Thoughts on Knowledge, Defining Terms.

“The theorist who maintains that science is the be-all and end-all-that what is not in science textbooks is not worth knowing-is an ideologist with a peculiar and distorted doctrine of his own. For him, science is no longer a sector of the cognitive enterprise but an all-inclusive world view. This is the doctrine not of science but of scientism. To take this stance in not to celebrate science but to distort it.”

-Nicholas Rescher, The Limits Of Science

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

-Colossians 2:8 ESV

 As I browse the internet, reading articles and the comments on those articles, I am always amused at responses to certain topics such as the creation vs evolution debate. Which, for whatever reason, is still stuck in a perpetual state of polarization and the progress of understanding the true nature of the discussion is going nowhere fast. The view that seems to stick is that the religious must believe things without any evidence and that science has done away with God. The problem was enhanced by the Ham/Nye “debate”, yes I put the word debate in quotations because I’m not sure that qualified as a proper debate. The way these conversations always end up, is not discussing evidence that science discovered, but with philosophical claims. Let’s define some terms here;

Science is considered a first-order discipline.
-A field which examines a subject of interest (Biology, physics, etc..)

Philosophy is a second order discipline.
-A field which examines the presuppositions of another field (philosophy of science, philosophy of history, etc..)

When we make the claim that science is the only source of true knowledge, this is a self refuting statement. Science itself does not make this claim. To do science, one must hold many philosophical presuppositions before ever beginning to study the external world in which we live. We must first assume that there is an orderly, knowable, external world/universe for us to study. This is something that cannot be verified by natural science.

If we are going to make any progress in this realm of discussion, we must understand what it is we are trying to convince each other of.  ‘Great care must be given to distinguish issues in the philosophy of science from those in science. For issues that directly involve both disciplines, we should try to clarify the scientific and philosophical aspects of those issues’. (1)

Some say philosophy is dead. I would argue that it is alive, and more important than it has been in a long time. Take time to study basic philosophy and logic, these are tremendous tools in understanding the language being used and how to discern when the line has crossed from a discussion of science to the discussion of philosophical claims about science.

“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.”

-1 Thessalonians 5:21,22

(1) Moreland, JP and William Lane Craig; Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview,  IVP Academic, 2003.

Fleeting vanity.

A little reality check from Blaise Pascal.

One needs no great sublimity of soul to realize that in this life there is no true and solid satisfaction, that all our pleasures are mere vanity, that our afflictions are infinite, and finally that death which threatens us at every moment must in a few years infallibly face us with the inescapable and appalling alternative of being annihilated or wretched without eternity. Nothing could be more real or more dreadful than that. Let us put on a bold a face as we like: that is the end awaiting the world’s most illustrious life. [1]
-Pascal (Pensées)