The rules of science

pz_myersPZ Myers has a great post Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Intelligent Design. It briefly discusses, and disposes of, some of the most common intelligent design (ID) arguments. And does it so clearly.

He is a great writer – and I just don’t know how gets time to write so well and do all the other things he does. His upcoming book should be great – but I have yet to hear of any publication date.

I have extracted question 3 because I think this is of general interest. And one I think is important to counter. The question  and accompanying argument is taken from a Christian Apologetics article by William Dembski and Sean McDowell.

Dembski’s and McDowell’s Rules of Science question:

“Who determines the rules of science? Are these rules written in stone? Is it mandatory that scientific explanations only appeal to matter and energy operating by unbroken natural laws (a principle known as methodological naturalism)?

The rules of science are not written in stone. They have been negotiated over many centuries as science (formerly called “natural philosophy”) has tried to understand the natural world. These rules have changed in the past and they will change in the future. Right now much of the scientific community is bewitched by a view of science called methodological naturalism, which says that science may only offer naturalistic explanations. Science seeks to understand nature. If intelligent causes operate in nature, then methodological naturalism must not be used to rule them out.

PZ Myers’ response:

“Who? Man, these guys have got intent and agency etched deep into their brain, don’t they?

The rules of science are entirely pragmatic — we do what works, defined as a process that produces explanations that allow us to push deeper and deeper into a problem. That’s all we care about. Show us a tool that actually generates new insights into biology, rather than recycling tired theological notions, and some scientist somewhere will use it. We’re still waiting for one.

I am amused by the use of the word ‘bewitched’ to categorize people who don’t invoke magical ad hoc explanations built around undetectable supernatural entities, however.”

So true!


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6 responses to “The rules of science

  1. John A. Davison

    I can’t believe you are now honoring the biggest and nastiest bully in the history of cyberdumb, a man who has never published a word on the only issue that has ever been in question – the “mechanism” by which a now terminated phylogeny once took place.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    Not at all. Here it is for all to savor.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”


  2. John A. Davison

    I want to thank Ken for allowing my comments to stand. That could never occur at Pharyngula or at Panda’s Thumb, After The Bar Closes or forum.


  3. There has come up a new book entitled…

    Tahseen, go fight a cheese grater with your nipples.


  4. John A. Davison

    I see I have been deleted without explanation. That is par for my course with those who swim with Myers and Dawkins. It was fun while it lasted.


  5. John – I don’t (won’t) get into banning people here. But I will identify obvious spam – whether its promoting porn, mad books, personal vendettas or just widely off-topic.

    This has the advantage over deletion that the Aksimat programme learns to identify the senders as spammers. This seems to work quite quickly because your last message ended up in spam and I had to retrieve it.

    By identifying spam aksimat will also filter out these commenters on other sites too.

    So John, I you have anything sensible to say – say it. If you only want to spam I’ll leave your comments in spam and aksimat will learn to identify you.

    Simple really – if I am allowing the Russian porn adverts to remain in spam I should obviously do the same with your personal vendetta’s and similar widely off topic rubbish.


  6. Pingback: Carbon 14 Is Irreducibly Complex | Tangled Up in Blue Guy

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