Thursday, February 18, 2016

More from the false dichotomy zone

Evangelical atheist Loran Moran, on whose blog I first saw the above video, seems pretty livid with its content. It's a talk by Intelligent Design guru Paul Nelson and it is really very typical of the strategy one finds across the board with the brand of IDism represented by Nelson. This strategy involves finding sufficient material to become wowed! by the huge problems faced by evolutionary theory, problems often expressed by eminent aficionados of the theory itself. Four minutes near the end of the video Nelson probably feels he's through with his bombardment of the edifice of evolution and its now time to go over the top. So after 36 minutes of being wowed! he turns the theme on a sixpence and introduces the standard IDist natural processes vs. intelligence dichotomy. a dichotomy which implicitly assumes ID's flawed epistemic filter. Nelson then concludes that God Intelligence created life. But the explanatory filter is toxic for theism. The filter is rightly used for ancillary intelligence such as humans or even aliens who are working within the confines of the cosmos: But arguably humans and aliens are natural processes! Moreover, should it be satisfactorily demonstrated that the cosmic physical regime can generate life the naive eminent theism of Nelson becomes problematic.

 As I have repeated many times on the this blog. de facto IDism like that promulgated by Nelson depends on the assumption of a sharp distinction between intelligence and natural process. Nelson expresses this dichotomy in another way; he talks of the limitations of Methodological Naturalism. This concept is itself deeply problematical: Is it based on drawing a line around the set of ontological objects  or  the set of epistemological objects? As a rule IDists like Nelson just assume the category is plain. My  guess is that  the supernatural vs natural distinction, a distinction which pervades the background of Western thought, is lurking behind the scenes here. The distinction becomes explicit in Christian fideism and gnositicism where ontological and epistemological distinctions are combined: Viz: It is thought that supernatural objects are only understood by supernatural means; Here Methodological Naturalism is defined apophatically in terms of what it is not

Note: 23/2/16
A form of "Naturalism" may define it as the science of "matter". But "matter" can only be a theoretical construction built upon observation. But an observation based epistemic is apparently more general than the theoretical constructions that may be placed upon observation thus begging the question of whether observation might reveal that "matter" is not a comprehensive theoretical account of the cosmos. However, it is possible to adopt the assumption that the ontology of "matter" is an exhaustively comprehensive ontology. In which case "matter" becomes not only everything we can observe but also provides a theoretical account of observation itself. If one drops the naive idea of "matter" as a primary ontology of "particulate grains" and use the more sophisticated notions of mathematical "law & disorder" descriptions then we find that "matter" in this sense is not a basis for atheism*: For "matter" rather than being a primary ontology then becomes a way in which mind comprehends itself; mind and matter justify one another in a mutually supporting circle: Viz: "Matter" gives a causal account of mind in terms of law and disorder, but mind supplies the meaning of that account in positivist terms of experience and comprehension of that account. It may be that asiety has its basis in this kind of circularity. See the remarks in the appendix of this blog post for example.

* I'm generalising the term "atheism" here to include also the tendency to deny the existence of the first person perspective of conscious cognition. 

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