Bradley Monton on the goals of science

Food for thought:

“If science really is permanently committed to methodological naturalism – the philosophical position that restricts all explanations in science to naturalistic explanations –  it follows that the aim of science is not generating true theories. Instead, the aim of science would be something like: generating the best theories that can be formulated subject to the restriction that the theories are naturalistic. More and more evidence could come in suggesting that a supernatural being exists, but scientific theories wouldn’t be allowed to acknowledge that possibility.”

– Bradley Monton, author of Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design

As the title to his book indicates, Monton is an atheist (some may call him an agnostic). But, he’s one of the few atheist writers who seems to be a true skeptic, open to himself being wrong.

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5 Responses to Bradley Monton on the goals of science

  1. Fred says:

    MATERIALIST: This is a rock.
    THEIST: Yes, I believe you’re right.
    MATERIALIST: That’s your problem.

  2. me says:

    Actually, Mike, I could care less about ID, other than that the topics are mildly interesting. What is more interesting are the studies (science studying science) which shows that not only is much of science very subjective, we now can’t be sure that the results we received 5 years ago are the results we will get tomorrow.

    My personal opinion is that while God makes himself evident in nature (and science, etc), God cannot be proved to exist by nature and science. The latter is errant enlightenment/modernist thinking. While many good things came from the “Enlightenment,” it also created a fairly small box within which to think and reason, elevating man’s faith in his own reasoning abilities.

    And, for people who believe humans are merely evolved from some lower animal form, this seems to be illogical.

    Whether one believes man was created by God or not, I think we can agree that we are limited in our abilities – even to think. Some believe man can somehow elevate himself through his limited ability to reason (pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps), others realize that for any “elevating” to occur, we must rely on something outside of ourselves.

    So, no, I don’t rely on ID or any natural study to prove the existence of God; in fact, I reject that approach entirely. What science should do (and what it is doing for others) is showing us our limitations.

    “The heavens declare the glory of God” — to those who already recognize that God exists. That’s simply non-enlightenment thinking, which I know you reject. But, that’s the essential issue for us.

  3. Of course, limiting answers to ones which we like is essentially meaningless. That is not what science does, despite the bleating of those whose metaphysical preferences include the supernatural.

    Science tests what can be tests, and any sort of claim that the supernatural can be shown to affect the natural in the way that creationism does is special pleading but it can not be demonstrated.

    You seem to be determined to believe, despite all evidence, that creationism has some sort of verifiable and non-objective basis for evidence. It doesn’t, even if you add some sciency words and call it “Intelligent Design.”

    The tactic chosen by ID’s proponents is not to demonstrate any connection, but to distort the actual demonstrations shown by evolutionary scientists to make it look like they don’t really know what they are talking about.

    Dembski has been pulling a bait-and-switch on y’all, and so has the Discovery Institute.

    More importantly, though, people such as yourself who have “faith” that there is a creator with a plan, are clinging to the hope that someday, someway, creationists who try to hide their agenda by using such tricksy labeling as “intelligent design” or “divine design” are using things like Behe’s obfuscation about what has, in fact, been discovered about the processes of evolution in order to justify a previously held conviction.

    Intelligent Design holds out hope for you, that there may be a Creator, but what it fails to answer (and this is crucial for science) is “how.”

    So, you can believe whatever you want to believe about evolution, but you can’t really show anything to be usable through invoking a supernatural creator.

    How? How does a supernatural creator intervene? What is the mechanism? Can it be independently verified? Is there a way to test it? That is what science does. It uses objectivity to measure and come to conclusions.

    And it checks itself.

    Materialism is productive when it comes to revealing nature, and that is why science limits itself to nature, and avoids the supernatural.

    I think that it is you who have latched onto Intelligent Design in a vain attempt to justify your faith. Why do you need it? Are you not secure enough?

  4. me says:

    What you see as a hole, perhaps, is Monton daring to take the lid off the box created by some materialist scientists. His point is one I’ve made in the past- a system of study that limits the potential answers to ones you like is essentially meaningless.

  5. It’s easy to see the gaping hole in this argument, far easier than finding Waldo.

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