Dualism Dueling With Science? is the title of the linked blog entry at Thinking Christian. Tom Gilson starts with this opening paragraph:
There is a lively debate going on regarding two views of the mind: dualist vs. materialist. Last month’s New Scientist article, “Creationists Declare War Over the Brain,” prompted responses from several quarters, including one of my own. Dr. Steven Novella wrote a two-part response (Part One, Part Two), taking the opportunity especially to make swipes at Michael Egnor of the Discovery Institute who has written on the topic more than once.
It is crystal clear . . . that this is about ideology, not science. ID proponents feel that their spiritual ideological world view is threatened by the findings of modern science, and so have decided to undermine it. They want this to be an ideological and cultural war, because in the arena of science they lose. So they claim that science (at least those sciences with which they feel uncomfortable) is nothing more than the ideology of materialism. They want to frame the conflict as that between the traditional, moral, and god-fearing spiritualism on one side, and cold, amoral, mechanistic materialism on the other. This is an emotional fight they feel they can win.
I actually agree with Novella when he states that this is about ideology and not science. Novella is unable to scientifically document the central claim of opponents of mind/brain duality namely, that the mind is an emergent property of matter and that all activities of the mind are reducible to underlying biochemical events. The artillary leveled at mind/brain dualists is ideological and not scientific. If science must proceed under the assumption that matter and energy and the laws by which they are governed must, of necessity, be a comprehensive explanatory basis for the mind, then epistemological considerations are the driving force behind conclusions. A stubborn insistence that science says more than what it can predict and empirically document, is an ideological position and not a scientific one.
Novella may think he is on the winning side of a culture war but that is his non-scientific view even if he is unable to make a distinction. If you look at Novella's writings you see it is he who is intent on emotional digs. There is no need for emotion when one is calmly able to point to experimental evidence backing one's claims. Gilson again quoting Novella:
Does science require methodological naturalism? Yes. This is the real debate going on between mainstream science and various ideological groups who wish to promote a non-naturalist belief system. But this philosophical fight was fought in centuries past – and the naturalists won. The fight is over. But the anti-materialists (really anti-naturalists) want to resurrect this fight, and since they cannot win it in the arena of science they want to fight it in the arena of public opinion and then the legal and academic realms.
Novella glosses over limitations inherent to scientific investigations whose rules render materialistic conclusions inevitable even when empirical data is insufficient to support them. He can only assert a materialist view by backing it with his faith in naturalism as opposed to knowledge of empirical evidence documenting his metaphysical perspective on the mind.