The natural, the supernatural, and the nature of science

I think Braterman makes an important point here. Acting like naturalism is a principle of science, instead of just a result of it, is both wrong and dangerous since it gives science the appearance of being just as dogmatic as any ideology.

Scientia Salon

paul_book_-12by Paul Braterman

Science, it is often said, is restricted in principle to the search for natural causes and the rejection of the supernatural; call this intrinsic methodological naturalism (IMN). Here, following the work of Boudry et al. [1], I argue that this view is misguided and damaging. We have not precluded supernatural claims from discussion. On the contrary, we have investigated them and found them wanting, as I show here using both historical and present-day examples.

“I have no need of that hypothesis.” So, according to legend, said the great astronomer and mathematician Piere-Simon, marquis de Laplace, when asked by Napoleon why he had not mentioned God in his book. If so, Laplace was not referring to the hypothesis that God exists, but to the much more interesting hypothesis that He intervenes in the material world. And Laplace’s point was not, fundamentally, philosophical or theological, but scientific.

The planets…

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The Lowest Difficulty Setting in Action


I noted a couple of years ago that Straight White Male is the lowest difficulty setting in the game called life (in particular the Western civilization variant of it). This annoyed many a straight white male, who didn’t see his life as being particularly “easy.” Noting that “lowest difficulty” is not the same as “easy” did not assuage this agitation. And well, I can understand it: If you genuinely think your life sucks — and it may! — it may be hard to imagine that you still get advantages other folks don’t.

So maybe this will help: A 25-year study followed the experience of nearly 800 children in Baltimore, from first grade into adulthood. Half their families were low income, many with parents who had not finished high school; 40% of those low-income kids were white.

A couple of relevant points from the article:

Looking at where these children…

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The size of the observable universe is complicated.

The radius of the observable universe is often stated to be 46 billion light years.  From a certain point of view, this is true, but I think it's a bit of a misleading statement.  Occasionally you also see people say that the observable universe is 13.8 billion light years in radius, which is also true, from … Continue reading The size of the observable universe is complicated.