When reading Grist to the mill of ID creationism: the failed strategy of ruling the supernatural out of science by philosophical fiat, one gets the impression that Boudry et al. don’t like methodological naturalism because they’d like to make the argument that science leads to atheism. You can almost sense the irritation in the following excerpt:
The term itself was coined in 1983 by evangelical Christian and philosopher Paul deVries, who used it to make room for “other sources of truth” besides science…..Not surprisingly, IMN is typically embraced by philosophers sympathetic to religion, by theistic evolutionists and religious liberals intent on safeguarding a special epistemic domain for religious faith (Haught 2000), but also by ‘accomodationist’ atheists who simply wish to alleviate the heated opposition between religion and science (Ruse 2001; Ruse 2005). Although these atheistic defenders of IMN have brought forward interesting philosophical arguments for their position, it is apparent from their writings that their position is also inspired by the desire to “protect the religious sensibilities of theistic evolutionists” (Schafersman 1997) Just like Stephen Jay Gould’s idea of Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA) (Gould 1999), for many IMN embodies the modern modus vivendi between science and religion. However, for the creationist and the IDC proponent eager to make a scientific case for supernatural design, this polite stand-off will just not do.
This excerpt comes across as a typical complaint that we might find on some Gnu blog, complete with reference to the ‘accomodationist’ atheists and the dreaded NOMA. Yet when the authors mention that this polite stand-off will just not do for creationists, they fail to mention that this polite stand-off will also not do for Gnu atheists. In fact, given that this paper cites people like Stenger and Coyne, ask yourself why it is the authors fail to mention this anywhere.
Later in the article, when the authors are trying to rationalize their attacks on MN, they also let the kitty out of the bag by complaining that MN is “soft-pedaling science.” They explain:
Modern science has been increasingly successful in finding impersonal and blind material explanations for phenomena that were previously held to be inexplicable in anything other than supernatural terms. IDCers have rightly sensed that this enormous success of naturalism makes the idea of a supernatural Creator alarmingly implausible. By contrast, advocates of IMN have tried to soft-pedal these implications……Defenders of IMN think that the mere logical consistency of science with the God hypothesis closes the case, but they ignore the other important ways in which science can bear on the God hypothesis. Although this strategy may be well-intended as a means to protect religious sensibilities, and may look like a convenient solution in the context of the separation of Church and State in the US, it does not hold up to philosophical scrutiny and is arguably a little sanctimonious.
As we will show, IMN is actually grist to the IDC mill on several accounts, and the attempts to reconcile religion and science on its basis is doomed to fail.
It looks to me like someone badly wants to make the Gnu’s “science leads to atheism” and “religion and science are irreconcilable” arguments here. And that means we have a new way of looking at the authors’ attachment to the saying, “grist to the mill.” I showed in the last posting that the authors had no evidence MN was grist to the IDC mill and the evidence indicated otherwise. So there was no problem there. But now we can see the real problem. MN is preventing the Gnus from using science as a grist for their mill. Now it makes sense. So maybe if we can get some scientists to think that MN is grist for the IDC bogeyman mills, they can abandon it so the Gnus will be free to use science as grist for their mill.
It’s a clever bit of rhetoric, but it all falls apart once we begin exploring just how it is that science is supposed to bear on the “God hypothesis.” We’ll look at that next.