As requested, I’ll outline my objection, please let me know if/where you would be interested in further expounding or where you might push back.
So, regarding methodological naturalism (MN)…
Simply, I find it is begging the question. If one starts by excluding from consideration anything but a strictly naturalistic conclusion, it is unsurprising that one will arrive at a naturalistic conclusion.
It interferes with a straightforward pursuit of truth. Does anyone object, in principle, that “follow the evidence wherever it leads” is a better scientific methodology rather than “follow the evidence if it leads to certain conclusions but certain other conclusions are verboten”?
If there is any doubt that this is simply a classic, textbook “question-begging” fallacy, I direct you to Biologos’ own self-description on the main page… I see no way around this, the wording of the fallacy is obvious and textbook to me. As I discussed on another thread…
“…we do not see scientific or biblical reasons to give up on pursuing natural explanations for how God governs natural phenomena.” But this is a textbook “question begging” fallacy. No one (Discovery institute, Ken Ham) would dispute that there must be natural explanations to natural phenomena. The very question is as to whether or not particular phenomena are or are not “natural”. It simply begs the question to state we should seek a natural explanation for natural phenomena.
This is clearly begging the question, i.e., “sneaking” the conclusion into the premise. Many here seem to think it justified, due to limits of science, etc., but it remains question begging nonetheless. Perhaps it is clear to illustrate: If I were a detective investigating a death, and proposed it to be an intentional homicide, rather than by natural,causes, I would object if a colleague suggested, “I see no reason to give up on pursuing a natural explanation for this natural death.” This would be obvious begging the question, similarly.
- This fallacy seems pretty obvious when committed by creationists … others have noted it about AIG or other creationist approaches. In a previous discussion with Dr. Swamidass, I noted the following…
You observed that the AiG scientist “promises to ignore any evidence that points to an old earth. That is not “science” as we understand it.” And I absolutely appreciate the difficulty of trusting an approach that affirms an a priori commitment to avoid certain conclusions. But I observe that the BioLogos position, with its explicit commitment to methodological naturalism, similarly “promises to ignore any evidence that points to a special creation.” That, similarly, is not science as I understand it. And I have a similar difficulty in trusting an approach that affirms an a priori commitment to avoid certain conclusions.
I further find MN to be special pleading… it is readily employed to rule out consideration of intelligent agency in biology, while it’s use is clearly not utilized in similarly scientific pursuits such as archaeology, forensics, and most significantly, search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
If we humans ever get to the place where we can intelligently design genes, scientists far in the future could examine a strand of DNA and legitimately determine it to be the result of human intelligent design, no? If so, then the approach to examine biology for evidence of design is entirely legitimate.
Given #6 above, it would lead to special pleading, as a scientist could detect design in biology if and only if he believed said biological phenomena to be a product of human intelligence. If he believed a certain complex phenomena to be the result of human tinkering, he could recognize design… but If he thought, even possibly, that it was designed but not the result of human intelligence, then his ability to recognize said design would magically vanish? This also seems special pleading to me.
So given all the above, when a scientist committed to MN examines any phenomena, I know in advance that any conclusion they arrive at will be a naturalistic one. No less than I know that in advance that a scientist committed to biblical creationism will find intentional intelligent agency behind biological life. For those of us, like me, that are in principle open to entertaining either conclusion based on the evidence, both of these approaches are wanting. I do not see the benefit of any method that will arrive at a foregone conclusion to my basic and core question.