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Author Topic:   Supernaturalism: Does It Work?
MEH
Inactive Member


Message 16 of 41 (70298)
12-01-2003 1:33 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by zephyr
12-01-2003 1:18 PM


Re: Supernatural and Superfluous
Zephyr, No problem.

And for the record I agree completely with just about everything you said. I find that one should not take the unexplained an posit a higher power or otherly realm. These are not things to completely build faith upon. This is why I spoke of the issue being an a prioi assumption in the realm of science and theistic endeavors.

My main point is that the supposed “supernatural” is verified methodically, because it is the same science, and “natural factors” that have been discussed. This in no way proves the existence of a higher power (again rejecting Palely), however it does answer the question, while requiring a revisiting of what is “supernatural” and “natural.”


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by zephyr, posted 12-01-2003 1:18 PM zephyr has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by MrHambre, posted 12-01-2003 2:06 PM MEH has not yet responded
 Message 21 by PaulK, posted 12-02-2003 3:26 AM MEH has responded

  
zephyr
Member (Idle past 2628 days)
Posts: 821
From: FOB Taji, Iraq
Joined: 04-22-2003


Message 17 of 41 (70299)
12-01-2003 1:40 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by MEH
12-01-2003 1:19 PM


BINGO. As far as the distinction between the two, I think it is generally pointless. Even if there were a creator, I would avoid lumping everything into one category or another. I would prefer extradimensional explanations for deities and demons, for example - in general, render the world we can see as a subset of something more. Regardless, natural/supernatural is not the best way to look at these questions.

As I see it, though... the existence of a creator doesn't have to be an a priori assumption. Granted, it may be so in the majority of cases, and certainly most people don't reason their way to that decision. We are often conditioned to believe or disbelieve; we either retain our conditioning, rebel/convert, or just lose/gain interest for a variety of emotional or social reasons.

As concerns methodological naturalism, I see it as a pragmatic device that does not claim to serve the determination of complete and absolute truth. It is useful and continues to prove its usefulness. The question remains, is there an actual methodology which incorporates the presupposition of a creator (or at least a "supernatural" world)? If so, what does this methodology look like and what are its verifiable results?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by MEH, posted 12-01-2003 1:19 PM MEH has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by MEH, posted 12-01-2003 1:59 PM zephyr has not yet responded

  
MEH
Inactive Member


Message 18 of 41 (70304)
12-01-2003 1:59 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by zephyr
12-01-2003 1:40 PM


Z,

Sigh. Yes, but this is where it gets tricky. There are two areas where this question has to be answered: the issue of the “natural order,” and that of . . .”other stuff.” I’ll explain.

In the areas of the natural order, the methodology you have outlined works just fine even in a world which is created by a supernatural being. Like Mr.Hombre has stated, the observations made in the world do not have to be attributed to a higher power, however this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a higher power behind it all. The science itself will not really “prove” either way. (I get the feeling you have spent time shaking your head at people in either camp who will argue that science will prove/disprove “god”.) In other words, the methodology works just fine as it is, in most cases.

However, the problem arises with those things that are outside the area of “Science” and move into theology. Theology means “words about God,” and any theologian worth his/her salt will tell you that there are strict rules of hermeneutics, doctrine, practice, etc that are applied to their understanding of their particular faith. Those standards are a methodology all their own which intersects with science from time to time, but in no way must be at odds with them. Yes I know, poor Galileo and even to an extent poor Descartes, but don’t forget Descartes was highly religious, and was pursuing science as a form of worship. As was Newton and that French monk that first posited the Big Bang Theory whose name I always blank on.

Theology properly applied is a retraceable methodology but obviously it gets messy since one is no longer dealing with the uncaring hand of fate or time or gravity. Most religions have a personal aspect to ultimate reality. Either as a personal god who cares about human concerns, or a collective conscious, or oneness, etc. You get the idea. When the individual (or corporate body) and his/her/our concerns come into play, it gets messy exploring flow charts for how God/the cosmos/the force will act in any given situation, however each religion still have those who can outline who their religion does just that, much better than I.

Makes sense?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by zephyr, posted 12-01-2003 1:40 PM zephyr has not yet responded

  
MrHambre
Member (Idle past 191 days)
Posts: 1494
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 19 of 41 (70305)
12-01-2003 2:06 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by MEH
12-01-2003 1:33 PM


Magic Happy Love Science
MEH,

Before, you said you thought science was being unfairly constrained by a reliance on 'natural' mechanisms. Now you say there's no difference between 'natural' and 'supernatural.' I don't care what you call it, if it's verifiable and testable, it can be considered relevant to scientific inquiry.

The problem is that you seem to espouse a particularly vague strain of intelligent design creationism I call Magic Happy Love Science. According to this hypothesis (I use the term loosely), anything whatsoever can be attributed to the purposeful intelligence of a nebulous invisible being whose works may not ostensibly demonstrate either purpose or intelligence. Even calling this notion a concept is giving it too much credit.

I'd like to know how this notion could conceivably contribute anything worthwhile to scientific endeavor.

------------------
The dark nursery of evolution is very dark indeed.
Brad McFall


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by MEH, posted 12-01-2003 1:33 PM MEH has not yet responded

    
Mammuthus
Member (Idle past 4553 days)
Posts: 3085
From: Munich, Germany
Joined: 08-09-2002


Message 20 of 41 (70515)
12-02-2003 3:05 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by MEH
12-01-2003 1:19 PM


quote:
I'm not avoiding the question, I'm respectfully rejecting it.

Aside from a semantics game you are playing of claiming that anything that was discovered using the principles of MN was actually based on supernatural factors, this is not really a question that can be avoided.

Give an example of a single field of scientific inquiry or a single scientific discovery that has benefited from the inclusion of non-observable, non-verifiable, and untestable factors in the hypothesis being tested. By definition MN EXCLUDES such factors so your equating natural and supernatural is patently false.

You seem particularly fixed on the concept of intelligent design. So, what is the testable hypothesis of an the involvement of a designer? How would you falsify the hypothesis? How would you gather or what is the existing evidence that supports your hypothesis? How does it better explain the observations and experimental data better than competing hypotheses or theories?

You see, this is how science works. Anyone, including intelligent design proponents, are stuck at the first step. They have been unable to propose a testable hypothesis for intelligent design and have thus stagnated. Meanwhile, the biological sciences, based entirely on MN, are producing multiple discoveries and inovations daily.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by MEH, posted 12-01-2003 1:19 PM MEH has not yet responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 14751
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 21 of 41 (70520)
12-02-2003 3:26 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by MEH
12-01-2003 1:33 PM


Re: Supernatural and Superfluous
It seems that you are making two contradictory claims.

1) That there is and can be no evidence ofr the supernatural. That it must be an a priori assumption

and

2) That there can be and is strong evidence for the supernatural (i.e. that it is "verified")

I believe that the first alternative represents your position but that would make you claim that the supernatural is "verified methodically" false. It is not and cannot be verified at all.

So let me put it to you that in your view Supernaturalism is an asumption that adds nothing to science. It does not "work" - it is not even relevant.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by MEH, posted 12-01-2003 1:33 PM MEH has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by MEH, posted 12-02-2003 8:42 AM PaulK has responded

    
MEH
Inactive Member


Message 22 of 41 (70542)
12-02-2003 8:42 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by PaulK
12-02-2003 3:26 AM


Re: Supernatural and Superfluous
I am not saying that supernaturalism adds nothing to science inquiry. I believe it does, however that addition is clearly in the mind of the scientist. That is to say an addition of motivation, purpose, and a validation of (yes) a priori beliefs. Are these additions important? I believe so, but I wont waste time arguing about them here.

Second, I never said that there is no evidence of the supernatural. I did say however that the evidence that is present is up to interpretation. I can propose a hypothesis that the natural order is the result of a creator, that the existence of the famed "divine proportion" PHI (1.618) for example, is a result of intelligent design, and wherever one sees this in nature, it is a verifiable example of the divine. However, why should anyone accept that if they are predisposed to reject it? THAT is what I was talking about when aligning "supernatural" and "natural." The a priori assumption one takes into the scientific enquiry decides whether an intelligent designer is a viable inclusion or not.

And yes I understand that MN as stated excludes such before the fact assumptions, and I accept that, despite popular belief. Hence the respectful rejection of the question. My point is, that I disagree with the view that intelligent design is “unobservable” “unverifiable” etc. Again, if an intelligent designer creates anything, that which is created is observable, and points back to that designer. As conceded by both sides (at least I think) earlier in this post, the assumptions that one goes in with determines the outcome of those observations.

In other words, you go into it saying that MN cannot point to intelligent design because it excludes that which is unobservable. On the surface that sounds like, “MN does not exclude their being an intelligent designer, but it just won’t point to one.” However, that statement contains within it the idea that intelligent design is unobservable in nature, BECAUSE there is no intelligent designer. I.e. MN as you propose it excludes intelligent design not because the evidence won’t point to it, but because of the a priori assumption that there is no intelligent design. It is nowhere as unbiased as you would have us believe.

But I also notice no one responded to theology or the scientists I mentioned being a form of MN employed. Oh right, because that would be an MN that accepts an a priori assumption of their being an intelligent designer. But of course even I will admit you can dismiss “God” from Newton’s Laws or Descartes philosophy and come to relatively the same ends. At least that’s how they handle it in many schools.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by PaulK, posted 12-02-2003 3:26 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by PaulK, posted 12-02-2003 9:14 AM MEH has responded
 Message 28 by NosyNed, posted 12-02-2003 11:17 AM MEH has responded
 Message 31 by JIM, posted 12-02-2003 5:54 PM MEH has not yet responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 14751
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 23 of 41 (70545)
12-02-2003 9:14 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by MEH
12-02-2003 8:42 AM


Re: Supernatural and Superfluous
It seems that the contradiction is deeply embedded in your thinking. You can't have it both ways.

Either the supernatural *is* testable and it is unfairly ruled out or it *isn't* testable and it has to be an a priori assumption that can never be validated. Pick one. But if you pick the first then be prepared to argue for it.

Take your example of the "divine proportion" - can you offer any genuinely testable explanation ? How can you ACTALLY verify that it is the product of the divine ? Or is it that the reason why one has to be biased in favour of the conclusion to accept the argument simply a sign that the argument is so weak as to be of no value ?

And I'd also appreciate it if you didn't try to evade discussion of the contradiction in your arguments by misepresenting - or in this case - fabricating - my position.

Methodological naturalism does not exclude intelligent design. "Intelligent Design" says so as an excuse to explain away their failures.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by MEH, posted 12-02-2003 8:42 AM MEH has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by MEH, posted 12-02-2003 9:42 AM PaulK has responded

    
MEH
Inactive Member


Message 24 of 41 (70546)
12-02-2003 9:42 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by PaulK
12-02-2003 9:14 AM


Re: Supernatural and Superfluous
Paul I do see your point, but I'm at a loss of how to describe that the contradiction you see is not truly a contradiction at all. It's one of those, it's clear in my mind, but hard to express to someone else (esp if they really don't want to hear it).

Also I am not trying to evade anything. I think I've been rather forthright in my responses. I feel that our positions are at odds because our interpretations of each others starting places are confused. Lack of seeing eye to eye on definitions generally causes problems.

However I am confused, because you said in your last post that MN does not exculde intelligent design, but Mammuthus says that it does. That is what I was responding to.I shouldn’t have responded to his statement to you. My bad. Obviously people have varying views, even if theirs is opposed to mine.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 23 by PaulK, posted 12-02-2003 9:14 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by PaulK, posted 12-02-2003 9:54 AM MEH has not yet responded
 Message 26 by MrHambre, posted 12-02-2003 10:04 AM MEH has not yet responded
 Message 27 by Mammuthus, posted 12-02-2003 10:37 AM MEH has not yet responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 14751
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 25 of 41 (70549)
12-02-2003 9:54 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by MEH
12-02-2003 9:42 AM


Re: Supernatural and Superfluous
I suggest you reread Mammuthus' post. He does not say that intelligent design as a general concept - which of course includes human design - is outside methodological naturalism. He does say that the Intelligent Design movement has failed to make a scientific case for intelligent design - he states "They have been unable to propose a testable hypothesis for intelligent design and have thus stagnated".

If I do not understand your posiiton it is because you have been very unclear. In your early posts the difference you expressed was between attributing the observed regularities in nature to, well, nature and to an underlying supernatural cause. That's simply a difference of outlook with no real significance to the actual work of science. Then you suddenly introduced the idea of being able to test and verify the supernatural but you have only vaguely hinted of how that could be done and your own words suggest that the evidence is too weak to justify a claim of verification.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by MEH, posted 12-02-2003 9:42 AM MEH has not yet responded

    
MrHambre
Member (Idle past 191 days)
Posts: 1494
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 26 of 41 (70552)
12-02-2003 10:04 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by MEH
12-02-2003 9:42 AM


MEH says:
quote:
I am confused, because you said in your last post that MN does not exclude intelligent design, but Mammuthus says that it does.
MN doesn't exclude intelligent design by definition, but it has done so in effect, because the notion of a supernatural entity appears to be outside the realm of scientific inquiry. Mammuthus is reminding us that science works with testable hypotheses, and intelligent design creationism hasn't been able to formulate one.

If you're amazed by the complexity of our universe, join the club. If you choose to attribute this dazzling complexity to an intelligent designer, that's your philosophical position. All we're saying is that it doesn't seem necessary to believe in the existence of this purposeful intelligence to have a mature understanding of scientific reality. You haven't shown us how this belief is justified by science, or what is lacking in materialistic methodology that demands the inclusion of supernatural entities.

Methodological naturalism seems to work just fine, and intelligent design hasn't added anything to our understanding of the universe.

------------------
The dark nursery of evolution is very dark indeed.
Brad McFall


This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by MEH, posted 12-02-2003 9:42 AM MEH has not yet responded

    
Mammuthus
Member (Idle past 4553 days)
Posts: 3085
From: Munich, Germany
Joined: 08-09-2002


Message 27 of 41 (70556)
12-02-2003 10:37 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by MEH
12-02-2003 9:42 AM


Re: Supernatural and Superfluous
As the others have pointed out, I did not claim that MN excludes intelligent design per se. However, intelligent design has thus far been unable to formulate a scientific hypothesis.

Start from the hypothesis that DNA, elephants, anything in nature is intelligently designed. Ok, so now what? How do you test this hypothesis? How do you falsify it? You can't do either. Thus you cannot collect data to support or refute your hypothesis. Thus it has no explanatory power. It is completely scientifically useless. You cannot distinguish between the alternatives that the universe is intelligently designed by a god, gods, a giant unicorn, the chia pet you may have received as a gift from a strange relative than, or any other imaginary forces that you can conjure up.

If you choose to believe that a chia pet is the almighty force guiding nature, that is a personal choice. However, this has no scientific use or explanatory power when dealing with the natural world. This is also why MN excludes the supernatural.


This message is a reply to:
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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8838
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 28 of 41 (70562)
12-02-2003 11:17 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by MEH
12-02-2003 8:42 AM


A Light Dawns
I think, just maybe, I do understand what you are getting at MEH. Maybe I can help sort out some of the confusion (maybe not ).

You are saying there is evidence for the "supernatural" and that evidence is everything that the creator created. I think this is a pretty normal theistic position.

Other than personal feelings, I don't think there is too much concern about that here.

However, the argument continues about the relationship between your position and MN. One side argues that MN doesn't have a way of including the unobservable you argue that it can add something important. I think it comes down to the following:

MEH writes:

That is to say an addition of motivation, purpose, and a validation of (yes) a priori beliefs. Are these additions important? I believe so, but I wont waste time arguing about them here.

There is, of course, a huge problem with this. It is exactly the recognition that we are all humans and have a priori beliefs that the process of science trys to handle. The addition of a priori beliefs has been a risk and always will be a risk. It colors the research and potentially the results. Relianace on the observable is there to help to reduce this risk.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by MEH, posted 12-02-2003 8:42 AM MEH has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by MEH, posted 12-02-2003 1:06 PM NosyNed has not yet responded

  
MEH
Inactive Member


Message 29 of 41 (70582)
12-02-2003 1:06 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by NosyNed
12-02-2003 11:17 AM


Re: A Light Dawns
"You are saying there is evidence for the "supernatural" and that evidence is everything that the creator created. I think this is a pretty normal theistic position."

Sure that is somewhat close to what I am saying, in terms of the "supernatural factors" being observed in science, by being the same as "natural factors." blah blah blah.

And from this light it sounds as if the end result of this debate is the question of whether the aforementioned a priori beliefs that science must take into account are viable.

What I mean is the question about whether the thought of an intelligent designer "adds anything" to scientific inquiry AT ALL is different from whether or not it adds anything to MN specifically. I can see why it is said that it adds nothing to MN, and will just leave that alone.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by NosyNed, posted 12-02-2003 11:17 AM NosyNed has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 30 by Silent H, posted 12-02-2003 1:42 PM MEH has not yet responded
 Message 32 by Mammuthus, posted 12-03-2003 3:24 AM MEH has responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3897 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 30 of 41 (70589)
12-02-2003 1:42 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by MEH
12-02-2003 1:06 PM


quote:
What I mean is the question about whether the thought of an intelligent designer "adds anything" to scientific inquiry AT ALL is different from whether or not it adds anything to MN specifically.

MN is a form of scientific inquiry. It is criticized by IDers and other Creationists as being inherently biased and so "bad" as a form of scientific enquiry.

MrH has been defending MN as a valid form of scientific inquiry in another thread.

This thread is to allow critics of MN to explain what other methods act as forms of valid scientific inquiry, especially based on results. MrH used the term "supernatural" as that is the only other popular term. If you believe that the supernatural and natural are one in the same that is fine. Call yours the MSNN.

Now cut to the chase. MN has proven itself a valid form of scientific inquiry because it has produced results. What benefits have been produced by MSNN and so indicate it is a more valid form of scientific theory, or even equal to MN?

Your examples of Newton and DesCartes are exceedingly problematic. Other than indicating a belief in a supreme being provided MOTIVATION, there is no indication that this added belief altered their use of MN. Clearly where DesCartes departed from MN, his natural philosophy lost utility.

And given your hypothesis, one must also discuss nonXian scientists. Islamic and Pagan (Chinese) scientists provided some of the most important scientific discoveries the human race has ever enjoyed. Without Arabs and Chinese Newton and Einstein would not have gone anywhere.

Does this indicate then which God or Gods are more valuable to scientific inquiry? Conversely, if no Gods show any greater value to scientific inquiry, then what is the value of bringing in theology at all?

------------------
holmes


This message is a reply to:
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