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An unusually clear description of how scientism functions as a religion

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From Daniel Greenfield at Sultan Knish:

“Why do you hate science?”

That’s the question leftists have taken to asking non-leftists. Leftists claim to love science, insofar as anyone can love a method for testing a hypothesis, and accuse their enemies of hating it.

How can anyone love or hate an indifferent set of techniques? And how can an ideology that believes technological civilization is destroying the planet really claim to love the science behind it?

But swap out “science” for “god” and the question, “Why do you hate science” makes perfect sense. So do the constant assertions of love for science. These aren’t scientific assertions, but religious ones.

Actual science doesn’t care whether you love or hate it. That’s not how you engage with the theory of relativity. But religion is measured by love and hate. Either you love a deity or you hate it.

No one loves or hates science. But they do love Scienticism.

Scienticism is science without skepticism. It takes the ideas of science and uses them to create an infallible belief system that gives our lives meaning and dictates how we should live those lives.

In other words, a religion. More.

It’s probably the best way to understand the Carl Sagan cult, including the Order of the Dolphin phase. Nothing the matter with it, except that it is inappropriately seen as “science” when it is clearly “religion.”

See also: The Eight Commandments of Carl Sagan: For example, “If it were widely understood that claims to knowledge require adequate evidence before they can be accepted, there would be no room for pseudoscience.” That sounds nice but it is breathtakingly naive. What is and isn’t adequate evidence is always a matter in dispute. Many in science believe strongly that there must be extraterrestrial intelligences out there, to say nothing of a multiverse, yet there is no evidence for either. And does that matter to them?

14 Replies to “An unusually clear description of how scientism functions as a religion

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    What they say:

    “Why do you hate science?”

    What they actually mean:

    “Why do you hate the methodological naturalism that I have redefined science as being?”

    There, all better.

    Science does not equal methodological naturalism. Science, in its most basic form, is simply a systematic, empirically based, search for truth.

    And if anyone should ‘hate’ science, i.e. the search for truth, it should be the atheistic naturalist.

    This dogmatic imposition of the philosophy of materialism, i.e. methodological naturalism, onto modern science is especially interesting since materialism had little to nothing to with the founding of modern science, but instead modern science was born out of the medieval Christian cultures of Europe by men who were by and large devoutly Christian in their beliefs. Specifically, they believed the universe to be rational and that they had minds capable of grasping that rationality.
    Moreover science, or more particularly the scientific method, in reality, only cares to relentlessly pursue the truth and could care less if the answer turns out to be a materialistic one or not. Ironically, since truth itself is a transcendent entity which is not reducible to some purely material/natural entity then Methodological Naturalism actually precludes ‘the truth’ from ever being reached by science!,,,

    Twenty Arguments For The Existence Of God – Peter Kreeft
    11. The Argument from Truth
    This argument is closely related to the argument from consciousness. It comes mainly from Augustine.

    1. Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
    2. Truth properly resides in a mind.
    3. But the human mind is not eternal.
    4. Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.
    http://www.peterkreeft.com/top.....nce.htm#11

    When looking at the evidence from modern science in this light we find out many interesting things which scientists, who have been blinded by the philosophy of materialism, miss.
    This is because the materialistic and Theistic philosophy make, and have made, several contradictory predictions about what type of science evidence we will find.
    These contradictory predictions, and the evidence found by modern science, can be tested against one another to see if either materialism or Theism is true.

    Theism compared to Naturalism – Major predictions of each Philosophy – video
    https://youtu.be/WY5ppoqPNVo

    Moreover, besides methodological naturalism being contradicted at every turn by advances in modern science, methodological naturalism, contrary to what atheists believe, actually drives science into catastrophic epistemological failure.

    Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – 39:45 minute mark
    https://youtu.be/8rzw0JkuKuQ?t=2387
    Excerpt: Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God.
    Bottom line, nothing is real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    Paper with references for each claim page; Page 34:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pAYmZpUWFEi3hu45FbQZEvGKsZ9GULzh8KM0CpqdePk/edit

    Thus, although the Darwinian Atheist firmly believes he is on the terra firma of science (in his appeal, even demand, for methodological naturalism), the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic/naturalistic worldview, it is found that Darwinists/Atheists are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to.

    It would be hard to fathom a worldview more antagonistic to modern science than Atheistic materialism and/or methodological naturalism have turned out to be.

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

  2. 2
    redwave says:

    Science and religion are not the extrema along a continuous curve of human experiencing, not solely, not in toto. The divide is a cognitive construction built using sets of incoherent perceptions for what is science and what is religion. If scientism is a religion then the reasons are not grasped by a simplistic and superficial analysis, but rather through “diving deeper” into what is human and why is it the case that religious beliefs drive human experiencing, that technologies drive human experiencing, that interpretation of reality drives human experiencing, and so on and so on. What are the “driving forces” for humans, for being and becoming, the numerators if you will? The shared denominator is human experiencing. And the bifurcation between science and religion is a trivial case. Are we again, in our history of thinking, conflating the results of analysis with what is true?

    Religion, and the variegated religious beliefs, is not some nasty abnormality of human nature that is discardable or treatable through a nonreligious faithless application of a well constructed method of inquiry. Relegating scientism to a religion smacks of a false indictment against religious beliefs, that religion is a terminal state for cognition and perception of reality, such that religion is bad, deleterious, to be avoided by all reasonable persons. If scientism is a religion then science has reached a seminal point in human experiencing, has reached a pinnacle point in human experiencing. On the surface of things this sounds contrary to rational analysis and therefore opposed to thoughtful consideration of science and religion, what makes each separable from the other, what makes each an integral whole against the other.

    Yet, one possibility could be that religion has been brought low, has been brought down, has been reduced, to the dust we must always sweep from our front porch. And now something labeled scientism is adhering to the porch floor piling dust upon dust layers. These layers of dust are the byproducts of human experiencing for which we have resisted to find understanding. The dust can be moved around, swept from our front porch, but never entirely removed from our nature, at least not now in the cognitive emotional state we are found.

    Religion, theology, religious beliefs, spirituality, all intertwined with our experiencing of technology, science, culture, have yielded as much “good” if not more in our history than irreligious beliefs, nontheistic naturalism, and the false demarcation of science and religion. There will always be new religions arising in human experiencing. Why this occurs and what this means for us are necessary questions for our understanding. Oppositional positioning, one against the other, might serve for temporal analysis yet at some critical point on the path of understanding we are either driven to synthesize or forced to an endless sweeping away the dust. Maybe articles concerning the emergence of scientism are a necessary step toward understanding, but the reductionism against religion is not necessary regardless of “the great minds” bent in their own purity of thought.

    For the ancient writer, James, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”, and in his thinking there is transcendence and immenance, practices and explanations, involvement and disengagement, cognition and recognition. Science and religion share fundamental thinking for human experiencing.

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    So it is scientism not science that functions as a religion? And since, according to this piece, religion is implicitly a better way of knowing than science is the categorization of scientism as a religion intended as a compliment?

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    bornagain77 @ 1

    Science does not equal methodological naturalism. Science, in its most basic form, is simply a systematic, empirically based, search for truth.

    What’s the difference?

  5. 5
    goodusername says:

    Scienticism is science without skepticism. It takes the ideas of science and uses them to create an infallible belief system that gives our lives meaning and dictates how we should live those lives.

    In other words, a religion.

    It’s probably the best way to understand the Carl Sagan cult

    I take you aren’t familiar with Sagan’s books. The above paragraph sounds like it could have been copy and pasted straight from Demon Haunted World. One of Sagan’s most repeated warnings was to always be skeptical of theories or the findings of science. This is why he always stressed the importance of the method of science, rather than the findings.

  6. 6
    LocalMinimum says:

    goodusername @ 5:

    Then you should see the irony of such wisdom being preached by the man who popularized and commercialized the statement “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”

    Carl Sagan had a habit of correctly describing and (at times, accurately) projecting his own great many errors in thinking without ever noting the self reference.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky at 4

    BA77: Science does not equal methodological naturalism. Science, in its most basic form, is simply a systematic, empirically based, search for truth.

    Seversky: What’s the difference?

    Well, for one thing insisting that only materialistic/naturalistic answers are ever allowed in science, i.e. methodological naturalism, prior to any experiments even being done, a-priorily assumes that materialism and/or naturalism is true beforehand.

    That arbitrary materialistic rule, i.e. methodological naturalism, limiting the scope of scientific inquiry prior to investigation, in and of itself, runs directly counter to the ‘truth seeking’ spirit behind the scientific method. Science, or more particularly the scientific method, in reality, only cares to relentlessly pursue the truth and could care less if the answer turns out to be a materialistic one or not.

    Moreover the primary failure of methodological naturalism (MN), as Paul Nelson points out in the following article, is that methodological naturalism artificially rules agent causality, (which something each of us experience first hand), out of bounds before any scientific investigation has even begun.

    Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let’s Dump Methodological Naturalism – Paul Nelson – September 24, 2014
    Excerpt: Assessing the Damage MN Does to Freedom of Inquiry
    Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism. If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.
    MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.
    “That’s crazy,” you reply, “I certainly did write my email.” Okay, then — to what does the pronoun “I” in that sentence refer?
    Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural?,,,
    You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse — i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss — we haven’t the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world — such as your email, a real pattern — we must refer to you as a unique agent.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2014/09/do_you_like_set/

    Moreover, denying agent causality and insisting that only materialistic/naturalistic answers are ever allowed in science, i.e. MN, is especially rich since the entire experimental process is infused with intelligent design. After all test tubes, telescopes, mass spectrometers, lasers, computers, etc.. etc.. etc.., do not just magically materialize from some unknown materialistic processes but are purposely designed by intelligent agents who choose what experimental tools to employ to test certain questions in science. Mathematics, which is also extensively used to set a experiment up and then to analyze the results of a experiment, is itself ‘non-materialistic’.

    Experimental science is thoroughly ‘non-naturalistic’ in its practice, and if any philosophy should ever be presupposed in science beforehand, then that philosophy should be intelligent design instead of atheistic naturalism since science would be impossible without the intelligent design and agent causality of the scientists themselves who are doing the experiments.

    Yet despite all this intelligent design in science, methodological naturalism comes into experimental science and basically completely ignores the agent causality and intelligent design of the scientists themselves in the experiments and declares, prior to any experimental results, that only naturalistic answers are ever allowed in science. ,,,, This is completely ludicrous.

    Moreover, experimental science has a way of not caring what philosophy people try to force onto it prior to investigation.

    For instance, although methodological naturalism tries to rule agent causality out of bounds prior to any investigation, it turns out that agent causality is far more integral to experimental science than anyone had presupposed.

    In quantum mechanics the observer in an experiment is not just passively watching the results of the experiment.

    As John von Neumann noted, “we must always divide the world into two parts, the one being the observed system, the other the observer.”

    “We wish to measure a temperature.,,,
    But in any case, no matter how far we calculate — to the mercury vessel, to the scale of the thermometer, to the retina, or into the brain, at some time we must say: and this is perceived by the observer. That is, we must always divide the world into two parts, the one being the observed system, the other the observer.”
    John von Neumann – 1903-1957 – The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, pp.418-21 – 1955

    And as Anton Zieiinger noted: “what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    And as Steven Weinberg noted ‘humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level’,,, and,,, ‘in quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure’,

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....mechanics/

    The following experiment, (with atoms instead of photons), drove this ‘observer dependency’ point home and found that “reality doesn’t exist without an observer”

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    Thus, although atheists, via methodological naturalism, have tried to artificially rule agent causality out of bounds prior to investigation, it turns out the agent causality is not so easily neglected in experimental science. Especially in quantum mechanics. In fact, quantum mechanics returns the scientist himself, in over the top fashion, back into the experimental science that he was so instrumental in intelligently designing in the first place.

    Of related interest to this is the falsification, by advances in quantum mechanics, of Einstein’s a-priori materialistic beliefs about experimental science:, i.e. the falsification of Einstein’s methodological naturalism.

    Albert Einstein vs. Quantum Mechanics and His Own Mind – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxFFtZ301j4

  8. 8
    bb says:

    What is the proper term for an adherent to the cult of Scientism? We can’t call them “scientists” because that’s as much a perversion of science as it is language.

  9. 9
    bb says:

    redwave @ 2

    Relegating scientism to a religion smacks of a false indictment against religious beliefs, that religion is a terminal state for cognition and perception of reality, such that religion is bad, deleterious, to be avoided by all reasonable persons.

    Interesting. I guess if all religions are equal. But we empirically know that they are not.

    Materialism/scientism paints with extremely broad brushes, and dismisses all religion as quaint, ignorant, even dangerous. But materialism/scientism is itself a religion, so is in denial that it is the pot calling the kettle black.

    A Christian, as a religious believer, is free to evaluate all religion, including scientism, and sift what’s true from what is false.

    If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view. But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic-there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.

    -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    This is why God, the center of monotheistic religion, in Isaiah 44 (quoted below), can mock idolatry without dismissing all religion, and David, in Psalm 14:1, can label the Atheist a fool:

    13
    The craftsman stretches out his rule,
    He marks one out with chalk;
    He fashions it with a plane,
    He marks it out with the compass,
    And makes it like the figure of a man,
    According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house.
    14
    He cuts down cedars for himself,
    And takes the cypress and the oak;
    He [a]secures it for himself among the trees of the forest.
    He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.

    15
    Then it shall be for a man to burn,
    For he will take some of it and warm himself;
    Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread;
    Indeed he makes a god and worships it;
    He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.
    16
    He burns half of it in the fire;
    With this half he eats meat;
    He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.
    He even warms himself and says,
    “Ah! I am warm,
    I have seen the fire.”
    17
    And the rest of it he makes into a god,
    His carved image.
    He falls down before it and worships it,
    Prays to it and says,
    “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

    Materialism, in the 20th century, has not only proven out to be incoherent, but is also more dangerous than any other religion it charges is the cause of ill in this world, so is the harbinger of the end of a civilization, as demonstrated by the government atrocities it spawned. On the other hand:

    Christianity, even in its most terrible days, even under the most corrupt popes, even during the most unjustifiable wars, was indisputably a force for the improvement of man.

    -Jonah Goldberg

  10. 10
    asauber says:

    But materialism/scientism is itself a religion, so is in denial that it is the pot calling the kettle black.

    Getting an a/mat to admit the truth of the matter requires a miracle.

    A/mats cling to their beliefs religiously.

    That’s the kind of your point, bb, I know.

    Andrew

  11. 11
    Seversky says:

    bornagain77 @ 7

    Seversky at 4

    BA77: Science does not equal methodological naturalism. Science, in its most basic form, is simply a systematic, empirically based, search for truth.

    Seversky: What’s the difference?

    Well, for one thing insisting that only materialistic/naturalistic answers are ever allowed in science, i.e. methodological naturalism, prior to any experiments even being done, a-priorily assumes that materialism and/or naturalism is true beforehand.

    No, science is pragmatic. It can only deal with what can be observed, even if only indirectly, or what can be inferred from what is observed. You can speculate all you like about immaterial phenomena but if they do not manifest themselves in observable physical reality in some way what reason do we have to assume that they exist in the first place? If you reject the multiverse because alternate universes are unobservable, even in principle, then to be consistent you must do the same with any other unobservable phenomena.

    That arbitrary materialistic rule, i.e. methodological naturalism, limiting the scope of scientific inquiry prior to investigation, in and of itself, runs directly counter to the ‘truth seeking’ spirit behind the scientific method. Science, or more particularly the scientific method, in reality, only cares to relentlessly pursue the truth and could care less if the answer turns out to be a materialistic one or not.

    Except science does not pursue abstractions like truth. It leaves that to the philosophers. What it prizes above all things is a good, testable and workable theory and that means an explanation that can be tested and observed to work in the observable physical reality in which we all find ourselves. That’s how we came to understand diabetes as a disorder of glucose metabolism or detect the hitherto unknown neutrino following the observation of discrepancies between atomic theory and experimental results.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    Sev states:

    “science does not pursue abstractions like truth.”

    Really??? So all this extreme effort to find a ‘theory of everything’ is not science in your personal opinion??? 🙂

    As usual your opinions are useless garbage.

  13. 13
    aarceng says:

    “Science does not equal methodological naturalism. Science, in its most basic form, is simply a systematic, empirically based, search for truth.”

    At the risk of getting into a debate about definitions I would say that the Scientific Method is Methodological Naturalism; investigation assuming that only natural processes operate. This has proved very fruitful so far. Many scientists; Newton, Maxwell, Faraday; have used this method while still believing in God.

    However we should distinguish this from Metaphysical Naturalism, the belief that mater and energy are all that is, was, and ever will be. This converts a method into a belief system about the nature of the world and the meaning of life; a religion.

    Scientism makes the step from methodological naturalism to metaphysical naturalism.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    aarceng states:

    “At the risk of getting into a debate about definitions I would say that the Scientific Method is Methodological Naturalism; investigation assuming that only natural processes operate.”

    And you would be wrong. Assuming that only “Natural” processes operate would necessarily assume that the scientific method is itself reducible to a naturalistic explanation. As explained above in post 7, it most certainly is not reducible as such. The scientific method itself is soaking in intelligent design.

    Moreover, denying agent causality and insisting that only materialistic/naturalistic answers are ever allowed in science, i.e. Methodological Naturalism (MN), is especially rich since the entire experimental process is infused with intelligent design. After all test tubes, telescopes, mass spectrometers, lasers, computers, etc.. etc.. etc.., do not just magically materialize from some unknown materialistic process but are purposely designed by intelligent agents who choose what experimental tools to employ to test certain questions in science. Mathematics, which is also extensively used to set a experiment up and then to analyze the results of a experiment, is itself ‘non-materialistic’ and/or non-naturalistic.

    Experimental science is thoroughly ‘non-naturalistic’ in its entire practice, and if any philosophy should ever be presupposed in science beforehand, then that philosophy should be intelligent design instead of atheistic naturalism since science would be impossible without the intelligent design and agent causality of the scientists themselves who are doing the experiments.

    Yet despite all this intelligent design in science, methodological naturalism comes into experimental science and basically completely ignores the agent causality and the intelligent design of the scientists themselves in the experiments and declares, prior to any experimental results, that only naturalistic answers are ever allowed in science. ,,,, This is completely ludicrous.,,,

    Moreover, I certainly don’t think Newton, Maxwell, Faraday are the pristine examples for Methodological Naturalism that you seem to assume they are:

    For prime example, if you remember your history right, Newton, Leibniz (and Laplace) had a disagreement about God’s role in creation. Newton was supposedly chastised by Leibniz (and Laplace) for invoking “God of the gaps”:

    Newton, Leibniz, and the Role of God in Planetary Orbits – December 2014
    Excerpt:
    “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being”
    — Sir Isaac Newton. “Principia Mathematica” (1687)
    Perhaps the most spectacular early success of Isaac Newton’s theory of gravitation was its natural explanation for Johannes Kepler’s observation that the planets orbit the sun in elliptical orbits. But upon further reflection, some nagging problems emerge. The perfect elliptical orbits are only valid for an isolated planet orbiting around the sun. Gravity works on all objects, and so the other planets perturb the motion of the Earth, potentially leading to its ejection from the solar system. This problem vexed Sir Isaac, who postulated that God occasionally “reformed” the planets, perhaps by sending through a comet with just the right trajectory.
    In a famous exchange of letters, cut short only by his death in 1716, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, took Sir Isaac to task for his view. He objected that:
    “if God had to remedy the defects of His creation, this was surely to demean his craftsmanship.”1
    And moreover that:
    “..when God works miracles, he does it not to meet the needs of nature but the needs of grace. Anyone who thinks differently must have a very mean notion of the wisdom and power of God.”2
    In other words, the regular sustaining activity of God, as evidenced by natural laws, should be sufficient to explain the regular behavior of the solar system, without the need for additional ad-hoc interventions. Making it right the first time is more glorious than having to fix it later. Moreover, when God deviates from his regular sustaining activity to perform miracles, he does so for soteriological reasons, not to repair nature.,,,
    1. 1. John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion, CUP, Cambridge (1991), p147.
    2. From letter 1 point 4 (Nov 1715). The full correspondence can be found online.
    https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/addressing-christian-concerns-about-the-implications-of-biologos-science-part-1
    http://www.earlymoderntexts.co.....iz1715.pdf

    Yet, although Newton held God to be active in creation and not a distant clock-maker, the preceding account of Newton is a bit of Whig history:

    Here is an interesting article about the Newton-Leibniz-Laplace controversy that shows Newton’s ‘God of the gaps’ controversy is not nearly as cut and dried as some atheists and/or Theistic Evolutionists have tried to make it out to be:

    a) Newton did develop perturbation theory for the orbits (and actually applied it to the moon), so it is false that God belief prevented him from attempting to solve the problem.
    b) the math was not “crumbs” for Newton, since Laplace had worked on foundations laid by some of the most brilliant mathematicians of the century (Euler, Lagrange, Clairaut), some of whom also failed to solve the very same problem Newton was working on, and one of these, Euler is regarded as the greatest mathematician of all time!
    c) Laplace did not really solve the problem in the end, but only for first degree approximations, but Haret showed that orbits are not absolutely stable using third degree approximations.
    d) Finally, and most ironically perhaps, it is not clear that Laplace was motivated by atheism to solve this problem, Laplace cites with approval Leibniz’s criticism of Newton’s invocation of divine intervention to restore order to the Solar System: “This is to have very narrow ideas about the wisdom and the power of God.”, to them, it would count as evidence against intelligent design if God had to intervene to prevent the solar system from collapsing. So intelligent design could just as easily be a motivation to prove the stability of the solar system.
    (of note: original article modified since originally accessed)
    https://letterstonature.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/neil-degrasse-tyson-on-newton-part-1/
    Laplace quoting Leibniz favorably
    https://books.google.com/books?id=oLtHAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA73&lpg=PA73

    Also, Newton stated this VERY anti-Methodological Naturalism statement:

    “Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being, necessarily existing.”
    – Isaac Newton, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (3rd edition)
    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/523032-blind-metaphysical-necessity-which-is-certainly-the-same-always-and

    That certainly is NOT a statement from someone toeing the MN party line!

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