Common Narrative with ID on MN

Thanks Joshua. I appreciate this… It is not how I understood it… If this is so, then it is problematic. Why do “we” here keep saying, then, to go back to the lab and do the science and bring back the results, if they would be invalid a priori?

This I understand and agree with. It makes good sense to not invoke the unidentifiable as an explanation, but rather to leave the options open. This was my point one.

That said, if one was able to design an experiment that showed that an intelligence was responsible, significantly and verifiably, then how could this be rejected?

I would encourage everyone to read this paper. I’m still forming my opinion on it but it is clear to me that it presents some very important perspectives. Dr. Nelson did not post the link because it is some sort of defense of ID theory. To the contrary, the authors make very clear that they do not consider ID to be solid science. The authors describe their objections to how most scientists (including many of the most prominent, such as Eugenie Scott) are using MN to critique ID ideas.

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@pnelson, thanks for playing this out for me.

I think we are really close. How about this?

  1. MN rules out God as a cause in scientific explanations. In practice, science includes intelligent design as a cause, as long as the intelligence is anything other than God.

  2. In principle, ID conflicts with MN, because it does not want intelligent design by God, divine design, to be excluded from scientific purview.

  3. For now and the foreseeable future, MN excludes divine design from science, whether we like it or not.

  4. ID (and others) objects that MN, in practice, is not properly bounded by nearly all of its proponents, so in practice it often becomes just naturalism, which conflicts with Christianity by denying God’s action in the world. Consistently applying naturalism would deny the Resurrection and the possibility of miracles.

  5. Somehow, following MN, the GAE made space for the de novo creation of Adam and Eve. An important question: how? What does this tell us about how to navigate the reality of modern science (3) without importing naturalism into our thinking (4)?

@pnelson does this work for you? You also say “nearly all its proponents”. I like that space you are making. Do you think I personally fall prey to the pitfalls of MN? If not, why not?

Well, I don’t think the science is a total explanation of the world. For this reason, it is not a problem for me. If and when God acts, science’s account will be incomplete, or even wrong. So scientific conclusions come with that asterix, and I take that asterix very seriously.

Would God’s action be invalid a priori? They would be in science, which is why I am not going to science to prove God’s action. They would not be invalid in real life, theology or philosophy. So let science do its thing, don’t be surprised when science is silent about God, and ask questions about God in domains that welcome it.


Why do we continue to direct them (ID scientists) to the lab then? I’m not understanding the purpose. Because of this my understanding of the limitations of MN are all wrong.

I would amend that to say, “If and when God acts supernaturally…” (violating natural laws). The distinction still needs to be made between his providential action where he does break natural laws and his providential action where he does not. Again, I think the term hypernatural miracles is useful in describing the latter. None of the many instances in my experience could be detected by science. Likewise, in none of the co-instants in the series in the Rich Stearns account could God’s actions have been detected scientifically, but their meaning is evident by their temporal sequence and grouping.

There are also many such instances in scripture where natural laws are not or don’t need to have been broken.

I think it’s because most ID folks are making the claim that ID is scientific. It seems like they are suggesting that it is only being stopped from becoming the de facto explanation of origins by MN and a priori philosophical commitments (i.e. philosophical naturalism). I think the scientists are trying to say with the “get in the lab” responses, “if you want to be treated as science, then do science, and stop complaining about philosophy”. That is my impression anyway.


That was my impression, too, Jordan, precisely. But Joshua’s response is much more in line with what the ID supporters seem to suggest. That there’s no room in the lab for them.

It’s a slight distinction, but a very important one. I felt like I had a firm grip on it, until today.

4 posts were split to a new topic: What is “Hypernaturalism”?


It’s that a priori assumption about God - excuse me “The Designer” - who we can never form any direct hypotheses about.

To my thinking, it’s starts with defining the hypothesis. IF you can form a testable hypothesis about God, then something is very very wrong. If I proposed an equation to describe God, or some chemical formula, then we are asking questions about the material properties of God.

That should be a non-starter for both science and religion.


We theists know, or absolutely should know, that God will not perform upon demand in a scientific test.

(…nor can we scientifically detect his hypernatural activity in the past.)


@Michael_Callen, there are several issues we have with ID. One of them is that they are trying to change the rules of science. There are whole set of other, unrelated objections about how they handle evidence.

While I do not think divine design is a valid scientific conclusion, I think it could be valid science-engaged hypothesis to test.

So, I often tell ID proponents, “fine, we disagree about MN and whether to label this science or not, so let’s set that aside for now and see if your case makes logical sense and is grounded in accurate facts and observations. If you are right here, I’ll acknowledge it, and we can disagree about whether or not it is ‘science’ or not.”

That is the premise under which most of the scientific back and forth with ID usually proceeds. It is not as if MN somehow prevents this. We can still have an exchange back and forth with them about their claims even if we disagree about whether or not the exchange is “science engaged” or “science” itself.


Again, I did not specify what the hypothesis would be, only that, if it could be stated, repeated and validated empirically, it should be allowed.

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Hi. :slightly_smiling_face:

You can pretty much replace hypernatural with providence in the way that we normally think about it. Not too many of us are going to claim are going to claim that God broke natural laws in his provision for us, unless there has been a remarkable healing beyond medical explanation.

My reference was really about God’s directing evolution providentially , and I would go so far as to not preclude abiogenesis.

That’s a very good question. The reason why is that ID proponents claim that the existing data from labs demonstrates design. Now when we scientists have a scientific hypothesis, we are eager to test it empirically. ID proponents, somehow, seem incapable of DOING anything.

How do you interpret those decades of inaction?

In my opinion, if they want to claim that they are being scientific, they should have no trouble doing some science that takes it further–testing an ID hypothesis. How can they confidently see that a newly-published paper supports ID, but never even propose any followups?

I could not possibly disagree more. MN is promoted because it has been enormously successful, over centuries. There is no agenda. I was a professional atheist scientist before I was a believing scientist, and never did we discuss creationism as having any bearing or relevance for our methodology.

Tendentious? hypocritical? Destructive? Are you serious? I am sure that you realize that the components of the computer with which you write these words were made possible because of the strict application of MN (i.e. the scientific method.)

No believer would disagree, even if we have no example that we can point to. However should we encounter a miracle, say a person capable of walking across water, the way to study it would be to instrument the water with pressure monitors and cameras etc. and take measurements and employ MN. In this case, in the case of a miracle, it would fail-- but it would still be the way to investigate.

EDIT: typo


Welcome David to Peaceful Science!! Thanks for posting!


Thanks John for your reply! Again, I’ve got no horse in the race and consistent with the topic, I’m trying to find middle ground. So, if a testable hypothesis were put forth, and the results were repeatable, verifiable, and empirical, and they pointed somehow to an intelligent designer, you would be willing to accept those results?

I’m only asking, because I continually hear from the ID camp that there is no reason to do the science because we’re precluded by MN from bringing our results to the table. So, if this is so, it is a real obstacle. If it is not so, then it is an excuse to not do anything.


Welcome, Dr. Heddle, to Peaceful Science.

I would be very interested in learning more of your life experience and story. We have often encouraged newcomers to Peaceful Science to introduce themselves on their own “New Topic” thread—if they are so inclined. No pressure. Just a friendly invitation if you should happen to find the time.

I’ve greatly enjoyed your blog on such an interesting and diverse collection of scientific and theological topics. I considered posting the link here but I don’t want to appear pushy. So I’ll just be appreciative and say that I consider your series of casual reflections to be great reads.


@david.heddle Welcome to Peaceful Science!

Watch out for this @AllenWitmerMiller guy, before you know it he will be telling wonderful old stories at you! :wink: