Continuing the discussion from Video trailer for the Crossway Theistic Evolution book:
One of the most disconcerting parts of that video occurs about halfway through when Stephen Meyer states, “methodological naturalism is a convention that says that we must formulate theories about the world as if it were true that nature acting on its own can produce everything that we see.”
I don’t have nearly the understanding of these issues that many on this forum do, and I’m not certain that I understand what Meyer is trying to say, but this statement seems grossly misleading. I’ve understood methodological naturalism to mean practicing science in a way that constrains the field of inquiry to natural causes. And I thought it was just about universally accepted that this constraint is essential to the success of science. To wit, if every fourth-grader doing experiments about gravity had to conduct the exercises with the caveat, “and of course it’s possible that some supernatural force is making these objects fall…,” then learning about science wouldn’t proceed very rapidly.
Meyer appears to be appending to this practical concern a philosophical concern that doesn’t belong. To me, this is disconcerting but also ironic. One of the most helpful things I read when I first started digging into science and faith issues was an interview with Alvin Plantinga that helped me understand how many popularizers of science add a “naturalistic spin” to their presentation. It wasn’t hard for me appreciate the difference between the practice of methodological naturalism in science and the extraneous philosophical naturalism through which some (presumably non-theists) understand science. Is Meyer saying that the two are identical or inextricably wed, thereby re-injecting the naturalistic spin from the other side of the ideological spectrum?
Returning to the fourth-graders, I don’t see how learning about gravitational force (or other natural forces) precludes the possibility that forces apart from the natural world could also exist. And I doubt that many actual fourth-graders reach that conclusion.
So, am I missing something here? Is Meyer saying something different than I am understanding? Is methodological naturalism a more complicated and nuanced matter than I’ve so far comprehended?
I know this general topic has been discussed at length, but I hope some will be willing to re-engage with it, particularly in response to Meyer’s quote.