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Atheists Against Darwinism - Page 6

Ruse still assumed that science should be defined so it "excludes miracles and these sorts of things." But while the scientific status of ID is an important question, it isn't an essential question. As Nagel comments: "a purely semantic classification of a hypothesis or its denial as belonging or not to science is of limited interest to someone who wants to know whether the hypothesis is true or false."[48] The significant thing about Ruse's lecture was that he explicitly conceded Johnson's point about "metaphysical assumptions" which "cannot be proven empirically" playing a significant role in one's assessment evolutionary theory. Nevertheless, once this admission is made, it's hard not to reject "methodological naturalism", for as Monton argues: "a consequence of [methodological naturalism] is that the aim of science is not truth."[49] He points out that Judge Jones (who presided over the Dover trial[50]):

seems aware of the fact that his demarcation criteria entail that the aim of science is not truth. He writes that "while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on  which the Court takes no position, ID is not science" . . . But if science is not a  pursuit of truth, science has the potential to be marginalized as an irrelevant social practice.[51]

Ruse implicitly concedes that methodological naturalism (MN) carries this liability:

Your invoking God. And that's just not acceptable in science . . . I'm not denying the possibility of non-natural causes. My question, rather, is whether in doing science it is necessary to invoke non-natural causes? Or, if we agree by definition that science cannot invoke non-natural causes, whether it is necessary, therefore, to accept that there are questions about the world that science cannot answer because they demand non-natural answers?[52]

Ruses' intransigence notwithstanding: "The inadequacy of methodological naturalism [is now] widely acknowledged by philosophers of science, even among those who are atheists. . ."[53] As Jeffrey Koperski affirms:

If the best explanation for some new phenomenon is design, even supernatural design, it would still count as a scientific explanation. It borders on academic incompetence to pretend that science has strict boundaries and then gerrymander those boundaries to keep out the riffraff. Philosophers of science in particular should know better.[54]

Monton argues that there is no consensus among philosophers or scientists in favor of MN:

The way to refute intelligent design is not by declaring it unscientific, but by showing that the empirical evidence for design is not there. . . it is a mistake to try to argue against ID by declaring it unscientific. . . If our goal is to believe truth and avoid falsehood, and if we are rational people who take into account evidence in deciding what to believe, then we need to focus on the question of what evidence there is for and against ID.[55]

Fuller thinks there's a consensus against MN among philosophers of science:

neo-Darwinists are inclined to slide from observing (correctly) that [ID]  challenges the metaphysical naturalism of contemporary biology to inferring  (incorrectly) that [ID] challenges the established methods of scientific  inquiry. . . However, [ID] does not challenge science, only the artificially  restricted conceptual horizons within which science is practiced under the neo-  Darwinist regime . . . [ID's] attempt to embrace a philosophy of science that  extends beyond naturalism does not reflect the eccentricity of a reactionary  scientific movement. On the contrary, it probably represents the mainstream  opinion of philosophers themselves.[56]

He condemns MN as:

a neologism designed to capture two things at once that the history of the scientific method has tended to keep separate . . . the contexts of discovery and justification. This separation explains the studied neutrality that philosophers of the scientific method have tended to adopt toward "metaphysics," including both naturalism and supernaturalism. . . Not surprisingly, the scientific community's recent legitimatory appeals to methodological naturalism have appeared to sit uncomfortably even with philosophers who oppose [ID]?[57]

Richard Dawkins likewise rejects MN and defends the scientific status of ID:

God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice . . . The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question, even if it is not in practice ? or not yet ? a decided one.[58]

Ruse and Johnson agree that evolution is "the most reasonable position, once one has taken a naturalistic position."[59] But what if one does not take a naturalistic position (methodological or metaphysical)? Approaching the question of origins without a "commitment to a kind of naturalism" doesn't entail rejecting evolution as the best available scientific account of biology. It does mean following the scientific evidence.

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