Tough Questions Answered

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Must Science Exclude Intelligence as a Cause?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

According to John Heininger, the answer is “no.”  What follows is an extended quotation from John, who submitted this as a comment to our blog.  His comment makes some great points in a succinct fashion about the nature of science, especially with respect to the ruling of the Dover trial in 2005.

Methodological Naturalism: The Severing of Science.

In recent decades there have been ideologically driven efforts by versed interests to sever science and remove it from its complete and proper context; on the mistaken notion that science must be solely about naturalistic material processes, to the exclusion of all else. This assertion is neither scientific nor realistic – and is unsustainable.

Firstly, naturalistic science falls well short of ever answering ultimate questions of origins and existence. A reality acknowledged even by hard core atheists, who, none-the-less, operate on the blind faith notion that naturalism and raw materialism will increasingly explain all of reality, to the point where nothing beyond the material world is ever necessary, including God.

The noted atheistic philosopher Jean Paul Sarte however highlighted the absurdity of this aspiration, and finally conceded that this hope could never be achieved. Said Sarte, “A finite point without an infinite reference point is meaningless and absurd.” He realized that because human knowledge would forever be finite and limited humanity would never ever be in a position to have the ultimate big picture. And science has discovered that the further we push back the frontiers of scientific knowledge the more unanswered questions we have.

This is not to say that we should not continue with increased effort to discover all we can about the natural world, and always seek “firstly” to explain the mysteries of nature and the universe in purely naturalistic terms, as the empirical and scientific science method does, and does well.

Science is about the facts. It’s about discovering truths about the natural world, entirely by natural laws and processes alone (Dover). However, this is only the “initial” part of what constitutes science and the scientific method, and utterly ignores the foundational realities on which all of science ultimately rests and operates.

The foundational truth about science and the natural world is that it cannot be ultimately explained by naturalistic laws or material processes alone. Every scientist knows that all of science ultimately rests entirely on phenomena that have absolutely no naturalistic explanation.

The Dover ID trial severed science, and turned science on its head. It was decreed at Dover that natural law and material processes alone must define what is science. This turned out to be ultimately loopy logic, as the gatekeeper itself, natural law, has no naturalistic explanation, and there is nothing to suggest this will ever change (Sarte). This is rather like appointing an unidentified alien to guard planet earth from all other unidentified aliens, particularly God.

None-the-less, this loopy logic was made both the measure, and the means of defining science. It was both inadequate and defective. While matter, energy and other natural phenomena are the principle focus of science, the scientific community has absolutely no idea of what matter and energy ultimately is, or how it came into existence. This is particularly true in regard to the origin and nature of the dependent universe itself.

A contingent dying universe that is running down towards head death and maximum entropy cannot explain itself. And there is absolutely no verifiable naturalistic explanation as to how our dependent cosmos came into being, or how a dead universe devoid of energy would ever wind itself up again to the initial state of minimum entropy, a state of maximum usable energy, information, and order.

Moreover, all of science is based on material and mathematical relationships. But no scientist has even the foggiest notion of how these material and mathematical relationships came into existence. Nor is there the foggiest notion of where the cosmological constants came from, naturalistically.

Secondly, central to science is the foundational acceptance that we live in a universe that clearly manifests regularity, predictability and mathematical order. A reality every scientist in every field automatically assumes in order to be able to do science. All scientists assume we live in a universe where reason and intelligence can be applied to science, and such a universe must of necessity clearly manifest intelligence, at every level.

Therefore, to argue that the ID concept – of the universe being intelligently designed by an intelligent cause – has no place in science or science education, is to deny the foundational reality on which every field of science and western technology ultimately operates, every day, and in every way.

Methodological naturalism severs science. It’s insistence that all of science and science education must be restricted exclusively to purely naturalistic explanations is to split science in two. And specifically excludes the principle phenomena and foundational principles on which all of science is founded. And this is exactly what happened at Dover – no intelligence allowed.

The unsustainable methodological naturalism now being imposed on science and science education must be challenged. It is nothing less than indoctrinating students on philosophical naturalism and atheism, which the highest court in the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court, has ruled to be a religion, in the full sense of the word.


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Comments

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    “Must Science Exclude Intelligence as a Cause?”

    No.

    As soon as there’s any evidence for it, then they’ll consider it. As there’s not, they don’t.

  • http://timothyfarley.wordpress.com Tim Farley

    morsecode:

    What would qualitfy as “evidence” in your opinion? Many already argue for evidence of design. Bill has mentioned several of those arguments on this blog. Why do you discount the evidence already given?

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    “What would qualitfy as “evidence” in your opinion?”

    It’s not my opinion.

    I’m talking unequivocal empirical scientific evidence. Not conjecture or “this looks like design, doesn’t it?”

    I’ve seen no evidence, so I don’t know what you mean that I discount it.

  • http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/ Darrell

    morsec0de,

    So you only believe things are true if you can prove them “empirically?”

    Darrell

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Define what you mean by ‘things’.

    Certainly things that are supposed to be physical…like a god who is a man…require empirical evidence.

  • http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/ Darrell

    What is your understanding of empirical evidence?

    Based upon your requirement you need to be prepared to become a complete historical agnostic. For example, we cannot empirically prove that the Incas ever existed yet archeologists and anthropologists talk about them all the time and history books are filled with information about them. Are you prepared to denounce their existence?

    Darrell

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    ” For example, we cannot empirically prove that the Incas ever existed yet archeologists and anthropologists talk about them all the time and history books are filled with information about them.”

    Because there is both documentary and archaeological evidence of their existence. And you’re not really making any specific claims about them beyond their existence.

    I suppose they existed. The existing evidence supports their existence. And I lose nothing in supposing they do or don’t exist.

    Now, if you said the Incas existed, and they all had the ability to fly, that would be something else entirely.

  • http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/ Darrell

    “Because there is both documentary and archaeological evidence of their existence.”

    What evidence? You mean things they created? Ahhhh, but that is not empirical, which is exactly what you said was required. So I guess in your mind they never existed. You are an aINCAist.

    :-)

    Looking at things people created as proof of their existence sounds an aweful lot like what we do with God.

    “Now, if you said the Incas existed, and they all had the ability to fly, that would be something else entirely.”

    Actually history books are filled with all sorts of claims about how the Incas lived, ate, hunted, etc. . . . very specific claims as a matter of fact. What evidence do you suppose is used to support those claims? It is certainly not empirical evidence. Yet you cite empirical evidence as the only reliable evidence when it comes to proving physical things. So, again, are you prepared to denounce the Incas ever existed since you can’t prove it empirically?

    Darrell

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    “Looking at things people created as proof of their existence sounds an aweful lot like what we do with God.”

    Not really.

    We know people exist. We know, directly, that they create things not dissimilar from the things made by the Incas.

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen someone create a universe. Or a mountain. Or a tree.

    “Actually history books are filled with all sorts of claims about how the Incas lived, ate, hunted, etc. . . . very specific claims as a matter of fact.”

    If you think those claims are the equivalent of claiming that they could fly, then I have a pet leprechaun to sell you.

  • http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/ Darrell

    “We know people exist. We know, directly, that they create things not dissimilar from the things made by the Incas. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen someone create a universe. Or a mountain. Or a tree.”

    You are actually somewhat proving my point. You are deducing that the Incas existed based upon their creations – you are not using empirical evidence, which was exactly my point. While you scream out and demand empirical evidence of God you are perfectly okay not to require it in other areas. You are being horribly inconsistent in your standards.

    Nevertheless, you are correct when you say that we know from experience that it takes an intelliegent being to create things. That is exactly how we can know that a people – which in this case we have labeled the Incas – existed. This is the exact same standard that we use to demonstrate that God exists for we see His creations all around us. The fact that there is anything at all points to a necessary being existing – God.

    Darrell

  • http://irreligiously.blogspot.com Terence

    My question to you: Is there evidence to a direct supernatural cause to natural phenomena? Unless that question is answered, I don’t think there really is an alternative to methodological naturalism.

    My contention is that science should continue to be confined within natural laws and natural processes. What is supernatural is simply beyond science and cannot be understood by the scientific process.

    Science has so far produced no conclusive evidence for GOd, and it’s likely to stay that way. Science merely describes the natural processes that might have arisen via a supernatural cause.

  • tye

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen someone create a universe. Or a mountain. Or a tree.

    haha but of course you havn’t. that makes perfect sense. the real question is have you ever seen a supernatural being create a universe?

    “Actually history books are filled with all sorts of claims about how the Incas lived, ate, hunted, etc. . . . very specific claims as a matter of fact.”

    If you think those claims are the equivalent of claiming that they could fly, then I have a pet leprechaun to sell you.

    Some sat the Maya predicted the end of the world in 2012. i’d say that’s up there with flying wouldn’t you?

  • Bill Pratt

    Terence,
    I would say that the cosmological argument shows that there was a non-material, non-temporal, and non-spatial being that brought the universe into existence. This being could not be subject to the laws of nature, as there were no laws of nature before the physical universe was created.

    I think the design argument shows that there was a super-intelligent and purposeful being that designed the universe.

    Now, are these arguments conclusive? Of course not, but neither is almost any argument. The question is whether they are more likely than not to be true. I think they are. Do they demonstrate the probability of a supernatural being existing? Yes, they do.

    By the way, intelligent design proponents are not saying that science should be used to prove the existence of God. They are saying that there is empirical evidence of intelligence as the source of certain aspects of the natural world. Who or what that intelligence is, is a completely different question that scientists may or may not be able to answer. It really doesn’t matter what the source of the intelligence is for the world of science to continue making progress.

    Are you against allowing intelligence as a cause in science?

  • http://thegodreality.com John Heininger

    An atheist challenged me at a public meeting re God’s existence, stating that neither he nor anyone else had ever seen God, and therefore it was impossible to prove God’s existed.

    I asked him whether he had ever seen the people who made the shirt he had on his back. No! he said.

    Are you saying such people don’t exist? I said. Of course they do, he replied, the shirt can’t make itself.

    Exactly, I said. The shirt clearly needs a maker, and so does a fine tuned dependent universe. Do you know of anything in our dying universe that is capable of bringing itself into existence? No! he replied.

    Do you understand your problem? Just like your shirt, the universe needs a maker, because nothing in our dying dependent tailor made universe can make itself. This means that both necessitate an intelligent cause, even though you have never seen either.

  • Bill Pratt

    Thanks for the comment, John. It’s hard to be able to think on your feet like that.

  • http://www.thegodreality.com John Heininger

    I am always amused when people start asking for some experimental evidence to prove that Intelligent Design is real science. Such people seem utterly oblivious to the foundation on with all of science operates, without which all scientific investigation would cease.

    All of science is founded on the reality that scientists can apply reason and intelligence to science ONLY BECAUSE we, of necessity, live in a universe that clearly manifests intelligence, regularity and predictability. In short, the evidence for ID is the very foundation on which all of science functions. To argue otherwise is to have your scientific feet planted firmly in mid air.

  • http://spiritualmeanderings.wordpress.com/ Sentinel

    On a related note, it is some serious question begging to attempt to use scientific evidence to support a materialist worldview. Science is based on an assumption of materialism: how could its conclusions indicate otherwise?

    This is where limiting the ID conclusions to “intelligence” becomes so important. The furthest that science can take us is to explore whether there is informational input which cannot be accounted for by the Darwinian paradigm. As to any notions of a metaphysical origin of that information, we’re beyond the limits of what science can explore.

  • TC

    Terence says: July 25, 2009 at 2:21
    .
    What is supernatural is simply beyond science and cannot be understood by the scientific process.

    ————————–

    And therefore, by definition, does not exist.

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