... an appeal to god is a science stopper. Once you conclude that god created life, why explore naturalistic mechanisms? If god created the universe, why explore cosmological theories of the origin of the universe, like the big bang theory? Inferring a “personal cause” is a separate issue. Also, what does he mean by “creation?” Is he assuming creationism, or does he simply mean the natural world?
Nonsense. First of all, no scientist I know makes that argument that 'since God did it, there's no reason to explore natural mechanisms'. There is no incongruity in the belief that God created the universe and in the scientific exploration of nature. In fact, throughout history most of the best scientists have been devout Christians: Roger Bacon, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Lavoisier, Linnaeus, Faraday, Maxwell, Sherrington, Penfield, Eccles, Libet, Collins, etc. They all believe(d) "God did it". And they made extraordinary discoveries in science.
On what possible basis could Novella claim that belief that God acts in the world precludes science? It makes no sense logically, and there is massive historical evidence that the opposite is true. Belief in God is highly associated with the best scientific work.
Here's my question: just what impetus does "God doesn't exist" provide for science? In what way is the atheist inference that there is no intelligent cause of nature an impetus to science? It seems to me that atheist scientists implicitly use the inference to theism. Otherwise, why look for rationality in nature?
So why does this silly God of the Gaps argument has such purchase with atheists? I believe that it is a way for atheists to preclude inferences to Divine causation in the philosophy of science. It is of a kind with the pervasive censorship of theism in modern science. Atheists want to utterly expunge God from science, by censorship, by litigation, and by sophistry.
So here's my reply to Novella: you're damn right I think God did it. The best scientists in history thought God did it. The conviction that God did it is a powerful aid to the rational investigation of nature.
More on Novella's silly post to come.