Nonlin Asks About Methodological Naturalism?

You say:

Currently, science does not search for all sorts of Truth. Rather, science is limited effort to explain the world on its own terms, without invoking God, His action, or intelligent design. There is a “line in the sand” in science, where consideration of God is explicitly disallowed by MN.

This would be fine, except it is not a proper definition from which one can start using MN. So what is MN actually based on?


No one ventures an answer? This question can’t be that hard, right?

Been discussed at nauseum. Perhaps search to find those past topics, catch up, an ask some thoughtful questions.

1 Like, you might enjoy some of these threads…

  1. Clinton Ohlers: Two Parables on Divine Action

  2. Methodological Naturalism, So Falsely Called

  3. Can We Empirically Detect "Agency"?

  4. Newton's Four Rules

  5. The Rules of the Game

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Thanks for the links. There’s too much there, but this is what I got:
1. " So science must be limited to using just natural forces in its explanations.This is sometimes referred to as the principle of methodological materialism in science: we explain the natural world using only matter, energy, and their interactions (materialism). Scientists use only methodological materialism because it is logical, but primarily because it works. We don’t need to use supernatural forces to explain nature, and we get farther in our understanding of nature by relying on natural causes."

2. “If science enforces MN, then it is obviously blind to God, His action, and His design.”

3. " So, rather than ruling out intelligence in general, MN rules out divine intelligence as a causal factor."

4. “There is no case in science where design is detectable independent of modeling the mind that produced it”

5. " Plantinga and Smith wrote: [I]t is extremely hard to see how an empirical science, such as biology, could address such a theological question as whether a process like evolution is or isn’t directed by God… How could an empirical inquiry possibly show that God was not guiding and directing evolution?"

6. Newton’s 4: " 1. admit no more causes of natural things than are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances,
2. to the same natural effect, assign the same causes,
3. qualities of bodies, which are found to belong to all bodies within experiments, are to be esteemed universal, and
4. propositions collected from observation of phenomena should be viewed as accurate or very nearly true until contradicted by other phenomena."

This is good, but insufficient. Furthermore:
What is a “natural force”? As opposed to what? How would we know the difference?
What if we find out more than “matter, energy, and their interactions”? Particle physics shows that matter is itself quite immaterial.
What is “supernatural”? Isn’t the distinction natural/supernatural arbitrary?
How would one differentiate “divine intelligence” from “regular intelligence”?
Why would one absolutely need " modeling the mind"? When someone reverse-engineers a product (say military equipment), do they care about modeling the mind of it’s original inventor?
How would one reconcile Plantinga and Smith with Evolution being a “Blind, Unguided and Purposeless Process”
How are Newton’s 4 specific to MN? Are these rules or simply guidelines? If guidelines, they’re OK, but if rules they’re false, in particular 2 and 3 that have been overruled many times.


That is fine. You are welcome to ask focused questions to understand my position here. I understand you will likely disagree, so this is only going to be constructive if you care to understand that with which you disagree.


If a force is not subject to a consistent way of measuring and predicting the actions of the force would make it un-natural… or miraculous.

Can you explain what you mean by this?

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It is not arbitrary. It is WHATEVER can be replicated … over and over and over.

After 2 years of arguing with scientists and you can’t remember this rule of science?

Its more than that actually… otherwise origin of Life, Big Bang theory etc would not be science.
A lot of scientific understanding is inductive- i,e an inference that best explains known facts.

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Your comment is a classic quibble. The thread had been bandy-ing about The question “what is natural?” And what is supernatural. And there was even innuendo that the line of distinction is arbitrary!

On questions of History… yes these are usually one-off one time events. But assessing whether a biblical event or a purported cosmological event happened thru natural or super-natural processes would be based on what physicists have been able to prove as “natural” through replication.

And there is nothing arbitrary about replication!

Therefore, if God moved matter around in our universe then God would be a force interacting with matter and would fall under the auspices of being part of the natural world. This is why humans are considered natural. The supernatural would seem to describe imperceptible activities that people believe are occurring. The scientific method needs something to measure, so if the mechanism you are proposing does not have any measurable effect then science can’t investigate it.

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I may disagree, but that shouldn’t bother you - it’s called a healthy argument :grinning:

Original question was very focused: if you propose a methodology, you should be able to describe how it works and why. The latest questions based on your reply are even more focused.

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Sorry, your explanation isn’t clear. I doubt we understand/measure all forces (say gravity). Weren’t nuclear forces miraculous until very recently?

Matter is actually immaterial when observed at the smallest subatomic level. What we feels as “solid” are electromagnetic forces similar to the force of repelling magnets that do not actually touch. Energy is not matter despite E=mc2 because the subatomic particles have discrete, specific energy values (which is zero for photons and gluons) and have additional properties like charge and spin. Some physicists consider the Standard Model of particle physics to be ad hoc and inelegant, requiring 19 numerical constants whose values are unrelated and arbitrary. Several other theories beyond the Standard Models have been proposed, yet none of them will bring back “matter” as was imagined before modern physics.

People that knew a thing or two about matter said… Max Planck: “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter”, Das Wesen der Materie, 1944. Werner Heisenberg : “The ontology of materialism rested upon the illusion that the kind of existence, the direct ‘actuality’ of the world around us, can be extrapolated into the atomic range. This extrapolation, however, is impossible… atoms are not things.”

Yup. I have. You can read it here: The Rules of the Game. Clearly others know how it works, and many here have been learning. I’ve explained it from a philosophical, historical, theological, political, and Christological point of view.

Newton’s rules are an alternative to MN, that ID often advocates. If you read that thread, you’ll see that it can lead to a disturbing type of deism. This is one reason I prefer MN to ID.

They are the rules.

By 2 and 3, I suppose you mean these?

I understand you might dispute these rules, but these are the rules as I find them. They have not been overruled in the discourse of science. Scientists can say things beyond science. And scientists sometimes break the rules. That does not make it right. It is easy to call them back onto the fair ground.

Many phenomena considered “natural” cannot be replicated - think of weather patterns., because they are rules, when scientists violate the rules, you can call them on it. They have to play by the rules.

Pull the other one . . .

Scientists have measured winds moving from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure over and over and over. You can even create a simple experiment with some water, a 2 liter botlte, and a match where you can repeatedly produce a cloud in your own little controlled atmosphere. Again, you can do this repeatedly. I’m really not sure what you think is not repeatable when it comes to weather.

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I don’t follow. Your first link is about politics - that was not my question. And “2 and 3” were about Newton’s 2. and 3., not MN.