Science presupposes the notion of the regularity of nature. What do actual miracles do to this notion? Does Einstein have to posit that e sometimes does not equals mc2? What does Galileo do when he has to account for the real possibility that the earth may sometimes stop in it’s orbit? Does NASA have to build-in alternative flight plans for those occasions when rockets fail to respond to gravity? Are your fingerprints the same from day to day? Why?
What do actual miracles do to this notion?What miracles?
That’s the only possible response. Science does not operate on a notion that something might happen, or maybe happened, or could possibly happen in an extremely rare circumstance. All of that is allowed, but science would have nothing to say about it. Which, yes, leaves a lot that science that has nothing to say about. That’s why it has terms like “Dark Matter”, it’s the matter that we are pretty sure should be there, but we don’t know what it is.
The whole OP question is backwards. The question should be; “Does science disprove miracles.” and the answer to that question is a resounding yes…
Miracles, commonly defined as supernatural are not scientifically possible. No argument can be made that something supernatural can exist beyond the natural world. If it did it would be beyond the reach of anything in nature and of no consequence.
The terms are mutually exclusive.
No, the question is not backwards. I deliberately phrased it this way. I’m not asking whether miracles are possible (I don’t think they are). What I’m asking is, given someone’s belief in miracles, what should their attitude towards science then be? What does their belief in miracles entail regarding methodological naturalism?
elphidium said; What does their belief in miracles entail regarding methodological naturalism?The terms are by definition mutually exclusive.
@write4u wrote: "The terms (ie miracles and methodological naturalism) are by definition mutually exclusive."Yes, they are. Methodological Naturalism (henceforth-MN) rules out miraculous interventions. But MN does not claim that every concrete thing has a purely natural explanation. That's what Philosophical Naturalism posits. On MN it is possible for a biologist to believe, for example, that Neo-Darwinian evolution holds -- except for human evolution, which requires divine intervention.
But what does such a view say about the miracle-believer’s notion of science? If you accept miracles, does that mean that you think effects do not follow neccessarily follow from their antecedant causes? What do these people think actually happens when one billard ball strikes another? Is it science they believe in or pseudoscience?
On MN it is possible for a biologist to believe, for example, that Neo-Darwinian evolution holds — except for human evolution, which requires divine intervention.It's philosophically possible, but they couldn't put that in a scientific paper and have it pass peer review. If they want to go to church on Sunday and believe whatever, they can do that, they just can't bring it to their science work.
I can’t answer your questions for every scientist or person. Someone could be very well versed in biology, but not know the quantum physics of billiard balls. Generally, I have trouble trusting someone’s science, if they also believe in miracles. To be consistent, I say, sure, it’s possible there is a consciousness behind the creation of the universe, or behind the motion of billiard balls, but that possibility is so low, it doesn’t have any effect on my conclusions about them. I can still appreciate the mystery of the universe, while gaining more knowledge and increasing my certainty.
@lausten, I think you and I are on the same page here (no pun intended). I too appreciate the mystey of the universe. As for how someone can claim to believe in science but not accept one of it’s seemingly fundamental entailments is another kind of mystery all together. Which brings me back my original question: If, for example, you are a NASA engineer, who really believes that there are supernatural forces intervening in our world, shouldn’t you act accordingly? If a space shuttle blows up, is it the O-rings or a malevolent demi-god?
shouldn’t you act accordingly?Not if you want to keep your job.
Sam Harris has as a story, might be in “End of Faith”, how, if the President got on TV one night and started blaming everything on invisible aliens, there would be immediate action to remove him. Maybe in these times he needs to update that to a different example, but you get the idea, I hope.
elphidium said; As for how someone can claim to believe in science but not accept one of it’s seemingly fundamental entailments is another kind of mystery all together.It seems that for many people a third solution is available. This is not an either-or conscious intelligence question.
There is a defensible position in the proposition that the universe acts in a non-sentient quasi-intelligent manner exemplified by the demonstrable mathematical essence of natural law. This may seem intelligent because as intelligent beings we are able to understand the mathematics of natural phenomena, but Mathematics are an abstract property of the spacetime fabric and rest on the logical interaction of relative values and mathematical functions. No more, no less, no magic or mystery.
elphidium said; On MN it is possible for a biologist to believe, for example, that Neo-Darwinian evolution holds — except for human evolution, which requires divine interventionNot if it can be genetically demonstrated that humans and modern apes had a common ancestror. We may not know exactly when humans split from the rest of the hominid species, but we know exactly what caused it! We have proof of the genetic mutation which produced homo sapiens.
@write4u makes an interesting suggestion. I’m going to have to think this one over. I suppose I am using “mystery” here in an evocative rather than analytic way. Also, I’m not sure if I’d want to cache this out in terms of the universe’s “acting.” Anyway, there’s obviously some complicated metaphysics to consider here. His/her comment does make me think of an Irish philosopher of physics named Kerry Mackenzie who has written some really interesting papers on brute facts and physical fundamentality.
You may want to read some of Max Tegmark’s hypothesis of a “Mathematical Universe”. Good stuff.
I listened to Kerry McKenzie and especially her closing statement that mathematics do not explain metaphysical phenomena because they are metaphysical phenomena.
But strangely, throughout her entire lecture she uses mathematics to explain metaphysical phenomena, just as mathematics are used to explain all of the natural sciences.
But then she concludes her lecture with the following statement:
Whence the difference between physics and the metaphysics w/r/t explaining the fundamental?
“Philosophers have long pondered explanation in the natural sciences. If they have ignored it in the mathematicl sciences, blame lies perhaps with the lingering distinction between “matters of fact” and “relations among ideas”, the corollary being that mathematics (belonging to the latter class) have nothing to explain.” (Steiner 1977)
IMO, this is completely missing the point. It is precisely the “processing of relative values by mathematical functions” which yield the mathematical patterns that are the natural unfolded physical expressions of enfolded mathematical spacetime potentials .
Or as David Bohm proposed, the “Implicate Order”.
Tegmark addresses the mathematical processes as producing “emergent results which are greater than the sum of their parts”.
He cites wetness as one such emergent property of H2O. Not all H2O is wet, ice is not wet but hard, water vapor is not wet but dry. Only liquid water is wet.
Yet all states are made of the exact same constituent parts. The difference lies in the “density of the patterns”, each expressing its own emergent quality which is not contained in the individual parts. An H2O molecule is not wet in and of itself, nor is it hard, nor is it dry.
Wetness, hardness, dryness of collections of H2O are emergent properties dependent on the pattern arrangement of the exact same constituent parts. Therefore the statement that mathematics as relations among values (not ideas) have nothing to explain is missing the point completely.
@write4u – an intersting topic; I wish I had time to delve further into it. You might want to start a new thread on this one. I have heard Max Tegmark’s conversations with Robert Kuhn on a program called Closer to Truth. Good stuff. I should listen to Max’s TED talk, at least.
Best definition of “miracle” I’ve heard is “something unexpected”. That is per the Catholic church.
Most people accept that science rejects one-off events such a miracles, but accepts the one-off notion of a big bang. Of course every event in the universe is one-off (unique, if you prefer). Miracles are rejected because they cannot be reproduced on demand and because a cause and effect relationship cannot be satisfactorily established.
Miracles, unexpected things, do happen and when they do they expose a weakness of science. Science cannot be proved or disproved. Science is discovery. We can discover only what is there. We have no reason to doubt experience but we do, and should, question conclusions. The weakness manifested by those involved in science is rejection of experiences they have not shared.
Bob said: Of course every event in the universe is one-off (unique, if you prefer). Miracles are rejected because they cannot be reproduced on demand and because a cause and effect relationship cannot be satisfactorily established.What are you talking about?
You mentioned one event 14.7 billion years ago, which cannot be fully explained because there was nothing knowable before then.
So you want to negate all of cosmology and the physical sciences because it cannot explain in detail the cause for that one event, and which you cannot explain at all except calling it a miracle…? I bet it wasn’t, we just don’t know. One thing is certain, it was a mathematical function and not “intentional” or “intelligently motivated”.
Name another “miraculous event”, if you can. I bet you cannot. Please show a little more respect for the physical disciplines that are making your life more than digging for grubs. Prayer does not put food on your table, it is what you do when you have food on your table and then you are thanking the wrong party.
This is proof positive of the common ancestry of man and other great apes.
Human Chromosome 2 is a fusion of two ancestral chromosomes
All great apes apart from man have 24 pairs of chromosomes. There is therefore a hypothesis that the common ancestor of all great apes had 24 pairs of chromosomes and that the fusion of two of the ancestor’s chromosomes created chromosome 2 in humans. The evidence for this hypothesis is very strong.
Not only is this strong evidence for a fusion event, but it is also strong evidence for common ancestry; in fact, it is hard to explain by any other mechanism.
What are you talking about? ... Name another “miraculous event”What part of "unexpected" do you not understand?
You throw a ball into the air, it falls back to earth. Best science says that was no miracle, it was expected.
You are diagnosed with cancer; two months later after no treatment you are cancer free. Best science say this was not expected. Those who prayed for you, but really didn’t expect you to be healed, may call it a miracle. Those who prayed for you and really did expect you to be healed won’t call it a miracle because it wasn’t unexpected. Best science will say it is a mystery.
Does it really matter to you what people call it, or would you prefer that you didn’t get healed without treatment? Would suffering through chemo and radiation reinforce your confidence in science?