Monday, July 2, 2007

Methodological Naturalism

Methodological Naturalism


by Sara B.
December, 2005

In coming to understand the world which surrounds and encompasses us as human beings, we have been able to test certain occurrences within the physical universe and come to understand them in their predictability and testability. In its original denotations this study is known as “science” and consists of testing hypotheses and organizing the data's results to understand regularities and laws within the physical universe. Science, in it's connotation however, has come to contain a wide range of meanings and substructures, including those things which cannot be empirically verified. Of these include studies such as theology and philosophy. Scientist claim that such studies are outside the range of empirically verifiable evidence and therefore should not be considered “science”. However many philosophers, and more prominently theologians, have tackled this argument and asserted that their worldviews are compatible with science studies and should be allowed within the frameworks of science. They reject the notion of methodological naturalism (MN) and the limitations they feel it holds.


MN's basic tenets assume that the methodology of natural science can only be based on evidence to which is empirically verifiable. The goal of science is to explain “the contingent natural phenomena strictly in forms of other contingent natural phenomena” (Moreland, Reynolds “On Creation and Evolution” 19). The scientific item in question must be empirically qualified or falsified by reference to natural law and employ measurable factors by which predictions prove to be repeatable and fruitful in guiding future research. This is not to say that one must be atheistic to do science, but rather that they cannot infer into their hypotheses an element of supernatural force. This method of conducting science must not be confused with metaphysical naturalism, which states that natural forces are all that exist. The theist then may conduct science within the methods ascribed by MN as long as he or she realizes this tool provides only partial truths (Haarsma, 78). They believe that all authentic science corresponds to God's activity in the world without embracing metaphysical naturalism. One can take scientific methodology without its naturalistic philosophies and call it “MN”. Michael Ruses' definition of MN states: “The methodological naturalist is the person who assumes that the world runs according to unbroken law; that humans can understand the world in terms of this law; and that science involves just such understanding without any reference to extra or supernatural forces like God. Whether there are such forces or beings is another matter and entirely and simply not addressed by methodological naturalism”(Ruse, 364.)


MN is not able to explain (yet) all physical events in the world and this is where theists believe this method of conducting science falls short. Because there are such phenomena (such as origins of the universe) which may never be explained by science theists believe it is scientifically okay to assume God's miraculous activity. Paul Nelson and J.M Reynolds state that “to the practicing Christian scientist the limitation of scientific descriptively to natural categories is not at all the necessary result of an atheistic worldview by simply a choice to make it possible for science to be a well-defied and reliable albeit limited activity” (Nelson, Reynolds, 262).


Opponents to MN must plead their case and supply support in order to gain credibility within the scientific world. Alvin Plantinga, possibly Americas most prominent philosopher of religion, in comparing creationism with evolution suggests that if theists adapt an attitude such that an acceptable hypothesis consists only of the laws of science, than by far the most probable of the scientific hypotheses for the make up of the universe is evolution (Plantinga, 137). The theists' use of MN leads to this conclusions for two basic reasons: 1) we don't know how it all happened and 2) it involves confusions between claim that all this “scientific acceptable hypotheses leave common ancestry as the most probable explanation” (Plantinga 138). Although it would be best if a proposition in question proves to be empirically verifiable, we cannot limit ourselves to it simply because some developed standpoint of naturalism assumes it so. Theists must choose the hypothesis which is best overall. Plantinga continues his argument in asserting that the Christian theist is not limited to that which has some scientific evidence, unlike the naturalist. We know the creation is from the Lord, and we aren't held down to a priori dogmas as to how the Lord did it (Plantinga, 138-139). Accordingly, Plantinga suggests scientists and other academics need to utilize both cultural criticism and Christian science (Plantinga, 141). Further, Plantinga even seems to question of whether natural laws even exists. Consider the following statement: “There are regularities, of course, but a regularity is not yet a law; a law is what is supposed to explain and ground a regularity. Furthermore, a law is supposed to hold with some kinds of necessity typically thought to be less stringent than broadly logical necessity, but necessity nonetheless.” (Plantinga, 146). Whether conventional science is satisfactory or not, the study should be open to something broader. Something which allows for the intervention of God, as we might call “miraculous”. To limit theistic science to theories of MN makes the theist seem as if he is moving in a path of desperation. He does, however, criticize the use of the God-of-the-Gaps theory, since he believes God is consistently involved in creation and in complete governance of it. God does not need to intervene now and then, but rather has a constant presence within it. Therefore, “...the right way for the Christian community to attain scientific understanding” includes that which we know by way of faith (Plantinga, 341).


Michael Ruse is one of Plantinga's main opposer's. His article in I.D. Creationist and it's Critics entitled “Methodological Naturalism under Attack”is a rebuttal to many of the criticisms of Plantinga. For starters, Ruse provides the following definitions to science: “...what we mean by the word 'science' in general usage is something that does not make reference to God and so forth, but which is marked by methodological naturalism. To associate evolution, for example, to an atheistic philosophy is a mistake of many theistic scientists. He believes in order for something to be truly scientific it must follow these guidelines (Ruse, 296-301 {1996}):


  1. Scientific explanation “relies exclusively on blind, undirected natural laws and naturalistic process.”

  2. “A scientific explanation may try to explain how one phenomenon follows in a right and definite way, as a result of the working of natural law.”

  3. Conclusions of science must be testable

  4. Conclusions of science must be tentative.


Ruse does not propose the there isn't presuppositions within the realms of scientific study, he does hold firm to the belief that we should do our best to work outside of our presuppositions, whether they be atheistic or theistically grounded. He states “...the scientist may or may not have very strong theological views, which one may or may not share. But inasmuch as one is going to the scientist for science, theology can and must be ruled out as irrelevant (Ruse, 366 {2001}). Plantinga does make reference to the what he believes are inadequacies of the evolutionary theory. But he obviously, as Ruse believes, has made up his mind of the issue prior to starting the investigation. Plantinga might use arguments against the atheistic scientist claiming they begin with a presupposition which effects the outcome, however he himself is guilty of the same accusation. Ruse claims that Plantinga uses a similar type of attack to MN in areas of study such as paleontology, systematics, animal instinct, and embryology. However, his argumentation against the scientific outcomes of such things are very similar to his own.


Some may claim, as does Plantinga, that not all science appears to be “repeatable” and therefore cannot be considered a “law” or “regularity”. Therefore, MN should be abandoned as an adequate form of testing hypotheses. However, in using the example of the extinction of dinosaurs, Ruse admits that it may not be a repeatable phenomena, but the various components involved in the extinction may be brought beneath regularity. Things such as the death of plants (Ruse, 368, {2001}).


In conclusion of Ruse's claims and propositions of MN we must note that he does admit that “methodological naturalism does not succeed in doing everything that it sets out to do. It may be that it never will. But to assume that there are going to be 'science stoppers', and that this should lead one to pull back from a commitment of methodological naturalism is to reveal that one has another agenda” (Ruse, 381 {2001}). Plantinga is committed to a tight and extreme literal interpretation of the Bible, and refuses to allow scientific evidences to challenge his interpretations of such things. It is made obvious that Plantinga's agenda is that of Christianity, and unfortunately this may have caused him to be ignorant to current works of science . Although proved right by empirically scientific theories Plantinga does not give these scientists and their conclusions the credit they deserve (Ruse, 382 {2001}).


Loren Haarsma in his article “Does Science Exclude God?” states that although God can and does intervene in nature, it usually works in consistent ways. However, since the factors which brought on the scientific revolution are still debated “neither atheists nor Christians should claim to 'own' the scientific method” (Haarsma, 80). People of various faiths may disagree in regards to philosophical beliefs about God and nature however by working side-by-side they can reach some consensus on scientific questions.


Haarsma, again referring to the usual consistency within nature, asks how then should the Christian conduct science outside the boundaries of MN? In regards to an unusual event, science cannot seem to either prove nor disprove the superseding of the law effected (Haarsma, 84). Science, although not able to scientifically explain a cause for some events, puts the situation into one of two categories: “unexplained” or “partially explained”. Yet, events which fall into these categories are able to change as new empirical methods are developed. However, there are some events which are known to have happened and have no scientific explanation. The Christian theist then can reasonably assume that God is able to supersede natural laws, and does in fact do so, which results in a certain event to be “unexplained” within the framework of scientific empiricalism. However, Haarsma does not believe a lack of evidence necessarily means the Christian should embrace it as a potential cause for a miracle but opens the possibility of it being so. Scientific proofs can be just as glorifying as, and more helpful theologically, as assuming God's supernatural intervention (Haarsma, 94).


In Science Held Hostage Howard Van Till, Young, and Menninga provide two main questions lying outside the realm of MN. First, although science can account for the various structures of the physical world it is not able to deal with the question of origins (Van Till “Science Held Hostage” 20). We are able to deal with events which occur within time, but natural science is unable to account for those things which concern the very existence of time. Those who adapt MN are left with no choice but to remain silent on the issue. Secondly, although natural science can investigate the behavior of physical things, it cannot answer the question concerning its governance. “The question of governance cannot be answered by describing patterns of behavior” (Van Till, “Science Held Hostage” 23). Following a MN approach to science would inhibit the naturalist from making a distinction between an autonomous or a theonomous perspective on the governance of physical behavior. Therefore the authors suggest that MN is intelligible with resident inside of the physical universe but unintelligible to describe the relationship between the physical universe and the transcendent realm (Van Till “Science Held Hostage” 25). Van Till attempts to make an appropriate balance between Christian faithfulness and intellectual integrity. He states that “neither natural science nor Christian theology can claim to deal comprehensively with all aspects of reality, and neither can claim that their theories capture the fullness of the reality they seek to represent.” (Van Till, 173 {1999}). He admits that theology is concerned with God and His relation to creation, contemporary natural science focuses on the natural world and how its developed properties and capabilities behave over time. Likewise, to force science to explain questions about divine action is exaggerating the competence of natural science. He feels, like Ruse, that for theology to assume its competence to speak on different properties and systems within formational history is an inaccuracy (Van Till, 174 {1999}). To summarize his views on MN, Van Till suggests that the theist should ask questions about the natural sciences and slowly move into questions which force a person to look outside of science for the answer. Therefore, science is not forced to assume any sort of presuppositions, neither is theology impeding on scientific facts nor pressing on the walls of it's structure.


J.P Moreland also acts as a strong critic against MN and the claims that it is necessary for a study of natural science (NS). Some claim that NS limits science to physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy and related fields. Theistic science is than considered faulty and seen as an unfruitful research program. Moreland believes that any view of science which is limited in this way should be abandoned. He seeks to undercut the advocates of this “hands-off” view of science which is proposed be individuals, such as Van Till, and wishes attack their arguments (Moreland, 42 {1994}). He believes that such claims to “science reduce physical object statements about actual or possible sense data which turn out to be private metal entities” (Moreland, 50 {1994}). If this is true, the study of the existence of matter is not a necessity for the study of natural science. Likewise, Moreland attests that NS has a number of goals for scientific theory formulation: simplicity of theories, empirical accuracy, predictive successfulness, clarity and consistency, fruitfulness in future research and avoidance of certain explanatory devices. It is not limited to one goal which insists on MN. A realist and anti-realist may have different interpretations of these goals. The realists sees these epistemic virtues as true, whereas the anti-realist believes these virtues merely show the rationality and preservation of the phenomena. If the goal of NS is stated in realist terms then anti-realist statements of science become impossible. He believes that anti realist treatments of the goals are philosophies of science (Moreland, 49 {1994}).


Moreland concludes that trying to discredit theistic science based on the demarcation of criteria is not successful. Although these claims are not primarily scientific, they act as a philosophical left-hand giving input into science of which the scientist is not qualified (Moreland, 43 {1994}). Moreland agrees that the physical universe is an important study, but admits that not all of its aspects or qualities are within the realm of scientific inquiry. Questions regarding transcendent issues (such as origins) are outside the domain of MN and NS. For thinkers such as Van Till than to abandon this fact is to deny the history of science.


What, than, does Moreland believe theology provides for the study of natural science? He believes it sheds light on scientific conclusions for the following four reasons:


  1. by providing rationally justified background beliefs against which rational assessment of a specific scientific theory can be made,

  2. yielding positive and negative result that can be tested,

  3. by recommending certain methodological rules over others, and

  4. by providing extrinsic goals of science and helping to justify intrinsic goals for science (Moreland, 56 {1994}).

In an assessment of these views proposed by creditable scholars, philosophers and scientists we can safely conclude that there consists an extreme plurality of thought about the proper methodologies as to which science must be subject to. Some believe, as we have seen that the limitations that science conducted strictly within MN. They hold that the natural scientists' assumption that theist science is fundamentally misguided is an improper attitude towards the integration of science and theology (Moreland, 42). An appropriate conclusions to their thoughts are provided in the words of John Stek:

Theology must take account of all that humanity comes to know about the world, and science must equally take account of all that we come to know about God. In fact, we cannot, without denying our being and vocation as stewards, pursue theology without brining to study all that we know about the world, nor can we, without denying our being and vocation as stewards, pursue science without brining to that study all that we know about God (Stek, 260-1).


On the other side of the spectrum are the theistic adherers to MN, namely that of Michael Ruse. His views, and those theistic scientists who follow MN as well, may be summarized in this following statement:


“...I am not prepared to accept that methodological naturalism is a philosophy opposed to theism. I see no reason at all to den the Christian access to methodological naturalism, saying that it is untenable for the Christian to insist that in our understanding of the natural world one employ only the methodologically naturalistic approach (Ruse, 383 {2001}).


The theistic scientists must decide where he or she stands on such issues, and be prepared to offer rebuttals to the opposing arguments. Ultimately, we should seek to find a balance between the two, without forsaking the goals of the other. Maybe Van Tills suggestions to science and theology contributing to the other is a proper goal to attempt to achieve. In any case, we should realize that the debate between the two will not cease until either science or God proves to be unmistakingly ungrounded and falls into utter ruin. We must wait to see which falls first.




Works Cited



Haarsma, Loren. “Does Science Exclude God? Natural Law, Chance, Miracles, and

Scientific Practice.” Perspectives on an Evolving Creation. Ed. Keith B Miller.

Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2003.

Moreland, J.P. “Theistic Science and Methodological Naturalism.” The Creation Hypothesis. Ed. J.P Moreland. Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994.

Moreland, J.P, John Mark Reynolds. Introduction. Three Views On Creation and Evolution. Ed. J.P Moreland, John Mark Reynolds. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999.

Nelson, Paul, John Mark Reynolds. “Young Earth Creationism.” Three Views on Creation and Evolution. Ed. J.P Moreland and John Mark Reynolds. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999.

Plantinga, Alvin. “When Faith and Reason Clash: Evolution and the Bible.” I.D Creationism and It's Critics. Ed. Robert T. Pennock. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.

Plantinga, Alvin. Methodological naturalism. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 49, no. 3, 1997.

Ruse, Michael. “Methodological Naturalism under Attack.” I.D. Creationism and It's Critics. Ed. Robert T. Pennock. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.

Ruse, Michael. But is it Science? The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1996.

Stek, John, “What Says the Scriptures?” in Portraits of Creation: Biblical and Scientific Perspectives on the Worlds Formation. Ed. H.J Van Till, R.E Snow, J.H Stek, and D.A Young. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1999.

Van Till, Howard. “Theistic Evolution.” Three Views on Creation and Evolution. Ed. J.P Moreland, John Mark Reynolds. Grands Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999.

Van Till, Howard, David A. Young, Clarence Menninga. Science Held Hostage: What's Wrong with Creation Science and Evolutionism. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

27 comments:

PeterS said...

This paper was composed by Sara in the December of 2005. At the time she wrote it we discussed methodological naturalism, and generally agreed on its applicability to the study of the natural world. Though neither Sara or me agree with the entire content of this paper today, it is a well-reasoned argument in favor of MN as a means for understanding nature vis-a-vis theology.

Andrew T. said...

One point of interest is that the article only mentions Christians when discussing theistic scientists, as if the Christian religion somehow has a monopoly on discussions of monotheism (even though doctrinally they're required to affirm an illogical literal "trinity"; see the latest article in my blog for a little more on that, Peter).

ha-Sheim is Perfect, and so are His natural laws. He works through them, not against. This is the position of Ramba"m, Yemenite Jews, the Netzarim, and no Christians or Muslims. For an extremely meaningful discussion, read the written debate between maker of documentaries "The Exodus Decoded" and "J*esus Family Tomb" Simcha Jacobovici (who is a rationalist Orthodox Jew) and Hershel Shanks (a secular Jew with some seriously contradictory arguments). Find it here: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/bswbOOexodus.html

Jamie G. said...

Peter,
Wow, Sara is a great writer.

I pretty much stand in the philosophical/metaphysical naturalism camp, but I understand the importance of methodological naturalism in science and the scientific method.

I have been thinking that if something ''supernatural'' could be proved to exist, then it wouldn't be supernatural anymore, it would just be natural, right? In other words, if it is observable within our universe, then it wouldn't be ''other worldly''. I haven't heard anyone tackle this subject yet.

Andrew T. said...

"I have been thinking that if something ''supernatural'' could be proved to exist, then it wouldn't be supernatural anymore, it would just be natural, right? In other words, if it is observable within our universe, then it wouldn't be ''other worldly''. I haven't heard anyone tackle this subject yet."

I do my part to tackle it routinely. Non-dimensional phenomena such as the human nephesh ("spirit") or seraph ("angel") either exist or they do not. They're not some illogical, magic *poof. All of the "ten plagues", including the tenth, can be explained by natural occurrences (triggered by the largest volcanic explosion in recorded human history) being aligned in such a precise and unlikely way that left little doubt that ha-Sheim was the Provider, precisely as Mosheh Rabeinu had foretold to Paroh, the Eil of the natural world, unlike the cheap conjurers of illusion that comprised the magicians Paroh had grown thoroughly unimpressed with. It becomes apparent why the Yisraelim bickered so much during their flight from Mitzrayim, or when conversing with Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakh; because they weren't getting the illogical magical *poofs they were hungry for, instead they were getting occurrences that required them to turn their thoughts and deeds to ha-Sheim, and they didn't. Ribi Yehoshua's resuscitation from death was not an illogical magical *poof. I could continue.

See the following website for more on this and many other subjects:

http://www.netzarim.co.il/

Tandi said...

Peter,

From Sukkah to Hookah.....
The transformation boggles the mind!

This blog is not a safe place for me. See you at Dan's maybe. I also will be developing my own blog...first post is up.

Jamie G. said...

Andrew,
Not exactly what I had in mind, but an interesting point none-the-less.

My point is that something supernatural, like angels, has not been proven to exist scientifically, that's why it is supernatural. So in all practicality, what's the point? Of course, this jumps head first into the deep end of philosophy, but I take the stance that from my perspective, if it has no scientific basis, no testable natural phenomena to explain our universe, then what is the point of such a belief in supernaturalism. And if it can be tested and verified, then it is no longer supernatural. That's my point.

I make no personal attack against you, but your argument using the ten plagues assumes too much about the truthfulness of the bible. I know you accept it as an authority, but I do not. Your argument may work well among those of like belief, but I accept them as only fairy-tales. Fairy-tales and anecdotes don't provide a sufficient amount of evidence for me.

Sorry it took too long to reply.

Andrew T. said...

"My point is that something supernatural, like angels, has not been proven to exist scientifically, that's why it is supernatural. So in all practicality, what's the point? Of course, this jumps head first into the deep end of philosophy, but I take the stance that from my perspective, if it has no scientific basis, no testable natural phenomena to explain our universe, then what is the point of such a belief in supernaturalism. And if it can be tested and verified, then it is no longer supernatural. That's my point."

Like most, you fail to make some critical distinctions. Other than ha-Sheim the immutable Creator, who exists separately from His Creation (the universe), it may be said that nothing is "supernatural" (outside the predetermined laws of mathematics and logic, implying either nonexistent magical *poofs or something not within the universe) The term that we are looking for is NON-DIMENSIONAL (that is, not physical and without matter), which includes various forces such as gravity, inertia, and to an extent light.

"I make no personal attack against you, but your argument using the ten plagues assumes too much about the truthfulness of the bible. I know you accept it as an authority, but I do not. Your argument may work well among those of like belief, but I accept them as only fairy-tales. Fairy-tales and anecdotes don't provide a sufficient amount of evidence for me."

The Torah is possibly the most translated (by hand) and simultaneously least redacted written document in existence. Different Torahs scribed all across different isolated regions of the world are completely identical to each single letter and cantillation mark; the earliest extant manuscripts or fragments of the Torah are identical to modern versions, other than a few letters and cantillation marks (not words). Even the Samaritan pseudo-Torah, an entirely separate and branch-off tradition of Torah transcribing projecting back into ancient times, is almost identical to Judaic Torah other than a few key words and places and phrases that favor the Samaritans rather than the Hebrews (the Samaritans at some point redacted in these changes, of course, intentionally to describe themselves), and to bring down the figurative house the Samaritan Torah is in paleo-Hebrew! Ditto such arguments for the rest of the Hebrew Bible, although I make particular note of Torah since it has been translated by hand in like manner for thousands of years despite being the oldest, and on which all Biblical authority hinges, comprising up to 12 distinct tribal traditions of Torah before culminating into the final, non-alterable Torah at Har Sinai. The archaeological record being uncovered by scholars continues to converge more and more closely with the Biblical record (naturally, archaeological evidence is more fragmentary the further back in time you're searching for it, but that is axiomatic).

It's up to you, Mr. Freethinking Guinn, to demonstrate that the Torah, historically and for millennia the most hand-transcribed and non-redacted written work in existence, is not a sufficiently accurate record of ancient events as experienced by the ancient Israelites, just because it is theistic. Make sure you're somehow able to disprove the records of ancient Egyptian keepers of Egyptian history in the process.

Andrew T. said...

As to the observability of non-dimensional things, that is not absolute; some forces are more difficult to observe, or can only be occasionally or rarely observed. Observation of gravity and inertia began with Newton. Dark energy and cosmic background radiation have only begun to be discovered and observed very recently (though I'm sure many had a hunch). The recent total affirmation of the existence of black holes and singularities in turn puts more focus back on discussions of fabric-esque space-time as per Einstein's proposition. And don't even get me started about String Theory.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

I am sorry to hear that you do not feel that my blog is not a safe place for you. If you are inclined to do so, please explain why you feel this way. Is it the hookah that offends you?

For those who are not aware of the nuances of hookah, the smoking of hookah is a Turkish practice that is widespread in some areas of the Middle East. The device burns a flavored tobacco (or whatever else one would like to smoke), and the user puffs on the device. The smoke is best not inhaled, and most of the users that I have encountered do not inhale it.

Last year Sara spent two and a half months in Bethlehem in Palestine. While there she encountered this practice. Smoking hookah is a practice akin to drinking coffee in this area, and it is done by Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike. Sara’s Palestinian Christian hosts set up a hookah every night. Smoking hookah is a symbol in many ways of the willingness of Arab culture to dialogue about difficult issues. Sara enjoys hookah because of the nostalgic connections that it holds for her. I enjoy it because of the liberalness of Arab culture and discourse that it represents for me. For the record, I do not inhale it—I only puff and release.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

I agree with Jamie about the historicity of the Pentateuch. I reject the plagues, the exodus, and Sinai as literal historical events.

The level of textual preservation does not demonstrate inspiration. If textual preservation proved inspiration, then the Qur’an would win over the Pentateuch as the textual variegation of the Qur’an is far less than that of the Pentateuch.

I do not see how the burden of proof is on Jamie in this case. There is no evidence outside of the Pentateuch for the occurrence of the exodus or the Sinai event. Really, the onus is on the believer in the historical veracity of these and other biblical events.

Andrew T. said...

"I agree with Jamie about the historicity of the Pentateuch. I reject the plagues, the exodus, and Sinai as literal historical events."

Why would someone selectively reject that these events in the test occurred? Because they're profound? There's no logical reason to selectively disbelieve that the largest volcanic explosion in human history triggered its natural progression of climate disaster, that the Hittites fled Egypt during Amenhotep II's tenure as supported by Egyptology, and that there was no camp set up along the way at a historical Sinai (the physical evidence, including the etched calf-idols, do not lie). If you're looking for the cutting edge, you needn't hover far past documentary producer and journalist Simcha Jacobovici, and Paqid Yirmeyahu (his docunovel "The Mirrored Sphinxes" is the primest cut in the market for discussions of the Exodues, he isn't the unscholarly type that would reject documented events simply out of whim).

"The level of textual preservation does not demonstrate inspiration. If textual preservation proved inspiration, then the Qur’an would win over the Pentateuch as the textual variegation of the Qur’an is far less than that of the Pentateuch."

The Qur'an's authority hinges on the validity of Torah. Torah sets a precedent, and states explicitly that it cannot be contradicted or displaced. Qur'an both hinges authority on Torah, and simultaneously contradicts and claims to be the correct displacement of Torah (among countless others prior). Therefore, the Qur'an is disproven outright.

PeterS said...

Hello Jamie,

The “proof” for the supernatural operating in the plane of the natural is ultimately from only one source: human ignorance. Though I know that you are aware of this language, I will just define this for any onlookers. Supernaturalism is thought to reside in the gaps of human knowledge. The logic goes as follows: If we cannot explain how an event in the phenomenal world occurs or occurred, then it must have been the work of God—a supernatural event.

Unfortunately, this type of argumentation relies on human ignorance. It is rightly called “God of the Gaps” argumentation. If human ignorance is the throne of God, then God is really an unfortunate Fellow. First, he is insecure. He holds back functional integrity from the natural world—causing the natural world to be dependent on various levels for his supernatural or miraculous intervention. Why not just gift the world with functional integrity so that we can study the abundance with which he enriched the natural world?

Second, the range of his dominion is decreasing rapidly. The ancients observed the sun rise. “The work of God!” they exclaimed as they observed the event as a daily miracle. This event and innumerable others were thought to be the dominion of divine direction. However, as the advance of human knowledge takes over the dominion of human ignorance, we have learned that natural law explains for all that is observed. Hence, the dominion of God and gods is limited and decreased with a dizzying speed. The gap-worshiping theist is hence left with less gaps and a smaller and smaller God.

So, Jamie, to your point: Evidence for the supernatural is always found from the reverberations of human ignorance. And, yes, if we have evidence for the supernatural, the person committed to methodological naturalism (as I am) will seek for an explanation in the natural world rather than give up with a plea of perpetual ignorance. So, I agree with you.

Andrew T. said...

"Unfortunately, this type of argumentation relies on human ignorance. It is rightly called “God of the Gaps” argumentation. If human ignorance is the throne of God, then God is really an unfortunate Fellow. First, he is insecure. He holds back functional integrity from the natural world—causing the natural world to be dependent on various levels for his supernatural or miraculous intervention. Why not just gift the world with functional integrity so that we can study the abundance with which he enriched the natural world?"

Exactly my argument in principal! Y--H Elohim is not a self-doubting cosmic charlatan, a conductor of *poofs, or a "g*od of the gaps"!

"Second, the range of his dominion is decreasing rapidly. The ancients observed the sun rise. “The work of God!” they exclaimed as they observed the event as a daily miracle. This event and innumerable others were thought to be the dominion of divine direction. However, as the advance of human knowledge takes over the dominion of human ignorance, we have learned that natural law explains for all that is observed. Hence, the dominion of God and gods is limited and decreased with a dizzying speed. The gap-worshiping theist is hence left with less gaps and a smaller and smaller God."

This is not correct. Ancient people were indeed right when they called events such as a sunrise the work of the Creator. However, ha-Sheim works through His immutable laws and maxims and not magical illogical abracadabras as many imagine (ancient cultures had vastly less knowledge of natural laws and maxims to link the Creator to, however). The more and more it becomes apparent how intuitive and consistent the natural universe is, the less and less reason it gives me to doubt a Perfect singularity-Creator.

"So, Jamie, to your point: Evidence for the supernatural is always found from the reverberations of human ignorance. And, yes, if we have evidence for the supernatural, the person committed to methodological naturalism (as I am) will seek for an explanation in the natural world rather than give up with a plea of perpetual ignorance. So, I agree with you."

I seek the factual actuality of things as they are.

Jamie G. said...

Peter,
Thanks for your reply. I have heard quite a bit of the ''god of the gaps'' explanation and agree whole-heartedly. You are certainly right about the correlation between human ignorance and the desire to explain the not-understood to something supernatural. I disagree with Andrew's insistence on using alternate terms. I am using the language of a typical believer. When I was a believer I didn't use words like non-dimensional.

Andrew,
Your replies are so full of logical fallacies I am not sure where to start. Honestly, I just don't have the stamina to go toe-to-toe with you. I know Peter understands me when I say to you that you should broaden your field-of-view a bit. If you are willing to only count the hits and ignore the misses in the area of textual criticism, you will never prove your point. If your god is as great as you say he is, then I'm sure he would have done a better job in transmitting his word to every person on this planet. Hell, I am sure it's within his power to visit each and every person on this planet and speak to them personally if he really cared so much as you and your bible claim.

But, hey, whatever floats your boat.

Andrew T. said...

"I disagree with Andrew's insistence on using alternate terms. I am using the language of a typical believer. When I was a believer I didn't use words like non-dimensional."

The "typical believer", if you refer to someone that claims to follow Biblical teachings, is a gentile Christian that rejects Torah, prays to a man-g*od contrary to every dictate of Torah, selectively rejects science, and uses circular, subjective reasoning in order to justify it. I'm not a lemming; I see it fit to use terminology that most accurately transmits the concept at hand, not pseudo-fallacious pop culture. I seek to reject participation in what the Tana"kh refers to as "following your own eyes and your own heart", which implies non-selective Torah according to the non-selectively Torah observant (Orthodox-Judaic) community succession of Beit-Dins, the most vibrant strain of which is Yemenite-Rambamist.

"Your replies are so full of logical fallacies I am not sure where to start."

Which logical fallacies? Pepitto principi? Bandwagoning? Begging the question? Circular reasoning? I do my utmost to make sure there is no trace of logical fallacy or circular presentation in my discussions.

"I know Peter understands me when I say to you that you should broaden your field-of-view a bit. If you are willing to only count the hits and ignore the misses in the area of textual criticism, you will never prove your point."

Broaden my field-of-view? I used to be a pagan, then a Christian, then a selective rejector of science, even an agnostic-atheist for a small while. I have some decent previous experience to compare my present-day position to. As I've found, there is ultimately one ideal answer for almost every single question.

"If your god is as great as you say he is, then I'm sure he would have done a better job in transmitting his word to every person on this planet."

This is fallacious doublespeak; atheists regularly argue that a logical singularity-Creator would give the universe functional integrity (which I affirm), then turn around and ask why the Creator ISN'T a self-doubting, *poof-engineering tinkerer of His perfect system (this I reject)? If you're not going to point out what you believe my logical fallacies are, make some attempt to account for your own. Nowadays, any information can be relayed across the world in seconds; the potential to access information is not far dishinged from the correlation between your mind, your hand, and your electronic device. To be more socio-theological, what you're asking is almost akin to asking a parent why they make their child clean their room, taking maybe an hour, when they could clean the room for the child, taking a couple minutes; the self-justified integrity of the learning process inherent to the child learning to get a grip and clean his/her own room, actually supersedes the conclusion of having the room end up tidy. Every single thing you decide to do or reject is ultimately your own free-will decision; to what do you divert your resources and hold yourself accountable to? I am at a stage personally where I seek to cease following my own "eyes and heart" and get with the correct population (only after a prolonged period of study), exclusively defined by adherence to an indefinite covenant, to which few (today's non-idolatrous and non-illogical Torah-practicing Orthodox Jews and geirim, i.e. conversion students) currently associate. (Ribi Yehoshua, read the Netzarim Reconstruction of Matityahu, also stated that the figurative "passageway into the heavenlies", is narrow indeed, at least until a time in the future when there begins a convergence of ideas)

"Hell, I am sure it's within his power to visit each and every person on this planet and speak to them personally if he really cared so much as you and your bible claim."

Response is as above.

-Andrew

Jamie G. said...

Andrew,

"Broaden my field-of-view? I used to be a pagan, then a Christian, then a selective rejector of science, even an agnostic-atheist for a small while. I have some decent previous experience to compare my present-day position to. As I've found, there is ultimately one ideal answer for almost every single question."

Like I said, whatever floats your boat, but don't expect anyone else to buy it.

"This is fallacious doublespeak; atheists regularly argue that a logical singularity-Creator would give the universe functional integrity (which I affirm), then turn around and ask why the Creator ISN'T a self-doubting, *poof-engineering tinkerer of His perfect system (this I reject)?"

That's pretty shitty of you to make such a sweeping generalization of atheists, and it's pretty shitty of you to assume that all atheists are all of the same mind. I don't argue for a logical singularity-Creator, and I don't understand your ''functional integrity''. I am only familiar with this term and its association with creationism. I am not impressed in the least with the theistic desire to apply science anachronistically. If your god had it all figured out from the beginning he did a crappy job of waiting until the modern age to reveal it to mankind after billions of people have perished without the ''saving knowledge of Christ''.

Andrew, your religious views are fringe at best in both worlds, Christian and Jewish, and your god just happened to win in the battle of popularity in the pantheon of Hebrew gods when a priesthood had to have power and control. I am sure Ashera is still hurt over the bad breakup between her and Yahweh.

"If you're not going to point out what you believe my logical fallacies are, make some attempt to account for your own. Nowadays, any information can be relayed across the world in seconds; the potential to access information is not far dishinged from the correlation between your mind, your hand, and your electronic device."

Again, if this is your god operates, what an asshole.

"To be more socio-theological, what you're asking is almost akin to asking a parent why they make their child clean their room, taking maybe an hour, when they could clean the room for the child, taking a couple minutes; the self-justified integrity of the learning process inherent to the child learning to get a grip and clean his/her own room, actually supersedes the conclusion of having the room end up tidy."

Whaaaat? What a leap in logic!


"Every single thing you decide to do or reject is ultimately your own free-will decision; to what do you divert your resources and hold yourself accountable to? I am at a stage personally where I seek to cease following my own "eyes and heart" and get with the correct population (only after a prolonged period of study), exclusively defined by adherence to an indefinite covenant, to which few (today's non-idolatrous and non-illogical Torah-practicing Orthodox Jews and geirim, i.e. conversion students) currently associate."

I am a determinist. I am of the opinion that free will is an illusion.


"(Ribi Yehoshua, read the Netzarim Reconstruction of Matityahu, also stated that the figurative "passageway into the heavenlies", is narrow indeed, at least until a time in the future when there begins a convergence of ideas)"

Wonderfully abstract ideas that have no meaning in the ''real'' world.

Again, I just don't have the energy for this, so feel free to get the last word in.

PeterS said...

Hello Jamie & Andrew:

I appreciate the time that you both have taken to post and dialogue on my blog. I must ask, though, that the party that has chosen to use blatantly foul language please refrain from doing so. I am not comfortable with such language, and I suspect that other readers might feel the same.

There is room for open dialogue, if the parties involved are willing to tolerate each other and communicate in such a way as to not alienate the other. Over generalization and other such straw-man logic does not help.

Andrew, it would be best for you not to polarize your view of humanity. Due to your association with the Netzarim, you are infected with an in-group ethic that limits you to the categories of Orthodox Judaism vs. gentile idolaters. Oddly, your in-group ethic is not based on real-life dealings with Jews or with Netzarim. Your dealings are all via electronic medium. I have had and continue to have direct dealings with Orthodox Jews.

Orthodox Judaism does boast a number of progressive individuals who are willing to embrace modern science; however, there are many bastions of bigoted benightedness that outnumber these rebel diamonds. In fact, I have encountered more superstition, anti-intellectualism, and anti-science in Orthodox Judaism than I encountered among Evangelical Christians. Though you have apparently been dissolutioned by the disproportionate anti-intellectualism and inconsistency in Christianity, it is not wise to pedestal another population as though it is the penultimate option. Judaism as a religion is open to any of the same critiques that can be levied against Christianity or Islam. Jews are fallible. Orthodox Jews are often more capable of fallacy due to conservative commitments that prevent outside information from infecting the community.

I accept Jamie's comments about the Hebrew pantheon and the marriage of Yahweh with Ashera as an historical heuristic due to the suggestive nature of the evidence. Early Israelite worship contained many more expressions than canonical Judaism would allow. Examples of such allowances include: multiple sanctuaries and alters, associations between Yahweh and Ashera, contradictory corpi of case law, and the structure of the Tabernacle/Temple with its ornaments.

Andrew T. said...

It seems as though Jamie has grown progressively more irritated with me in each post. Perhaps he's angered over the fact that there's some theist out there who finds his positions entirely satisfying cerebrally and scientifically. I don't know, and can't know. Only Jamie knows what Jamie is thinking, feeling, and doing at any time.

Peter, I am well aware of the superstition and hypocrisy that is rampant in many sectors of the Orthodox Jewish community, primarily caused by its acceptance of Zohar-Qabalah. The 'righteous remnant' within Judaic Orthodoxy that you mention is dedicated to restoring reason to Halakha. There is only one Netzarim Beit-Din, and only one Paqid of that Beit-Din, and he's in Israel; conversely, there are an unlimited number of people worldwide seeking a greater congruence with the truth. Most Netzarim, let alone students of the Netzarim, never get to meet the Paqid in person. When you rejected the Netzarim and Teimanim and went Ashkenazi (I presume, to be more easily accepted in the Jewish community), what were you expecting but superstition and closed-system bigotry?

As for Jamie's statements:

"Like I said, whatever floats your boat, but don't expect anyone else to buy it."

Jamie, please don't be snide. As this is an open-discussion blog, everyone here is free to express their position and experience, and let the reason float to the ceiling, and shouldn't be chastised for expressing that right cordially.

"That's pretty shitty of you to make such a sweeping generalization of atheists, and it's pretty shitty of you to assume that all atheists are all of the same mind. I don't argue for a logical singularity-Creator, and I don't understand your ''functional integrity''. I am only familiar with this term and its association with creationism. I am not impressed in the least with the theistic desire to apply science anachronistically. If your god had it all figured out from the beginning he did a crappy job of waiting until the modern age to reveal it to mankind after billions of people have perished without the ''saving knowledge of Christ''."

Please don't curse at me. I'm not throwing any school of ideas into a monolithic category, including atheists; I even was one for a little while. But yes, most atheists I've seen deliver both arguments simultaneously in their missives, which never makes a lot of good sense to me. When I use the term "functional integrity" (exactly as Peter used it), I refer to existence having a set of inviolable standards governing it that are logical and easily grasped. Functional integrity is m times c-squared, it's Heisenberg's principal, it's conservation of energy/matter, it's + - and neutral, it's length width depth and time-depth, it's force of attraction directly proportional to amount of matter, etc. etc. Realize that I reject Christian doctrines, including that of the "saving knowledge of Christ".

"Andrew, your religious views are fringe at best in both worlds, Christian and Jewish, and your god just happened to win in the battle of popularity in the pantheon of Hebrew gods when a priesthood had to have power and control. I am sure Ashera is still hurt over the bad breakup between her and Yahweh."

My religious position is that of Orthodox Judaism; how is that fringe? Did you jump to a conclusion, with insufficient evidence, that my position was some illegitimate mishmash of Judaism and Christianity, rather than Orthodox-Judaic? The Netzarim, which I seek to follow, are a legitimate Orthodox Jewish group, with full certification from the Israeli rabbinate, functioning exclusively in the legit Jewish community, like the 1st-century Netzarim ("Nazarene Jews").

Furthermore, you have absolutely no evidence to properly say that monotheism was used by the Israelites to give the priesthood power. The Aharonic-Levite-Kohanite priesthood served the ecclesiastical role in the society; they did not govern. Actual governance and adjudication was in the hands of the many Beit-Dins, the chief one being the Beit-Din ha-Gadol (the "Sanhedrin"), almost exclusively until the establishment of a kingdom later in ancient times. The ancient Hebrews were essentially the first (extant) group of people to propose that nature and reality is the work of a single Immutable Creator, not a multitude of finite, pseudo-human deities. Later in history, it became agreed upon that finite, human-like deities didn't and couldn't exist.

"Again, if this is your god operates, what an asshole."

Jamie, at the beginning of our discussion you gave the impression that you wanted to keep things civil and refrain from personal insults and belt-blows. But this isn't very exemplary of that. Fat chance on civility, I guess?

"Whaaaat? What a leap in logic!"

This is the part of your post that I just don't understand no matter which way I try to interpret it. What do you mean here? It seems like at this point you pretty much gave up on productive discussion, gave me some answer completely undeserving of the thought and energy put into my own, and basically "cut me off at the pass".

"I am a determinist. I am of the opinion that free will is an illusion."

An interesting position, although such discussions belong in philosophical books and theses, not blog squabbles. Principally, though, everything that you do, barring physical and mental barriers, is your personal choice.

"Wonderfully abstract ideas that have no meaning in the ''real'' world."

How is it abstract or irrelevant? Ribi Yehoshua was teaching in the example I cited that the number of people in good standing with ha-Sheim (Orthodox Jews and geirim that serve ha-Sheim out of love) will remain very small in proportion to those that are not, until a time in the future when an accelerated transmission of ideas will cause more and more people to realize how to properly serve ha-Sheim and assume good standing. Perfectly relevant in the "real world" in which today's Orthodox Jews and geirim reside.

The tenancy (desire?) you express to interpret such concepts in the most over-spiritualized, relevant-to-popular-culture, *poofiest, in fact most unlikely way possible is nothing new. The difference between anti-theists and Christians in this regard is that the former, being logical, rightly rejects such (incorrect) interpretations, while the latter, being illogical, embraces them.

Jamie G. said...

One of the websites I am really into right now is www.control-z.com. He talks about a wordless reality, and how some terms have no meaning in the real world, they are only synthetic statements. I think this relates well to this post. It's a great site, especially for those interested in philosophy. He also has an in-depth section with 25 reasons why he is no longer a Christian. Very interesting.

Andrew T. said...

Some person with the internet handle "Zarathustra" posted a comment a little while ago on both mine and Peter's blogs (Peter's other blog, btw, not this one) that advertised that website. The thing that I found strange was that the person advertising the website referred to both me and Peter as "an old friend from your past". Not that I can speak for Peter, but I don't remotely remember and "Zarathustra"s from my past.

Andrew T. said...

Another interesting theory that some scientists have proposed recently, because the the possibility of a DNA molecule forming is even more unlikely than the possibility of bacterium to man. So they propose that an alien civilization may have distributed life-spawning capsules across various planets. The inherent problem with such an explanation, to any reasonable person, is that all it does is distance the issue, essentially running away from the facts, the antithesis of science! Furthermore, if our Earth-Sun is about the most average-joe system in the universe as far as the possibility of life goes, it places the alien capsule theory in the realm of total impossibility. Our universe is only 15 billion years old according to the mainstream estimate, after all. Our Earth was able to sustain life starting about 4 billion years ago, and the variance in conditions is extremely narrow in order to sustain life (extremely similar to Earth) so no alien civilization preceding us by such a span, sorry. Even assuming incredible circumstances, naturalistically, by that school of thought, assuming their approx. 4 billion was 4 billion before our own 4 billion, that's 8 billion years, already over 1/2 the universe's lifespan, and probably far too young for any part of the universe to cool down sufficiently...and who created that alien race?

Every effect has a cause. The tennis ball flies because the racket struck it, because the player exerted his or her energy to move the racket, because a nerve signal was sent from the player's brain through to the arm, and so on.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

The idea that you mention is called pansperma. It is the idea that alien life found its way to earth. Though some propose that such life was introduced through intelligent life by intentional means, most propose that said life arrived through naturalistic means (e.g., on a meteorite. Pansperma is a possibility, but I do not see how it provides solid answers to questions of abiogenesis.

Abiogenesis is the origin of life. I believe that life evolved independently at several occasions in earth history. Most of these initial life forms were wiped out in early mass extinctions, but one or more of these abiogenesis events bequeathed resilient life.

When statistics are given for the chances of functional life to form (with coded DNA), the assumption is made that the life formed is modern life. I do not believe that early life possessed DNA. The earliest life must have possessed some form of "cell" membrane and the ability to reproduce itself. It may have simply been chains of right-handed amino acids aligned in the protective shielding of a cell membrane. From the perspective of modern humans, such early life would be seen as chemical bonding more than actual life.

Yet, my point is, it is artificial to assume that early life required fully-formed DNA. Earliest life may have been undetectable as life had a human been present. The formation of DNA came later. And all life, as we know it today, holds a common ancestor as suggested by the universal language of DNA.

Andrew T. said...

The jump from DNA to bacterium is actually larger than the jump from bacterium to human. I'm just throwing it out there, but it seems like the jump from the pseudo-cells you describe to something with actual DNA, is even larger than that.

Yes, all life is related. Even the tiny, fetus-shaped hydra has a mass of nervous tissue in its "head" area. Humanity is the only form of it with a spiritual, sapient dimension to it, though. Only our species is able to theorize, make complex planning and organize hierarchies, perceive reality based on objective inferences, apply complex methods of problem solving, possess a sense of humor, a desire and ability to understand the value of our existence and our ultimate destiny, and a complex sense of identity, and so on, distinguishing us definitively from every other form of life. Only humans possess the nephesh, in Biblical-Judaic conception.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

It is more than a little odd that you should state, "Only humans possess the nephesh, in Biblical-Judaic conception," as I was just discussing this very idea with Sara yesterday. The Hebrew Bible regularly applies the word "nephesh" to humans and to animals. In Genesis 1, the term for "living being" applied to animals is "nephesh chayah." The fact is that most English translators dismiss the term nephesh with obfuscating words when it is applied to animals; hence, the average English reader is unaware of the non-human possession of the nephesh.

Leviticus 17:11ff applies nephesh to animals no less than five times when it states, "...the life (nephesh) is in the blood." The Hebraic concept of man is monistic. In this concept, man is seen in less heterogeneity with nature than what modern Jews and Christians typical see through through platonic and dualistic specs.

I agree that mankind is "different," but I believe that it is this perception of "otherness," "transcendence," and "difference" that humans project on nature that forms the backbone to modern-day environmental evils. To some degree the Judeo-Christian scriptural tradition is to blame for this concept through the Genesis 1 teachings about human "stewartship" of the created order.

Yet, despite the monist trends in Scripture and in science, I agree that mankind is somehow different. To a degree surpassing other animals, we are self aware. We are aware of our formative history as the end result of a dysteleological selection process that begins with star dust and culminates in the emergence of hominids in the late Cenozoic. Though I believe that this process was unguided, I believe that it was somehow inevitable that self-aware life would evolve somewhere in the universe. This self-aware life may have developed in any number of arrays, but the fact is that the universe favors such a development.

Through the development of self-aware humanity the universe itself (as we are part of the universe, we are part of nature) hence became self aware. The universe is now aware of its existence and is able to apply retrospective analysis to its own development. This is profound. I believe that God granted the universe a fully functional, completely endowed, robust formative economy that is empowered for the naturalistic, providential formation of complexity including life. Through this gifting of nature with formative potential, God awaited the emergence of a being that would be capable of exerting awareness of itself, the cosmos, and of God. Hence, God gifted nature, and nature has given back to God an awareness of God and of itself.

I know from my association with the Netzarim that Yirmeyahu is not opposed to Big-Bang cosmology and evolution. I appreciate your willingness also to embrace the unity of life (e.g., DNA and possibly your hydra example). The "leap" though from non-DNA based life to DNA-based life is not really a "leap." When this progression is seen as a leap, it is obviously improbable, but when it is seen as a gradual slope of formative events that were only slightly improbable, then it is sensicle. If you are interested in reading more about this topic, I recommend Dawkin's Climbing Mount Improbable, Dennet's Darwins Dangerous Idea, Miller's Finding Darwin's God, and Dawkin's The Blind Watchmaker. These authors will provide a well-rounded theistic and atheistic address to the questions of abiogenesis and the information-accruing process of natural selection.

Andrew T. said...

I understand that the Creator does not violate his natural framework for existence. But I'm not a deist. The Creator relays truth and Instruction to sapience, which is singular and convergent, not subjective (ha-Sheim is singular).

There's several parts of the process from proto-bacteria to human that I simply do not understand, or that would seem to require an extremely improbably and specific set of circumstances; perhaps this almost beckons that an Architect configured it firmly in that direction, something that the entire evolution-I.D. debate misses! When I get through some of my biology classes in college, I think I'll be more qualified to talk about this.

Peter, I would never read anything written by Richard Dawkins. He slanders ha-Sheim and completely misrepresents the Tana"kh.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

You are wise to state that you “simply do not understand” the steps from proto-bacteria to homo sapiens sapiens. Essentially, you are not giving up to ignorance with an answer like, “God did it, no further need to question.”

All too often theists will construct arguments from personal incredulity. This argument begins with the inability of the individual to understand how something could happen by natural causes. The individual then concludes, “I cannot understand how this could happen (or this is too improbably); therefore, God must have done it.” This is the quintessential God-of-the-gaps argument.

Such argumentation is the rival of science as it stops the seeker dead in her tracks. She concludes that such an such event is the miraculous work of God, and she surrenders her ignorance to the work of the divine. I believe that God gifted creation with a functional integrity—we must therefore seek to understand the completeness of the package. We should expect to find answers to every question that science can legitimately ask by means of metholodogical naturalism.

Dawkins does wax a little too eloquent on matters that he is less than qualified to discuss. An example is Scriptural exegesis; however, he often deals well with religious psychology both at the individual and at the community levels. The books I referred to, though, do not delve into negative comments about the Scriptures. You might find them interesting reads. Dawkins, though, presses too far for atheism with his arguments. He considers functional integrity (as I have been describing it) an evidence for the non-existence of God.

I am excited about your biology coursework. What is your major?

Andrew T. said...

My Major is political science (I'm billing for right-libertarian currently), but I've got a biology course. My "Inquiry into Life" 11th Edition textbook just arrived today.