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The Louisiana Science Education Act a decade later: Darwin not worshipped, swamp monsters not on the loose

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Louisiana Science Education Act From David Klinghoffer at ENST:

This week we’re celebrating the tenth anniversary of the passage of the Louisiana Science Education Act. It was a turning point in the effort to secure academic freedom for science teachers. That effort was never going to be an overnight success, but the LSEA marked an important beginning.

Yes. Who could forget Pants-in-knot and the hysteria he generated about the dark ages emerging from the swampy Bayou?

In fact, West notes, the LSEA shattered clichés like that in several ways. For one, it enjoyed broad bipartisan support — it was not a matter of Republicans versus Democrats. That’s got to be one reason it has resisted attempts at repeal led by activist Zack Kopplin, who has since moved on to other pursuits (as Sarah Chaffee notes here). For another, it enjoyed support from scientists. It was, again, not a battle of citizens versus science.

Finally, it was not “anti-science” at all but on the contrary, pro-science: that is, if by science you mean an enterprise entailing critical, objective analysis and weighing of evidence. In fact, the LSEA took inspiration from Darwin himself, who wrote that in scientific inquiries, “a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” More.

Podcast

See also: Pants in knot: “Creationism” in Louisiana schools

and

Pants in knot II: Creationism growth sparks concern in Ivy League

116 Replies to “The Louisiana Science Education Act a decade later: Darwin not worshipped, swamp monsters not on the loose

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Yes. Who could forget Pants-in-knot and the hysteria he generated about the dark ages emerging from the swampy Bayou?

    No, no sign of “the dark ages emerging from the swampy Bayou” bit it’s not for want of trying

    Louisiana Teachers Are Using The Bible in Science Class

    Kopplin has been heavily campaigning to have the law repealed since he was a high school student. He has written extensively on the subject, detailing evidence of creationism in at least eight school districts in Louisiana. After sending several freedom of information requests, he has discovered more damning evidence.

    One teacher sent the following email to their principle:

    You wanted me to let you know when I was planning the Creation point of view. I will be doing this on Monday 3/21. The students will actually be doing most of the presenting. We will read in Genesis and them some supplemental material debunking various aspects of evolution from which the students will present.

    The same principal received a PowerPoint presentation, entitled “Theories on the Origin of Life,” which contained a page that says “Creationism relies on the claim that there is a ‘purpose’ to all creation known only to the creator.”

    “In Caddo Parish, one teacher explained that she teaches creationism because ‘God made science.’
    […]

    In another email entitled “Support from a Bossier teacher,” a 4th grade teacher claims that a woman who was suing their school was told “Welcome to the Bible Belt, m’am.” They go on to say: “Anyway, just wanted to tell you that we need more teachers like you and that my great granddaddy wasn’t a monkey either!”

    There’s even more evidence of no Dark Ages in the Bayou here, such as…

    Yet in the fall of 2013, at Negreet High School, in Sabine Parish, teacher Rita Roark insulted the religion of C.C. Lane, a Buddhist student in her sixth-grade science class. Roark told the class that evolution is a “stupid” theory that “stupid people made up because they don’t want to believe in God.” Roark’s science tests included a fill-in-the-blank question that said, “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and students were expected to write in “LORD.”

    Yup, move along, nothing to see here.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, I have a problem. More or less, I find it astonishing that routinely, a longstanding ideology — we can trace it back 2300+ years on record — that is demonstrably self-referentially incoherent and therefore self-falsifying is routinely allowed to dress itself up in a lab coat and present itself as big-S Science. The same, is also well known to be amoral and to open the door to outright nihilism, known since the days of Plato. If you are concerned about Creationist teachers bringing Creationism into the school room, why aren’t you at least as concerned over evolutionary materialist ideology and indoctrination, an indoctrination that has been taken to the point where the very definition of what science is and what its methods are has been re-written under ideological control and imposed under threat of unjustifiably discounting the education of students taught a far more historically justified definition? Something is very wrong here and needs to be set right. KF

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: In case someone does not know my context, here is the US National Science Teachers Association, July 2000:

    PREAMBLE: All those involved with science teaching and learning should have a common, accurate view of the nature of science. Science is characterized by the systematic gathering of information through various forms of direct and indirect observations and the testing of this information by methods including, but not limited to, experimentation. The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts [–> ideological imposition of a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism, aka natural-ISM; this is of course self-falsifying at the outset] . . . .

    [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 [–> declaration of intent to censor instructional content], 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 [–> ideological imposition of a loaded definition] 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 . . . cf UD’s weak argument correctives 17 – 19, here] in the production of scientific knowledge.

  4. 4
    jdk says:

    In case someone wants to read this without kf’s editorializing:

    PREAMBLE: All those involved with science teaching and learning should have a common, accurate view of the nature of science. Science is characterized by the systematic gathering of information through various forms of direct and indirect observations and the testing of this information by methods including, but not limited to, experimentation. 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 methods, explanations, generalizations and products . . . .

    Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge.

    I will note that nothing in this statement endorses materialism as a metaphysical position.

  5. 5
    jdk says:

    Oops: here it is with proper blockquoting.

    In case someone wants to read this without kf’s editorializing:

    PREAMBLE: All those involved with science teaching and learning should have a common, accurate view of the nature of science. Science is characterized by the systematic gathering of information through various forms of direct and indirect observations and the testing of this information by methods including, but not limited to, experimentation. 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 methods, explanations, generalizations and products . . . .

    Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge.

    I will note that nothing in this statement endorses materialism.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    pardon a direct statement, but your counter-claim is plainly wrong.

    For, “naturalistic concepts” is already an imposition of the worldview of naturalism, which is in descriptive terms evolutionary materialism; often with the added implication of scientism.

    That is, we see here an imposed ontology that is implicitly physicalist and the further imposition of the assumption that what we see in the world was shaped across time by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity, constraining our investigations by a priori excluding the possibility of intelligent action in shaping the cosmos, the origin of life, origin of major body plans and origin of conscience-guided, responsible, rational mind. This is question-begging and forces persisting in a failed attempt to account for functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information beyond 500 – 1,000 bits on blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. It is also self-referentially incoherent and self-falsifying once the account is stretched to suggest that mindedness is adequately explained on GIGO-limited, cause-effect chain driven computational substrates, as can be seen in brief from J B S Haldane’s well-known remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    Next, as demarcation arguments have failed, “pseudoscientific” in this context becomes little more than further imposition. These are already in the context of an ideologically loaded re-definition of science, its methods and the nature of its results.

    The term “naturalistic explanations” further reinforces the point.

    The imposed contrast, “natural[istic]” vs “supernatural” leaves out a very relevant alternative which is open to empirical investigation: natural (meaning blind chance and/or mechanical necessity) vs the ART-ificial (meaning by intelligent design), a conception which has been on the table since at least Plato in The Laws, Bk X, 2350+ years past.

    Going back, in such a context, “exclusion” of allegedly non- or pseudo- scientific “methods, explanations, generalizations and products” becomes a declaration of a policy of censorship and indoctrination.

    Thus, my markup as was put on the table already is justified and your dismissive comment that “nothing in this statement endorses materialism” is patently refuted. The underlying suggestion, that markup is tantamount to distortion, fails. Markup can highlight and bring out the substance that may be easily overlooked, and it then allows corrective remarks to be put into the context. Which, is patently legitimate.

    I suggest that you need to revisit and seriously rethink what you and others did in Kansas and elsewhere.

    KF

  7. 7
    jdk says:

    Pardon pointing out your errors in thinking, kf, but to describe science as a limited enterprise which seeks natural explanations for natural phenomena does not imply that natural phenomena are all that exist, or that science is the only way in which we seek knowledge.

    I suggest you rethink and reassess your understandings of this issue.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, Once science discusses origins of cosmos, life, body plans and mind — which routinely comes up in secondary level science education nowadays, it becomes a much broader field than you suggest; one that has to exert particular care not to impose begged questions. And, we know that intelligence acting by art and design produce observable and characteristic signs of such action, which are in fact routinely studied using observation experiment, hypothesis testing and the like. So, to a priori rule out and caricature a relevant class of causes is to beg big questions. That is precisely what a definition cast in terms of natural-ISTIC causes and explanations does. In that context I note how just above you have shifted language and context in a way that is less explicit but in fact begs the same questions as I previously pointed out. The you don’t understand gambit, fails. KF

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I think a less loaded understanding is that science, at its best, is the unfettered — but ethically and intellectually responsible — progressive, observational evidence-led pursuit of the truth about our world (i.e. an accurate and reliable description and explanation of it), based on:

    a: collecting, recording, indexing, collating and reporting accurate, reliable (and where feasible, repeatable) empirical — real-world, on the ground — observations and measurements,

    b: inference to best current — thus, always provisional — abductive explanation of the observed facts,

    c: thus producing hypotheses, laws, theories and models, using logical-mathematical analysis, intuition and creative, rational imagination [[including Einstein’s favourite gedankenexperiment, i.e thought experiments],

    d: continual empirical testing through further experiments, observations and measurement; and,

    e: uncensored but mutually respectful discussion on the merits of fact, alternative assumptions and logic among the informed. (And, especially in wide-ranging areas that cut across traditional dividing lines between fields of study, or on controversial subjects, “the informed” is not to be confused with the eminent members of the guild of scholars and their publicists or popularisers who dominate a particular field at any given time.)

    As a result, science enables us to ever more effectively (albeit provisionally) describe, explain, understand, predict and influence or control objects, phenomena and processes in our world.

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 2

    Sev, I have a problem. More or less, I find it astonishing that routinely, a longstanding ideology — we can trace it back 2300+ years on record — that is demonstrably self-referentially incoherent and therefore self-falsifying is routinely allowed to dress itself up in a lab coat and present itself as big-S Science.

    Which ideology are we talking about?

    If you are concerned about Creationist teachers bringing Creationism into the school room, why aren’t you at least as concerned over evolutionary materialist ideology and indoctrination, an indoctrination that has been taken to the point where the very definition of what science is and what its methods are has been re-written under ideological control and imposed under threat of unjustifiably discounting the education of students taught a far more historically justified definition? Something is very wrong here and needs to be set right. KF

    If any high school science teachers are promoting atheism or claiming that science has proven that God does not exist then they are just as wrong as those who teach creationism. Students should be taught the history and the current state of knowledge and thinking in science. They don’t have to believe it but they should be able to understand it.

    If those teachers are discussing the origins of life the Universe and everything then they should be explaining that, although there is a great deal of speculating and hypothesizing, science cannot account for these things at this time and that “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable position.

    Naturalism and, more specifically, methodological naturalism are neither self-referentially incoherent nor self-falsifying but the strongest defense for it comes from the results. From this computer to understanding the causes of diseases and providing effective treatments to sending space probes to where distant planets will be many years in the future, MN works. Will it always be so? Who knows? But since it has worked so well for us thus far, it makes sense to keep on doing the same until we have a good reason to abandon it, apocalypses notwithstanding.

  11. 11
    jdk says:

    re 10: yes.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev (and by endorsement, JDK),

    you just implicitly indicted the US National Science Teachers Association.

    Evolutionary materialistic scientism pivots on the implication that science has cornered the market on significant knowledge, then proceeds to redefine science in evolutionary materialism-serving terms.

    Those, I pointed out above.

    Next, natural-ISM is not a neutral term, but indicates the worldview position that in effect ultimately reduces reality to “nature” [= the physical cosmos] and its blind — and evolutionary — processes. As Collins English dictionary summarises:

    NATURALISM . . . 5. (Philosophy) philosophy
    a. a scientific account of the world in terms of causes and natural forces that rejects all spiritual, supernatural, or teleological explanations
    b. the meta-ethical thesis that moral properties are reducible to natural ones, or that ethical judgments are derivable from nonethical ones.

    It is obvious why I have used the descriptive phrase, evolutionary materialism.

    As for methodological naturalism so-called, this boils down to the implicit imposition of this worldview on the methods and conclusions of science. That then becomes relevant in that we can see from NSTA (and others) that the “natural” is invariably contrasted with the despised “SUPER-natural” when since Plato in The Laws Bk X, the obvious and non-question-begging alternative is vs the “ART-ificial,” thus intelligent, purposeful and foresighted. So, we see the setting up and knocking over of a worldview-level “god of the gaps” strawman.

    The point being, that we in fact routinely identify and recognise designed entities from empirically tested, reliable signs and should not lock out the power of such an inference to the best, empirically warranted explanation when it is inconvenient for evolutionary materialistic ideology. Where, an abductive inference to the best, empirically grounded explanation is precisely not an appeal to ignorance and gaps, but a case of grounding inference on what we do know.

    For instance, we have in hand a trillion observed cases of FSCO/I. In every one of them, the known cause is design, i.e. intelligently directed configuration. This is backed up by the needles in haystack search challenge to find deeply isolated islands of function in configuration spaces where the complexity exceeds 500 – 1,000 bits of information; where we have sol system or observed cosmos level atomic resources and up to 14 BY or so to carry out the search. Where such a pattern of deep isolation is implied by the requirement of multiple, well-matched, correctly arranged, oriented and coupled parts to achieve relevant function. It is also backed by the observed pattern of say AA sequence space and the patterns of proteins. Many phenomena connected to coded information and the corruption caused by noise are similar.

    I also note that sense b, in effect implies that moral issues, those of ought, form an isolated domain of thought that on naturalism in sense a will be ungrounded in the core realities of the world. This forces the sort of relativism and subjectivism I have often pointed out. The key problem is, that this then becomes self-referentially incoherent as rational responsible thought is governed by the sense that our thought life is morally governed by duties to truth, sound reasoning, fairness etc. The implication of naturalism is, such obligations can have no roots in ultimate — imagined, physical or quasi-physical — reality, so it is a grand delusion. The practical consequence is to reduce the world of thought and action to might and/or manipulation make ‘truth’ ‘right’ ‘knowledge’ etc etc. This amorality opens the door to nihilism, as Plato warned against 2350+ years ago.

    With this key destabilisation of the life of minded, responsible, rational freedom, the whole system is pervaded by grand delusion, undermining even science itself. And of course, education also.

    Now, all of this is or should be familiar, as is the pattern of systematic blindness to it. Such are the ways of a paradigm, as such is as much a way of not seeing as it is a way of seeing.

    And, it is a general observation that when things in an ideological framework are set up to work by implications and are not explicitly declared, a great many people find it very hard to connect the dots that the dominant paradigm locks out. The subtle and implicit can dominate and are hard to recognise for what they are when the implication is, culture dominating, largely unexamined metaphysical commitments. Hence the importance of critical, comparative difficulties based worldviews analysis.

    That’s a point that goes back to Plato’s parable of the cave. It should also be familiar.

    I am connecting those dots, and it will be very hard for those who are part of the dominant paradigm to sufficiently transcend the scheme of thought to see what “should not be there,” but is.

    KF

  13. 13
    jdk says:

    The NSTA statement limits science to a certain type of knowledge and a certain method. It does does not endorse philosophical naturalism. It does not imply that science has “cornered the market” on all significant knowledge. You connect the dots as you do because of your biases.

  14. 14
    Eugene S says:

    Seversky

    “But since it has worked so well for us thus far”

    Yes, but why?! What is the reason why our mind can build adequate models about reality? Why can we rely on our own mind?

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, the NSTA statement (as shown above) is deeply ideologically loaded and poses a radical, ideologised redefinition of science. KF

  16. 16
    jdk says:

    Nope. It doesn’t “redefine” science: it just describes mainstream modern views on what science is and does. It is certainly not “radical”, and it doesn’t, as I have said, state or even imply that science is the only source of knowledge or that the material world is all there is. You are reading those interpretations into the statement based on your own biases, but the statement itself does not say those things.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    just for record, I again cite with markups which document my concerns:

    PREAMBLE: All those involved with science teaching and learning should have a common, accurate view of the nature of science. Science is characterized by the systematic gathering of information through various forms of direct and indirect observations and the testing of this information by methods including, but not limited to, experimentation. The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts [–> ideological imposition of a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism, aka natural-ISM; this is of course self-falsifying at the outset] . . . .

    [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 [–> declaration of intent to censor instructional content], 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 [–> ideological imposition of a loaded definition] 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 . . . cf UD’s weak argument correctives 17 – 19, here] in the production of scientific knowledge.

    The facts are there on record, especially when we note the significance of “natural_ISTIC concepts” and natural_ISTIC explanations.”

    Again, Collins English dictionary:

    NATURALISM . . . 5. (Philosophy) philosophy
    a. a scientific account of the world in terms of causes and natural forces that rejects all spiritual, supernatural, or teleological explanations
    b. the meta-ethical thesis that moral properties are reducible to natural ones, or that ethical judgments are derivable from nonethical ones.

    Just to show that the positions are not particularly scientific in character nor are they driven by requisites of warranting knowledge claims, but are demonstrably ideological I also cite Plato in The Laws Bk X, 2350+ years ago:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[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 alignment is not coincidental.

    Now, onward you have tried to dismiss concerns that we are actually a step beyond, i.e. the full ideology is evolutionary materialistic scientism. Where, scientism can be understood as the notion that big-S Science delimits possible or significant knowledge. That is, what lies beyond Science is either psuedo-science [falsely claiming the authority and reliability of science] or is un-scientific [and inferior, typically reducing to perceptions, opinions and beliefs]. Thus, there is a characteristic subtext — key term — of contempt towards what is not scientific, leading to the ideological stance that Science and its big-M Methods (or even Method, no plural) is substandard at best, suspect or fraudulent at worst.

    Again, such is not going to be explicitly stated, it will lie in the hidden curriculum.

    An excellent illustration comes from the joint NSTA-NAS letter in the context of the disputes in Kansas, c 2005:

    . . . the members of the Kansas State Board of Education who produced Draft 2-d of the KSES have deleted text defining science as a search for natural explanations of observable phenomena, blurring the line between scientific and other ways of understanding. Emphasizing controversy in the theory of evolution — when in fact all modern theories of science are continually tested and verified — and distorting the definition of science are inconsistent with our Standards and a disservice to the students of Kansas. Regretfully, many of the statements made in the KSES related to the nature of science and evolution also violate the document’s mission and vision. Kansas students will not be well-prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically-driven world if their science education is based on these standards. Instead, they will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world.

    What is this horrible distortion of THE definition of science?

    “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.”

    Only a radical ideologue could object to this historically well-warranted summary statement of science and its methods, which carefully avoids imposing insistence on natural-ISTIC explanations and concepts. For telling example, here is Newton in Opticks, Query 31, where he posed a description which lies at the root of the modern understanding of science:

    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 [speculative] Hypotheses 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.

    So, it is clear that the derided and eventually overturned definition was in fact historically well-founded and epistemologically conservative, as well lacking metaphysical and ontological loading through imposition of evolutionary materialism. Thus, it was a travesty that the citizens of Kansas faced the threat of holding their children hostage by threat of dismissing the accreditation of their education for the main crime of seeking a less loaded, historically and epistemologically well warranted school level definition of science.

    Then, of course, it was a further travesty that it was attempted to impose the idea that all significant sciences and theories are “verified” to similar degree and exist in a state of guild consensus. Newton knew better 300+ years ago: ” . . . 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.” Controversies, disagreements, correcting and even overturning formerly established theories are key aspects of science as a progressive endeavour that seeks to provide empirically reliable insights on the observable world of physical, biological and similar phenomena.

    So, the attempt to project bias to me fails, decisively.

    Likewise, there is indeed clearly a definition of science in the NSTA statement of 2000, one which is ideologically loaded and historically ignorant. Where, science has to be understood in such a way that phenomena across several centuries in the world of investigation and creation of a body of knowledge must fall under its rubric.

    KF

  18. 18
    jdk says:

    Hmmm. I don’t think quoting Plato, Newton, and the ID minority advocates on the KS Science Standards committee amounts to a decisive rebuttal.

    It is your somewhat paranoid perception that somehow philosophical naturalism will “lie hidden in the curriculum” even though the NSTA statement does not say or imply that.

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, it is clear that you are not responding to the epistemology and logic issues highlighted classically by Newton and which are manifest in the concerns about the NSTA and NAS interventions. I note, you have spoken to quoting persons, rather than addressing substantial issues. This is the rhetoric of personalising and polarising, and is counter-productive. Indeed, you have resorted to an extremely loaded, accusatory and personal term: “paranoid.” It is clear that you need to pull back a few notches there. I put it to you that the above shows good cause for me and others to be concerned about ideological loading and hidden curriculum . . . which happens to be a fairly broad concern on education, for cause. Next, Newton’s classic statement is at the historic root of the understanding of what modern science is and is echoed in the standard definitions of science and its methods taught to generations in school. They are rooted in significant insights on empirical investigation and inductive reasoning, as he directly stated, duly noting limitations of such warrant for knowledge claims. Of course, his concept of induction is too narrow, it is a classic view. Today, we understand induction as argument based on empirical support for conclusions, and with that modification, we arrive at an abductive, inference to best current, empirically accountable explanation understanding of science. The minority report that you and others sought to discredit and overturn provided a definition of science for schools that does not draw its warrant from whether or no they supported Intelligent Design (if they did, that speaks well of their ability to see through a wall of obfuscation, caricature and aggressive bigotry). No, IT COMES FROM THE HISTORICAL, EPISTEMOLOGICAL AND LOGICAL WARRANT. Which, you have failed to cogently address. That is telling on the balance on the merits. KF

  20. 20
    jdk says:

    Please give me an example of a high school teacher teaching that the material world is all there is, and that science is the only way to true knowledge. I have been around high school science teaching for almost 40 years, and I have only heard of a few instances where a teacher crossed the line into discussing materialism. (And of course there are countless examples of teachers advocating creationism, including YEC.)

    There is no “hidden curriculum” in high school science classes. Being concerned about this is a bit paranoid.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, we have seen above where the national science teachers association of the USA is teaching what directly implies that “the material world is all there is.” Likewise, on the impact of scientism, we can see from the connotations of terms used: pseudoscientific, supernatural, etc. You may not see it, after all what is implicit tends to have that effect, but it is nevertheless real. The question of hidden curricula rooted in dominant worldviews and cultural agendas is a notorious issue in education, and the NSTA cite shows the fact. You again resort to trying to dismiss me with a loaded term instead of address the substantial matter on its merits. KF

  22. 22
    jdk says:

    kf writes,

    JDK, we have seen above where the national science teachers association of the USA is teaching what directly implies that “the material world is all there is.”

    No, you have not shown one line of the statement, in any way, that says ““the material world is all there is”, or that “directly implies” that is true.

    The statement describes what science is, but it does not say that that science is all there is.

    You are, in the words that others have imputed to me, lying when you deny the facts that are right in front of you.

    Quote me a line from the statement that says, or implies, that the material world is all there is.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, the key point lies in redefining science — held to be our primary source of reliable ‘validated” knowledge — in terms of “natural” explanations and concepts, then using strongly dismissive terminology that inter alia announced censorship. The patent subtext of “natural” is the suffix -ISTIC, and the further clear import of the strawman caricature of alternatives as pseudo-science and as contrated as “supernatural,” when the artificial is relevant, is to bring in scientism. That pattern is multiplied by a glaring error by contrast with Newton, not cogently addressing the epistemology and logic; which would bring out that the statement is an act of philosophy, not of science or of simple summary for education — exploding scientism. When we see the further action of holding children hostage for the accreditation of their education for the use of a historically well warranted summary of science and its methods, five years later, this underscores the point. The attempt to imply near certainty — “validated” — and to suggest that controversy, correction and replacement of theories is not a major aspect of the history and patterns of science is a further red flag. The overall pattern is that of ideological domination and agenda, whether or not that is fully recognised by the average science student or teacher. So, it is time to face the problem rather than whistle by the graveyard in the dark of night. KF

    PS: Ideological captivity is not calculated lying.

  24. 24
    jdk says:

    Mentioning that pseudoscience should not be included in science class (for example, crystal power) or that supernatural explanations are not scientific (for example, illness is caused by being possessed by demons) does NOT say that science is the only form of valid knowledge, or that the material world is all there is. Mentioning these precautions, and using the word “naturalistic” does not “bring in scientism”, except in the minds of people like you who see the bogeyman of materialism everywhere.

  25. 25
    jdk says:

    P.S You write,

    The attempt to imply near certainty — “validated” — and to suggest that controversy, correction and replacement of theories is not a major aspect of the history and patterns of science is a further red flag.

    Perhaps if you had quoted the whole statement, you would have noticed the statements bolded below:

    Preamble

    All those involved with science teaching and learning should have a common, accurate view of the nature of science. Science is characterized by the systematic gathering of information through various forms of direct and indirect observations and the testing of this information by methods including, but not limited to, experimentation. The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts.

    Declaration

    The National Science Teachers Association endorses the proposition that science, 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 methods, explanations, generalizations and products.

    The following premises are important to understanding the nature of science.

    Scientific knowledge is simultaneously reliable and tentative. Having confidence in scientific knowledge is reasonable while realizing that such knowledge may be abandoned or modified in light of new evidence or reconceptualization of prior evidence and knowledge.

    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.

    Creativity is a vital, yet personal, ingredient in the production of scientific knowledge.

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge.

    A primary goal of science is the formation of theories and laws, which are terms with very specific meanings.

    Laws are generalizations or universal relationships related to the way that some aspect of the natural world behaves under certain conditions.

    Theories are inferred explanations of some aspect of the natural world. Theories do not become laws even with additional evidence; they explain laws. However, not all scientific laws have accompanying explanatory theories.

    Well-established laws and theories must be internally consistent and compatible with the best available evidence; be successfully tested against a wide range of applicable phenomena and evidence; possess appropriately broad and demonstrable effectiveness in further research.

    Contributions to science can be made and have been made by people the world over.

    The scientific questions asked, the observations made, and the conclusions in science are to some extent influenced by the existing state of scientific knowledge, the social and cultural context of the researcher and the observer’s experiences and expectations.

    The history of science reveals both evolutionary and revolutionary changes. With new evidence and interpretation, old ideas are replaced or supplemented by newer ones.

    While science and technology do impact each other, basic scientific research is not directly concerned with practical outcomes, but rather with gaining an understanding of the natural world for its own sake.

  26. 26
    Seversky says:

    Eugene S @ 14

    “But since it has worked so well for us thus far”

    Yes, but why?! What is the reason why our mind can build adequate models about reality? Why can we rely on our own mind?

    Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is this Universe the way it is? The simple if unhelpful answer to all these questions is “We don’t know”. All we can do is keep beavering away with what we have and hope we’ll get to the answers eventually. Sadly, there are a lot of things that you and I will never know but that’s the way it is.

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, perhaps you are unaware of the failure of demarcation arguments. There simply is no cluster of criteria and methods which can be used to identify all and only those fields of study termed sciences. If claims of say crystal power fail, they fail for reasons of warrant, not based on label games. When we go back to the statement, again, the points I have highlighted still stand. The “validated” issue came up c 2005, and goes to the problems I already pointed out. Okay, enough for one evening. KF

  28. 28
    jdk says:

    I am not unaware of the difficulties of demarcation arguments. But we are talking about a statement suitable for high school teachers of science, not a graduate course in the philosophy of science.

    Crystal power is not warranted by the evidence, but calling it “pseudoscience” is a reasonable label, not a “label game”.

  29. 29
    jdk says:

    Also, I’ll note that you did not acknowledge that the full statement included statements about “controversy, correction and replacement of theories”, even though you said such statements were absent.

  30. 30
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 17

    Again, Collins English dictionary:

    NATURALISM . . . 5. (Philosophy) philosophy
    a. a scientific account of the world in terms of causes and natural forces that rejects all spiritual, supernatural, or teleological explanations
    b. the meta-ethical thesis that moral properties are reducible to natural ones, or that ethical judgments are derivable from nonethical ones.

    Again from the online 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”

    As indicated by the above characterization of the mid-twentieth-century American movement, naturalism can be separated into an ontological and a methodological component. The ontological component is concerned with the contents of reality, asserting that reality has no place for “supernatural” or other “spooky” kinds of entity. By contrast, the methodological component is concerned with ways of investigating reality, and claims some kind of general authority for the scientific method.

    MN science can be done – and is being done – by conservatives, liberals, Catholics, Protestants (maybe even evangelicals), socialists, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, you name it. Yes, it’s founded on certain implicit, metaphysical assumptions, such as there is an objective reality out there which can be investigated and apprehended through various procedures by intelligent, rational creatures like ourselves. If you want to call that an ideology then it’s common to all the aforementioned groups when they do science.

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations [–> ideological imposition of a loaded definition] 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 . . . cf UD’s weak argument correctives 17 – 19, here] in the production of scientific knowledge.

    I don’t understand the problem you have with naturalistic explanations and empirical, evidence-based research. What else is there? Where else would you start? You want to contrast ‘natural’ with ‘artificial’ but that implies that ‘natural’ is limited to non-teleological phenomena. Yet I would argue that any Intelligent Designer would, like lesser designers such as ourselves, be a part of the natural order and, hence, a naturalistic explanation.

  31. 31
    jdk says:

    Very good, Sev, as usual.

    You write,

    MN science can be done – and is being done – by conservatives, liberals, Catholics, Protestants (maybe even evangelicals),…

    Absolutely. I know a number of evangelical Christians who fully accept the PN/MN distinction, believe that MN is the proper way for science to proceed, and do not consider it a threat to their religious beliefs.

  32. 32
    bornagain77 says:

    jdk,now all you need to do is stop all those pesky scientists from, in a very ‘non-natural’ manner, intelligently designing their experimental equipment and set up not to mention stop using their logical and mathematical analysis of results.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev (and again JDK by endorsement),

    What part of the SEP cite (with which I am familiar) contradicts the summary in the CED (which I have come to respect for its repeated powerful summaries)?

    The answer is, nil.

    Let me clip key parts of SEP that bring this out:

    The self-proclaimed “naturalists” [of early-mid C20] . . . urged that reality is exhausted by nature [= the physical], containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality [–> i.e. if all that is is ultimately physical, the point of knowledge is to understand how that matrix gave rise to all things we see], including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944; Kim 2003) [–> this of course runs into the challenge of reducing mindedness to a GIGO-limited computational substrate, thus becomes self-refuting as I and many others note. This is the historical context of Haldane’s sawing off the branch remark] . . . . 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” [–> so, naturalism, i.e. evolutionary materialistic scientism, has ruled the roost for the past century or so, and has of course had consequences] . . . .

    The ontological component [of such naturalism] is concerned with the contents of reality, asserting that reality has no place for “supernatural” or other “spooky” kinds of entity

    [–> this a priori locks out entities not amenable to the assumptions, and it ends in self-referential incoherence regarding mind and moral government of responsible, rational freedom; thus this view is necessarily false, never mind dominance in the guild of scholarship. Notice how Haldane highlights how the very theorising of the scientist is decisively undermined through self-referential incoherence:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]</

    So, we have here a dominant but necessarily false scheme of thought, which will thus warp and taint thought and what is accepted as knowledge.]

    By contrast, the methodological component is concerned with ways of investigating reality [–> that is, as conceived under this dominant worldview and cultural agenda: the physical or now quasi-physical domain (branes, multiverses and the like], and claims some kind of general authority for the scientific method. [–> this of course is the scientism as I pointed out already. Scientism instantly fails through its self-reference. For, the assertion of scientism is a philosophical, epistemological claim about what can be known, by what means. It thus undermines itself by way of undermining the value of such non-scientific claims]

    Thus, we are back at evolutionary materialistic scientism, redefinition of science in ways that beg big questions about truth, warping of methods by constraints tied to these challenges, and the underlying self-falsification that even undermines the ability to think. Haldane, again, captures the point.

    Now of course, many will try to work with what rules the roost. That cannot change the fact of self-undermining. Which leads to BA77’s point as was just put up, i/l/o the challenge of responsible, rationally contemplative and free mindedness rather than blind, cause-effect driven, GIGO-limited computation:

    all you need to do is stop all those pesky scientists from, in a very ‘non-natural’ manner, intelligently designing their experimental equipment and set up not to mention stop using their logical and mathematical analysis of results

    Without responsible, rational, ground and consequent inference-driven, support-judging freely contemplative mindedness even science itself is undermined.

    So, we are back at the ruinous implications of what is being imposed.

    That already should show a good slice of why I am concerned, the very business of rational thought that we desperately need to make progress is itself being undermined.

    Next, in your concluding remarks, you inadvertently testify to how the above shapes and constrains the contemporary mind:

    I don’t understand the problem you have with naturalistic explanations and empirical, evidence-based research. What else is there? Where else would you start? You want to contrast ‘natural’ with ‘artificial’ but that implies that ‘natural’ is limited to non-teleological phenomena. Yet I would argue that any Intelligent Designer would, like lesser designers such as ourselves, be a part of the natural order and, hence, a naturalistic explanation.

    The fatal error of the natural world being self-causing is already plain. We can argue to the need for a world-root that is a necessary being, and can see that a causal-temporal succession cannot credibly traverse the implied transfinite succession of stages to reach now. That is interesting, but not central.

    Now, too, it is not I who drew the point that nature [= blind chance and/or mechanical necessity at work in the physical substatum of reality] and art are two contrasted forces of causation, it was Plato, in the course of pointing out the folly and chaos of evolutionary materialism in The Laws, Bk X. That is important, to know that as long ago as C4 – 5 BC, such was tried and found severely wanting.

    Next, the obvious place to begin our reflections is with ourselves as able to do science and mathematics, as well as to know more generally. For such, we must be sufficiently, responsibly and rationally free to choose to follow ground and consequent, not merely driven and controlled by blind cause-effect forces in GIGO-limited wetware computational substrates. Or else, science and math fall apart.

    That already tells us that the dominant and too often domineering schemes of our day are clearly self-falsifying. We may not know all that enables us to think rationally and responsibly, but it already transcends what blindly mechanical computation modified by chance processes can plausibly achieve.

    Going on, it is reasonable that definitions of science and its methods accurately respond to the history of modern science. Thus, there should be no imposed worldview level question begging or methodological lockouts that are tied to preserving in power a flawed view. That is precisely the error we see in the NSTA’s remarks.

    Instead, the emphasis should fall on open minded assessment of empirically accountable findings and analysis. Logic and epistemology should be acknowledged, and the underlying fact that we are in the province of philosophy, which has a better claim to being the meta discipline that explores how we can come to have confident albeit provisional empirically grounded knowledge.

    Surely, that is not too much to ask for.

    KF

    PS: The remarks on “verified” etc come from five years later and show how the operational force of the July 2000 declaration would play out.

  34. 34
    Seversky says:

    jdk @ 31

    Very good, Sev, as usual.

    Thank you, I look forward to your contributions as well.

    MN science can be done – and is being done – by conservatives, liberals, Catholics, Protestants (maybe even evangelicals),…

    Absolutely. I know a number of evangelical Christians who fully accept the PN/MN distinction, believe that MN is the proper way for science to proceed, and do not consider it a threat to their religious beliefs.

    I find that encouraging. It’s good to know that not all Christians present their faith as dogmatically exclusivist as some others.

  35. 35
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 33

    Sev (and again JDK by endorsement),

    What part of the SEP cite (with which I am familiar) contradicts the summary in the CED (which I have come to respect for its repeated powerful summaries)?

    The CED, like all dictionaries, lists past and present usages without offering any judgement about which, if any, is the “correct” one. You quote two out of a list of some fifteen. The SEP entry discusses the notion of naturalism at some length, pointing out that there is some agreement on what it means in a broad sense but that it is poorly-defined and far from a single monolithic concept. This means that you need to define at the start what you understand by the “naturalism” you are attacking because it may be different from the version I am prepared to defend.

    Let me clip key parts of SEP that bring this out:

    The self-proclaimed “naturalists” [of early-mid C20] . . . urged that reality is exhausted by nature [= the physical], containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality [–> i.e. if all that is is ultimately physical, the point of knowledge is to understand how that matrix gave rise to all things we see], including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944; Kim 2003) [–> this of course runs into the challenge of reducing mindedness to a GIGO-limited computational substrate, thus becomes self-refuting as I and many others note. This is the historical context of Haldane’s sawing off the branch remark] . . . .

    I think we all agree that the “hard problem” of consciousness is far from being solved, the problem being to elucidate a chain of causation from the electro-chemical activity of the physical brain to our individual experience of consciousness. I would say that opponents of this concept have an even harder problem to solve, to wit, creating a explanation which not only accounts for the clear correlation between consciousness and the brain but also provides evidence to support an extra-corporeal model of consciousness. You are a long way from that, as well.

    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” [–> so, naturalism, i.e. evolutionary materialistic scientism, has ruled the roost for the past century or so, and has of course had consequences] . . . .

    That the naturalistic approach to science has been fruitful is, I would argue, both undeniable and its main justification. That applications of the knowledge produced by science have been both beneficial and detrimental to humanity is due to the fallibility of those human beings who did the applying. You cannot lay the blame for adverse outcomes on the science without committing the fallacy of argumentum ad consequentiam.

    The ontological component [of such naturalism] is concerned with the contents of reality, asserting that reality has no place for “supernatural” or other “spooky” kinds of entity

    [–> this a priori locks out entities not amenable to the assumptions…

    No, what it means is that we are not obliged to accept the existence of conjectured entities for which we can find no correlate in observable reality.

    …and it ends in self-referential incoherence regarding mind and moral government of responsible, rational freedom; thus this view is necessarily false, never mind dominance in the guild of scholarship. Notice how Haldane highlights how the very theorising of the scientist is decisively undermined through self-referential incoherence:

    Naturalism in science takes no position on questions of morality and any such considerations are irrelevant to its validity as a research methodology.

    It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter.

    Argument from incredulity.

    Thus, we are back at evolutionary materialistic scientism, redefinition of science in ways that beg big questions about truth, warping of methods by constraints tied to these challenges, and the underlying self-falsification that even undermines the ability to think. Haldane, again, captures the point.

    No, we are back to insisting on a rigorous application of methodological naturalism as science’s best defense against those who would warp science to conform to their own personal religious or political agendas.

    The fatal error of the natural world being self-causing is already plain. We can argue to the need for a world-root that is a necessary being, and can see that a causal-temporal succession cannot credibly traverse the implied transfinite succession of stages to reach now. That is interesting, but not central.

    The value of the MN approach to research is measured by the results it produces and by that measure it has been very successful. That we have no naturalistic answers for the ultimate questions of origins does not in any way invalidate the use of MN to investigate the world as we find it before us now. As for infinities, while you believe “that a causal-temporal succession cannot credibly traverse the implied transfinite succession of stages to reach now.”, we both hold that if there had ever been truly nothing, there would still be nothing. The problem with that is that it implies that, since this universe exists, there must always have been ‘something’ whatever that might have been.

    Going on, it is reasonable that definitions of science and its methods accurately respond to the history of modern science. Thus, there should be no imposed worldview level question begging or methodological lockouts that are tied to preserving in power a flawed view. That is precisely the error we see in the NSTA’s remarks.

    Instead, the emphasis should fall on open minded assessment of empirically accountable findings and analysis. Logic and epistemology should be acknowledged, and the underlying fact that we are in the province of philosophy, which has a better claim to being the meta discipline that explores how we can come to have confident albeit provisional empirically grounded knowledge.

    In another post I presented evidence that a few high school science teachers were openly – and in blatant violation of the Constitution – teaching Christian creationism to their students, no doubt because they were convinced it was mandated by their beliefs. That is a clear red flag for all who value science that there is a pressing need to be vigilant in its defense, that there is a clear and present danger from those who would impose their own religious and political agendas on science and it is that which needs to be locked out.

  36. 36
    ET says:

    Methodological naturalism limits science and it has not helped anyone discover anything.

    Teaching evolutionism is a clear red flag to anyone who cares about science and it is a clear and present danger to society.

  37. 37
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    I don’t understand the problem you have with naturalistic explanations and empirical, evidence-based research.

    Evolutionism doesn’t have that. The origin of the universe, earth and solar system doesn’t have that. The origin of life doesn’t have that.

    From this computer to understanding the causes of diseases and providing effective treatments to sending space probes to where distant planets will be many years in the future, MN works.

    Except that MN had nothing to do with any of that.

  38. 38
    ET says:

    jdk:

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge.

    Nonsense. Science cares about reality, period. If the reality is we are here by supernatural fiat then so be it. To say otherwise would be unscientific.

    The problem is the desire to contrast natural with supernatural when you should be contrasting natural with artificial.

  39. 39
    jdk says:

    Sev writes,

    No, we are back to insisting on a rigorous application of methodological naturalism as science’s best defense against those who would warp science to conform to their own personal religious or political agendas.

    This is an important point. It is MN and its insistence on natural evidence that invalidates, among other things, young-earth creationism being taught in school. And as I pointed out earlier, there are vastly more teachers teaching, blatantly or indirectly, that YEC is true than there are teachers teaching that materialism is true.

    The enterprise of public school science education is not the place to hash out philosophical and fringe (although possibly true) issues: public school science education needs to teach solidly substantiated facts within a context of empirical evidence, and to represent the mainstream understanding of what science is and does: and that’s what the NSTA statement does.

  40. 40
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    No, we are back to insisting on a rigorous application of methodological naturalism as science’s best defense against those who would warp science to conform to their own personal religious or political agendas.

    Yet MN warps science for those who refuse to deal with reality and who have personal and political agendas.

  41. 41
    ET says:

    jdk:

    The enterprise of public school science education is not the place to hash out philosophical and fringe (although possibly true) issues: public school science education needs to teach solidly substantiated facts within a context of empirical evidence, and to represent the mainstream understanding of what science is and does:

    And yet evolutionism is being taught- a subject that does not have any solidly substantiated facts.

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev,

    I actually demonstrated in 33 above from the SEP remarks that there is an agreed core meaning of naturalism across the past 100 + years, which is tantamount to the descriptive summary phrases I have long used. Namely, [1] evolutionary materialism and [2] evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    That summary also fits the CED definition, which will pivot on summarising typical usage of terms by those who exhibit exemplary standard of English speech or writing.

    So, appeal to other usages or to vagueness or to differences peripheral to that core will fail.

    Next, I went on to show the connexion, where if reality is a priori deemed evolutionary materialist, then it will seem appropriate to censor scientific thought, forcing it to become the “best” evolutionary materialistic account of our world from hydrogen to humans.

    And, frankly, that is the effect of so-called methodological naturalism.

    In that context, it is also clear why there is often an insistence on suggesting that the relevant contrast is natural vs supernatural, where the “supernatural” is part of what is being pushed out of the domain of possible knowledge. But in fact, ever since Plato in The Laws Bk X, there has been another relevant contrast: natural vs artificial.

    Where, on this sense, natural causes and processes would be those driven by blind chance and mechanical necessity acting on a physical substrate in a causal-temporal succession. Such cases, obviously are amenable to study that highlights the role of mechanical necessity and/or stochastic, chance based processes and circumstances.

    However, that is not the only causal dynamic studied in the sciences [think archaeology, forensic sciences, medicine, engineering sciences, etc].

    Artificial causes are intelligent and purposeful, often leaving observable characteristic and reliable traces which may therefore be studied by scientific investigations that are not straightjacketed and blinkered by a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    But of course seeing such to be reasonable pivots on willingness to accept the possibility of intelligent causal agents at relevant times and places, and/or to be open to the demonstrated reliability of key characteristic signs of intelligently directed configuration as a relevant causal factor. Which is precisely what is being locked out a priori on worldviews grounds as is implied by SEP.

    We are back to imposition of a worldview that censors possibilities that should sit at the table by right.

    In this context, it is only fair comment to point out that the NSTA was gravely wrong in 2000 and was worse wrong in 2005.

    The attack on a historically well-warranted school level understanding of science and its methods is a red flag warning on what has gone wrong.

    KF

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: The above shows the telling relevance of Lewontin’s notorious NYRB remarks, of January 2000 . . . the same timeframe as the NSTA statement:

    . . . to put a correct [–> Just who here presume to cornering the market on truth and so demand authority to impose?] view of the universe into people’s heads

    [==> as in, “we” the radically secularist elites have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge, making “our” “consensus” the yardstick of truth . . . where of course “view” is patently short for WORLDVIEW . . . and linked cultural agenda . . . ]

    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 [–> “explanations of the world” is yet another synonym for WORLDVIEWS; the despised “demon[ic]” “supernatural” being of course an index of animus towards ethical theism and particularly the Judaeo-Christian faith tradition], 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.]

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: It seems I need to expand a little on Haldane’s remarks also. Okay, for starters, here is Reppert:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    In short, inherently, a computational substrate is not about intelligent inference (apart from that of its designer), but instead is about mechanical chains of cause and effect acting on organised components tied together in an information-rich fashion. The notion that such could somehow achieve self-conscious, understanding-driven, rationally contemplative ground-consequent inferences or cogent judgement as to the degree of support empirical evidence gives to a conclusion, is a speculation driven by the same a priori imposition of evolutionary materialism already noted.

    That’s in part why Philip Johnson’s remark in reply to Lewontin is so relevant:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence.

    [–> notice, the power of an undisclosed, question-begging, controlling assumption . . . often put up as if it were a mere reasonable methodological constraint; emphasis added. Let us note how Rational Wiki, so-called, presents it:

    “Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific “dead ends” and God of the gaps-type hypotheses.”

    Of course, this ideological imposition on science that subverts it from freely seeking the empirically, observationally anchored truth about our world pivots on the deception of side-stepping the obvious fact since Plato in The Laws Bk X, that there is a second, readily empirically testable and observable alternative to “natural vs [the suspect] supernatural.” Namely, blind chance and/or mechanical necessity [= the natural] vs the ART-ificial, the latter acting by evident intelligently directed configuration. [Cf Plantinga’s reply here and here.]

    And as for the god of the gaps canard, the issue is, inference to best explanation across competing live option candidates. If chance and necessity is a candidate, so is intelligence acting by art through design. And it is not an appeal to ever- diminishing- ignorance to point out that design, rooted in intelligent action, routinely configures systems exhibiting functionally specific, often fine tuned complex organisation and associated information. Nor, that it is the only observed cause of such, nor that the search challenge of our observed cosmos makes it maximally implausible that blind chance and/or mechanical necessity can account for such.]

    That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [Emphasis added.] [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: I am aware that Rational Wiki has backed away from the cat-out-of-the-bag direct phrasing that was in place a few years ago. That historic phrasing is still valid and directly shows the point I have made about the nature of so-called methodological naturalism.

  46. 46
    jdk says:

    I knew Lewontin would show up sometime! 🙂

    But Lewontin was not on the team that wrote the NSTA statement.

    And yes, there are materialists. So what?

    There are also many religious people, Evangelical Christians included, who accept strongly the ideas in the NSTA statement.

    Also, once again, you do not quote enough to put a statement in proper context. From Rational Wiki, with the part you left out bolded.

    Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific “dead ends” and God of the gaps-type hypotheses. To avoid these traps scientists assume that all causes are empirical and naturalistic; which means they can be measured, quantified and studied methodically.

    However, this assumption of naturalism need not extend beyond an assumption of methodology. This is what separates methodological naturalism from philosophical naturalism — the former is merely a tool and makes no truth claim; while the latter makes the philosophical — essentially atheistic — claim that only natural causes exist.

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPPS: It is also relevant to note that the “god of the gaps” rhetorical gambit fails when it is used to try to dismiss the design inference on tested, empirically reliable signs backed up by assessment of search challenge in config spaces beyond 500 – 1,000 bits. For, inferring intelligently directed configuration as relevant best current causal explanation points to the only empirically observed cause of the sort of phenomenon in question, and to the only plausible cause in light of search challenge to blind search on sol system or observed cosmos gamut. This is an inference to what we do know, not a speculation about what we do not know. And given that the explanatory filter prioritises mechanical necessity and/or chance, it is not a question-begging assumption either.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, Lewontin wrote as a leading member of the guild who knew their mindset. That mindset is what the NSTA statement of 2000 documents, as does the joint NSTA-NAS letter of 2005. The imposition of a priori evolutionary materialism on science education by materialists dominating key institutions, is not a ho-hum, so what. As to RW, kindly note language of inappropriate dismissal, such as “traps,” and failure to recognise the contrast natural vs artificial causes that may and often do leave empirically observable traces. As SB often points out, one may infer arson or burglary on signs without knowing more than that it is possible for designing action to have been involved. The root problem — which Lewontin and Rational Wiki highlighted and which NSTA and NAS demonstrated, is a priori imposition of evolutionary materialism.

  49. 49
    jdk says:

    So, kf, all the Christians who accept the NSTA statement have been tricked into endorsing materialism, and just aren’t smart enough to know that?

    More seriously. how do you explain the millions of Christians who accept science as the search for natural causes of natural phenomena. Are they confused (which is what one ID advocate said one time), or are they in fact “worse than atheists because they hide their materialism behind a veneer of religion”, which is what Johnson said one time.

    What do you think about all those religious people who believe MN is a proper approach to science, don’t think it is hidden materialism, and don’t think it is a threat to their religious beliefs?

    How do you account for that? Are they all just wrong?

  50. 50
    hnorman5 says:

    Many people of all viewpoints are confused about “methodological” naturalism. A big part of the reason is that superficially it sounds so much like empirical science.

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, I have already noted how that which is implicit is much harder to discern than that which is plain; and that is how the implicit or hidden curriculum takes effect — especially if it seems plausible given the tides of opinion and institutional power in a given day. In this case, I have taken time to highlight the significance of “natural” (“-ISTIC” is in the subtext) concepts and explanations. I.e. for education in schools, science is in effect radically and ideologically redefined as the best evolutionary materialistic explanation of the world from hydrogen to humans. With, a further tendency to brand questioning and alternatives as appeals to the suspect “supernatural” and/or pseudoscientific. This then came out, five years later, in an attempt to brand and drive out a definition that was demonstrably historically [and philosophically] well-warranted and avoids ideological loading or question-begging. Where, definition of science, properly, is an exercise in history and philosophy of science. Where, too, it seems reasonable to me that an exercise in such definition of science and its core methods needs to start with Newton’s classic statement in Opticks, Query 31, which is the obvious root of the traditional school level definition. That then needs to be updated to address the broader understanding of inductive reasoning and the significance of inference to the best explanation. Last but not least, instead of the loaded contrast, natural vs supernatural, it would be advisable to consider Plato’s contrast in The Laws, Book X: natural vs ART-ificial — causes tracing to mechanical necessity and/or chance vs intelligently directed configuration, these being studied i/l/o inductive inference on reliable signs. I am fairly sure that if such were done properly, we would reach a very different conclusion than the NSTA did in 2000. KF

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev (and JDK):

    I think it is useful to address the issue of mindedness further i/l/o Crick’s 1994 remarks.

    First, he exemplifies how some materialists actually suggest that mind is more or less a delusion, which is instantly self-referentially absurd. For instance, in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis, Crick wrote:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    Philip Johnson aptly replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    In short, it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin. For, there is a very good reason we are cautioned about how easily self-referential statements can become self-refuting, like a snake attacking and swallowing itself tail-first. Any human scheme of thought that undermines responsible [thus, morally governed] rational freedom undermines itself fatally.

    We thus see inadvertent, inherent self-falsification of evolutionary materialism.

    But, “inadvertent” counts: it can be hard to recognise and acknowledge the logically fatal nature of the result. Of course, that subjective challenge does not change the objective result: self-referential incoherence and irretrievable self-falsification. (An audio clip, here, by William Lane Craig that summarises Plantinga’s argument on this in a nutshell, is useful as a quick reference.)

    A key point of relevance, is of course, that we here see that the very mindedness required to do science (and especially Mathematics!) is not properly explained on blind mechanical and/or stochastic causal chains in GIGO-limited computational substrates. Reppert and Haldane are right, we inherently need something that transcends the inherently non-ratiional nature of blind, GIGO-limited causal chains. We need instead responsible, rationally free contemplation that moves to conclusions through insightful ground and consequent logic and prudent judgement of the degree of support empirical evidence gives to inductive conclusions.

    There is a fatal self-referential hole in the naturalistic, evolutionary materialistic account. Starting with the scientists, mathematicians, philosophers and even educators and media personalities involved.

    The evolutionary materialist worldview is intellectually bankrupt by way of irretrievable, inescapable self falsification through self referential incoherence.

    As Sir Francis Crick so clearly (and inadvertently) demonstrated.

    KF

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    HN5, yup. That which is implicit, sub-textual and backed by institutional power is much harder to draw out, expose errors and correct than that which is directly asserted. And, when I did management, one of the points on strategic planning and decision making was that clever, entrenched advocates of business as usual can often spin out arguments endlessly. When that is going on, we are looking at the Overton Window shift challenge and how balances of power and circumstances have to move to shift BATNAs. Too often, that comes down to a power-driven fight. In this case, one that is going to be influenced by radical secularist and cultural marxist agit prop. Indeed, back in 2005, the PR person for the astroturf secularist group pushing the radical redefinition we are addressing in Kansas said in an online forum that her game plan was to make those advocating a more traditional approach seem to be bullies and donkeys. (She used stronger language.) KF

  54. 54
    jdk says:

    to kf.

    1. I’ll note that you did not address my questions in 49 at all.

    2. 52 is irrelevant, as we are not discussing the flaws you see in philosophical naturalism. We are discussing whether the NSTA statement, which endorses MN, is also endorsing PN.

    So, again, what do you think of the millions of the religious people all over the world who accept MN as the proper way to do science, and don’t think that conflicts with their religion. Are they all wrong?

  55. 55
    ET says:

    jdk:

    So, kf, all the Christians who accept the NSTA statement have been tricked into endorsing materialism, and just aren’t smart enough to know that?

    They definitely do not understand science. Neither do you.

    More seriously. how do you explain the millions of Christians who accept science as the search for natural causes of natural phenomena.

    How are you defining “natural”? Are cars the result of natural phenomena? Or are they the result of artificial phenomena?

    So, again, what do you think of the millions of the religious people all over the world who accept MN as the proper way to do science, and don’t think that conflicts with their religion. Are they all wrong?

    No one uses MN to conduct science.

  56. 56
    jdk says:

    I am reading the book “Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field”, a history of how those two men and others worked to understand electromagnetism back in the 1800’s. Faraday in particular was an amazing experimentalist who had intuitions that later proved to be quite correct, even though he didn’t have the mathematical background to formulate the laws that Maxwell later developed in the language of calculus.

    They were working to explain natural phenomena in terms of natural causes and forces. I would say they were definitely using MN to conduct science.

    They were also religious people who believed that God had created this world and all of the natural phenomena that they were investigating. They saw no conflict between their religious beliefs and the methodological naturalism that they were using (even though they didn’t know that term.)

    Case in point.

  57. 57
    john_a_designer says:

    Here is something I posted on UD back in 2009.

    Though I am sympathetic with ID, I disagree with the ID’ists who insist that methodological naturalism is necessarily a bad thing. As long methodological naturalism is honestly kept distinct from philosophical (or metaphysical) naturalism I don’t see that it represents that much of a problem. On the other hand, there are ID critics like Barbara Forrest and Eugenie Scott who don’t make much distinction between the two. In fact, I suspect there is an intention to deliberately blur the distinction.

    Of course, I don’t think that ID is anywhere close to establishing itself as a science, nor do I have any idea if it ever will. But I also think that natural science is very limited about in what it can tell us about the real world. And while, science can tell us some things about origins it cannot give us the full story.

    I would argue that ID rather than naturalism is the picture that emerges when we interpret the evidence as a whole. This is a top down vs. a bottom up approach.

    In his book, There is a God: How the Worlds Most Notorious
    Atheist Changed His Mind,
    Anthony Flew makes this observation:

    “You might ask how I, a philosopher, could speak to issues treated by scientists. The best way to answer this is with another question. Are we engaging in science or philosophy here? When you study the interaction of two physical bodies, for instance, two sub atomic particles, you are engaged in science. When you ask how it is that those subatomic particles– or anything physical– could exist or why, you are engaged in philosophy. When you draw philosophical conclusions from scientific data, then you are thinking as a philosopher.” P89

    Did Flew arrive at the conviction that the universe has evidence of design because it has been proven scientifically? I think the answer obviously is no, rather it is that design is the best interpretation of the evidence as we presently have it. That interpretation is a top down interpretation, a philosophical interpretation of the scientific evidence.

    https://uncommondescent.com/philosophy/quote-of-the-day-barbara-forrest-on-methodological-naturalism/#comment-316566

    I haven’t changed my position at all. Neither have those who want to have it both ways when it comes to MN. The main critics of ID do indeed conflate MN with PN. It’s at least disingenuous if not dishonest to claim they don’t.

  58. 58
    jdk says:

    Good post, JAD, and I agree. Many questions are outside the scope of science, and in the realm of philosophy. One type of question is not inferior to the other, but they serve different purposes and are answered through different means.

    This is the distinction that I am trying to establish in this thread: that the NSTA statement endorsing MN as a feature of science is not in conflict with the religious and philosophical beliefs of the many people who do not believe that physical nature is all there is.

  59. 59
    ET says:

    jdk:

    They were working to explain natural phenomena in terms of natural causes and forces.

    How are you defining “natural”? Did natural causes and forces produce cars?

  60. 60
    ET says:

    JAD:

    Of course, I don’t think that ID is anywhere close to establishing itself as a science, nor do I have any idea if it ever will.

    It makes testable claims. What else does it need to become science?

  61. 61
    ET says:

    Science does not start with a conclusion, ie, “only naturalistic processes”. However dogma does start with such a conclusion.

    Scientists follow Isaac Newton’s four rules of scientific reasoning. That avoids the starting with the conclusion problem and allows for the real question of “natural or artificial” as opposed to the false dictum of “natural or supernatural”

  62. 62
    hnorman5 says:

    jdk @ 56

    What you’re describing is probably the correct use of empirical science.

    I know very little about Faraday and Maxwell. However, if their work has any value at all then they must have established their conclusions as true independent of any operating assumptions that guided them in search.

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, actually, I anticipated the questions; which are little more than further personalising of an issue that needs to be resolved through addressing the substance on the merits. It is clear that we are dealing with evolutionary materialistic scientism, and that methodological naturalism is then a seemingly reasonable way to get rid of the possibility of god of gaps errors. The problem with that is that it comes with a subtext as shown above. Notice, as the SEP discusses, reality is a priori imposed upon to be physical only . . . that cannot be an induction from experience, nor from the logic of a world. Too often, what we have is little more than anti-supernaturalist prejudice, sneering and rhetoric; where the definition of what “natural” means is very problematic when physicalism becomes a hidden premise. But in that context, the only “real” things to be known are physical. Ultimately, of course this means knowledge can only be about the physical and how it gives rise to a world by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. As one direct consequence, our own individual sense of identity and consciousness dissolves into Crick’s delusions; however loathe many may be to accept that. So, evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers are in the end in big trouble. For this thread, what is relevant is the clear fact of imposed censorship on science education. And that should be a wake-up call. But then, we must recall that in living memory it was a matter of deeply isolated, controversial opinion for G K Chesterton to challenge the seeming consensus on that former great champion of science, eugenics. And one could well imagine the Athanasius contra mundum objection being used to dismiss his concerns. He turned out to be right, as Athanasius was right before him, too. For, truth and warrant are not decided by majority vote but by substance. KF

  64. 64
    ET says:

    jdk:

    They were also religious people who believed that God had created this world and all of the natural phenomena that they were investigating.

    Basically they were conducting science under an Intelligent Design framework. They were figuring out how the design works. You do that so you can understand it and use it to your advantage.

    They saw no conflict between their religious beliefs and the methodological naturalism that they were using (even though they didn’t know that term.)

    They were following Newton’s rules and not MN.

  65. 65
    jdk says:

    kf writes, “JDK, actually, I anticipated the questions; …”

    Kf, I see nothing in what you write that answers these questions:

    So, again, what do you think of the millions of the religious people all over the world who accept MN as the proper way to do science, and don’t think that conflicts with their religion. Are they all wrong?

  66. 66
    ET says:

    jdk- I see that you are too afraid to answer questions pertaining to your question-begging methodological naturalism.

    So, again, what do you think of the millions of the religious people all over the world who accept MN as the proper way to do science, and don’t think that conflicts with their religion.

    That is just more question-begging.

    Your question-begging and special pleading may work in Kansas but it doesn’t cut it here, Jack.

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, you are pulling the discussion off on a fairly predictable tangent, but I will pause to point out a few things. Right from the beginning I pointed to the one-sidedness of concerns — oh those Creationists. Meanwhile, through things like the NSTA July 2000 statement and other interventions, we have evolutionary materialist censorship of education backed by overbearing institutional power. Things are so bad that a historically, epistemologically and scientifically well founded correction to the radical 2001 injection of evolutionary materialistic scientism into the school level definition was pounced on and subjected to the threat of holding the children of Kansas hostage over rejecting the accreditation of their high school science education. This was being done by the US NAS and NSTA, with enormous enabling by the dominant and domineering media. That is the hostile, destructive climate we are dealing with [one with obvious career-busting implications for those imprudent enough not to toe the partyline . . . ], and the responsibility lies in exactly the circles Richard Lewontin highlighted in his NYRB article. In that context, I also highlighted from the SEP article raised by Seversky how methodological naturalism, scientism and core naturalism are inextricably mutually intertwined and mutually supportive. So, the point is not whether people have tried in recent years to get along, or even that many fail to understand the interconnexions I just pointed to, it is that injection of a priori evolutionary materialist assumptions as a controlling, censoring a priori on science education is just that: censorship setting up indoctrination, no matter that it is usually done by implications on seemingly plausible methodical constraints. Yes, science often deals with mechanical necessity and/or blind chance as driving forces, but as Plato’s alternative highlights. there are and can be significant cases where we need to study the alternative, natural vs ART-ificial. And in that context, to impose censorship is to undermine the ability of scientific work to seek the observationally anchored TRUTH about our world. Where, at its core, knowledge is about well warranted credibly true belief. That is why indoctrination and loading of key controlling premises and definitions with evolutionary materialistic scientism — regardless of how subtly done — is so destructive. It is time to face that and correct the harm that has been done. KF

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: ET is correct to highlight the significance of Newton’s four rules of reasoning for Natural Philosophy.

    Let me clip my comments in the IOSE:

    to understand the kind of scientific reasoning involved and its history, it is also worth pausing to excerpt Newton’s Rules of [[Inductive] Reasoning in [[Natural] Philosophy which he used to introduce the Universal Law of Gravitation. In turn, this — then controversial (action at a distance? why? . . . ) — law was in effect generalised from the falling of apples on Earth and the deduced rule that also explained the orbital force of the Moon, and thence Kepler’s mathematically stated empirical laws of planetary motion.

    So, Newton needed to render plausible how he projected universality:

    Rule I [[–> adequacy and simplicity]

    We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true [[–> it is probably best to take this liberally as meaning “potentially and plausibly true”] and sufficient to explain their appearances.

    To this purpose the philosophers say that Nature does nothing in vain, and more is in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity, and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.

    Rule II [[–> uniformity of causes: “like forces cause like effects”]

    Therefore to the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same causes.

    As to respiration in a man and in a beast; the descent of stones in Europe and in America; the light of our culinary fire and of the sun; the reflection of light in the earth, and in the planets.

    Rule III [[–> confident universality]

    The qualities of bodies, which admit neither intensification nor remission of degrees, and which are found to belong to all bodies within the reach of our experiments, are to be esteemed the universal qualities of all bodies whatsoever.

    For since the qualities of bodies are only known to us by experiments, we are to hold for universal all such as universally agree with experiments; and such as are not liable to diminution can never be quite taken away. We are certainly not to relinquish the evidence of experiments for the sake of dreams and vain fictions of our own devising; nor are we to recede from the analogy of Nature, which is wont to be simple, and always consonant to [398/399] itself . . . .

    Rule IV [[–> provisionality and primacy of induction]

    In experimental philosophy we are to look upon propositions inferred by general induction from phenomena as accurately or very nearly true, notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses that may be imagined, till such time as other phenomena occur, by which they may either be made more accurate, or liable to exceptions.

    This rule we must follow, that the arguments of induction may not be evaded by [[speculative] hypotheses.

    In effect Newton advocated for provisional, empirically tested, reliable and adequate inductive principles resting on “simple” summaries or explanatory constructs. These were to be as accurate to reality as we experience it, as we can get it, i.e. a scientific theory seeks to be true to our world, provisional though it must be. They rest on induction from patterns of observed phenomena and through Rule II — on “like causes like” — were to be confidently projected to cases where we do not observe directly, subject to correction on further observations, not impositions of speculative metaphysical notions. Also, this requires that we show from observation that a proposed cause can actually produce the relevant effects. (Thus, Sir Charles Lyell proposed to explain geological phenomena in the deep past “by reference to causes NOW IN OPERATION.”)

    This leads to the way that — through a form of induction known as abductive inference to best explanation (cf. here for basics, and here for more complex details and issues) —

    (a) certain explanatory hypotheses, models and theories [[E/M/T] can be identified as “best” current explanations of bodies of observed facts F1, F2, . . . Fn, and

    (b) such E/M/T’s can then be onwards correlated with bodies of accepted theories in science [[BOATs], leading to the onward development of science.

    The practical effect of methodological naturalism is to suppress the criterion of actually observed effective cause, for example to explain the FSCO/I in the living cell, starting with coded algorithmic complex information in D/RNA.

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: A Bible text from C8 BC Israel is appropriate:

    Amos 5:12 For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great (shocking, innumerable),
    You who distress the righteous and take bribes,
    And turn away from the poor in the [court of the city] gate [depriving them of justice].

    13 Therefore, he who is prudent and has insight will keep silent at such a [corrupt and evil] time, for it is an evil time [when people will not listen to truth and will disregard those of good character].

    14
    Seek (long for, require) good and not evil, that you may live;
    And so may the Lord God of hosts be with you,
    Just as you have said!

    15 Hate evil and love good,
    And establish justice in the [court of the city] gate.
    Perhaps the Lord God of hosts
    Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph [that is, those who remain after God’s judgment]. [AMP]

  70. 70
    jdk says:

    re 67: kf writes, in the midst of reiterating his common points:

    So, the point is not whether people have tried in recent years to get along, or even that many fail to understand the interconnexions I just pointed to, …

    So your answer to my question about the many religious people who accept MN as a principle of how science operates is

    1) they are just trying to accommodate their beliefs to as to not rock the boat, so to speak, and/or

    2) they fail to understand that MN is really an insidious endorsement of PN.

    That is, you think they are wrong to do so.

    I think this does a disservice to the integrity and intellectual understanding of a lot of people.

    But people have different opinions. I think yours is in the minority, for what that’s worth.

    So, to summarize, I stand with my claim that the NSTA statement does not endorse materialism, and with the more general claim that MN does not imply PN.

    I understand your concern that the underlying cultural manifestation of PN (evolutionary materialistic scientism) is rampant and undermining civilization. Those concerns are, in my opinion, extreme, hyperbolic, a bit paranoid, and not part of the mainstream viewpoint of many thoughtful, well-educated people, religious and otherwise.

    There’s probably not much new to be said on this subject in this thread, I think.

  71. 71
    ET says:

    jdk:

    I think this does a disservice to the integrity and intellectual understanding of a lot of people.

    Nice projection, Jack. MN does a disservice to the integrity and intellectual understanding of science.

    I stand by my claim that no one uses MN and instead people use Newton’s four rules.

    And it is very telling that Jack is too afraid to answer my questions. It’s as if MN turns people into intellectual cowards.

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, it is not generally advisable to put words into someone’s mouth. Especially, when you are obviously locking out and dismissing what has been demonstrated and repeatedly pointed out. Perhaps, too you overlooked my historical points, regarding two highly relevant cases: G K Chesterton (in living memory) and the eponymous Athanasius of the telling phrase Athanasius contra mundum. I can add, the era when marxist-socialist economics, policies and politics seemed to be right to a great many despite accessible and decisive correctives. In short, when the substance has been decisively answered, appealing to a multitude in disagreement has no probative force; though the why of their disagreement may have a lot to teach us on how a culture (especially its decision making and influencing elites) can go disastrously wrong — my remarks on the Overton Window and its two BATNAs may be of some help . . . there is a zone of plausibility and power balance that may have little to do with truth. So, again, it is to the merits we must go. Later, KF

  73. 73
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: It has been demonstrated that naturalism as a worldview and ideology is tantamount to evolutionary materialistic scientism and it is further evident from the NSTA, NAS and events in and around Kansas, that precisely such evolutionary materialistic scientism as Lewontin let the cat out of the bag on, has been imposed by institutional domination on science education. Your denial, has no probative force in the teeth of what has been shown.

  74. 74
    jdk says:

    kf writes, “JDK, it is not generally advisable to put words into someone’s mouth.”

    I will repeat what you wrote,

    So, the point is not whether people have tried in recent years to get along, or even that many fail to understand the interconnexions I just pointed to, …

    I paraphrased this as

    1) they are just trying to accommodate their beliefs to as to not rock the boat, so to speak, and/or

    2) they fail to understand that MN is really an insidious endorsement of PN.

    Other than my editorial comment of “insidious”, how does my paraphrase misrepresent what you said?

  75. 75
    ET says:

    jdk does not understand science nor how science operates.

  76. 76
    jdk says:

    Off-topic question: does anyone know why some comments show up in Recent Comments on the main page and some don’t? Is this a known flaw that theoretically someone could try to solve, or an unsolvable problem, or the product of some known and accepted feature, or what?

    Any thoughts?

  77. 77
    john_a_designer says:

    The following is a dissenting view that was posted last year on the Evolution News website

    Philosopher Barbara Forrest… a critic of intelligent design… [argued] in her article “Methodological Naturalism and Philosophical Naturalism: Clarifying the Connection” (2000), [that she] doesn’t see methodological naturalism as disallowing the logical possibility of supernatural causes. She sees any assertion otherwise as nothing more than epistemological arrogance, since no human can have exhaustive knowledge of all there is. She goes on to argue, however, that methodological naturalism does not allow enough of a logical possibility to provide sufficient warrant for acknowledgement of the supernatural.

    Forrest, unlike Dembski, does not believe that methodological naturalism necessarily entails philosophical naturalism. She reasons, however, that based on the success of methodological naturalism, and the great knowledge it has contributed to the world, along with the simple dearth of evidence for the supernatural, that the “only reasonable metaphysical conclusion” from an empirical and logical perspective is philosophical naturalism… She sees methodological naturalism as procedural and epistemological, as opposed to philosophical naturalism which is a metaphysical position. The heart of Forrest’s argument is as follows:

    ”Adopted in the sciences because of its explanatory and predictive success, methodological naturalism is the intellectual parent of modern philosophical naturalism as it now exists, meaning that philosophical naturalism as a world view is a generalization of the cumulative results of scientific inquiry… It is neither the a priori premise nor the logically necessary conclusion of methodological naturalism, but the well grounded a posteriori result.

    https://evolutionnews.org/2017/05/are-methodological-naturalism-and-philosophical-naturalism-the-same-a-dissent/

    Notice the disingenuous not so sleight-of-hand rhetorical move which Forrest makes in her paper:

    My conclusion is that the relationship between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, although not that of logical entailment, is not such that philosophical naturalism is a mere logical possibility, whereas, given the proven reliability of methodological naturalism in yielding knowledge of the natural world and the unavailability of any method at all for knowing the supernatural, supernaturalism is little more than a logical possibility. Philosophical naturalism is emphatically not an arbitrary philosophical preference, but rather the only reasonable metaphysical conclusion–if by reasonable one means both empirically grounded and logically coherent.

    https://infidels.org/library/modern/barbara_forrest/naturalism.html

    In other words, in Forrest’s view methodological naturalism employed in science has virtually proven philosophical naturalism. There is virtually no difference. So she can have her cake and eat it too!

    I along with other ID’ists see a lot of evidence for design in the world that has been uncovered by modern science. (You have to be either blind or bigoted not to see what we see.) There are a lot of things which cannot be explained naturalistically and no evidence that they will ever be explained naturalistically. The problem is that naturalists (materialists) are so dogmatically wedded to their worldview that they want to shut down the discussion of any other possible explanations. If they are so certain why are they so afraid?

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, WP for UD is problematic. Sometimes, kill the main page, close browser, start again will unstick. Sometimes. KF

  79. 79
    jdk says:

    Thanks, kf. I figured it was a bug of some sort.

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    pardon but you missed the main point again.

    It has been shown that naturalism [= evolutionary materialism] is organically and inextricably intertwined with scientism, with obvious consequences. Maybe SEP as I marked up above, will help bring the point home, as a handy summary:

    The self-proclaimed “naturalists” [of early-mid C20] . . . urged that reality is exhausted by nature [= the physical], containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality [–> i.e. if all that is is ultimately physical, the point of knowledge is to understand how that matrix gave rise to all things we see], including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944; Kim 2003) [–> this of course runs into the challenge of reducing mindedness to a GIGO-limited computational substrate, thus becomes self-refuting as I and many others note. This is the historical context of Haldane’s sawing off the branch remark] . . . . 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” [–> so, naturalism, i.e. evolutionary materialistic scientism, has ruled the roost for the past century or so, and has of course had consequences] . . .

    Now of course, if for argument “nature” is broadened to imply reality in toto, whatever it may contain [say, including God], then “nature” loses meaning, and “the supernatural” would then by definition be a term for non-being.

    So, we can safely hold that the term natural in praxis implies physical and quasi-physical as the substratum of reality. All else that is, comes from ultimately blind interactions of said substratum. And, as it is the sciences which give knowledge of that substratum and how it may act (through blind mechanical necessity and/or chance/stochastic processes) then indeed we see where science becomes the framework of reliable and grounded knowledge.

    Once one swallows the frame, in whatever vague form, the above consequences become self-reinforcing. One may speak of even religious naturalism or of “merely” methodological naturalism as a reliable and successful way to learn about the world, even stipulating that there are other ways to acquire knowledge but the end result is the same. So soon as “science” so redefined comes knocking, it takes over.

    The point is, leaving the underlying worldview commitments, logic and epistemology un-examined does not remove their impact.

    And, we see further that science has become little more than applied atheism: the best evolutionary materialistic account of the world from hydrogen to humans.

    Such an all-encompassing cultural agenda can seem as irresistible as the proverbial juggernaut. Especially when the alleged centuries long track record of success of such science, the squeezing out of god from gaps, the follies of pseudoscience and the over-running of domains once thought beyond science are trotted out.

    But the whole turns on question-begging tendentious redefinitions, half truths on scientific methods and progress [multiplied by outright falsities] and on failure to adequately assess the challenge of the gap between a GIGO-limited mechanical and/or stochastic computational substrate and insightful, meaning based contemplation and responsible, rational, free mind.

    But, that is where we have come to as a civilisation.

    And just as with Marxism, the juggernaut will have to crash and break irreparably of its own weight for its apparent grand progress and triumph to be exposed for the myth they are.

    And it is in that context that we can readily see why many will imagine that the myth is fundamentally true and will seek to work with or find accommodations with it.

    That is a secondary phenomenon, one of social psychology and/or cultural agendas.

    Secondary, not primary.

    What is primary is that the project of naturalism is flawed from the root, foundering on self-referential incoherence in accounting for the minds we must use. And if the term nature is instead broadened into a synonym for reality (i.e. an attempt is made to not be implicitly physicalist by reduction to presumed substratum) the term becomes meaningless.

    In that context, it is implicit ideological imposition and indoctrination to impose that in science education, concepts and explanations must only be “natural” — the “-ISTIC” being in the subtext.

    But obviously, the juggernaut has not undeniably, irretrievably smashed into hard reality and fallen to obviously broken pieces yet.

    Yet.

    KF

  81. 81
    jdk says:

    kf writes, “JDK, pardon but you missed the main point again.”

    No, I did not miss the main point. I disagree with your main point: that is different.

    Millions of people do not believe that, to put it succinctly, MN entails PN. I think they are right, and you are wrong.

    That is not “missing the point.”

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    Just as a note, let’s see what Ms Barbara Forrest — yes the same — thinks, as re-published at infidels dot org (and in the same timeframe):

    https://infidels.org/library/modern/barbara_forrest/naturalism.html

    Methodological Naturalism and Philosophical Naturalism: Clarifying the Connection (2000)
    Barbara Forrest

    This article was originally published in Philo, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Fall-Winter 2000), pp. 7-29.

    Abstract: In response to the charge that methodological naturalism in science logically requires the a priori adoption of a naturalistic metaphysics, I examine the question whether methodological naturalism entails philosophical (ontological or metaphysical) naturalism. I conclude that the relationship between methodological and philosophical naturalism, while not one of logical entailment, is the only reasonable metaphysical conclusion given (1) the demonstrated success of methodological naturalism, combined with (2) the massive amount of knowledge gained by it, (3) the lack of a method or epistemology for knowing the supernatural, and (4) the subsequent lack of evidence for the supernatural. The above factors together provide solid grounding for philosophical naturalism, while supernaturalism remains little more than a logical possibility.

    In short, she all but acknowledges my point.

    I again refer you just above, where there are substantial points as to why the two cannot be separated.

    Of course, the claimed success of imposing evolutionary materialism on science is largely after the fact of success of science in addressing mechanical and statistical aspects of nature before such an imposition became dominant. It also extends a promissory note by way of a priori ruling out intelligent cause on certain key findings such as the FSCO/I in the world of life and the fine tuning of the cosmos.

    I hardly need to more than note the strawman caricature that follows, of ruling out the design inference as scientific on grounds of ideological question begging definition. Likewise, there is a strawman fallacy involved in studiously avoiding discussion of the natural vs the ART-ificial, while putting up gross caricatures of the supernatural.

    So, again, we are back to oh I can count heads on my side, while failing to cogently address the merits.

    Which is precisely the point on missing the point.

    KF

  83. 83
    jdk says:

    No, kf, I am not merely counting heads. I am pointing out that many people, after due consideration of the situation, disagree with you: they see the deficiencies of the merits of your position and the strengths of the merits of their own position.

    Also, JAD posted the same quote from Barbara at 77 above. I hope to have time to respond to that later.

  84. 84
    ET says:

    jdk:

    I am pointing out that many people, after due consideration of the situation, disagree with you:

    And many more agree

    they see the deficiencies of the merits of your position and the strengths of the merits of their own position.

    And what are the strengths and merits of MN? What are the deficiencies of Newton’s four rules?

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    I simply reiterate my markup of what the NSTA did, to document my point:

    PREAMBLE: All those involved with science teaching and learning should have a common, accurate view of the nature of science. Science is characterized by the systematic gathering of information through various forms of direct and indirect observations and the testing of this information by methods including, but not limited to, experimentation. The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts [–> ideological imposition of a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism, aka natural-ISM; this is of course self-falsifying at the outset] . . . .

    [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 [–> declaration of intent to censor instructional content], 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 [–> ideological imposition of a loaded definition] 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 . . . cf UD’s weak argument correctives 17 – 19, here] in the production of scientific knowledge.

    In short, the point was there right from the outset.

    Further, at no point have you been able to show that the following understanding of naturalism and its implications per the CED is wrong:

    NATURALISM . . . 5. (Philosophy) philosophy
    a. a scientific account of the world in terms of causes and natural forces that rejects all spiritual, supernatural, or teleological explanations

    b. the meta-ethical thesis that moral properties are reducible to natural ones, or that ethical judgments are derivable from nonethical ones.

    Likewise, this markup from SEP as introduced by Sev, remains:

    The self-proclaimed “naturalists” [of early-mid C20] . . . urged that reality is exhausted by nature [= the physical], containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality [–> i.e. if all that is is ultimately physical, the point of knowledge is to understand how that matrix gave rise to all things we see], including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944; Kim 2003) [–> this of course runs into the challenge of reducing mindedness to a GIGO-limited computational substrate, thus becomes self-refuting as I and many others note. This is the historical context of Haldane’s sawing off the branch remark] . . . . 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” [–> so, naturalism, i.e. evolutionary materialistic scientism, has ruled the roost for the past century or so, and has of course had consequences] . . .

    Last but not least, at 80 just above, I explored what results from trying to broaden naturalism so that it is not so explicitly tied to physicalism:

    if for argument “nature” is broadened to imply reality in toto, whatever it may contain [say, including God], then “nature” loses meaning, and “the supernatural” would then by definition be a term for non-being.

    So, we can safely hold that the term natural in praxis implies physical and quasi-physical as the substratum of reality. All else that is, comes from ultimately blind interactions of said substratum. And, as it is the sciences which give knowledge of that substratum and how it may act (through blind mechanical necessity and/or chance/stochastic processes) then indeed we see where science becomes the framework of reliable and grounded knowledge.

    Once one swallows the frame, in whatever vague form, the above consequences become self-reinforcing. One may speak of even religious naturalism or of “merely” methodological naturalism as a reliable and successful way to learn about the world, even stipulating that there are other ways to acquire knowledge but the end result is the same. So soon as “science” so redefined comes knocking, it takes over.

    The point is, leaving the underlying worldview commitments, logic and epistemology un-examined does not remove their impact.

    And, we see further that science has become little more than applied atheism: the best evolutionary materialistic account of the world from hydrogen to humans.

    Such an all-encompassing cultural agenda can seem as irresistible as the proverbial juggernaut. Especially when the alleged centuries long track record of success of such science, the squeezing out of god from gaps, the follies of pseudoscience and the over-running of domains once thought beyond science are trotted out.

    But the whole turns on question-begging tendentious redefinitions, half truths on scientific methods and progress [multiplied by outright falsities] and on failure to adequately assess the challenge of the gap between a GIGO-limited mechanical and/or stochastic computational substrate and insightful, meaning based contemplation and responsible, rational, free mind.

    The effect of all this is that the reason methodological naturalism, so called, has been imposed in science and science education is because of the dominance of evolutionary materialism, which directly leads to evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    The imposition documented is tantamount to transforming science into government-compelled tax funded applied atheism. This then leads to turning education — on the radical redefinitions imposed through NSTA — into compulsory indoctrination in atheism.

    And sooner or later, for cause that is going to trigger a huge backlash by angry citizens.

    I can say, for one, that for cause I would never subject my children to such indoctrination under false colours of education.

    KF

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Notice how in Jan 2000 — a few months before that statement was issued in July, Lewontin let the cat out of the bag on what was coming on the education agenda:

    . . . to put a correct [–> Just who here presume to cornering the market on truth and so demand authority to impose?] view of the universe into people’s heads

    [==> as in, “we” the radically secularist elites have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge, making “our” “consensus” the yardstick of truth . . . where of course “view” is patently short for WORLDVIEW . . . and linked cultural agenda . . . ]

    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 [–> “explanations of the world” is yet another synonym for WORLDVIEWS; the despised “demon[ic]” “supernatural” being of course an index of animus towards ethical theism and particularly the Judaeo-Christian faith tradition], 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.]

  87. 87
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 42

    I actually demonstrated in 33 above from the SEP remarks that there is an agreed core meaning of naturalism across the past 100 + years, which is tantamount to the descriptive summary phrases I have long used. Namely, [1] evolutionary materialism and [2] evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    That summary also fits the CED definition, which will pivot on summarising typical usage of terms by those who exhibit exemplary standard of English speech or writing.

    So, appeal to other usages or to vagueness or to differences peripheral to that core will fail.

    The common ground amongst philosophers according to the SEP is that “reality is exhausted by nature” or I suppose you could also say that nature is exhausted by reality. In other words, if something is real rather than imaginary, even if it is ghosts or a god, then they are by that understanding part of the natural order of things. So the supernatural, if it refers to anything at all, is simply that category of real things about which we have no knowledge as yet.

    As for contrasting “natural” with “artificial” you can certainly do that as long as you make it clear that “natural” in this sense is referring to non-teleological phenomena, which is a more limited usage that excludes teleological phenomena or artefacts which are real and therefore natural according to the philosophers usage.

    “Evolutionary materialism” is a metaphysical claim about the nature of biological reality being entirely material. But “materialism” does not necessarily exhaust “naturalism”. This depends on what we mean by “materialism” so, again, we come up against usages. Is it limited to the classical concept or is it being used interchangeably with “physicalism” in these discussions?

    “[E]volutionary materialistic scientism” is a pejorative term for what is regarded by the critic as an irrational and unjustifiable commitment to the belief that reality is material in nature and that science is the only method for generating reliable knowledge about said reality.

    Next, I went on to show the connexion, where if reality is a priori deemed evolutionary materialist, then it will seem appropriate to censor scientific thought, forcing it to become the “best” evolutionary materialistic account of our world from hydrogen to humans.

    This is implying that there is a conspiracy amongst scientists to “censor” any thought which is held to be inconsistent with some established materialist orthodoxy, one victim of this conspiracy being the neo-Paleyist conjectures of the Intelligent Design movement. Yet ID has been able to publish numerous articles, blog posts, books and videos about their claims so it is hard to see where it is being suppressed. If it is referring to the fact that ID has gained little traction in scientific circles an alternative explanation could be that, thus far, it has failed to substantiate its claims in any scientifically significant way.

    Artificial causes are intelligent and purposeful, often leaving observable characteristic and reliable traces which may therefore be studied by scientific investigations that are not straightjacketed and blinkered by a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    But of course seeing such to be reasonable pivots on willingness to accept the possibility of intelligent causal agents at relevant times and places, and/or to be open to the demonstrated reliability of key characteristic signs of intelligently directed configuration as a relevant causal factor. Which is precisely what is being locked out a priori on worldviews grounds as is implied by SEP.

    I do not see that intelligent agents cannot be included as “natural” in the broad sense of the SEP entry. But such agents cannot help us on the question of origins without an arbitrary declaration of necessity.

    We are back to imposition of a worldview that censors possibilities that should sit at the table by right.

    That raises the question of what should be allowed to sit around science’s table “as of right”. Should it be any conceivable claim, such as flat Earth or fairies at the bottom of the garden or should it be restricted to those claims that meet certain standards of scientific merit, given that imposing such standards is automatically vulnerable to complaints of censorship against the claims that are excluded?

    The attack on a historically well-warranted school level understanding of science and its methods is a red flag warning on what has gone wrong.

    If you are referring to the attempted and actual teaching of creationism in high school science classrooms then I entirely agree.

  88. 88
    jdk says:

    I spent more time on this than I wanted to, but anyway …

    re the Barbara Forrest comments in 77 and 82: First, that there are in fact philosophical naturalists in itself isn’t an argument that they are right. As I’ve said before: yes there are materialists. So what? The question before us is whether accepting science as the search for natural explanations of natural phenomena necessarily entails or endorses PN, not whether there are people who think this is the case.

    As kf said, this is not about counting heads: it’s about the merits of the arguments.

    Second, Barbara makes an important distinction in her reasoning, which I would like to describe (although it is stated well in her quotes, for anyone who reads closely without thinking they can read between the lines.) But before doing that, I want to point out that a) I am a friend of Barbara’s and b) I don’t agree with her about her final conclusion. I will write as if I can somewhat represent her thoughts, although I know I really can’t speak for her, and may misrepresent her.

    But her argument is:

    1. MN does not logically entail PN because it is a logical possibility that something other than the material world exists. Barbara (and Genie Scott), in my experience accept that people with whom they agree strongly about the nature of science also have religious beliefs that they don’t share.

    So many people accept for various reasons, logical and otherwise, that other than the material world exists, and this can not be disproven, even though Barbara and others are not at all moved, much less convinced, by those arguments.

    2. However, for reasons described below, she reaches the conclusion for herself that the only reasonable metaphysical conclusion is that in fact the material world is all there is. The two main reasons are:

    a. “the demonstrated success of methodological naturalism” and the massive amount of consensual knowledge that has been obtained by utilizing it, and

    b. there is no comparable method by which those who believe there is something more than the material world have been able to investigate the non-material and come to any consensual understandings, or to produce practically useful results.

    3. Therefore, she states that adopting PN is neither an a priori commitment nor a logically necessary conclusion, but rather a reasoned conclusion. As she states very well,

    Adopted in the sciences because of its explanatory and predictive success, methodological naturalism is the intellectual parent of modern philosophical naturalism as it now exists, meaning that philosophical naturalism as a world view is a generalization of the cumulative results of scientific inquiry… It is neither the a priori premise nor the logically necessary conclusion of methodological naturalism, but the well grounded a posteriori result.

    4. I think there is a great deal of strength in her argument, but I personally don’t reach the same conclusion as she does about PN being the only reasonable metaphysical conclusion: I have made it clear here that I am not a materialist. I think the fact that there is something rather than nothing, that it is “fine-tuned” to have the full range of substances and forces that it does, and that consciousness exists all point to a possible non-material “something” or “somethings” that are beyond/behind/concomitant with the material world.

    Therefore, I think that science, as the search for natural explanations, is a limited enterprise: it can only investigate certain types of things in the world, but not everything.

    I am not interested once again discussing my own views about the nature of the world. I mention myself, however, as an example of someone who endorses MN, but not PN.

    I hope this discussion puts Barbara’s thoughts in context: to summarize,

    1) MN does not logically entail PN.

    2. Some people feel (Barbara, for instance), however, that the conclusion that the material world is all there is is the most, indeed the only, reasonable conclusion.

    3. Many others (myself, for instance, and my Christian friends, for another example) believe that science is correct to limit itself to searching for natural explanations, but that science, in doing so, cannot address many important issues in the lives of human beings.

  89. 89
    goodusername says:

    jdk,

    re the Barbara Forrest comments in 77 and 82: First, that there are in fact philosophical naturalists in itself isn’t an argument that they are right. As I’ve said before: yes there are materialists. So what?

    I agree. Obviously there are materialists – and obviously many of them are going to try to get people to buy that MN logically means PN, as JAD points out. Most people – including theists – believe in using MN in science, and so if materialists can sell that MN = PN, they’ll see it as a major victory. That’s why it’s surprising to me (especially as an atheist) to see so many non-atheists jumping to agree with them.

    For me, the importance of MN is linked to the importance of falsifiability. Most people believe in MN not because they believe in PN, but because they believe in the principle of falsifiability. If one is allowed to inject miracles or the supernatural into their theories, how would they be falsifiable? It has nothing to do with whether one believes the supernatural or miracles occur or not.
    Because of the importance of falsifiability, even IF PN was somehow disproven tomorrow, it wouldn’t change the role of MN in science.

  90. 90
    john_a_designer says:

    Earlier at #77 I wrote:

    I along with other ID’ists see a lot of evidence for design in the world that has been uncovered by modern science.

    One of the best evidences that Theism is true and naturalism/materialism is false if the fact that we have minds that can give us factually true knowledge about the world within which we find ourselves.

    It is not a matter of what one believes about the reliability of his own reasoning (truth detecting) capabilities but whether one can explain such capabilities on the basis of his world view. Naturalists/ materialists like Dawkins begin with the assumption that our minds– our reasoning/ truth detecting capabilities– are the result of non-teleological mindless process. Theists, on the other hand, begin with the assumption that our minds are a creation of a Mind. The burden of proof is on those who try to explain on a mindless process, like Darwinian, naturalistic evolution can “create” minds in the first place and the minds with reliable truth detecting capabilities. Remember, a committed Darwinian like Richard Dawkins is arguing that his world view is based on empirical science. Therefore, he should be able to give me a compelling and objective science based explanation (“proof”) of how mindlessness creates minds.

    Frankly, this is something that the naturalist relying on science and “methodological naturalism,” cannot answer. I would argue that the theist doesn’t have that problem. How could he? For the theist the ultimate ground of being is an eternally existing transcendent Mind.

    It appears then that naturalists like Barbara Forrest are a bit premature in declaring victory.

  91. 91
    jdk says:

    JAD, as I have been arguing, many people who are not materialists – who are in fact theists and would agree with you about our minds – accept that seeing science as a limited enterprise, using MN, is a reasonable way to look for a particular kind of knowledge, but not a way to look for all knowledge.

    Also, I don’t see Barbara Forrest declaring victory. She makes her arguments for others to consider, but I’m virtually certain that she doesn’t see that PN has emerged victorious in the marketplace of metaphysical beliefs.

    And GUN, re 89, I basically agree with what you say.

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK (& attn Sev),

    your argument points simply fail to address the significance of the worldview commitments and how ideas — including terrible ones such as evolutionary materialism — have consequences. Including, awful ones.

    I again point to the core issue as I marked up from SEP:

    The self-proclaimed “naturalists” [of early-mid C20] . . . urged that reality is exhausted by nature [= the physical], containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality [–> i.e. if all that is is ultimately physical, the point of knowledge is to understand how that matrix gave rise to all things we see], including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944; Kim 2003) [–> this of course runs into the challenge of reducing mindedness to a GIGO-limited computational substrate, thus becomes self-refuting as I and many others note. This is the historical context of Haldane’s sawing off the branch remark] . . . . 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” [–> so, naturalism, i.e. evolutionary materialistic scientism, has ruled the roost for the past century or so, and has of course had consequences] . . .

    It is this expansive view of naturalism, so called, which led me to observe as follows at 80 above:

    if for argument “nature” is broadened to imply reality in toto, whatever it may contain [say, including God], then “nature” loses meaning, and “the supernatural” would then by definition be a term for non-being.

    So, we can safely hold that the term natural in praxis implies physical and quasi-physical as the substratum of reality. All else that is, comes from ultimately blind interactions of said substratum. And, as it is the sciences which give knowledge of that substratum and how it may act (through blind mechanical necessity and/or chance/stochastic processes) then indeed we see where science becomes the framework of reliable and grounded knowledge.

    Once one swallows the frame, in whatever vague form, the above consequences become self-reinforcing. One may speak of even religious naturalism or of “merely” methodological naturalism as a reliable and successful way to learn about the world, even stipulating that there are other ways to acquire knowledge but the end result is the same. So soon as “science” so redefined comes knocking, it takes over.

    The point is, leaving the underlying worldview commitments, logic and epistemology un-examined does not remove their impact.

    And, we see further that science has become little more than applied atheism: the best evolutionary materialistic account of the world from hydrogen to humans.

    Such an all-encompassing cultural agenda can seem as irresistible as the proverbial juggernaut. Especially when the alleged centuries long track record of success of such science, the squeezing out of god from gaps, the follies of pseudoscience and the over-running of domains once thought beyond science are trotted out.

    But the whole turns on question-begging tendentious redefinitions, half truths on scientific methods and progress [multiplied by outright falsities] and on failure to adequately assess the challenge of the gap between a GIGO-limited mechanical and/or stochastic computational substrate and insightful, meaning based contemplation and responsible, rational, free mind.

    That is why methodological naturalism, so called cannot be disentangled from the logic of being [= ontology] of naturalism. Its natural sense is, the physical and/or quasi-physical (branes, multiverses and whatnot) constitute and bound reality at root and evolve through blind mechanical necessity and equally blind chance, to form all of the world that we experience. So, logically, all true and more or less reliable knowledge comes from studying how that substratum unfolds blindly from hydrogen to humans, locking out consideration of the fever-demons that haunt the deluded minds of hoi polloi. That is the direct and proper understanding of what Lewontin noted as a longstanding member of the guild making a tribute on the passing of his fellow member, Sagan, through reviewing Sagan’s last book: The Demon-Haunted World.

    It is thus utterly unsurprising to see that lesser lights would distill such thoughts into the sort of imposition on science education that we see in the July 2000 NSTA statement, just six months later.

    The logic is quite plain, and we must thank Lewontin for his frankness.

    The name of the game is: indoctrination through institutional domination and that is exactly what for telling example played out in Kansas across seven years.

    When so historically, epistemologically and logically well warranted a view as that cited in 17 above:

    “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.”

    . . . becomes targetted for manufactured outrage, branding, scapegoating and holding the education of the children of Kansas hostage in order to impose the radical agenda of evolutionary materialistic scientism, that is a sobering warning as to the game that is afoot in our civilisation.

    Yes, science addresses the natural lawlike regularities and it addresses chance circumstances and stochastic phenomena, often with great success. But that is not at all that science, properly, can and does address. For we know that intelligently directed configuration is a significant feature of the world, e.g. the text in posts in this thread.

    Whole sciences exist to study such phenomena, starting with communication and information theory.

    At the heart of that theory as pioneered by Shannon, Nyquist and others lies a key concept: signal to noise [power] ratio, often expressed in decibels. That is, by empirically observable characteristics we can routinely distinguish intelligent signal from natural noise due to mechanical necessity and/or chance processes. We may then use instruments and scientific processes to measure the two, and take their power ratio, defining S/N as a figure of merit. Onward we define for example the noise figure/factor or noise temperature, etc. We may distinguish diverse kinds of noise and identify source phenomena: white or pink noise, Johnson noise due to statistical properties of a resistance, flicker noise, shot noise etc.

    So, already, in a major scientific discipline, information-bearing artificially produced signals are distinguished from natural noise due to mechanical necessity and/or chance. The design inference is there, and the per aspect form explanatory filter that allows attribution of effects across mechanical necessity, chance and/or intelligently directed configuration is there. We routinely quantify, calculate and measure resulting values. In an Internet era, all of this is central to the global economy and society.

    That was already evident c 2000, so we must ask pointed questions about imposed definitions of science that lock out things that are so well-established.

    And, not just established for technological fields.

    For, coded, alphanumerical, algorithmically functional information, since 1953, has been known to lie in the heart of the living cell, to be the key to the assembly of proteins, and thus to be the key to understanding cell based life.

    That is, information theory is directly and inextricably intertwined with the heart of life. Where, beyond doubt, the signal characteristics of DNA plainly assign it to the signal side of the signal vs noise threshold.

    Now, the only empirically observed and analytically plausible cause of such complex, alphanumerically coded — thus, linguistic — signals is intelligently directed configuration. Newton’s rules of scientific inference are plain on such a matter: the only causes now in operation adequate to and actually observed to create digital, complex, functionally specific, information bearing signals are causes tracing to intelligently directed configuration. Design, in one word.

    Where, too, search challenge in implied configuration spaces (backed up by say patterns of protein folds in AA sequence space) presents a needle in haystack search challenge that easily overwhelms the atomic and temporal resources of the observed sol system or the observed — the only actually observed — cosmos, once we exceed 500 – 1,000 bits. At a nominal 4.32 bits per AA for proteins, that kicks in at 116 – 232 AA’s. The average protein is 250 – 300 bases, and there are thousands of them in any functional, cell based life form.

    The signal-noise verdict of information theory is plain: the genetic information in the living cell points to intelligently directed configuration — the ART-ificial and intelligent — as its most reasonable causal explanation.

    But, once we impose the censorship in the NSTA’s July 2000 edict, we may only explain on or use naturalistic concepts in science and in science education. So no, we may not tell students about the import of information theory for cell based life and its origin. Or, for the origin of major body plans. (Plausibly, first cell based life needs 100 – 1,000 kbases of genetic information, and main body plans 10 – 100+ million, well beyond the threshold where blind chance and/or mechanical necessity could be even remotely plausible.)

    The result is a patent absurdity and instantly reduces clever arguments that try to make such censorship seem reasonable to the status of agit prop fallacies.

    And that is before we face the stinging, saw off the branch on which we must sit force of Haldane’s challenge to such evolutionary materialistic scientism:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    It is time to face the reality of the sad pass that our civilisation has been reduced to.

    KF

  93. 93
  94. 94
    jdk says:

    kf writes,

    your argument points simply fail to address the significance of the worldview commitments and how ideas — including terrible ones such as evolutionary materialism — have consequences

    My posts fail to address that subject because that is not the subject of the discussion.

  95. 95
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    I do not see that intelligent agents cannot be included as “natural” in the broad sense of the SEP entry.

    Then why even use the word “natural”? Why don’t people call Stonehenge a natural rock formation?

    If it is referring to the fact that ID has gained little traction in scientific circles an alternative explanation …

    Alternative to what? There isn’t any scientific alternative to ID.

  96. 96
    ET says:

    The anti-IDists are confused. Scientists use Newton and not MN.

    If one is allowed to inject miracles or the supernatural into their theories, how would they be falsifiable?

    By following Newton’s four rules, duh.

  97. 97
    ET says:

    a. “the demonstrated success of methodological naturalism” and the massive amount of consensual knowledge that has been obtained by utilizing it, and

    Newton is used. Not MN.

    b. there is no comparable method by which those who believe there is something more than the material world have been able to investigate the non-material and come to any consensual understandings, or to produce practically useful results.

    Newton’s four rules is much better than MN. Clearly you are just scientifically illiterate

  98. 98
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, it is the worldview commitments and cultural agendas that lie at the heart of the thread’s concerns. In particular, evolutionary materialistic scientism is a worldview with an agenda that seeks to take over science and education as institutions. Sometimes, its advocates call themselves the brights and those who question or challenge them as ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. Naturalism is tantamount to such evo mat, which is demonstrably self-referentially incoherent as say Haldane summarised and Crick inadvertently demonstrated . . . and that’s a Nobel Prize winner. Those who try to broaden naturalism run into the challenge I outlined: as this denotes all of reality as “nature,” it then becomes meaningless, in effect redefined as a synonym for reality so that whatever is is by definition “natural.” That would include, say God. And of course, super natural would be defined as non-being. In short, “nature” would then be meaningless. In that context, once “nature” has meaning, it denotes the worldview claim that views the roots of reality as physical or quasi-physical; thus the world would be what has evolved by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity from that root. Thus as science studies the physical world and its dynamics, science monopolises knowledge. Methodological naturalism — whether or not the fact is announced — gains traction from that connexion; that is the core reason its advocates do not see such an ideological imposition as censorship. They think this captures reality and other things are dubious imaginings or even “demons” in Sagan’s and Lewontin’s terms. But when the core is self refuting — as outlined — the system falls apart, indeed, we are looking at self-falsification — and by definition the necessarily false cannot be knowledge. KF

  99. 99
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, yup. Once “natural” in the naturalistic sense is expanded in ways that blur the physicalist core, “natural” becomes meaningless, as I just pointed out again. KF

  100. 100
    jdk says:

    kf, it may be the heart of the matter for you, but it is not what I have been interested in. I’m just interested in the fact that MN can be legitimately endorsed by people who do not endorse PN: in fact, some people who endorse MN probably feel the same way you do about the absurdity of PN.

    So we have different interests. But I am not obligated to address concerns of yours that do not interest me.

  101. 101
    ET says:

    MN is endorsed by people who don’t understand science. Newton’s four rules are endorsed by people who understand science.

  102. 102
    ET says:

    kairosfocus- it’s called “having the cake and eating it too”. It’s just crazy to say that Stonehenge is a natural rock formation and yet that is what our detractors appear to want to do.

    I would love to see lawyers try that tact in Court

  103. 103
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, you are perfectly free to ignore the dynamic, logical and epistemological links from evolutionary materialistic scientism to the imposition of methodological naturalism, as it is called, on institutional science and science education. We are also perfectly free to draw our conclusions from that fact i/l/o the state of the matter on its merits. KF

  104. 104
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, you are right about the significance of Newton’s four rules of scientific reasoning. KF

  105. 105
    jdk says:

    Once again I will point out that you misstate the case: I am not ignoring the links from PN to MN. I am saying that the MN is not an “imposition” from PN, but rather a separate conclusion that many who eject PN whole-heartedly endorse. I, and they, disagree with your arguments, which is different than ignoring them.

    This is a distinction that you don’t seem to get: that your viewpoint is not the only possible one, and that people who don’t see things as you do are not “missing” or “ignoring” your points: they get them, and they disagree.

  106. 106
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, there we go again. The issue is that substance, not agreement or disagreement. Indeed, way above, I pointed to the case of G K Chesterton and eugenics as a more or less living memory case in point where an individual who was almost utterly isolated was right and the overwhelming consensus of the day was disastrously wrong, in their imagination on how humans could direct their own evolution. Likewise, say von Mises was prety isolated in his view on the futility of socialist central planning, back in the 20’s. This of course illustrates the Athanasius contra mundum issue, which is in turn a famous case in theology of the same. That many may think otherwise is of no avail when the substance is there. And, as shown, it is, indeed right out of the horse’s mouth. KF

  107. 107
    jdk says:

    Yes, of course I understand the issues of substance and warrant. I, and others, disagree with you because of matters of substance and warrant.

  108. 108
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    Okay, here we go:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    And again:

    We may note the US National Science Teachers’ Association [NSTA] in a notorious July 2000 Board declaration:

    PREAMBLE: All those involved with science teaching and learning should have a common, accurate view of the nature of science. Science is characterized by the systematic gathering of information through various forms of direct and indirect observations and the testing of this information by methods including, but not limited to, experimentation. The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts [–> ideological imposition of a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism, aka natural-ISM; this is of course self-falsifying at the outset] . . . .

    [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 [–> declaration of intent to censor instructional content], 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 [–> ideological imposition of a loaded definition] 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 . . . cf UD’s weak argument correctives 17 – 19, here] in the production of scientific knowledge.

    Where, CED:

    NATURALISM . . . 5. (Philosophy) philosophy
    a. a scientific account of the world in terms of causes and natural forces that rejects all spiritual, supernatural, or teleological explanations
    b. the meta-ethical thesis that moral properties are reducible to natural ones, or that ethical judgments are derivable from nonethical ones.

    Also, SEP as highlighted:

    The self-proclaimed “naturalists” [of early-mid C20] . . . urged that reality is exhausted by nature [= the physical], containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality [–> i.e. if all that is is ultimately physical, the point of knowledge is to understand how that matrix gave rise to all things we see], including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944; Kim 2003) [–> this of course runs into the challenge of reducing mindedness to a GIGO-limited computational substrate, thus becomes self-refuting as I and many others note. This is the historical context of Haldane’s sawing off the branch remark] . . . . 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” [–> so, naturalism, i.e. evolutionary materialistic scientism, has ruled the roost for the past century or so, and has of course had consequences] . . .

    Thus, too Lewontin, speaking as a senior member of the guild but six months before the NSTA statement:

    . . . to put a correct [–> Just who here presume to cornering the market on truth and so demand authority to impose?] view of the universe into people’s heads

    [==> as in, “we” the radically secularist elites have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge, making “our” “consensus” the yardstick of truth . . . where of course “view” is patently short for WORLDVIEW . . . and linked cultural agenda . . . ]

    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 [–> “explanations of the world” is yet another synonym for WORLDVIEWS; the despised “demon[ic]” “supernatural” being of course an index of animus towards ethical theism and particularly the Judaeo-Christian faith tradition], 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.]

    KF

  109. 109
    jdk says:

    It really helps a lot to post the same thing for the third or fourth time, kf.

  110. 110
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, yes, to ensure the actual facts are not buried under the stream of comments. KF

  111. 111
    hnorman5 says:

    Am I the only one who finds the following quote from Rational Wiki odd? — “Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method.” I haven’t read through the entire thread but if someone would throw some light on it I would appreciate it. So does Rational Wiki really recognize a distinction between MN and PN?

  112. 112
    kairosfocus says:

    HN5, later, unannounced, they have reworded to soften the direct force. Glance at Lewontin to see the underlying ideological frame of thought. We deal with those who in the key parts have convinced themselves that the material world exhausts reality, so knowledge can only be about how that root unfolded itself into the world we see by blind chance and mechanical necessity; this leads straight to scientism. Where, the physicalism compounded by hostility to the suspect supernatural, leads to the idea that science dominates knowledge — which is actually a philosophical claim dressed up in a lab coat. They have revisionised the history of science and have induced others to be fellow travellers. KF

  113. 113
    jdk says:

    Re 111. Yes, it does. I posted more of this in 46:

    Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific “dead ends” and God of the gaps-type hypotheses. To avoid these traps scientists assume that all causes are empirical and naturalistic; which means they can be measured, quantified and studied methodically.

    However, this assumption of naturalism need not extend beyond an assumption of methodology. This is what separates methodological naturalism from philosophical naturalism — the former is merely a tool and makes no truth claim; while the latter makes the philosophical — essentially atheistic — claim that only natural causes exist.

    [my emphasis]

    See also #88.

  114. 114
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    contrary to the attempted qualification by way of bland denial, it has been shown that there is an inextricable entanglement between evolutionary materialism as worldview and scientism. Which, then finds expression in terms of methodological naturalism, so called.

    As a further sign of the errors at work, the notion that naturalism as methodology MAKES no truth claims glides over the well known challenge that actions often speak at least as loudly as words. That is, a policy — and that is what this is — pivots on often implicit (or even concealed) truth claims and is in fact an item on an institutional or cultural agenda that carries a particular view of the world and of where it should head forward into practical affairs.

    In this case, I am putting on the table in 92 above a direct counter-example of enormous significance, information theory. I clip:

    Yes, science addresses the natural lawlike regularities and it addresses chance circumstances and stochastic phenomena, often with great success. But that is not at all that science, properly, can and does address. For we know that intelligently directed configuration is a significant feature of the world, e.g. the text in posts in this thread.

    Whole sciences exist to study such phenomena, starting with communication and information theory.

    At the heart of that theory as pioneered by Shannon, Nyquist and others lies a key concept: signal to noise [power] ratio, often expressed in decibels. That is, by empirically observable characteristics we can routinely distinguish intelligent signal from natural noise due to mechanical necessity and/or chance processes. We may then use instruments and scientific processes to measure the two, and take their power ratio, defining S/N as a figure of merit. Onward we define for example the noise figure/factor or noise temperature, etc. We may distinguish diverse kinds of noise and identify source phenomena: white or pink noise, Johnson noise due to statistical properties of a resistance, flicker noise, shot noise etc.

    So, already, in a major scientific discipline, information-bearing artificially produced signals are distinguished from natural noise due to mechanical necessity and/or chance. The design inference is there, and the per aspect form explanatory filter that allows attribution of effects across mechanical necessity, chance and/or intelligently directed configuration is there. We routinely quantify, calculate and measure resulting values. In an Internet era, all of this is central to the global economy and society.

    That was already evident c 2000, so we must ask pointed questions about imposed definitions of science that lock out things that are so well-established.

    And, not just established for technological fields.

    For, coded, alphanumerical, algorithmically functional information, since 1953, has been known to lie in the heart of the living cell, to be the key to the assembly of proteins, and thus to be the key to understanding cell based life.

    That is, information theory is directly and inextricably intertwined with the heart of life. Where, beyond doubt, the signal characteristics of DNA plainly assign it to the signal side of the signal vs noise threshold.

    Now, the only empirically observed and analytically plausible cause of such complex, alphanumerically coded — thus, linguistic — signals is intelligently directed configuration. Newton’s rules of scientific inference are plain on such a matter: the only causes now in operation adequate to and actually observed to create digital, complex, functionally specific, information bearing signals are causes tracing to intelligently directed configuration. Design, in one word.

    Where, too, search challenge in implied configuration spaces (backed up by say patterns of protein folds in AA sequence space) presents a needle in haystack search challenge that easily overwhelms the atomic and temporal resources of the observed sol system or the observed — the only actually observed — cosmos, once we exceed 500 – 1,000 bits. At a nominal 4.32 bits per AA for proteins, that kicks in at 116 – 232 AA’s. The average protein is 250 – 300 bases, and there are thousands of them in any functional, cell based life form.

    The signal-noise verdict of information theory is plain: the genetic information in the living cell points to intelligently directed configuration — the ART-ificial and intelligent — as its most reasonable causal explanation.

    But, once we impose the censorship in the NSTA’s July 2000 edict, we may only explain on or use naturalistic concepts in science and in science education. So no, we may not tell students about the import of information theory for cell based life and its origin. Or, for the origin of major body plans. (Plausibly, first cell based life needs 100 – 1,000 kbases of genetic information, and main body plans 10 – 100+ million, well beyond the threshold where blind chance and/or mechanical necessity could be even remotely plausible.)

    The result is a patent absurdity and instantly reduces clever arguments that try to make such censorship seem reasonable to the status of agit prop fallacies.

    Are you prepared to claim that information theory does not scientifically study intelligently directed configurations constituting signals (as distinct from naturally occurring noise)?

    If so, then the redefinition of science being put on the table patently fails. For if information theory is not accepted as a scientific field of study per the criteria of some definition so much the worse for the definition.

    If not, then the definition admittedly fails directly.

    On either option, it is dead.

    Scientific work is simply not artificially confined to naturalistic concepts and explanations.

    And, with the failure of that definitional imposition, we further see why methodological naturalism embeds a tendentious agenda and why it fails to be reasonable.

    Where, too, this is not about something done in a corner or irrelevant to biology. As, the living cell embeds an information system.

    KF

  115. 115
    ET says:

    Using Newton’s four rules has advantages over using methodological naturalism. For one it allows for the distinction between telic and non-telic processes without having to equivocate and conflate the word “naturalistic”. For another it allows scientists the freedom to pursue the evidence and inferences wherever they lead.

  116. 116
    hnorman5 says:

    Kairosfocus @ 112 and jdk @ 113

    I think the word “philosophical” definitely needs to be deleted from the first paragraph.

    I am giving a lot of thought to your comments above and for me to respond adequately would require more writing than I am prepared to do right now.

    I am trying to get a handle on exactly how a concrete methodology for MN would work — other than just asserting that one does not personally believe in naturalism but going ahead and making inferences from it anyway. This has the effect of producing ideological confusion because many people don’t realize that the assumption of naturalism is embedded in the explanations. At this point science is not acting as arbiter of truth but as advocate for naturalism.

    I will shortly say a little bit about a couple of senses that MN might be meaningful, but I’m going to post this now before it disappears from my screen.

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