Saturday, January 02, 2010

An interesting question by Cornelius Hunter

I really enjoy reading the thoughts of Cornelius Hunter, as he is really good at taking off the iron mask of evolutionary presuppositions when encountering evidence. In his RECENT POST, he poses a very interesting question for the naturalistic materialist on the limits of science. Since scientific methodology is not necessarily my area of expertise, i'm writing this blog for curiosity's sake. So, if you hold to naturalistic materialism, i'd like you to read and answer the following:

Joe Felsenstein, and most other evolutionists, tell us that science must be restricted to law-like causes and explanations. In a word, they require the scientific method to be restricted to naturalism. While this methodological naturalism seems like a reasonable way to do science, it is an incomplete instruction. There remains the question of what to do when methodological naturalism doesn't work.

Clearly, methodological naturalism will fail if it attempts to explain a phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic. For instance, imagine that human consciousness and will amount to more than mere atoms in motion. Perhaps, for example, there is a soul that transcends the material world. Then science's attempts to explain our thinking will rule out the right answer if science is constrained to methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism would be wrong, and the question is: how should we handle such cases if they are encountered?

I can only think of four possible answers to this question, so this amounts to a simple multiple choice option:

A. Don't worry, methodological naturalism never fails because nature is always fully materialistic.

B. If methodological naturalism ever fails then science, constrained to methodological naturalism, will lead to the wrong answer. Don't worry, it is fine if science is sometimes incorrect.

C. If methodological naturalism ever fails then science should back away from the problem at hand. Science should only address phenomenon that are fully naturalistic.

D. Science should not be constrained to methodological naturalism.


Samuel said...

"D. Science should not be constrained to methodological naturalism."

How can you set-up experiments and observations of "souls" and other "non-physical phenomena"? If you can't experiment and observe something, then you can't do science with it and you can't make falsifiable hypotheses about it.

It doesn't make sense to take science beyond methodological naturalism - how would that even work Mike?

Tell me how you would construct an experiment involving the soul?

(I personally don't believe in souls)

Mike Felker said...

The point isn't so much whether souls are actually real. That was used as a hypothetical example to illustrate whether science could ever handle a case like this if it is ever encountered.

But more than the scientific method, this question is dealing more with a materialistic worldview and whether it can account for for things.

So i'm going to assume that your answer is "A" :-)