"Sigh, I was afraid our discussion would come back to this, which is why I explicitly avoided directly definitions or usage of ontological and methodological naturalism in my prior comments, in which I tried to explain why I hold the position of accepting the latter while rejecting the former."
I understand this. But I my question still remains. The one doesn’t make sense unless the other is true. And ontological naturalism is about as far from being true as it is possible to be. This, the falsity of ontological naturalism, by the way, is the CONCLUSION of a sound argument that accounts for all the data. It is not an usupported a priori premise that is grimly held on to in spite of devastating arguments to the contrary.
"Methodological naturalism says: we wish to understand the truth, and the best way we have found to do that is to rely on what we observe."
This is incomplete. This is empiricism and it's not what methodological naturalism claims. It also, by definition, excludes anything apart from the natural, even where sound arguments from reason and evidence demand a conclusion of God. So there is implicitly, at least, a definition of what qualifies as "truth" in this system. Where is the role of reason in understanding the truth? Data is just data without an explanation and reason is what provides that explanation. It’s the EXPLANATION that is key. There should be no disagreement over data. It’s all about understanding it and explaining it.
"This is so profoundly true that I don't understand why you are trying to reject it? We have made observations such that the Sun is at the center of the solar system. We have made observations such that a year is 365.25 days. We have observed that tides are caused directly by the moon."
I do not reject it. I reject your characterization that observation alone is the final arbiter of truth. It’s evidence or observation, if you please, PLUS reason that gets us to the truth. And, by the way, ontological naturalism cannot account for reason.
"Consider if we had two competing explanations for tides; one said that the moon correlated very closely with tidal motion and therefore was likely inter-related or directly responsible. Or a second theory that said that periodically a god-like Neptune creature materializes in the sea, displacing water."
Consider if we had two competing explanations for the origin of the universe. One said, it beats the hell out of me but I know for sure it isn’t God or anything “supernatural.” One said, based on an exercise in pure reason PLUS multiple observations, that the universe began, therefore it had a “beginner.” Which one would you be more likely to believe?
"If there is any kind of evidence of the Neptune-like creature, that theory has some credibility. Likewise, if there is any variance in the correlation of the moon to the tides, it casts doubt on that theory. Its really just simple competition; which explanation is the most plausible in light of what we can observe? Which is to say, the "best" explanation for something is that which fits all of the known observations of the time and does not make unreasonable implications (ie. some physics theories imply that the universe only had a very tiny chance of ever existing; these theories are given less weight)."
I have no quarrel with this and if you think I do then you haven’t read me very carefully. PART of what makes a theory a good explanation is that it accounts for all the data. That is another way of saying that it must be internally consistent. It must be RATIONAL.
"All I'm saying is that when we, as rational human beings, want to explain how something works, we base it on the story that best fits the facts. If new facts emerge, we change the story to fit."
Sigh. No shit.
"Can you give a counter-example?"
"In any case, I'd be happy to move on to discussing another point, unless you feel this particular issue requires more examination."
Only of your estimation of the value of reason in getting at the truth. I’d be interested to hear your explanation of that.