> I posed the question because I pose that kind of
> question all the time for my doctoral students,
> and it leads them to testable questions--or they
> fall short of their doctoral ambitions.
Don't you see any value in inductive thinking, or must it all be deductive? I mean, the idea of a multiverse isn't testable, but it's an idea that many scientists run with because they are looking for an answer to how the Universe could begin in a low entropy state (not my favourite theory, by the way). Abstract ideas are important because they allow us to construct models of how reality might function that make sense of the data that we do have.
> You might be interested to know that a Cartesian
> dualist like me agrees with you almost entirely in
> your views of mentalism.
It surprises me that you are a Cartesian dualist, since it's a highly untestable idea - you can't cut open a brain and find "mind". Let me adjust that slightly. You CAN test it observing that a damaged brain equates to a damaged experience of consciousness. This would imply there isn't an entity, "mind", separate from the material brain. Also, when a body goes unconscious, "mind" doesn't go into a dark waiting room where it consciously waits for the body to heal. Mind simply doesn't exist. I model consciousness as an activity, not an object.
> the inside, science is a mess. The big bang seems
> to require a miraculous start to everything;
It requires us to accept that there is more to reality than naturalism, and it presents us with an impenetrable mystery.
> "entanglment" of structures at a distance seems to
> defy the speed of light;
They don't defy the speed of light because they don't travel across space. They operate in a deeper aspect of reality than the visible "matrix". There's no confusion or paradox here, only an acceptance that the world of the senses is an appearance of reality, not reality itself.
> "intelligence" seems to
> be overruling "natural selection" in evolution.
I agree. That doesn't make natural selection a wrong theory. It just limits its applicability. I don't think there's any doubt that mutations occur in nature, and the ones that provide a useful survival advantage tend to stick around, because the creature with the advantage fares better in life and hence reproductive ability.