How to perform science without using "methodological naturalism."

My impression of MN is that it acts as a straitjacket to force scientists to go to unreasonable length to come up with a natural explanation of something when there just is no reasonable way with available evidence to explain it that way. Seems to me that after looking into something for a substantial amount of time that there needs to come a point where the only reasonable response is to say that it’s been extensively researched and with the available evidence so far there has not been any possible natural explanation within reason. Barring further new evidence to the contrary the tentative conclusion is that there is no natural explanation. But the impression I get is that because of MN that just isn’t an option. Kind of like it’s my way or the highway type situation. But is that really a healthy approach? It seems to me that after extensive research it would be wise to move on to other issues that would be of greater usefulness than to keep pouring into an area where no significant progress is being made, and let philosophers and metaphysicians spend some time on it and see what they come up with. But of course that might open the door to Theism which for some reason it seems in the scientific community is anathema. Not a very objective approach to take in my opinion.

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I don’t understand that at all.

What you write there does not bear any resemblance to the way that science is actually done.


I’m just a layperson describing how it appears to me. If I’m wrong please let me know what I’m mistaken about. However, the point I’m trying to make is that whatever happens, there needs to be a reasonable justification for how things are done.

I’ve already said I agree with this.

I have a hard time wrapping my head about undetectable gremlins, supernatural or natural. So let’s just say that I consider both propositions equally unlikely. Of course, this is a thought experiment, and the existance or non-existance of undetectable gremlins need not concern us, anymore than a discussion about the trolley problem needs to be concerned with who it is that goes around tying innocent people to traintracks.

Is there some kind of embargo against philosophers and metaphysicians trying to solve these questions at the same time scientists are addressing them? Not that I am aware. I fail to see how the one prevents the other. Could you please explain what you mean?

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Fair enough.

Did you know that MN was not put in place by atheists, but by Christians? Methodological Naturalism, So Falsely Called

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Good point. I didn’t mean to imply that there couldn’t be both going on simultaneously. The point I’m attempting to make is that the scientific community could use a little humility and admit when there’s really no natural explanation based on current research that can explain a certain event when such is the case. What seems to be the usual response is “we just don’t know” which depending on the case tends to be somewhat vague. I think it would be more clear to say in cases where it’s appropriate, based on current research we haven’t been able to find any natural explanation for the issue in question and therefore can only defer the issue to other fields of study until such a time as new evidence is revealed that would change things.

Um, we do admit that there is no known natural explanation yet to explain every step in OOL. How can anyone make statements about unknown natural explanations?


That does not seem vague at all. It is precise and accurate.

OTOH, saying “We will never know”, which seems to be what you are suggesting (correct me if I am wrong), would not be accurate, and would be making a claim that cannot be justified by the available evidence.


What are the “other fields of study” you are referring to? Can you give some examples of the diseases they have cured, physical laws they have discovered, or new technologies they have invented after scientists had given up and passed the job on to them?

Oh. So would I be justified to say that according to current research over several decades science has not come up with an evidential case for OOL from natural causes. Therefore we can tentatively conclude from scientific research that there is no known natural cause and therefore a metaphysical cause could be an acceptable explanation until such a time as new evidence is revealed that would change things?

The last time science included a hefty component of Theism and religious metaphysics was when the Christian Alchemists were trying to get the help of angels to convert lead into Gold… and to create the Philosopher’s Stone.

Alchemy and Chemistry used to be synonyms. But as what we call Chemistry started to work better and better (without praying to God or his angels)… the separation between Alchemy and Chemistry became larger and larger. Chemistry as we know didn’t really come to exist until AFTER America won its Revolution against Britain… then the French scientists won their victory over alchemical foolishness!

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Yes, but several decades is not long at all. By the same logic, we would have concluded flying was impossible, nuclear fission and fusion are imposssible, etc.

Totally false. That is just not how science works.

Absolutely not.

Regardless where the science is here, it is reasonable to wonder if God made the first cell. If that is all you are hoping for, you already have it.


Umm, I don’t see the relevance of your questions. Different fields of study have there place of usefulness. Is the usefulness of one area of study make it superior to another? And what does that have to do with what I’m talking about? Explain to me the relevance if you can.


“Metaphysical cause” does not qualify as a fall back option that is automatically assumed to be correct until a physical explanation is elucidated. It should be an explanation that requires the same degree of evidential support as a scientific explanation. Though what that evidential support would consist of is unclear to me. Can you describe what the metaphysical equivalent is of a hypothesis that has been demonstrated to be true thru empirical evidence?

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You are the one who is suggesting that there are other fields of study that can accomplish what science can, but don’t get the chance because scientists are doing all the work and not letting the practitioners of these other fields get their turn. If these fields of study, instead, have a different purpose or usefulness, then I don’t see why you are bringing them up in this discussion as an alternative to the scientific method.

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That is just not true.

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Which part are you saying isn’t true, @swamidass?

I’m relatively knowledgeable on the topic of Alchemy

Scientists are well aware of that need.

Yes, they sometimes come up with speculative hypotheses. But scientists well understand that speculative hypotheses are not scientific conclusions.


Given what you’ve written, I would be justified to say that you’ve never looked at any actual OOL research.

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