Schonborn: the scientific method and ID?

If Schonborn is correct concerning what the scientific method is, then by his definition, Intelligent Design would not be scientific.

Sometimes the way in which the scientific method excludes any divine intervention is called “methodological atheism.” I do not see it that way; this excluding is simply authentic scientific method and has nothing to do with atheism. The scientific method should not assume a watchmaker who intervenes; it searches for the explanation of mechanisms, connections, causal relations, and events.

Ahimsa << I do not see it that way; this excluding is simply authentic scientific method and has nothing to do with atheism. >>

Good a second article of Schonborn’s has been translated from German. I will probably print out and read that tonight. If you know of any more please post the links here. He is supposedly doing a whole series of catechetical lectures that will later be put into book form on the creation/evolution issue. I am currently helping edit the Wikipedia articles for Cardinal Schonborn, evolutionary creationism, and Evolution and the Roman Catholic Church and need to be kept informed. :thumbsup:

On methodological naturalism vs. metaphysical or philosophical naturalism, I like what Keith Miller (evangelical Christian geologist from Kansas State) has defined:

“Methodological naturalism is simply a recognition that scientific research proceeds by the search for chains of cause and effect and confines itself to the investigation of natural entities and forces. Science does not ‘assume away’ a creator – it is simply silent on the existence or action of God. Science restricts itself to proximate causes, and the confirmation or denial of ultimate causes is beyond its capacity. Methodological naturalism places boundaries around what science can and cannot say, or what explanations or descriptions can be accepted as part of the scientific enterprise. Science is self-limiting, and that is its strength and power as a methodology. Science pursues truth within very narrow limits. Our most profound questions about the nature of reality, while they may arise from within science, are theological or philosophical in nature and their answers lie beyond the reach of science.” (Keith Miller, Evangelical geologist from Kansas State, in “Design and Purpose Within an Evolving Creation,” page 112-113, from Darwinism Defeated?)

AND

“The doctrine of creation really says nothing about ‘How’ God creates. It does not provide a basis for a testable theory of the mechanism of change. If it does not address this issue, then it does not contribute anything to a specifically scientific description of the history of life. I believe that all of creation is designed by God and has its being in God, but that does not give me any insights into the processes by which God brought that creation into existence. That is the role of scientific investigation, a vocation in which I find great excitement and fulfillment…It is the continuing success of scientific research to resolve previous questions about the nature and history of the physical universe, and to raise new and more penetrating ones, that drives the work of individual scientists. For the theist this simply affirms that, in creating and preserving the universe, God has endowed it with contingent order and intelligibility, and given us as bearers of the divine image the capability to perceive that order.” (Keith Miller, Perspectives on an Evolving Creation [Eerdmans, 2003], pages 13,14)

I hope Schonborn does not delve too deeply into the scientific aspects of evolution, since that is where he may get himself into trouble. Others have critiqued the “methodological naturalism” of science from a philosophical standpoint. See this article Part 1 and Part 2 by Alvin Plantinga.

Phil P

OK, now pay attention, Buffalo and anyone else who has ever linked to the Kolbe Center on Creation or AnswersInGenesis in here. Schonborn has spoken, the case is closed. :smiley:

THUS SAITH CHRISTOPH CARDINAL SCHONBORN (11/13/2005)

Now there is another misunderstanding that is constantly found in the ongoing discussion, and I have to deal with it right here at the beginning. I refer to what is called “creationism.” Nowadays the belief in a creator is automatically run together with “creationism.” But in fact to believe in a creator is not the same as trying to understand the six days of creation literally, as six chronological days, and as trying to prove scientifically, with whatever means available, that the earth is 6000 years old. These attempts of certain Christians at taking the Bible absolutely literally, as if it made chronological and scientific statements – I have met defenders of this position who honestly strive to find scientific arguments for it – is called “fundamentalism.” Or more exactly, within American Protestantism this view of the Christian faith originally called itself fundamentalism. Starting from the belief that the Bible is inspired by God, so that every word in it is immediately inspired by Him, the six days of creation are taken in a strict literal way. It is understandable that in the United States many people, using not only kinds of polemics but lawsuits as well, vehemently resist the teaching of creationism in the schools…

The Catholic position on this is clear. St. Thomas says that “one should not try to defend the Christian faith with arguments that are so patently opposed to reason that the faith is made to look ridiculous.” It is simply nonsense to say that the world is only 6000 years old. To try to prove this scientifically is what St. Thomas calls provoking the irrisio infidelium, the scorn of the unbelievers. It is not right to use such false arguments and to expose the faith to the scorn of unbelievers. This should suffice on the subject of “creationism” and “fundamentalism” for the entire remainder of this catechesis…

DO YOU UNDERSTAND NOW, YOU PROMOTERS OF KOLBE CENTER, KEN HAM, AND DR. DINO? :smiley:

Phil P

Phil, I know that you merely state that others have critiqued methodological naturalism without revealing, in this post, where you stand on the matter. However, I find it out of character and a distortion of what I thought you understood about the philosophcal foundation of science that you should give a moment’s credence to Plantinga’s notorious exercise in question begging. You must see that his is no more than an overblown apology for introducing supernatural explanations for observed phenomena (including, astonishingly, earthquakes, the weather and radioactive decay, because, according to Plantinga’s deeply flawed understanding of the science, these are not subject to natural ‘laws’. It is hard to think of a phenomenon more simply bound by natural law than radioactive decay!)

The fact is that for all his obfuscation and appeal to ‘Duhemian’ and ‘Augustinian’ science, his pseudo-intellectualism is merely an apology for introducing supernatural explanations (specifically Christian supernatural explanations, which would exclude all non-Christian scientists and thus overturn a basic property of science, that its explanations transcend all religious and philosophical beliefs) into science and for rationalising an obvious prejudice against the biological Theory of Evolution. Plantinga is one of that rare breed, a sophisticated fundamentalist and I know that you have not been, for a moment, taken in by him.

Alec
evolutionpages.com

HECD << However, I find it out of character and a distortion of what I thought you understood about the philosophcal foundation of science that you should give a moment’s credence to Plantinga’s notorious exercise in question begging. >>

You may be right, I only noted that an important Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga disagrees. I go with what evangelical Christian geologist Keith Miller has written in his understanding of science that I provided above. Plantinga has another anti-naturalism argument you may not like, his “evolution of cognitive faculties” argument and that “theism is properly basic.” My buddy Apolonio Latar likes that argument, he is majoring in philosophy at Rutgers.

You can also hear Plantinga present his “Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism” from the Veritas.org site.

Don’t be upset with me, I am on your side in this whole creation-evolution-intelligent design mess we got ourselves in.

Phil P

Pontifical Academy of Sciences Academician Peter H. Raven, Professor of Biology, and a chairman of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) said, “The ID movement argues that random mutation in nature and natural selection can’t explain the diversity of life forms or their complexity and that these things may be explained only by an extra-natural intelligent agent. This is an interesting philosophical or theological concept, and some people have strong feelings about it. Unfortunately, it’s being put forth as a scientifically based alternative to the theory of biological evolution. Intelligent design theory has so far not been supported by peer-reviewed, published evidence.”

aaas.org/news/releases/2002/1106id.shtml

vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdscien/own/documents/raven.html

wild << This is an interesting philosophical or theological concept, and some people have strong feelings about it. Unfortunately, it’s being put forth as a scientifically based alternative to the theory of biological evolution. >>

That’s it, thanks for the links. For a history of the PAS, see the article in the Wikipedia I helped edit. OK we have a few creationists left in here, the demolition job is not quite done. Maybe in 2006 after 4.5 billion posts on the topic, with about 4 billion of them supporting evolution and good science, we’ll have fewer of these threads in here. :eek:

Phil P

[quote=Ahimsa]If Schonborn is correct concerning what the scientific method is, then by his definition, Intelligent Design would not be scientific.

Sometimes the way in which the scientific method excludes any divine intervention is called “methodological atheism.” I do not see it that way; this excluding is simply authentic scientific method and has nothing to do with atheism. The scientific method should not assume a watchmaker who intervenes; it searches for the explanation of mechanisms, connections, causal relations, and events.
[/quote]

This whole dust-up over ID and that remark about “methodological atheism” put one in mind of the Fundamentalist complaint that Biblical criticism is of its nature anti-supernatural.

In both instances, the reply is the same: the methods used for studying science and that for studying the Bible are not anti-supernatural: its just that they refuse to rely on the category of the supernatural simply because it is of no value as an element in methods for studying science or the Bible: It has no function to perform; and it is indeterminate, not subject to precise calculation.

If dating a piece of wood by allowing the supernatural to help were part of scientific practice, the wood might be of any age at all: tools such as carbon dating do at least allow one to have some notion of the scale of time that is likely to be involved; for they are determinate, limited, subject to some kind of verification by comparison with other criteria, subject to ascertainable control - the supernatural, is not. So it is not useful for these disciplines. So those who work in them risk looking like atheists.

[quote=PhilVaz]HECD << However, I find it out of character and a distortion of what I thought you understood about the philosophcal foundation of science that you should give a moment’s credence to Plantinga’s notorious exercise in question begging. >>

Don’t be upset with me, I am on your side in this whole creation-evolution-intelligent design mess we got ourselves in.
[/quote]

Phil, I’m not upset with you in the slightest. I was just a little surprised that you gave Plantinga the credence that you did. In fact, you do an astonishing job on this board, with consistent quality and more patience than I can ever muster. I am an unconditional fan of yours.

You may be right, I only noted that an important Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga disagrees. I go with what evangelical Christian geologist Keith Miller has written in his understanding of science that I provided above. Plantinga has another anti-naturalism argument you may not like, his “evolution of cognitive faculties” argument and that “theism is properly basic.” My buddy Apolonio Latar likes that argument, he is majoring in philosophy at Rutgers.

Too much to deal with in one post - would you like me to come back to these arguments?

Plantiga was a well respected religious philosopher. He does not have now, and never has had the wherewithal to be a decent philosopher of science. There is no doubt that he is smart and sophisticated. But like all who have taken up the baton of ID, he is losing the right to respect. He has been seduced by the cause into talking ignorantly about matters that he doesn’t understand. He is not many steps away in his current pronouncements from an unsophisticated apology for introducing ‘God did it’ into science.

I look at the triumph of the Huygens probe to Titan published this week, a triumph of collaboration between NASA and ESA, resulting from the work of hundreds of scientists, and wonder how many of these would entertain Plantinga’s recent notions of science for a second. The answer, is of course, none. Huygens found that the level of methane in Titan’s atmosophere cannot be sustained for more than a few million years without some unknown mechanism to replace it. None of the Huygens scientists is proposing, as far as I know, that the unknown mechanism results from the direct intervention of an intelligent being. They are going to search for a natural mechanism, methodologically naturalistic fools that they are.

Plantinga’s religious sensitivities are affronted, almost as much as those of a YECer, by the idea that humans are the natural result of the evolutionary process. His philosophy has become in recent years, no more than a sophisticated apology for the notion that humans have not evolved throuh the action of natural processes. That is the motivation behind his attacks on evolution and on methodological atheism, and his open support for ID. It is the foundation of his campaign to redefine science to include supernatural phemnomena. Because he has had a sterling career, is respected in the Catholic community and is sophisticated, he is dangerous.

You can also hear Plantinga present his “Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism” from the Veritas.org site.

And you can read Michael Ruse’s excellent rebuttal of Plantinga’s atttack on methodological naturalism here:
home.infostations.net/srm/16997749.pdf

He concludes as follows, a conclusion I’m sure you’ll agree with:

‘These then are the arguments that Plantinga brings against methodological naturalism and my responses to him. I would argue that he has given us no reasons to give up on methodological naturalism, or inasmuch as he has, it has been only because of his prior commitment to his own version of Christian theism. So I see no reason why one should not continue to draw the distinction between methodological and metaphysical naturalism; to argue that the two can be separated; and to argue that, whatever may be the philosophical and theological basis underlying metaphysical nat uralism, it is not the case that the methodological naturalist has to adopt the same position. This all being so then, although I am happy to accept that methodological naturalism leads today to a belief in evolution, I am not prepared to accept that methodological naturalism is a philosophy opposed to theism… Evolution and Christianity should not be separated in this way.’

Alec
evolutionpages.com

HECD << And you can read Michael Ruse’s excellent rebuttal of Plantinga’s atttack on methodological naturalism here:
home.infostations.net/srm/16997749.pdf >>

Thanks for this I’m printing it out now. Plantinga’s “evolutionary argument against naturalism” does not merely criticize methodological naturalism. There is a whole book on Plantinga’s argument published by Cornell Univ Press. Perhaps a little over my head. AMAZON.com listing.

Phil P

[quote=PhilVaz]HECD << And you can read Michael Ruse’s excellent rebuttal of Plantinga’s atttack on methodological naturalism here:
home.infostations.net/srm/16997749.pdf >>

Thanks for this I’m printing it out now. Plantinga’s “evolutionary argument against naturalism” does not merely criticize methodological naturalism. There is a whole book on Plantinga’s argument published by Cornell Univ Press. Perhaps a little over my head. AMAZON.com listing.

Phil P
[/quote]

Well, so far we have been talking about Plantinga’s attack on methodological naturalism, his desire to conflate methodological and metaphysical naturalism and his attempts to extend the definition of science to include supernatural intervention. That was the scope of the original links to Plantinga’s essays that you gave us. It is that which forms the basis of his apologetics on behalf of the Intelligent Design movement, which in turn is motivated by his distaste for the concept of common descent and, in particular, the evolution of human beings. Of course, since he is not a scientist, his arguments against evolution are painfully naive, a point that Ruse makes very clearly in his rebuttal. I think that Plantinga’s arguments against methodological naturalism as the basis of scientific endeavour don’t bear much scrutiny.

Take for example his characterisation of earthquakes, weather and radioactive decay as natural processes that do not obey natural laws: “Further, it could be, for all we know, that there are some laws, but not everything is governed by them (or wholly governed by them). Perhaps this is how it is with earthquakes, the weather, and radioactive decay. Would it follow that one couldn’t study these things scientifically?”. We need no starker demonstration of his scientific naivety, for he has confounded fundamentally different phenomena here: earthquakes and weather are classically deterministic, and obey natural laws, but appear random and unpredictable because we don’t know enough about the contributing variables to make the predictions accurately. Radioactive decay on the other hand, is objectively random, the precise moment of decay of an unstable particle is uncaused and forever unpredictable, but the behaviour of an ensemble of particles is precisely quantifiable and predictable according to very clear laws.

However, you have now introduced a different but related thing, Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism. This is a far more sophisticated argument which concludes that if we believe in naturalism (that the universe is governed by natural and discoverable laws) and we believe that human cognitive faculties are the consequence of evolutionary processes, then we cannot be sure that any belief, including those in the premise of the argument is reliable. His reason for this is that he claims that the content of a belief cannot lead, semantically, to behaviour that improves fitness and is grist for the natural selection mill. (Plantinga does not, within this argument, suggest whether there are other reliable bases for holding true beliefs, and elsewhere he admits the logical possibility that our faculties lead us to theistic beliefs that are untrue:
leaderu.com/truth/3truth06.html
but claims that a belief in God is, nevertheless, a properly basic belief, and thus insulated against all reason and evidence. It does seem to me that he is applying wildly different criteria to determing the truth of theistic and naturalistic beliefs)

There are of course, many sophisticated arguments from other philosophers that rebut Plantinga’s argument. Be that as it may, no serious scientist, even a theistic one, could accept Plantinga’s argument and remain a scientist, and common sense tells us that it is possible to believe in naturalism and the evolution of cognition and hold true beliefs - in fact our survival every time we cross the street depends on it. Ultimately Plantinga’s argument is sterile, and dare I say it, rather adolescent.

Alec
evolutionpages.com

Vaz<<That’s it, thanks for the links. For a history of the PAS, see the article in the Wikipedia I helped edit.>>

Thank you for thanking me. Ok, I’ll look at Wikipedia.

hecd <<…the triumph of the Huygens probe to Titan published this week, a triumph of collaboration between NASA and ESA, resulting from the work of hundreds of scientists …>>

The following quote was written by Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer, SETI Institute,“In short, the champions of Intelligent Design make two mistakes when they claim that the SETI enterprise is logically similar to their own: First, they assume that we are looking for messages, and judging our discovery on the basis of message content, whether understood or not. In fact, we’re on the lookout for very simple signals. That’s mostly a technical misunderstanding. But their second assumption, derived from the first, that complexity would imply intelligence, is also wrong. We seek artificiality, which is an organized and optimized signal coming from an astronomical environment from which neither it nor anything like it is either expected or observed. Very modest complexity, found out of context. This is clearly nothing like looking at DNA’s chemical makeup and deducing the work of a supernatural biochemist.”

http://www.seti.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=ktJ2J9MMIsE&b=194993&ct=1638783

What’s the philosophy of science?

[quote=wildleafblower]hecd <<…the triumph of the Huygens probe to Titan published this week, a triumph of collaboration between NASA and ESA, resulting from the work of hundreds of scientists …>>

The following quote was written by Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer, SETI Institute,“In short, the champions of Intelligent Design make two mistakes when they claim that the SETI enterprise is logically similar to their own: First, they assume that we are looking for messages, and judging our discovery on the basis of message content, whether understood or not. In fact, we’re on the lookout for very simple signals. That’s mostly a technical misunderstanding. But their second assumption, derived from the first, that complexity would imply intelligence, is also wrong. We seek artificiality, which is an organized and optimized signal coming from an astronomical environment from which neither it nor anything like it is either expected or observed. Very modest complexity, found out of context. This is clearly nothing like looking at DNA’s chemical makeup and deducing the work of a supernatural biochemist.”

http://www.seti.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=ktJ2J9MMIsE&b=194993&ct=1638783

What’s the philosophy of science?
[/quote]

I’m sorry, but I’m unclear about what you mean by the question, and unclear about how the quotation from the Senior Astronomer of SETI is relevant to my comment about Huygens.

Philosophy of science is a discipline which investigates the methods, structures, limitations, assumptions and reliability of science. It touches on how science works and what we can reliably know by using the scientific method. Does this answer the question you asked?

By the way Phil, have you had enough of our discussion about Plantinga’s work?

Alec
evolutionpages.com

[quote=hecd2]By the way Phil, have you had enough of our discussion about Plantinga’s work?

[/quote]

I don’t know about Phil, but I have!:smiley:

Peace

Tim

HECD << By the way Phil, have you had enough of our discussion about Plantinga’s work? >>

Yes, until I get the book Naturalism Defeated? which I probably will buy. I don’t fully understand Plantinga, but what I get out of him is that, according to him, our “cognitive faculties” cannot be reliable if natural evolution is true. That God is required to make sense of our reason and rationality. Seems to be similar to the “transcendental argument” for God’s existence. But this is a philosophical argument, not a scientific one.

Phil P

[quote=Orogeny]I don’t know about Phil, but I have!:smiley:

Peace

Tim
[/quote]

Oh, why? I am really interested.

Alec

[quote=PhilVaz]HECD << By the way Phil, have you had enough of our discussion about Plantinga’s work? >>

Yes, until I get the book Naturalism Defeated? which I probably will buy. I don’t fully understand Plantinga, but what I get out of him is that, according to him, our “cognitive faculties” cannot be reliable if natural evolution is true. That God is required to make sense of our reason and rationality. Seems to be similar to the “transcendental argument” for God’s existence. But this is a philosophical argument, not a scientific one.

Phil P
[/quote]

Phil, I guess it makes sense to read this book and others where Plantinga sets out his EAAN, before we discuss it. Will you come back to me when you’ve read it?

Alec
evolutionpages.com

[quote=hecd2]Oh, why? I am really interested.

Alec
[/quote]

Actually, I was just being a smart***. :wink:

Peace

Tim

[quote=PhilVaz]wild << This is an interesting philosophical or theological concept, and some people have strong feelings about it. Unfortunately, it’s being put forth as a scientifically based alternative to the theory of biological evolution. >>

That’s it, thanks for the links. For a history of the PAS, see the article in the Wikipedia I helped edit. OK we have a few creationists left in here, the demolition job is not quite done. Maybe in 2006 after 4.5 billion posts on the topic, with about 4 billion of them supporting evolution and good science, we’ll have fewer of these threads in here. :eek:

Phil P
[/quote]

The website was remarkable. Environmentally-friendly.
:thumbsup:

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