Why Are We Still Arguing About Science and the Supernatural?

Massimo Pigliucci thinks Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins have naive views about science and the supernatural:

My problem with Dawkins and Coyne is different, but stems from the same root: their position on morality is indeed distinct from Harris' (at least Dawkins', I don't recall having read anything by Coyne on morality), but they insist in applying science to the supernatural, which is simply another form of the same malady that strikes Harris: scientism, the idea that science can do everything and provides us with all the answers that are worth having.

Jerry Coyne replies by explaining why Massimo is being silly:

Dawkins, too, is not immune to the blandishments of art and literature, as you can see by simply reading his books. I suspect that both Richard and I are advocates of “scientism” only to the extent that when questions are amenable to logic, reason, and empirical investigation, then we should always use those tools. If that's “scientism,” then so be it.

Jerry then goes on to give some examples of places where hypotheses involving the supernatural can be tested.

This issue flares up periodically, but is it really all that complicated?

Read the rest here.

Tags: belief, evidence, faith, science, supernatural

Views: 35

Replies to This Discussion

No, it isn't that complicated. Seems clear to me that if you make a claim about nature and/or reality you should be able to support said claim. If you can't provide any argument that goes beyond personal preference or opinion then you should admit that that is the case.
Agreed. I usually like Pigliucci, but he's way off the mark here. "Scientism" is a non-entity imagined by theists to malign materialists as merely adhering to another religion. It utterly misses the point that the absence of something (religion) simply cannot be an example of that something. It's also a groundless attack, because science is not simply "a way of knowing". It is the only way that we actually know anything at all. To assert otherwise is to misunderstand what it means to know something.
"Scientism" is a created straw man that theists can throw their nonsense at, pretending that it is a real phenomenon (spell check doesn't even recognize it). Being a figment of their imagination they can make it stand for anything their fuzzy little minds can conjure.
Science (in its simplest definition) is the act of doing science which is the rendering of human experience intelligible. This is accomplished by studying specific related phenomenon and deriving universal principles from the evidence obtained.
We also use art to render human experience intelligible by drawing on universal concepts and expressing them in specific statements that embodies those universal qualities.

Supernatural events and events that never happen share a striking similarity.
AI think this stems from Pigliucci misinterpreting Sam Harris' TED talk.
Artificial Intelligences are Intelligently Designed - never believe what they say!
UGH!. I forget that when using IE it doesn't give an automatic spell check.
The part I find most nonsensical is trying to get a definition for "supernatural" out of these folks that couldn't also be used for non-existent. How is it hard to understand that anything that makes a real impact on this universe can be measured by science, and anything that doesn't make a real impact on this universe might as well not exist because we can't know about it.
the accommodationists vs. the 'new atheists'

The New War Between Science and Religion
"Accommodationism" is the "kick me, I'm stupid" sign for the 21st century. It is not limited to science. It is echoed by all the peabrains that try and defend burqas as a "choice" issue and that we should have faith in "moderate" islam. It is just the latest reincarnation of postmodernism where everyone's opinion is equal and equally valid. Postmodernism is like this vampire that you thought you'd staked through the heart and finally killed, only to watch it crawl from the grave reinvigorated. Again. And again. And again...
The former group, known as accommodationists, seeks to carve out areas of knowledge that are off-limits to science, arguing that certain fundamental features of the world allow for God to act in ways that cannot be detected using the methods of science.

If God can act in ways that cannot be detected, then I should be able to create a God detector and sell it.
There's already one. It looks like a thick book.
But how do you operate it?


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