I agree that the scientific method has gained us great success in learning about the physical world - methodological naturalism is a convenient assumption when doing science, but it in no way implies ontological naturalism.
Since we both agree that the SM has given us this great success, I think it's important that we agree on the how... I mean... how do we know that it is successful. I think it is due to the results. The functionality, the usefulness of the results is what makes it a successful method. Within the physical world, there isn't a better one.
Incidentally, the assumption that the scientific method is the only method of gaining knowledge is a difficult assumption to prove using the scientific method isn't it?
I don't know why you keep saying this. I get it. I never said it was the only method of gaining knowledge. I even asked you to provide another one in hopes that it was superior. Doesn't that mean I'm keeping an open mind about it?
For starters, science cannot even get us past first base when it comes to the possibility of thought - how do you scientifically prove that you are not a 'brain in a vat'?
Can you tell me a method of study that helps prove we are, or are not, BIV's? Can you prove, using deductive reasoning or rational introspection, or any other means, that you're not a BIV? Where would you turn if not science?
Also, if I am a BIV, can I not still do science? I can start with any metaphysical assumption I want and still do science. Am I just an idea in the mind of God? Am I a program running in a simulation of a super intelligent alien species? Doesn't matter. I can still do science. It works without any of those metaphysical assumptions.
So it seems to me that when one takes into account the way that science utilizes metaphysical assumptions and principles of deductive reasoning, it is not unreasonable to use the same principles when studying natural theology.
Sure, as long as you apply the same principles to every religion ever invented by man.
I imagine you could start with any metaphysical assumptions you want and work from there, but I don't see where that will get you since every religion starts with metaphysical assumptions, and winds up being logically coherent to the followers. In other words, for the adherents of any religion, reason and ordinary experiences support every religion ever invented. Nobody would believe a religion that made claims that were completely inconsistent with the natural world and totally unexplainable in any way. Could you ever see someone following a religion that said nothing bad ever happens to the followers, and had no way of explaining it when something bad happened? The first hangnail and it's over. That's why the gods are all invisible and all powerful. Nothing is impossible to explain away with a god like that. It's a great way to hide non-existence.
In that sense, what methodology would you use to separate what are the true metaphysical assumptions and the false ones? Because deductive reasoning doesn't help us there. And rational introspection isn't any better. And we're back to where we started in terms of 'what's a good method for obtaining knowledge that can help us in this area?' One that gets us results, like the SM does for the physical world. I don't know of any.
So if we don't know of any reliable methods here; the most we can say is that we don't know whether or not anything supernatural exists. But in the grand scheme of things, the number of metaphysical assumptions we can make is nearly infinite. And the number of correct assumptions is much less than that. And given the fact that we don't really require any metaphysical assumptions in order to understand the world (at least not where I'm sitting), then I don't see any reason to hold the belief that any specific god that has ever been presented to me, actually exists. I don't know, but I don't believe. Agnostic atheist.
What metaphysical assumptions do you make, and why? Do you find the ones used by science to be unreasonable?