Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

[quote mine] Mark Perakh on the supernatural and science


there still remain unanswered many fundamental questions about nature….nothing should be prohibited as a legitimate subject of science, and excluding the supernatural out of hand serves no useful purpose.

Moreover, it does not seem a simple task to offer a satisfactory definition of the difference between “natural” and “supernatural.” A phenomenon which seems to be contrary to known theories and therefore appears to be a miracle, and, hence, to meet the concept of the supernatural, may find a “natural” explanation in the course of a subsequent research. The distinction between natural and supernatural belongs more to philosophy than to science.

(bolding mine)

ID does not necessarily imply supernatural agencies. However, the discussion of science and the supernatural is still an interesting question. It came up because of some blogs on methodological naturalism by Paul Nelson and Jason Rosenhouse. Though I side with Paul Nelson, it would be good to read Jason’s essay as well.

Somewhere along the line Mark Perakh offered his views in response to Rosenhouse on Pandas Thumb, and his book (partly online) I thought was worth quoting. The text in context is at: Sceince and the Supernatural

Finally, Jason Rosenhouse said something that caught my interest:

Has anyone in the history of the universe ever denied the bare possibility that the world is the product of intelligent design? I’m as hard-core an atheist as you’re likely to meet, but I think it’s such a live possibility that I spend an inordinate amount of time reading what religious people have to say on the subject.

I’m glad he thinks ID is a live possibility.

I would also like to make the observation that Perakh’s position would probably be unacceptable to the Darwinists in Kansas trying to overturn the state science standards.

The debate between these strict materialists and intelligent design advocates reminds me of a quote I read long ago: "one person's logic is another one's foolishness". Such a state of affairs results in frequently hard-boiled opinions that are resistant to even exhaustive debate. And for the record, praise to Dr. Dembski for his work in encouraging spiritual belief by citing the contents of Nature (its ample evidence for design), rather than relying on Biblical quotations. Do not get me wrong, Scripture contains some venerable ideas and suggestions, but there is nothing wrong, and indeed it is very desirable, that we look to external reality (nature) to supplement faith, rather than confine ourselves strictly to books (no matter how esteemed they are). In citing Nature's contents, Dr. Dembski has helped me ground my beliefs more in external reality, which has stabilized and refreshed me. He will not be able to win over every single strict materialist to intelligent design, but if he manages to wake up even only a few hundred people to its powerful message, then his apparent life's work will not have been wasted. Best regards to all, Apollo230 apollo230
Something Jason wrote that caught my attention:
The ID folks are adamant that, to the extent that ID is science, it does not allow any inference to be drawn at all about the nature of the designer. One reason they are adamant on this point is that they know full well that the natural world as we find is not at all consistent with the idea of an all-powerful and all-loving designer. Reconciling the natural world with the Christian God requires so many ad hoc hypotheses that such a designer immeidately loses all value as a scientific hypothesis.
(Shaking head) I don't know if people like this have some sort of mental block or they're just being plain dishonest or both, but it has to be one of those three options. crandaddy

I've never fully understood why there is such opposition to methodological naturalism in science among ID proponents. Since ID doesn't make statments about the nature of the designer, it seems entirely reasonable that it could just as well detect a natural designer as a supernatural one (since they would have the same signatures of design - if they had different signatures we could then decide that some things are designed by natural intelligences like humans and other things are designed by supernatural intelligences like gods). Why not, then, accept the rules of methodological naturalism, and prove the case instead of letting ID get conflated with this supernaturalism debate which only serves to draw more opposition?

Personally I don't have a problem with methodological naturalism in science. It's what science should be. NeoDarwinian evolution stepped over the line to philsophical naturalism. It's a narrative of an unwitnessed, unrepeatable, untestable, distant past with no direct evidence to support it that's been elevated corrupted from science to dogma. It hasn't been science for decades. This is why it's being defended in courtrooms instead of classrooms. It can't be defended on its merits any more. The vast majority of laymen who have no vested interest in it and can thus be objective about it reject it. They don't reject the big bang. They don't reject plate tectonics. They don't reject an old earth. They don't reject a round earth. But they reject time and chance conspiring to bring about a purposeless evolution of mud to man. There's a reason. All those other theories are defensible. -ds Tiax

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