Home > design, logic, philosophy, science > >The illegitimacy of anti-supernatural causation

>The illegitimacy of anti-supernatural causation

>My recent post led to some discussion, mainly in response to my opposition in defining science as methodological naturalism. I think the previous use of the term Natural Philosophy was adequate for the time. It made it clear that it was the study of natural phenomena without the baggage of additional metaphysics that are unnecessary to the practice of science. The subsequent addition of historical science to operational science to encompass all “science” makes short descriptions more difficult.

My contention is that forcing singular past events to be natural (that is not supernatural) is artificial (not genuine) and arbitrary (not determined by necessity); in that if God did make an object, methodological naturalism would prefer the false explanation that man made it over the true explanation that God did. david w states

The difference is artificial if there can be evidence for supernatural causation. How… [can] we know if God made a house?

This is putting the cart before the horse. One cannot argue philosophically that God does not exist thus he cannot make anything thus nothing is made by God. One can argue philosophically the case for and against God, but if there is empirical evidence otherwise, that must be taken into consideration.

To ask what such evidence is for God, but deny that evidence is even possible within one’s philosophy is disingenuous.

If God exists and he made man, and is at least as capable as man then he can make anything man can make. It does not matter whether or not we can identify a particular object is made by God, the fact is this is theoretically possible. And a definition that excludes God from producing something when it possible that he could, and thus God didn’t, even if he did, is fallacious.

I think there is reason to think that God made some objects. But definitive evidence, or even any evidence, that God made something is not necessary to allow that possibility. We allow for that possibility in other situations, such as an unknown culture, or the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.

It must be recognised that we are looking at effects, thus inferring the source. Extensive knowledge, or any knowledge, about the source is not required beforehand. It is in studying the effect that we theorise about the source.

Categories: design, logic, philosophy, science
  1. 2009 September 28 at 14:16

    Most of the theories about ancient miracles are likewise suspect. One of the ones that intrigues me, however, is the dismissal of the flood when civilizations from China, to the Middle East, to the Americas recount stories of there being a great flood at some point in the past. Doing a little digging, I found this Amerindian story which is particularly fascinating for reasons you’ll understand quickly when you read the synopsis >:)

  2. 2009 September 28 at 21:01

    Mike,
    The fact that there is a near universiality of floods and dragons in ancient culture is really only a common psychosis in the human psyche. Pay no attention to such things. (o=

  3. 2009 September 28 at 21:10

    Bethyada,
    Just wanted to pop in and say I enjoy your blog. Your posts are well thought out and informative. Keep up the good work :)

  4. 2009 September 28 at 23:04

    But that comment was in a thread about methodological naturalism in science, what I meant was if adding god to a theory makes a testable hypothesis and your doing science. But if God is just a tack on (cf Theistic Evolution, which really means “I am a theist who accepts evolutionary science”) then there is no need to include God when we do science.
    Of you course that doesn’t meant science necessarily rules out gods. That’s a philosophical question (sorry Ken…) the answer to which which should include knowledge from science – for instance, I believe evolutionary biology does away with the sort of teleological argument Palley and the ID crowd put forward.

  5. 2009 September 29 at 01:14

    david W But that comment was in a thread about methodological naturalism in science, what I meant was if adding god to a theory makes a testable hypothesis and your doing science.
    My beef was with the term “methodological naturalism” not with science. I understand the term “methodological naturalism” and can see why it is used, though I still think it is unwarranted—there was no real need for it’s introduction. Further, like the term “natural philosophy,” it is better restricted to operational science and they are both less appropriate for historical science.
    But if God is just a tack on (cf Theistic Evolution, which really means “I am a theist who accepts evolutionary science”) then there is no need to include God when we do science.
    Yes to the first clause: “Theistic evolutionist” is more a theological label than a science label.
    But it depends what one means by “include God” and what type of science one is doing. I suspect that much of the methodology we both use in doing science is identical.
    Of you course that doesn’t meant science necessarily rules out gods. That’s a philosophical question (sorry Ken…)
    True
    the answer to which which should include knowledge from science
    That is one strand of evidence, yes.
    – for instance, I believe evolutionary biology does away with the sort of teleological argument Palley and the ID crowd put forward.
    That is the attempt of such. Darwinism does not completely remove the argument for God, but it does seek to remove the necessity of him for the diversity (and existence if one includes the origin of life) of the biosphere from a teleological point of view.
    We disagree on whether it succeeds in this.

  6. Ken
    2009 October 5 at 01:26

    Seeing my name has been mentioned. I don’t think science rules out gods a priori, by any means. If gods exist we certainly want to know about it. Similarly if fairies and goblins or dragons exist.
    This is why the talk of “anti-supernatural causation” is just a diversion. If supernatural phenomena occur – we want to know about it and study it. And let’s face it – when we do know, investigate and understand the supernatural becomes natural, doesn’t it?
    Science can test for such things.
    The point is we don’t assume such things, any more than we assume anything else. In the end it comes down to evidence.

  7. Mrs. Pilgrim
    2009 October 15 at 22:59

    Holy mackerel, MikeT…the one from Hawaii is a bit shocking, including that the man is named “Nu’u.”

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