He argues, “Natural science is not at all methodologically naturalist — it routinely points to causes outside of nature:
In my recent debate at Theology Unleashed, with Matt Dillahunty, Dillahunty made the claim that science necessarily follows methodological naturalism, allowing only for causes within nature. This is a common assertion by atheists. It’s wrong, and here’s why.Michael Egnor, “Science can and does point to God’s existence” at Mind Matters News
In the traditional understanding, all systematic study of effects according to causes is science. This includes theology and the various subdisciplines of philosophy, ethics, as well as natural science. What we moderns call science classical philosophers would call natural science or natural philosophy.
So science in the modern world is really the systematic study of natural effects according to their causes. Note that science studies natural effects and does not and cannot specify whether the causes must be natural or supernatural. To constrain science to the search for natural causes is to introduce inherent error into scientific investigation — the error is that if supernatural causes exist, then science would be blind to them and therefore would not be good science. If we are to understand natural effects, we must be open to all kinds of causes, including causes that transcend nature. To restrict causes in natural science to causes within nature itself is to impose an ideological bias on the science and thus make science a slave of ideology instead of truth. This is obviously what atheists do when they insist upon methodological naturalism.
Note also that the insistence upon methodological naturalism means that atheists can’t even plausibly claim that science provides no evidence for God’s existence, which of course they claim all the time as Dillahunty did in our debate. If you preclude the supernatural a priori from scientific evidence, then you can’t logically argue that scientific evidence refutes the existence of the supernatural. Yet atheists do this all the time — they argue at the same time that science is methodologically naturalist, and that science demonstrates that God doesn’t exist.
Atheists don’t even understand their own contradictions. Cognitive dissonance plagues atheism at every step.
So science must include the possibility of supernatural causes if it is to seek the truth without ideological bias. And the reality is that science does routinely invoke causes outside of nature. The most obvious example is the Big Bang. To understand this, consider the singularity that cosmologists universally agree was the source of the Big Bang and the singularities that give rise to black holes.
Takehome: In Egnor’s view, if we are to understand natural effects, we must be open to all kinds of causes, including causes that transcend nature.
- Debate: Former atheist neurosurgeon vs. former Christian activist. At Theology Unleashed, each gets a chance to state his case and interrogate the other. In a lively debate at Theology Unleashed, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and broadcaster Matt Dillahunty clash over the existence of God.
- A neurosurgeon’s ten proofs for the existence of God. First, how did a medic, formerly an atheist, who cuts open people’s brains for a living, come to be sure there is irrefutable proof for God? In a lively debate at Theology Unleashed, Michael Egnor and Matt Dillahunty clash over “Does God exist?” Egnor starts off.
- Atheist Dillahunty spots fallacies in Christian Egnor’s views. “My position is that it’s unacceptable to believe something if the available evidence does not support it.” Dillahunty: We can’t conclusively disprove an unfalsifiable proposition. And that is what most “God” definitions, at least as far as I can tell, are.
4: Egnor now tries to find out what Dillahunty actually knows… About philosophical arguments for the existence of God, as he begins a rebuttal. Atheist Dillahunty appears unable to recall the philosophical arguments for God’s existence, which poses a challenge for Egnor in rebutting him.
- Egnor, Dillahunty dispute the basic causes behind the universe. In a peppery exchange, Egnor argues that proofs of God’s existence follow the same logical structure as proofs in science. If the universe begins in a singularity (where Einstein’s equations break down), what lies behind it? Egnor challenges Dillahunty on that.
- Is Matt Dillahunty using science as a crutch for his atheism? That’s neurosurgeon Michael Egnor’s accusation in this third part of the debate, which features a continued discussion of singularities, where conventional “laws of nature” break down. If the “supernatural” means “outside of conventional nature,” Michael Egnor argues, science routinely accepts it, based on evidence.
Next: Dillahunty asks the 2nd oldest question: If God exists, why evil?
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Atheist spokesman Matt Dillahunty refuses to debate me again Although he has said that he finds debates “incredibly valuable,” he is — despite much urging — making an exception in this case. Why? For millennia, theists have thought meticulously about God’s existence. New Atheists merely deny any need to make a case. That’s partly why I dumped atheism. (Michael Egnor)