I thought it would be helpful to put the argument I made together in one post, since it’s kind of scattered around in different places, to make it easier for others to understand the argument I’m making in the context of the whole argument. I’ll do my best to clarify things to avoid confusion as much as possible.
I plan to spit this into two parts, part 1 to explain my reasoning, and after some discussion of the first part, part 2 to give an example of an abductive argument that uses evidence from science to make a metaphysical claim. And just to clarify, I’m not saying that there’s empirical evidence for the supernatural that would in any way confirm it’s existence. Only that there is empirical evidence to support the claim that it does exists.
To start with I’m going to go by more or less standard dictionary definitions of terms used which I’ll post here. If you want to use a different definition make sure you mention how you are defining a particular term. Otherwise I’ll assume you’re using the definition I’ve posted here.
Scientific evidence: Scientific evidence is evidence which serves to either support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis. Such evidence is expected to be empirical evidence and interpreted in accordance with scientific method.
(I’m assuming here that if it qualifies as scientific evidence at any time it would still be scientific evidence, or evidence from science, no matter what the context, even in the context of supporting a metaphysical claim.)
Scientific method: a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
Supernatural: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe.
Empirical evidence: Empirical evidence is the information received by means of the senses, particularly by observation and documentation of patterns and behavior through experimentation. The term comes from the Greek word for experience, ἐμπειρία.
Now I’m going to introduce a couple of my own distinctions of two types of empirical evidence.
Direct empirical evidence: evidence from observation of an actual empirically accessible event or entity that has been repeatedly confirmed by the studies of different independent scientists and has been established as a scientific fact.
Indirect empirical evidence: empirical evidence which is used in an inductive or abductive argument to support an inference to a claim to an empirically inaccessible event or entity.
Now my contention is that in the context of the statement in question, to say “no evidence” is an unqualified use of a broad term that can be interpreted in various ways. However, what I find is that as it’s used in regards to the supernatural, most, if not all, naturalists use the term in the more narrow sense of my definition of “direct empirical evidence.” So unless it is qualified as such, I contend that it is incorrect to say there is “no evidence” when in the broad sense of that term it’s not true.
This is my reasoning for that claim. When empirical evidence is used abductively to infer a scientific claim, that evidence would fall into the definition of scientific evidence. Now to allow for that to qualify as scientific evidence in an abductive claim is to admit that evidence can be indirect in nature. So if it’s scientific evidence, and it is allowed in the indirect sense to qualify as scientific evidence in an abductive inference to a scientific claim, why would it no longer qualify as scientific evidence, or evidence from science, in an abductive inference when used to support a metaphysical claim?
Now beyond this there is the issue of whether or not an abductive argument using indirect empirical evidence can even be made to support a metaphysical claim. There is at least one such arguments out there that I’m aware of. And I think it can be demonstrated that there are more that can be made as well. But I’d like to keep that for part 2 after I see what objections there are (including ones that have been raised already so they’re all in one place) for what I’ve presented here so far.