Tom Gilson has a blog entry titled Knowledge and Bias: A First Response to Tom Clark One striking aspect of the exchange between Tom Gilson and Tom Clark is its substantive dialog and the civil nature of it. My focus is a small part of it, specifically a portion of a comment made by Tom Clark. The first quoted comment segment:
That prediction doesn’t stem from a naturalistic bias, but from the nature of science and more generally the project of gaining intersubjective knowledge: understanding things and their connections tends to unify our view of the world, and the world that science reveals is what we ordinarily call nature. I also say that “Should something categorically immaterial someday play a role in scientific explanations, so be it, but for the time being there’s no indication that dualism will carry the day.”
The study of nature allows for the immaterial. Minds exist and the presumption that they are either physical or emergent properties of brains is, in many instances, superfluous to the analysis of cognitive and behavioral phenomenon. Of course studies can encompass brain cells and neural biochemistry but such studies are not essential to many scientific endeavors which have yielded useful data. To borrow a phrase, materialist presumptions are vacuous to such endeavors. More from Clark's comment:
Same goes for the supernatural. In my exchange with Goetz and Taliaferro I say: “The naturalist agrees that science can’t categorically exclude immaterial God, souls, free will and mental causes, that is, it can’t categorically rule out their existence, but disagrees that there are scientific, empirical, intersubjective grounds for reasonably believing that they exist.” So all I’m saying is that, *if* you stick with science and more broadly intersubjective empiricism as grounds for belief, the chances are you’ll end up with a picture of a unified reality, not one divided into two categorically different realms, natural vs. supernatural.
One of the difficulties with a natural/supernatural paradigm is an inability to clearly delineate boundary lines in advance of an assessment. For example, much of what we currently understand, based on the application of empirical approaches, would have seemed supernatural in an earlier era of history. Relativity and quantum theories render explanations which run counter to the "common sense" of the uninitiated. Bizarre cosmological structures like neutron stars and black holes would have seemed like fanciful concepts to earlier generations. It's not that they are fanciful, only that our consideration of what constitutes fanciful can be a construct of our current scientific understanding subject to revision by means of scientific breakthroughs. Wedding scientific knowledge to technology illustrates the point. 21st century technology, introduced into an ancient culture, could convey a supernatural impression. A false one. The boundary between natural and supernatural is not necessarily discernible.