Klinghoffer: I Beg Your Pardon? More on “Mainstream Science”

I was struck by the statement, which I can’t let go without answering: “Nelson really sees methodological naturalism as the fundamental reason why Christians cannot work with mainstream science.” I beg your pardon? Paul thinks “Christians cannot work with mainstream science”? I didn’t see that anywhere in Dr. Nelson’s article and I know it’s not what Paul believes. His point, as I understood it, was that Professor Swamidass folds into the phrase “mainstream science” a couple of tenets that needlessly constrain the search for truth about a historical first couple. Of course, that’s a wholly different idea.

Well, mainstream science includes MN and is confident in common descent/ancestry (CA). @pnelson concludes his article by writing,

Let go of MN, I reply, and consider that CA might be false, in the light of new evidence, and we can talk. Otherwise, there isn’t much to discuss.

His whole article seems to be against the idea of Christians engaging with science on these terms, the terms of mainstream science.

Of course scientists like me understand MN differently than does @pnelson, but my book doesn’t even depend on MN in the first place. And the argument of the GAE explicitly does not depend on CA being true either. So what could @pnelson mean except that Christians cannot engage with mainstream science?

Whether or not CA is true or Mn is the correct way to do science, I want to explore what it would mean for Christians if CA were true. That question is the focus of the GAE. You don’t have to agree with CA or MN to engage that question.



It is VERY disappointing to see these words, in black and white, from @pnelson !

Certainly, philosophers of science can embrace the sentence “… consider that CA might be false…” - - but the very same thought process should also recognize that just one or two mysteries or exceptions are not enough to falsify multiple bodies of scientific consensus.

How many times have we read postings from YECs along the lines of asking what my opinion would be if I found the bones of a milk cow in a coal deposit? The answer for me is: I would wait for someone to integrate a hundred exceptions into a coherent theory that explains the results BETTER than the current consensus - - or at least, equally as well.

It could be that @pnelson is using a technicality to embargo your position and writings, @swamidass … but frankly, I think it is more than a debating tactic. I think he really has fallen into the abyss.

But not, one would hope, surprising. It’s what he’s been saying for years.


The @pnelson doth protest too much, methinks.

If you have to throw out the scientific method and not even consider common ancestry in order for intelligent design to even become palatable, what does that say about ID? If this were a different fake scientific controversy we would be laughing at the person making the statement. “Let go of the scientific method, I reply, and consider that the Round Earth might be false, in the light of new evidence, and we can talk”. It’s asking us to shut off our brains and just believe ID is true.

“It vexes me when they would constrain science by the authority of the Scriptures, and yet do not consider themselves bound to answer reason and experiment.”–Galileo Galilei