A second and more critical look at Jeff Lowder’s Evidential Argument from the History of Science

Posted on 07/16/12 27 Comments

I provided a response to Jeffrey Jay Lowder’s argument for naturalism from the history of science here.

Lowder provided a reply to my critique here.

Theologians in perpetual retreat?

Lowder’s response is limited to one part of my rebuttal, viz. my observation that theologians have defended what I call transcendent agent (henceforth TA) models of divine action which completely underdetermine the “detectability” of God’s action in the cosmos. Lowder replies:

“On the assumption that theism is true, what reason is there to believe that transcendent agent models of divine action in the world are true? Is there any reason that is independent of the success of  non-supernatural explanations?”

The short answer: of course. Indeed, I find Lowder’s question here quite perplexing. I pointed out that theologians defended TA models of divine action for centuries prior to the development of modern science. And Lowder’s response is to ask what reason they could have for endorsing such models apart from the advance of modern science? The question assumes that theologians developed TA models for centuries for no reason at all.

But of course that is not true. Theologians had biblical reasons for adopting a TA model (e.g. explaining the relationship between human and divine agency in election). And they had countless philosophical and theological reasons as well. For instance, TA models flow naturally from a commitment to divine simplicity and atemporality, two mainstays of classical theism. So theologians prior to the rise of science had many reasons to endorse TA models of divine action.

What about theologians who endorsed TA models in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries? Did they do so out of some anxiety over the incessant advance of science? Alas, such a suggestion is pure fiction. Read a Protestant scholastic like Francis Turretin and you’ll find no anxiety over modern science. What you’ll find instead is a faithful development of a centuries’ old tradition of (Aristotelian) scholastic theism. And what about Jonathan Edwards’ radical occasionalism (if that is the best way to define his theology)? Ironically, it is motivated not by modern science but by a concern over the philosophical implications of Lockean bare substance.

I would encourage Lowder to read medieval and Protestant scholastic theologians to find their reasons for adopting TA models rather than assuming that (a) they had no reason at all or (b) they must have been retrenching defensively from the advance of science.

The bigger problem

Lowder didn’t respond to the rest of my rebuttal to his argument. That’s unfortunate because I can’t help but think that he didn’t grasp the significance of those points for his overall thesis. So now I’m going to unpack what I said there a bit more to explain why I believe Lowder’s argument is completely wrongheaded.

Here is the evidence Lowder presents that has to be explained:

1. So many natural phenomena can be explained naturalistically, i.e., without appeal to supernatural agency.
2. The history of science contains numerous examples of naturalistic explanations replacing supernatural ones and no examples of supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones.

The problem with these two points is that they simply describe the emergence of science as an autonomous discipline. Science is full of examples of scientific explanations successfully explaining the scientific dimensions of reality. But science has no examples of theological explanations successfully explaining the scientific explanations of reality.

Well yeah. And as I pointed out, literature is full of examples of literary critics successfully explaining the literary nature of texts. But literature has no examples of scientific explanations successfully explaining the literary nature of texts.

Now I did note that science claimed some territory from other disciplines. But that was because science originally had no territory of its own, so it rightfully claimed the scientific dimensions of what had once been solely philosophical questions. This, as I observed, doesn’t mean that philosophy is therefore out of a job. In other words, it doesn’t mean that there is no longer a philosophical dimension of reality that can be explored by philosophy. It simply meant that science defined the kind of social knowledge discourse it is over-against other forms of social knowledge discourse.

Finally, I was disappointed that Lowder didn’t respond to my message-in-a-hailstorm example because it completely decontructs his argument. You see, the illustration allows us to say simultaneously that science could be maximally successful at explaining (and even predicting!) the occurrence of particular phenomena, and yet we could have reasons completely independent of anxiety over naturalism to believe that science had not exhaustively accounted for the event, i.e. that there was still an ample space left for philosophical or theological explanation.

So I conclude that Lowder’s argument for naturalism from the history of science is a failure. The advance of science within the proper sphere of science is to be expected as is the success of other modes of inquiry within their respective spheres. And this success is fully compatible with philosophical and theological explanations of natural phenomena from within the spheres of philosophical and theological discourse.

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  • jlowder

    I will study the points you say I ignored and comment on them later. For now, I’d like to respond to the beginning of your post.

    The short answer: of course. Indeed, I find Lowder’s question here quite
    perplexing. I pointed out that theologians defended TA models of divine
    action for centuries prior to the development of modern science. And
    Lowder’s response is to ask what reason they could have for endorsing
    such models apart from the advance of modern science? The question
    assumes that theologians developed TA models for centuries for no reason at all.

    No, this is false. The question makes no such assumption. The question should be taken at face value: a request for the reasons. In hindsight, I can see why my second question might come across as a veiled argument that the only reason theologians defended TA was due to the advance of science. That wasn’t my intent. Rather, my intent was simply to point out the need for a non-ad hoc reason for adopting TA. I obviously failed to explain that in a clear fashion, but that was my intent.

    But of course that is not true. Theologians had biblical reasons for
    adopting a TA model (e.g. explaining the relationship between human and
    divine agency in election).

    The evidential argument from the history of science (AHS) is an argument against theism, not Christian theism. Now before anyone says, “Aha! Lowder admits AHS doesn’t touch Christian theism,” I say, “Not so fast!” Since Christian theism entails theism, it logically follows from the axioms of the probability calculus that the probability of Christian theism cannot be greater than (generic) theism. (Anyone who doubts this should draw a simple Venn diagram for proof.)

    So how does TA affect the antecedent probability of E in AHS? “Biblical reasons for adopting a TA model” are evidentially relevant if and only if the probability relations specified by the Weighted Average Principle (WAP), which follows from the theorem of total probability, are satisfied. Your reply says nothing about WAP, however.

    And they had countless philosophical and
    theological reasons as well. For instance, TA models flow naturally from
    a commitment to divine simplicity and atemporality, two mainstays of
    classical theism. So theologians prior to the rise of science had many
    reasons to endorse TA models of divine action.

    The claim, “TA models flow naturally from
    a commitment to divine simplicity and atemporality,” is just that: a claim, an assertion, in need of support. I don’t find that support in what you’ve written.

    • Randal Rauser

      First, kudos to your rapid response time.

      Jeff writes: “No, this is false. The question makes no such assumption.” “my intent was simply to point out the need for a non-ad hoc reason for adopting TA.”

      But wait a minute. If modern science didn’t exist until the seventeenth century (or thereabouts) then it is impossible for theologians to have appealed to TA in an ad hoc response to natural science prior to that point. And that leaves you with the following choice: (a) these theologians had no reason for accepting TA; (b) these theologians had reasons other than concerns about the advance of scientific explanation for advancing TA. Since you reject (a) you seem committed to (b).

      And that means that theologians of the past clearly had a reason for adopting TA other than an ad hoc response to the advance of science.

      If you want to begin to see what the reasons were for theologians to adopt TA models, you might as well start with Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologiae, prima pars, Q. 22, Ar. 2.

      As for why some contemporary theologians continue to endorse TA, there are some good essays in Thomas Morris, ed., “Divine and Human Action: Essays in the Metaphysics of Theism,” (1988). Unfortunately the book is in my office so I can’t give the full citations here.

      Suffice it to say, any suggestion that theologians of the past or present have been motivated by some kind of angst over the encroachment of science to endorse TA models of divine action is pure fiction, plain and simple.

      As for your comments on the biblical reasons for theologians adopting TA models of divine action, the sole point I was making there is that theologians were motivated to adopt TA models for reasons other than a need to respond to the advance of science.

      FYI, I’m going to do a follow up post as well with respect to what I call the immanent agent model of providence.

      • Randal Rauser

        Footnote: I wouldn’t deny that the occasional theologian may have been driven in part or whole to adopt TA over concerns of the advancement of science. Obviously I cannot speculate on the psychological motivations of individuals. But what evidence there is suggests that such individuals are very much in the minority.
        I dare say, the people who cause theologians the most consternation are traditionally not scientists but philosophers, and chief among those in the last two centuries has been Immanuel Kant.

      • jlowder

        FYI: I just added an addendum to my last post which includes a response to this article. Here is the link: http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2012/07/evidential-argument-from-history-of.html#addendum

        With that addendum published, I think I am (for now) caught up with your replies. (I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to keep up with you, but such is the nature of blogging!)

  • Raymond Ingles

    “Now I did note that science claimed some territory from other
    disciplines. But that was because science originally had no territory of
    its own, so it rightfully claimed the scientific dimensions of what had
    once been solely philosophical questions.”

    How does what I’ve called Haldane’s Error fit into this scheme of yours?

    In other words, people have claimed that some things were directly supernatural, and we’ve later found out that they can be accounted for without recourse to the supernatural. Were those people making illegitimate claims?

    • Randal Rauser

      A couple comments.
      First, on this excerpt from the link you provided: “Meteors were felt to be obviously supernatural – what besides magical forces
      could have held a rock suspended in the sky?”
      Ray, prior to the advent of modern science the predominant science was Aristotelian. Within Aristotelian science there was not a direct appeal to “magical forces”. Rather, explanation was sought in terms of four types of causes: formal, material, efficient and final.
      As to your last question, (Were those people making illegitimate claims?) it is frankly ambiguous. I’ll answer like this: to the extent where a person said appeal to a divine agency provides an exhaustive account of a particular phenomenon they were wrong if an additional explanation in terms of physical causes/processes was later identified.

      • Crude

        I’d add something else: to infer divine agency is not to provide a mechanism or a scientific explanation of what is seen.

        • Randal Rauser

          Indeed.

          Nor is explaining why the roses are on the table by saying “Happy Anniversary!” either a scientific explanation or incompatible with a scientific explanation.

      • Raymond Ingles

        Within Aristotelian science there was not a direct appeal to “magical forces”

        I’m talking about ‘miracles’ as understood by Augustine and later Thomas, both Aristotelians. That which surpassed nature, in the case of meteorites, it would be a miracle as to subject – rocks can fall, but not from the sky!

        Indeed, the fact that meteors falling from the sky were seen as miraculous caused the idea that they were actually rocks from space to be derided at first.

        In any case, the whole case doesn’t have to turn on meteorites. I’ve pointed out plenty of other ‘formerly-miraculous’ phenomena.

        • Randal Rauser

          Augustine was no Aristotelian. He was a neo-platonist with a Manichaean hangover.

        • Crude

          Indeed, the fact that meteors falling from the sky were seen as miraculous caused the idea that they were actually rocks from space to be derided at first.

          The site you link to doesn’t say word one about miracles. It does say this:

          “Today, we can hardly believe that meteorites didn’t attract much serious scientific attention during the early centuries of the Enlightenment. When they did, they were usually explained by atmospheric processes, such as showers of hail condensing in clouds, or terrestrial rocks that had been struck by lightning – hence the name “thunderstones”. Others believed that meteorites were volcanic rocks, violently spewed out during major eruptions. Nobody even thought of the possibility that meteorites might be rocks from space. Until the early 19th century, most scientists shared Isaac Newton’s view that no small objects could exist in the interplanetary space – an assumption leaving no room for stones falling from the sky.”

          The entire link you gave explains that the idea of rocks falling from the sky was derided because it went against scientific theories at the time to suggest that there could be small objects in space.

          Likewise, you also get Aristotle wrong, since whether or not there would be small objects in the sky would or could be a question of his physics, not his philosophy.

          • Raymond Ingles

            Tell ya what. I’ll completely give away meteorites. You win. I have nothing else but magnets, earthquakes, lightning, comets, illness, reproduction, evolution, and so forth. Whatcha say about those?

            • Crude

              Considering you did nothing but rattle off a list with no support, you’re not giving me much to respond to.

              I think once you actually investigate what was actually said, and by whom, about those claims, you’re going to find the situation not only is more complicated, but largely harms your case rather than helps it.

              The narrative you’re building is, in large part, itself a myth.

              • Raymond Ingles

                I’ve referred you to Haldane numerous times, that covers reproduction.

                Are you really going to claim that earthquakes and lightning and comets and illness weren’t widely regarded as supernatural manifestations of wrath? You’ve really never heard of that?

                You’ve never heard of the people who claim that evolution couldn’t happen and instead all the first living things were the result of direct divine intervention?

      • Raymond Ingles

        to the extent where a person said appeal to a divine agency provides an exhaustive account of a particular phenomenon they were wrong if an additional explanation in terms of physical causes/processes was later identified.

        Are there any miracles for which you’d claim “a divine agency provides an exhaustive account”?

        • Randal Rauser

          Now we’re introducing the concept of a “miracle”? Okay, but that complicates things. I believe the resurrection of Jesus was a supernatural miracle in both the biblical sense (a sign of God’s working in the world) and in the scholastic sense (an event without a sufficient secondary cause) if not the Enlightenment sense (a violation of natural law).

          • Raymond Ingles

            Ah. “Sufficient secondary cause”. There we go.

            I think we can phrase the point as, “over time we keep finding more and more ‘sufficient secondary causes’ such that the number of ‘scholastic miracles’ has steadily decreased over time”. (E.g. this unfortunate case.)

            I see no reason that this trend will not continue. What would you say if we managed to account for every phenomenon, including an apparent resurrection, via ‘sufficient secondary causes’? Would that have no theological implications?

  • Crude

    1. So many natural phenomena can be explained naturalistically, i.e., without appeal to supernatural agency.
    2. The history of science contains numerous examples of naturalistic explanations replacing supernatural ones and no examples of supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones.

    Two problems. The first is the more obvious one: science, as it is most popularly defined (and this definition is problematic), excludes supernatural explanations, period. This is a little like saying that if anything blue existed in the world, by now I should have seen it – and, by the way, I only count looking through red lenses as “seeing”.

    Second, and graver: maybe I’ve missed it, but I nowhere see where Lowder has defined either “natural” or “supernatural”. And his definition of these things better not be similar to “Natural is that which is supernatural.” and “Supernatural: that which isn’t natural.” or, worse, “Some particular event which I, personally, would call supernatural.” What’s needed is a definition, a way to tell the difference between natural activity and supernatural activity, for this argument to get anywhere at all.

    I’m going to make a bold claim: I don’t think Lowder has one. And I think any attempts to create one will expose his entire project as fatally flawed from the outset.

    • jlowder

      I’m going to reply to your second point first. I think claims that I don’t have definitions of natural or supernatural are greatly exaggerated. Following Paul Draper, I’m going to define my terms as follows.

      physical entity: the kind of entity studied by physicists or chemists, e.g., atoms, molecules, gravitational fields, etc.

      This definition of physical entity is narrow; it separates the physical from the biological, the mental, the political, the social, etc. So then the question of how to define “natural” is the problem of how any entity that is not physical must be related to physical entities in order to count as “natural.” For purposes of AHS, I propose that a natural entity, if not a physical entity in its own right, must be ontologically or causally reducible to a physical entity. Thus, we get.

      natural entity: a physical entity or an entity that is ontologically or causally reducible to a physical entity.
      Thus, although bacteria is not a physical object, it is causally reducible to physical entities and so bacteria counts as a natural entity. In contrast, Cartesian minds are not natural entities: they are neither causally nor ontologically reducible to physical entities.

      This, in turn, enables us to define “nature.”

      nature: the spatio-temporal universe of natural entities

      And here are related definitions (these two are mine, not Draper’s):

      non-natural entity: any entity that is not a natural entity. There are two kinds of non-natural entities: supernatural persons or agents and abstract objects. Metaphysical naturalism is logically incompatible with supernatural persons, but is logically compatible with abstract objects since the latter are, by definition, causally inert.

      I admit that these definitions are not universally accepted. Draper himself notes that epiphenomenalists won’t like them. Now that I have provided the requested definitions, however, what is important to evaluate my argument is not the labels themselves, but the concepts represented by those labels.

      • Crude

        Jeff,

        the kind of entity studied by physicists or chemists, e.g., atoms, molecules, gravitational fields, etc.

        You’re already off to a terrible start, and here’s why: you’re making an argument about the history of scientific explanations. Yet immediately you call physical, basically, ‘any kind of entity studied by physicists or chemists’. They’ve proposed new kinds of entities in the past. It’s likely they will propose new kinds of entities in the future. By defining anything that physicists or chemists study as “physical”, then arguing that the history of science is a long trend of physicists and chemists explaining things physically, you produce a glaring problem for your entire project.

        It gets worse.

        a physical entity or an entity that is ontologically or causally reducible to a physical entity.

        And again: you’ve defined a “physical entity” as that which physicists and chemists actually study. You give the example of Cartesian Minds – but if physicists and chemists start proposing Cartesian Minds (Eccles wandered in this direction), they would become both physical and natural entities upon the instant.

        I want to stress, again: you’re arguing that the progress of science has resulted in ‘natural’ explanations and no ‘supernatural’ explanations. You just defined physical as ‘that which physicists and chemists study’. You just defined natural as ‘that which is causally or ontologically reducible to the physical’.

        I’ve said it before, but it gets worse:

        Thus, although bacteria is not a physical object, it is causally reducible to physical entities and so bacteria counts as a natural entity.

        Except science has not, and cannot, demonstrate this reduction short of metaphysical / philosophical additives. See: non-reductive physicalists, emergentists, panpsychists, idealists, thomists, aristotileans, etc.

        Now, if you grant reductive materialism to begin with, then sure – bacteria is a natural and physical entity. But none of the people holding the metaphysics I list will grant that, even if they grant that there is a physical aspect to bacteria (and the idealists will question even that.)

        And given that, it’s not even clear – by your own standards – that bacteria are natural entities.

        There are two kinds of non-natural entities: supernatural persons or agents and abstract objects. Metaphysical naturalism is logically incompatible with supernatural persons, but is logically compatible with abstract objects since the latter are, by definition, causally inert.

        You haven’t defined ‘supernatural’. I refer, again, to the problems I highlighted regarding cartesian minds.

        I admit that these definitions are not universally accepted.

        It’s not just that they aren’t universally accepted – they wreak havoc on your own position and project as stated, for the reasons I’ve given and many more that I haven’t yet.

        Now that I have provided the requested definitions, however, what is important to evaluate my argument is not the labels themselves, but the concepts represented by those labels.

        Concepts, meaning definitions. But your definitions are shot through with flaws. Again – on the one hand, you’ve provided definitions of ‘natural’ and ‘physical’ that make it so any explanations given by physicists or chemists is automatically both ‘natural’ and ‘physical’ immediately, which makes any challenge to supposed ‘supernaturalists’ nigh pointless. On the other hand, your reducibility standard is such that it’s an open question whether science has studied anything natural since its inception, because you’ve tied it to a metaphysical requirement of causal and ontological reducibility, which is itself disputed from a swarm of positions.

        I trust you see the problems I’ve highlighted.

        • Crude

          I want to add on another point to illustrate the problem Jeff is running into.

          Let’s take one of the age old ‘divine’ examples: Zeus hurls lightning bolts at the wicked. This is probably the stock standard example people love to use as ‘supernatural’. The problem is that Zeus was a physical entity – generation 3 of some line that emerged out of chaos, I believe. Now, he was a powerful guy, I’ll grant you – not at all omnipotent or omniscient, but certainly powerful.

          But was he supernatural? Specifically: was he supernatural by Jeff’s own criteria?

          Let’s say Zeus descended from his home in the mountains to be studied by scientists. He certainly could be in principle: remember, this guy was a material being, if a rather odd specimen. Maybe his powers and being would be reducible to something – say, Divinons, a variety of atom-like particles and associated forces specific to the greek pantheon. Or maybe he can’t be reduced to something lesser – maybe the physicists and chemists just have to posit Zeus as a kind of fundamental entity in his own right. Maybe they’ll carve out a big crazy Z on the periodic table of the elements (that’s getting ahead of ourselves – scientists wouldn’t have necessarily had that table back then.)

          Either way, that would make Zeus – by Jeff’s own standards – a physical, natural being. And the same goes for a wide, wide variety of deities. Quite possibly, but not necessarily, all of them.

          Hopefully that helps to illustrate part of the problem here. Even in a wild scenario like that, by the standards given, we still wouldn’t have had a supernatural explanation over the natural. In fact, it seems like the only ‘supernatural’ option available is, given the standards, something like this: “Whatever is left over if no natural or physical explanation is possible.”

          And here’s the key: in principle, certainly in principle when going by the tightly limited investigative capacity of science, some kind of natural/physical explanation is always possible. Hence, the PZ Myers dance of arguing that he doesn’t regard any evidence for God as even possible, because he’d always be able to either hold out for a naturalistic explanation, or cook one up in his head.

          The natural-supernatural game is a lark.

          • jlowder

            I find your latest batch of replies, especially this one, to be uncharitable. I have defined “nature” as follows.

            nature: the spatio-temporal universe of natural entities.

            There may be additional entities currently unknown to physics but which may be discovered in the future. If and when such entities are discovered, they may be called physical and natural based on their relationship to known physical or natural entities. Thus, this definition of “nature” may only capture nature as currently understood.

            As Draper points out, If physicists were to appeal to God in their theories, there would be no reason to call God a natural entity. God would not be / is not subject to laws relating him to atoms, molecules, gravitational fields, electromagnetic fields, etc. Nor would He share any common origin with such entities.

            • Crude

              I find your latest batch of replies, especially this one, to be uncharitable.

              I fail to see where. I think my criticisms are entirely on-target.

              I have defined “nature” as follows.
              nature: the spatio-temporal universe of natural entities.
              Sure – except I’ve asked you to define ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’. You tried to define natural, and I pointed out the considerable flaws with your attempt. I don’t think my criticisms were uncharitable – I think they were just highlighting major issues you may not have been aware of.There may be additional entities currently unknown to physics but which may be discovered in the future. If and when such entities are discovered, they may be called physical and natural based on their relationship to known physical or natural entities. Thus, this definition of “nature” may only capture nature as currently understood.I again point out that you’re making an argument about how the history of scientific explanations has progressed. A definition of “nature” which “only captures nature as currently understood” is of next to no help for you. Various explanations were discarded in the past – I pointed out how Zeus, under your view, was a natural entity, and a natural hypothesis, either potentially or actually. That should give you some serious pause.As Draper points out, If physicists were to appeal to God in their theories, there would be no reason to call God a natural entity. God would not be / is not subject to laws relating him to atoms, molecules, gravitational fields, electromagnetic fields, etc. Nor would He share any common origin with such entities.First, ‘that depends on the God’. The mormon god, to give an example, is co-eternal with and constituted by matter. Zeus and various other deities? Physical beings, and yes, they share a common origin. Angels? Natural beings by Aquinas and others, subject to various laws and so on. And who’s to say God wouldn’t be subject to some kinds of laws, some kinds of limitations? He’s already limited by logic.Likewise, how would you ever tell the difference – scientifically, no less – between an act of God, and an act of a powerful natural being?Again, I don’t think I’m being uncharitable. I think your conception of natural/supernatural/physical is ridiculously insufficient. It basically boils down to “everything science could study or every theory that gained a foothold, we called natural by default” and “I, metaphysically, think all these things are reducible. Therefore, science says they are.” And I think I illustrated these things sufficiently.Now, you may disagree, but you’ll have to spell out why rather than just make vague gestures in the direction of hypothetically imagining scientists invoking God. It’s at the point of defining why this would be done and what it would look like that I think your case breaks (aside from the other areas I pointed out.)

              • Crude

                Not sure why the formatting was so terrible on that, but I plead innocence – I typed it up properly. Luckily it’s still readable – Jeff’s replies are in italics.

    • jlowder

      Regarding your first point, I would put the point this way. Simple enumerative induction based upon the past supports a presumption of naturalism, i.e., “prior to investigation, the probability that the immediate cause of any given natural event is very high” (Draper). This presumption of naturalism predates modern science.

      Indeed, Draper points out that even intelligent design theorists like William Dembski admit that, prior to investigating a specific scientific question, a naturalistic explanation is more likely to be true than a non-natural explanation. In Draper’s words, “It is beyond dispute that, at a minimum, almost all natural events have other natural events as their immediate causes.”

      This presumption of naturalism justifies what Draper calls a “modest methodological naturalism,” i.e., “scientific explanations may appeal to the supernatural only as a last resort.” This methodological naturalism is “modest” because it does not “absolutely” rule out appeals to the supernatural. This modest methodological naturalism does not justify God-of-the-gaps theology, which Rauser rightly criticized. The mere failure to find a naturalistic explanation, even after great effort, does not justify an appeal to the supernatural. Draper argues that we would need to consider hidden naturalistic explanations as well. He argues, convincingly in my opinion, that the search for natural causes should continue “until the best explanation of the failure to find one is that there is none.”

      • Crude

        In Draper’s words, “It is beyond dispute that, at a minimum,almost all natural events have other natural events as their immediate causes.”

        No, it’s not beyond dispute – hence, occassionalism. Hence, idealism. Hence, panpsychism.

        Worse still:

        He argues, convincingly in my opinion, that the search for natural causes should continue “until the best explanation of the failure to find one is that there is none.”

        Except “natural causes”, even loosely defined, can always be given in principle – and not every natural explanation is open to scientific investigation. More in the next response.

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