Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Naturalism: An Obstruction of Justice?

A certain TRoutMac at overwhelmingevidence claims that IDists by necessity oppose methodological naturalism (Definition from wikipedia: Methodological naturalism (MN) is the philosophical tenet that, within scientific enquiry, one can only use natural explanations - i.e. one's explanations must not make reference to the existence of supernatural forces and entities. Note that methodological naturalism does not hold that such entities or forces do not exist, but merely that one cannot use them within a scientific explanation.) and also states:

...but far from relying on "supernatural" causes, this opposition to naturalism merely enables one to objectively weigh the evidence and make rational conclusions based on that evidence. Naturalism actually stacks the deck and only allows evidence for one possible explanation for life to be explored. That's hardly science, and it's hardly objective.

TRoutMac seems to have some problem with definitions here. First of, if you reject MN, you by by necessity rely on supernatural causes - by definition. TRoutMac's claim that naturalism only allows evidence for one possible explanation for life is simply wrong. While the explanation does indeed have to be naturalistic, there can of course be a plethora of these. TRoutMac's second definitional problem is claiming that using only naturalism is not science, is also wrong - by definition (obviously, since science only deals with natual explanations).

TRoutMac continues:

To illustrate the absurdity of the naturalist's position regarding origin-of-life issues, just imagine you're a lead detective in a law enforcement agency, and you've been assigned by your captain to investigate a murder. Due to circumstances around the murder, it's already apparent that there are two prime suspects for the crime. But one of those suspects is your captain's close personal friend. Your captain approaches you privately and instructs you that you are NOT permitted to build a case against his friend and that you must build your case to charge the other suspect.
This is a really bad analogy - just as ID analogies usually are. There are several reasons for this, but the most important one is that we know that people sometimes commit murder and we know that people were around at the time of the murder. What we don't know is whether or not there was anything intelligent around when life first arose on this planet. And if there was, did it design life here or at all. Other reasons for the bad analogy is that he complains about the naturalists position and then only supplies natural explanations. A better analogy would have been to have two other suspects; John Doe and the other something supernatural (call it God, gremlins or leprechauns if you wish). I think that most captains would not entertain the idea of spirits commiting a murder - and neither should they.

TRoutMac finishes:

Naturalists have to explain why they feel compelled to frame the other suspect. They have to explain what they're trying to protect. They have to explain why they wish to obstruct the investigation. I'm glad I'm not in their shoes.
A naturalist would not be framing anyone. He would just reject supernatural explanations. What is being protected? Is rationality enough? Is this obstructing the investigation? No, obviously not. TRoutMac should perhaps try to wear some other shoes.


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