Miracles and Methodological Naturalism

Are you sure? I’ve yet to see a science textbook or a peer-reviewed scientific journal article which states that “miracles haven’t occurred, don’t occur, and never will occur.”


You just shifted invisibly from methodological naturalism (“science doesn’t deal with…”), an investigative choice, to metaphysical naturalism (“science doesn’t countenance…”), a metaphysical choice outside science. You also personify science, as if “it” could have metaphysical beliefs, rather than the human scientists who practise it - and of whom many, and nearly all its earllier practitioners, took the position that miracles have occurred, do occur, and will occur.

Your shift reminds me how easy it is, in practice, for naturalistic methodology to merge imperceptibly into naturalistic mindsets. Happens to Christian scientists too, many of whom feel an discomfort around the subject of miracles, as if suffering cognitive dissonance - but you can’t suffer such discomfort over a mere methodology.

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Who says that was imperceptible? Don’t you know @Patrick? He was trolling you =).

I’m pretty sure we all agree:

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Agree. Science is neutral on God. I seem to fall into the same logical error as believers do but the opposite logical error.

Believer: no evidence therefore God
non-Believer: no evidence therefore no God

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@jongarvey, I hope you can see what is happening here. When an atheists says absurd things, you are getting baited into challenging the scientific method, which makes it seem you are advocating pseudoscience. It is totally predictable, and you are going to lose every time.

Don’t take the bait.
Point out the illogical circularity.
Recall that those that really understand science, know it is neutral on God.

That is how you win, not by constantly letting your buttons get pushed. If you want to win, don’t get boxed into the rhetorically and substantively weak position.

Decode this interaction, and you could really win.

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That also is a trap @Patrick.

I don’t believe in God because of a scientific argument, but science does not have a monopoly on reason and evidence. If you want public evidence, it’s there (see Peace Be With You).

The reason we are different @Patrick is not precisely about public evidence or reason, it is more about private evidence. I’ve seen something you have not yet seen. I’ve encountered a living reality of the world that you have not. If you saw it too, you might believe in God too. If I had never seen it, I might be an atheist too. The difference in us is this.

It is not that we think different about science, use different logical rules, or process evidence in a different ways. I just saw something you have yet to see.


Atheists just want to have a little fun with Christians who are accepting of science and reasoning. :grinning: Please don’t take it as Christian prosecution just a little pushback for how atheist have been treated throughout history.


I think its great.

It is totally entertaining to see how reliably you can press the stereotypical buttons. It provokes such a predictable response, every time. I’m not sure you realize it, but you provoked @auntyevology so much that she ended up permanently banned for abusive behavior in response. In this case, not your fault at all, but it exposes an insanity in the conversation that needs to be exorcized.

I’m glad you are here @Patrick. You make a great red team. I’d even say I’m coming to rely on some of your insight.

For the record, the way this works, even telling people all this, is not going to end the fun. The self-undermining reaction is driven by emotion, not understanding.

You are gonna have fun for a long time here. Can you bring friends to grow your ranks?!?

What was it? Was it an hallucination? Or perhaps someone sort of medical problem developing? :grinning: You’re a physician, you should get it checked out. :grinning: MRI perhaps? :grinning: Does it reoccur often? Does it cloud your reasoning at all? Probably nothing to worry about. Diet and exercise. Healthy living. Don’t work to hard. Be happy. It is probably nothing. Certainly nothing to worry about.

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Just the Palestinian boy. I went and talked to him.

Good. He needed medical treatment. Glad you were able to help him. You are a good person and a good doctor. The world needs more people like you.

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Seems to me I was baited into doing just that…


You did.

I was not clear before. You did not attack MN this time. You did not take the bait.

This violation of the rules, however, was anything but imperceptible and accidental. It was an intentional abuse of the rules, and you could have called it out even more definitively. That’s all.

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Also, your article on the Hump is great:


my aim here isn’t to make room in science for God discourse, but to point out that the same kind of human sensibilities that make talk of God possible in other realms are already used within science. Those I’ve mentioned (metaphysics, philosophy, mathematical beauty and simplicity) are some of those that are incontestibly legitimate, and no doubt there are more some might be able to suggest.

And this very common experience:

Now, compare a recent article by @Agauger , about how the beauty she found in nature in her childhood not only persuaded her that there was a God who created it, but prompted her to pursue science in order to find more of the same.

I think you are on the right track @jongarvey. I honestly think you can get there. When you find the rhetoric that has @Patrick clapping along with you, at that point you’ll know you struck gold.

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I congratulate you for finding the perfect text to explain what I was attempting to explain! Marvelous.

@Patrick, imagine being a neutral party for just a moment:

If your view of Science were correct, and there is a God who finally reveals himself… then Science was wrong, and wrong for the whole time.

But if Science takes no position on God (which is what we say when we say science professionals who are Christians do good science when their work takes no position on God), then it is neither right nor wrong when the “Big Reveal” occurs.


6 posts were split to a new topic: Maarten Boudry on Methodological Naturalism

Dr. Swamidas, I recall you mentioning how your job involved spending a lot of time working on grant proposals. Even so, your training as both M.D. and Ph.D. appears to have led to a very rich professional experience. I would encourage you to write that autobiography some day. In the meanwhile, I think many of us here would be interested in learning more about what you do on a typical day at the office. (That’s yet another item for your to-do list.)

Very well put. Perhaps someday some of those kinds of sound bites from these forums can be consolidated on an FAQ and “quotable quotes” webpage on this site.

Meanwhile, in view of the lamentably poor arguments often coming from many Christian Youtube channels, blogs, discussion forums, and poorly informed origins ministries entrepreneurs, I can certainly understand why @Patrick has many frustrations with popular debates on the existence of God, on the mixing of religious thought with science, and with aggressively vocal political forces like the “religious right”. Patrick, I want you to know that I probably do an exasperated face-palm almost as often as you do when I read what is generated out there under the motivation of religious beliefs.


2 posts were split to a new topic: Christians doing UnChristian Things

A post was merged into an existing topic: Maarten Boudry on Methodological Naturalism