileptic seizures being possibly some form of a possession illness or not, a broader and more sensitive approach is needed because any illness can be mimicked in those terms. Nor do we see clearly into the realm of the spirit, if hardly at all.

    I could be wrong, but, are you using that example, and when I am also assuming you have little knowledge of the possession ministry, to create an atmosphere of discrimination against Christians?

  152. 152
    Mung says:

    mw: In an instant Jesus created a brand new species of human, regenerating himself from the dead with a body that is duality, a super creation.

    First, I deny that Jesus created a brand new species of human.

    Second, even if Jesus did create a brand new species of human, that’s one new species since the Creation.

  153. 153
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung, maybe we should discuss inductive logic and how it applies to the design inference. In which context, it becomes relevant that historically, scientists did not find themselves bound by ideological constraints such as methodological naturalism, so called. KF

    PS: The spillover into education put up by the US National Science Teachers education board in 2000 is inadvertently revealing:

    The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

    [S]cience, along with its methods, explanations and generalizations, must be the sole focus of instruction in science classes to the exclusion of all non-scientific or pseudoscientific [–> loaded word that cannot be properly backed up due to failure of demarcation arguments] methods, explanations, generalizations and products [–> declaration of intent to ideologically censor education materials] . . . .

    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 [–> undermined by the question-begging ideological imposition and associated censorship] . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements [–> question-begging false dichotomy, the proper contrast for empirical investigations is the natural (chance and/or necessity) vs the ART-ificial, through design] in the production of scientific knowledge.

  154. 154
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Andre,

    I’ve finally managed to locate an online version of The Life Of Pasteur by Rene Vallery Radot (Doubleday Page & Company, Garden City, New York, 1923). It establishes beyond reasonable doubt that Pasteur was an advocate of what Stephen Jay Gould referred to as NOMA – the idea that science and religion have non-overlapping magisteria:

    p. 111

    If all comes from a germ, people said, whence came the first germ? We must bow before that mystery, said Pasteur, it is the question of the origin of all things, and absolutely outside the domain of scientific research. But an invincible curiosity exists amongst most men which cannot admit that science should have the wisdom to content itself with the vast space between the beginning of the world and the unknown future. Many people transform a question of fact into a question of faith. Though Pasteur had brought into his researches a solely scientific preoccupation, many people approved or blamed him as the defender of a religious cause.

    p. 112
    Vainly had he said, “There is here no question of religion, philosophy, atheism, materialism, or spiritualism. I might even add that they do not matter to me as a scientist. It is a question of fact; when I took it up I was as ready to be convinced by experiments that spontaneous generation exists as I am now persuaded that those who believe it are blindfolded.” …

    Pasteur did not disinterest himself from the great problems which he called the eternal subjects of men’s solitary meditations. But he did not admit the interference of religion with science any more than that of science with religion.

    I think it’s fair to conclude that Pasteur would have been adamantly opposed to the idea that science could provide any support whatsoever for belief in God or the supernatural. In that respect, he differed from the 31 great scientists whom I have listed in my OP, more’s the pity.

  155. 155
    vjtorley says:

    jdk:

    As a question of fact, I don’t see how anyone could possibly deny that the title of the document you cite was “The Wedge,” unless one wishes to accuse the NCSE of engaging in forgery:

    https://ncse.com/files/pub/creationism/The_Wedge_Strategy.pdf

    Having said that, I would broadly agree with the sentiments of most commenters on this thread. I see no problem with an organization having ideological goals and being up-front about those goals.

    In any case, the entire controversy is moot, as the Discovery Institute no longer supports the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools.

    http://www.discovery.org/a/3164

  156. 156
    jdk says:

    Hi vjtorley. Thanks for the comment about the title of the document, minor of a point as it is.

    I also agree that there is nothing wrong in being upfront about goals, nor anything wrong in saying that one wishes to advocate for a particular metaphysical viewpoint.

    Also, the Wedge document itself says nothing about teaching ID in schools, although members of the ID movement did indeed try to get that established in several states in the early to mid 2000’s.

    And I agree that the Wedge document is not particularly relevant today, although it is an interesting historical document that was important, and in fact eye-opening, to many (myself included) when it came out.

  157. 157
    jdk says:

    FYI/FTR: Following up on 153, and in keeping with the topic of “what is science”, I offer some parts of the Kansas Science Standards of 2006, of which I was a member, concerning the nature of science

    The Introduction says,

    Science is a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. Throughout history people from many cultures have used the methods of science to contribute to scientific knowledge and technological innovations, making science a worldwide enterprise. Scientists test explanations against the natural world, logically integrating observations and tested hypotheses with accepted explanations to gradually build more reliable and accurate understandings of nature. Scientific explanations must be testable and repeatable, and findings must be confirmed through additional observation and experimentation.

    Here is the section on the nature of science for grade 8-12.

    You might note 1.5: the student,

    5. understands there are many issues which involve morals, ethics, values or spiritual beliefs that go beyond what science can explain, but for which solid scientific literacy is useful.

    which is meant to make it clear that scientific knowledge and beliefs are not the only types of knowledge and belief that there are.

    STANDARD 7: HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE Grades 8-12

    STANDARD 7: HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE – The student will develop understanding of science as a human endeavor, the nature of scientific knowledge, and historical perspectives.

    Benchmark 1: The student will develop an understanding that science is a human endeavor that uses models to describe and explain the physical universe.

    1. demonstrates an understanding of science as both vocation and avocation.

    2. explains how science uses peer review, replication of methods, and norms of honesty. Scientific knowledge is made public through presentations at professional meetings and publications in scientific journals.

    3. recognizes the universality of basic science concepts and the influence of personal and cultural beliefs that embed science in society.

    4. recognizes that society helps create the ways of thinking (mindsets) required for scientific advances, both toward training scientists and educating a populace to utilize benefits of science (e.g., standards of hygiene, attitudes toward forces of nature, etc.).

    5. understands there are many issues which involve morals, ethics, values or spiritual beliefs that go beyond what science can explain, but for which solid scientific literacy is useful.

    6. recognizes society’s role in supporting topics of research and determining institutions where research is conducted.

    Benchmark 2: The student will develop an understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge.

    1. understands scientific knowledge describes and explains the physical world in terms of matter, energy, and forces. Scientific knowledge is provisional and is subject to change as new evidence becomes available.

    a. Additional evidence can lead to further confirmation, revision and refinement, or rejection of previously accepted explanations.

    b. The core theories of science have a high degree of reliability within the limits to which they have been tested and their scope of applicability.

    c. The open-endedness of science is its greatest strength and allows for constant refining and improvement of our explanations.

    2. understands scientific knowledge begins with empirical observations, which are the data (also called facts or evidence) upon which further scientific knowledge is built.

    a. The breadth and depth of sensory observations are enhanced by technological instruments such as microscopes, telescopes, and oscilloscopes.

    b. Observations often include measurements, to varying degrees of accuracy and precision, so they can be described and analyzed with mathematics.

    c. Observational data is gathered in a number of ways, including controlled experiments, field studies, and the systematic observation of natural phenomena.

    3. understands scientific knowledge consists of hypotheses, inferences, laws, and theories.

    a. A hypothesis is a testable statement that is subject to further investigation and potential confirmation

    b. An inference is a testable conclusion, based on previously established knowledge, observed evidence, and logic.

    c. A law is a thoroughly tested descriptive generalization of a highly regular phenomenon, usually expressed in mathematical form.

    d. A theory is a broad explanation that integrates a wide range of observations and tested hypotheses, inferences, and laws (when applicable) into a meaningful and coherent whole.

    e. Well established and widely accepted explanations have explanatory and predictive power and are fruitful as guides for further research.

    4. understands a testable hypothesis or inference must be subject to confirmation by empirical evidence

    a. A valid hypothesis or inference must be potentially falsifiable.

    b. A hypothesis or inference is tested by making logical predictions about what observational data one would expect to exist, given the hypothesis, and then comparing actual observed data to the predicted data, which will either support or not support the hypothesis.

    Benchmark 3: The student will understand science from historical perspectives.

    1. demonstrates an understanding of the history of science.

    a. Modern science has been a successful enterprise that contributes to dramatic improvements in the human condition.

    b. Science progresses by incremental advances of scientists or teams of scientists.

    c. Some advances that are fundamental and long-lasting include: Copernican revolution, Newtonian physics, relativity, geological time scale, plate tectonics, atomic theory, nuclear physics, biological evolution, germ theory, industrial revolution, molecular biology, quantum theory, and medical and health technology.

    2. demonstrates a knowledge that scientific method historically proceeded from an inductive approach rather than a deductive approach.

    a. With the deductive method, scientists start with axioms – simple true statements about the way the world works. Galileo and his contemporaries realized that, for science, the problem was that it was enormously difficult to begin with “simple true statements about the way the world works”. In fact, they realized that the simple true statement should be the goal of science, not the starting place. Since the 1600s to the mid 1900s, the inductive method has been incredibly successful in investigating nature.

  158. 158
    Mung says:

    Yes, well, once you buy into a lie, it’s hard to admit you were wrong.

  159. 159
    Querius says:

    This topic is difficult to discuss due to the ideological content strongly associated with the terms used. Instead, let’s try this:

    A. Briefly, let’s assume that God does not exist.

    The scientific method involving direct observation of the effects of a change in a single variable is the best way of understanding natural phenomena. From chaos theory, we know that small fluctuations can result in major, unpredictable effects, and that this falsifies determinism.

    The origin of the universe is a non-theistic supernatural event, since all natural events are intrinsic to the universe and do not exist otherwise. Additionally, the Big Bang is not a regularly observed natural phenomenon within the universe, thus it’s extremely unlikely to exist within nature even over 13.82 billion years.

    From the tremendous advances in genetics, epigenetics, paleontology, and cell biology, it’s blindingly apparent to all but those poor souls desperately clinging to the mast of the H.M.S. Beagle, that the theory of evolution is missing a key functional component. Furthermore, we get better results and scientific progress accelerates when we assume that biological components were designed for a purpose even when we assume that a designer doesn’t exist.

    From the perspective of the most precisely and rigorously validated of all the sciences, quantum mechanics clearly points to a mathematical and probabilistic (psi) source of all existence. This fundamental nature of matter, energy, and all its interactions is not materialistic, but informational, and cannot be observed with traditional scientific tools.

    B. Briefly, let’s assume that God really does exist.

    See everything under A, except that God is the efficient first cause.

    As a result, God’s direct intervention is not needed for every event, however, God has intervened in events, and has a purpose for our existence in this universe, which he revealed through his Word.

    -Q

  160. 160
    Ted Davis says:

    IMO, the Wedge document remains more than relevant to the larger issues pertaining to ID, b/c it spelled out the cultural agenda that Discovery has been pursuing with its advocacy of ID. The purpose of that document was to declare their vision, in order to solicit funding from sympathetic philanthropists. I have not seen significant evidence that their cultural agenda is any different than it was when the Wedge document was written. If so, then its relevance is ongoing, even though Discovery has changed their view on teaching ID in science classes.

  161. 161
    jdk says:

    Q writes,

    The scientific method involving direct observation of the effects of a change in a single variable is the best way of understanding natural phenomena

    Actually, chaos theory has shown that this is not true any longer, even though what you have stated is the traditional place where science starts, and which has worked very well in many situations.

    That is, the simple, traditional (and powerful) technique is to isolate one variable while holding all others fixed, and see what happens. However, in the real world, in the types of situations to which chaos theory applies, variables change all at once, as a system (and often as a non-linear, differential system). In this case, the results of chaos theory can hold in ways that the simple one-variable-at-a-time method would never reveal.

  162. 162
    jdk says:

    Yes to what Ted said. In fact the following sentences from the Wedge document accurately describe the position of quite a few people here, and are the subject of some of the most lengthy threads:

    Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art

    The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating. Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

    Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. The results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.

  163. 163
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK (attn VJT),

    Perhaps you missed the controlling significance of “NATURAL explanations.” (As in, in effect, naturalistic. The ideological censorship is there.)

    Observe the ideologically overthrown 2005 definition, which — by its contrast, brings out the loading:

    “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.

    This does not push in evolutionary materialistic scientism, and is consonant with the sort of standard definitions that are reflected in high quality dictionaries published before the recent controversies and utter radicalisation of science education, e.g.:

    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]

    I suggest that the reader cf here on, on this case and others of like order.

    KF

    PS: I am inclined (on current balance) to the view that the cover did carry the title Wedge (assuming that the decorative cover is legitimate), but the lack of a title at the head of the article inside led to multiple [no-]titlings, none [DI . . . as close to an author as we will get], “Wedge Document” [objectors], “Wedge Strategy” [others, likely objectors]. Then, when it comes to misrepresentation, deliberate distortion, speaking in disregard to truth in hope that what is said or suggested is taken as true and the like, tantamount to fraud in the moral sense on matters connected to the ID controversy, unfortunately NCSE — e.g. “Creationism in a cheap Tuxedo” etc — is directly implicated and is untrustworthy. ACLU is directly responsible for the distortions and misrepresentations used by Judge Jones in his notorious 2005 ruling, which is directly related to the issues in the OP. Likewise, obvious agit prop front groups such as “XX Citizens for Science [Edu]” or the like are to be viewed with caution. Thus, in my view NCSE does not meet the criterion to be a sound chain of custody, similar to Anti Evo.

    PPS: In my further considered view, anything which inserts so-called methodological naturalism into the praxis, perception or teaching of science, is ideologically loaded with a censorship that directly undermines the ability of science and students of science to seek the truth unfettered by ideological censorship. The very need for the OP above is abundant proof of the point.

    PPPS: I notice, we are still off on a side-track and what 100 or so comments later, we can find no serious engagement of the pivotal issue of inductive reasoning and the empirical basis for science, thence the core design inference. We can likely take it to the bank that the absence of even a link to what would be a widely trumpeted triumph on the merits readily seen at ID objector sites is a case of the dog that did not bark. It is obvious from the studied silence, that there is lack of confidence that objections to the inductive nature of the design inference cannot stand scrutiny in a forum such as this. In absence of squarely addressing this, the sort of ideological projections manifest in distortions of the substance of the 1999 DI CSC fundraising proposal in order to try to discredit ID, speak revealing volumes.

  164. 164
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It seems I need to again point to the (studiously ignored) concerns put on the table by Plato in The Laws, Bk X, c 360 BC . . . which unfortunately find all too many echoes in the past 100 years, including in the distortion of rights, law and policy that are the context of the ongoing abortion holocaust (at a rate of 50+ mn per year) — proof positive that we live in a dark, dark cave, under the spell of manipulative shadow shows:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    The truth is, we are responsible, rationally free beings — on pain of reasoned discussion collapsing in self referential absurdity. Thus, we have to find a grounding for the moral order other than delusions tied to might and manipulation make right, truth, rights, meaning, value, knowledge etc. This can only be at the root of reality, on pain of the IS-OUGHT gap in Hume’s guillotine argument. That is, we must find a world-root IS capable of bearing the awesome weight of ought. A necessary being is that inextricably also grounds ought.

    Coming back to the issue of rights, a right is a binding moral claim and expectation that we be respected in some regard connected to our inherent worth and dignity as human beings. (The first of these being, life, without which there can be no other rights.)

    That is, my right entails your duty and the converse.

    Immediately, might and manipulation fail the test, and so necessarily, views that imply this.

    Including — as Plato points out — evolutionary materialism.

    (And it is no accident to see that a key plank in the abortion on demand agenda has been the effective, often implicit dehumanisation of the unborn child. And, unpleasant though this is, this case is the most relevant that there is.)

    Furthermore, we find a key answer to attempts to manufacture “rights” for politically correct special interests that are then forced on the rest of us under false colours of law, science and the like.

    Namely, as my rights claim entails your duty and the converse, we must ever and always avoid claiming rights that would force others to do or enable evils. (The current case of a pharmacy being in court over attempts to force it to carry abortion-inducing drugs is sadly, aptly, illustrative.)

    That is, to justly claim a right, we must manifestly be in the right.

    Many, many currently politically correct agendas cannot meet this test, with abortion on demand being at the head of the list.

    And, manifestly, anything that builds on or is built on enabling schemes of thought and cultural agendas that turn on the premise, might and manipulation make right etc, cannot pass this test.

    Which, patently, includes evolutionary materialist scientism and its fellow travellers.

    It is time for serious rethinking on where we are taking our civilisation.

    And in that rethinking, we should ponder a lesson I learned from the grim deterioration of my homeland: bloodguilt is among the most corrupting influences there is.

    (Only redemption and reformation can deliver us from its tentacles.)

    The patent mass bloodguilt of our civilisation cries up from the ground against us.

    KF

  165. 165
    kairosfocus says:

    Dr Davis, I invite you to explain to us, i/l/o the excerpt at 131 above, how DI in 1999 pursued an illegitimate socio-cultural agenda [and I note that there have been material changes since then as has been noted above from time to time, e.g. the explicit policy that ID should not be taught in schools, which was there by the time of the Dover and KS issues c 2005]. I suggest that such should specifically address the stated pivotal issue of a grounding in scientific research and linked analysis, and the explanatory document here. Further to this, perhaps you can enlighten us as to the legitimacy or otherwise of inductive reasoning, its application to science and thence the validity or otherwise of the design inference on tested, empirically credible signs such as functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information and fine-tuning, say by responding to 45 above or the like. KF

    PS: I draw attention to Walker and Davies:

    In physics, particularly in statistical mechanics, we base many of our calculations on the assumption of metric transitivity, which asserts that a system’s trajectory will eventually [–>; given “enough time and search resources”] explore the entirety of its state space – thus everything that is phys-ically possible will eventually happen. It should then be trivially true that one could choose an arbitrary “final state” (e.g., a living organism) and “explain” it by evolving the system backwards in time choosing an appropriate state at some ’start’ time t_0 (fine-tuning the initial state). In the case of a chaotic system the initial state must be specified to arbitrarily high precision. But this account amounts to no more than saying that the world is as it is because it was as it was, and our current narrative therefore scarcely constitutes an explanation in the true scientific sense.

    We are left in a bit of a conundrum with respect to the problem of specifying the initial conditions necessary to explain our world. A key point is that if we require specialness in our initial state (such that we observe the current state of the world and not any other state) metric transitivity cannot hold true, as it blurs any dependency on initial conditions – that is, it makes little sense for us to single out any particular state as special by calling it the ’initial’ state. If we instead relax the assumption of metric transitivity (which seems more realistic for many real world physical systems – including life), then our phase space will consist of isolated pocket regions and it is not necessarily possible to get to any other physically possible state (see e.g. Fig. 1 for a cellular automata example).

    [–> or, there may not be “enough” time and/or resources for the relevant exploration, i.e. we see the 500 – 1,000 bit complexity threshold at work vs 10^57 – 10^80 atoms with fast rxn rates at about 10^-13 to 10^-15 s leading to inability to explore more than a vanishingly small fraction on the gamut of Sol system or observed cosmos . . . the only actually, credibly observed cosmos]

    Thus the initial state must be tuned to be in the region of phase space in which we find ourselves [–> notice, fine tuning], and there are regions of the configuration space our physical universe would be excluded from accessing, even if those states may be equally consistent and permissible under the microscopic laws of physics (starting from a different initial state). Thus according to the standard picture, we require special initial conditions to explain the complexity of the world, but also have a sense that we should not be on a particularly special trajectory to get here (or anywhere else) as it would be a sign of fine–tuning of the initial conditions. [ –> notice, the “loading”] Stated most simply, a potential problem with the way we currently formulate physics is that you can’t necessarily get everywhere from anywhere (see Walker [31] for discussion). [“The “Hard Problem” of Life,” June 23, 2016, a discussion by Sara Imari Walker and Paul C.W. Davies at Arxiv.]

  166. 166
    Querius says:

    jdk @ 161,

    Yes, I agree. From my perspective, when you see a chaotic pattern, you can only work with the data using statistical analysis. Good point.

    jdk @ 162,

    While I deplore political strategies applied to science and education, how should thoughtful people resist ideologues who have already

    o Permeated education with failed social experiments on children that with devastating social consequences for which they deny any culpability?

    o Changed historical climate data to justify an authoritarian bureaucracy making arbitrary and destructive responses to misrepresented threats?

    o Held back scientific progress by stubbornly clinging to an obsolete 19th century theory that extrapolates variation in species as the magical source of DNA, epigenetics, cellular biology, biochemical cycles, and body plans, all within impossibly short periods of time?

    And now, these same ideologues and their successors that implemented these disasters are in predictably hysterical opposition to another group that proposes to implement a political offensive with contrary goals, calling it indoctrination (gasp) as if what they themselves did wasn’t the same type of thing.

    No sympathy here.

    -Q

  167. 167

    Ted, it’s irrelevant to the scientific question. If someone thinks otherwise, then the only recourse is to walk through a piece of evidence, and they can point out when the wedge document takes over systematic reasoning, or enters into our measurement of the natural world. It’s a losing proposition.

    If someone wants say that ID is non-scientific and attack it with the irrelevant, then they can be asked to engage what is actually relevant as well. They can make their points in front of the science, or they can’t.

  168. 168
    Andre says:

    Dr Torley

    So what do you make of Pasteur’s quote?

    “Posterity will one day laugh at the sublime foolishness of the modern materialistic philosophy. The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. I pray while I am engaged at my work in the laboratory.”

  169. 169
    Andre says:

    Dr Torley

    Here is Tesla’s own words…..

    http://www.lucidcafe.com/libra.....uto05.html

    “The gift of mental power comes from God, Divine Being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power. My Mother had taught me to seek all truth in the Bible; therefore I devoted the next few months to the study of this work.”

    Tesla finding truth in the bible

    “At this time I made a further careful study of the Bible, and discovered the key in Revelation.

  170. 170
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It seems advisable to again go back to basics, here, inductive reasoning and why it has significance in scientific work; which then has implications for the design inference.

    A good point to begin is IEP in its article on induction and deduction (which gives the modern view on induction . . . the old view of generalisation has been superseded):

    A deductive argument is an argument that is intended by the arguer to be (deductively) valid, that is, to provide a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion provided that the argument’s premises (assumptions) are true. This point can be expressed also by saying that, in a deductive argument, the premises are intended to provide such strong support for the conclusion that, if the premises are true, then it would be impossible for the conclusion to be false. An argument in which the premises do succeed in guaranteeing the conclusion is called a (deductively) valid argument. If a valid argument has true premises, then the argument is said to be sound . . . .

    An inductive argument is an argument that is intended by the arguer merely to establish or increase the probability of its conclusion. In an inductive argument, the premises are intended only to be so strong that, if they were true, then it would be unlikely that the conclusion is false. There is no standard term for a successful inductive argument. But its success or strength is a matter of degree, unlike with deductive arguments. A deductive argument is valid or else invalid.

    The difference between the two kinds of arguments does not lie solely in the words used; it comes from the relationship the author or expositor of the argument takes there to be between the premises and the conclusion. If the author of the argument believes that the truth of the premises definitely establishes the truth of the conclusion (due to definition, logical entailment, logical structure, or mathematical necessity), then the argument is deductive. If the author of the argument does not think that the truth of the premises definitely establishes the truth of the conclusion, but nonetheless believes that their truth provides good reason to believe the conclusion true, then the argument is inductive . . .

    In short, deductive arguments infer step by step conclusions through criteria of entailment relative to premises. Inductive arguments instead pivot on providing good reason for supporting a conclusion, even absent deductive validity multiplied by truth of premises leading to sound argument and logically certain conclusions.

    Of course, the truthfulness of premises and how such are to be established is always an issue; especially as infinite logical regress of successive challenges to premises is futile and circularity of such a chain is also futile.

    In part, we appeal to the fund of our experience and assert plausible claims. We may put up self-evident claims, on grounds that to deny X immediately, patently lands in absurdity so we go with the point that once we understand X we see it is so on pain of absurdity. (Think here on the consequences of distinct identity of say a bright red ball, A, on a table and the dichotomy of the world W = {A|~A}.)

    But in many cases, we accept claims based on induction, e.g. ravens are blacks, per reliable empirically grounded generalisation. Where, obviously, we may modify should we encounter a white or green one, etc. That is, encountering some x such that x is non-black but also a Raven would disconfirm the generalisation that Ravens are black. (Famously, this happened with the black swans of Australia; for, Swans are white.) Likewise, it is not a certainty beyond possible doubt that there will be a sunrise on the morrow.

    A related concept is abduction, where on a cluster of otherwise puzzling facts f1, f2 . . . fn, if E were asserted, these would all follow, so we regard the facts as [provisionally] providing support for the explanation. And as the body of facts widens, we seek the best of competing, empirically reliable, well-supported explanations. This is an inductive argument, and it is crucial to scientific, forensic, historical and many other contexts of reasoning.

    In this context we may see that scientific investigations seek ever more accurate and comprehensive descriptions, set in the context of ever improved explanatory constructs . . . sometimes laws, sometimes models, sometimes theories; though such terms can be frustratingly loose in meanings. Such, should demonstrate empirical reliability through accurate predictive power, but we must recognise this is not establishment of truth beyond correction.

    Such considerations provide crucial background for the design inference.

    That inference, made in a scientific context, points to observable phenomena such as functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information, or digitally coded functionally specific information, or fine-tuning. On a base of trillions of observations, once we are beyond a reasonable threshold of complexity [500 – 1,000 bits works] we see that consistently such results from intelligent cause and not from blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. Analysis of search space challenges on the gamut of our observed cosmos or the solar system [our effective universe for chemical level atomic interactions], suggests strongly that the reason for that is, the search challenge is too high for blind forces, but intelligently directed configuration — aka, design — readily achieves such results.

    The comments in this thread show many cases in point.

    At root, then, the design inference is little more than expressed willingness to trust that base of observations and its analytical context. That is, we see here inference to a general or particular conclusion on tested, empirically reliable sign.

    This applies to the world of life, and to features of the observed cosmos.

    NWE has a useful summary of the general conclusion, i.e. design theory:

    Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” [1] Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan. According to adherents, intelligent design can be detected in the natural laws and structure of the cosmos; it also can be detected in at least some features of living things.

    Greater clarity on the topic may be gained from a discussion of what ID is not considered to be by its leading theorists. Intelligent design generally is not defined the same as creationism, with proponents maintaining that ID relies on scientific evidence rather than on Scripture or religious doctrines. ID makes no claims about biblical chronology, and technically a person does not have to believe in God to infer intelligent design in nature. As a theory, ID also does not specify the identity or nature of the designer, so it is not the same as natural theology, which reasons from nature to the existence and attributes of God. ID does not claim that all species of living things were created in their present forms, and it does not claim to provide a complete account of the history of the universe or of living things.

    ID also is not considered by its theorists to be an “argument from ignorance”; that is, intelligent design is not to be inferred simply on the basis that the cause of something is unknown (any more than a person accused of willful intent can be convicted without evidence). According to various adherents, ID does not claim that design must be optimal; something may be intelligently designed even if it is flawed (as are many objects made by humans).

    ID may be considered to consist only of the minimal assertion that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent agent. It conflicts with views claiming that there is no real design in the cosmos (e.g., materialistic philosophy) or in living things (e.g., Darwinian evolution) or that design, though real, is undetectable (e.g., some forms of theistic evolution). Because of such conflicts, ID has generated considerable controversy.

    Of course, apart from cosmological design thought tracing to the 1950’s and growing ever since, the modern school of thought began with Thaxton et al in the mid 80’s, then was extended across the 90’s by Dembski, Axe, Behe, Meyer and others. In the past 16 years, it has in fact created a growing body of published research. Often, in the teeth of determined opposition and outright censorship.

    However, the core argument is readily accessible.

    For instance, anyone who uses the Internet is familiar with coded text strings and the general causal source of such: intelligently directed configuration. Many are familiar with information processing machines that make such codes work. So, when we turn to the world of the living cell and observe similar codes and processing using molecular nanotechnology, the impression of design is overwhelming.

    The design inference with a threshold of sufficient complexity that it is maximally unlikely that blind chance and/or mechanical necessity are credible as material cause, follows as a simple induction. And a strongly supported one, we have trillions of cases in point.

    To test and overthrow it, it would be necessary to show that forces of blind chance and/or mechanical necessity have sufficed to create such FSCO/I per our observation.

    That has never been done and in fact models for origin of cell based life and/or of major body plans have been put forth as reigning orthodoxy in spectacular violation of Newton’s common-sense rules of reasoning. Here, that we should only permit as explanatory constructs regarding things we see as traces of the remote past etc, that are shown to be capable of the like effects here and now. This prevents us from putting up metaphysical speculations without warrant that proposed causes are capable of relevant effects.

    How this was done, per fair comment, was through the injection of an exclusionary rule, multiplied by a polarising prejudice.

    That is, the suspicion of “the supernatural,” led to the imposition of methodological naturalism which permits only naturalistic causal explanations. So, even though blind chance and/or mechanical necessity have never been actually shown to have power to create FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 bits, that is the only class of explanation allowed. For, “god of the gaps” and “the supernatural” are strictly forbidden and suspect.

    (And in context it is no coincidence that the timeline for this seems to be across C19, as VJT supports in the OP above.)

    Only, ever since Plato in The Laws bk X, it has been well known that another way to dichotomise causal factors is natural [= blind chance and/or mechanical necessity] vs the ART-ificial [= intelligently directed configuration]. Where, we exemplify but do not exhaust possibilities for intelligent design.

    So, we need to start over, from the basics.

    KF

    PS: Functionally specific, complex organisation can be reduced to information content by seeing configurations as strings of y/n questions in a description language that specifies parts, arrangements and coupling in a functional network. Orgel put this on the table back in 1973.

  171. 171
  172. 172
    jdk says:

    kf writes,

    Perhaps you missed the controlling significance of “NATURAL explanations.

    No, I didn’t “miss” that. That was the central statement of the standards, and we spent considerable time explaining and defending that definition.

    Also, kf keeps talking about the inductive nature of science. Benchmark 3.2 addresses this. I don’t think anyone doubts that science is an inductive enterprise.

    The student …

    2. demonstrates a knowledge that scientific method historically proceeded from an inductive approach rather than a deductive approach.

    a. With the deductive method, scientists start with axioms – simple true statements about the way the world works. Galileo and his contemporaries realized that, for science, the problem was that it was enormously difficult to begin with “simple true statements about the way the world works”. In fact, they realized that the simple true statement should be the goal of science, not the starting place. Since the 1600s to the mid 1900s, the inductive method has been incredibly successful in investigating nature.

  173. 173
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    The imposition of a naturalistic ideology on science is material, especially as the design inference is an empirically grounded, inductive one.

    I again highlight the NSTA Board declaration, July 2000, as this gives key context:

    The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

    [S]cience, along with its methods, explanations and generalizations, must be the sole focus of instruction in science classes to the exclusion of all non-scientific or pseudoscientific [–> loaded word that cannot be properly backed up due to failure of demarcation arguments] methods, explanations, generalizations and products [–> declaration of intent to ideologically censor education materials] . . . .

    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 [–> undermined by the question-begging ideological imposition and associated censorship] . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements [–> question-begging false dichotomy, the proper contrast for empirical investigations is the natural (chance and/or necessity) vs the ART-ificial, through design] in the production of scientific knowledge.

    Also, observe 170 which has been headlined.

    Particularly note the imposed violation of Newton’s Rules.

    45 above is also very relevant.

    KF

  174. 174
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I clip from 170, cf context:

    scientific investigations seek ever more accurate and comprehensive descriptions, set in the context of ever improved explanatory constructs . . . sometimes laws, sometimes models, sometimes theories; though such terms can be frustratingly loose in meanings. Such, should demonstrate empirical reliability through accurate predictive power, but we must recognise this is not establishment of truth beyond correction.

    Such considerations provide crucial background for the design inference.

    That inference, made in a scientific context, points to observable phenomena such as functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information, or digitally coded functionally specific information, or fine-tuning. On a base of trillions of observations, once we are beyond a reasonable threshold of complexity [500 – 1,000 bits works] we see that consistently such results from intelligent cause and not from blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. Analysis of search space challenges on the gamut of our observed cosmos or the solar system [our effective universe for chemical level atomic interactions], suggests strongly that the reason for that is, the search challenge is too high for blind forces, but intelligently directed configuration — aka, design — readily achieves such results.

    The comments in this thread show many cases in point.

    At root, then, the design inference is little more than expressed willingness to trust that base of observations and its analytical context. That is, we see here inference to a general or particular conclusion on tested, empirically reliable sign.

    This applies to the world of life, and to features of the observed cosmos . . . .

    anyone who uses the Internet is familiar with coded text strings and the general causal source of such: intelligently directed configuration. Many are familiar with information processing machines that make such codes work. So, when we turn to the world of the living cell and observe similar codes and processing using molecular nanotechnology, the impression of design is overwhelming.

    The design inference with a threshold of sufficient complexity that it is maximally unlikely that blind chance and/or mechanical necessity are credible as material cause, follows as a simple induction. And a strongly supported one, we have trillions of cases in point.

    To test and overthrow it, it would be necessary to show that forces of blind chance and/or mechanical necessity have sufficed to create such FSCO/I per our observation.

    That has never been done and in fact models for origin of cell based life and/or of major body plans have been put forth as reigning orthodoxy in spectacular violation of Newton’s common-sense rules of reasoning. Here, that we should only permit as explanatory constructs regarding things we see as traces of the remote past etc, that are shown to be capable of the like effects here and now. This prevents us from putting up metaphysical speculations without warrant that proposed causes are capable of relevant effects.

    How this was done, per fair comment, was through the injection of an exclusionary rule, multiplied by a polarising prejudice.

    That is, the suspicion of “the supernatural,” led to the imposition of methodological naturalism which permits only naturalistic causal explanations. So, even though blind chance and/or mechanical necessity have never been actually shown to have power to create FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 bits, that is the only class of explanation allowed. For, “god of the gaps” and “the supernatural” are strictly forbidden and suspect.

    (And in context it is no coincidence that the timeline for this seems to be across C19, as VJT supports in the OP above.)

    Only, ever since Plato in The Laws bk X, it has been well known that another way to dichotomise causal factors is natural [= blind chance and/or mechanical necessity] vs the ART-ificial [= intelligently directed configuration]. Where, we exemplify but do not exhaust possibilities for intelligent design.

    So, we need to start over, from the basics.

    Cf context.

  175. 175
    mw says:

    Thanks, Mung, that you take the time to respond to a “moron,” as you say elsewhere (# 71, http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-614284)

    However, following my main comments # 150, (to recap):-

    “Let’s apply your logic to the resurrection. In an instant Jesus created a brand new species of human, regenerating himself from the dead with a body that is duality, a super creation. That is, a body able to transcend both the spiritual and physical realms.
    Did He use unguided evolution to create anything about His new Self?
    Where did He get His cues from when He was dead?
    The Father at Sinai, was, is and remains a six day creationist. The Son died keeping divine law.”
    _____________________________________________________

    you reply # 152:

    “First, I deny that Jesus created a brand new species of human.
    Second, even if Jesus did create a brand new species of human, that’s one new species since the Creation.” #71
    _______________________________________________________
    I perceive you edge your bets!

    There is only one humankind.

    You overlook the fact, that His resurrection was the second God-Man species. His first; at the Incarnation, when the Godhead became God-Man, physically bound with flesh.

    Also, are you not confusing species with varieties or kinds? Even Darwin had difficulty distinguishing between, the words, and the word “kind,” he avoided like the ten plagues of Egypt. _______________________________________________________
    “Darwin’s failure to define a major term in his seminal work, On the Origin of Species, is not surprising. The true origin of every species is the Creator, the God of the Bible. The difficulties in defining the term “species” has more to do with the failure of evolution to adequately explain what we see in nature as well as what we have seen documented in the fossil record.”
    http://www.creationstudies.org.....ecies.html
    ________________________________________________________

    However, the original “moron” according to a plain reading of divine law, you must also tar: that is God the Creator/Jesus, and His divine law which He wrote in Stone at Sinai, as “I am.” He created in six days, the original YEC’ist.

    Still, to imply written were the Ten Commandments by a “moron” would be blasphemy if divine law is true, as said.

    Mung, I am not asking you to believe what I believe, only to try and at least understand my logic to a belief, which I readily acknowledge is not mainstream by today’s sieve-like evolutionist logic.

    Nevertheless, Mung, you do me honour by classing me as a “moron.” Jesus said: “blessed are those who mock and say all manner of things against you, for great is your reward in heaven.” And believe me Mung, I have had worse said in The Catholic Times, (England).

    Irrespective, if calling me a “moron” makes you feel better: fine.

    However, from my own experiences of being drawn or influenced by evolutionism, it was the realisation that true origin is set in a divine law that really sank home with me. At that point, scripture became clear and sound. No fancy footwork needed to get around things.

    For me, the cosmic measurements do not reflect or take into account a vast maturing miracle. Miracles affect data. The beginning miracle affects data big time.

    I believe we live in the matured wine of six-day creation. The yoke is easy and the burden light.

    Anyway, to finish, five “moron” woman to consider who were given mystical understandings of Genesis.

    Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) was the second woman to do so, and the first English woman to write a book in English, of the mystical “Revelations of Divine Love.”

    Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), made Doctor of the Church 2012, in Scivias and Book of Divine Works was given an understanding of Genesis and John 1:1.

    Venerable Mary of Agreda (1602-1665) in The Mystical City of God, through the Holy Mother.

    Stigmatic Blessed Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) in The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations.

    St. Bridget (1303-1323), Patron Saint of Europe, wife and mother of eight children, was the only women ever to found a religious Order, Ordo Sanctissimi Salvatoris. She may also be called the patron saint of failures.

    “The value of St Bridget’s Revelations, sometimes the object of criticism Venerable John Paul II explained in his Letter Spes Aedificandi: ‘The Church, which recognized Bridget’s holiness without ever pronouncing on her individual revelations, has accepted the overall authenticity of her interior experience’” (n. 5).
    https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20101027.html

    No doubt, Mung, the Patron Saint of Europe is a “moron” also?

  176. 176
    StephenB says:

    Ted

    IMO, the Wedge document remains more than relevant to the larger issues pertaining to ID, b/c it spelled out the cultural agenda that Discovery has been pursuing with its advocacy of ID. The purpose of that document was to declare their vision, in order to solicit funding from sympathetic philanthropists. I have not seen significant evidence that their cultural agenda is any different than it was when the Wedge document was written. If so, then its relevance is ongoing, even though Discovery has changed their view on teaching ID in science classes.

    So what? BioLogos’ cultural mission is to make Darwinists out of Christians. The difference is that ID can defend its position all day long. BioLogos cannot survive even a modicum of rational scrutiny, as this thread makes clear. That is why everyone is not obsessing over the Wedge Document.

    By the way, have you come up with any historical examples where the scientific community imposed a universal methodology on other scientists as a rule of science? Of course, you haven’t and never will. It’s all a smokescreen.

  177. 177
    StephenB says:

    Ted

    Bob Russell isn’t offering his NIODA idea as a scientific idea, Stephen. He’d be the first to say that it’s a theological idea *about* science, not a scientific idea per se. So, he’s not breaking “my rule.” Furthermore, it’s not “my rule” at all. As I just explained @141, I was simply giving my assessment of how things actually work, my reading of rules that others have made.

    Ted, thank you for responding. I realize that you have other things to do, but this is the first time I have ever had a real dialogue with you. If you cannot continue, I will not assume that you had nothing more to say.

    If Robert Russell (and yourself) are using God to explain how the Neo-Darwinian mechanism can produce a specified outcome, that is, if you are making God a part of the scientific explanation so that a purposeless process receives direction, then you are violating the principle of methodological naturalism. You are not studying nature “as if nature is all there is.” The only way to return to methodological naturalism is to take God’s foot out of the door and assign purposeless Neo-Darwinian mechanisms (or some other secondary cause), as the explanatory cause for indeterminate (not specified) outcomes.

    Why not just take the rational ID position: If macro evolution is true, then God designed the process to produce a specified outcome? That is the only position that makes any sense.

    If propositions such as Russell’s are within the rules of science, Stephen, then so are books promoting scientific atheism like those of Dawkins, Coyne, and Sam Harris–which also offer religious interpretations of science.

    That is exactly what evolutionary biologists do, Ted. They declare that the “science” of evolution is to be understood as a naturalistic process with no purpose or goal. I documented the point earlier on this thread. I invite you to read all the relevant textbooks. However, they don’t violate MN because they do, indeed, study nature as if nature is all there is– No God, no purpose, no Goal. You cannot reasonably say, on the one hand, that you follow “the science,” while at the same time, say that you don’t agree with the evolutionary biologists who define the science. The only way out is to say that the community of biological scientists, 95% of whom are atheist/agnostic, no longer have the right to insist on a universal methodology for all scientists.

    IMO, Stephen, your position seems to commit you the proposition that the existence of God and/or ultimate purpose is a claim that science can actually “prove” or “disprove.” Dawkins certainly believes that. I do not. Do you?

    That is a fair question. I don’t think that science can prove purpose in or behind nature. The best it can do is point to a cause outside the physical universe. Indeed, that is what Big Bang science does, which violates the principle of MN by the way. MN does not permit the act of alluding to any possible cause outside of nature. However, I do think science can legitimately make a casee for fine-tuning–both for macro-marvels (the fine-tuning constants) and for micro-marvels (Information DNA etc.) which certainly puts the existence of an intelligent designer on the table. That isn’t the God of the bible to be sure, but if we add a little philosophy to it, we can show that the designer must be a person.

  178. 178
    StephenB says:

    I would also add that science can point to physical patterns that appear to have been arranged for a purpose (ancient hunter’s spear, cities buried by a volcano, a sand castle etc. With respect to the latter, a pourposeful intelligent agent is a better explanation than wind, air and erosion. Nature contains many similar patterns, such as a DNA molecule. Just because the first three examples are man made doesn’t mean that the patterns they exhibit are substantially different than some patterns in nature.. They aren’t. That is the point. Science can make that calculation and can point to purpose in that context.

  179. 179
    vjtorley says:

    mw,

    You mentioned mystical revelations in your last post. I’d like to quote a passage to you from the Introduction to The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics (compiled by Raphael Brown, Tan Books, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1951). The book has a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur. (You can read most of the book online.)

    The study of history is based primarily on contemporaneous written documents. This work, however, has been compiled entirely from the visions and private revelations of St. Elizabeth of Schoenau (1127?-1164), St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), Venerable Mother Mary Jesus of Agreda (1602-1665) and Sister Anna Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), as recorded in their writings or those of their secretaries…

    “Even when the Church approves them, they are not to be used as deciding questions of history … philosophy or theology…” [Quote from The Graces of Interior Prayer, a Treatise on Mystical Theology by Rev. Auguste Poulain S.J. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1912], Part IV, “Revelations and Visions.” – VJT]

    …St. Bridget and Mary of Agreda differ as to various details of the Nativity. Sister Anna Catherine Emmerich saw the Savior crucified with three nails, whereas St. Bridget saw four nails. And all three disagree concerning the number of years which the Blessed Virgin lived after the Crucifixion…

    We may therefore concede with the learned Father Herbert Thurston S.J., that “it seems impossible to treat the visions of Anne Catherine [Emmerich] – or, indeed, any other similar visions, as sources which can contribute reliably to our knowledge of past history.”

    If these visionaries are unreliable sources for the earthly history of Jesus and Mary, how much more unreliable are they for resolving questions relating to the history of God’s Creation?

  180. 180
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Ted,

    Have you gotten hold of Douglas Axe’s latest book, Undeniable, yet? I would warmly recommend it to you. It represents an enormous advance on the discussion relating to Intelligent Design, and is written in an engaging and persuasive style. It may even change your perspective on what science should be about.

  181. 181
    mw says:

    Thanks vjt for your comments, you make a good point:
    (Reply 1 of 2)

    “I’d like to quote a passage to you from the Introduction to The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics (compiled by Raphael Brown, Tan Books, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1951). The book has a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur. (You can read most of the book online.”)

    “If these visionaries are unreliable sources for the earthly history of Jesus and Mary, how much more unreliable are they for resolving questions relating to the history of God’s Creation?”
    _____________________________________________________________

    No revelation other than accepted Judaeo-Christian scripture is canonical. My continuing point throughout my contributions is that divine law is the canonical golden standard in relation to the history of the Creation.

    What the revelations provide is a consistency of dogma in relation to the Creation. That is why they are all totally reliable for determining the “history of God’s Creation,” but not in detail. Oddly enough, (I have the books), one of the visionaries’ writings being given the Imprimatur, and another, the Nihil Obstat. So where does that leave us?
    ______________________________________________________
    When an author wants to publish a religious book, he/she presents it to the local Bishop to be reviewed. The Bishop then gives it to a knowledgeable priest to have it read and corrected if necessary. If corrections are required, it is returned to the author to be corrected. When the priest who reviewed the manuscript (book) is satisfied with the corrections, he writes “Nihil Obstat” on the manuscript. “Nihil Obstat” means “no problem.”

    When the Bishop is satisfied with the content of the manuscript, he writes “Imprimatur.” This word means “Let it be printed.”. http://www.catholicdoors.com/faq/qu89.htm
    ________________________________________________________

    By saying, “If these visionaries are unreliable sources for the earthly history of Jesus and Mary, how much more unreliable are they for resolving questions relating to the history of God’s Creation,” you may as well say; ‘if divine law is unreliable for resolving questions relating to the history of God’s Creation, then how much more is unreliable in the rest of scripture to resolving anything?

    If that be the case, God needs first to save His own word from the confused and distorted disaster we have place it in today.

    Why does God then allow saintly people to experience such revelations? Why does the Holy Spirit provide similar spiritual gifts, and from Pentecost? Why does Paul teach:

    “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.” (1 Thess. 5:19-22)

    See, http://www.truthortradition.co.....a-prophecy

    It is “good” to hold fast to that God said He created in six days: that is my whole point.

    What the revelations did for those women is to reinforce scripture and possibly make their faith stronger. What revelations did to exercise their interior spiritual life; I have no idea. Why God communicates in this way, is a mystery. That He allows flaws and contradictions, must be to do with pride? Pride: we now know better and more clearly than what God said at Sinai.

    However, in those mystical writings, God has preserved scripture as infallible in its central dogmas. The Creation in six days; at Sinai, the start of regular worship every seven days in remembrance of the holy Creation; the Incarnation; the Virgin birth; the Resurrection, and the Ascension. Three more dogmas connect; Satan, Original Sin and the Judgement.

    All scripture is inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16) because human nature by itself if flawed. Meaning, God has preserved the truth throughout the history of the creation from the beginning, but not in fallen humanity, in His inspired word. Otherwise, God is the biggest deceiver on the Creation, ever!

    You mention, vjt; one mystic says crucified was Jesus with four nails, while another says three nails had Him crucified. From my recollection of reading the books, and that of other mystics, an explanation is; used was a fourth nail.

    Jesus was nailed through one heel to hold the leg down from pulling away, then placed was the other heel on top of the other and both nailed together with a larger nail. Meaning, it was easier for those doing the crucifying.

    That explanation may be similar to where Jesus was born. One scripture says in a cave, another in a stable. It seems the full picture is given if we understand the stable was over or in front of a cave. It was a stable-cave.

    Are we to throw out all scripture by a lack of understanding in one small part that is not essential for salvation and that first appears contradictory with another? Any excuse will do for many.

    A prime question is, what is the most reliable source we have to determine how God created, and its subsequent history. What is the greatest seal and stamp of approval to create truth and authenticity?

    Surely, it is God’s very own historic word, set in stone, and the only scripture ever written by the finger of God, therefore, having the supreme seal of truth and of utmost holiness and importance. In a sense, the Ten Commandments given at Sinai are the holy of Holy scriptures. They are the origins of all Judaeo-Christian ethics and morals, and for knowing the unknowable; the manner of how the Creation came about.

  182. 182
    mw says:

    (Part 2 of 2)

    Time and time again, God gives sound advice throughout J-C scripture. Do not add or subtract to scripture, (Deut 4:2), (1:3), (4:14), and, “Do not add to his words, or else he will rebuke you, and you will be found a liar.” (Prov 30:6)

    God said, “You must diligently observe everything that I command you; do not add to it or take anything from it” (Deut 12:32). The reason God is so adamant on this is because “The sum of your word is truth; and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever. (Psalms 119:160)

    Jesus/God, answered Satan, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God”’ (Matt 4:4). Not, we live by every word from out of the mouth of Darwin, Hubble and every big banger going.

    Jesus said, “scripture cannot be annulled.” (Jn 10:35)

    Jesus used the word “hypocrites” (Matt 15:3-9) for those justifying themselves that they need not keep a commandment to the letter, or to the dot.

    Concerning divine law, Jesus, as “the truth,” said:
    _____________________________________________________
    Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:17-19)
    ______________________________________________________

    Jesus spoke in obedience to the Father (Jn 12:49-50), keeping all divine law, therefore six means six, otherwise, He did not keep the law verbatim: our salvation is unreliable, as the Word becomes unreliable if we believe in consensus science.

    As for St Paul, he gives sound advice inspired by the Holy Spirit:
    _____________________________________________________
    “I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, ‘Nothing beyond what is written’, so that none of you will be puffed up in favour of one against another.” (1 Cor 4:6)
    _____________________________________________________

    Theory is now made a justifiable reason to disbelieve divine law.

    Still, who cares that we may get the plagues for adding and subtracting or even our name removed from the tree of life (Revelation 22:18-19). We have the Big Bang Theory and Darwinism to give us light.

    The point is vjt, if you or I want to set a standard for judging the word of God with regard to the Creation, then surely, God must also set a standard in how He will judge us, and that can only be as Jesus said, “we live by every word out of the mouth of God,” therefore, we will be judged by that standard.

    Before God wrote His Word in stone divine law (Exod 19:9-26), He sanctified the Israelites before Moses received them. There is no greater authority for truth in which we must be sanctified (Jn 17:17) and (Jn 14:6).

    Does the Bible have the Imprimatur and the Nihil Obstat! Clearly not. It just has the word of God describing verbatim that He has written Creation in a stone divine law and given it verbatim. A holy divine law asks us to remember the birth of the Creation over six days; and for His Holy and miraculous creation be remembered every seven days.

    Today, stamped is evolutionary theory with some form of Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat. How can that be right, especially when such science sets in space and stone unprovable measurements. Meaning, we do not know how such physical datums commonly accepted first arose, and how they came to be in that form, when miracles effect data.

    Therefore, how much more unreliable are they for resolving questions relating to the history of God’s Creation? We cannot prove or disprove God. There was a beginning, yes, but how God described, and set in law. If one divine law is deemed wrong, or must be tampered with to suit theory, all divine laws must be rejected as untrustworthy. Even an atheist can see that logic.

    Evolutionism is not even law, relative to the Big Bang theory and Darwinism. Legally, show how dirt changes into life and a worm into a human. Legally, show how an explosion creates order and then life. Please do not say via God, because His law says totally different.

    Through our God given means to faith we please God. And “the way” must be clear from God, otherwise, we have an excuse to get it wrong. Jesus is “the way” to the Father of Sinai (Jn 14:6). We cannot take a detour through Darwin or Hubble.

    We have been given divine and apostolic set standards on how to read Judaeo-Christian scripture. Today, Gnostic evolutionary Christianity prevails.

    If as Christians we rely on the Ten Commandments on our moral and ethics in setting standards, we cannot pick and choose. If, morally, creation in six days is wrong and therefore unethical, cast out must be the rest as “unreliable” for resolving questions relating to ethical standards in today’s world. Either, evolutionary science is unethical relative to Sinai and divine law; or God is unethical relative to such theories. Both cannot be true: they are totally opposite.

    Surely, our judgement should be just; accurate and truthfully by God’s own standards to His word? Then surely we must try to live by them.

    Jesus/God, replied to Satan, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”’ (Matt 4:4). That teaching speaks volumes when faced with the perfection of evil, beguilement, deception and consensus theory; the creation myth of fallen humanity which denies miraculous creation on the word of God.

    Today, we have taken a golden standard, a divine law, and made the Creation finished in six days equal to 13.7 billion years uncompleted, with an ongoing incomplete Sabbath. That is faith in theory, not faith in the word of God.

    Well, if a theory is the standard to judge every statement of the Judaeo-Christian God, we will destroy the faith, because to make six days equal to 13.7 billion years cannot even begin to be a yardstick. “Nothing beyond what is written, so that none of you will be puffed up in favour of one against another.” Absolutely ignored. We know better.

    Our evolution theories now are given the equivalent of the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur. They are the golden standards for natural creation. We have made the Creation to our own liking, to and with our own fallen standards.

    Indeed, it is more difficult to disbelieve theory than to believe every word out of the mouth of God. Let’s see, to eat of the tree of knowledge, you will be as God’s. We (Adam and Eve) could not even keep one law in Paradise, let alone Ten from Sinai. God must have known what He was asking. Hence He died keeping the law. If the law is untrue in the slightest, flawed is our salvation and the crucifixion to no avail.

    If the word of God, given plain and clear will not suffice, nothing will.

    Thanks vjt for a stimulating and wide reaching OP.

    mw

  183. 183
    Paul Giem says:

    An observation is in order. There is one sense in which methodological naturalism is an appropriate assumption for science, even if one does not define science as “what scientists do” (a circular definition of science, as how does one determine who are scientists except that they do science?).

    Perhaps the best definition of science is “the study of the reproducible”. This allows science to have some powerful advantages, one of which is, others can check your work. If they can’t reproduce it, your observations cannot become part of science. Thus there is a check for fraud. Also one can expect that in science, future results can be predicted by studying past results, and unstudied events can usually be assumed to be similar to studied ones (not always; for example, the placebo effect has to be accounted for). If God “intervenes” in nature (IMO takes different actions at times, but it looks from the outside like intervention), but does not do so in reproducible ways, then such events are strictly not part of science, and MN will rightly exclude those events from science.

    However, there is one sense in which applying MN becomes in fact philosophical naturalism. That pertains to the boundary between science and non-science. The question can be raised, can science ever point beyond itself? If one assumes naturalism, that nature is all there is, was, or ever will be, then science as the study of nature can never point outside itself, and philosophical naturalism is true, and methodological naturalism will keep us from looking for events that will never happen. On the other hand, if there are important truths outside of science, such as non-reproducible events, MN will keep us from even asking the question of whether they exist. With MN, science can never point outside itself, which is a problem if science should point outside itself.

    I expect thoroughgoing naturalists to laud MN. I find it harder to understand those who do believe in entities and events that are outside the realm of science insisting that MN must always apply. What if science does properly point outside itself? Insisting on MN is then the equivalent of self-blinding.

    The only way around that problem for a believer in God and at the same time a believer in MN as an absolute rule is an ironclad knowledge that God would never interact with His creation in a detectable, even statistically detectable way. That seems a hard enough lift for a classical theist, but for a believer in the inspiration of Romans 1:20 it looks to me to be impossible.

  184. 184
    Ted Davis says:

    For kf@165, where he said, “Dr Davis, I invite you to explain to us, i/l/o the excerpt at 131 above, how DI in 1999 pursued an illegitimate socio-cultural agenda …”

    You’ve put words into my mouth, kf–one very important word. I never said their agenda was “illegitimate,” indeed I did not use any evaluative adjectives in my comment. This is what I said: “MO, the Wedge document remains more than relevant to the larger issues pertaining to ID, b/c it spelled out the cultural agenda that Discovery has been pursuing with its advocacy of ID. ”

    Where did I say or imply anything about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of Discovery’s cultural goals relative to ID?

    If you’re going to comment on my statements, kf, please read them more carefully and do not jump to conclusions.

  185. 185
    Ted Davis says:

    SB @57 said, “I am still waiting for Ted Davis, who claims that methodological naturalism is historical, to provide even one example from another era in which the scientific community imposed a universal methodology on its members as a “rule” of science.”

    I never claimed that there was such a “universal methodology” in “another era,” Stephen. I assume you were responding to my lengthy comment @6.

    I did claim that it’s easy to find pertinent examples of natural philosophers carefully separating science and religion in “another era.” So, you are waiting for me to answer an objection to a point I did not make. That could prove to be a long wait.

    I cited one (of several) papers in support of my claim. Here’s the passage: “one can also pull together lovely examples of natural philosophers and scientists carefully separating God from scientific practice. Here’s a recent paper to that point: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2…..Bishop.pdf ”

    My overall point is simply that VJ’s excellent piece (and yes, it’s an excellent piece) is part of the story. Likewise, Robert Bishops excellent article is part of the story.

    I’ll add my own point about Robert Boyle. (I note in passing that VJ’s summary/analysis of Boyle’s position on design arguments in science could have been lifted from a paper I published around 20 years ago. Perhaps it was; he’s under no obligation to provide a full bibliography.) Boyle’s assistants prepared many private catalogs of his own writings, including those already published and those in progress, in which works were separated into two main categories: natural philosophical (i.e., scientific) and theological. So, the notion that discourse about God was (at least usually) in a different category than discourse about nature was certainly much in his mind. And, he often did not sign his theological works (technically they were anonymous or pseudonymous), perhaps to pay lip service to the official attitude of the Royal Society that politics and religion were out of bounds.

    My impression of several comments here (by different people) is that my point is not being heard. It’s one thing to disagree with my point; it’s another thing not to understand what I actually said.

  186. 186
    kairosfocus says:

    Dr Davis,

    it is a given that the wedge strategy was a strategy.

    Much has been made of it in a context that overwhelmingly wishes to paint it in the most lurid colours as a right wing, fundy, creationist, christofascist theocratic plot to overthrow freedom, science, and civilisation; in my view (on looking at the matter), improperly. Improperly with implication that people are led away from knowable truth thereby, and also — given the history of radical secularism over the past 100 years — that our civilisation is being led into a march of folly on this issue. In a context where those who warn are being marginalised and worse, in part by painting them in unjustified, lurid colours.

    In that general context, one simply cannot merely neutrally state that such a strategy exists.

    For, general context colours statements — that is, silence quite understandably invites the inference of enabling of and/or support for the accusation, nay, the branding or even scapegoating.

    In addressing said document, I pointed out that it pivots on the inductive logic, scientific case for the design inference — cf 45 etc above down to 170 and the onward thread on induction. If such is warranted, it is legitimate to raise the issue as an answer to dominant schools of thought and cultural agendas that pivot on the assertion that such design does not exist in the natural world, nor can such be properly inferred on inductive investigation.

    I have pointed out why I believe the design inference is reasonable and responsible, and I have also pointed out how evolutionary materialism is inherently amoral and how it opens the door to might makes right nihilism.

    Which, no sane civilisation will entertain.

    (Which raises serious questions about our civilisation being caught up in a suicidal march of folly.)

    In that context, it first seems important to look at inductive reasoning (and I have put up a thread for that: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....inference/ )

    Then, it becomes important to look at scientific reasoning and at the design inference in that context.

    So also, we see that it is significant to notice the role played by a priori evolutionary materialist scientism and methodological naturalism in the current radical attempt to redefine science and its methods in such a way that the design inference on empirically reliable signs is locked out a priori.

    So, I must reject and even protest your assertion that I have been merely jumping to unwarranted conclusions.

    Context counts,

    KF

  187. 187
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: It is worth the pause to excerpt my remarks in 165:

    Dr Davis, I invite you to explain to us, i/l/o the excerpt at 131 above, how DI in 1999 pursued an illegitimate socio-cultural agenda [and I note that there have been material changes since then as has been noted above from time to time, e.g. the explicit policy that ID should not be taught in schools, which was there by the time of the Dover and KS issues c 2005]. I suggest that such should specifically address the stated pivotal issue of a grounding in scientific research and linked analysis, and the explanatory document here. Further to this, perhaps you can enlighten us as to the legitimacy or otherwise of inductive reasoning, its application to science and thence the validity or otherwise of the
    design inference on tested, empirically credible signs such as functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information and fine-tuning
    , say by responding to 45 above or the like. KF

    . . . which responded to Dr Davis at 160:

    IMO, the Wedge document remains more than relevant to the larger issues pertaining to ID, b/c it spelled out the cultural agenda that Discovery has been pursuing with its advocacy of ID. The purpose of that document was to declare their vision, in order to solicit funding from sympathetic philanthropists. I have not seen significant evidence that their cultural agenda is any different than it was when the Wedge document was written. If so, then its relevance is ongoing, even though Discovery has changed their view on teaching ID in science classes.

    It is noteworthy that Dr Davis has not addressed or linked on the issue of warrant regarding the design inference but has focussed on socio-culrural matters. This is consistent with the general talking-point that the design “movement” is about politics and does not have any scientific case. Indeed, in looking at Axe’s corrective to four errors regarding his 2004 paper (three of which he ascribes to Dr Davis), I notice how — having praised Dr Hunt for actually engaging scientific issues — he was moved to comment:

    Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross, on the other hand, applied Objection 1 to my earlier work without making any attempt to understand the science. Rather, their book Creationism’s Trojan Horse [4] tries to make its anti-ID case with statements like, “Axe’s reference list does not include any known ID proponents”, and “The key words accompanying the abstract, which Axe himself supplied, do not include ‘intelligent design’ or anything remotely suggestive of it.” I guess there’s no need to use a scientific approach if you’re committed to the belief that there’s no connection between ID and science.

    It seems to me that the proper priority is to first engage the issue of inductive reasoning, science in that context, and the design inference as a matter in that context. Such materially influences the way one may then address the design “movement.” For, a “movement” that is concerned about a serious error of science that energises a destructive socio-cultural agenda is morally very different indeed from a theocratic, christofascist conspiracy that tries to illegitimately hide behind the lab coat and mislead the public through pseudo-science. (And I put things this starkly as that is what needs to be faced.)

  188. 188
    kairosfocus says:

    NOTE: Pardon, I should have “his 2004 paper (three of which he ascribes to Dr Davis [–> Hunt]).” My apologies.

  189. 189
    StephenB says:

    Ted Davis @185

    I did claim that it’s easy to find pertinent examples of natural philosophers carefully separating science and religion in “another era.” So, you are waiting for me to answer an objection to a point I did not make. That could prove to be a long wait.

    Here is the problem, Ted. When you critique ID as science, you define methodological naturalism as a rule of science. However, when I ask you for any historical examples of any similar rule, you change the definition of MN to mean only that scientists have separated God from scientific practice, a historical fact which no one questions..

    I cited one (of several) papers in support of my claim.

    I already know about the history of scientists separating God from scientific practice. Why do you insist on emphasizing points that everyone knows while you avoid the subject on the table?

    My impression of several comments here (by different people) is that my point is not being heard. It’s one thing to disagree with my point; it’s another thing not to understand what I actually said.

    I understand what you said very well. Unfortunately, you don’t understand what I am saying. There are no historical examples of scientists presuming to tell other scientists which methodology they should use or which methodology is necessary for legitimate science. Thus, there is no history of methodological naturalism. That scientists typically separated God from scientific practice (or included God in scientific practice, which also happened) has nothing at all to do with the point.

  190. 190
    Ted Davis says:

    Stephen @185:

    You said this: (a) “There are no historical examples of scientists presuming to tell other scientists which methodology they should use or which methodology is necessary for legitimate science.” And then immediately afterwards (b) “Thus, there is no history of methodological naturalism. That scientists typically separated God from scientific practice (or included God in scientific practice, which also happened) has nothing at all to do with the point.”

    MY REPLY TO (a): http://biologos.org/blogs/ted-.....of-mercury

    Given that Boyle was (1) an extraordinarily devout Christian (acknowledged by all Boyle experts), (2) one of the pioneers of the modern scientific laboratory, and (3) the father of ID (see http://biologos.org/blogs/ted-.....ent-design ), I think the example I am giving you is far from trivial. I could produce many others, including at least one from Kepler, who was as devout as Boyle (something I could not say about very many scientists in any period), but Boyle should suffice to refute claim (a).

    MY REPLY TO (b): As you know, Stephen, I’m an historian and you are not. And, I’ve actually published (with Johns Hopkins) an essay on the history of naturalism, though certainly not a recent one. If you don’t like what I’m about to say, you can of course keep denying it, but you risk resembling the proverbial ostrich.

    We do in fact have some partial histories of MN, such as the article I cited by Robert Bishop, the article by Ronald Numbers that VJ (quite uncharacteristically) misinterpreted (with regard to Galileo), an article I wrote twenty years ago with (at that time) Discovery Institute Fellow Robin Collins, and several more such pieces. What we lack is a comprehensive history of MN or even naturalism in various other forms (Collins and I identified four types of naturalism, but others might identify other forms of it).

    Separating God from scientific practice is indeed part of the history of naturalism, including MN–at least in the opinions of the scholars who work on this topic. Yes, there’s more to that history as well; VJ’s quotes (most of which have been known to me for many years) are also part of that history. Many Christian scientists (and for my purposes here I mean only Christian scientists who accept the reality of divinely caused miracles) have taken the view that miracles don’t belong in scientific accounts. I just gave you chapter and verse on a classic example, which could be multiplied many times. To say that this “has nothing at all to do with the point” is just an arbitrary claim on your part. Anyone who wants to research the history of MN–as several people have already done, but I don’t recall seeing any evidence that you have done so in a serious way–certainly needs to study how scientists have consciously erected disciplinary boundaries, just as many other professional groups have, such as physicians, lawyers, clergy, or people in law enforcement. It has everything to do with the point.

  191. 191
    jdk says:

    This might be useful, from Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 2009:

    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2007/PSCF9-07Poe.pdf

  192. 192
    Ted Davis says:

    For kf@186:

    I understand why you reacted strongly to my assertion of the ongoing relevance of the Wedge document, kf. You’ve followed this issue for a long time, and you’ve seen many people try to argue from that document that ID is nothing but a right-wing, theocratic conspiracy. So, it’s a natural connection to make.

    However, I made no such connection, and I never have. I’ve always tried to take ID seriously as both a set of ideas AND as a community upholding a counter-establishment mindset. (There is abundant evidence here and elsewhere of such a dual identity.) Indeed, if you knew my published work better, you’d know that I believe ID is raising some important questions about the nature of science, philosophical and theological questions that people shouldn’t be fired for asking.

    You said flatly that I evaluated the ID agenda as “illegitimate.” I said nothing of the sort, nor did I imply it. You drew that inference, by evaluating my statement against the background of your experience with others. OK, I see how that works, but you cannot just equate my views with those of a large number of other ID critics. I do my own thinking, and as some here know I disagree with most scientists and others who just equate ID with YEC, toss the C word as a hand grenade, and think that’s the end of the conversation. If I agreed with them, I wouldn’t bother to say anything at all on this site.

    Thus, I entirely reject your conclusion: “So, I must reject and even protest your assertion that I have been merely jumping to unwarranted conclusions.” You did not accurately assess my point, and put into my mouth the words of many others.

    There are not just two “sides” to this issue, kf, but you seem to think there are. All too often that happens in culture wars, and (sadly) in those conflicts the truth is usually one of the first casualties.

    I have nothing further to add on this point. Readers can see for themselves what I did say, and what I did not say.

  193. 193
    Ted Davis says:

    For SB@177: “Ted, thank you for responding. I realize that you have other things to do, but this is the first time I have ever had a real dialogue with you. If you cannot continue, I will not assume that you had nothing more to say.”

    Thank you for this gracious comment, Stephen. Even in the summer I do have quite limited time for electronic conversation (I always, inevitably, would rather sit down over coffee or tea and talk face to face, which is not just more personal but also much more efficient than typing). I will add just one more comment below and call it a day.

  194. 194
    Ted Davis says:

    One more for SB@177: “If Robert Russell (and yourself) are using God to explain how the Neo-Darwinian mechanism can produce a specified outcome, that is, if you are making God a part of the scientific explanation so that a purposeless process receives direction, then you are violating the principle of methodological naturalism. You are not studying nature “as if nature is all there is.” The only way to return to methodological naturalism is to take God’s foot out of the door and assign purposeless Neo-Darwinian mechanisms (or some other secondary cause), as the explanatory cause for indeterminate (not specified) outcomes.

    Why not just take the rational ID position: If macro evolution is true, then God designed the process to produce a specified outcome? That is the only position that makes any sense.”

    Stephen, if you had worded that second paragraph somewhat differently, I might fully agree with you. Here’s the edited version as I would put it: Since macro evolution is true, then God must have designed the process to produce a specified outcome.

    As you may know, a major reason why I do not identify with ID is its deliberate ambivalence on several key scientific questions. Ironically, (probably) most ID experts regard most of those questions as having been answered more than adequately by science; e.g. the age of the earth and the universe(billions, not thousands, of years), the presence of animal death and suffering for long ages before any person sinned, the production of fossils through long geological ages (not in the Flood), or the origin of the universe in “the Big Bang.” Officially, ID brackets the epistemic status of all of those things (granted, many ID authors quite properly seize on the Big Bang as very design-friendly piece of science), an attitude that is not designed to instill confidence in someone like me, who studied a lot of physical science. Now perhaps I am not well informed about contemporary ID views, but this is how things were done for some time–is this not so?

    Add the question of common ancestry (I assume that’s what you mean by “macro evolution”) to the mix, and I just can’t swallow ID whole. IMO those questions, including macro evolution, cover big pieces of very well established science. Could it all be wrong? Yes–Aristotle came crashing down in the 17th century and even Newton was replaced (though the comparison with Aristotle would be a poor one, since there are good reasons why Newtonian physics is still universally taught to physics students). I can do no better than evaluate the evidence as it currently stands, and on those matters mainstream science looks like the best game in town, by far.

    So, given that I actually believe that God designed the process of evolution to produce a specific outcome, and given that you (apparently) would be prepared to take that position yourself, if you found the evidence for macro evolution more persuasive, then any disagreements we might have would come down to theology and philosophy, not science: what outcome(s) did God specifically intend? to what extent does God want to put any “play” into the creation, perhaps even for God’s own pleasure? did God specifically plan for human beings with five fingers, two eyes, and one bladder? does the explanatory effectiveness of stochastic models in many branches of science mean that God sometimes “plays dice” with created things?

    I have just identified those as philosophical or theological questions, Stephen. As you imply in that first paragraph of yours, I am (with Bob Russell and others) not willing to leave God’s foot outside the door in my own thinking. I am more than happy to go “beyond science,” to borrow the title of a book by John Polkinghorne, in order to propose possible answers to those big questions, and I believe (with Polkinghorne) that Christian theism not only helps us answer those questions, but that it also offers more satisfactory answers to some other big questions specifically about nature and the science of nature: why does the only universe we’ve ever detected permit carbon-based life, which allows for creatures capable of realizing that they know about such things? why is science even possible at all? (For more on this, see my series on Polkinghorne at http://biologos.org/blogs/ted-.....lkinghorne )

    So, to cut to the chase in what must be my final comment on this thread: you and I differ (as best I can tell) on whether the design question is fully scientific. I am not able to separate these larger issues from the design question, since for me God (not some abstract intelligent designer) is the only viable candidate for designing a universe and its contents. Whether we think that God designed the whole shebbang or any specific individual part of it, cannot in my mind be separated from questions such as those I just laid out. And science can’t answer those questions; there are good reasons why the NSF won’t entertain a proposal to put God directly into the laboratory.

    So–is Darwinism purposeless, in an ultimate sense? Are quantum events purposeless, in an ultimate sense? Is the universe purposeless, in an ultimate sense? I don’t think that naturalistic science can say one way or the other, since it’s blind to ultimate purpose. Despite the fact that some very noisy scientists (most of whom are almost wholly ignorant of philosophy and theology, I don’t hesitate to add) want their readers to think that science shows that there are no ultimate purposes.

    The best short, electronically available, statement of a view I like is this: http://www.firstthings.com/art.....-by-design

    IMO Barr’s view exemplifies what Owen Gingerich calls “id, lower case i and lower case d,” meaning that scientists aren’t crazy or ill-informed to believe that (divine) design is consistent with what we know about nature. However, ID with capital letters comes with a big cultural agenda and the view (which I do not hold) that design inferences are fully scientific. That’s probably where we would continue to differ.

    I know that Barr’s beautifully written, deeply thoughtful piece did not go down well here, Stephen. I do not want to revisit that episode. If you didn’t like his piece (forgive the understatement), I’m afraid I would not do any better. With that apology, I am signing off this thread.

  195. 195
    jdk says:

    Excellent writing, Ted, and thoughts, also.

  196. 196
    StephenB says:

    Ted, thank you again for taking the time to respond:

    Boyle was arguing on behalf of natural causes/explanations for the operation of certain aspects of nature, not the existence or the coming into being of certain aspects of nature.

    He did not try to say, nor would he have dared to say, for example, that science ought not to search for causes outside of nature with respect to Big Bang Cosmology or the origin of life, or the DNA molecule. Further, I am sure that he would have had no problem if the Lourdes Commission declares, from time to time, that a certain medical healing cannot be explained by natural causes. All those examples would violate your conception of MN, not his. Bottom line: We cannot count it as part of the history of MN as you and your colleagues try to apply it.

  197. 197
    StephenB says:

    Ted @194

    You write,

    So, given that I actually believe that God designed the process of evolution to produce a specific outcome, and given that you (apparently) would be prepared to take that position yourself, if you found the evidence for macro evolution more persuasive, then any disagreements we might have would come down to theology and philosophy, not science: what outcome(s) did God specifically intend? to what extent does God want to put any “play” into the creation, perhaps even for God’s own pleasure? did God specifically plan for human beings with five fingers, two eyes, and one bladder? does the explanatory effectiveness of stochastic models in many branches of science mean that God sometimes “plays dice” with created things?

    Again, Ted, the “science” of evolution refers to the Neo-Darwinian mechanism as the cause of biodiversity. And yes, that same mechanism does, by definition, play dice with created things by virtue of its randomness, which cannot produce specificity. Randomness can only produce indeterminancy. So when you include God’s Divine action as a way of giving direction to an undirected process, you are violating your own principle of methodological naturalism. In truth, you are making God part of the process since, as I think we both understand, the process alone cannot produce specificity. In other words, the science of evolution, as you conceive it, consists of two causes; the mechanism as a cause, and God’s divine activity as a cause.

    Put another way, you can explain how God achieves his apriori intent only if God is included as part of the scientific explanation. So you (and Robert Russell) are not simply going “beyond” science by including God in your scientific explanation, you are using God’s Divine activity as part of solution. The unguided mechanism alone, which would be within the bounds of MN, is powerless to provide a result that corresponds to the Creator’s precise intentions. So your explanation (and Russell’s explanation) violates your conception of MN, just as ID’s explanation violates your conception of MN. The only way to stay consistent with MN is to attribute everything to the mechanism, which can produce only an indeterminate result; but if you do that, you can’t get the specified result required by Christianity.

  198. 198
    kairosfocus says:

    Dr Davis,

    Pardon, but I must again observe that context counts, and behaviour that has enabling effect has just that — enabling effect.

    The reason why there has been any focus on this document (much less the amount of conspiracy theorising we have seen for 15+ years) is precisely that the fundraising document was seized upon to manufacture a case that design thought had negligible scientific merit and was essentially a grand, fundy, creationist, theocratic christofascist conspiracy. In that interest, truth, fairness and reasonableness were given short shrift, including by bodies that should have known and done better.

    This is therefore a case of sustained injustice rooted in polarising slander leading to scapegoating, stereotyping and outright bigotry. Therefore, the principle applies, he who is not with me is against me; and, he who gathereth not, scattereth.

    In short, where one is missing in action where it counts, that counts. Despite protests to the contrary, and even where there is a degree of inadvertence. Where, in this context, to simply allude to “the Wedge document” and go directly to a claim that it outlines a socio-cultural agenda that still obtains, is to imply — as opposed to, to overtly declare — endorsement of the set of talking points that would use this to taint the design “movement” as illegitimate from scientific claims on up. If that implication is not intended, then an active statement of balancing is required. Which, was simply not given.

    (And, kindly cf here, on my notes on addressing news and views media spin. On this, I speak from a background of having to deal, live, with ruthless marxist agit-prop agitators and strategists, as well as with those they swept up in their hysteria, front groups, fellow travellers, useful idiots [the term comes from Lenin] and what has now come to be commonly called astroturfed movements. And, I note, nazi agit prop simply borrowed the marxists’ tactics, as did the CIA etc. The marxists were the real innovators. A pattern that continues through the Frankfurt School, the Alinskyites and the cultural marxists and/or “Critical Theory” thinkers of today. All of which I find uncomfortably echoed or even patently manifest in the movements that pivot on hostility to today’s design thought. Where, this pattern is so uniformly extremely destructive and dangerous, that once its signs are manifest, prudent, decisive countering action is indicated. And, as turnabout “you hit first” projections, doubling down and willful speaking in disregard to truth in hopes of profiting by what is said or suggested being seen as true are known tactics, bland assurances are nowhere near enough to show differently. No wonder Kant’s Categorical Imperative warns against such patterns. )

    Further to this, you will observe that from the first, I emphasised a point that Johnson (I believe) did right there in the fund raising document: the first issue is the inductive logic-grounded, scientific investigation-driven design inference. So, the pivotal question is: the basic logical and scientific case that grounds (or fails to ground) the design inference as a conclusion of best current explanation on empirically tested, reliable sign.

    If that inference on sign holds, modern design thought is inductively and scientifically valid, period. If design theorists are mistaken, then the design “movement” turns on a scientific error. But in neither case is this pseudoscientific fraud and subversive conspiracy. Which, is what is the STANDARD talking point.

    So, too, it becomes necessary for me to again point out a critical point in the exchange above.

    For, even after repeatedly drawing attention to the pivotal issue, you — as with several objectors in this and other recent threads — have not actually addressed the pivotal matter.

    Thus, the diagnosis, I am afraid, must remain: your argumentation as presented leaves on the table (even after repeated request to show otherwise) the issue of viewing the design movement through the lurid colours of conspiracy theorism, as fundamentally illegitimate.

    Yes, you have said “if you knew my published work better, you’d know that I believe ID is raising some important questions about the nature of science, philosophical and theological questions that people shouldn’t be fired for asking.”

    No, I have had no occasion to look at your published work, nor have you given me reason so to do. Even this statement side-steps the matter of the inductive logic based, scientific validity of the basic design inference on sign. And, that, after specific, repeated request.

    While I appreciate that you, per your testimony, have objected to censorship and career busting, with all due respect, that has not gone anywhere near far enough.

    The pivotal issue on the table was, is, and will remain: the inductive logic, scientific case regarding the core design inference on empirically tested, reliable sign.

    Until and unless that is duly focussed per first things first, the dynamic left on the table is that of agit prop delegitimisation through red herrings dragged away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

    Which, must first be stopped if there is to be reasonable, responsible progress.

    KF

  199. 199
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I went searching, and after a few fits and starts (the Dover Trial really needs to be laid to rest . . . ) came across this from ASA in Nov 2009:

    http://www2.asa3.org/archive/asa/200911/0224.html

    [Dr Davis:] >> It is one thing to affirm that design inferences from nature are possible, and even to endorse a few of them oneself. It is another thing to affirm that they are “scientific” inferences, as vs metaphysical or philosophical or theological inferences. As you know, I have myself maintained that design arguments are mainly (if not entirely) of a non-scientific nature, for various reasons, including my belief that without some knowledge of (or some assumptions about) a specific designer it is not possible to draw the inference of design or purpose . . . . I do not believe that design can be “proved” in the sense you seem to require here; it cannot be “compelled,” as you say. Asa Gray realized this early on: that Darwinism *does* make it possible, as Dawkins puts it, to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Where Dawkins errs, IMO, is by entirely and constantly failing to acknowledge that one can also be an intellectually fulfilled theist–despite the basic truth of evolution. Indeed, I would say that the inference to design is still more strongly supported than the inference to its absence. Like Polkinghorne (among others), I believe that the whole universe and the its very intelligibility make more sense on theism than on non-theism. Like Polkinghorne, I also believe that the atheists are not idiots: nothing compels them to theism, just as nothing compels me to atheism.

    Lamoureux holds that nature shouts design, as the Psalmist says, but that spiritual darkness causes the atheist to deny this. Given this, would you say that Lamoureux believes in design inferences, or not?>>

    In short, Dr Davis believes [or believed c. 2009 and likely since] design inferences on natural phenomena are possible, but seems to hold that by and large, they are non-scientific. Which in today’s world of institutionally dominant and too often domineering a priori evolutionary materialist scientism, will be taken as UN-scientific in many quarters, with a strongly adverse tone. (Never mind the self-referential incoherence of such scientism, before we get to the logical snake swallowing itself from the tail nature of evolutionary materialism. As Lewontin notoriously inadvertently admitted in 1997 when he asserted that hoi polloi should be led to view science as the only begetter of truth.)

    However, this is manifestly a needless dichotomy and pushing of inductive design inferences on empirically reliable sign to the wrong side of the partition. For, science pivots on inductive reasoning and on empirical evidence fed into that reasoning. Where, some of the strongest and oldest forms of such scientific reasoning take the guise of inference on reliable sign.

    As long-time UDers will recall, at the start of the UD ID Foundations series, Hippocrates of Cos was brought to bear; where medicine is one of the root disciplines of science. Clipping a backgrounder:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....nificance/

    Signs: I observe one or more signs [in a pattern], and infer the signified object, on a warrant:

    I: [si] –> O, on W

    a –> Here, as I will use “sign” [as opposed to “symbol”], the connexion is a more or less causal or natural one; e.g. a pattern of deer tracks on the ground is an index, pointing to a deer.

    (NB, 02:28: Sign can be used more broadly in technical semiotics to embrace “symbol” and other complexities, but this is not needed for our purposes. I am using “sign” much as it is used in medicine, at least since Hippocrates of Cos in C5 BC, i.e. to point to a disease on an objective, warranted indicator.)

    b –> If the sign is not a sufficient condition of the signified, the inference is not certain and is defeatable; though it may be inductively strong. (E.g. someone may imitate deer tracks.)

    c –> The warrant for an inference may in key cases require considerable background knowledge or cues from the context.

    d –> The act of inference may also be implicit or even intuitive, and I may not be able to articulate but may still be quite well-warranted to trust the inference. Especially, if it traces to senses I have good reason to accept are working well, and are acting in situations that I have no reason to believe will materially distort the inference.

    e –> The process of observation may be passive, where I simply respond to effects of the sign-emitting object; or it may involve active emission of signals or interaction with the object. For instance, we may contrast passive and active sonar sensing here, noting that both modes are used by sea-animals as well as technical systems. (NB: “Object” is here used in a very broad sense [u/d 02:17: it includes objects and credibly objective states of affairs].)

    f –> A sign can also be iconic, i.e sufficiently resembling [u/d, 02:17: or representing] the object to be recognisable as a representation, as a general class [a rock shaped like a face] or in specific [a sculptural portrait]. [u/d 02:28: In the case of a mace in its rest in Parliament, unless an elaborate form of a former weapon sits there, Parliament is not legitimately in session.] . . .

    Where, Hippocrates gave a classic case,

    “[If the patient’s facial] appearance may be described thus: the nose sharp, the eyes sunken, the temples fallen in, the ears cold and drawn in and their lobes distorted, the skin of the face hard, stretched and dry, and the colour of the face pale or dusky . . . and if there is no improvement within [a prescribed period of time], it must be realized that this sign portends death.”

    Inductive inference on tested, reliable sign with a sobering predictive element. One that 2500 years later, apparently still holds good. As, these markers are tied to processes that if not checked, naturally end in death.

    The design inference is about that sort of thing: are there signs such that, on observing them, are good indicators of design as material causal factor per a reasonable inductive warrant? Including, as visible in the world of life and the physics of the cosmos?

    In 45 above, in response to Dr Swamidass, I commented:

    I suggest instead that as far back as Plato in The Laws, Bk X, we see a very different contrast of alternatives from the “natural vs supernatural” one commonly imposed by champions of evolutionary materialistic scientism and/or fellow travellers.

    Namely, that:

    a –> per observable, testable signs,

    b –> one may inductively and properly infer that,

    c –> material causal factors credibly at work or potentially at work in an aspect of an object, process or phenomenon

    d –> include natural [= blind chance and/or mechanical necessity] and/or ART-ificial [= intelligent action] forces. Where,

    e –> The default is first that mechanical necessity and/or blind chance acting on plausible initial and intervening circumstances have led to an observed result. Thus,

    f –> Per Newton’s rules of reasoning, to infer to a plausible causal explanation of an object or phenomenon whose origin we did not directly observe, we must revert to factors demonstrated to be causally adequate to produce the like or sufficiently like in the here and now . . . a common-sense control on empirically unjustified, ideologically loaded speculation. Also,

    g –> such an inductive inference is inherently subject to onward further evidence and argument, per Newton’s remarks in his 1704 Opticks, Query 31. To wit:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses [–> roughly, metaphysical speculations] are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations.

    The pivotally relevant issue regarding the design inference is that functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information [FSCO/I] and especially digitally coded functionally specific complex information dFSCI, is a commonplace, where we have literally observed trillions of cases of its cause.

    In EVERY observed case, its cause is purposeful, knowledgeable and skilled, capable intelligent action. For simple instance, consider text strings in English in this thread. (Which are actually adding to the observation base.)

    When it comes to something where functionally organised specific components must be properly arranged to get a result, such as say the Abu 6500 C3 fishing reel I have commonly used as a case in point, the pattern of part selection, arrangement and coupling can be represented as a string of yes/no questions in some description language. That is, FSCO/I patently has associated quantifiable information.

    Comparing the atomic resources of the observed solar system [~10^57 atoms] or the observed universe [~10^80 atoms] and fast chemical reaction rates, about 10^-13 – 10^-15 s, we may then readily show that 500 – 1,000 bits of FSCO/I specifies a configuration space of 3.27 x 10^150 – 1.07 x 10^301 states across 13.7 – 13.8 BY, so that islands of function based on specific configuration will be maximally unlikely to be discovered by blind chance and/or blind mechanical necessity. This is because the fraction of states that may be scanned by a random walk, or a dust or a combination or the like, of possible configurations, will be maximally small relative to the scope of search required to credibly find such islands.

    Where, a search is a sample of a config space by some means.

    Therefore, the set of possible searches is tantamount to the power set of the space. That is, for a space of scale n, the set of possible searches is of order 2^n. This implies that the search for a golden search is in a far harder space than the direct search. This is the issue pointed out by Dembski when he spoke of search for search, S4S.

    So, it is reasonable to focus on the direct search as the search for a golden search will be exponentially harder.

    But of course, intelligent actions routinely produce phenomena that exceed this threshold, 72 – 143 ASCII characters worth of information.

    As a result, it is reasonable — absent the sort of a priori ideological lockout shown in 29 above — to infer that such FSCO/I beyond such a threshold is a reliable sign of design as material causal factor. On both the trillion member observational base and the search space analysis.

    The problem of course is that on origins, cell based life is replete with FSCO/I and dFSCI well beyond the 500 – 1,000 bit threshold.

    The inductive inference, then, is reasonable that cell based life, from the root up to the major branches — body plans clearly require increments of 10 – 100+ mn bits of additional information beyond the 100k – 1 mn bits for a plausible first functional cell based life form — has but one empirically reliable causal explanation: design, working by art, as opposed to blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    This is independent of debates over common decent degrees up to and including universal common decent.

    This is controversial, not because it is inductively unsupported, but because there is an acting ideological a priori as was pointed out at 29 above, that patently seeks to lock it out.

    That is the pivotal matter on the table, and it needs to be addressed on terms of empirically grounded, inductive inference.

    Where, it is also so that what is needed is not to independently know the designers potentially involved in a case, but to know from cases, that designers exist and have relevant characteristics that allow them to intelligently direct relevant configurations of components to form functional, often fine tuned wholes.

    This then allows signs of such design to speak as evidence, pointing directly to design as relevant causal process and onward to the need for credible designers to explain the designs.

    KF

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