Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.


Expand Messages
  • Robert Keyes
    Sent this to somebody I debate with. (He is a Christian Scientist- the only one I will ever communicate with in my Life) He mentions existentialism so it is on
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 21, 2005
      Sent this to somebody I debate with. (He is a Christian Scientist- the only
      one I will ever communicate with in my Life)

      He mentions existentialism so it is on topic I think…



      From: Robert Keyes [mailto:rlk@...]
      Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2005 12:58 AM
      To: Dkeyes (dkeyes202537MI@...)
      Subject: NATURALISM

      This is a great Article. At the end he has a merciless attack (I think
      accurate) of Intelligent Design and Creationism. The concepts in this
      article should at least be understood by anybody discussing the topic
      whether you agree with them or Not… He does a lot of characterization of
      Concepts but does draw conclusions I am sure you disagree with. The question
      is why…

      Bob… ( you will thank me (it wont change your mind one bit of course) if you
      read this cause you will know the enemy better).



      Steven D. Schafersman

      [Second revision (May, 1997) of the paper originally presented at the
      Conference on Naturalism, Theism and the Scientific Enterprise, sponsered by
      the Department of Philosophy, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas,
      February 20-23, 1997. A further Web revision will appear soon. This paper
      will ultimately be revised and submitted for publication in a philosophical
      journal. You may link to this page, but please do not quote this unpublished
      version without permission. Thank you.]

      Verachte nur Vernunft und Wissenschaft,
      des Menschen allerhöchste Kraft,
      laß nur in Blend- und Zauberwerken
      dich von dem Lügengeist bestärken,
      so hab' ich dich schon unbedingt.

      Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust [1]


      Naturalism is, ironically, a controversial philosophy. Our modern
      civilization depends totally for its existence and future survival on the
      methods and fruits of science, naturalism is the philosophy that science
      created and that science now follows with such success, yet the great
      majority of humans (at least 90% of the U.S. population) believe in the
      antithesis of naturalism--supernaturalism. Our culture persistently indulges
      and celebrates supernaturalism, and most people, including some scientists,
      refuse to systematically understand naturalism and its consequences. This
      paper proposes to show that naturalism is essential to the success of
      scientific understanding, and it examines and criticizes the claims of
      pseudoscientists and theistic philosophers that science should employ
      supernatural explanations as part of its normal practice. Along the way I
      will speculate briefly on the reasons why such individuals are today
      advocating what would appear to be such an oxymoronic conjunction as
      supernaturalistic science (or worse, theistic science). Also, quite a bit of
      this essay is devoted to examining basic concepts in metaphysics and the
      philosophy of science, since there seems to be some confusion about them.


      Naturalism is

      "a species of philosophical monism according to which whatever exists or
      happens is natural in the sense of being susceptible to explanation through
      methods which, although paradigmatically exemplified in the natural
      sciences, are continuous from domain to domain of objects and
      events...[thus, there cannot] exist any entities or events which lie, in
      principle, beyond the scope of scientific explanation" (Danto, 1967, p.

      "the view that nature is all there is and all basic truths are truths of
      nature" (Audi, 1996, p. 372);

      "the twofold view that (1) everything is composed of natural entities--those
      studied in the sciences--whose properties determine all the properties of
      things, persons included, ...abstract entities... like possibilities...and
      mathematical objects...and (2) acceptable methods of justification and
      explanation are commensurable, in some sense, with those in science" (Post,
      1995, p. 517);

      "the view that everything is natural, i.e. that everything there is belongs
      to the world of nature, and so can be studied by the methods appropriate for
      studying that world..." (Lacey, 1995, p. 604);

      "the philosophical movement that "wishes to use the methods of science,
      evidence, and reason to understand nature and the place of human species
      within it"..."skeptical of the postulation of a transcendental realm beyond
      nature, or of the claim that nature can be understood without using the
      methods of reason and evidence"... and "the philosophical generalization of
      the methods and conclusions of the sciences" (Kurtz, 1990, p. 7, 12).

      In my own definition, a synthesis of those above, naturalism is the
      philosophy that maintains that (1) nature is all there is and whatever
      exists or happens is natural; (2) nature (the universe or cosmos) consists
      only of natural elements, that is, of spatiotemporal material
      elements--matter and energy--and non-material elements--mind, ideas, values,
      logical relationships, etc.--that are either associated with the human brain
      or exist independently of the brain and are therefore somehow immanent in
      the structure of the universe; (3) nature works by natural processes that
      follow natural laws and can, in principle, be explained and understood by
      science and philosophy; and (4) the supernatural does not exist, i.e., only
      nature is real, therefore, supernature is non-real. Naturalism is therefore
      a metaphysical philosophy opposed primarily by supernaturalism.

      Naturalism is, noncontroversally, a subset of metaphysical realism.
      Naturalism is not an ethical system, although a variety--pragmatic
      naturalism, a synthesis of pragmatism and naturalism--does develop ethical
      positions. Philosophical naturalism is also the key part of naturalistic
      humanism, without question the most important personal worldview or
      philosophy of life that exists as an alternative to the planet's many
      supernaturalistic, transcendental religions and religious philosophies.
      Humanism exists in two varieties, religious and secular, and as a dynamic,
      fulfilling, and intellectually compelling alternative to transcendental
      religion, humanism is a frequent subject of criticism by supernaturalists;
      indeed, part of the motivation for the attack on naturalism in science by
      creationists and intelligent design proponents is their explicit and
      long-founded antipathy to naturalistic humanism. Philosophical naturalism
      itself exists in two forms: (1) ontological or metaphysical naturalism and
      (2) methodological naturalism. The former is philosophical naturalism as
      described above; the latter is the adoption or assumption of philosophical
      naturalism within scientific method with or without fully accepting or
      believing it. As will be exhaustively discussed below, science is not
      metaphysical and does not depend on the ultimate truth of any metaphysics
      for its success (although science does have metaphysical implications), but
      methodological naturalism must be adopted as a strategy or working
      hypothesis for science to succeed. We may therefore be agnostic about the
      ultimate truth of naturalism, but must nevertheless adopt it and investigate
      nature as if nature is all that there is. This is methodological naturalism.

      Is naturalism true? We may think so, but we can't know for certain.
      Naturalism's truth would presumably depend on the existence of a
      supernatural realm. If there were empirical evidence for the supernatural or
      a logical reason to believe in the supernatural without such evidence, then
      naturalism would be false. If we knew for certain that the supernatural did
      not exist, then naturalism would be true. But if there is no evidence for
      the supernatural and no reason to believe in it despite the lack of evidence
      (both of which are the case), the supernatural could still possibly exist
      without our knowledge. Such a lack of evidence and reason forces one to be
      agnostic about the existence of the supernatural and thus about the ultimate
      truth of naturalism. However, because of such lack of evidence and logical
      argument, it is more reasonable to disbelieve the supernatural and believe
      that naturalism is true.

      Fortunately, whatever we think about the supernatural, we may all agree that
      a natural world exists. Naturalism could be accepted as the most reasonably
      true philosophy by examining and justifying it's statements as a scientist
      would examine and justify the statements of a scientific theory. In
      scientific terms, the truth of naturalism could be considered reliable
      knowledge, since naturalism's statements have a great amount of empirical
      evidence in support of them, it has a highly-reasoned logical structure, and
      the statements of this logical structure have been repeatedly and
      skeptically tested and corroborated. Such a truth, however, as with all such
      scientific truths, must be held skeptically and tentatively, since it is
      only reliable knowledge, not absolute, ultimate truth (whatever that is).
      This idea of demonstrating the truth of a philosophy by the same means one
      would use in the scientific method to investigate natural elements
      (examining empirical evidence, using logical reasoning, skeptically testing
      one's claims to achieve corroboration, etc.) seems reasonable to me, but it
      may not seem so to more knowledgeable philosophers. But I have no better
      justification for naturalism's truth than this scientific one.

      Even though naturalism has two primary sources in philosophy, "materialism
      in metaphysics and empiricism [and skepticism] in epistemology" (Kurtz,
      1990, p. 12), naturalism does not necessitate a commitment to materialism, a
      philosophy with which it is often confused (more on this below). Materialism
      recognizes the existence of non-material elements, but claims that they are
      unconditionally produced by or associated with material elements, that is,
      the non-material elements would not exist if the material elements did not
      exist. Certainly most philosophical naturalists today are materialists, and
      methodological materialism is probably universally adopted among scientists
      today, but idealism or dualism could be true and naturalism would still be
      viable. Some of the early logical positivists were phenomenalists
      (phenomenology is a type of idealism). Furthermore, non-material elements
      (such as the conscious mind) undoubtedly exist, and their relation to or
      association with the material world (such as the brain) is still
      problematical and a concern of both scientific investigation and
      philosophical analysis (e.g., Dennett, 1991, 1996). I reference Daniel
      Dennett, a noted philosopher, to show that the overwhelming belief among
      scientists that mind is a function of matter, the brain, is still
      legitimately the subject of philosophic analysis, even though Dennett uses
      our scientific knowledge of brain and consciousness to ultimately defend an
      entirely naturalistic and materialistic interpretation. The point is that
      although we believe that materialism is true, it is still a metaphysics like
      naturalism, and its truth or untruth does not affect the standing of
      naturalism or our belief in it veracity.

      The above authors and I would agree, therefore, that naturalism is much
      broader in scope than materialism, and it could entertain a wide diversity
      of metaphysical positions, such as idealism or materialism, monism or
      dualism, atheism, and even theism, since a natural deity or god could be
      conceived as one immanent in the universe (pantheism) or contained in the
      self. Idealism, dualism, and theism are therefore legitimate stances within
      naturalism but, for a number of reasons, are not very popular among
      naturalists. Individuals who would normally believe such things are usually
      already supernaturalists, and so don't care about these tiny subcategories
      of naturalism. Metaphysics in this context is important, and I reject the
      positivist idea that metaphysics is cognitively meaningless and that science
      alone provides genuine knowledge, since I believe that science itself is
      based on a number of highly-developed philosophies (epistemologies), as
      explained below.

      Supernaturalism, the antithesis of naturalism, includes belief in
      supernatural beings (gods, goddesses, lesser deities, angels, devils,
      fairies, trolls, leprechauns, ghosts, wood nymphs, etc.), their activities
      (miracles, raising from the dead, faith healing, virgin birth, life after
      death, communication between living and dead, communication between human
      and god, ritual symbolic cannibalism of the avatar, etc.), their realms
      (heaven, hell, spirit worlds, etc.), and their concerns (transcendence,
      sanctification, salvation, sin, immortal souls, spirits, etc.)--in short, as
      many would claim, belief in superstition from the highest to the lowest.
      Since everyone agrees that the natural exists, it is the responsibility of
      the supernaturalists to demonstrate the existence of the supernatural. This
      they have not done.

      Although some may disagree with me about this, it is obvious that there is
      no empirical evidence for supernatural elements and no reason to believe in
      them despite the lack of evidence, but their overwhelming popularity makes
      naturalism a distinctly minority philosophy among popular philosophies
      today, especially in the United States. Belief by wishful, hopeful, and
      emotional faith, and by authoritarian admonition, are the most common ways
      belief in the supernatural is promoted and justified, but that is not our
      issue here. We are concerned with the relationship of science and
      naturalism, whether science assumes or necessitates methodological or
      ontological naturalism or both, and whether supernaturalism can or should be
      a part of science.

      What is Science?

      Science is a truth-seeking, problem-solving, method of inquiry. The
      reliability of its scientific method depends on the correctness of three
      ancient philosophies that science uses: empiricism, rationalism, and
      skepticism. This strange combination of epistemologies--for historically
      they were at odds with each other, and in extreme form remain so today--was
      used and molded by scientists through the centuries to construct modern
      science. Empirical evidence is used to propose hypotheses which logically
      explain natural causes by predicting natural effects; because explanations
      might be fallacious, hypotheses are skeptically tested by additional
      empirical observations or experiments to see if their predictions are
      fulfilled; if so, the corroborated hypotheses are used to construct logical
      theories that explain the universe. This one sentence describes a method so
      powerful that it has profoundly and irrevocably changed human society,
      culture, and philosophy.

      I can't defend the truth of these three philosophies here, and perhaps I
      don't need to, but I do acknowledge that these three epistemologies are
      logically and methodologically prior to science, although I believe that
      scientists (including "natural philosophers") were the individuals first
      responsible for rigorously practicing them, demonstrating their truth, and
      in some cases (e.g., Aristotle), first analyzing and explaining them. Today
      these three epistemologies are taught in schools as "critical thinking," a
      methodology indistinguishable, in my opinion, from scientific thinking. This
      point cannot be made too strongly. Paul Kurtz (1990, p. 7) states, for
      example, that "Science is not interpreted as an esoteric method of inquiry,
      but is continuous with standards of critical intelligence used in common,
      ordinary life." I have long told students--as a justification for university
      science requirements--that when they learn scientific thinking in their
      science courses, they will in addition learn critical thinking, the best and
      most reliable type of thinking, that will enable them to successfully solve
      problems and answer questions throughout their lives. I am not aware how
      grateful they are for this justification, but it's convincing to me.

      Science uses critical thinking to discover new and reliable knowledge about
      nature, but critical thinking can be used in all other aspects of life as
      well. Critical thinking has been epitomized as "the scientific method" in
      science, simply because scientists must practice it to be successful, so it
      is in science that critical thinking finds its most thorough-going and
      rigorous praxis. But critical thinking is also used in business, government,
      jurisprudence, the arts, the humanities, the social sciences, and especially
      philosophy. Natural science has no monopoly on critical inquiry or reliable
      knowledge, or on the empiricism, rationalism, and skepticism that underlie
      them. Science is undoubtedly the most visible and systematic practitioner of
      critical inquiry, since its use in the other disciplines is less pervasive
      (although highly valued by some in the social sciences and the humanities).
      Indeed, non-critical types of thinking--authoritarian, dogmatic, canonical,
      emotional, wishful, hopeful, subjective, biased, persuasive thinking--are
      often just as popular and successful as critical thinking in non-science
      disciplines, so critical inquiry is sometimes not valued as highly as it is
      in science. My major point, however, is that critical inquiry is humanity's
      surest path to reliable knowledge in all areas of inquiry, not just in

      The principles of critical inquiry or scientific thinking are
      straightforward: when dealing with the natural world--that is, the
      universe--truth claims require empirical evidence and logical arguments to
      support and legitimatize them. You now have hypothetical knowledge, but that
      is not good enough, because you are still skeptical of the results. So you
      test your hypotheses, and when corroborated, you now possess reliable
      knowledge, which is as close as humans can get to the truth in a natural
      world, but it is close enough. Later in this paper, I will demonstrate that
      naturalism is a methodological necessity in the practice of science by
      scientists, and an ontological necessity for understanding and justifying
      science by scientists. But I can discuss the general justification for the
      essentiality of naturalism in science now. The alternative to naturalism is
      supernaturalism, and unless naturalism is true and supernaturalism false,
      empiricism--comprehending reality solely by sensory experience--is not
      sufficient to comprehend reality; rationalism--the use of logic in
      reasoning--is not sufficient to understand reality; and skepticism--the
      questioning and evaluation of one's knowledge system and beliefs--is not
      sufficient to arrive at reliable knowledge of reality. Simply put,
      empiricism, rationalism, and skepticism--the foundations of science--will
      not be epistemologically reliable unless naturalism is either true or
      assumed to be true, since by not doing so, part of reality will remain
      unexplained and unexplainable.

      Naturalism implies a unity and lawfulness in nature, a condition in which
      nature's reality can be objectively understood, without which the pursuit of
      scientific knowledge would be useless and uncertain. If supernaturalism were
      true, miracles would allow unique, non-repeating, and non-controllable
      events to cause natural effects that would be incomprehensible using
      empirical methods of investigation. Omnipotent deities could act arbitrarily
      and irrationally without compunction and violate natural laws for no
      humanly-comprehensible reason. No acceptable criteria exist or can exist for
      establishing the validity of supernatural events, so any example of
      supernaturalism is meaningless as a form of knowledge. Supernaturalism,
      therefore, makes a mockery of skepticism, since in a supernatural world
      everything imaginable is possible. If everything imaginable is possible,
      then skepticism is unnecessary and meaningless. The meaninglessness of
      skepticism is possibly the greatest objection of naturalists to
      supernaturalism, because a supernatural world allows everything and anything
      to be possible, so all beliefs about things are therefore permissible and
      thus all actions that follow from those beliefs are permissible and morally
      defensible (postmodernism would actually be true in a world where the
      supernatural was real!). Even a casual acquaintance with human history
      reveals the magnitude of human suffering brought about by such
      supernaturalist thinking operating under this perfectly valid--but unsound,
      if supernaturalism is not true--syllogism.

      Widespread human belief in pseudoscientific, paranormal, and preternatural
      phenomena has its basis in the initial human acceptance of supernaturalism.
      It is ironic that so many religions criticize and condemn Pagan and New Age
      beliefs in pseudoscience and the paranormal--these are cases of competing
      irrationalisms, fighting among themselves for turf and influence but
      sustained by their underlying commonality: a rejection of naturalism.
      Without naturalism, anything is permitted. For example, the reality of
      parapsychological phenomena (telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance,
      precognition, etc.) is controversial and under investigation by both
      parapsychologists and legitimate scientists, but Uri Geller claims that,
      "Parapsycholgogy is true because God exists!" Well, who can argue with that!
      It is common for religionists to very unfairly criticize naturalistic
      humanists--who have no absolute moral beliefs--with the slogan, "You believe
      that if it feels good, do it!" In fact, however, just the opposite prevails:
      supernaturalists believe that if it feels good, believe it! And since one
      acts on one's beliefs, supernaturalists end up doing what feels good, as
      history has amply shown.

      Naturalism is not an assumption or presupposition on the part of scientists,
      a common claim by critics of science; it is, instead, a hypothesis that has
      been tested and repeatedly corroborated, and so has become reliable
      knowledge itself. I have justified the truth of naturalism by using the same
      methods (evidence, reason, testing, corroboration) that one would use to
      demonstrate the truth of some fact or theory of nature. Whatever the value
      of such an attempt, the question now is: How can one possess confidence in
      the scientific method? That is, how can one demonstrate that the reliable
      knowledge that science produces is the best, most truthful knowledge that
      humans can obtain, and that it should therefore be believed in preference to
      knowledge obtained by other methods of knowing? Entire books have been
      written to answer these questions using sophisticated logical and
      epistemological arguments (mostly older books by neopositivists--such books
      are less common now!); I could reference them, but will refrain. Instead, I
      will justify the reliability of scientific method by a single pragmatic
      argument: Of all human disciplines or methods of inquiry, science alone has
      fulfilled its promises of a better, progressive, greater understanding of
      and control over nature. Humans depend on science--and its applied offshoot,
      engineering--for food, clothing, shelter, energy, medicine, communication,
      transportation, information, weapons, entertainment, etc. Our modern
      civilization would collapse without the continued support of science. No
      other human endeavor can make these claims; science, solely because of its
      method, is the most successful human endeavor in history. The others don't
      even come close. Because of the immense and continuing success of science,
      it and scientists have achieved great legitimacy and prestige among both
      intellectuals and the public. This fact will be important later in this

      Phillip Johnson (1995, p. 68) calls this argument the "argument from
      success," and although he recognizes it as a good argument, he criticizes it
      by claiming that "all statements made in the name of science are not equally
      reliable," and "the technical achievements of science" are not on the same
      level as statements concerning such "vast theoretical scenarios" as the
      prebiotic chemical origin of life, evolutionary biology, and cosmology.
      Johnson's counter-argument is fallacious, of course; all scientific
      statements are the product of an identical method and therefore have the
      same reliability. Johnson may be surprised to learn that safe bridges,
      electronic appliances, hybrid crops, reliable and abundant energy, and the
      things he mentions--"airplanes, nuclear bombs, antibiotics and
      computers"--all depend on "vast theoretical scenarios" for their existence
      and success. They all depend on the reliable theoretical structure of
      science. But perhaps he knew this, and was merely using the common
      creationist tactic of falsely distinguishing technical "facts" from
      scientific "theories." Scientists have as much confidence in the theory of
      evolution as they do in other scientific theories; all that scientists
      really have, after all, are their theories, which just happen to consist of
      the most reliable knowledge that humans can possess. As another example of
      Johnson's misrepresentation in this context, he says that scientists freely
      concede that "the materialistic theory of mind is only a hypothesis" (p.
      69). Of course it is a hypothesis, a highly reliable hypothesis that has
      been tested and corroborated to such an extent that it can legitimately be
      considered a scientific fact, something that only someone perverse or
      irrational would persist in denying. The existence of gravity and the
      occurrence of evolution fall in this same category of scientific facts.
      "Only a hypothesis" and "just a theory" must be the most frequent phrases
      found in any computer word search of the creationist literature.

      The Limits of Science

      Since I am a scientist speaking at a philosophy conference, perhaps I should
      clarify some issues. Some may suggest that my defense of science is an
      example of scientism. Scientism has been defined as "the belief that
      science, especially natural science, is much the most valuable part of human
      learning--much the most valuable part because it is much the most
      authoritative, or serious, or beneficial" (Sorell, 1991, p. 1). I would say
      that this definition is an overstatement, especially since it is exactly
      what I believe, and I am not scientistic. Scientism is, rather, the belief
      that science is the only valuable part of human learning, that knowledge
      comes only through the methods of investigation available to science, that
      science by itself gives us reliable answers to questions about morality and
      epistemology, that science enables us to solve all serious human problems,
      and that science will give us a comprehensive and unified understanding of
      the meaning of the universe. I believe none of these. Science may illuminate
      serious ethical, epistemological, aesthetic, and metaphysical problems and
      suggest solutions, but, in the end, many human problems must find solutions
      in human philosophies, even if the answers are unsatisfactory for a variety
      of reasons.

      Science does give us reliable knowledge about the material universe, that
      is, about everything in the universe that is made of matter and energy.
      Reliable knowledge, or justified true belief, is knowledge that has a high
      probability of being true because it has been justified by a reliable
      method. Furthermore, science is not just the best method--it is the only
      method that humans possess (at least, the only one discovered so far) that
      provides such reliable knowledge about the material world. Other ways of
      knowing about the material world give us knowledge of nature, certainly, but
      that knowledge is not reliable, for it may be true or false and we can't be
      sure which. Non-scientific methods, therefore, don't even come close to
      science as a method of understanding and explaining the cosmos. Since we
      humans are ourselves material, inhabit a material world, and depend on this
      material world for our existence, sustenance, and survival, it seems to me
      that the discipline that allows us to reliably understand and control the
      material world must be much the most valuable, authoritative, serious, and
      beneficial part of human learning. But certainly not the only part.

      Science is less reliable if we examine more difficult questions about the
      relationship of the material world to the immaterial world of the conscious
      mind: the world of thoughts, ideas, beliefs, dreams, truths, values, morals,
      meanings, purposes, intentions, reasons, logical relationships, imagination,
      free will, and self-awareness. All of these elements in a second, immaterial
      world are undoubtedly part of the nature, and science certainly helps to
      investigate them and provide reliable knowledge to help us understand them,
      but, on its own, it has not provided final answers to our questions about
      them. Perhaps, in principle, it can ultimately do this, but so far it has
      not. Philosophy is therefore required along with science in our
      investigation of the immaterial world, although their combined reliability
      is no sure thing, either. The immaterial world includes, of course, the
      nature of truth and knowledge, and therefore includes the ultimate
      reliability, certainty, and objectivity of scientific knowledge. Thus, I am
      happy to acknowledge the vital importance of philosophy in the effort to
      explain how science works. I emphasize that science and philosophy are both
      involved in understanding and explaining all non-material aspects of nature.
      Furthermore, I emphasize that philosophy of science explains how science
      works--it does not and should not tell scientists how to work. (This final
      point is important in our present discussion, in which theistic philosophers
      are insisting that science consider the supernatural in its practice.)

      We turn now to the really difficult, perhaps intractable, questions about
      the immaterial world. Do ideas, truths, logical relationships, etc., exist
      independently of a conscious mind? I don't know. If materialism is true,
      mind does not exist independently of a brain, so we would at least have to
      have a material world to have an immaterial world. This explanation seems
      most likely and has the most evidence in support of it. If one is a dualist,
      then mind exists independently of the material world, but there is little
      support for that philosophy today; in fact, Daniel Dennett (1996, p. 24)
      says that dualism has "been relegated to the trash heap of history," so this
      pretty well decides that question. The next question must be: Does an
      immaterial world--with its ideas, truths, morals, etc.--exist independently
      of matter and energy? This is the philosophy of idealism, which we can
      relegate in the same way as dualism, sensu Dennett. But the ultimate
      question must be this: Does yet a third, transcendent world exist
      independently of both the material and immaterial natural worlds. An
      affirmative answer to this question requires belief in supernaturalism, so
      the answer is probably no. [2]

      Supernaturalists identify--misidentify, I believe--the immaterial world of
      the human mind, which obviously exists and is part of nature, with the
      transcendental world of their supernatural beliefs. This practice is so
      pervasive that I must briefly discuss it here. Let us name and classify the
      three philosophical worlds and their elements: First, the material or
      physical world of nature that includes matter and energy; second, the
      immaterial world of nature that includes mind, ideas, values, imagination,
      logical relationships, etc.; and third, the transcendental world of
      supernature that includes gods, spirits, souls, etc. Belief in the first two
      worlds with denial of the independence of the second constitutes
      materialism, belief in worlds one and two without necessary denial of the
      independence of the second constitutes naturalism, while belief in all three
      worlds constitutes supernaturalism. While the identification of brain with
      conscious mind is relatively easy, supernaturalists invoke this third world
      and identify--misidentify, in my analysis--conscious mind with soul.
      Similarly, naturalists identify brain with imagination and emotion, but
      supernaturalists misidentify imagination and emotion as transcendence.
      Similarly, brain is self is misidentified as spirit; brain is dreams (or
      psychosis) is misidentified as revelation; brain is imagined all-loving,
      all-powerful authority figure is misidentified as a deity; unexplained
      natural phenomena are mysteries misidentified as miracles; wrongful acts are
      immoral acts are misidentified as sins, and so forth. In short,
      supernaturalists are exploiting the uncertainty and ignorance of science
      regarding the second world of immaterial elements to create and justify
      their belief in a third world of supernature. Supernaturalists would object
      to this analysis, I am sure, but it explains to me why they continue to
      harbor their beliefs despite centuries of being unable to demonstrate even
      the slightest bit of empirical evidence or formulating a single unrefuted
      valid reason. They think they have evidence and valid reasons, to be sure,
      but I think they are misinterpreting elements of a perfectly natural but
      non-material second world to sustain their mistaken belief in a supernatural
      third world.

      Science and Postmodernism

      Science has, as have other intellectual disciplines, been challenged by
      postmodern thought. Such thought questions whether human reason conforms to
      any objective standards of belief. Postmodernism says that there is no such
      thing as objective, truthful knowledge in art, literature, history,
      philosophy, and even (or especially!) science. It seems useful to briefly
      consider these concerns here. There are at least three criticisms
      postmodernists level against science:

      Externalism -- The criticism that scientists are humans who perform their
      work within a culture or society, and their findings and knowledge claims
      reflect that society and are motivated, determined, and legitimatized by
      cultural, economic, gender, and political forces within that society, but
      external to science. Whatever biases or prejudices exist in a society will
      be found in its science; thus, scientists and their scientific conclusions
      and theories have been racist, misogynist, sexist, anthropomorphist,
      jingoist, mercantilist, etc., all reflecting external societal forces or

      Relativism -- The claim of scientists to an objective, progressive truth is
      refuted, according to postmodernists, by the ever-changing nature of
      scientific truth: one theory replaces another, a paradigm becomes
      insupportable and is overthrown by a competing paradigm in a scientific
      revolution. There is no objective truth, only subjective and relative truth
      that can and will be succeeded by yet other subjective and relative truths.
      The relativity of truth and subjectivity of knowledge are essential
      components of postmodernism to which science must respond. Indeed,
      postmodernism even challenges rationalism, the possibility of humans being
      able to reason correctly to reach valid conclusions.

      Subjectivism -- The idea here is that science is a human or social
      construct, not a system of reliable, objective knowledge gained by
      application of a reliable method. Scientists, in this postmodern view,
      create their explanations, laws, and theories by constructing a belief
      system, not by discovering one using objective methods to analyze nature.
      Social constructivists, the post-modernists who claim this, focus on
      language and attempt to free it from concepts and referents; specifically,
      one cannot have confidence that meaning exists independently of language,
      and therefore questions whether such words as "truth" have objective
      meaning. Social constructivists conclude that knowledge or belief systems
      are unavoidably personal and subjective. In other words, scientists create
      their understanding of nature by imposing their apriori, subjective beliefs,
      biases, assumptions, and presuppositions on nature, not by--as they
      claim--objectively and disinterestedly investigating nature to discover what
      is there. Finally, social constructivists analyze intellectual disciplines
      by taking apart--deconstructing--the literature of that discipline, thus
      revealing its hidden, subjective meanings; for this reason, social
      constructivists are sometimes known as deconstructionists.

      The postmodernist critique of science undoubtedly finds its strongest
      expression in the historicist school of the philosophy of science, a
      movement opposed to the logical positivist school that was dominant until
      the early 1960s. I have no trouble identifying Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend,
      and others as postmodernists, and although I acknowledge that they poked
      holes in the remarkable edifice of positivism (logical positivism, logical
      empiricism) of Rudolf Carnap, Hans Reichenbach, Carl Hempel, Ernest Nagel,
      and others, I am not convinced that positivism should be totally abandoned,
      as some suggest, but only selectively abandoned. Logical positivism was
      prescriptive and ahistorical, and therefore unquestionably did not
      characterize the true nature of science, but its emphasis on empirical
      evidence and logical structure cannot be discarded. Present-day philosophers
      of science are attempting to forge a new, third-generation, synthetic
      philosophy of science based on the best attributes of the previous two
      schools; this new school is called, remarkably enough, the naturalist
      school. This turn or return to naturalism is now dominant among philosophers
      of science (Kitcher, 1992; Callebaut, 1993). These philosophers believe that
      matters of fact are as relevant to philosophical theory as they are to
      science (a positivist stance), but they also claim that the history of
      scientific discovery and theory formation is vital to understanding and
      explaining the workings of science (an historicist stance). I think the
      naturalist school is a very positive development in the history of
      philosophy of science, although I point out that they come to no agreements
      concerning the objectivity and credibility of science. Their work is still
      in progress.

      The surest sign that postmodernism is wrong is that postmodern critiques of
      science have had absolutely no effect on the practice of science or the
      continuing achievements of science. If there had been any truth at all to
      postmodernism, scientists would have changed their scientific methods and
      procedures to try to escape the postmodern pitfalls of relativism,
      subjectivism, and externalism. The fact that few scientists know or care
      about postmodernism, and none have been influenced by it, speaks volumes.
      (Karl Popper's neopositivistic falsificationism, on the other hand, has--for
      better or worse--been remarkably influential.) Some scientists have taken
      the time to understand postmodernism and, in their minds, it is easy to
      refute (Gross and Levitt, 1994; Gross, Levitt, and Lewis, 1996). Although
      some philosophers probably don't believe this, scientists are and have long
      been aware of the minefields of relativism, subjectivism, and externalism,
      and they firmly believe that the scientific method, as it is now and as it
      has long been practiced, eliminates--not just minimizes--these problems.
      (Admittedly, this process of elimination is historical and may take years,
      decades, or even centuries!) I have long believed this myself, and now that
      I have become acquainted with the postmodern critiques of science, I still
      believe it. Avoiding relativism, subjectivism, and externalism is what
      scientists learn in science school. The end result of the scientific method
      is the most reliable knowledge that humans can possess, although not
      necessarily ultimate, absolutely true knowledge (whatever that means), but
      that is good enough and better than the alternative.

      Naturalism and Materialism

      So many metaphysical naturalists believe in metaphysical materialism that
      naturalism and materialism are often confused with each other. This
      confounding is not serious in most circumstances, but in this essay I must
      clarify their distinctiveness to prepare for the discussion of the
      methodological/ontological assumption/necessity of naturalism in science.
      The primary purpose of this paper is to examine the claims of Phillip
      Johnson (1990, 1991, 1994a, 1994b, 1995) and the authors in The Creation
      Hypothesis (Moreland, 1994) that scientists, by advocating and teaching the
      fact of evolution, are promoting the unconstitutional establishment of a
      religion (metaphysical naturalism) in the intellectual life of our country,
      and that true, value-neutral (i.e. metaphysical-neutral) science should
      consider supernatural explanations as well as natural ones. In her otherwise
      astute and properly highly critical review of Johnson (1990), Eugenie Scott
      repeatedly confounds naturalism and materialism, and my agreement or
      disagreement with her depends on which one she really means, since her
      refutation of Johnson's claims concerns on the problems I am addressing.

      Her review (Scott, 1993, p. 43) of Darwin on Trial (Johnson, 1991) contains
      the following passage:

      Johnson manages to set up another strawman that does not accurately reflect
      the real relationship between evolution and religion. Evolution is presented
      as a "fully naturalistic process," implying an antithesis between evolution
      and the supernatural....Johnson confuses the necessary methodological
      materialism (or naturalism) of science with philosophical
      materialism/naturalism. Science neither denies nor opposes the supernatural,
      but ignores the supernatural for methodological reasons.

      In an important paper, Scott (1996, p. 514-515) repeats this idea:

      Creationists...claim that the rejection of the supernatural in modern
      science is a function of "naturalism" (materialism), a philosophy that
      defines reality only in terms of material causes. Because evolutionary
      scientists supposedly are caught up in a metaphysical viewpoint that rejects
      the possibility of a creator, creationists contend that evolutionists are
      unable to countenance evidence for supernatural intervention in the history
      of life. Actually, modern science has omitted the supernatural for
      methodological, not philosophical, reasons....[W]e simply get better
      explanations by ignoring the possibility of supernatural intervention or
      causation. Much confusion exists between materialism as a philosophy, and
      the methodological materialism that informs all of modern science. It is
      logically possible to decouple philosophical and methodological materialism,
      and individual scientists who are believers do it all the time. Gregor
      Mendel was certainly not a metaphysical naturalist, but he developed his
      understanding of the rules of heredity using methodological materialism....I
      stress methodological materialism as a tool to understand the natural world

      Actually, naturalism is not a philosophy that defines reality only in terms
      of material causes. Again, in the same paper (p. 518):

      First, science is a limited way of knowing, in which practitioners attempt
      to explain the natural world using natural explanations. By definition,
      science cannot consider supernatural explanations...So by definition, if an
      individual is attempting to explain some aspect of the natural world using
      science, he or she must act as if there were no supernatural forces
      operating on it. I think this methodological materialism is well understood
      by evolutionists.

      Again, in the same paper (p. 519):

      Scientists, like other teachers, must be aware of the difference between
      philosophical materialism and methodological materialism and not treat them
      as conjoined twins. They are logically and practically decoupled.

      There is an important point in these quotations--the distinction between
      methodological and ontological (Scott uses the term "philosophical")
      naturalism--and I do not want to see it lost by the practice of confusing
      naturalism with materialism. Johnson, also, mistakenly conflates naturalism
      and materialism in a footnote (1995, p. 38): "'Naturalism' is similar to
      'materialism,' the doctrine that all reality has a material base. I prefer
      the former term because it avoids any confusion by the ordinary language
      distinction between matter and energy...." He uses the term naturalism
      exclusively from then on, which makes his arguments quite clear (but not
      thereby valid). I don't think he needs to worry about confusion between
      matter and energy; both of these are material, both being composed of
      elementary particles, as he recognizes. He is also correct, as he states
      later in that footnote, that both naturalists and materialists understand
      nature to be "all there is," but he is incorrect to state that they also
      understand nature to be "fundamentally mindless and purposeless." Humans are
      both material and part of nature, and they are not mindless and purposeless.
      Presumably he means that, except for humans, philosophical naturalists
      understand nature to be fundamentally mindless and purposeless, and here I
      would agree. Of course, this doesn't eliminate the possibility of
      supernatural mind and purpose in nature; the only requirement would be the
      demonstration of its existence and mechanism, which is up to the
      supernaturalists to provide. We are still waiting.

      The point in this section is this: Of course scientists adopt methodological
      materialism; everyone in the world does, even metaphysical idealists. This
      is hardly controversial or interesting. Scientists are also methodological
      monists and realists. Scientists and almost everyone else do not have the
      time to contemplate whether subatomic particles or ideas are primary,
      whether there is one ultimate substance or two, or whether the universe is
      real or an illusion. (Materialism is not, I wish to emphasize, an assumption
      or presupposition on the part of scientists; science would be equally
      successful if idealism, dualism, or antirealism, rather than materialism,
      were true. I consider materialism to be a working hypothesis--a
      metahypothesis, as discussed below--whose essential validity has been
      corroborated by experience over the centuries.) The important question we
      face is the adoption of methodological and ontological naturalism by
      science, which is certainly the real concern of Scott, Johnson, and myself,
      so let's not confuse ourselves and others by using inaccurate terminology.

      The Origin of Naturalism and Its Relation to Science

      Science and naturalism are not the same thing. Science is a way of knowing,
      a powerful method that uses three epistemologies in a unique and systematic
      way to discover the secrets of nature. Science is not metaphysical.
      Naturalism is a philosophy, a metaphysics or ontology that posits a
      particular picture of reality, being, and existence that excludes the
      supernatural. What is the origin of naturalism and its relationship to
      science? I can deal with these issue only briefly and superficially.

      Naturalism did not exist as a philosophy before the nineteenth century, but
      only as an occasionally adopted and non-rigorous method among natural
      philosophers. It is a unique philosophy in that it is not ancient or prior
      to science, and that it developed largely due to the influence of science.
      Naturalism begins with Galileo and Isaac Newton, who began to explain nature
      by theoretical and experimental descriptions of matter and their motions.
      Their correct and lasting discoveries were all made within a completely
      naturalistic methodology. The outstanding success of this method led others
      to emulate them, and a comprehensive understanding of the universe was
      initiated. Galileo and Newton were not ontological or metaphysical
      naturalists; they did not hesitate to attribute supernatural causes to
      things that they thought could not be explained by natural causes. Until the
      late eighteenth century, most scientists agreed with them, but the influence
      of the Enlightenment led scientists, such as Antoine Laurent Lavoisier,
      Pierre Simon de Laplace, and James Hutton to abandon all supernatural
      explanations in favor of natural ones. Biology was the last science to be
      "naturalized"--by Jean Baptiste Lamarck and Charles Darwin. I am convinced
      that all of these men intentionally tried to emulate Newton: to be the
      Newton of his day and science by finding purely natural laws to explain
      natural processes and objects in their respective areas of expertise.

      Under the influence of philosophers John Herschel and William Whewell,
      methodological naturalism was systematized and promulgated, so that, by the
      end of the nineteenth century, methodological naturalism was embedded in
      science. Naturalism as a necessary part of science thus developed gradually
      as science developed gradually with the practice and understanding of
      scientists. Appreciation of the hypothetico-deductive method and
      empirical-skeptical testing of hypotheses required naturalism, since
      legitimate, scientific supernatural predictions cannot be made or
      supernatural conjectures tested. Holdout scientists who persisted in using
      supernatural explanations were gradually abandoned intellectually by their
      students and colleagues, and they eventually died with no successors. There
      was never a single moment or event when supernaturalism was evicted from the
      structure of science and replaced by naturalism. However, by the turn of the
      twentieth century, supernaturalism had been methodologically eliminated and
      the scientific method came to be identified as naturalistic. The last
      legitimate creationist scientists died around this time, and creationist
      pseudoscience was soon to be born. Thus, methodological naturalism became
      historically an essential part of science.

      As methodological naturalism became a necessary part of science, it
      simultaneously became a necessary part of critical inquiry, since as I
      emphasized earlier, scientific method is not an esoteric method of inquiry,
      but only the rigorous, systematic application of a method continuous across
      many disciplines. Procedural, methodological naturalism in all areas of
      intellectual inquiry (except theology) meant the procedural, methodological
      suspension of belief in supernaturalism, and I think this, more than
      anything else, led to the rise of liberal religions and the freethought and
      humanist movements, and to the reactions against them, the fundamentalist
      religions and religious movements. The spread of methodological naturalism
      in scientific, religious, social, political, and economic institutions in
      the late nineteenth century created the modern world and the concomitant
      psychological crisis of meaning in which people still find themselves today:
      they do not know what to believe about themselves and the world in a
      universe devoid of transcendant meaning and purpose, and therefore attempt
      to find solutions in pseudoscience, the paranormal, strange cults, and
      extreme political, social, and economic ideologies, as much as in science
      and traditional religions. Today, we take for granted the dominance of
      critical thinking in all areas of intellectual inquiry, which is why today
      supernaturalism finds itself increasingly irrelevant, attacked, and
      unsustainable, and is therefore undergoing a reactionary resurgence to save
      itself. The specific reason is not because people claim to not believe in
      supernaturalism any more (they don't claim this), or because it is untrue
      (this has never been demonstrated), but because methodological naturalism is
      so effective, powerful, and successful, while methodological supernaturalism
      is not effective and is, in fact, positively ineffective and
      counter-productive, especially in attempts to understand the natural world.
      An education which includes science and other disciplines that inculcate
      critical inquiry, as most do, only reinforces this perception.

      Ontological naturalism developed subsequently from this methodological
      naturalism. Under the influence of Charles Sanders Peirce, the first great
      American philosopher, naturalism developed--primarily in the United
      States--with the writings of F. J. E. Woodbridge, Morris Cohen, John Dewey,
      Ernest Nagel, and Sidney Hook (Ryder, 1994). Naturalism, as a twentieth
      century American philosophy, reached its zenith during the 1930s and 1940s.
      It has been kept alive by the work of philosophers Paul Kurtz (1990), David
      Papineau (1993), and Kai Nielsen (1996), and it is making a resurgence, in a
      less formal guise, in the philosophy of science by the work of Michael Ruse
      (1986), David Hull (1988), Philip Kitcher (1992, 1993) , and many others.
      Explicitly naturalistic humanist authors such as Dewey, Hook, and Kurtz have
      developed a form of naturalism called pragmatic naturalism, which is much
      more than a straightforward ontological system, involving, as it does,
      ethical, social, and political components in addition to metaphysical ones.
      As such, pragmatic naturalism more or less provides the philosophical
      underpinnings of naturalistic humanism.

      Naturalism is almost unique in that it would not exist as a philosophy
      without the prior existence of science. It shares this status, in my view,
      with the philosophy of existentialism. Scientists first discovered the
      meaninglessness and purposelessness of the mind-external universe, and
      established this fact in the philosophy of naturalism. For example, a
      frequently quoted phrase describing the naturalistic view of existence is
      that of George Gaylord Simpson (1967, p. 345), one of the great
      paleontologists and evolutionary scientists of this century; he said, "Man
      is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in
      mind. He was not planned." This fact consequently forces humans, largely
      against their wills, to deal with their unplanned existence by creating
      meaning and purpose entirely within their own minds by their relations with
      other human minds, not a pleasant prospect or experience. (I have humorously
      labeled this insight, for what it is worth, as "science precedes existence
      precedes essence.") Existentialism deals with human realization of the fact
      of natural meaninglessness and purposelessness, and the task of accepting
      and overcoming it, if possible.

      But none of this answers the main question: How important is methodological
      and ontological naturalism for science to work and be successful? Must
      ontological naturalism be true or assumed to be true to practice science, or
      is it irrelevant to the scientific method?

      Methodological Naturalism and Ontological Naturalism

      Is it true that science does not entail a belief in metaphysical naturalism,
      but only the temporary, uncommitted adoption of methodological naturalism?
      Methodological naturalism is the adoption or assumption of philosophical
      naturalism in scientific belief and practice without really believing in
      naturalism. Ontological or metaphysical naturalism (the two terms are
      synonymous) is the claim that naturalism is the correct descriptor of
      existence or reality, i.e. the act of sincerely accepting that naturalism is
      true. (Ontology and metaphysics usually mean the same thing--a philosophical
      understanding or description of existence, being, and reality--so naturalism
      can be prefaced by either "ontological" or "metaphysical" and mean, in the
      present context, that a person believes in naturalism as the ontology or
      metaphysics that explains reality. I prefer not to use the term
      "philosophical naturalism" in this context, since even a methodological
      naturalist is using naturalism as a philosophy--just not being sincere about
      it.) One might say, "Isn't it rather silly to assume the truth of a
      philosophy--just for your scientific work or for scientific beliefs about
      the universe--that you don't actually believe?" I do say it: I think such a
      stance is logically and morally absurd, although I recognize it as
      legitimate in a certain pragmatic sense, which is to have it both way--to
      save appearances--always a popular attitude among humans. But this is not
      the same as saying that science entails ontological naturalism.

      Methodological naturalism combined with supernaturalism is perhaps the most
      popular metaphysical position in the United States today. All theistic
      scientists adopt such methodological naturalism, as well as the 40-50% of
      the U.S. population who believe in science, evolution, and also in God, the
      view known as "theistic evolution" (all of these individuals would be
      metaphysical supernaturalists). Of the others, 40-50% believe in creationism
      and God (also all supernaturalists), and the remaining 10%, including
      probably most scientists and philosophers, are nontheist believers in
      science and evolution (so are all metaphysical naturalists). Therefore, no
      more than 10% of Americans sincerely believe in ontological naturalism; 90%
      are ontological supernaturalists with about half of these being
      methodological naturalists when it suits them.

      These figures belie the notion that metaphysical naturalism is some sort of
      secular religion being established in the public schools by atheistic
      scientists (Johnson, 1990, 1995). It should be obvious that metaphysical
      theistic supernaturalism is the established civil religion in this country.
      What really bothers Phillip Johnson is that informed, educated,
      scientifically-knowledgeable people--always a minority--are largely
      ontological naturalists and don't agree with his brand of
      God-active-in-nature theism. We may dispose of his claim that metaphysical
      naturalism is an established civil religion very easily. First, from the
      figures discussed above, ontological naturalism is distinctly the minority
      position in our population by a huge margin. Even among intelligent,
      educated people it is the minority philosophical position (this group, like
      most, is not really knowledgeable about science and its philosophy).

      Second, metaphysical naturalism is not a religion by any definition of
      religion, even the open-ended ones, such as "the means by which one derives
      answers to ultimate questions." Although naturalism may answer ontological
      questions, this hardly exhausts the superset of "ultimate questions." The
      establishment clause of the First Amendment deals with religions, not
      metaphysical philosophies. Naturalistic humanism, a world view that promotes
      metaphysical naturalism along with other ethical viewpoints (such as
      democracy, humanitarianism, freedom of conscience, and moral relativism),
      would be a better candidate for Johnson's established religion, but its
      alleged religious status has been litigated in courts on a number of
      occasions and found to be without foundation. Metaphysical naturalism makes
      no moral or normative statements, and it advances no social concerns, both
      of which seem to me to be essential elements of any religion.

      Third, if one really objects to the establishment of a philosophy in
      violation of the First Amendment, why doesn't Professor Johnson rail against
      the establishment of metaphysical realism--not only in schools, but in all
      agencies of the federal government and all U.S. corporations, and one that I
      would agree is insidiously and pervasively established. What Professor
      Johnson really wants, of course, is to have his own brand of theism
      established rather than other brands of theism and nontheism, and to achieve
      this he uses one of the oldest rhetorical tricks in the book: overstate your
      case by claiming that the intellectual opposition has an advantage in
      numbers or power that must be opposed by the emotional and active
      involvement of every reader or listener. He probably would agree with those
      who claim the news media is overwhelmingly liberal--have they listened to
      the radio or read a newspaper lately?

      Let's get back to the main topic, one of legitimate disagreement and
      importance--the use of methodological or ontological naturalism by
      scientists in practicing the scientific method. I extensively quoted Eugenie
      Scott above regarding her use of the terms naturalism and materialism. Her
      primary, quite valid point is that science adopts methodological
      naturalism--not ontological naturalism. She says that science "neither
      denies nor opposes the supernatural, but ignores the supernatural for
      methodological reasons," that "modern science has omitted the supernatural
      for methodological, not [ontological], reasons," that "it is logically
      possible to decouple [ontological] and methodological [naturalism], and
      individual scientists who are believers do it all the time," and "by
      definition, science cannot consider supernatural explanations," so "if an
      individual is attempting to explain some aspect of the natural world using
      science, he or she must act as if there were no supernatural forces
      operating on it." Science cannot consider or deal with the supernatural for
      many good theoretical and methodological reasons, so a scientist must adopt,
      at least, methodological naturalism. Scott's description of how science
      works is extremely common among scientists and the informed public, and has
      not really been controversial (until now); Frederick Grinnell (1994) also
      defends its use with good reasons I do not repeat here. Even Phillip Johnson
      (1994, p. 15) says the following:

      Methodological naturalism--the principle that science can study only the
      things that are accessible to its instruments and techniques [and, I might
      add, to its method]--is not in question. Of course science can study only
      what science can study. Methodological naturalism becomes metaphysical
      naturalism only when the limitations of science are taken to be limitations
      upon reality.

      Precisely. Science investigates the natural, but the supernatural may exist
      as part of ultimate reality, so let's not say that the natural is all that
      exists because that is what science investigates (Johnson (1995, p. 212)
      emphasizes this point again in his latest book). There seems to be no
      question that scientists must, at a minimum, practice methodological
      naturalism (but I will discuss objections to this statement below).
      Methodological naturalism in science seems to be acceptable and
      uncontroversial. Not so, however, for the alleged link between science and
      ontological naturalism. Phillip Johnson, in his many books and articles,
      maintains that teaching evolution as a fact of science establishes
      ontological naturalism in intellectual society among people who would not
      and do not believe such a philosophy. Is he right?

      Why do Scott and others go to such great lengths to decouple the two aspects
      of naturalism? The primary reason is that they believe that this is the
      correct scientific and philosophical position, but Scott's important second
      reason is to protect the religious sensibilities of theistic evolutionists,
      the largest class of supporters of scientific evolution, who also happen to
      be the largest class of opponents to scientific creationism. [3]
      <http://www.freeinquiry.com/naturalism.html#purpose#purpose> She (1996, p.
      518) takes William Provine, Paul Kurtz, and Daniel Dennett to task for
      promoting metaphysical naturalism and materialism because they, she claims,
      argue that "Darwinism makes religion obsolete, and [they] encourage their
      colleagues to argue likewise." However, I suspect that these individuals
      have many reasons for rejecting religion, or whatever specifically they
      object to (since the word "religion" can refer to so many things), and I
      doubt that Darwinism (whatever that means) is the sole reason.

      Scott correctly argues (p. 519) that the naturalistic world of science
      precludes it from rejecting the possibility of the supernatural. After
      stating her repeated distinction between ontological and methodological
      naturalism, she says, "if it is important for Americans to learn about
      science and evolution, decoupling the two forms of [naturalism] is essential
      strategy." In her conclusion (p. 520), she states the following:

      I suggest that scientists can defuse some of the opposition to evolution by
      first recognizing that the vast majority of Americans are believers, and
      that most Americans want to retain their faith. It is demonstrable that
      individuals can retain religious beliefs and still accept evolution as
      science. Scientists should avoid confusing the methodological [naturalism]
      of science with metaphysical [naturalism].

      Protecting the religious sensibilities of theistic evolutionists seems a
      poor reason for insisting that scientists decouple methodological and
      ontological naturalism in their explanation of science, and I also intensely
      dislike referring to this as a "strategy," as if we are going to keep our
      followers in the fold by following a strategy. Scott's primary reason,
      however, is to ask that scientists properly explain the scientific method.
      Science, an inanimate discipline, demands methodological naturalism from its
      practitioners for science to work properly (as explained in a preceding
      section), and science could care less whether metaphysical naturalism is
      true or not, or whether its practitioners believe it or not. Restricted to
      being a descriptor of science and the scientific method, Scott's admonitions
      are unobjectionable and uncontroversial, and I fully support them.

      Scientists and others who believe in science, however, are humans, and their
      beliefs are another story. How convincing is the argument made by theistic
      methodological naturalists, individuals who believe in both science and the
      supernatural, that evolution--or any statement of science--is firmly
      established by a naturalistic method in which they don't really believe? Not
      very convincing. I find difficulty with Scott's insistence that
      methodological and ontological naturalism are "logically and practically
      decoupled." I maintain that the practice or adoption of methodological
      naturalism entails a logical and moral belief in ontological naturalism, so
      they are not logically decoupled<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.