Re: Dogma, dogma everywhere
Something I didn't see in this chapter (which has been an extremely accessable education in the fundamentals of science) is an examination of the psychology of the scientist; more to the point: a discussion regarding the motives, agendas and goals that mobilize a scientist to engage her practice and expand her field.
I don't think this information is really relevant to the purpose of the book. It would be a lot like having a cookbook expound on the psychology of cooks along with descriptions of their agendas, goals, and motives.
I hope it was this chapter, but I was very impressed with the distinctions between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism. An atheist will always be both a philosophical and methodological naturalist, but a methodological naturalist will not always be an atheist or philosophical naturalist.
I don't think it is true to say that an atheist will always be both a philosophical and methodological naturalist. For instance, one can be Buddhist (this entails the denial of philospohical naturalism) and atheistic.
The problem I have with this distinction is that I don't think there is any adequate definition of "natural" or "supernatural". Let us suppose that God suddenly appeared on the horizon and everyone could see him. Astronomers could look at him and physicists could judge his speed and trajectory. What would this mean? Would this mean that God is "natural"? Or would it mean that God is supernatural and we have the ability to know the supernatural?
It seems to me that what marks something as supernatural is its knowability. (Indeed, this is what makes methodological naturalism so plausible. It doesn't take a stretch to say "All we can know is the natural" because if we COULD know something supernatural, we wouldn't think of it as supernatural anymore.) But if this is the case, then it seems to me that the distinction is rather trivial. Philosophical naturalism would seem to be the best view given this stance.
Could something be "unknowable" and exist? I can certainly conceive of something being "unknown" and existing--a rock that I have never seen before would exist even if I never knew about it--but I cannot conceive of something existing and being fundamentally unknowable. For me, "existence" seems to entail knowability. How could we speak of something as existing or being real if we wouldn't even know what we were speaking of--if, indeed, it were conceptually no different from nothingness or a pure void?
I tend to think that saying something exists in a supernatural realm is sort of a logical error, like saying something is round and has four sides.
This all boils down to what we mean by 'existence' as well as 'natural' and 'supernatural'--but how could you even say meaningfully that "The supernatural exists" if you didn't even know what the supernatural was or how it could exist?