Scientific Thinking not Faith Thinking
 
Science, unlike faith, uses more Critically Open-Minded Reasoning (open assessment and reflective correctability) the effort to overcome all of those issues common with Induced Delusional Disorder or “faith brainwashed” thinking. With science, unlike faith thinking, all facts are welcomed, even if they contradict a treasured theory or model, which must then be rejected immediately. A true scientist will be delighted at having found a new aspect of science, especially if it changes a scientific view, whereas a true religionist/fideist motivated by faith or Induced Delusional Disorder will deny it and try to explain it away. Admittedly science is not a single category, approach or thinking, however nobody who is reasonable and informed can or should reject or deny the truths it produces. Religion too is not a single category, approach or thinking, however nobody who is reasonable and informed can accept its deluded or reality devoid beliefs as any kind of truths. The scientific method assumes a priori of methodological naturalism about the nature of reality that is devoid of considering supernatural causes, it is not agnostic about this. The scientific method is using a form of philosophical rationalism to establish this view about the nature of reality along with the commonly held philosophy of empiricism, because looking for proof or truth devoid of considering supernatural causes by using a priori assumptions is employing rationalism.
Rationalism
By Luke Mastin at philosophybasics.com
Rationalism is a philosophical movement which gathered momentum during the Age of Reason of the 17th Century. It is usually associated with the introduction of mathematical methods into philosophy during this period by the major rationalist figures, Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza. Rationalism is a philosophical movement which gathered momentum during the Age of Reason of the 17th Century. It is usually associated with the introduction of mathematical methods into philosophy during this period by the major rationalist figures, Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza. The preponderance of French Rationalists in the 18th Century Age of Enlightenment, including Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Charles de Secondat (Baron de Montesquieu) (1689 – 1755), is often known as French Rationalism. Rationalism is any view appealing to intellectual and deductive reason (as opposed to sensory experience or any religious teachings) as the source of knowledge or justification. Thus, it holds that some propositions are knowable by us by intuition alone, while others are knowable by being deduced through valid arguments from intuited propositions. It relies on the idea that reality has a rational structure in that all aspects of it can be grasped through mathematical and logical principles, and not simply through sensory experience. It has some similarities in ideology and intent to the earlier Humanist movement in that it aims to provide a framework for philosophical discourse outside of religious or supernatural beliefs. But in other respects there is little to compare. While the roots of Rationalism may go back to the Eleatics and Pythagoreans of ancient Greece, or at least to Platonists and Neo-Platonists, the definitive formulation of the theory had to wait until the 17th Century philosophers of the Age of ReasonRené Descartes is one of the earliest and best known proponents of Rationalism, which is often known as Cartesianism (and followers of Descartes‘ formulation of Rationalism as Cartesians). He believed that knowledge of eternal truths (e.g. mathematics and the epistemological and metaphysical foundations of the sciences) could be attained by reason alone, without the need for any sensory experience. Other knowledge (e.g. the knowledge of physics), required experience of the world, aided by the scientific method – a moderate rationalist position. For instance, his famous dictum “Cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”) is a conclusion reached a priori and not through an inference from experience. Descartes held that some ideas (innate ideas) come from God; others ideas are derived from sensory experience; and still others are fictitious (or created by the imagination). Of these, the only ideas which are certainly valid, according to Descartes, are those which are innate. Baruch Spinoza expanded upon Descartes‘ basic principles of Rationalism. His philosophy centred on several principles, most of which relied on his notion that God is the only absolute substance (similar to Descartes‘ conception of God), and that substance is composed of two attributes, thought and extension. He believed that all aspects of the natural world (including Man) were modes of the eternal substance of God, and can therefore only be known through pure thought or reason. Gottfried Leibniz attempted to rectify what he saw as some of the problems that were not settled by Descartes by combining Descartes‘ work with Aristotle‘s notion of form and his own conception of the universe as composed of monads. He believed that ideas exist in the intellect innately, but only in a virtual sense, and it is only when the mind reflects on itself that those ideas are actualizedNicolas Malebranche is another well-known Rationalist, who attempted to square the Rationalism of René Descartes with his strong Christian convictions and his implicit acceptance of the teachings of St. Augustine. He posited that although humans attain knowledge through ideas rather than sensory perceptions, those ideas exist only in God, so that when we access them intellectually, we apprehend objective truth. His views were hotly contested by another Cartesian Rationalist and Jensenist Antoine Arnauld (1612 – 1694), although mainly on theological grounds. In the 18th Century, the great French rationalists of the Enlightenment (often known as French Rationalism) include Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Charles de Secondat (Baron de Montesquieu) (1689 – 1755). These philosophers produced some of the most powerful and influential political and philosophical writing in Western history, and had a defining influence on the subsequent history of Western democracy and LiberalismImmanuel Kant started as a traditional Rationalist, having studied Leibniz and Christian Wolff (1679 – 1754) but, after also studying the empiricist David Hume‘s works, he developed a distinctive and very influential Rationalism of his own, which attempted to synthesize the traditional rationalist and empiricist traditions. During the middle of the 20th Century there was a strong tradition of organized Rationalism (represented in Britain by the Rationalist Press Association, for example), which was particularly influenced by free thinkers and intellectuals. However, Rationalism in this sense has little in common with traditional Continental Rationalism, and is marked more by a reliance on empirical science. It accepted the supremacy of reason but insisted that the results be verifiable by experience and independent of all arbitrary assumptions or authority. Ref

According to David Papineau at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as indicated by the above characterization of the mid-twentieth-century American movement, naturalism can be separated into an ontological and a methodological component. The ontological component is concerned with the contents of reality, asserting that reality has no place for “supernatural” or other “spooky” kinds of entity. By contrast, the methodological component is concerned with ways of investigating reality, and claims some kind of general authority for the scientific method. Correspondingly, this entry will have two main sections, the first devoted to ontological naturalism, the second to methodological naturalism. Of course, naturalist commitments of both ontological and methodological kinds can be significant in areas other than philosophy. The modern history of psychology, biology, social science and even physics itself can usefully be seen as hinging on changing attitudes to naturalist ontological principles and naturalist methodological precepts. This entry, however, will be concerned solely with naturalist doctrines that are specific to philosophy. So the first part of this entry, on ontological naturalism, will be concerned specifically with views about the general contents of reality that are motivated by philosophical argument and analysis. And the second part, on methodological naturalism, will focus specifically on methodological debates that bear on philosophical practice, and in particular on the relationship between philosophy and science. Ref
Methodological Naturalism vs Ontological or Philosophical Naturalism
Excerpted from http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/147_proposed_west_virginia_science_2_14_2003.asp

by Lawrence Lerner

It is standard intelligent design creationist jargon to deliberately confuse and misuse the terms ontological (philosophical) naturalism andmethodological naturalism. The former is the view that nothing supernatural exists – a point which may engender heated debate among theologians and philosophers but is irrelevant to the pursuit of science. Methodological naturalism is not a “doctrine” but an essential aspect of the methodology of science, the study of the natural universe. If one believes that natural laws and theories based on them will not suffice to solve the problems attacked by scientists – that supernatural and thus nonscientific principles must be invoked from time to time – then one cannot have the confidence in scientific methodology that is prerequisite to doing science. The spectacular successes over four centuries of science based on methodological naturalism cannot be gainsaid. On the other hand, a scientist who, when stumped, invokes a supernatural cause for a phenomenon he or she is investigating is guaranteed that no scientific understanding of the problem will ensue. Here is an example. Let us imagine a geocentrist astronomer in the era of Newton. Newton uses his dynamics to account for the perturbation of the elliptical orbit of Mars around the Sun due to the gravitational influence of Jupiter, and cranks out numbers that are quickly verified by astronomical observation. The entire exercise makes no sense to the geocentrist, who (a) on the basis of the central importance of mankind in the eyes of God, does not grant the ellipticity of the orbit of Mars around the Sun but insists that the Earth be the center of the universe; (b) insists that the orbits of the planets (and the Sun) are guided by angels. The intelligent design creationist arguments may be couched more subtly and elusively than this geocentric view, but they are of the same kind. As for the phraseology, “not designed,” there is here a slipping around the need to define the term “design.” Living things certainly have organs and systems that are best described in terms of Aristotle’s “final cause” – that is, the function which their form enables them to accomplish. But design can mean either of two things. It can mean the form itself, without reference to the way that the form came to be. No one doubts that the wings of birds are admirably designed to the function of flight, in this sense of design. What the intelligent design creationists are after, however, is the other meaning of design – the end-product of the work of a designer. Intelligent design creationists often hide the essentially theological nature of this meaning by insisting that the designer might have been some space aliens and not the God of their scriptures. But they do not maintain this position when addressing sympathetic church groups of their own or similar persuasion. Ref

Methodological naturalism

According to Rationalwiki.org, Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific “dead ends” and God of the gaps-type hypotheses. To avoid these traps scientists assume that all causes are empirical and naturalistic; which means they can be measured, quantified and studied methodically. However, this assumption of naturalism need not extend beyond an assumption of methodology. This is what separates methodological naturalism from philosophical naturalism — the former is merely a tool and makes no truth claim; while the latter makes the philosophical — essentially atheistic — claim that only natural causes exist.
“”If a philosopher or social scientist were to try to encapsulate a single principle that yoked together the intellectual process of [civilization], it would be a gradual dismantling of presumptions of magic. Brick by brick, century by century, with occasional burps and hiccups, the wall of superstition has been coming down. Science and medicine and political philosophy have been on a relentless march in one direction only — sometimes slow, sometimes at a gallop, but never reversing course. Never has an empirical scientific discovery been deemed wrong and replaced by a more convincing mystical explanation. (“Holy cow, Dr. Pasteur! I’ve examined the pancreas of a diabetic dog, and darned if it’s NOT an insulin deficiency, but a little evil goblin dwelling inside. And he seems really pissed!”) Some magical presumptions have stubbornly persisted way longer than others, but have eventually, inexorably fallen to logic, reason and enlightenment, such as the assumption of the divine right of kings and the entitlement of aristocracy. That one took five millennia, but fall it did. —Gene Weingarten
The majority of scientists do not believe it is possible to combine methodological naturalism with theistic or supernatural philosophical belief systems. Even in the United States, a majority of scientists embrace full philosophical naturalism — although a significant minority (40%-45%) describe themselves as “theistic evolutionists” or hold other religious beliefs. Methodological naturalism has become an important buzz word in the culture wars with the anti-science movement. The battle hinges around intelligent design and creationism advocates who claim the theory of evolution is a religion. The modern form of this started with Phillip Johnson and his publication of Darwin on Trial where he not only created a list of repeatedly refuted creationist claims but also tried to put forward the idea that teaching evolution was a violation of the establishment clause of the United States Constitution. Johnson’s main argument centered around confounding philosophical naturalism and methodological naturalism and claiming that teaching evolution was an endorsement of philosophical naturalism and thus impinged on the religious beliefs of students. Eugenie Scott described Johnson’s error in her review:

“”The scientific definition of evolution makes no mention of theological issues such as whether God created. Science as practised today is methodologically naturalistic: it explains the natural world using only natural causes. Science cannot explain (or test explanations about) the supernatural. There is also an independent sort of naturalism, philosophical naturalism, a belief (not science, but belief) that the universe consists only of matter and energy and that there are no supernatural beings, forces, or causes. Johnson’s crucial error is not distinguishing between these two kinds of naturalism. That some individual scientists are philosophical naturalists does not make science atheistic any more than the existence of non-believing bookkeepers makes accounting atheistic.

While Johnson and the creationists may have started the ball rolling it is the intelligent design advocates that have really embraced the rhetoric surrounding the evils of methodological naturalism. The Discovery Institute (“DI”) as the primary public relations firm for “ID” has been beating this drum in every possible direction. The DI claims many things all at once, and the fact that they may contradict each other never seems to bother them. They just like to throw a bunch of bullshit out there and see what sticks. They claim that:

  1. Methodological naturalism is not really the accepted approach in Science.
  2. Intelligent design actually follows methodological naturalism because it doesn’t say who or what the designer is.
  3. Answering the kinds of questions that intelligent design and evolution ask can not be handled by methodological naturalism.
  4. Evolution is as much a religion as Intelligent design because of its reliance on naturalism.

All of these arguments together are pretty self-defeating, but they are also wrong individually. Methodological naturalism is a cornerstone of science, embraced by both practitioners and philosophers of science. There is always disagreement in philosophy, and that includes philosophy of science. The fact that intelligent design doesn’t talk about the designer is a major hit against it as a hypothesis, and it certainly doesn’t save it from violations of methodological naturalism. The value of methodological naturalism comes from the ability to quantify, measure, and study the causes of phenomena. Intelligent design removes our ability to predict, measure and quantify, whether the intelligent designer is supernatural or an alien. The questions that evolution answers are rooted as firmly in empirical evidence and methodological naturalism as any other science. Arguments that claim it is not are really holdover ideas from creationists, who like to claim that unless it’s directly observed in a laboratory, “it’s not science”. Sometimes the DI likes to mix in issues of morality and ethics, and claims evolution address those questions, but this is simply the naturalistic fallacy. Finally, the last argument that evolution is a religion is the same old Johnson argument — all over again — that Scott and others have had to address ad nauseumRef

Open-Minded Inquiry
Openmindedness for Bertrand Russell is the virtue that prevents habit and desire from making us unable or unwilling to entertain the idea that earlier beliefs may have to be revised or abandoned; its main value lies in challenging the fanaticism that comes from a conviction that our views are absolutely certain. A review of certain key ideas provides a clearer sense of the dimensions of the ideal of open-mindedness for all those who are determined to make this aim central to their work as teachers. What follows is a road map to the terrain which surrounds the idea of open-minded inquiry. Ref  Openmindedness is receptiveness to new ideas. Openmindedness relates to the way in which people approach the views and knowledge of others, and “incorporate the beliefs that others should be free to express their views and that the value of others’ knowledge should be recognized.” According to What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity. According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable by introducing such ambiguity. Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistencyRef

Barbara Forrest

This article was originally published in Philo, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Fall-Winter 2000), pp. 7-29.

SCIENTIFIC VIEWS OF NATURALISM

Since methodological and philosophical naturalism are founded upon the methods and findings, respectively, of modern science, philosophical naturalism is bound to take into account the views of scientists. As Hilary Kornblith asserts, “Philosophers must be … modest … and attempt to construct philosophical theories which are scientifically well informed.” Arthur Strahler, a geologist who has taken particular interest in the claims of supernaturalists to be able to supersede naturalistic explanations of the world, points out the essentiality of naturalism to science: The naturalistic view is that the particular universe we observe came into existence and has operated through all time and in all its parts without the impetus or guidance of any supernatural agency. The naturalistic view is espoused by science as its fundamental assumption.” Clearly, the first statement refers to philosophical naturalism. Strahler’s point in the second statement, however, is that science must operate as though this is true. So philosophical naturalism serves minimally as a regulative, or methodological, principle in science, for the following reasons given by Strahler: [S]upernatural forces, if they can be said to exist, cannot be observed, measured, or recorded by the procedures of sciencethat’s simply what the word “supernatural” means. There can be no limit to the kinds and shapes of supernatural forces and forms the human mind is capable of conjuring up “from nowhere.” Scientists therefore have no alternative but to ignore the claims of the existence of supernatural forces and causes. This exclusion is a basic position that must be stoutly adhered to by scientists or their entire system of evaluating and processing information will collapse…. To find a reputable scientist proposing a theory of supernatural force is disturbing to the community of scientists. If the realm of matter and energy with which scientists work is being influenced or guided by a supernatural force, science will be incapable of explaining the information it has collected; it will be unable to make predictions about what will happen in the future, and its explanations of what has happened in the past may be inadequate or incomplete. This is clearly a methodological objection to supernaturalism on Strahler’s part. Introducing supernatural explanations into science would destroy its explanatory force since it would be required to incorporate as an operational principle the premise that literally anything which is logically possible can become an actuality, despite any and all scientific laws; the stability of science would consequently be destroyed. While methodological naturalism is a procedural necessity for science in its study of the natural world, it is also the rule for philosophical naturalism since the naturalist world view is constrainedand thereby stabilizedby methodological naturalism. Strahler ventures onto the turf of philosophical naturalism when he points out how supernaturalism’s lack of methodology renders it metaphysically sterile, in effect pointing out the inseparable connection between epistemology and metaphysics: In contrasting the Western religions with science, the most important criterion of distinction is that the supernatural or spiritual realm is unknowable in response to human attempts to gain knowledge of it in the same manner that humans gain knowledge of the natural realm (by experience)…. Given this fiat by the theistic believers, science simply ignores the supernatural as being outside the scope of scientific inquiry. Scientists in effect are saying: “You religious believers set up your postulates as truths, and we take you at your word. By definition, you render your beliefs unassailable and unavailable.” This attitude is not one of surrender, but simply an expression of the logical impossibility of proving the existence of something about which nothing can possibly be known through scientific investigation. Although I am generally in agreement with Strahler, I differ with him on one point. Although it is logically impossible to prove the existence of something about which nothing can be known at all, it is not logically, but procedurally, impossible to prove the existence of something about which nothing can be known through scientific investigation. Scientific investigation is a procedure based on an empiricist epistemology. The fact that there is no successful procedure for knowing the supernatural does not logically preclude its being known at all, i.e., through intuition or revelation. The problem is that there is no procedure for determining the legitimacy of intuition and revelation as ways of knowing, and no procedure for either confirming or disconfirming the supernatural content of intuitions or revelations. My objection notwithstanding, Strahler is making an essential point which the philosophical naturalist also makes: the methodology of science is the only viable method of acquiring reliable knowledge about the cosmos. Given this fact, if there is no workable method for acquiring knowledge of the supernatural, then it is procedurally impossible to have knowledge of either a supernatural dimension or entity. In the absence of any alternative methodology, the metaphysical claims one is entitled to make are very strictly limited. The philosophical naturalist, without making any metaphysical claims over and above those warranted by science, can demand from supernaturalists the method that legitimizes their metaphysical claims. In the absence of such a method, philosophical naturalists can not only justifiably refuse assent to such claims, but can denytentatively, not categoricallythe existence of the supernatural, and for the same reason they deny the existence of less exalted supernatural entities like fairies and ghosts: the absence of evidence. Strahler makes another point that is important to the understanding of philosophical naturalism: the metaphysical adequacy of supernaturalism is inversely proportionate to the explanatory power of science. The more science successfully explains, the less need or justification there is for the supernatural as an explanatory principle. Strahler, quoting E. O. Wilson, asserts that the explanatory power of science diminishes the metaphysical adequacy of supernaturalism by explaining even religion: Most importantly, we have come to the crucial stage in the history of biology when religion itself is subject to the explanations of the natural sciences … sociobiology can account for the very origin of mythology by the principle of natural selection acting on the genetically evolving material structure of the human brain. If this interpretation is correct, the final, decisive edge enjoyed by scientific naturalism will come from its capacity to explain traditional religion, its chief competitor, as a wholly material phenomenon…. However, many people reject the application of scientific method to the phenomenon of religion and, though they adopt the methodology of naturalism to inquire about a natural entity or object or to solve a practical problem, they simultaneously assent to existential claims about the supernatural. Sterling Lamprecht, in Naturalism and the Human Spirit, says that some philosophers “accept a kind of empiricism for purposes of scientific procedure and practical affairs, but all the time hold that the existences and occurrences thus empirically found require some further ‘explanation’ to make them ‘satisfactory’ or ‘intelligible.’” These philosophers hold that what is learned scientifically must still be explained from within a more comprehensive, non-naturalistic metaphysics, in effect adopting the supernatural as a causal explanation. Strahler, however, in his remarks about using the supernatural as a causally explanatory principle while simultaneously acknowledging the sufficiency of scientific method to provide causal explanations of the natural world, maintains that using the supernatural as an additionalcausal explanation is logically contradictory as well: A specific event of history in a specific time segment must fall into either (a) divine causation or (b) natural causation. Our logic is as follows: ‘If a [divine, supernatural causation], then not b [natural causation]. If b, then not a.’ To follow with the proposal ‘Both a and b‘ is therefore not logically possible. Moreover, one cannot get out of this bind by proposing that God is the sole causative agent of all natural causes, which in turn are the causative agents of the observed event. This ‘First Cause/Secondary Cause’ model, long a standby of the eighteenth-century school of natural theology … adds up to 100 percent supernatural creation. Consider the analogy of cosmic history as an unbroken chain [of causal explanations] made from all possible combinations of two kinds of links, a [supernatural cause, as in religion] and b [natural cause, as in science]…. When a theist declares any link in the chain to be an a-link (whereas all the others are b-links), an element of the science set has been replaced by an element of the religion set. When this substitution has been accomplished, the entire ensuing sequence is flawed by that single antecedent event of divine creation and must be viewed as false science, or pseudoscience. The reason that replacement of a single link changed the character of all ensuing links is that each successor link is dependent upon its predecessor in a cause-effect relationship … that divine act can never be detected by the scientist because, by definition, it is a supernatural act. There exists only the claim that such an act occurred, and science cannot deal in such claims. By the same token, science must reject revelation, as a means of obtaining empirical knowledge. Under the theistic model, according to Strahler, any recognition of natural causation is logically nullified by the simultaneous assertion of supernatural intervention, either actual or merely possible. Even while differing with Strahler on the logical impossibility of invoking both natural and supernatural explanationsit is logically conceivable if the supernatural and natural causes operate at different ontological levelsone must recognize that invoking supernatural explanations is illegitimate because of the procedural impossibility of ascertaining the facticity of the supernatural cause itself, not to mention its intervention in the chain of natural causes. This points to the metaphysical implications of methodological naturalism: if supernatural causal factors are methodologically permissible, the cosmos one is trying to explain is a non-natural cosmos. Conversely, if only natural causal factors are methodologically and epistemologically legitimate as explanations, then only a naturalist metaphysics is philosophically justifiable. Let us consider now the comments of Wesley Elsberry, in “Enterprising Science Needs Naturalism”: While the subjective appreciation of a role for supernatural causation may be important to personal fulfillment, it does not afford a basis for objective knowledge, nor can it be counted as a means of comprehending the universe in a scientific manner…. I will connote “naturalism” as “proposing only natural mechanisms for physical phenomena” rather than “asserting that only natural mechanisms have existence.”… Science is incompetent to examine those conjectures which cannot be tested in the light of inter-subjective experience or criticism. The assertion that “only natural mechanisms have existence” is equivalent to the claim that “no supernatural causes exist.” That is an example of proving a negative, and can only be regarded as a statement of faith, since it requires omniscience on the part of the claimant…. humans cannot establish a supernatural cause by experimental reproduction of that cause. No human is capable of producing a supernatural cause…. natural and supernatural causation are confounding: suspected supernatural causation may simply be due to currently indiscernible natural causes. Because of the confounding nature of the interaction, the only way to establish supernatural causation is through the elimination of all natural alternatives. This is simply another case of proving a negative, which is an intractable problem…. Elsberry’s point is a methodological one: in explaining the natural world, one can not invoke the supernatural because of its methodological inaccessibility, and no successful method other than the naturalistic one is available in scientific explanation. However, Elsberry’s methodological point has metaphysical implications. If supernatural causation as a methodological principle “does not afford a basis for objective knowledge,” the implication is that methodological naturalism does afford one. If supernatural causation cannot be “counted as a means of comprehending the universe in a scientific manner,” the implication is that methodological naturalism can be so counted upon. And comprehending the universe in a scientific manner is the goal of philosophical naturalism. Steven Schafersman, also a scientist, makes the same point as Elsberry: [N]aturalism is a methodological necessity in the practice of science by scientists, and an ontological necessity for understanding and justifying science by scientists…. The alternative to naturalism is supernaturalism…. [T]he foundations of science … will not be epistemologically reliable unless naturalism is either true or assumed to be true, since by not doing so, part of reality will remain unexplained and unexplainable. Schafersman’s point here is that, given the (procedurally but not logically) necessary exclusivity of methodological naturalism in science, any view of the cosmos other than a naturalistic one becomes unjustifiable. The philosophical naturalist would expand upon this by adding that given the procedurally necessary exclusivity of methodological naturalism in science and the unavailability of any other workable method for grounding any claims with existential import, any metaphysical view of the cosmos other than the naturalistic one is epistemologically unjustifiable. The point is not that supernaturalism is logically impossible; rather, the point is that, from both an epistemological and a methodological standpoint, supernaturalism has not proved its mettle, whereas methodological naturalism has done so consistently and convincingly. Supernaturalism has not provided the epistemology or the methodology needed to support its metaphysics, whereas naturalism has, although the invitation to supernaturalism to do likewise is a standing one, as Schafersman indicates: “except for humans, philosophical naturalists understand nature to be fundamentally mindless and purposeless…. Of course, this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of supernatural mind and purpose in nature; the only requirement would be the demonstration of its existence and mechanism, which is up to the supernaturalist to provide. We are still waiting.” Ref

THE THINKER’S GUIDE TO SCIENTIFIC THINKING 

By DR. RICHARD PAUL and DR. LINDA ELDER

Based on Critical Thinking Concepts & Principles

Why Scientific Thinking? The Problem: Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated. A Definition: Scientific thinking is that mode of thinking — about any scientific subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them. The Result: A well cultivated scientific thinker: • raises vital scientific questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely; • gathers and assesses relevant scientific data and information, using abstract ideas to interpret them effectively; • comes to well-reasoned scientific conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards; • thinks openmindedly within convergent systems of scientific thought, recognizing and assessing scientific assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and • communicates effectively with others in proposing solutions to complex scientific problems. Scientific thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities as well as a commitment to developing scientific skills, abilities, and dispositions. Ref

By Lee Watanabe-Crockett | Dec 12, 2016

Critical thinking skills truly matter in learning. Why? Because they are life skills we use every day of our lives. Everything from our work to our recreational pursuits, and all that’s in between, employs these unique and valuable abilities. Consciously developing them takes thought-provoking discussion and equally thought-provoking questions to get it going. Begin right here with the Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet. It’s a simple infographic offering questions that work to develop critical thinking on any given topic. Whenever your students discover or talk about new information, encourage them to use these questions for sparking debate and the sharing of opinions and insights among each other. Together they can work at building critical thinking skills in a collaborative and supportive atmosphere. Ref