Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Limits of Science

Why is there so much faith put into science? Why the certainty of factuality when it comes to what is considered scientific? Science does not tell us how life originated. It doesn’t tell us why life originated or give us insight into our purpose. Science can tell us that if I put strychnine in a well the water will kill those who drink it. But it doesn’t tell us if it is wrong to kill.


G. K. Chesterton quips “Nobody can imagine how nothing turned into something. Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else.”


I do appreciate science. I think we are motivated by God given curiosity and desire for knowledge to search out the hidden things with our microscopes, telescopes and other instrumentation. We want to know. We need to know. But why? Science cannot answer that. Notwithstanding, so many have such an unwavering faith in science when it tells us so little about who we are and why we are. Science can give us a complete composite of our biological make up and that is outstanding progress. It can get into the molecular level and tell us so much and give us ways to repair bodies. It can help us explore the oceans, plants, animals, and universe. The scientific advances are astounding wonders of exploration.


When I was watching Dawkins and Lennox debate, Dawkins said that the beauty of creation compels us to want to worship something greater and he said that science can show us how things came to be this way dismantling the desire for worship. Science can break down things and show how they work, but it fails to explain why nature should be so picturesque. It doesn’t explain why our hearts fill with wonder at a sun rise over the ocean or a rainbow over a field of flowers. It doesn’t explain what happens in our soul when we take in this grandeur of the universe. Can it be that it is precisely this wonder that so captures our soul that launched the sciences in the first place? Why now does science in some schools of thought destroy the need for wonder?



Science is an awesome tool for exploring life, but it isn’t THE tool to knowing about life. It falls short in many areas of answering the great questions most of us think about. Some say there is no meaning to life and yet they thought about the meaning of life enough to write about it acknowledging a need for meaning that prompted the negative answer to the question. The great thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Kant, and Kierkegaard, etc. explored these questions of life. What drove their exploration? There is something in us that cries for answers and accepting defeat to our questions does not make logical sense. If that desire is in us then there is a reason for it. If we haven’t found the reason we can’t give up by denying the question.

46 comments:

CyberKitten said...

I think you're making the fundamental error of thinking that explanations of things must be provided by *either* science *or* religion.

In this way you either end up with a God of the Gaps or you have to choose between one or the other. Both of which are wrong.

There are indeed many things that science cannot (as yet) explain. Some of them will no doubt eventually be explained by one branch of science or another. Other things are quite possibly outside the remit of science. This is not a failing but simply a boundary of what science is *for*. Also this does not mean that religion is needed to fill any gaps - or that religion is in someway superior because it can 'explain' things - or at least offer up an explanation where science is silent.

You keep forgetting that there is another way of thinking about things that is neither science *or* religion. Its called Philosophy - you may have heard of it. Philosophy offers up ideas about meaning and much else besides that science has little or no interest in.

karla said: Some say there is no meaning to life and yet they thought about the meaning of life enough to write about it acknowledging a need for meaning that prompted the negative answer to the question.

[laughs] You're talking about *me* aren't you? [grin]

karla said: There is something in us that cries for answers and accepting defeat to our questions does not make logical sense. If that desire is in us then there is a reason for it. If we haven’t found the reason we can’t give up by denying the question.

Knowledge is power & power has a *great* evolutionary advantage. No supernatural 'explanation' is required.

Karla said...

I did not speak of failures of science, but limits of science. It's not failing by not being capable of exploring things beyond it's scope.

Philosophy is the study of truth, that includes metaphysical studies.

I was thinking of your post, but there are whole books written on the subject with the same non-answer you give.

So our search for knowledge is motivated by a need for power? Where does that need come from? Why does that need exist?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I did not speak of failures of science, but limits of science. It's not failing by not being capable of exploring things beyond it's scope.

...and your point is?

karla said: Philosophy is the study of truth, that includes metaphysical studies.


I'm not so certain that philosophy can be simply boiled down to 'the study of truth' First you would need to determine what 'truth' is.

Most of my philosophy studies so far has been about the attempt to decide what is the best way to live and the best way to structure society. The search for some mythical truth in these matters pre-supposes that there is a single best way to accomplish both - once the 'truth' has been unearthed. I don't believe that such is the case.

karla said: I was thinking of your post, but there are whole books written on the subject with the same non-answer you give.

Cool! At least I'm not alone in my thoughts on the subject.

karla said: So our search for knowledge is motivated by a need for power?

Its certainly an explanation.... and one that Nietzsche used to great effect...

karla said: Where does that need come from? Why does that need exist?

Imagine two groups of people millions of years ago. For random genetic reasons one is 'programmed' to acquire knowledge - and therefore power - and the other isn't.... In any confrontation either with the environment or with each other who do you think is most likely to survive?

Anonymous said...

Hi Karla, you blog seems really cool. I too am a writer and was wondering if you would email me sometime so we could chat. My email is crimsonmoon_ixoye@msn.com Hope to talk to you soon.

Anonymous said...

Once again, I think I'll try and stick to a single point:

"Science is an awesome tool for exploring life, but it isn’t THE tool to knowing about life. It falls short in many areas of answering the great questions most of us think about."

And, what is your alternative? Religion/Theology? What have we learned from religion or theology?

Karla said...

Cyber "Imagine two groups of people millions of years ago. For random genetic reasons one is 'programmed' to acquire knowledge - and therefore power - and the other isn't.... In any confrontation either with the environment or with each other who do you think is most likely to survive?"

You can imagine such a supposal so far back that there are no records or evidence to support your position, but you can't accept what we do have records for regarding the life of Christ? It's funny because I am reading a book by G.K. Chesterton where he is contemplating this very idea that science makes so many assertions about what happened so long ago that we have little to no evidence for.

Cyber "I'm not so certain that philosophy can be simply boiled down to 'the study of truth' First you would need to determine what 'truth' is."

Ah, so we need a truth to know do we?

"Most of my philosophy studies so far has been about the attempt to decide what is the best way to live and the best way to structure society. The search for some mythical truth in these matters pre-supposes that there is a single best way to accomplish both - once the 'truth' has been unearthed. I don't believe that such is the case."

Yes it supposes there is a worldview that makes the most sense of all this. By saying "mythical truth" you seem to insinuate right off the bat that alleging "one truth" would be fictional at best and not truth. The Truth I speak of is greatly practical, natural and supernatural, it has some mystical mysterious elements at times, because spirituality will, but it is based in time, place, history. It can be researched and explored. I'm not alleging a Zeus or a Santa. I'm talking about a God who came to humanity as Jesus and is concretely researchable in history. Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens seem to have cheapened Christianity down to a fairy tale and it cannot be dismissed as such. That doesn't give it a fair overview.

Cyberkitten, I really appreciate you being a good sport in all these discussions. I really enjoy conversing with you no matter our disagreements.

Karla said...

Anonymous asked "And, what is your alternative? Religion/Theology?"

History and philosophy are disciplines that should work along side science to tell us about the world and ourselves. Theology adds to the conversation as well.

"What have we learned from religion or theology?"

That's a broad question. I'll have to answer it from Christianity because I don't know enough about other religions to answer well.

Christianity has given science a foundation for exploration. The Christian worldview provided stability for reason and logic. It provided science with the presuppositions required to trust the scientific method and research. I've written about this before. Many great scientist were and are Christians. Science developed in a culture that was largely Christian where all were educated through the Church. This is the culture modern science was birthed in. It's often referred to as the Dark Ages, but that term was allocated to that time period centuries later and does not adequately describe the times.

I'm still researching some things about the controversial myth of Galileo and the church. I've recently become aware that the commonly excepted story is not the whole truth and I am in the process of researching the sources of the two books where I read the corrected version to see if it checks out.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: You can imagine such a supposal so far back that there are no records or evidence to support your position, but you can't accept what we do have records for regarding the life of Christ?

My speculation was just that... It was just a possibility, nothing more. But it is clear that creatures with curiosity about their environment and the ability to put together theories and test them against reality - will do much better than creatures who have none of these traits.

As to the historical existence of Jesus... as far as I know its certainly not uncontested and as far as I am aware the so-called documentation supporting it is far from irrefutable. As to stories of his miracles etc.. I really don't think you should expect us to believe them just because they were written down around the time they were supposed to have happened. Not everything written actually happened and is in no way proof that such events actually occured.

karla said: science makes so many assertions about what happened so long ago that we have little to no evidence for.

Scientists speculate about lots of things. Its merely an early stage in the scientific process. When they move beyond speculation they have data to play with to see if any of it fits in with their ideas. Figuring out what happened long ago is often difficult but not impossible - the Big Bang being a case in point.

karla said: Ah, so we need a truth to know do we?

Sorry, I don't understand your question.

karla said: By saying "mythical truth" you seem to insinuate right off the bat that alleging "one truth" would be fictional at best and not truth.

Pretty much, yes.

karla said: Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens seem to have cheapened Christianity down to a fairy tale and it cannot be dismissed as such. That doesn't give it a fair overview.

Fairy Tale seems like a good description - but Myth also applies if you like that word better.

karla said: Cyberkitten, I really appreciate you being a good sport in all these discussions. I really enjoy conversing with you no matter our disagreements.

Thanks. No doubt we disagree with just about everything the other person says - but I still maintain a hope that you'll come around to my way of thinking [grin]

karla said: Theology adds to the conversation as well.

Only in an historical or cultural way I think.

karla said: Christianity has given science a foundation for exploration.

I think you'll find that was the Greeks whose ideas were co-opted by the early Christians.

karla said: Many great scientist were and are Christians. Science developed in a culture that was largely Christian where all were educated through the Church. This is the culture modern science was birthed in.

That's because until *very* recently most people believed in God so pretty much until the middle of the 19th Century most scientists would have inevitably believe in God. However, the foundations of chemistry were in magic - not Christianity. If it wasn't for all of the experiments undertaken to make gold from base metals I'm sure that chemistry wouldn't be the commanding science it is today.

karla said: It's often referred to as the Dark Ages, but that term was allocated to that time period centuries later and does not adequately describe the times.

The Dark Ages was, I believe, the time between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance - and is normally refered to as the Dark Ages because, until recently, we knew very little about them basically because of the lack of literature from that period. However, science as we understand it only really got going after the Italian Renaissance with the influx of ancient and muslim texts from the Arab world.

Anonymous said...

"Theology adds to the conversation as well."

What and how does it add anything to the conversation?

"Christianity has given science a foundation for exploration. The Christian worldview provided stability for reason and logic. It provided science with the presuppositions required to trust the scientific method and research."

No, it doesn't (and besides, we obviously don't need Xianity today to do science, so there's no reason to suspect that we need support from Xianity to do science - which is doubly shown by the fact that many non-Xians were scientists, like the ancient Greeks and the Chinese and the Muslims). Science is done by tossing out the presuppositions that Xianity holds and trying to figure things out from a clean slate. Further, with a god that can and does perform miracles, all bets are off. It's quite possible for natural laws to be violated at the whim of this god and if the Bible is correct, we know that this god has done so. Once again you assert this, and I bring up the same objections that you will once again not deal with just so that you can bring up your assertion again in the future and act as if no one has ever rebutted you.

"Many great scientist were and are Christians. Science developed in a culture that was largely Christian where all were educated through the Church."

And, this is highly irrelevant. Scientists can be Xian or any other religion, but they must compartmentalize and set aside their beliefs in order to properly conduct science. Their beliefs do not add to the scientific process. So, you still have not answered the question. What does theology in general and Xianity in particular tell us about the world? What have we learned from theology and religion? At best, even if your assertions held any weight, you'd still be talking about what we've learned from science! What have we learned from theology and/or religion?

Anonymous said...

Bump.

Still waiting on an answer...

Karla said...

I'll have to get to you about this tomorrow. I am trying to find a book on this topic I heard about. But regardless I will try and answer tomorrow. Sorry for the wait.

CyberKitten said...

BTW - I've just posted a magazine review of a book you might like to pick up. I've actually bought it but haven't read it yet so can't say if its any good - in my opinion. It certainly *looks* good though....

Karla said...

”What and how does it add anything to the conversation?”

Christian theology gives a worldview that explains the big questions that science is limited to explain.

“No, it doesn't (and besides, we obviously don't need Xianity today to do science, so there's no reason to suspect that we need support from Xianity to do science - which is doubly shown by the fact that many non-Xians were scientists, like the ancient Greeks and the Chinese and the Muslims).”

You don’t need to be a Christian to do science, but scientist do, maybe unconsciously, ascribe to many presuppositions that are decidedly Christian that are necessary for doing science. Things like trusting that what we observe with our senses is real. Believing there is a reality to discover. Believing that our senses correspond to that reality and that our minds are capable of reasoning about it. Believing that the world is knowable. I know you don’t agree with me, maybe you should check out Alfred North Whiteheads book on Religion and Science it seems to be quoted extensively in these debates. I am trying to locate a copy myself at present.

“Science is done by tossing out the presuppositions that Xianity holds and trying to figure things out from a clean slate.”

See my answer above.

“Further, with a god that can and does perform miracles, all bets are off. It's quite possible for natural laws to be violated at the whim of this god and if the Bible is correct, we know that this god has done so. Once again you assert this, and I bring up the same objections that you will once again not deal with just so that you can bring up your assertion again in the future and act as if no one has ever rebutted you.”

I have given answer to this before. How would we identify a miracle if we didn’t first know what was natural? Also, if He set up the natural as well as the supernatural, what is He violating? If an artist paints three identical portraits and then paints one that introduces something different into the portrait, has the artist violated anything really?

“And, this is highly irrelevant. Scientists can be Xian or any other religion, but they must compartmentalize and set aside their beliefs in order to properly conduct science. Their beliefs do not add to the scientific process.”

Everyone’s worldview affects what they do and how they see things. That is why it is called a worldview. That is why I spend so much time discussing foundational elements of ones worldview rather than specifics that are based upon the foundational. If a person wears red tinted glasses everything they see will be interpreted as being red. If their glasses are replaced with transparent clear lenses they can see things as they really are. If ones worldview has problems then it won’t matter what information they are trying to objectively see, they will need to correct the worldview before they can see clearly. It is possible, I would say to try to see things from other peoples worldview, but when it comes to ones own conclusions it is most likely going to be aligned with ones worldview or a changed worldview based on examining others that may have answered the problems of the previously held presuppositions.

“So, you still have not answered the question. What does theology in general and Xianity in particular tell us about the world? What have we learned from theology and religion? At best, even if your assertions held any weight, you'd still be talking about what we've learned from science! What have we learned from theology and/or religion?”

Christianity tells us God created all that is from nothing. That nothing physical existed prior to creation and the eternal metaphysical God set it all into motion. This is consistent with the Big Bang theory that caught up with the Bible thousands of years later. Christianity gives us the meaning for our existence and our purpose. Christianity teaches that we have a responsibility to take care of our world. It teaches us that we can have knowledge and understanding about things and we can search out and explore our world. We learn from Christ how to love and how to live. How to protect ourselves from disease and sickness. How to heal sickness and disease. Do I need to go on?

Karla said...

Cyber, I'll check that out.

Anonymous said...

"Christian theology gives a worldview that explains the big questions that science is limited to explain."

How does "goddidit" explain anything? How do I "know" that this is what happened? What is the mechanism I use to determine that somebody's supposed revealed truth from god is correct and someone else's isn't?

"You don’t need to be a Christian to do science, but scientist do, maybe unconsciously, ascribe to many presuppositions that are decidedly Christian that are necessary for doing science."

Again, no they don't. How did pre-Xian scientists ascribe to Xian presuppositions? What Xian presuppositions are these, and how do they actually help one do science? How do you get around the fact that all of our scientific knowledge can be voided in an instant by a "miracle" from god?

"Things like trusting that what we observe with our senses is real."

That's NOT how science is done, and you can't do that anyway if god can perform miracles at any time.

"Believing there is a reality to discover."

Do you honestly think that one has to be a Xian in order to observe that there seems to be a reality that seems to act in ways that are consistent?

"Believing that our senses correspond to that reality and that our minds are capable of reasoning about it."

How does this flow from Xianity at all? Quite simply, it doesn't. And, our senses can be wrong, or do you think the sun revolves around the Earth?

"Believing that the world is knowable."

Already covered, since this is the same as your second assertion.

"I know you don’t agree with me..."

You're darn right I don't, and for good reason. One, is that you don't actually understand how science is done, so you're improperly talking about it. Two, is that your assertions of what comes from Xianity are faulty. Three, is that your assertions of the things that people "believe" are not from Xianity or at least not necessarily from Xianity.

"See my answer above."

And, you still don't understand what science is or how it is done. The trick is to limit and get rid of presuppositions, not to add layers of them with belief in demons, angels, gods, etc. It is by getting away from Xian dogma that we actually end up doing science!

"I have given answer to this before. How would we identify a miracle if we didn’t first know what was natural?"

THIS IS NOT AN ANSWER! You're still indicating that what we know about the natural world can and is violated when a miracle occurs. Knowing this, I can't be assured that gravity will always work, since god could make something float as a "miracle."

"Also, if He set up the natural as well as the supernatural, what is He violating?"

If god sets up natural laws, like gravity, that are always in effect for humans, then goes around and negates those at his whim, then those natural laws are violated. We can not be assured that they will hold in all situations because god can and does violate them.

"If an artist paints three identical portraits and then paints one that introduces something different into the portrait, has the artist violated anything really?"

This shows me that you don't even understand the objection.

"Everyone’s worldview affects what they do and how they see things."

Then how do atheist and theist scientists come to the same scientific results? This is why I say you don't understand science, because you really have no clue that it's about setting aside worldviews and dealing with the verifiable, repeatable data!

"That is why I spend so much time discussing foundational elements of ones worldview rather than specifics that are based upon the foundational."

And, this is why you continually fail to make any progress. Taking such a relativistic track is not only anti-Xian, but it pales in comparison to real, empirical evidence and data. I don't care what you believe if it doesn't correspond with the data.

"If ones worldview has problems then it won’t matter what information they are trying to objectively see, they will need to correct the worldview before they can see clearly."

When it comes to science, this is false. Otherwise, we would still be looking for epicycles.

"Christianity tells us God created all that is from nothing. That nothing physical existed prior to creation and the eternal metaphysical God set it all into motion."

Yet, this has not been confirmed, so we can't say that we have learned this from Xianity (or from the number of other mythologies that posit the same thing). Further, have we actually learned this from Xianity? Let's say that we finally figure out that everything did come from nothing...how do you think we will figure that out? By praying or by doing empirical experimentation?

"This is consistent with the Big Bang theory that caught up with the Bible thousands of years later."

A) No, it is not.
B) To make the claim that the Bible and Big Bang are somehow in accordance with one another ignores the reality that the Bible makes all kinds of fantastical claims that are NOT borne out by the science.
C) See my point above about how we learn things.

"Christianity gives us the meaning for our existence and our purpose."

No, Xianity gives some assertions about meaning and purpose (assertions that are different depending on your flavor of Xianity) but nothing that I can say that I've learned from it. Nor is any of it confirmed or verified.

"Christianity teaches that we have a responsibility to take care of our world."

How did you come to that conclusion and how long has Xianity taught that? For most of Xianity's history, humans were the dominators of the world, not the care-takers (and many sects still hold that this is so). How exactly, did we learn of this from Xianity? What verification is there that is a teaching and that it is correct, and how was that verification done?

"It teaches us that we can have knowledge and understanding about things and we can search out and explore our world."

I'm still at a loss as to how Xianity teaches this (see all objections above). But, this too fails for the same reasons as above.

"We learn from Christ how to love and how to live."

See above.

"How to protect ourselves from disease and sickness. How to heal sickness and disease."

By rubbing oil on ourselves and praying? Again, see above.

"Do I need to go on?"

No, you need to come up with a legitimate example. None of those things are things that I can legitimately say come exclusively from the Xian viewpoint and are consistent across the spectrum of Xianity. None of those things are things that I can say are necessarily true and learned from theology. None of those things are things that we can verify through theology as being true. How does one learn through theology? Does one pray and hope that god talks to them and tells them the truth? If I pray and I hear something, how do I know that it is god and not some devil, that the entity talking to me is telling me the truth, and that it's not my imagination? And, how do I know that any "facts" given are actual facts. How do I go about learning whether the things communicated to me are in fact true?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Christianity tells us God created all that is from nothing. That nothing physical existed prior to creation and the eternal metaphysical God set it all into motion. This is consistent with the Big Bang theory that caught up with the Bible thousands of years later.

[laughs] There may well indeed have been a beginning to the Universe. However, the Big Bang does *not*... repeat *not* prove the existence of God. It just shows *at best* that the Universe had an origin!

karla said: We learn from Christ how to love and how to live. How to protect ourselves from disease and sickness. How to heal sickness and disease. Do I need to go on?

Really? Jesus introduced mankind to *anti-biotics*...? How come I've never heard that one before?

Anonymous said...

CK,
"It just shows *at best* that the Universe had an origin!"

Actually it shows that the universe *as we know it* began at a specific time. All our cosmological models start with something there (none of them start with nothing) and describe how this something became our universe. Because time is measured by light (photons) it doesn't make sense to talk about time before photons existed (as far as we know).

Karla said...

“How does "goddidit" explain anything? How do I "know" that this is what happened? What is the mechanism I use to determine that somebody's supposed revealed truth from god is correct and someone else's isn't?”

I said the Christian worldview supplies answers to meaning, life, purpose, origin. I said it support sciences. I have said over and over that it is good to explore our world. There seems to be a separation between what I am saying and what you are hearing. I think you expect me to give some pat answers that you expect from Christians and I’m throwing you off by not giving them. But you only seem to know how to respond to programmed pat answers instead of what I am actually saying.

"You don’t need to be a Christian to do science, but scientist do, maybe unconsciously, ascribe to many presuppositions that are decidedly Christian that are necessary for doing science."

”Again, no they don't. How did pre-Xian scientists ascribe to Xian presuppositions? What Xian presuppositions are these, and how do they actually help one do science?”

Truth starts with God so truth of the way the world operates existed well before the Christian era. You have heard me keep saying that you don’t have to be a Christian to have a worldview that borrows from Christianity, haven’t you?

“How do you get around the fact that all of our scientific knowledge can be voided in an instant by a "miracle" from god?”

Nothing is voided. If you didn’t know what was natural you wouldn’t know that something supernatural was at work. If you didn’t know the laws of nature, you wouldn’t know if one had been supernaturally avoided. If everyone floated on air that wouldn’t be a miracle, it’s only a miracle if it is contrary to what is usual. Also, how can you be so sure that the way things are in nature are the proper way of things? What if the supernatural brings things to rights versus using the natural as the standard?


”Do you honestly think that one has to be a Xian in order to observe that there seems to be a reality that seems to act in ways that are consistent?”

I’ve answered this in the previous comment and this one. I’ve said nothing about being a Christian. I’ve only been discussing the philosophical worldview.


”You're darn right I don't, and for good reason. One, is that you don't actually understand how science is done, so you're improperly talking about it. Two, is that your assertions of what comes from Xianity are faulty. Three, is that your assertions of the things that people "believe" are not from Xianity or at least not necessarily from Xianity.”

I am not a scientist. But I am a Christian and I am well studied about the Christian worldview, so I can answer about what is part of it. Just because others have also ascribed to certain truth claims, doesn’t mean that it didn’t originate with God.



”And, you still don't understand what science is or how it is done. The trick is to limit and get rid of presuppositions, not to add layers of them with belief in demons, angels, gods, etc. It is by getting away from Xian dogma that we actually end up doing science!”

No one gets rid of presuppositions. We all use them, we all need to examine them. You presume God doesn’t exist, we have already established you can’t know this, because you can’t know all things. I presume He does, but I presume a positive, and I only have to know that positive to know it’s reality. So it is possible for me to know Him to exist. That doesn’t prove it to you. But both are presuppositions and both have a worldview or a diversity of worldviews attached to those starting places and we have to examine the whole package of the worldview to see if it works. There are many ways to do this, science helps, but science is bound by presuppositions as well as any other discipline like history or philosophy etc.


"I have given answer to this before. How would we identify a miracle if we didn’t first know what was natural?"

”THIS IS NOT AN ANSWER! You're still indicating that what we know about the natural world can and is violated when a miracle occurs. Knowing this, I can't be assured that gravity will always work, since god could make something float as a "miracle."”

Why is this impossible? You have no way of knowing that gravity will work tomorrow. You can’t prove the sun will rise tomorrow, just because it always has risen. Tomorrow it may not. Your argument does not refute mine. So I will be using it still, as I did above.

"Also, if He set up the natural as well as the supernatural, what is He violating?"

If god sets up natural laws, like gravity, that are always in effect for humans, then goes around and negates those at his whim, then those natural laws are violated. We can not be assured that they will hold in all situations because god can and does violate them.

“So you are saying that there needs to be consistent laws in nature? I agree that there are patterns in nature and that we can discover how things usually work, but how do you know that they must work that way? How do you know that is best? Science can tell us what nature does, not why it ought to.

"If an artist paints three identical portraits and then paints one that introduces something different into the portrait, has the artist violated anything really?"



”Then how do atheist and theist scientists come to the same scientific results? This is why I say you don't understand science, because you really have no clue that it's about setting aside worldviews and dealing with the verifiable, repeatable data!”

The interpretation of scientific experiments and extrapolating conclusions about things based on research is very much a matter of worldview and not just the bare facts. Science isn’t the measure of all truth. Science tells us fascinating and helpful things about the natural world, it does not give us philosophy or meaning or purpose or morality. It can do extraordinary things, but there are limits and those limits are okay. You seem to make science your Bible and gage all truth by what scientists tell you. You put a lot of faith in men. Science is a tool; it isn’t the only way to discover truth.


”Yet, this has not been confirmed, so we can't say that we have learned this from Xianity (or from the number of other mythologies that posit the same thing). Further, have we actually learned this from Xianity? Let's say that we finally figure out that everything did come from nothing...how do you think we will figure that out? By praying or by doing empirical experimentation?”

I have no qualms against scientific investigation; it’s just not the highest standard of truth. It can find evidence for things, and that’s fine and exciting at times, but things remain true whether science proves it or not. There are many accounts of creation by various cultures, that shows a consistency of the truth that there was a creation to be written about. That doesn’t take away from the truth, it adds to it. Science will probably figure it out one day, but it doesn’t change anything for me what scientist say about it.

"This is consistent with the Big Bang theory that caught up with the Bible thousands of years later."

”A) No, it is not.
B) To make the claim that the Bible and Big Bang are somehow in accordance with one another ignores the reality that the Bible makes all kinds of fantastical claims that are NOT borne out by the science.
C) See my point above about how we learn things.”

If you say so, I am not going to belabor the point.

"Christianity gives us the meaning for our existence and our purpose."

No, Xianity gives some assertions about meaning and purpose (assertions that are different depending on your flavor of Xianity) but nothing that I can say that I've learned from it. Nor is any of it confirmed or verified.

"Christianity teaches that we have a responsibility to take care of our world."

”How did you come to that conclusion and how long has Xianity taught that? For most of Xianity's history, humans were the dominators of the world, not the care-takers (and many sects still hold that this is so). How exactly, did we learn of this from Xianity? What verification is there that is a teaching and that it is correct, and how was that verification done?”


What it teaches and what we have done are two different things.



"How to protect ourselves from disease and sickness. How to heal sickness and disease."

By rubbing oil on ourselves and praying? Again, see above.


”No, you need to come up with a legitimate example. None of those things are things that I can legitimately say come exclusively from the Xian viewpoint and are consistent across the spectrum of Xianity. None of those things are things that I can say are necessarily true and learned from theology. None of those things are things that we can verify through theology as being true.”

You haven’t proven yourself to be knowledgeable about real Christianity.


“How does one learn through theology? Does one pray and hope that god talks to them and tells them the truth? If I pray and I hear something, how do I know that it is god and not some devil, that the entity talking to me is telling me the truth, and that it's not my imagination? And, how do I know that any "facts" given are actual facts. How do I go about learning whether the things communicated to me are in fact true?”

Christians check everything with the Bible and we have the Spirit of God living inside us that directs us and we learn what is Him and what is not. We know that all that is from God is the way of love and life and by beholding the good we know when we come in contact with something that is not of God.

Karla said...

Cyber and Anonymous. You are both admitting that science seems to be showing that the universe had an origin or a beginning?

So does not that dictate the need for a Beginner or Originator? Do you not think it more miraculous for something to begin without a Beginner? For nothing to beget something without anything sparking it's creation?

I think atheists propose the bigger miracle.

Chesterton says, "Nobody can imagine how nothing turned into something. Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else."

lol Cyber, not anti-biotics. I was speaking of Old Testament hygiene and sanitary precautions regarding handling waste and dead bodies and food, etc.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: So does not that dictate the need for a Beginner or Originator? Do you not think it more miraculous for something to begin without a Beginner? For nothing to beget something without anything sparking it's creation?

I am unaware of any theory to fully explain what (if anything) caused the Universe to come into existence. However, we do not need to fill this gap in our knowledge with a supernatural being. I am more than happy to say "We don't know - yet". Many people, yourself included, seem either uncomfortable with or incapable of withholding an enormous leap of faith and simply admitting our ignorance on the matter. A lack of knowledge does not *ever* mean that the answer *must* be God.

karla said: I was speaking of Old Testament hygiene and sanitary precautions regarding handling waste and dead bodies and food, etc.

But you originally said "We learn from **Christ** how to love and how to live. How to protect ourselves from disease and sickness."

So wouldn't that be NT rather than OT?

Also... I *seriously* doubt if people only learnt about hygene from The Bible! Please........ [laughs]

Karla said...

"Also... I *seriously* doubt if people only learnt about hygene from The Bible! Please........ "

Of course not only. I wasn't saying that.

And as for a theory of how the Universe originated many scientist suggest that a First Mover or First Cause of a metaphysical nature is necessary for it's origin. Stephen Hawkings, one of the most brilliant minds of today says there has to be a First Mover.

Anonymous said...

"I said the Christian worldview supplies answers to meaning, life, purpose, origin."

And I countered by asking you how "goddidit" can be considered to be an answer. Are you going to address this objection or simply assert that you answered me?

"I said it support sciences."

And I've pointed out that you have not made your case.

"I have said over and over that it is good to explore our world."

Then you should actually do so instead of armchair quarterbacking and denying things that you are ignorant of. Still, what basis do you use for this?

"There seems to be a separation between what I am saying and what you are hearing."

The separation is not my problem, it is yours. You are making assertions and I'm asking you to support them and making counter-arguments. Do you really not understand that?

"I think you expect me to give some pat answers that you expect from Christians and I’m throwing you off by not giving them. But you only seem to know how to respond to programmed pat answers instead of what I am actually saying."

Nope, you're not throwing me off at all. I'm well used to hearing unsupported arguments from Xians, because that's all Xians have.

"Truth starts with God so truth of the way the world operates existed well before the Christian era. You have heard me keep saying that you don’t have to be a Christian to have a worldview that borrows from Christianity, haven’t you?"

Post-hoc rationalization.

"Nothing is voided."

Are you going to argue that god can not change all the laws of nature at a whim? That god can not suspend the laws of nature at a whim? That god has not suspended the laws of nature in creating miracles? Do you think that god can make an object hover in front of your eyes? Would this not violate the theory/law of gravity? This is a simple concept.

"If you didn’t know what was natural you wouldn’t know that something supernatural was at work."

We know what is natural by using science. If an entity could violate those laws, it would indeed be difficult for us to reconcile. But, either way, you are trying to have it both ways here. You're trying to argue that god performs miracles all the time (faith healings, etc.) but that god does not interfere with natural law so that we can be assured that natural law will hold and we can perform science. You can't have it both ways.

"Also, how can you be so sure that the way things are in nature are the proper way of things? What if the supernatural brings things to rights versus using the natural as the standard?"

It's not about "proper" or "right" it's about reality. If some god has some plan and uses miracles to make that plan come about, so be it. But, that's not what we are discussing. (On a side note, why would a perfect god need to interject miracles at all?)

"I’ve answered this in the previous comment and this one."

No, you haven't. You've asserted that one has to borrow from Xianity in order to do science. This is flat out false.

"I am not a scientist."

Obviously not. I, however, am (or at least have been). So, why do you tell me how science works instead of listening to someone who has actually done it tell you how it works?

"But I am a Christian and I am well studied about the Christian worldview, so I can answer about what is part of it."

I disagree. Your views don't line up with all other Xians, and we have no measure to determine if your views are more correct than any other Xian's views. You can't claim that you have a better Xianity than someone else if there's no way to measure it.

"Just because others have also ascribed to certain truth claims, doesn’t mean that it didn’t originate with God."

You can't show that they did, that they necessarily must come from god, etc. At best, this looks like you painting a bulls-eye around your arrow.

"No one gets rid of presuppositions."

In science we do. The only valid argument I've heard for a presupposition in science is that we presuppose that reality will continue to be consistent. This is a good one to hold, however, in that we have evidence and data that it is so, so it's more of a conclusion than a presupposition.

"You presume God doesn’t exist, we have already established you can’t know this, because you can’t know all things."

False. I certainly do not hold that as a presupposition. You either don't understand the terms you are using here or you are attempting to make strawmen. In fact, I believe I've already corrected you on this, but you persist anyway.

"I presume He does, but I presume a positive, and I only have to know that positive to know it’s reality."

You do presume that god exists and then you presume your conclusion. It's also called begging the question. And, since you assert the positive claim, it is also up to you to prove your claim.

"So it is possible for me to know Him to exist. That doesn’t prove it to you."

If god does exist, then it may be possible for us to know it. But, the evidence is against you, you can't show me how you know that god exists, and you can't argue your way to it either. At best, all you've done is said, "I know he exists, so there."

"But both are presuppositions and both have a worldview or a diversity of worldviews attached to those starting places and we have to examine the whole package of the worldview to see if it works."

And, once again you are wrong. What worldview is attached to my stance that you have not met your burden of proof that your god exists, therefore I don't accept your assertions that this god does exist? This is a cheap rhetorical trick that many apologists try and it's fallacious each and every time.

"There are many ways to do this, science helps, but science is bound by presuppositions as well as any other discipline like history or philosophy etc."

What are the presuppositions of science? If you are going to make such claims, then back them up.

"Why is this impossible? You have no way of knowing that gravity will work tomorrow. You can’t prove the sun will rise tomorrow, just because it always has risen. Tomorrow it may not. Your argument does not refute mine. So I will be using it still, as I did above."

Wow, you walked right into that one didn't you? That's the whole point! If god exists, we can't be sure that gravity will work tomorrow or that the sun will rise, because god could change natural law at any time. We know that god has done this; that god has suspended natural law, like when he made the sun stand still in the sky so that the Israelites would have light with which to slaughter their enemies. Because you subscribe to an entity that can do this, you CAN'T CLAIM THAT XIANITY LEADS TO THE BELIEF THAT NATURE IS CONSISTENT!

"The interpretation of scientific experiments and extrapolating conclusions about things based on research is very much a matter of worldview and not just the bare facts."

You're only partly right (and not in a good way for you). It's not a worldview issue that causes scientists to notice that fossils laid down in the geologic column do not correspond to the idea of a global flood. It is a worldview issue when creationists conclude that a global flood happened and then cherry-pick and shoe-horn data into fitting their views. It is the introduction of a worldview that ends up giving us bad results.

"Science isn’t the measure of all truth."

It seems to be the best method we have. I know of no other method. In fact, that's what I've asked you about. What other method would you prescribe and how does it work? So far, your only answer is that Xianity helps us to do science, which is false for the many reasons I've laid out.

"seem to make science your Bible and gage all truth by what scientists tell you."

You can stop the pathetic psycho-analysis, because you're simply wrong. I have no Bible. I merely recognize that science is the best and only tool we have to understand the world around us. Until you can give me another tool to use...

"I have no qualms against scientific investigation; it’s just not the highest standard of truth. It can find evidence for things, and that’s fine and exciting at times, but things remain true whether science proves it or not."

Once again, how do you get at that truth without science? What method do you use and how do you know it works?

"There are many accounts of creation by various cultures, that shows a consistency of the truth that there was a creation to be written about."

Ah, so now you are going to claim that all religions support Xianity somehow? Please.

"If you say so, I am not going to belabor the point."

But, somehow I don't see you refraining from using this erroneous argument in the future.

"What it teaches and what we have done are two different things."

Didn't say they weren't, but how will you verify exactly what Xianity teaches and when it has taught that? You're making the mistake of assuming that YOUR version of Xianity is THE version of Xianity. IOW, it's a no true Scotsman fallacy wrapped up with your own hubris.

"You haven’t proven yourself to be knowledgeable about real Christianity."

No true Scotsman and quite false. I was a Xian for one. Two, you are saying this simply because you are making assertions and I'm making objections to those assertions that you can't answer. When you assert X, and I counter that it's a logical fallacy, it doesn't matter whether I'm versed in Xianity or not. When I point out that other sects don't hold X, it shows that I'm actually better versed in Xianity than you. When I make a counterargument based on reason and logic, it matters not what I know about Xianity. If I were to make the arguments that you make, that Xians believe Y or Z, then it would matter. I don't tend to make those arguments. Oh, and pointing out the logical conclusion of your arguments has nothing to do with how well I know Xianity.

"Christians check everything with the Bible and we have the Spirit of God living inside us that directs us and we learn what is Him and what is not."

Typical answer. Unfortunately for you, different Xians all come to different conclusions. So, what you claim that you've learned through theology is different and opposed to what others claim to have learned through theology. You have two competing truth claims that can't be reconciled because you both use the same source material - so no learning has actually occurred, just guesswork.

"We know that all that is from God is the way of love and life and by beholding the good we know when we come in contact with something that is not of God."

That sounds all good, but it suffers from the same problem as the sentence before it.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Cyber and Anonymous. You are both admitting that science seems to be showing that the universe had an origin or a beginning?"

You need to work on your reading comprehension...specifically the part where I said, "All our cosmological models start with something there (none of them start with nothing) and describe how this something became our universe."

"So does not that dictate the need for a Beginner or Originator? Do you not think it more miraculous for something to begin without a Beginner? For nothing to beget something without anything sparking it's creation?"

No, you are incorrect. And, might I mention that in your previous response to me you said you weren't going to argue this anymore because of the information I had given you on it? Either way, to make the argument that "something came from nothing" and that science proves it is flat out wrong.

"I think atheists propose the bigger miracle."

And, you are wrong. You are adding an extra layer to the problem, which violates Occam's Razor, as well as violating our current scientific knowledge. But, your argument from presonal incredulity is duly noted.

"And as for a theory of how the Universe originated many scientist suggest that a First Mover or First Cause of a metaphysical nature is necessary for it's origin."

Yes, many scientists jumped to this conclusion when the first ideas from Hubble came out.

"Stephen Hawkings, one of the most brilliant minds of today says there has to be a First Mover."

Please cite a reference for this, because that is not what Hawkings says.

cl said...

Hi Karla, first-timer here, I saw and responded to the comment you left over at my blog.

I liked this post. I really pity the people who put excessive stock and faith in science, it just seems like such a closed-minded world view. Science rose from Scholasticism (Theology) and is but one of many epistemologies. Do we demand empirical evidence when we're hungry? Of course not.

One point of disagreement, though - I would say science does tell us how things work, but I agree with you that science must remain unequivocally silent regarding the questions of why things work as they do.

Karla said...

cl, welcome. Yes, I agree that science does give us the how a lot of times. Not the why.

There's a lot of discussion going on on my last two post. You are welcome to jump in there if you like.

Anonymous said...

"I really pity the people who put excessive stock and faith in science, it just seems like such a closed-minded world view."

Yes, it's so closed-minded to want evidence and to suppress your preconceptions instead of begging the question all the time.

cl said...

Karla,

Thanks! Perhaps I will..

Anonymous,

Way to put words in someone's mouth! Your strategy reminds me of a certain somebody on DA, and I will make a mental note and be sure not to take any of your subsequent comments with any real consideration. Presuming you're an atheist, don't you want to persuade people? Could this be OMGF, also known as "cl is a coward and liar" on my blog? If not, does OMGF / "cl is a coward and liar" know you're stealing his strategies?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Yes, I agree that science does give us the how a lot of times. Not the why.

I think we've had this debate before. I also think we can all agree that there are areas that science has no interest in and cannot (probably) provide answers for.

This does NOT mean, however, that the *only* alternative or even the best alternative answer can be provided by religion. You either forget or ignore *philosophy* which continues to offer answers to non-scientific questions.

Anonymous said...

Not my fault cl that you can't think logically or rationally.

Ali P said...

cl said...
I really pity the people who put excessive stock and faith in science, it just seems like such a closed-minded world view.

Exaclty how I feel...........about theists.

cl said...

cl, a lifelong student of both science and religion among other things, said,

I really pity the people who put excessive stock and faith in science, it just seems like such a closed-minded world view.

Anonymous replied,

Yes, it's so closed-minded to want evidence and to suppress your preconceptions instead of begging the question all the time.

then,

Not my fault cl that you can't think logically or rationally.

Let the record show that nowhere in cl's original words did cl say or even reasonably imply that it was closed-minded to want evidence or to suppress preconceptions. Thus, Anonymous heard something completely antithetical to what cl's original words reasonably entail. How this is rational or logical has left cl scratching his head.

CyberKitten,

I agree that religion / science is a false dichotomy.

Ali P,

Although my comment references a specific category of people, your response simply addresses "theists." To clarify, are you saying you feel that all theists possess a closed-minded worldview?

Ali P said...

cl said...
Although my comment references a specific category of people, your response simply addresses "theists." To clarify, are you saying you feel that all theists possess a closed-minded worldview?

Atheists are non-theists (not a specific category as such), if you claim they're all close minded, I can claim the opposite is true.....That's my pedantic answer :-)

To answer the question a little more sensibly; I can only refer to the few mainstream religions I'm aware of (Christianity, Ilsam and Judaism), though I'm sure many others fit the description.

Anonymous said...

cl,
It's not my fault that you can't understand simple English and that you make veiled comments that we can all see through. I'm done with you now (except for one more comment on the other thread). I violated my own rule about dealing with you and I'm going to stop violating it now. You are not worth my time or anyone else's. You're vile, dishonest, smug, annoying, etc.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: I agree that religion / science is a false dichotomy.

It's amazing though how many people think that it's a either/or choice.

Karla said...

Cyber,

Science and religion are not by nature at odds. Some think they are, but in reality they are not. One does not negate the other.

Anon, see my comment to you on the other post concerning your comment to cl.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Science and religion are not by nature at odds. Some think they are, but in reality they are not. One does not negate the other.

I think you misunderstand me. You appear to say, more than once, that questions science fails to answer can only (or can best) be answered by religion - such as "How are we to live?".

What I am saying is that the answers (or at least attempted answers) are not best provided by theology but by philosohpy. You keep seeming to leave philosophy out of the equations and appear to only offer up the two alternatives of science or religion. There is after all a third player on the field of knowledge and wisdom.

Anonymous said...

"There is after all a third player on the field of knowledge and wisdom."

No, there isn't, because religion doesn't belong on the field. I'm still waiting to find out what we've learned from religion.

And, yes, science and religion are at odds. One demands evidence, empirical results, rational thinking, etc. The other demands irrational thinking, persists despite a serious lack of evidence, has no empiricism backing it, etc.

CyberKitten said...

Anon said: No, there isn't, because religion doesn't belong on the field.

Religion is only a form of knowledge & wisdom in a 'post-modern' sense (which to me is nonsense). This does not mean that it is - at least from our PoV - a *valid* form of knowledge. It is IMO of the same standard and stature as the knowledge and wisdom of pre-Christian religious beliefs that the majority of people dismiss out of hand.... including Karla.

Anonymous said...

CK,
I don't understand your argument.

"Religion is only a form of knowledge & wisdom in a 'post-modern' sense (which to me is nonsense). This does not mean that it is - at least from our PoV - a *valid* form of knowledge."

I'm asking how it is a valid form of knowledge in any sense, and so far all I've heard from Karla is unsupported, tenuous connections to how it may have helped people to do science...which is where the real learning occurred anyway.

"It is IMO of the same standard and stature as the knowledge and wisdom of pre-Christian religious beliefs that the majority of people dismiss out of hand.... including Karla."

Which is what I don't understand. Why would we call it a "player on the field of knowledge and wisdom" if it doesn't actually produce any knowledge or wisdom? Religion seems to have wormed its way into our culture to the point where we are told that we have to respect it and we have to feel that it's a valid way of knowing things, etc. Rubbish! Unless we can actually say what, if anything, religion has taught us about the world, we can't include it in the realm of things that teach us about the world.

CyberKitten said...

Anon said: I don't understand your argument.

It wasn't really an 'argument' as such....

Anon said: I'm asking how it is a valid form of knowledge in any sense, and so far all I've heard from Karla is unsupported, tenuous connections to how it may have helped people to do science...which is where the real learning occurred anyway.

That's because it isn't a valid form of knowledge.... Or at least not a meaningful or useful form.

Anon said: Why would we call it a "player on the field of knowledge and wisdom" if it doesn't actually produce any knowledge or wisdom?

It certainly doesn't produce anything useful, valid or meaningful in the sense I think we both mean. But knowledge of even fictional characters is knowledge of a sort and can be used for entertainment or a pub quiz.

Anon said: Religion seems to have wormed its way into our culture to the point where we are told that we have to respect it and we have to feel that it's a valid way of knowing things, etc.

Well, its certainly been around for a long time - probably as long as humans have been around - and it had *huge* respect from everyone until fairly recently. The fact that it now publically *demands* respect is a sure sign that its already lost it.

Anon said: Unless we can actually say what, if anything, religion has taught us about the world, we can't include it in the realm of things that teach us about the world.

I agree. Religion has nothing meaningful to teach us - except maybe how most peoples minds appear to work. It is an out-dated idea that failed to explain things. 'Nuff said really.

Karla said...

Cyber said "I think you misunderstand me. You appear to say, more than once, that questions science fails to answer can only (or can best) be answered by religion - such as "How are we to live?".

What I am saying is that the answers (or at least attempted answers) are not best provided by theology but by philosohpy. You keep seeming to leave philosophy out of the equations and appear to only offer up the two alternatives of science or religion. There is after all a third player on the field of knowledge and wisdom."


I am all for philosophy. Do you think philosophy is that which is devoid of talk of God? If we introduce God into philosophy as did Socrates, Kant, Kierkegaard, Descartes etc. are you saying it's not philosophy anymore?

For the most part I think I keep to philosophical foundations in most every topic, not always, but that's the area of writing I like best.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Do you think philosophy is that which is devoid of talk of God?

Not at all - but theology and philosophy are not one and the same. Philosophy is a very wide subject. In the last few years of studying it God has hardly ever been mentioned.

karla said: If we introduce God into philosophy as did Socrates, Kant, Kierkegaard, Descartes etc. are you saying it's not philosophy anymore?

To be pedantic for a moment: Socrates didn't technically introduce anything into philosophy. When you read Socrates you're reading Plato as Socrates never wrote anything down - or at least nothing that has survived. Also its very arguable that when pre-Christian philosophers talk about 'God' they're not actually talking about *our* conception of God.

As to the others you mentioned - there have certainly been philosophers who believe in God & talked about Him in their philosophy. But there have been many who do not and have not.

Karla said...

Just as long as you don't exclude talk of God from philosophy. However, in the way I see it, God has to be the starting point for knowledge no matter the discipline. If He is the Truth than all starts with Him so if He exists then all disciplines of learning should start with that reality. If He doesn't then none of them would need to bother about Him.

Karla said...

Just as long as you don't exclude talk of God from philosophy. However, in the way I see it, God has to be the starting point for knowledge no matter the discipline. If He is the Truth than all starts with Him so if He exists then all disciplines of learning should start with that reality. If He doesn't then none of them would need to bother about Him.

Karla said...

Just as long as you don't exclude talk of God from philosophy. However, in the way I see it, God has to be the starting point for knowledge no matter the discipline. If He is the Truth than all starts with Him so if He exists then all disciplines of learning should start with that reality. If He doesn't then none of them would need to bother about Him.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Just as long as you don't exclude talk of God from philosophy.

There is the philosophy of religion and religion in philosophy - however there is also religion-free philosophy. Guess which one I prefer?

karla said: God has to be the starting point for knowledge no matter the discipline.

No - He doesn't. As an Atheist how can you possibly expect me to agree with that statement?

karla said: If He is the Truth than all starts with Him so if He exists then all disciplines of learning should start with that reality. If He doesn't then none of them would need to bother about Him.

Exactly. Personally I think its wasting our time and the time of philosophers thinking about the actions and motivations of mythical beings. I think there are much more important things to consider.