Can Science Study The Supernatural?

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The place to debate matters of faith and religion in a more rigorous manner. Differing perspectives from both Christians and non-Christians are actively welcomed, but contributors should come prepared to justify their opinions and beliefs, while showing due respect to the views of others.

Can Science Study The Supernatural?

Postby SwordOfTheSpirit » March 22nd, 2015, 1:27 pm

Thought I'd start a separate thread to address in more depth one of the links Val posted on the EVOLUTION thread. From Val's post on Page 22

to Val I wrote:I would ask you to consider something else: By your own scientific standards, a hypothesis must be falsifiable. If you are going to claim that there is no evidence for the supernatural, this should be falsifiable; here being able to cite what you would consider as evidence. Thus far, you have been unable to do this, which would suggest that your worldview is not falsifiable.

Val wrote:SoTs, I am surprised but now I realise that you really do not get it.
Have a read
http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Super.pdf


I duly did! Sadly, in my opinion, this link demonstrates brilliantly what the problem is and how if one follows the methodology recommended, it is pretty much impossible to find God. I’ll deal with the contents in this post, expand on the problem in the next, and suggest a way forward in the third. Thereafter, I’m happy to address any responses.

Things get off to a good start on page 2:
National Academy of Sciences:
Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.

However, on Page 12:
Eugenie Scott wrote:“Properly understood, the principle of methodological materialism [naturalism] requires neutrality towards God; we cannot say, wearing our scientist hats, whether God does or does not act.”

I disagree. MN can be used to investigate God.

The method to be used is described on page 14:
Applying Methodological Naturalism to Religion
• Take empirical data in normal scientific way.
• If no natural explanation is even remotely plausible, then we may entertain possibility of a supernatural process.
Impossible? No.

And herein lies the problem: A commitment to a naturalistic explanation! The issue that needs to be addressed is the one that resulted in this thread:

What would be considered as evidence for the supernatural and how would it be evaluated?

The link does itself no favours by its parodying of prayer on pages 15 and 16, demonstrating a complete unwillingness to understand from a theological perspective what prayer is all about!

Is it unsurprising that the conclusion on the last page is this:
Science Has Not Found God. Why is it afraid to say so?

It was never looking for God in the first place!!
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Re: Can Science Study The Supernatural?

Postby SwordOfTheSpirit » March 22nd, 2015, 1:28 pm

Applying Methodological Naturalism to Religion
• Take empirical data in normal scientific way.
• If no natural explanation is even remotely plausible, then we may entertain possibility of a supernatural process.
Impossible? No.

Key issues I have with this approach can all be addressed by applying properties of truth:

  1. Truth is supported by evidence
    If the objective is to find out the truth of a matter then one has to be able to cite what they would consider as evidence for that truth, and how they would evaluate it as such.

  2. Truth is defined outside of that for which it applies
    What the approach of Methodological Naturalism does is define its own truth (the explanation ideally is a natural one) and then applies that to the evidence being considered.

  3. Truth is that it is unaffected by what one believes about it.
    It is somewhat ironic that page 31 records Richard Dawkins saying this:

    “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

    Yet in his book The God Delusion he talks about the illusion of design! One qualitative assertion is embraced while simultaneously dismissing another!
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Re: Can Science Study The Supernatural?

Postby Val » March 22nd, 2015, 1:30 pm

Well SoTs, as a believer in God you have a head start so why not lead the way.
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
John Stuart Mill

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke
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Re: Can Science Study The Supernatural?

Postby SwordOfTheSpirit » March 22nd, 2015, 1:32 pm

So, what method should be employed?

Since a worldview is needed to interpret evidence, if one is looking for evidence of the supernatural surely the worldview examining that evidence needs to know what the supernatural is and what would be evidence of it? The same can be said of evidence for the existence of God.

I would suggest that what can be observed directly (as opposed to conclusions arrived at via extrapolation) can point in the right direction. For example: when reading The God Delusion, I was astonished when Richard Dawkins says this at the end of Chapter 3:

He wrote:A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right. God presents an infinite regress from which he cannot help us to escape.

So even Richard Dawkins acknowledges that an entity capable of designing anything has to come from something greater than itself. Yet his own evolutionary beliefs has the opposite occurring where human beings are concerned!! He would rather go with the contradiction than consider a solution to the apparent infinite regress, namely that only that which has a beginning needs a cause. Human beings are capable of designing, but are finite beings, so an explanation is needed. God is capable of designing, but has no beginning nor end, so needs no explanation!

I would also suggest that a key influence is the approach taken to truth. If the approach is to see truth defined outside of that for which it applies (implied by appealing to an external standard), then I believe that one is more likely to be more objective in their approach to the existence of the supernatural, or of God. If the approach is to arrive at truth by using one’s intellect (a self-creation approach), then I believe that it becomes harder to be objective as it then becomes easier to accept a self-creation type explanation in other areas.

That's about it for now. I'll be interested in what others have to say on this...
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Re: Can Science Study The Supernatural?

Postby Val » March 22nd, 2015, 1:39 pm

SwordOfTheSpirit wrote:
“The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

Yet in his book The God Delusion he talks about the illusion of design! One qualitative assertion is embraced while simultaneously dismissing another![/list]



An illusion is a mental state in which a person may attribute reality to something that doesn’t exist; it is an imaginary or false impression
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
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“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
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Re: Can Science Study The Supernatural?

Postby SwordOfTheSpirit » March 22nd, 2015, 1:50 pm

Val wrote:Well SoTs, as a believer in God you have a head start so why not lead the way.

In my opinion Val, the start of your journey is to address the question you've been evading thus far...

As you claim that there is no evidence of the supernatural, you have to be able to know what you would consider as evidence and how you would evaluate it as such.
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Re: Can Science Study The Supernatural?

Postby Val » March 22nd, 2015, 2:02 pm

SwordOfTheSpirit wrote:
Val wrote:Well SoTs, as a believer in God you have a head start so why not lead the way.

In my opinion Val, the start of your journey is to address the question you've been evading thus far...

As you claim that there is no evidence of the supernatural, you have to be able to know what you would consider as evidence and how you would evaluate it as such.


If something doesn't exist, it doe not exist.
Nothing to test for, no evidence.
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
John Stuart Mill

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke
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Re: Can Science Study The Supernatural?

Postby Theophilus » March 22nd, 2015, 2:20 pm

Which is an axiomatic statement - a statement of faith.
It is such axioms that natrualism is based upon (i.e. no physical evidence = it does not exist), and why certain scientific theories are bound to be incomplete, because these theories indirectly say something about the supernatural, despite not having the capabilities of exploring this area.

We already know what I think one of those scientific theories is.
It's later than you think!
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Re: Can Science Study The Supernatural?

Postby Pondero » March 26th, 2015, 10:18 am

The day hasn't started yet, it is still dark outside and I am thinking about my late maiden aunt, Aunt Florry, a good Christian who would be lost on this thread if asked to explain the deep tenets of her Church of England Faith. Yet I am sure she is in heaven now. She influenced me greatly in my faith in Christianity. Atheists would have us believe that what she believed was a fairy story. Atheists try to get us to believe that we are descended from animals, that our spiritual soul does not exist, because we can't see it, measure it or give it a mathematical formula.

Science which atheists worship with all the faith and fervour of the most devoted Christian have an absolute faith in Materialism, which makes it impossible for them to believe in the supernatural. It also, if they are a convert to atheism from Christianity allows them to sin with impunity, without fear of Hell at the end of their miserable lives. I think the ability to be without punishment is what makes them atheists. At least it is an important factor.
To justify their atheism they tell us that what we believe in is nonsense, and what they worship, Science , is explanation enough for the universe. They lie to themselves saying we don't need a creator.
Atheists will soon realize that giving into the message of the world that is having a good time is all there is ,does not give them an escape from some of the crosses, trials and tribulations of life that everyone, rich ,poor, atheist, agnostic or Christian must endure,. We Christians know that our crosses can be light, our pleasures modified, our hearts full of joy, and that we will have peace in the supernatural love we receive from our belief system.
And at the end of life we can reach Heaven. An atheist has no such hope, at least in his belief system. We know that he will face God like the rest of us at the end of his life. Wow, what a surprise the atheist is going to get.
According to one study, the average adult has a shorter attention span (eight seconds) than a goldfish (nine seconds).
This is not surprising in today's wired , or wified world.
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Re: Can Science Study The Supernatural?

Postby Val » March 26th, 2015, 12:22 pm

Pondero wrote:The day hasn't started yet, it is still dark outside and I am thinking about my late maiden aunt, Aunt Florry, a good Christian who would be lost on this thread if asked to explain the deep tenets of her Church of England Faith. Yet I am sure she is in heaven now. She influenced me greatly in my faith in Christianity. Atheists would have us believe that what she believed was a fairy story. Atheists try to get us to believe that we are descended from animals, that our spiritual soul does not exist, because we can't see it, measure it or give it a mathematical formula.

Science which atheists worship with all the faith and fervour of the most devoted Christian have an absolute faith in Materialism, which makes it impossible for them to believe in the supernatural. It also, if they are a convert to atheism from Christianity allows them to sin with impunity, without fear of Hell at the end of their miserable lives. I think the ability to be without punishment is what makes them atheists. At least it is an important factor.
To justify their atheism they tell us that what we believe in is nonsense, and what they worship, Science , is explanation enough for the universe. They lie to themselves saying we don't need a creator.
Atheists will soon realize that giving into the message of the world that is having a good time is all there is ,does not give them an escape from some of the crosses, trials and tribulations of life that everyone, rich ,poor, atheist, agnostic or Christian must endure,. We Christians know that our crosses can be light, our pleasures modified, our hearts full of joy, and that we will have peace in the supernatural love we receive from our belief system.
And at the end of life we can reach Heaven. An atheist has no such hope, at least in his belief system. We know that he will face God like the rest of us at the end of his life. Wow, what a surprise the atheist is going to get.


You really have no idea about people who do not accept the Christian or any other religious faith, They do not worship anything they leave that to the God botherers, there is no conversion to atheism, no lying just simple truth and a truth that sets you free
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
John Stuart Mill

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke
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