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.