Naturalism: An Obstruction of Justice

Naturalismby Pete Chadwell9/24/14
Supporters of Intelligent Design necessarily place themselves in opposition to methodological naturalism, (as it applies to origin-of-life questions) but far from relying on “supernatural” causes, this opposition to naturalism merely enables one to objectively weigh the evidence and make rational conclusions based on that evidence. Naturalism actually stacks the deck and only allows evidence for one possible explanation for life to be explored. That’s hardly science, and it’s hardly objective.

All possible philosophies of science aside, there are two possible explanations for the origin of life: Either life arose as the result of blind, purposeless, natural processes, or life was designed by some other entity which may or may not be directly observable to us. There are many variations on each of these themes, but all possibilities fall within these two broad categories. There are no other options.[pullquote][Naturalists] have to explain what they’re trying to protect. They have to explain why they wish to obstruct the investigation.[/pullquote]

To illustrate the absurdity of the naturalist’s position regarding origin-of-life issues, just imagine you’re the lead detective in a law enforcement agency, and you’ve been assigned by your captain to investigate a murder. Due to circumstances around the murder, it’s already apparent that there are two prime suspects for the crime. But one of those suspects is your captain’s close personal friend. Your captain approaches you privately and instructs you that you are NOT permitted to build a case against his friend and that you must build your case to charge the other suspect.

When you look at the scenario above, it’s obvious to any casual observer that, whether the captain’s friend committed the murder or not, corruption has reared its ugly head. Although your captain’s efforts to protect his friend cannot prove his friend’s guilt, it does make the captain’s friend that much more of a suspect. Your captain cannot expect you to solve the case in a fair, objective and professional manner unless you are permitted to investigate each suspect without EvidenceGatheringregard to who that suspect might be friends with. Anyone who tried to steer an investigation is this manner would likely be charged with obstruction of justice.

The captain here is analogous to the naturalist. Naturalists have put themselves in the position of obstructing an investigation by trying to steer the investigation away from one of the two prime suspects. And just as the captain is serving to “frame” the other suspect for the crime, the naturalist is attempting to “frame” natural causes with the origin of life.

A reasonable, fair-minded person would recognize that this is a lousy way to approach the question of origins. All the suspects need to treated equally until the evidence begins to tip the scales.

Naturalists have to explain why they feel compelled to frame the other suspect. They have to explain what they’re trying to protect. They have to explain why they wish to obstruct the investigation. I’m glad I’m not in their shoes. • (1428 views)

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6 Responses to Naturalism: An Obstruction of Justice

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    A naturalist can also refer to someone who studies nature, so you probably need a different term for those who refuse to consider the possibility of any sort of design in the universe. There are very good reasons why science only deals with such solutions, since reliance on the supernatural is impossible to test (and a non-supernatural designer not much easier). The flaw is not in their method, but in their refusal to see that their method can be a limitation leading to error.

    • A naturalist can also refer to someone who studies nature, so you probably need a different term

      This is a good point… I suppose I’m assuming that the reader will figure out by context that I’m talking about the Carl Sagan sort of “naturalist.” The universe is all there is, all there ever was and all there ever will be. Another term is “materialist,” but that one can be confused with someone who likes to buy stuff.

      Methodological naturalism is really what’s in the crosshairs here. And sure, that philosophy works fine if you’re trying to answer a question like “How do birds fly?” But this philosophy falls flat when it’s applied to these bigger questions.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Given the subject at hand, I knew exactly what you meant. But just for the fun of it, here is Behe’s lexicon regarding the subject (in bold). This is from his “The Edge of Evolution”:

        About a decade ago the noted biologist E. O. Wilson wrote a book titled Consilience. Wilson argued that ideas from Darwinian evolutionary biology can illuminate other areas of knowledge, such as environmental policy, social science, and even the humanities. Because of this, he thinks he sees a consilience of results that supports what is variously called scientism, reductionism, or materialism— in other words, the view that the entire universe from the Big Bang to the Bolshoi Ballet can be explained by the random, unguided playing out of natural laws.

        The first time I heard the word “scientism” was several years ago (perhaps 10) from a Catholic friend of mine who is quite a scholar. You don’t hear that word much. I prefer “hard-headed, crusty, slightly bigoted, and obnoxious radical materialist.” Behe is far more polite than I am. 😀 One might also note the Marxist link and call it “dialectical materialism.” That link should often be noted.

        I call them other names as well. But this is generally a family-oriented forum.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I’m familiar with the concept of scientism, and I think I’ve even used the term here occasionally. But the problem is that a “scientist” would then be either a practitioner of the sciences or an adherent of scientism — and while there’s a great overlap between the two, they aren’t identical.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Casey Luskin writes here:

    Wikipedia’s infamously biased, rule-violating, and error-filled entry on intelligent design states that “any appeal to an intelligent creator is explicitly excluded for the paralyzing effect it may have on the scientific progress.”

    That’s not to say that a religious view of things can’t constrict one’s thinking. It sometimes does. It depends upon the person and it depends upon the religion. But whatever truth is contained in that notion has been blown up into full-fledged paranoia by those who hold to the “paralyzing effect” dogma. It’s an obvious hyper-exaggeration — one infused with bigotry — and ignores the actual history of science which was moved forward by some very religious (Christian) people.

    It would be worth noting that in Islam, for instance, there is significant resistance to the acquisition of knowledge. It is often noted that the number of books published in Islamic regions (on any subject) is a paltry amount compared to the West.

    And given what we see with the global warming scam and the non-discriminating idea of Christopher Hitchens that “religion poisons everything,” it’s clear that it’s not religion, per se, that is the problem, for Leftism (this materialist socialist-secular world view) is also limiting and blinding (Hitchens unable to tell the difference between, say, Mother Teresa and Osama bin Laden). It’s a particularly blinding influence today, far greater than anything except perhaps the retrograde beliefs of Islam.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I think I read once that fewer books are published in the Muslim world than in Greece. It may have been The Closed Circle (I read some of these books back in the 1990s, and don’t always remember what I read where) that mentioned that a Muslim imam ruled back in medieval times that they had learned all the knowledge that was permissible to know, so there was no longer any legitimate reason to pursue additional knowledge.

      Liberalism and Islam are both extremely similar in their methods (such as their desire to eliminate heretics) and in their shared hatred of traditional Western civilization. They differ in their ultimate goals, but are quite ready to align with each other for short-term goals (though the necessity of defending their country, even if only for political expediency, mitigates this alliance in terms of foreign affairs).

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