Saturday, January 14, 2006

Methodological Naturalism

This post was inspired by this post and discussion. The spark to that discussion was a class taught on "Design" under a philosophy title in a California high school - and the lawsuit that proceeded.

This was a badly-framed class. Discovery Institute asked the teacher to please not continue to use the words "Intelligent Design" if she was going to teach some jumble of young earth creationism and pieces of ID.

This is not a defense of that class. This post was cross-posted at Street Prophets
Many political arguments become simply impossible because the philosophical differences are never examined - or sometimes even questioned. The "Intelligent Design" argument is one of those. As someone who "hangs with" creationists all the time - I know as well as anyone that Intelligent Design theory is not really a friend of Genesis. At all. Never.

Of course, no one in this debate is allowing facts to cloud the issue. The standard attack on anyone questioning whether there is truly empirical proof of Darwinism is that they are creationist. That is of course, nonsense. However, this is really not the issue for people of faith. The issue is our view of the world, and truth - and what assumptions we make philosophically. Once we understand a correct philosophical view of the world and its reality - then a lot of issues, including Intelligent Design, become clearer.

Now, of course "progressives" and their "reactionary opponents" are not generally looking for a discussion taken to a higher level - they are looking to grind the others into dirt. So actually reading the opposition says as well as your friends is not nearly as good as just reading what your respected friends say about the opposition. As Richard Dawkins says, and most attackers of Intelligent Design or creationism act like:
"It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)."
That has become the tone of the debate. Why would anyone who wasn't "ignorant, stupid, or insane" read someone who obviously is.

That, of course, is anti-intellectual and unscientific - and is reactionary whether you call yourself "progressive", "liberal", "conservative" or whatever. One of my favorite lines from my old radical days is Mao Tse Tung's "No investigation, no right to speak" So, let's investigate a little Philosophy of Science. The underlying premise of the Richard Dawkins of the world is that all scientific inquiry must be based on methodological naturalism. If it isn't, it just isn't science. Obviously, I will leave it to the defenders of this particular philosophy to post their favs for me to read - and I will. In addition to ISCID, I have TalkOrigins in my favorites. I kinda think you should read both sides. So, for those who actually would like to read some critique's of this particular view of what science can and cannot include: Obviously, other better critiques of methodological naturalism would be good also. This diary is attempting to create a philosophical discussion - a worldview discussion - which is critical to people of faith (notice I have not said Christians, or meant Christians) knowing how to interact with a secular world from a faith base.

1 comment:

  1. Over at the Street Prophets diary, aardvark posted some linksin the philosophical spirit of the post.


How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly