Grist for the mill?

Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke, and  Johan Braeckman recently published an on-line article entitled, Grist to the mill of ID creationism: the failed strategy of ruling the supernatural out of science by philosophical fiat.    The article comes across as a glorified blog posting designed to help the Gnu atheist movement in their ongoing death struggle with the “accomodationists.”

The basic argument of the article seems to be that because the “Intelligent Design Creationists” (IDCs) are correct in arguing that methodological naturalism biases science against supernatural causes, those who advocate methodological naturalism are helping the IDC by supplying “grist to their mills.”

The abstract reads:

According to a widespread philosophical opinion, the methodology of science is intrinsically naturalistic. It is simply not equipped to deal with supernatural claims, so it has no authority on questions of metaphysics. This (self-imposed) limitation of the epistemic reach of science is often used as a way to reconcile science and religion. We argue that ruling the supernatural out of science for intrinsic reasons is not only philosophically untenable, but has actually been grist to the mill of Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC),

The authors clearly think the whole “grist for the mill” saying is important, as not only is it in their title and abstract, but they repeat this saying several times in their paper:

  • IMN is actually grist to the IDC mill on several accounts,
  •  In fact, Johnson’s remarks show that IMN, which is clearly his focus of attack here, is actually grist to the IDC mill.
  •  their writings show that IMN is actually grist to their mill.

According to the dictionary, the saying is supposed to mean “something that you can use in order to help you to succeed.”  As such, I find this whole “grist for the mill” complaint to be strikingly irrational for two reasons.

First, whether or not X is “grist for the mill” is quite irrelevant.   For example, if a leading evolutionary biologist was found guilty of fraud, this would obviously become “grist for the IDC mill.”  Does that mean scientists should somehow try to excuse and defend the fraud?  Of course not.  The simple fact is that just because something is grist for someone’s mill does not mean it is untrue.  On the contrary, truth is often the best type of grist for someone’s mill.  Thus, the whole “grist for the mill” complaint comes across as little more than an appeal to the bogeyman.

Second, and more importantly, the authors provide no evidence that appeals to MN have helped the ID movement to succeed.  All they offer are a few quotes from leading members of the ID movement who make the argument that MN = built in bias.  But just because the authors admit to being very sympathetic to this argument does not mean they have provided any evidence is has led to any success in the ID movement.  In fact, the authors seems oblivious to the fact that empirical reality contradicts their claim, even though they are aware of this empirical reality.   They write:

A widespread philosophical opinion conceives of MN as an intrinsic and self-imposed limitation of science, as something that is part and parcel of the scientific enterprise by definition. According to this view (Intrinsic MN or IMN) – which is defended by people like Eugenie Scott, Michael Ruse and Robert Pennock and has been adopted in the ruling of Judge John E. Jones III in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case – science is simply not equipped to deal with the supernatural and therefore has no authority on the issue (Pennock 1999; Scott 1998; Haught 2004; Ruse 2005; Jones 2005; Miller 2009).

Since “MN as an intrinsic and self-imposed limitation of science” played a crucial role in the  Kitzmiller vs. Dover case, and Kitzmiller vs. Dover played (and still plays) the major role in thwarting the success of the ID movement, it is clear that MN has not been grist for the IDC mill, but has instead been a tornado that has flattened the IDC mill. Ironically, Dawkins himself has said that if he had been called as a witness for the Dover Trial, the ID side would have probably won.

So all that “grist for the mill” hand-wringing is a) irrelevant, b) not supported by empirical evidence, and c) is contradicted by the evidence, it seems clear to me a core argument of this paper has imploded.

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37 Responses to Grist for the mill?

  1. Bilbo says:

    Lazy hobbit reads last paragraph of paper:

    That last point shows that maybe IMN does not fail so much as a strategy, but because it is conceived as a strategy in the first place. The main motivation behind IMN seems to be a desire to reassure the faithful and retain the support of theistic evolutionists and religious liberals in the battle against creationism. Understandable as this may be from a political perspective, the purported reconcilement between science and religion on the basis of IMN happens at the expense of philosophical and scientific integrity, and is therefore misguided.

    The authors seems to admit that IMN is working politically, but that it is bad philosophy and compromises scientific integrity. So their point seems to be that IMN may not be political grist to the mill, but philosophical and scientific grist to the mill. And I tend to see their point.

  2. Michael says:

    The authors chose to build their article around a saying. According to the dictionary, the saying is supposed to mean “something that you can use in order to help you to succeed.”

    Clearly, I am right about IMN failing to be political grist to the mill. It destroyed the mill. Now if they want to make the case that IMN is philosophical and scientific grist to the mill, I will simply note (for now) this nothing more than their opinion. Everyone has one. I do too. And I don’t agree. For what is the evidence that IMN has been philosophical and scientific grist to the ID mill? Yes, it’s a handy talking point. But those function in a political sense and thus failed in that sense. So in what scientific or philosophical sense has ID shown success because of IMN?

  3. Bilbo says:

    I think ID leaders have succeeded in showing that IMN is philosophically illegitimate and that it shouldn’t have been used in the Dover decision. I think at least the majority of the philosophical community agrees with them on this point. That means philosophers, if they want to object to ID, must find some other grounds for doing so. And I think they will fail to find other philosophical grounds. Now whether or not that ever translates to success for ID in the scientific community is a different question. But if scientists look to philosophers of science (such as Pennock) to have their backs, I think they’ll find most of them are on the other side of the fence.

    Does this mean that ID would win a Dover II? I think a lot more depends upon the quality of their legal team. If it was as bad as last time, they’ll lose again. But not because there aren’t plenty of philosophical experts (philosophers from mainstream universities and colleges) willing to testify on their behalf.

  4. Michael says:

    Bilbo,

    You write, “I think ID leaders have succeeded in showing that IMN is philosophically illegitimate and that it shouldn’t have been used in the Dover decision. I think at least the majority of the philosophical community agrees with them on this point. ”

    Why do think this is the case?

    “Does this mean that ID would win a Dover II? I think a lot more depends upon the quality of their legal team.”

    Agree with you here. A good legal team would make extensive use of documented “expert opinion” that permeates the Gnu scientific community. And since the accomodationists treat the Gnu scientists with great respect (disagreeing only with their “tone”), it would be hard to dismiss such opinion as expert opinion.

  5. Bilbo says:

    I think it is the case that the majority of the philosophical community agrees that IMN shouldn’t have been used in the Dover decision, because most philosophers of science do not think there is a good line of demarcation between science and non-science. MN has been a useful tool, but good science was done before it became the rule. Philip Kitcher (certainly no friend of ID) writes about it in his book, Living with Darwin (begin on bottom of p. 11 or wait until I quote him at length on my blog, which I’ll probably do now, since you’ve inspired me). Kitcher goes on to give his own reason for rejecting ID: it’s scientifically “dead” (not useful). You yourself might have something to say about that.
    Atheist philosopher of science Bradley Monton is the most vocal critic of the Dover decision, but he’s claimed that his views are probably held by the majority of philosophers of science. I was recently at an event where two Christian philosophers who were critics of ID admitted that MN is not philosophically defensible. They both used different tactics in their lectures to try to defeat ID. Neither one of them succeeded. A good lawyer would have skewered their arguments in a minute.
    The scientific community may continue to believe that ID could never be science, but it’s becoming clearer that the philosophical community isn’t willing to back them.

  6. Crude says:

    I’m actually going to agree with Bilbo on this one. In a limited way.

    I think the “methodological naturalism” argument is wretched, and a failure. But I also would agree with what I take Mike’s view to be, about how ID is not science. I think the mistake is in thinking that, if methodological naturalism falls, then it means ID is automatically science, or that ID claims are automatically testable. I don’t think either is true, and I think the fall of MN would ultimately give rise to an even narrower scope of science – specifically, a limit that has nothing to do with naturalism, and gets rid of the entire natural/supernatural dichotomy. (Which, time and again, shows itself to be useless.)

    Keep that in mind: methodological naturalism isn’t just valued because it “keeps ID/creationism out”. It’s also viewed by some as a way to build street cred for metaphysical naturalism. If MN falls, the result wouldn’t necessarily being ID claims being viewed as testable, but it would be a body blow to the myth of the success story of naturalism in science.

  7. Michael says:

    Bilbo,

    I appreciate the fact that there are philosophers out there who agree MN is not tenable, but I still see nothing to indicate ID itself has enjoyed some type of philosophical success because of MN, which is Boudry et al.’s claim.

  8. Michael says:

    I’ll have more to say about this article starting tomorrow.

  9. physphilmusic says:

    I appreciate that there are difficulties about uncompromisingly affirming methodological naturalism in science, but I’ve always felt that there’s little room for any other alternative. For example, if we were to ask, “What caused the apple to fall to the ground”? Without MN, it seems that the answer “God caused it” would be as equally valid an explanation as “Gravity caused it”. Even if you would argue that God causes the laws of gravity to exist, that’s a statement you would deduce philosophically, not scientifically. In other words, it seems that discarding MN would make science vulnerable to God-of-the-gaps explanations being just as satisfying as “normal”, non-supernatural explanations.

  10. Crude says:

    physphilmusic,

    I disagree, and I think the problem comes from believing there are two options: MN, and chaos. I think science has a methodology. I think that methodology excludes a variety of possible answers. Methodological naturalism just happens not to be the right methodology.

  11. So what is it that excludes “God caused it” as an explanation for the falling of the apple?

  12. chunkdz says:

    Rumors are that CERN is going to announce discovery of Higgs Boson on wednesday. Badass!

  13. Crude says:

    So what is it that excludes “God caused it” as an explanation for the falling of the apple?

    A methodology that would likewise exclude “it had no cause, because effects don’t always need causes”, “a very powerful alien caused it”, “the programmer of the simulated universe we live in caused it” and more, despite all these being superficially natural explanations.

  14. physphilmusic says:

    I think that methodology excludes a variety of possible answers. Methodological naturalism just happens not to be the right methodology.”

    What would be a better methodology in your opinion? One which incorporates a possibility of “agency” being a full, complete explanation? Or something like that? I don’t see any way in which Intelligent Design-type explanations can prevent us from sliding down a slippery slope all the way to accepting that Newton would have been just as much a scientist if he had simply concluded that God is the explanation for the apple falling to the ground, instead of postulating a scientific theory.

    “A methodology that would likewise exclude “it had no cause, because effects don’t always need causes”, “a very powerful alien caused it”, “the programmer of the simulated universe we live in caused it” and more, despite all these being superficially natural explanations.”

    Even if we adopt MN for science, I would never consider any of these explanations to be a scientific one. I hardly think any competent, neutral scientist would accept them as scientific either.

  15. Crude says:

    physphilmusic,

    One which incorporates a possibility of “agency” being a full, complete explanation? Or something like that?

    Absolutely not. Plenty of entirely natural/naturalistic possibilities are in fact excluded from science. (And that’s assuming that “natural” and “supernatural” have useful, non-controversial, concrete definitions. They do not.)

    As I said, the belief seems to be that if MN isn’t the methodology, then all chaos breaks loose because nothing can be excluded.

    Even if we adopt MN for science, I would never consider any of these explanations to be a scientific one. I hardly think any competent, neutral scientist would accept them as scientific either.

    They have in the past, including some prominent ones. But I’d agree they would be making a mistake.

    That only backs up my point, and it’s why I gave those examples. What I listed were some brief examples of natural or naturalistic explanations, but they’re clearly not scientific explanations – and one of them didn’t even involve agency. (Ironically, that one – “there was an effect, but there was no cause” – is very popular in some scientific circles.)

    That’s just one more reason why methodological naturalism fails as a methodology. Alternate methodologies are a better fit, which have nothing to do with naturalism or supernaturalism, because their standards are fixed in a completely different area.

  16. “That’s just one more reason why methodological naturalism fails as a methodology. Alternate methodologies are a better fit, which have nothing to do with naturalism or supernaturalism, because their standards are fixed in a completely different area.”

    But my point is not that “alternate methodologies” are to be rejected; it’s that alternate methodologies simply don’t fall under the umbrella of natural science. Rather they would fall under the umbrella of philosophy. Arguing whether an event could be uncaused has never been part of science.

  17. Crude says:

    But my point is not that “alternate methodologies” are to be rejected; it’s that alternate methodologies simply don’t fall under the umbrella of natural science.

    And I’m saying that science has built in limitations and a methodology that works off those limitations. It’s just that ‘methodological naturalism’ is not that methodology. I am not saying that postulating uncaused events as explanations is part of science. I’m saying that’s not, and cannot be, part of science – despite such things being “natural explanations” that fit fine with “naturalism”.

    Please do not take my rejection of methodological naturalism to be an endorsement of ID-as-science, or making the claim that the supernatural (whatever that is) can be part of science. I’m not. As I keep saying, there are more options out there than “methodological naturalism” and “chaos / allowing in Gods and ultimate designer(s)”.

  18. Crude (21:24:47) :

    So what is it that excludes “God caused it” as an explanation for the falling of the apple?

    A methodology that would likewise exclude “it had no cause, because effects don’t always need causes”, “a very powerful alien caused it”, “the programmer of the simulated universe we live in caused it” and more, despite all these being superficially natural explanations.

    I don’t disagree with this. I think in this thread people may be making the mistake of thinking that methodological naturalism is supposed to be a complete definition of scientific methodology. But I don’t think that’s what its proponents have ever proposed. Testability, documentation, repeatability, peer-review, etc. are all important principles of scientific methodology. MN is just another one. IMHO MN can probably be derived from the testability principle and in that sense it’s redundant, but the supernatural and the testability of the supernatural are big enough issues on their own that it’s probably warranted to have a special terminology just for that issue. But there’s no reason it has to cover *everything* by itself.

  19. Crude says:

    I think in this thread people may be making the mistake of thinking that methodological naturalism is supposed to be a complete definition of scientific methodology.

    It’s not merely incomplete, it’s flat out incorrect. Plenty of “natural causes” are out of bounds for scientific theorizing and investigation. That alone is enough to put a stake through MN’s heart. Likewise, it’s no use talking about how maybe you can “derive” MN from the testability criterion, because being able to appropriately define testability obviates the need for any natural/supernatural distinction straightaway. Which is a good thing too, because “natural” and “supernatural” are nigh impossible to get exact, principled definitions of, which is exactly what would be needed.

    And if you don’t believe THAT, I’ve got someone who you may actually believe, Nick:

    “Even though there are thousands of us who self-identify as naturalists in the broad sense, I have not found much of use in formal philosophical literature on how to define naturalism. I feel almost alone in campaigning for a coherent and useful definition of naturalism and attempting to influence other efforts in the same direction. But all of these efforts leave a lot of ambiguity in their wake. I once conducted an informal survey of naturalists in order to determine common threads that point toward a proper definition of what we actually mean when we say we’re naturalists. And what I found was quite the contrary of what opponents of naturalism assume.”

    That would be one Richard Carrier. And for the record, the definition of naturalism and natural that HE offers up is terrible, and opens the project up to the same objections I’ve pointed out here, and worse.

  20. “It’s not merely incomplete, it’s flat out incorrect. Plenty of “natural causes” are out of bounds for scientific theorizing and investigation. That alone is enough to put a stake through MN’s heart.”

    Your argument here is wildly unconvincing. MN’s job is to exclude the supernatural. Its job is not to exclude every imaginable thing that would be a bad idea in science. Other rules have those jobs. Which is what I said before.

    You might as well claim that the rule that catching a fly ball causes an out is a bad rule since it doesn’t tell you how many bases you have to touch to score a run.

    “Which is a good thing too, because “natural” and “supernatural” are nigh impossible to get exact, principled definitions of, which is exactly what would be needed.”

    So apparently your real problem isn’t with methodological naturalism, rather it is with the entire concepts of “natural” and “supernatural”. That’s fine I suppose, but virtually everyone else in the MN debate, from creationists to atheists, seems to think they have a reasonably good idea of what it means to postulate that some event was a miracle vs. some event being a natural occurrence.

    These terms/concepts have incredibly deep roots, and trace straight back to centuries and centuries of Christian theology. It’s not like atheists invented the natural/supernatural distinction last week in order to score points against Christians.

  21. Crude says:

    Nick,

    Your argument here is wildly unconvincing.

    Not really. You’re just committed to MN for personal and political reasons. I have no delusions that I’m going to get you personally to admit MN is defunct. It would be like getting Bruce Nevins to admit Perrier’s taste wasn’t special.

    MN’s job is to exclude the supernatural. Its job is not to exclude every imaginable thing that would be a bad idea in science.

    I’m sorry, but no. It’s not. The imagined effect of MN would be to exclude the supernatural, based on a reasonable and argued for methodology. It’s not its “job”. The fact is that methodological naturalism fails – it’s not at all useful, and it does not help science or the practice of it. That’s illustrated by the fact that alternate methodologies exclude exactly what MN, as it is best imagined, would exclude — and does so without needing to ad hoc patch it up after the fact with additional exceptions.

    As I keep saying, science has a methodology, alright. It’s just that “naturalism” has nothing to do with it.

    In particular it’s a failure against intelligent design, because every inference of design could in principle be the result of a natural agent. Saying “but it catches the supernatural agents!” means dick, because it’s not as if purported “supernatural agents” were failing to be excluded by other methods and MN caught them.

    Insofar as MN is offered as the methodology, it fails – it has gaping holes. Insofar as MN excludes something from science that should be excluded, it’s superfluous – other methodologies exclude those same things, with better justification and grounding.

    So apparently your real problem isn’t with methodological naturalism, rather it is with the entire concepts of “natural” and “supernatural”.

    No, it’s not. It’s yet another problem – MN has several. I’ve outlined some of them before even touching on the supernatural/natural problem.

    That’s fine I suppose, but virtually everyone else in the MN debate, from creationists to atheists, seems to think they have a reasonably good idea of what it means to postulate that some event was a miracle vs. some event being a natural occurrence.

    No, they don’t actually. Even Richard Carrier – you know, the genius you think is extremely smart and well versed on all things philosophical? – flat out said that naturalism, and natural, is extremely vague and wildly undefined, so much so that he felt it necessary to give a definition. And his definition was horrible. You do not want to use it, trust me.

    I’ve emailed Paul DeVries asking him for his definition of natural and supernatural. You would choke if you saw his response. (By the way, he is an extremely nice, gracious, smart guy. I disagree with him about MN. But I praise his candor unreservedly.) If you look up the SEP entry on Naturalism, you’ll see it frankly admitted that the definition of these things is very difficult. So much so that they don’t even attempt to define natural, supernatural, or naturalism. You see this in the wikipedia definition of supernatural.

    It’s actually a lot like evolution and natural selection. Sure, a lot of people talk about those things freely. You yourself know, even though so many people talk about it, quite a lot of them don’t understand it.

    These terms/concepts have incredibly deep roots, and trace straight back to centuries and centuries of Christian theology.

    You realize that the “centuries and centuries of Christian theology” is riddled with arguments over what is and isn’t natural or supernatural, and what constitutes a miracle? That within those centuries you have Christian nominalists like Ockham, realists like Aquinas, occassionalists like Malebranche, and more at work?

    You do not want to refer to the history here, Nick, because the history is entirely on my side. And you don’t want to refer to the modern discourse, because it’s even more confused now than it was then.

    MN is superfluous, and flawed. I’ll put it in evolutionary terms you may like: it serves no function, and largely gets in the way. If the goal was usefulness and clarity, MN would be selected against.

  22. Insofar as MN is offered as the methodology, it fails – it has gaping holes. Insofar as MN excludes something from science that should be excluded, it’s superfluous – other methodologies exclude those same things, with better justification and grounding.

    If you’ve got such clearly better ideas, then present them. You’re an anonymous poster making claims that unspecified alternatives are better. You’re making assertions, not arguments.

    You’ll probably end up with something like testability, in which case (a) MN is just the statement that supernatural causes are problematic in science because they are typically untestable, therefore (b) MN is actually correct, although it might be formally superfluous to testability. Then we can go on to argue about (c), which would be whether or not it is superfluous as a practical matter, in a culture where a lot of people want to hijack science to support their claims of miracles, proving God, etc.

    Nothing you’ve said so far contradicts my previous paragraph, yet you are tossing out all kinds of denunciations and just generally being unhappy, all the while being unable to disagree with what I am saying.

    About the supernatural/natural distinction, you write:

    “You do not want to refer to the history here, Nick, because the history is entirely on my side. And you don’t want to refer to the modern discourse, because it’s even more confused now than it was then.”

    Sometimes people with a philosophical bent make the perfect the enemy of the good. Exact, perfect definitions of things are difficult in all kinds of fields. This could well be the case with natural/supernatural. But it’s just delusional to say that such ancient concepts which have been the basis of discussions for thousands of years are just completely wrongheaded and everyone throughout that discussion had no idea of what they were talking about. When people say that death is natural and that resurrection is supernatural, everyone knows what we mean, and its perverse to pretend that we are talking nonsense when we say such things.

  23. chunkdz says:

    Dreams are supernatural. Untestable. Metaphysical.

    Yet they exist and can be studied scientifically, even lending practical support to the pharmaceutical industry and others.

    Why is this ok within a MN framework?

  24. Crude says:

    Nick,

    If you’ve got such clearly better ideas, then present them. You’re an anonymous poster making claims that unspecified alternatives are better. You’re making assertions, not arguments.

    …Have you not been reading the very things you’re replying to? I’ve been pointing out the deficiencies with methodological naturalism. You yourself admitted that MN was insufficient and had to be papered over with additional standards – and there, just to rule ID as out of bounds of science. Let that sink in for a moment: you yourself admitted that MN is insufficient to rule ID out. At best, it takes aim at the ‘supernatural’ – and even there, the definitional problem creeps up – and you’re still grappling with that.

    You’ll probably end up with something like testability, in which case (a) MN is just the statement that supernatural causes are problematic in science because they are typically untestable, therefore (b) MN is actually correct, although it might be formally superfluous to testability. Then we can go on to argue about (c), which would be whether or not it is superfluous as a practical matter, in a culture where a lot of people want to hijack science to support their claims of miracles, proving God, etc.

    No, Nick. I pointed out that MN doesn’t even manage to rule out ID. You yourself admitted as much when you said that MN’s purpose is to rule out “the supernatural”, and that “other methodologies” would be necessary to rule out aliens, simulation programmers, events that have no cause, etc, despite those being ‘natural’ explanations. The problem is that those “other methodologies” that rule out those natural explanations? They also rule out supposed ‘supernatural’ explanations. MN is useless and broken.

    Do you know what it means when the tool you’re using to achieve a result both does not do the job it’s supposed to, and another tool not only does the job, but does it better? It means that the first tool is superfluous. It’s broken, it’s botched, it can be discarded and replaced.

    It’s worse than that, since for science to do any work, you need certain base, before-you-do-any-experiments assumptions in play about nature – about its consistency, about its accessibility to a mind. Methodological deism is a far, far better term to cover science’s methodology than methodological naturalism.

    Nothing you’ve said so far contradicts my previous paragraph,

    Heh. What you said here so far has been, “Okay, uh… so MN doesn’t rule out ID. It rules out the supernatural though, I bet! And we know what the natural and supernatural are, because religious people – who are always in agreement about things like this – gave definitions centuries ago and there was never disagreement then, or now, despite every place from the Wikipedia to the SEP to DeVries to Richard freaking Carrier admitting that there’s widespread disagreement and that the terms as they stand are near vacuous. Anyway, I admit that MN is not only superfluous and inadequate, one of my philosophical heroes admits naturalism is poorly defined, but somehow I’m going to declare MN is still right in the face of all this.”

    When you’re reduced to admitting that MN is superfluous, that MN doesn’t even rule out ID, and then fall back on the claim that what qualifies as natural, supernatural or a miracle has been clearly settled for centuries, you’re in a real bad position.

    But it’s just delusional to say that such ancient concepts which have been the basis of discussions for thousands of years are just completely wrongheaded and everyone throughout that discussion had no idea of what they were talking about.

    I didn’t say that at all, and I defy you to show me where I did. What I said was that these questions – what qualifies as natural, what qualifies as supernatural, what qualifies as a miracle – have been controversial, and revised repeatedly. Do you think I just made Malebranche, Aquinas, Ockham, Augustine, the Nominalst v Realist v Platonist arguments, etc up? Sorry, Nick – I didn’t. Aquinas is a good example: he believed that the natural world was suffused with intrinsic teleology. Formal and final causes. Here’s the key: those were natural under Aquinas’ view. Go ahead, ask what angels were considered by Aquinas for a followup.

    But you’ve actually handed me a great example. Let’s have a look at it.

    When people say that death is natural and that resurrection is supernatural, everyone knows what we mean, and its perverse to pretend that we are talking nonsense when we say such things.

    Perfect example. I’ve got some simple questions for you.

    A) Yes or no: Is resurrection possible within a simulation? (Hint: Whatever you answer to this, you’re screwed.)
    B) If someone is resurrected in a simulation, is this a supernatural event? (Hint: Whatever you answer to this, you’re screwed.)
    C) If someone is resurrected by an alien, is this a supernatural event? (Hint: See previous hints.)

  25. Bilbo says:

    I guess it depends on what we mean by “resurrection.” Do we mean resuscitation, as in Dorcas or Lazarus? Or do we mean something that has transformed the old body into a new body with properties not achievable by causes within this universe?

  26. Hey Crude, good responses so far. You’ve actually got me thinking. But this got me really itching to know –

    That’s illustrated by the fact that alternate methodologies exclude exactly what MN, as it is best imagined, would exclude — and does so without needing to ad hoc patch it up after the fact with additional exceptions.

    Can you actually elaborate further on a specific example of these alternate methodologies you speak of? Perhaps one which you tend to be leaning towards. What will it be called (methodological xxx ism), and what will its basic criterion be? From your words I’m under the impression that some philosophers of science have offered some real alternative systems, but I’m entirely ignorant of them.

  27. Crude says:

    Bilbo,

    I guess it depends on what we mean by “resurrection.” Do we mean resuscitation, as in Dorcas or Lazarus? Or do we mean something that has transformed the old body into a new body with properties not achievable by causes within this universe?

    Here’s one problem: how do you know that the transformation is ‘not achievable by causes within this universe’? If you say, “Well, our scientific knowledge is such that…”, there’s an obvious reply: our scientific knowledge can be wrong, and it’s certainly incomplete. Around a century ago, quite a lot of the things we take for granted now, technologically and scientifically, would have been considered ‘not achievable’ given by causes within this universe’. In principle, quite a lot of what we think now, can be wrong in the future. That’s supposed to be one of the great features of science, the open-ended nature.

    We can not only be wrong about the causes, we can be wrong about the universe too. In the simulation example, our universe is nested in another one via simulation. That’s supposed to be a live possibility, and a natural one. Would the programmer of a simulation be a ’cause outside the universe’? There’s a pretty obvious danger for the naturalist to saying ‘yes’ to that.

    physphilmusic,

    Thanks, I’m glad you find this interesting.

    No, I’m not pointing at philosopher X and endorsing their offered methodology – I’m pointing out that MN fails as a methodology in a number of ways. It can’t even keep ID out. Really, it can’t even keep YEC out, adjusted properly (replace ‘God’ with ‘simulator’). To be honest, I can’t even name a philosopher making the criticisms I’m pointing out – Ed Feser comes closest, but only in a thin sense, and then only in passing. But I stand by the criticisms.

    ‘Testability’ was one alternate standard/methodology that was offered up. The problem is that ‘testability’ isn’t MN: plenty, and I mean plenty, of ‘natural’/’naturalistic’ claims and possibilities are utterly untestable, so “is it natural?” is a useless guide. And that’s before all the problems with defining natural or supernatural, which even Nick seems to cop to. My anecdotal experience is that most people run with a real loose definition of these things and come up with systems like, “Science is limited to natural explanations. And how can you tell what’s natural? If it’s part of a scientific explanation, of course.”

    I also want to make a personal note: for years, I adhered to the belief that MN was essential to science. The testability aspect was one key: I’d ask myself, for example, “How would I go about testing that God created the world 6000 years ago and only made it look old? There doesn’t seem to be a way. So MN seems to work.” I can entirely see why someone would at first blush think MN is useful. But I think any detailed inspection of the idea makes it drop like a rock, and there’s a lot of reasons why a lot of people want to step around that result.

  28. Do you know what it means when the tool you’re using to achieve a result both does not do the job it’s supposed to, and another tool not only does the job, but does it better? It means that the first tool is superfluous. It’s broken, it’s botched, it can be discarded and replaced.

    Meh. You are being silly. Superfluous != broken/botched. You can see this easily with literal physical tools. The fact that an electric screwdriver makes a regular screwdriver superfluous doesn’t mean the regular screwdriver is broken.

    As for your claim that MN is “supposed” to exclude all forms of intelligence, even natural ones — where did you conjure that from? Amongst other problems with your assumption, the term MN was invented before the ID movement, the concept is of course hundreds of years older (see the article by Numbers on the history of MN), and the ID movement adopted the vague ID language precisely in order to muddy the waters with a maybe-ID-is-supernatural-maybe-its-not-game. MN addresses the issue of including the supernatural within science, it’s not supposed to be a complete philosophy of science by itself. Criticizing it as if it were is a category mistake.

    As for supernatural vs. natural, you are confusing definition and diagnosis, a classic mistake. The definitions aren’t that hard. Natural events obey universal laws that govern how the universe works. Supernatural events are supposed to be directly caused by God or something similar, and would otherwise be impossible because of said laws. So the definitions, i.e. what people have in mind when they postulate a natural or supernatural event, are not hard. Diagnosing such events is a somewhat more complicated matter, given that we humans start out with imperfect knowledge of the laws and/or the actions of God, and will never be omniscient, but right across the spectrum from atheists to creationists there still isn’t much of a problem saying that death is natural and resurrection is supernatural.

  29. Crude says:

    Nick,

    Meh. You are being silly. Superfluous != broken/botched. The fact that an electric screwdriver makes a regular screwdriver superfluous doesn’t mean the regular screwdriver is broken.

    I think calling MN broken/botched when it’s not only superfluous, but doesn’t even deal with the one thing everyone always insists it does – intelligent design – is entirely fair. I think the fact that ‘natural explanations’ include a huge, huge subset of explanations which are untestable, further illustrates that the methodology is busted.

    As for your claim that MN is “supposed” to exclude all forms of intelligence, even natural ones — where did you conjure that from?

    Where did you conjure that interpretation from? I’ve been talking about intelligent design, period. You know this. Everyone who’s reading the thread knows this. You’re pulling this claim that MN is “supposed to thwart all forms of intelligence” out of thin air. I’m using polite language here.

    Amongst other problems with your assumption, the term MN was invented before the ID movement, the concept is of course hundreds of years older (see the article by Numbers on the history of MN), and the ID movement adopted the vague ID language precisely in order to muddy the waters with a maybe-ID-is-supernatural-maybe-its-not-game.

    Nice handwave. Sorry, Nick, I actually am aware of the history of these things – history is against you on this point. I already gave direct examples in Aquinas, etc. I gave contemporary examples (I love how quiet you’re being about Carrier. So much for him being a brilliant philosopher, eh?) Your response has been to wave your arms and gesture vaguely in other directions.

    Likewise, the ID movement wasn’t vague: they specifically said that the intelligence they inferred could be some powerful natural being for all they know. And everyone insists MN is THE reason for why ID can’t be science. But you yourself have admitted that MN doesn’t do that: it needs to be ‘patched up’. Hell, you even admit MN is superfluous. Face it: MN is not only superfluous, it’s broken. It doesn’t stop ID. It doesn’t stop any number of ‘natural’ conjectures despite their being untestable. It’s a piece of intellectual crap.

    Like I said, you won’t admit to this no matter what. There’s too much riding on MN now, and you personally have too much invested in it. But I’m not trying to get you to admit anything.

    As for supernatural vs. natural, you are confusing definition and diagnosis, a classic mistake. The definitions aren’t that hard. Natural events obey universal laws that govern how the universe works. Supernatural events are supposed to be directly caused by God or something similar, and would otherwise be impossible because of said laws. So the definitions, i.e. what people have in mind when they postulate a natural or supernatural event, are not hard.

    Except for a million complicating factors. Here’s a few:

    The mormon God is co-eternal with matter/nature, and is restrained by it. He is extremely powerful, but divine acts differ in degree, not kind, from man’s acts. So, apparently, natural being.

    Zeus? Thor? Angels? Demons? Whether embodied or disembodied, they’re all entities under the restraints of natural laws, even if we now believe those laws to be incorrect. So, Zeus: failed naturalistic entity and hypothesis, apparently.

    The hypothetical programmer of our simulated universe? He’s more powerful than the wildest depiction of Zeus or Ares or the like. He’s natural too, so long as he’s subsumed under some universal laws.

    Even for the grander conceptions of God, God can be described as existing in accordance with certain laws – a famous one is God’s acts being logically consistent, or always following certain moral constraints, or, etc.

    And that’s only on one side of the examination. On the other side I can point at occassionalists like Malebranche, who perceive all of nature as, moment by moment, being decided by God. God can choose to enact certain patterns, temporarily or eternally, which we abstract to a law – but the law is only God’s whim. On the flipside I can bring up the Hume route, where universal laws are just ideas we come up with, but in reality there are no laws and causation is only apparent, not real.

    All this before I get into additional problems, like what’s meant by a physical law (is this merely descriptive? Is it a platonic entity? Is it, a la Newton, instituted by God?), that God’s acts can work in direct accordance with laws (orchestrating an event such as the parting of the Red Sea by prior arrangement of natural causes), that said laws ARE God’s direct acts, and a whole lot more.

    Here’s the quick summary: I do not doubt that people have a simple idea in mind when they talk natural and supernatural. It’s when you actually try to unpack the terms and ideas, when you actually examine the history of these terms, that things get real complicated, real fast. And I’m not even hitting you with every major problem on the horizon here. There’s a reason why the average internet person-in-a-combox may think the natural/supernatural divide is pretty easy, but the actual philosophers and theologians get into a muddle over it, and have been in this muddle for centuries. Again, it’s similar to how quite a lot of people think they get evolution, and can dismiss it in a sentence (or defend it in a sentence, for that matter.) It’s because, for all the talk, no, they actually haven’t really thought about it properly.

    Diagnosing such events is a somewhat more complicated matter, given that we humans start out with imperfect knowledge of the laws and/or the actions of God, and will never be omniscient, but right across the spectrum from atheists to creationists there still isn’t much of a problem saying that death is natural and resurrection is supernatural.

    Yet I just threw three questions your way showing the problem with pursuing that line of thought without qualification – and I can’t help but notice you kept dead silent rather than answer my questions.

    You know what? I bet you if you ask the typical person whether a car phasing through the wall of a garage is natural or supernatural, most would say supernatural – yet I can pull a quote from Carl Sagan talking about such a thing being entirely possible (but extremely unlikely) due to quantum physics.

    Hell, just to be funny about it: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Natural or supernatural movie?

  30. Where did you conjure that interpretation from? I’ve been talking about intelligent design, period. You know this. Everyone who’s reading the thread knows this. You’re pulling this claim that MN is “supposed to thwart all forms of intelligence” out of thin air. I’m using polite language here.

    But that’s your criticism of MN. You say MN is supposed to thwart all forms of intelligence, but it doesn’t, so MN is broken.

    One HUGE thing that you aren’t getting is that the ID movement’s “ID” language is essentially just code for supernatural intervention. Google intelligent design 1987.

    Most of us are operating under that definition of ID. You apparently haven’t followed these issues long enough to know this, thus you misinterpret “ID” to mean any form of intelligence, thus you criticize MN for not ruling out all forms of intelligence, which according to you (but no one else) is what MN is “supposed” to do.

    Nice handwave. Sorry, Nick, I actually am aware of the history of these things – history is against you on this point.

    You’re the one who is naive enough about history to buy the ID movement’s obfuscation about aliens etc. being possible designers. They don’t seriously think that. ID is by an large a wing of conservative evangelical apologetics.

    I already gave direct examples in Aquinas, etc. I gave contemporary examples (I love how quiet you’re being about Carrier. So much for him being a brilliant philosopher, eh?) Your response has been to wave your arms and gesture vaguely in other directions.

    This is just silly, I’ve made my position on Carrier clear, it’s neither wildly pro-Carrier nor wildly anti-Carrier. You’re just not honest enough to admit what my real position is, apparently.

    Likewise, the ID movement wasn’t vague: they specifically said that the intelligence they inferred could be some powerful natural being for all they know. And everyone insists MN is THE reason for why ID can’t be science. But you yourself have admitted that MN doesn’t do that: it needs to be ‘patched up’. Hell, you even admit MN is superfluous. Face it: MN is not only superfluous, it’s broken. It doesn’t stop ID. It doesn’t stop any number of ‘natural’ conjectures despite their being untestable. It’s a piece of intellectual crap.

    Most of this is addressed above. You’re being incredibly naive if you think the ID movement is about something other than creationism, i.e. supernatural intervention.

    But anyway, let’s get to the main issue. Do you think supernatural miracles should be included in science, or not? Should the top journal Nature and Science allow articles in which puzzling data is explained through the invocation of a miracle?

  31. by an large –> by and large
    journal –> journals

  32. Crude says:

    Nick,

    But that’s your criticism of MN. You say MN is supposed to thwart all forms of intelligence, but it doesn’t, so MN is broken.

    One of my criticisms of MN is that it’s supposed to thwart Intelligent Design – indeed, this is supposed to be THE MAJOR accomplishment of it. It doesn’t even do this. It needs to be supplemented to do so – but what it is supplemented with A) need make no reference to natural/supernatural explanations anyway, and B) rules out the supernatural in addition to the natural. Hence your admitting that MN is superfluous – you’re just hung up on admitting it’s broken.

    One HUGE thing that you aren’t getting is that the ID movement’s “ID” language is essentially just code for supernatural intervention. Google intelligent design 1987.

    And one thing you aren’t getting is that Dembski, Behe and the rest will out and out admit that the intelligence inferred by ID can always be a natural intelligence, even if they personally – on grounds unrelated to ID – believe the intelligence is God. Remember, even saying “It’s God!” doesn’t get you to “supernatural”. Again with the mormons, against with Zeus, again with the definition.

    And again, the methodologies that would eliminate “natural” intelligences from being considered in science also eliminate “supernatural” ones, without needing to define supernatural or natural. MN is superfluous (you admit this). It is broken (you essentially admit this – now you’re just trying to save it by definition.)

    Most of us are operating under that definition of ID. You apparently haven’t followed these issues long enough to know this, thus you misinterpret “ID” to mean any form of intelligence, thus you criticize MN for not ruling out all forms of intelligence, which according to you (but no one else) is what MN is “supposed” to do.

    No, I criticize MN for not being able to rule out Intelligent Design despite that being THE major thing it’s supposed to do. I criticize MN because it fails to rule out plenty of entirely ‘natural’ and ‘naturalistic’ options. I criticize it because it is not only a superfluous methodology, it is a broken one.

    You, however, seem to only accept a definition of ID that none of its main proponents accept. I know a friend of yours wrote a wikipedia article about ID and that is super. Something to be proud of, I suppose. Have you considered reading what Bill Dembski has to say about ID?

    Here’s a good quote, with emphasis: P.S. ID’s metaphysical openness about the nature of nature entails a parallel openness about the nature of the designer. Is the designer an intelligent alien, a computional simulator (a la THE MATRIX), a Platonic demiurge, a Stoic seminal reason, an impersonal telic process, …, or the infinite personal transcendent creator God of Christianity? The empirical data of nature simply can’t decide. But that’s not to say the designer is anonymous. I’m a Christian, so the designer’s identity is clear, at least to me. But even to identify the designer with the Christian God is not to say that any particular instance of design in nature is directly the work of his hands. We humans use surrogate intelligences to do work for us (e.g., computer algorithms). God could likewise use surrogate intelligences (Aristotelian final causes?) to produce the sorts of designs that ID theorists focus on (such as the bacterial flagellum).

    Apparently, I know far more about ID than you do. Have you really constructed strawmen of your opponents so long, so often, that you’ve forgotten what they actually say?

    Say it with me, Nick: Methodological Naturalism cannot rule out Intelligent Design. It cannot rule out an infinity of untestable, wild, crazy claims, both those that involve intelligence and those that do not. It is a superfluous and broken methodology.

    You’re the one who is naive enough about history to buy the ID movement’s obfuscation about aliens etc. being possible designers. They don’t seriously think that. ID is by an large a wing of conservative evangelical apologetics.

    It’s a good thing that one’s personal opinions about metaphysics, religion and theology doesn’t impact one’s independent claims and arguments a whit then, eh? Tell me, Nick: Eugenie Scott and recently Elliot Sober have written articles talking about evolution’s compatibility with divine purpose, guidance and intervention. Yet Eugenie Scott and Elliot Sober are atheists. I can find polls indicating the religious and metaphysical beliefs of the majority of evolutionary biologists – I recall they tend to be atheists and/or naturalists in the vast majority.

    Does that therefore mean that Scott and Sober are lying, and evolution is actually an atheistic theory? Think about your answer carefully. Wait, what am I saying: you completely ignore questions that you know giving an answer to would result in harm for your case. Which is why you’ll ignore this one too.

    This is just silly, I’ve made my position on Carrier clear, it’s neither wildly pro-Carrier nor wildly anti-Carrier. You’re just not honest enough to admit what my real position is, apparently.

    You think he’s a really great and smart philosopher and a pretty great historian.

    But okay, Nick, I’m game: you quoted me saying that you think Carrier is a brilliant philosopher. You say I’m not honest enough to admit your real position.

    Please, correct me and set the record straight: Is Richard Carrier brilliant? Yes or no?

    Most of this is addressed above. You’re being incredibly naive if you think the ID movement is about something other than creationism, i.e. supernatural intervention.

    There’s ID – the actual claims, arguments, and views, complete with their limitations – and then there’s the ID movement. Behe, Dembski, Meyer and the rest will explicitly concede that ID arguments are completely incapable of getting one to the ‘supernatural’, regardless of what they personally think.

    Your move is to say, “Yeah, well, okay – sure, MN can’t stop ID or the ID arguments. But, so long as I motive monger, maybe if you squint and turn your head and look at this in just the right angle, their arguments magically turn into something else..!”

    Back to Sober and Scott: They’re atheists. They offer arguments and beliefs that evolutionary science is silent on God and the supernatural in terms of guidance and guided mutations. The Atheist Alliance of America just gave Eugenie Scott the 2012 Richard Dawkins Award. So I guess from this we can conclude that evolution, particularly the evolutionary theory Scott and Sober advocate, is really an atheistic theory – right? All that stuff about ‘it doesn’t rule out the supernatural!’ is just a bluff, a feint?

    If we can’t – if your reply is, “Well, look, there’s Scott’s and Sober’s arguments, and then their own beliefs. Just because Scott and Sober are atheists doesn’t mean their arguments about evolution are atheistic, or that they’re being insincere when they say evolution is entirely compatible with that kind of guidance and direction.”, congratulations: you’re reasonable. And you just sunk your own unreasonable argument about ID.

    But anyway, let’s get to the main issue. Do you think supernatural miracles should be included in science, or not? Should the top journal Nature and Science allow articles in which puzzling data is explained through the invocation of a miracle?

    First, the main issue is that MN is incapable of ruling out ID, it’s incapable of ruling out a tremendous number of untestable ‘natural’ explanations, and other methodologies are – MN is superfluous (your own view) and broken (you pretty much admit this, but don’t want to say it.) A related, secondary issue is that ‘supernatural’ and ‘natural’ are (and everyone from Carrier to wikipedia to De Vries to the SEP to otherwise admits this) horribly defined anyway, and are of no use in these discussions.

    Second, watch carefully Nick: I’m going to do something you’ve had trouble doing this conversation. I’m going to answer a point blank question. Two of them, in fact.

    No, they should not be included in science, even granting that ‘supernatural’ and ‘natural’ and ‘miracle’ are useless terms here – nor should plenty of ‘natural’ explanations, including ‘natural’ ID of the sorts I mentioned. No, Nature and Science should not allow that, nor should they allow ‘natural’ ID, or a host of other ‘natural’ explanations. Science is far more limited than that.

    The thing is, I already answered this before in the thread:

    physphilmusic: [What would be a better methodology in your opinion?]One which incorporates a possibility of “agency” being a full, complete explanation? Or something like that?

    Crude: Absolutely not. Plenty of entirely natural/naturalistic possibilities are in fact excluded from science.

    Have you missed the whole “One of Crude’s major contentions is that MN doesn’t even rule out ID, and that’s a bad thing because he doesn’t think even ‘natural’ ID, or many other ‘natural’ claims, are part of science,” thing? Seriously, Nick?

    Again: I know better than to think I’m going to get you to admit MN is broken. It’s way, way too important to you, no matter how much I expose the arguments for it, and your defenses of it in particular, as shoddy. You’ve got way too much invested in it, and if you so much as said “Okay, fine, methodological naturalism is bunk. ID still isn’t science, but science doesn’t rely on MN”, you’d get e-Crucified, and short of a ‘miracle’, your reputation wouldn’t resurrect within 3 years, much less three days. ;)

    But really, look where you are. You can’t answer most of my questions because you know what it will do to your argument. You’ve retreated to the motive-mongering bunker, and even that doesn’t look good. At this point you’re saying “Okay, sure, MN is totally compatible with the simulation hypothesis, the Raelians, arguably Scientology and claims far, far wilder than these, both involving and not involving intelligence. So it’s compatible with ID. But maybe if I insist ID’s proponents are largely conservative Christians (why I include ‘conservative’ in there is anyone’s guess), that will save my argument somehow!”

    Sorry: it won’t. MN is bunk – superfluous and busted. There’s better methodologies for scientists to adhere to, and the ‘supernatural/natural’ distinctions don’t even need to be mentioned.

  33. Re: Carrier. I have never said he was brilliant. I don’t know if he is or not. I probably said he was smart, but heck that’s something that even his opponents (like Bart Ehrman) have said in print. Your inability to state my position on this without baiting and mischaracterization discredits your objectivity right there.

    “Again: I know better than to think I’m going to get you to admit MN is broken. It’s way, way too important to you, no matter how much I expose the arguments for it, and your defenses of it in particular, as shoddy.”

    What’s that about the fallacy of motive-mongering? Anyway, the “ID” terminology and the vague handwaving about aliens etc. wasn’t adopted in a vacuum, it appeared because of a court decision against creationism:

    Here, let me google that for you:

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=1987+intelligent+design

    And, of course, the apologetics-for-an-interventionist God continues to this day. I don’t see why we have to “play dumb” and act like we don’t know what the ID people are really promoting. Insofar as ID is really about supernatural intervention, then MN is a principle that blocks ID.

    “No, they should not be included in science, even granting that ‘supernatural’ and ‘natural’ and ‘miracle’ are useless terms here – nor should plenty of ‘natural’ explanations, including ‘natural’ ID of the sorts I mentioned. No, Nature and Science should not allow that, nor should they allow ‘natural’ ID, or a host of other ‘natural’ explanations. Science is far more limited than that.”

    Heh. You just admitted you accept MN, amongst other things. Victory is mine. Have a nice day.

  34. Crude says:

    Nick,

    Your inability to state my position on this without baiting and mischaracterization discredits your objectivity right there.

    Baiting? I said you thought he was brilliant. You strenuously objected. I said, okay, you tell me – is he brilliant or not? You apparently can’t decide whether he’s brilliant, and are upset I’d ask you such a question.

    I think anyone who has read your past praise of Carrier would regard saying you think he’s “brilliant” as pretty tame. That you’re diving for this card just shows how bad the situation you’re in right now: you’re looking for something, anything to strike me with, because you certainly can’t handle me by answering my questions or defeating my arguments.

    And it shows, Nick. It shows.

    Anyway, the “ID” terminology and the vague handwaving about aliens etc. wasn’t adopted in a vacuum, it appeared because of a court decision against creationism:

    The ID statements about the limits of ID were around well before the Dover case. But you know what? The point is moot. You can say, creationist-style, that the ID argument I’m pointing out poofed into existence a week ago, if that’s your religious faith. MN is still incapable of ruling out ID. It still is a superfluous and busted methodology. And you know it.

    I don’t see why we have to “play dumb” and act like we don’t know what the ID people are really promoting. Insofar as ID is really about supernatural intervention, then MN is a principle that blocks ID.

    Again with the motive mongering – and it STILL leaves, completely untouched, every argument I’ve presented here about the failures of MN. You won’t reply to those arguments, just like you won’t answer my questions: because you have no reply, and any direct answer you give will advance my case and cripple yours.

    And, once again: you know it.

    Heh. You just admitted you accept MN, amongst other things. Victory is mine. Have a nice day.

    Run, little boy, run – you know you lost this one, and you know my reply was an explicit rejection of MN. And for a guy who always plays to the crowd, you know that anyone who reads this thread is going to see you at your worst: backed in a corner, you bullshit, and you bullshit bad.

    You admitted MN is superfluous as a methodology. You admitted it can’t keep ID out, unless you redefine ID to mean something completely other . You won’t answer my questions. You had no reply to my arguments or criticisms, despite desperately trying to come up with some.

    Like I said from the start, I never intended to get you to admit you were wrong. You’re too invested, emotionally and otherwise. But you gave me the one thing I knew I could get out of you – stunningly obvious dishonesty, with a side-order of terrible arguments, in the face of legitimate criticisms of an idea.

    Thanks for not letting me down, Nick. ;)

  35. He who cusses is the one who is more emotional.

    And nice fail on guessing the relevant court decision. You’re still a beginner in the creation/evolution issue it looks like.

  36. Crude says:

    He who cusses is the one who is more emotional.

    Sure, Nick. Sure. ;)

    And nice fail on guessing the relevant court decision.

    Guess? Look at the entry, Nick. Edwards v Aguillard has little to do with what I’m talking about and you know it – except for very desperate motive mongering. Your reply here can be summed up like this: “MN at least keeps ID out, so long as ID is a wholly supernatural theory. If, like Behe, Dembski and the rest say, it is not – or if words like ‘supernatural’ and ‘natural’ are incapable of being defined properly – then no, MN doesn’t. And either way, MN is superfluous.” This on top of the problems with even defining natural/supernatural in the necessary ways – which you demonstrably chickened out on, with your usual ‘avoid every question that would harm your position by answering’ move.

    You’re still a beginner in the creation/evolution issue it looks like.

    A word of advice, Nick – when you do as terrible as you did in a discussion like this, calling someone a ‘beginner’ only makes you look bad. If I’m a beginner, what does it make the veteran who couldn’t handle my questions or arguments?

    Please – come back again! Leave another desperate comment to illustrate the frailty of your position. Like I said, this couldn’t have gone better. Getting you to admit the problems with MN was never on the table. Getting you to make real, real bad arguments, then cut and run when it became clear you dug yourself a hole? That was a more reasonable thing to hope for. And that’s what you gave me.

    Like I said – thank you. ;)

  37. Dan L. says:

    Look at Nick Matzke, making friends everywhere he goes. This is right on:

    [Nick Matzke is] too invested, emotionally and otherwise. But you gave me the one thing I knew I could get out of you – stunningly obvious dishonesty, with a side-order of terrible arguments, in the face of legitimate criticisms of an idea.

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