Normally, I leave my arguments on other blogs, on other blogs, but, on this occasion, I feel that this is such a widespread, fundamentally misunderstood philosophical issue, that I should address it here, on my own blog.
The argument took place on Dr. William Lane Craig's so-called 'Reasonable Faith' blog, and the original dialogue can be found here.
Larry Niven wrote his own commentary on it here, which is arguably more entertaining than the original (he didn't know the 'Paul' he was referring to was me).
Dr. Craig is careful about what he publishes, and he has his blog set up as a Q & A, which allows him to not only choose what he publishes, but to portray himself as an authority on whatever he cares to pontificate about. Naturally, he only publishes arguments that he believes make him look good, for which, the following submission didn't qualify.
Just so you appreciate the context: Dr.Craig laments the fact that the discipline of science only allows for 'naturalistic' explanations, so that, if there are 'non-naturalistic' explanations, we will never know the truth. In his own words, this is a 'methodological constraint' on science, imposed 'philosophically'. If you visit the above link, you will see that I specifically challenged him that he 'won't conjecture' where God may have intervened, and he evades the issue at first, but eventually says it depends on the gaps in the evidence (specifically fossil evidence).
Below is my third submission (following his response), which, not surprisingly, he didn't respond to; neither did he respond to the previous two. (I've edited out the intro which refers to the previous 2 submissions.)
(Addressed to Dr. Craig.)
Thinking about this some more, I realised that you haven’t thought this through at all.
Basically, you are saying that science restrains itself, philosophically, by only allowing for natural explanations. It could be far more (potentially) successful if it allowed for supernatural explanations – the so-called ‘God hypothesis’ (my terminology, not yours, but I’m sure you’ll agree that it fits your suggested philosophical approach to science).
My question is why isn’t the God hypothesis already applied? Quantum mechanics is an obvious area. No one understands quantum mechanics, as Richard Feynman famously said, and he should know: he won a Nobel Prize for giving us the best exposition we have so far. So it’s a perfect candidate for the God hypothesis: all quantum phenomena can now be explained as evidence of God’s intervention, including quantum tunneling, quantum effects at a distance and even Schrodinger’s cat; especially Schrodinger’s cat, I would suggest.
Extreme weather events are another perfect candidate for the God hypothesis, supported by evidence from the Bible as well, so it has to get a guernsey (an Aussie metaphor).
Four hundred years ago, the God hypothesis would have worked for planetary orbits – actually, I think it was the hypothesis at the time - then Newton came along, proposed the universal theory of gravity, and it went out of favour.
And now we have evolutionary theory as another possibility, especially as it involves complexity at many levels, from DNA to entire ecosystems, so it’s the perfect candidate. But what if in the future, someone discovers more about complexity – I mean totally unexpectedly, like the way Einstein discovered relativity - then I guess the God hypothesis would have to be dismissed; but, then, at least, we could still use it in the mean time.
The point is, as you explicated yourself, we don’t know where to apply it. And, guess what? We never will.