Faith vs. Fact? No, Jerry Coyne’s Theology vs. Whatever

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Book ReviewCoyne

With all its sloppiness, error, and bias, it’s hard to know where to start in on evaluating Dr. Jerry Coyne’s latest book, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible. Throughout the book I highlighted sentences and paragraphs where his facts were dubious or his reasoning questionable. My impression (I didn’t count) is that I averaged one of these “highlights” per page.

Maybe I’m off by a factor of two, and there was just one every other page. That’s still way too many. I couldn’t begin to cover all the territory that offers for criticism.

One quick example: in his review of the moral argument for God, he spent pages defending evolution’s ability to explain moral behavior. That’s fine, except apparently he didn’t know that the moral argument has nothing to do with moral behavior. It’s about moral facts, the human awareness that some things are actually right and some are actually wrong.

This is not about behavior but about knowledge, knowledge that’s hard to explain except by reference to some transcendent source of morality: God. “Moral behavior” sounds a lot like “moral facts,” though, which might be why Coyne thinks he’s being successful in attacking this argument for God.

It’s like a bomber pilot going off on a mission to bomb Atlanta (God forbid, but I had to choose a city that fits the analogy), dropping his ordnance a thousand miles offshore in the Atlantic, then flying home oblivious to the fact that what he’d accomplished was utterly irrelevant. The two destinations sound alike, after all.

That’s a mere detail, however, next to the fundamental error underlying the entire book. Coyne’s case rests on his contention that science is better than religion because it has ways to verify its knowledge. Somehow it escaped his attention that he wasn’t writing a science book.

The effects of that oversight are devastating, leading him in some cases to delve all the way into a theology of his own.

Coyne’s Theology

For example (p. 84),

Clearly, religions aren’t incompatible only with science: they’re incompatible with one another. And this incompatibility wasn’t inevitable: if the particulars of belief and dogma were somehow bestowed on humans by a god, there’s no obvious reason why there should be more than one brand of faith.

Of course followers of various religions know our beliefs are incompatible with each other’s. This is not news to us.

There are many things that could mean for religion. (I’ll return to one of them in a moment.) Here, oddly enough, however, Coyne goes straight to theology: if there were a god behind any of our beliefs, there’s “no obvious reason” humans should hold such a congeries of conflicting opinions about that god. But there’s also no reason Coyne should know what God might do if God exists. His point here depends on his view concerning some nonexistent (in his view) god. He’s doing theology, not science, and he’s doing it very badly.

Coyne’s Demarcation Problem: Science and Theology

He stumbles, too, when he discusses further questions flowing out of the multiplicity of religious beliefs. There’s a famous issue in the philosophy of science known as the demarcation problem, which has to do with, how do we define clearly what’s science and what isn’t? Coyne has a different demarcation problem: how do you know when you’re talking about ultimate reality and when you aren’t? It’s found on page 85, among many other locations:

This farrago of conflicting and irresolvable claims about reality [among the various religions] stands in stark contrast to science. While science itself has fragmented into different disciplines that use different tools, they all share a core methodology based on doubt, replication, reason, and observation. In other words, while there are different sciences, there is only one form of science, whose conclusions don’t depend on the ethnicity or faith of the scientist who reaches them.

This hints at some degree of ignorance concerning the demarcation problem in the philosophy of science. It fairly screams, however, Coyne’s blithe unawareness of a demarcation he has imposed on knowledge in general. He claims that science is the route to a general understanding of reality. This could only be true if there were no reality to understand except what’s accessible to science; or in other words, if natural reality were ultimate reality. This is a metaphysical view just the same as any religion’s metaphysical view. That makes it part of the same “farrago of conflicting and irresolvable claims.”

One gets the sense that for Coyne that there is no universal truth except for universally agreeable truth. Science can approach that; religion cannot. If humans in one culture, or with one set of moral opinions, disagree with humans in other circumstances, why, then, they’re both wrong! But this doesn’t follow. Disagreement doesn’t mean both parties are wrong: one could be right. Disagreement among thousands doesn’t mean all parties are wrong: one could be right.

I believe Christianity is true, and conflicting beliefs are false. The mere fact that there are conflicting beliefs is hardly sufficient reason to conclude that my belief is wrong.

I’m not the only one who thinks that among all the options, there’s one right belief. Coyne scientism is right and true, the one reliable guide to all reality. He doesn’t see that this one is part of the same “farrago.” It is, and his whole approach crumbles through his unawareness of that fact.

Faith vs. Fact, Indeed: There’s No Science Here

I could say so much more. What we have here is Jerry Coyne’s idiosyncratic theology and his own philosophy of science, conveniently selected and presented to reinforce his preconceived opinion.

I wonder what he would say in response to that. Could he claim immunity from bias, by way of being a scientist? No, for this is not a book of science. It’s a book lambasting theology as Coyne understands theology, faith as Coyne understands faith. It’s Coyne’s theology versus whatever he wants to attack with it.

His entire point is that there’s no reliable knowledge to be gained outside the sciences. If he really believed that he should have simply said so and stopped right there; for there’s no science here.

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77 Responses to “ Faith vs. Fact? No, Jerry Coyne’s Theology vs. Whatever ”

  1. To head off the first scientistic fundamentalist literalist who thinks he’s found an easy error, let me acknowledge that my closing assertion is hyperbolically true, not literally true. There is some science in the book. The point is what it is, and fully literate readers will understand what it means, even though it’s not precisely, analytically what it says.

  2. Perhaps the old maxim is true:

    Science, when it speculates, doesn’t like to admit that it’s doing metaphysics.

    And religion, when it does metaphysics, doesn’t like to admit that it’s speculating.

  3. It’s like a bomber pilot going off on a mission to bomb Atlanta (God forbid, but I had to choose a city that fits the analogy), dropping his ordnance a thousand miles offshore in the Atlantic, then flying home oblivious to the fact that what he’d accomplished was utterly irrelevant. The two destinations sound alike, after all.

    I’d suggest that a closer analogy for your worldview would be something like this: A debate in Congress reached the conclusion to drop a bomb on Atlanta. A bomb was dropped on Atlanta. In reality, the President had ordered the bomb to be dropped before Congress even met.

    i.e. the behavior is the same, the facts are different.

  4. One of the other points I could have made in this review, Adam, is that “religion” doesn’t do anything. Persons with varying religious beliefs do various things.

    I think a lot of religious thinking is pure speculation. I do not conclude from that, however, that it’s all speculation. I’ll grant you this, however, speaking elsewhere of dropping bombs. That was a nifty little thought-grenade to throw into the discussion, whether it did any good or not.

    Rick, I’m totally confused as to the point of your analogy. Feel free to help me out. If it’s to be better than mine, as you said, please be sure to explain how it relates to what Coyne was doing, since that’s what my analogy was for.

  5. Sorry, if it was unclear. I was twisting it to be about the difference in moral behaviors rather than Coyne.

    If I see someone in trouble I feel an urge to help. If I am in a position to help, it’d feel like an obligation. If the same applies to you, we have different opinions on the moral facts. I do not believe in God, so the reasons I would come up with for that sense of obligation would have nothing to do with God.

    I think it was wise for Coyne to focus on moral behaviors rather than the “moral facts”, as we can much more easily agree on the behaviors (in general) while the facts are highly debatable.

  6. Rick

    I think it was wise for Coyne to focus on moral behaviors rather than the “moral facts”, as we can much more easily agree on the behaviors (in general) while the facts are highly debatable.

    Don’t moral facts have to exist in order for behaviors to be moral? If they are identical to each other then what you’re saying here is incorrect and troubling for Coyne. For how can we agree on moral behaviors but not on moral facts if indeed they are the same thing?

  7. Not only that, but if we focus on what we all agree, then we’re not talking about the moral argument. But Coyne thought he was. This isn’t about whether the moral argument is valid or not, it’s about Coyne’s writing a book on topics of which he seems to know next to nothing.

  8. (You can find out more of what I might say about the moral argument, if I were talking about the moral argument, here. But let’s not get off topic. I only used that as one illustration of many dozens I could have chosen to demonstrate that Coyne is woefully undereducated in the topics on which he claims to know something. This is not a post about the moral argument.)

  9. You wrote of Coyne: “He claims that science is the route to a general understanding of reality.” But the preceding “farrago” quote doesn’t actually say that. I wonder if Coyne really thinks science is a route to a general understanding of reality. Are there places in his book where he says that explicitly?

    The reason I ask is because I think science actually does not give us general understanding of reality. Science only makes predictions of which sensory inputs we will receive in the near future.

    This is where science and religion differ. If we think of science this way, as just a predictor of future sensory inputs, then much of the disagreement goes away.

  10. He does say that in his book, John, just not in that location.

    Your understanding of science is interesting. It certainly solves the problem of science trying to say too much, but it also leaves it saying almost nothing at all about what’s real in the world. Thus it’s a bit metaphysically thin, leaving the question of scientific realism (i.e., are the things science studies actually real?) unaddressed. Further, science doesn’t only predict, it also produces. So I curious how that fits your view.

  11. Yes, that’s my whole point – that science isn’t metaphysical. Science simply assumes the world exists and that our senses actually sense something real. Of course science is “metaphysically thin.” Metaphysics isn’t what science wants to talk about. It’s a different subject.

    You’re right that science not only predicts, but it allows us to produce things and change the predicted future. And sure, there are moral implications, but one could argue that science indeed gives us moral insight, and that morality isn’t dependent on theistic metaphysics. Maybe morality just depends on human nature, as revealed by scientific investigation.

  12. The goal of science (according to Paul Churchland in “Plato’s Camera”) is building ever more accurate neuronal maps of arbitrarily high dimensionality of the enduring categories, symmetries, and invariants of the objective universe. In this view, scientific knowledge is more than words, more than formulas and symbols, and can be only fully realized in the collective neural structures of human brains. The nature of human existence and being, then, is another enduring category, symmetry and invariant of the objective universe for which ever-improving neuronal maps can be constructed.

  13. @JM

    Yes, that’s my whole point – that science isn’t metaphysical. Science simply assumes the world exists and that our senses actually sense something real. Of course science is “metaphysically thin.” Metaphysics isn’t what science wants to talk about. It’s a different subject.

    Science isn’t metaphysics and doesn’t want to talk about metaphysics – but that doesn’t mean it is “metaphysically thin”.

    Science depends on a number of metaphysical assumptions – more than what you’ve listed above – and that’s where the metaphysics comes in.

  14. You’re right, bigbird. But the reason science is “metaphysically thin” is because science simply assumes these basic things rather than drawing out long arguments for them and trying to justify them with deductive logic or whatever.

  15. @JM

    But the reason science is “metaphysically thin” is because science simply assumes these basic things rather than drawing out long arguments for them and trying to justify them with deductive logic or whatever.

    Yes, science just assumes them, and if by “metaphysically thin” you mean makes assumptions without justifying them, then science is metaphysically thin. Which is ok, because science isn’t metaphysics.

    But as soon as you start making claims about science and religion like Coyne does in the reviewed book, you are no longer doing science – you are doing philosophy. That requires you justify your claims.

  16. “And this incompatibility wasn’t inevitable: if the particulars of belief and dogma were somehow bestowed on humans by a god, there’s no obvious reason why there should be more than one brand of faith.”

    We all have blind spots in our own grasp of this or that discipline and so on charity one wants to grant that perhaps the only full-fledged problem here is a complete misunderstanding of metaphysics revealed by the troubling implication of, “Disagreements among X’s amounts to evidence that there are in fact no X’s” (- the added “because god” coming next). Fine. One can work with that *if* that was the only real misunderstanding. However, as the above quote shows us, it is also a complete misunderstanding of Christian Theology – and even Theology in general – which is in play in so many of these sorts of books which just fail to pass for serious analysis. There are worthwhile books written by serious thinkers who are Non-Theists which will still be referenced by Theists even decades from now – just as there are thoughtful works by Theists which will still be referenced by Non-Theists decades from now. It’s not obvious that the reasoning housed in the above quote – and its troubling implications – are going to endure such a test of time.

    It isn’t helpful for mutual understanding for the Non-Theist to define arguments against Christian truth-predicates if said arguments are against Non-Christian truth-predicates. We see this from Non-Theists fairly often in dealing with the Christian paradigm. A simple or common example of this is that it leaks through in various degrees of hedging that takes place in the Non-Theist’s handling of the moral paradigm’s entirely unique and standalone essence housed within the Christian’s metaphysics surrounding the categorical imperative at the end of the line which obligates reason to chase after love’s contours as Man’s true felicity (the actuality) emerges in such final causes in *That* which *Is* the lovely, the beautiful.

  17. Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible.

    Seems the entire premise if this book could have been resolved with a list something like this:

    Nicholas Copernicus
    Sir Francis Bacon
    Johannes Kepler
    Galileo Galilei
    Rene Descartes
    Blaise Pascal
    Isaac Newton
    Robert Boyle
    Michael Faraday
    Gregor Mendel
    William Thomson Kelvin
    Max Planck

    Or perhaps he meant science, in general and religion, in general. However, since the metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian (which, being a scientist, I’m sure he must know) he couldn’t have meant that either. Just what does he mean?

  18. DougJC (@ 12),

    This is an interesting comment, but I think it warrants at least three qualifications:

    1. Paul Churchland isn’t using the term “maps” in anything like the common sense of the term (laden as maps are with intentionality—which Churchland utterly rejects). He doesn’t believe that scientific information is about anything in the outside world.

    2. Churchland is not the final word on the purpose of science. I (like most experts) would simply disagree with him on this point.

    3. Most importantly, this doesn’t speak to the point being made.

    Even if this were an accurate view of science, it would not defend the claim that there is nothing to reality that is not accessible to physical science. Given that this claim is what has been challenged, it is what needs to be defended.

    Personally, I’m not aware of any good argument in favor of the idea that all of reality is accessible to mathematical modeling in terms of physical particles (which is part of what is required for scientific explanation). The only argument I’ve heard is based on the promise that a reductive model will be found to explain all experience in such terms.

    But Churchland and I agree that there is no such model, and metaphysicians have abandoned reductive materialism. As such, I’m genuinely unaware of any support at all for materialism.

    However, I don’t claim to be an expert on Churchland. Has he presented an argument in support of this claim that I’m unaware of?

  19. BillT #17

    Can you describe these “metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian”?

  20. The scientific method and methodological naturalism converges on the truth through its inter-subjective processes; religion and theology creates a divergence and wild array of conflicting claims, even amongst the different flavours of religion.

  21. GrahamH,

    That science flourished in Western culture in a way it did nowhere else is without question. As to why it’s important to look at its growth throughout what is commonly referred to as the Middle Ages and also Christendom. Though we think of modern science as a phenomenon of the late 18th century it has its roots beginning in the middle ages. The people of medieval Europe invented spectacles, the mechanical clock, the windmill, and the blast furnace by themselves. Lenses and cameras, almost all kinds of machinery, and the industrial revolution itself all owe their origins to the forgotten inventors of the Middle Ages. As well as all that, the birth of the modern university in the 1100’s was also part of the accomplishments of that time and place.

    What made Christendom a particularly fertile place for the origins of modern science was the (intellectual/philosophical/metaphysical) underpinnings provided by Christian thought. The idea that we live in a world that is intelligible seems a commonplace thought. But, if you look at the other world religions at that time they are dominated by an appeal to mystery and intuition. Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth. The West’s success in the sciences is traceable to its belief in a God of order and reason, who designed a predictable, orderly universe intelligible to the human mind. As Tom has noted ”The relation between the church and science has been complex and multifaceted. The relation between Christianity as a system of thought and science has been that Christianity provided the necessary (though not the only necessary) motivation that launched the pursuit of science.

    This is a book length topic on witch there are a number of good resources:

    The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution by James Hannam
    For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery by Rodney Stark
    The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark

    Other resources:
    The Myth of Conflict by James Hannam (you might want to explore the rest of his website there)
    Beyond War and Peace: A Reappraisal of the Encounter between Christianity and Science by Lindberg and Numbers
    Also, the following article, written by Bjørn Are Davidsen: http://www.telektronikk.com/volumes/pdf/2.2004/Page_005-025.pdf

    (Sorry for the lack of hotlinks If you want then they are here.)

  22. BillT

    I was hoping you could give me a good example of a Christian metaphysical assumption that underpins science. You allude to science germinating from Christian history and values. Even if that is the case (putting aside any debate on that here), that does not make a metaphysical assumption (nor demonstrates the truth or otherwise of Christianity). Tom only mentions a “motivation” in your quote, not a metaphysical assumption. Plenty of things are attributable to motivations.

    What Christian metaphysical assumption is required to make modern science workable and successful? Name me one uniquely Christian metaphysical assumption used in science that if removed, means we can not do science?

  23. The Path To, and From, Intelligibility vis-à-vis the Epicenter of Christian Metaphysics:

    It’s a kind of Sandwich, beginning ages ago in the murky unintelligibility of illusion, of reality as The Big Con streaming from the god’s at play with their toy worlds, which then morphs into the Epicenter that is the crisp intellectualism of mastering and subduing the stuff of Time and Physicality, which then, now, of late, at least among some, is fading once again, backwards, into the murky unintelligibility of illusion, of reality as The Big Con.

    In the middle of the Sandwich we find the epicenter that is the crisp intellectual subjugation of the stuff of Time and the stuff of Physicality. The stuff of the (physical) sciences.

    The epicenter there which shocked the human mind ages ago served to carry us onward and out of the initial murkiness of reality being The Big Con, just as, that same epicenter which shocks the mind serves to propel some (of late) retrograde or backwards again into reality as The Big Con as the epicenter is itself to be avoided at all costs.

    The epicenter remains unchanging and fuels both trajectories – the former by offering Sight to those who know they are blind, the later by offering that same Sight to those who don’t want to see too much. Prior to the God of love the unintelligibility in question raced from the heart of the gods who played while the people paid. Post-Christian attempts now find that same unintelligibility of The Big Con racing from the heart of reality itself as – again – some among us bring their costly sacrifice as they place atop the altar’s flames the stuff of that same crisp intellectualism and watch – eyes wide open – as the fumes of annihilation eliminate their holy sacrifice. Indeed such is quite costly yet in their minds the alternative is to be avoided at any cost.

    Prior to the God of love the very attempt to master and subdue the stuff of Time and the stuff of Physicality was an oxymoron – for none could hope to out-maneuver the gods.

    Mastering and subduing the stuff of Time and Physicality is an odd Command to Man there in Scripture. One wonders why God would even bother all those eons ago. God also makes the peculiar move to separate forms of Knowledge – the paradigm to master the world outside, to subdue the stuff of Time and Physicality (on the one hand) and, then (on the other hand) the peculiar affairs of some other form of knowledge – apparently in a separate paradigm than the stuff of Time and Physicality – as the God Who is The-Good carves out the affairs of the Knowledge of The-Good, and of Evil, as somehow the business of some other paradigm.

    It’s as if True Knowledge cannot “all” be “perceived” by just “one” of the two paradigms which God has set before Man.

    As predicted by Scripture there in Eden’s fateful landscape “Science” emerges as that which “just is” that mastering, that subduing, of that world outside, of the stuff of Time and the stuff of Physicality. Just as Scripture predicted as it defined the peculiarities in and around necessarily different paradigms of knowledge.

    Prior to the God of love we find (back then) the same murky landscape of The Big Con as we find (of late with some) in the same sort of murky landscape of those who now (of late) leave the God of love behind. And that landscape is nothing less than this: ultimate unintelligibility amidst a self-negating presuppositionalism wrapped around a bizarre flavor of an unintelligible solipsism.

    The Epicenter:

    Ultimate Reality (God) cares for us. Loves us. Reality is not The-Big-Con. GO OUT and subdue and master the stuff of Time and the stuff of Physicality. For it pleases your Father to give you……… And so too with the other half of Knowledge…… COME IN and taste, see, and know, for it pleases the Father to give you………

    Of course, according to Scripture all those eons ago, when it comes to Knowledge, Real Knowledge, there is an ontological seam, a necessary stopping point to the stuff of Time, the stuff of Physicality. According to the God who is love. Hence the (inescapable) absurdity of Scientism emerges there in Scripture’s auspicious definitions about Knowledge, about Subduing – and we find there in Scripture the affirmation of what everybody today knows: the anti-intellectualism of making an End-All and a Be-All of, you know, “doing-science”.

    Everybody knows that “doing-science” simply fails, when pressed, to coherently lay claim to the ontological real estate which sums to the means by which Man’s perception accesses “All Knowledge”.

    But all of this – every bit of it – is old news for the Christian.

    As for the “Sandwich” of [Unintelligibility / Crisp Intellectualism / Unintelligibility] – well that is an interesting slice of observational reality.

  24. What Christian metaphysical assumption is required to make modern science workable and successful? Name me one uniquely Christian metaphysical assumption used in science that if removed, means we can not do science?

    GrahamH,

    Perhaps we are missing each other’s point over semantics but for an intellectual/philosophical/metaphysical underpinning for the success of science I stated: “Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth. The West’s success in the sciences is traceable to its belief in a God of order and reason, who designed a predictable, orderly universe intelligible to the human mind.” Are those not “uniquely Christian metaphysical assumption(s)” to you? If not, could you explain why? If you remove the order, consistency and ineligibility of nature then science goes with it. (BTW, I never stated this demonstrated the truth of Christianity.)

  25. Hi BillT

    No those are not metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science. Why? Because none of the things you mention are required of modern science to make it work or be successful. Otherwise you could answer this question: Name me one uniquely Christian metaphysical assumption used in science that if removed, means we can not do science?

    The West’s success in the sciences is traceable to its belief in a God of order and reason, who designed a predictable, orderly universe intelligible to the human mind.

    I can’t see how that is traceable at all, or you haven’t demonstrated that. Also, the universe is not very intelligible to the human mind, nor is it particularly orderly. We don’t know why the early universe was low entropy; and quantum level reality is cryptic and unintelligible.

    Concepts that are new to us seem nonsensical – because they are new to us. Our intuition was forged within such a narrow focus, hence why we are prone to religious superstition (through our evolved sense of agency). Science does not require a God, nor the pseudoscientific assumptions that come with it, such as creation ex nihilo.

    There is no reliable evidence to support those claims. Ultimately they are just a combination of wishful thinking and personal credulity.

  26. GH,

    Okay then.

    A hint of Hume’s rabbits popping into existence followed by a dash of no need for the principle of sufficient reason, and topped off with a sprinkle of “New Information at X = Unintelligible at A-Z” because it is obvious that [New Information] [means] [An A truly *is* a Non-A].

    And then the Skeptic’s (typical) flavoring of an attempt to create the (false) appearance of some sort of supposed intellectual wiggle-room in all of the above with the (typical) appeal to QM, which the Christianized A-T Meta smiles at. We can predict a hint of radioactive decay to follow soon (typically, that is).

    Quite the non-starter.

  27. GH,

    You assert:

    “Reality isn’t orderly, isn’t that intelligible”

    You then demand of the Christian:

    “there’s no evidence for….”

    That’s confused thinking.

    Since there is no need for the principle of sufficient reason, can’t we just claim “evidence” for creation without intelligible information to back it up? Cause it’s all unintelligible you know. You say there’s no evidence for it. That may be true. Or false. But who needs “evidence” anyway? And what the heck “is” this thing you say we need which you call “evidence”? Can’t temporal becoming be unintelligible after all and thus *justify* “Therefore God” in some justified yet still unintelligible way?

    “Evidence”?

    What is “evidence”?

    Why do you say we need “it”?

    How do we get “it”?

  28. BTW GH,

    As per #24, God’s definition of Knowledge vis-a-vis Scripture affirms your assertion that Scientism is absurd, that “doing science” literally *cannot* access knowledge of *all* of reality.

    But then we always knew the Skeptic’s definition on that point would match up with Scripture’s definition on that point.

    Eventually.

  29. GrahmH,

    I can’t see how that is traceable at all, or you haven’t demonstrated that.

    It seems you don’t have a very good grasp on the history of science but the truth is that “belief in a God of order and reason, who designed a predictable, orderly universe intelligible to the human mind” is a uniquely Christian understanding of the universe. It’s essential to the origins of the scientific enterprise and simply isn’t found in the competing worldviews of the time like Islam, Hinduism and the Eastern religions.

    Some good examples of this are the invention of the Arabic numbering system (actually stolen from the Hindus) and early astronomy by Islamic scholars. Though they had a head start they really never went anywhere with either of these. In fact, as Neil deGrasse Tyson pointed out they were actually stopped from proceeding by the clerics of their time because it challenged the authority and inscrutability of their God. Western scholars took this same knowledge and turned them into bedrock science.

    The Chinese invented gunpowder and used it mostly for fireworks and some rudimentary weapons. Within a couple of hundred years they were buying all their weapons from Europe who had taken their invention and turned it into a thriving industry. And what of ancillary discoveries by the Chinese? None that seemed to matter.

    Also, the universe is not very intelligible to the human mind, nor is it particularly orderly.

    I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry over this statement. Not very intelligible? You mean the science that has given us the Higgs boson, sequenced the human genome, sent men to the moon and and is nearing a cure for cancer? And it’s not orderly? You mean if I boil water today at 100 C it won’t boil tomorrow at 100 C? Or is there a chance they 1+1 won’t equal 2 sometime soon or that Boyle’s Law will stop working or that E won’t equal MC squared tomorrow?

    Graham, you’ve done almost nothing on this thread but make bald assertions regarding what I wrote. You’ve offered no evidence, presented no argumentation or reasoning to support your position. You might do well to spend the 55 minutes to listen to the talk Tom gave at the link I provided or read those articles or even pick up a book so you have some knowledge about the subject at hand so you could at least present something of substance.

  30. And Graham, just so you don’t think I’m ignoring what you did say, so far you have claimed I was offering this to assert “the truth or otherwise of Christianity” which I didn’t, that “Concepts that are new to us seem nonsensical” which if you look at the history of science certainly doesn’t seem to be true, that because of our “narrow focus, … we are prone to religious superstition” and “creation ex nihilo” both of which, in a discussion of the origin of the scientific enterprise, are non sequiturs.

  31. Graham,

    Maybe I’m not making my overarching position clear. People, in general, didn’t just do science. That’s a fact. The origins if science show that the people who did science did so for a reason. They did it because it explained God’s creation. In order for it to explain God’s creation, belief in a God of order and reason, who designed a predictable, orderly universe intelligible to the human mind is an essential requirement.

    This is born out by the reality that the scientific endeavor began and flourished in one place and one place only. Christian Europe. I’ve tried to show how other worldviews don’t provide the essential elements to inspire people to explore their surrounding or even actively discouraged it. If it wasn’t what I describe, then what did account for it’s origins and success in one place only despite other great cultures existing at that time.

  32. Hi BillT

    Ok I think I understand your position. You are saying people (all Christian Europeans only) did science for a reason, and that reason for doing science was to explain “Gods creation”. Galileo did not do astronomy to understand earth’s place in the universe, nor did Edwin Hubble. They were all praying and contemplating Gods creation and decided to do those things to explain Gods creation. (Actually, forget Hubble – he was a scientist from secular USA, not the one-place-and-one-place only Christian Europe, so presumably he is not a bona fide scientist).

    Boltzman was not interested in the physical properties of matter, Einstein did not think Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough. They all wanted to explain God’s creation.

    And the scientists and inventors of greater killing and destruction in war with new weapons and chemicals – it was all about explaining God’s creation.

    Ok I understand.

    And when I ask “Name me one uniquely Christian metaphysical assumption used in science that if removed, means we can not do science?” the answer is…well nothing really.

  33. GH,

    Facts are not changed by your act here of pretending not to understand the (basic) concept of (different) “cultural mindsets” or cultural milieus vis-a-vis the general intellectual posture that was in-play beneath those initial footholds of scientific inquiry. Some cultural mindsets/postures didn’t have the right intellectual subtext to generate that peculiar milieu of inquiry. Christianized Europe (Etc.) did.

    It’s like the Roman Blood Sports. Many Non-Christian Americans would not count them as Fun, even Moral, Entertainment, not because of their faith (obviously) *nor* because of their lack of faith, but simply as a byproduct of their general mindset generated by their particular culture’s subtext vis-a-vis its Christianized milieu.

    Your feigned ignorance of such elementary constructs isn’t helping you.

  34. scbrownlhrm

    Sounds a bit bigoted. Only Christianized Europe had the basis to perform science through their stout theistic intellect and their desire to explain God’s creation. Any science done in secular USA, or Asia, India, middle east etc. is not bona fide nor has any merit in the history of science because it lacks that heritage.

    Right.

    Regardless, this is rather irrelevant to the original claim that “metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian”. What are these metaphysical assumptions?

    I can’t see any that science requires. The only one I can derive from such scattered and incoherent explanations, is that Christian scientists already assumes an inviolable truth (God exists), and use science to explain him.

    Whereas science does not do this at all. It does not assume something is true (in the common sense of the word) until it is demonstrated. And if the evidence does not stack up, it ditches the idea. Which I suspect is why religious superstition, being the best explanation for reality during the infancy of our species, is in decline as scientific knowledge about reality as advanced. It’s a metaphor like a child growing up – they ditch the stories about Santa Claus and the tooth fairy as they mature and get wiser.

  35. GH,

    Any science done in secular USA, or Asia, India, middle east etc. is not bona fide nor has any merit in the history of science because it lacks that heritage

    Why would you think that? We certainly don’t. In case you forgot the topic, we were discussing the (basic) concept of (different) “cultural mindsets” or cultural milieus vis-a-vis the general intellectual posture that was in-play beneath those initial footholds of scientific inquiry all those ages ago by comparing general cultural milieus. Some cultural mindsets/postures didn’t have the general intellectual subtext to generate that peculiar milieu of inquiry there in those initial footholds of scientific inquiry all those ages ago, while others did. Its spread globally is certainly a good thing – which makes it quite odd that you count it as bigotry to inquire about and discuss historical tides.

    I can’t see any that science requires

    A) Reason and logic as our primary guide
    B) Orderly properties of the universe
    C) Intelligibility of the universe (via B)
    D) Principle of Sufficient Reason (via A)

    and use science to explain [God]

    Why do you think that? Christianity does not assert that God Himself is subject to the scientific process given that Scripture affirms the futility of Scientism. Rather, Christianity posits A-D (above) as the means to explain the properties of the universe, the stuff of Time and the stuff of Physicality.

    And if the evidence does not stack up, it ditches the idea

    There is that word “evidence” again. Given that you asserted earlier that reality is essentially unintelligible and disorderly it is unclear what you mean by “evidence”, or why you think we need “IT”, or how we would go about getting “IT”. But if you mean to employ A-D (above), then yes, new information is certainly helpful in crafting our models.

    they ditch the stories about Santa Claus and the tooth fairy as they mature and get wiser

    It’s good that we agree. Different explanations for the stuff of Time and the stuff of Physicality change as new information comes in. It is unclear why you think the study of the universe counts as either the study of God or as Philosophy or as Metaphysics. It seems you’re equivocating on your former assertion of unintelligibility – or perhaps gently floating toward Scientism. It’s hard to tell which.

  36. Graham,

    We were talking about the origin of the scientific endevour, not modern science. What? If you don’t like the facts you just change the subject. And how many times did I repeat the unique metaphysical assumption. What? If you don’t like the answer you just ignore it. I think I’ve spent enough time on someone with no knowledge of this subject who doesn’t have the integrity either to stay on topic or acknowledge much less address the things that have been said.

  37. BillT

    Actually my original question was in regards to your claim about metaphysical assumptions. I asked: Can you describe these “metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian”?

    I can’t see where you answered this.

  38. scbrownlhrm

    You ask why?

    Because BillT these things #32

    People, in general, didn’t just do science. That’s a fact. The origins if science show that the people who did science did so for a reason. They did it because it explained God’s creation. .

    and

    This is born out by the reality that the scientific endeavor began and flourished in one place and one place only. Christian Europe.

    These are bold claims, made with no evidence to back them. Just a mere assertion of someone’s opinionated and imprecise rendering of history. Science was only done to explain God’s creation, and it denies the flourishing of science in other geographies (which we agree is bunk – thank you).

    It is highly reckless and ignorant to make such claims, or be prepared to demonstrate them. If not, they are consigned to the voluminous waste-bin of claims denied.

  39. GH,

    You talk as if we are speaking of Man and Knowledge and Man’s thirst for Knowledge and so on.

    We’re not.

    There’s no general difference there among cultural milieus.

    We’re speaking specifically of the fundamental assumptions in the scientific process.

    Perhaps you can trace A-D to another general cultural milieu which itself began, and then remained, and then continued onward in A-D.

    Well?

    A-D?

    A) Reason and logic as our primary guide
    B) Orderly properties of the universe
    C) Intelligibility of the universe (via B)
    D) Principle of Sufficient Reason (via A)

    Are these metaphysical assumptions?

    Well…. let’s see…..

    Perhaps you can’t see the metaphysical assumptions these coherently rest upon (Christianity Etc.) or fail to coherently rest upon (Hume’s insolvent chain of IOU’s Etc.). But your unawareness doesn’t matter because, just like the assumptions about Roman Blood Sports by Non-Christian Americans of 2015, these too are employed as a matter of presupposed subtext and milieu rather than (directly) of Faith / Non-Faith.

  40. Tom #38

    I will assume the fine people on this site are indeed not bigoted, but I will call them out if they start going down that track. Hopefully this will lead to a repudiation of quite outrageous claims that have the whiff of bigotry.

    You had the humility and intellectual honesty to repudiate an alleged bigoted comment on one occasion, and as such I hold you in high regard. Please call me out if I also fail in such standards.

  41. scbrownlhrm

    Is that your answer to the question, what are the “metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian”?

    Is your answer the A to D list? What makes this list uniquely Christian? Also, I take it there is no place for evidence in Christian metaphysical assumptions. Evidence is conspicuously absent. Does not modern science need evidence?

  42. GH,

    Do you think that A-D are free of metaphysical assumptions at all points?

    That is rather odd.

    Nothing is “free” of metaphysical assumptions.

    That’s not even possible.

    Assuming one knows what metaphysics “is”, that is.

  43. Fortunately the metaphysical regressions housed within Christianity and Science’s A-D never have diverged from one another – not once from the very get-go of their lifelong friendship. Hence the unfortunate need for convergence, while obvious with the metaphysical start/stop points of many other worldviews, is nonexistent in their lifelong compatibility. Also (as per #24) Scripture’s auspicious move to separate Knowledge into two paradigms from the get-go is equally compatible with the way Knowledge has necessarily panned out (contrary to the hopes of scient-ism) – and thus we find another happy lack of divergence from the get-go in that very same lifelong friendship.

  44. As noted, the fundamental assumptions buried in the subtext of the scientific process as per Bill T.’s insightful “A through D” concepts and ideas are metaphysically solid inside of Christian Metaphysics, A-T Meta, and so on (not so much for Hume’s rabbits and other insolvent chains of ontological IOU’s). As such, there has been a lifelong friendship there, void of divergence. If we then “zoom out” we begin to find a longstanding bedrock of rigorous intellectualism and the peculiar, even uncanny, history of the Hebrew’s auspicious – even providential – definitions of all things metaphysical, and of Christianity, and of A-T Metaphysics is an informative backdrop of ontological concurrence. As such this brief look at Natural Theology is informative. It’s really just an overview but its condensed synopsis is helpful (and the links within it are also helpful) in offering (indirectly) a sort of historical perspective (again, a bit indirectly). A-T Meta / Theism / Christianity houses an unique series of millennia of an inimitable seamlessness amid the stuff of Reason and Intellect unforgivingly feasting on the stuff of Time, the stuff of Physicality, the stuff of Logic, and all the stuff of Person and Being. The Critic’s distractors laden with (subtle at times) Non-Christian truth predicates are just that – straw man distractors which themselves are in need of convergence with the (actual) truth predicates of the much larger canopy constituting the Hebrew’s uncanny ontological lines, A-T Metaphysics, and Christianity.

  45. BillT

    You made the claim that metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian. When I asked you to demonstrate that claim, you gave a scatter gun of responses including your opinion of the origin of scientific endeavour.

    That’s great but largely irrelevant. Science indeed has a history, and may have evolved different metaphysical assumptions overtime. But what is this Christian metaphysical assumption that has endured and is still used by modern science?

    It is not easy trying to pin this down from your imprecise responses, but you said things like science assumes God exists and people do science to explain God’s creation.

    Now I have to say I don’t get that impression from modern science, but if you can show that modern science has accepted this I will be very impressed. I take it we should find in the introduction to most published scientific studies effervescent predications that God exists and the study is conducted to explain his creation. Good luck with that.

    Scbrownhrm appeared to offer some more specific metaphysics I’ll address separately, but I am not entirely sure if he agrees with the gratuitousness of your claim.

  46. scbrownlhrm

    You allude to ancient/scholastic metaphysics when you mention things like orderly, sufficient reason and intelligible. These were around in the time of Aquinas, but are not metaphysical bedrocks of modern science (whether you agree with modern science on that point is a separate issue). Science has become a lot more wiser since these rudimentary ancient times.

    Scientists (even some notable Christian scientists) do not believe in the metaphysical necessities you both explicitly and implicitly refer. Basically because there is no pressing reason to do so.

    You seem to be saying then we have synthetic a priori knowledge: these truths about the world are knowable independently of experience. This is why many medieval Christians believed this and assumptions like universal causation, Euclidean geometry proof of God’s order, Newtonian mechanics (conservation of momentum).

    But it looks like Hume was right all along. General relativity and space being gravitationally curved has since shown us that Euclid’s axioms probably aren’t true and they are certainly not knowable a priori; and quantum mechanics shows us fundamental particles don’t work as scholastics (or Newton) would have expected. Their behaviour is describable, but not intelligible (feel free to explain how they are if you disagree). Genuine randomness seems to be ubiquitous.

    As such, scholastic Christianity and modern science has certainly diverged. There is no accepted requirement for scholastic metaphysics (nor does that seem to be required to make science effective), it has not accepted a finite past universe, it does not accept a disembodied mind (souls), or miracles, and there is not a drott of evidence for supernatural causation.

  47. GH,

    you said things like science assumes God exists….. I take it we should find in the introduction to most published scientific studies effervescent predications that God exists

    That is not the metaphysical assumption Bill T claimed, as pointed out to you several times. Rather, A – D are the fundamental assumptions of the scientific method. Theist and Non-Theist alike proceed as if they are true. That is why nobody expects Hume’s rabbits to show up anytime soon. Bill T’s claim was on the cultural milieu in which those working assumptions (A-D) began, and then remained, and then continued onward – that being the birthing of modernity’s scientific method. This is now about the third time you’ve intentionally misrepresented the claims here.

    And for the second time now, on A-D, you’ve yet to show another general cultural milieu other than Christianized Europe which first began, and then remained, and then continued onward in A-D.

    A) Reason and logic as our primary guide
    B) Orderly properties of the universe
    C) Intelligibility of the universe (via B)
    D) Principle of Sufficient Reason (via A)

    By analogy:

    You seem to think that the Christian is asserting that one needs to actually *be* a Christian in order to be an American in the year 2015 who presupposes the cultural milieu and subtext that the Roman Blood Sports of old are not “Fun, even Moral, Entertainment”.

    It’s not obvious at all as to why you would assume that is the claim being made. Rather, today’s cultural moral milieu is radically different than Rome’s moral milieu all those ages ago not because “Everyone here is Christian” but simply because of the general moral milieu of the historical tide of the Christianized Conscience.

    Science’s A-D or Morality, it’s all the same in that the general subtext is “present”, already embedded and as such no metaphysical commitments are needed “to employ” them. To “intellectually defend” them, yes, but to “employ” them, no.

    sufficient reason and intelligible….Science has become a lot more wiser since these rudimentary ancient times

    Okay then, Science never employs the principle of sufficient reason, and does not rely on logic and reason as primary guides. That is an odd assertion for you to make, but we certainly won’t try to stop you.

    Scientists (even some notable Christian scientists) do not believe in the metaphysical necessities

    So you are saying that Scientists, even notable Christian scientists, do not employ the following:

    A) Reason and logic as our primary guide
    B) Orderly properties of the universe
    C) Intelligibility of the universe (via B)
    D) Principle of Sufficient Reason (via A)

    That is a rather odd claim, but if you want to assert that, we won’t stand in your way.

    And, again, by analogy: Rome / Blood Sports / American in the year 2015. Science’s A-D or Morality, it’s all the same in that the general subtext is “present”, already embedded and as such no metaphysical commitments are needed “to employ” them. To “intellectually defend” them, yes, but to “employ” them, no.

    But it looks like Hume was right all along

    So now you want to add to A, B, C, D the following:

    E) New Information at X = Unintelligible at A-Z because it is obvious (to you at least) that the following is true of reality: [New Information] means [An A truly *is* a Non-A] and it is true (to you at least) that we ought to be defining our models without any sufficient reasons.

    So, vis-à-vis E:

    “The Sun may randomly move to the edge of the Milky Way, and then back to it’s current location” is perfectly feasible (in your opinion) given that we’ve no sufficient reason to craft such a working model, but that is okay, we can posit that model as scientifically valid “…because Hume was right…”

    Again, no one here is stopping you from making that argument.

    And then the typical – predictable – appeal of the Skeptic who understands neither the cosmological argument of A-T Metaphysics nor A-T Metaphysics generally nor Christian truth predicates generally:

    …QM, GR, Randomness…

    As noted (and predicted) earlier in this thread “…..the Skeptic’s (typical) flavoring of an attempt to create the (false) appearance of some sort of supposed intellectual wiggle-room in all of the above with the (typical) appeal to QM, which the Christianized A-T Meta smiles at. We can predict a hint of radioactive decay (randomness) to follow soon (typically, that is)…”

    Prediction fulfilled.

    Rather than merely fulfilling our predictions, perhaps you’d like to address at some point (you’ve not yet done so) either Bill T’s actual claims, or A-T Meta’s actual claims, or Christianity’s actual truth predicates.

  48. scbrownlhrm

    So you are saying that Scientists, even notable Christian scientists, do not employ the following:

    A) Reason and logic as our primary guide
    B) Orderly properties of the universe
    C) Intelligibility of the universe (via B)
    D) Principle of Sufficient Reason (via A)

    No, I am saying neither Bill nor yourself have demonstrated that modern science accepts these metaphysical assumptions. Where is your evidence for this?

    So now you want to add to A, B, C, D the following:

    No. A, B, C and D may not be good enough to start with.

    and it is true (to you at least) that we ought to be defining our models without any sufficient reasons.

    No, but you state sufficient reason is only through reason and logic. I asked earlier what about evidence? You can create a logically sound model that has no bearing on reality demonstrated by predictive success. It would be a perfectly sound abstraction.

    And re: QM, GR, randomness, I am glad to be on the receiving end of your conceit. That means you will have an astonishingly compelling explanation for it in relation to your metaphysics, without resorting to manufactured concepts of which there is no evidence.

  49. @GrahamH:

    I am saying neither Bill nor yourself have demonstrated that modern science accepts these metaphysical assumptions. Where is your evidence for this?

    So you hold that modern empirical science does *not* work on these assumptions? That scientists are free, so to speak, to discard them? So here they are again, slightly reworded:

    a) Reason is our primary guide in discovering the universe.

    b) The universe is ordered.

    c) The universe is intelligible.

    d) The PSR.

    So for a) when scientists go about their work they rely on what if not the powers of reason aided by observation? Scrying tea leaves? Smelling the direction of the wind? Consulting gnostic oracles? And for b), Scientists presume that the universe is disordered, is that it? But that on a stroke of luck, just on the field they are studying, lo and behold, the universe is sufficiently ordered that of all things its workings can even be described mathematically? That little tiny mischievous elves turn the wheels of the universe so as to render it orderly just for the span of a scientist’s study? Or that it is unintelligble and therefore we… cannot understand it? How can we even understand that we cannot understand it? And as for d), Scientists assume that things just happen for no reason at all? Then what the Hell are they doing?

    And out of curiosity, what is the kind of evidence that would satisfy you of a) to d)? I should in all fairness, warn you that this is a trick question, because my guess is that you will betray your profound ignorance of these matters. But hey, after all, what do I know? So maybe you can humor me and enlighten us all.

    note:
    – I am not only very busy, but with computer problems, so I may not be able to get back to you in due time.

  50. GM,

    neither Bill nor yourself have demonstrated that modern science accepts these metaphysical assumptions. Where is your evidence for this?

    Neither Bill T nor myself have asserted that modernity embraces the metaphysical necessities which can grant ultimate coherence to A-D vis-à-vis first principles – or that those metaphysical necessities are accepted by “science”. Rather, the claim is that A-D are the fundamental assumptions of the scientific method. Theist and Non-Theist alike proceed as if they are true. That is why nobody expects Hume’s rabbits to show up anytime soon. Bill T’s specific claim was on the cultural milieu in which those working assumptions (A-D) began, and then remained, and then continued onward – that being the birthing of modernity’s scientific method.

    This is now about the fourth time you’ve intentionally misrepresented the claims here.

    Again, by analogy: Rome / Blood Sports / American in the year 2015. The assertion is not that one must adhere to Christian metaphysics and actually *be* a Christian in order to be an American in the year 2015 who presupposes the cultural milieu and subtext that the Roman Blood Sports of old are not “Fun, even Moral, Entertainment”. Science’s A-D or Morality, it’s all the same in that the general subtext is “present”, already culturally embedded and as such no metaphysical commitments are needed to “employ” them. To “intellectually defend” them, yes, but to “employ” them, no.

    No Christian is claiming that one must adhere to the necessary metaphysics which grant ultimate coherence to A-D vis-à-vis first principles in order to employ A-D.

    you state sufficient reason is only through reason and logic. I asked earlier what about evidence

    There is that word “evidence” again.

    Given that *you* expect vis-à-vis Hume for the Sun to randomly move to some other galaxy with no intelligibility it is not clear what would satisfy *your* working definition of “evidence”. The scientific method is happy to apply A-D and fashion this or that body of evidence for this or that model, but, given your definition of reality vis-à-vis Hume you’ll have to define for us exactly what *you* mean by “evidence”, and, why you think we need “IT”, and, how it is *you* suppose we should go about getting “IT” given that the scientific method’s general methodology of A-D are (apparently) unscientific.

    You can create a logically sound model that has no bearing on reality demonstrated by predictive success. It would be a perfectly sound abstraction

    We agree. String Theory and so on, and even some Theistic attempts, may be internally coherent but not helpful in describing observational reality. It’s odd that you would think we disagree here. Perhaps you are over-thinking all of this.

    That means you will have an astonishingly compelling explanation for it in relation to your metaphysics, without resorting to manufactured concepts of which there is no evidence

    Given that you don’t understand the (actual) truth predicates neither of A-T Metaphysics in general nor of Christianity in general it is understandable that you seem to think that all of Science’s data there inside of observational reality – which includes QM, GR, Radioactive Decay, and so on – is somehow not coherent with those truth predicates. Unfortunately a blog comment section is not the right forum to educate you on that rather wide canopy which houses that unique series of millennia of an inimitable seamlessness amid the stuff of Reason and Intellect unforgivingly feasting on the stuff of Time, the stuff of Physicality, the stuff of Logic, and all the stuff of Person and Being.

    Your distractors laden with Non-Christian truth predicates so far have summed merely to straw man distractors which themselves are in need of convergence with the actual truth predicates of that much larger canopy constituting the Hebrew’s uncanny ontological lines, A-T Metaphysics, and Christianity. It’s not helpful for the Critic’s cause to simply invent Non-Christian truth predicates and then proceed to argue against them and just count it as a sort of “as-if” that he is “for real” succeeding in debunking Christianity’s truth predicates.

  51. GrahamH:

    Make it “GH” at the start of the last comment rather than “GM”, Etc. Apologies.

  52. This is now about the fourth time you’ve intentionally misrepresented the claims here.

    It’s ok. It’s all he’s got.

  53. scbrownlhrm

    I very much doubt you can show I am intentionally misrepresenting claims, but I will respond because I think a discussion on metaphysics is actually quite critical. If you think I am being mischievous and misrepresenting, you can simply say you do not wish to discuss further.

    But let’s remind ourselves of the claim made….

    “metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian”?

    So there needs to be 2 things for this to be so: 1. a defined set of metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science, and 2. these being in great part uniquely Christian.

    BillT did not provide your specific A-D list, and mentioned things like people doing science only to explain God’s creation. Those things are not mentioned in your A-D list so they must be superfluous in terms of defining the metaphysical assumptions themselves.

    It is commendable that you attempted to rescue him somewhat with a more specific response with the A-D. It does show however that the answer you get depends a lot on who you ask.

    Is your A-D list the set of metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science? It seems awfully deficient. It does not reveal anything of the essence of the scientific method, and the reliance on empirical or measureable evidence; and yes it is agreed that those are subject to principles of reasoning. But I have trouble accepting that your A-D correctly addresses what “underlays” modern science. Theories are challenged where metaphysical presuppositions of the theory make no contribution to its predictive success. But there is a large emphasis on predictive success in modern science.

    I am not saying none of the A-D have any merit, but it is not good enough to say science in some form works vaguely with A-D, there needs to be some nexus to the main principles of the scientific method and what makes it work so well (systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, peer review and modification of hypotheses).

    The broadness of the A-D also makes it a little difficult to sustain the claim that it is uniquely Christian. Putting aside whether there is broad acceptance among Christians that A-D is the “official” position on what is uniquely Christian metaphysics of science (is this the case?), it does not win points for precision and hard to see what is uniquely Christian about it.

    For instance, the Greeks were very influential in reasoning and logic, and if Ibn al-Haytham in Iraq was the earliest documented scientist using a process that closely resembled the scientific method during the Arab Golden Age (700 years before the Christian scholastic era), it is a little hard sustaining the claim that modern scientific metaphysics (notwithstanding the definition problem), is uniquely Christian.

  54. Bill T,

    You’re right it seems.

    That’s all he’s got.

    Not only that, but he seems to think that we think that both the “A” of A-T Meta and Genesis (both) came *after* Christ.

    Silly us.

    Peer review also seems to be void of both sufficient reason and logic.

    And here we thought we were all supposed to reason through all the data.

    Silly us.

    Silly, silly us.

    What on earth were we thinking?!

  55. GH,

    First principles and ultimate explanatory stopping points, being truths about the fundamental shape of reality, are true regardless of the epistemological features of anyone who employs them. Intuiting truth and employing it is not the same as metaphysical *accounting*. For example, if Christianity were true, then objective moral truths existed, and were known by Man, prior to Sinai. Moral epistemology employed is not moral ontology possessed/comprehended. It just is the case that Reason, logic, A, B, C…….X, Y, Z, and so on are *all* in this situation.

    That such escapes you is just bizarre.

    That you think the silliness of chronological epistemology is what this thread is about or is what Christianity’s truth predicates are about, or is what truth period is about, is staggeringly bizarre.

    Yes indeed, silly us.

    As for the rest, well yes – silly, silly us. What on earth were we thinking?!

  56. scbrownlhrm

    Ok if we can’t have a productive discussion about it, fine let’s bow out at this point and still be friends.

    I should say I did not think we were discussing First principles and ultimate explanatory stopping points. I think that would be a different discussion as it is broader than what specifically characterises modern science.

    BTW to maintain friendly relations, I have add that I did not say, nor even imply, you or Bill were silly. I personally think the only silly question is the one you don’t ask.

    In any case it was nice talking with you both, and I appreciate the time and effort you and Bill put into your responses.

  57. @G. Rodrigues

    So you hold that modern empirical science does *not* work on these assumptions? That scientists are free, so to speak, to discard them? So here they are again, slightly reworded:

    It is interesting that in the one paragraph you chastise me for what you thought was my position that scientists are free to discard scbrownlhrm’s list of metaphysics (not really the case), then yourself go on to freely revise the list inexplicably discarding scbrownlhrm’s word “logic” from A. If you can revise the list, why not scientists as well?

    So is the list of “uniquely Christian metaphysics that underlay modern science” subject to such on-the-fly revision? Logic has a different meaning to Reason, and could be significant – to scbrownlhrm or other Christians.

    I think we have that old Christian “definition problem” (always different definitions of God, faith, salvation, atonement, etc.) because we don’t know what it is we are even talking about or claimed. I have been given here 3 different definitions of what constitutes “uniquely Christian metaphysics that underlay modern science”.

    BillT gave a response that did not include the A-D list, and had other assumptions around people assuming God exists and doing science to explore Gods creation; scbrownlhrm gave his list (which had no reference to God); and you revised it dropping the word Logic.

    And I know Ken Ham and his “scientists” position on this at Answers in Genesis. He freely states science has to be viewed through a “biblical lens”, where science and evidence is subordinate to the bible. If geology says the world is billions of years old, that is wrong whatever because the bible indicates it is only about 6,000 years.

    I don’t know Matt Slick at CARM’s position on what Christian metaphysics underlay’s modern science, but he uses the word “logic” a lot in his metaphysical position; so he probably would be none too chuffed at that word being dropped – so might many others.

    It is not for me to arbitrate these matters between Christians, nor am I the custodian of the generally accepted Christian position of what are “uniquely Christian metaphysics that underlay modern science”. But if it depends so much on who you ask, then such a thing does not coherently exist enough to make any bold claims about the “uniquely Christian metaphysics that underlay modern science”.

  58. GH,

    It is you, and not us, who has insisted that our claim has been about first principles, about ultimate explanatory stopping points, about metaphysical accounting underlying *modern* Science vis-à-vis Christianity’s metaphysical accounting.

    Let’s remind ourselves of the path thus far.

    First, we claimed that the general cultural milieu which gave birth to A-D (ours) and/or A-D (GR’s) (it doesn’t matter which, because you’ve just demanded of GR the *same* metaphysical accounting) was the general cultural milieu of Christianized Europe all those ages ago. That’s the cultural milieu which housed the intellectual subtext which allowed reason to be levied atop the physical properties of the universe and granted the environment in which formal scientific inquiry “took” or “stuck”.

    That’s the claim.

    Then, about five times in a row you changed our claim to something like this: “Modern Science assumes that there is a God and uses Science to explain Him” with this:

    “But let’s remind ourselves of the claim made…. “metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian”?”

    You insisted we were claiming that, today, in Science, the metaphysical assumption is not methodological naturalism but rather that God exists, and, we can use science to prove it.

    That’s one.

    Then we reminded you that that was not our claim.

    So then you brought it back again to first principles of *modern* science, to metaphysical accounting underlying *modern* Science vis-à-vis Christianity’s metaphysical accounting with another:

    “But let’s remind ourselves of the claim made…. “metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian”?”

    That’s two.

    Then we reminded you that that was not our claim.

    So then you brought it back again to first principles of *modern* science, to metaphysical accounting underlying *modern* Science vis-à-vis Christianity’s metaphysical accounting with another:

    “But let’s remind ourselves of the claim made…. “metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian”?”

    That’s three.

    Then we reminded you that that was not our claim.

    So then you brought it back again to first principles of *modern* science, to metaphysical accounting underlying *modern* Science vis-à-vis Christianity’s metaphysical accounting with another:

    “But let’s remind ourselves of the claim made…. “metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian”?”

    That’s four.

    Then we reminded you that that was not our claim.

    So then you brought it back again to first principles of *modern* science, to metaphysical accounting underlying *modern* Science vis-à-vis Christianity’s metaphysical accounting with another:

    “But let’s remind ourselves of the claim made…. “metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian”?”

    That’s five.

    That’s about where we were a just a few comments ago.

    So then I figured, “Hey, okay, we may was well address the issue which GH really, really, wants to address, and that is the first principles, the ultimate explanatory stopping points, the metaphysical accounting underlying Science’s A-D (ours) or A-D (GR’s) vis-à-vis Christianity’s metaphysical accounting.

    So we did.

    Finally, surely to your delight, we figured.

    And, amazingly, this is how you responded:

    I did not think we were discussing First principles and ultimate explanatory stopping points. I think that would be a different discussion

    So, rather than address the response to the very question you repeatedly drove the conversation towards by mischaracterizing our initial claim, you evade and bale out with this:

    it was nice talking with you both, and I appreciate the time

    That’s where we are now.

    We’ve been fully accommodating to you, and you merely mischaracterize and misrepresent and evade. You speak of “peer review” as if it does not entail, necessarily, reasoning levied atop the data of the physical universe, and thus conflate in an odd attempt to evade A-D and count them as “unnecessary”. And so on with other such evasions.

    In the next comment I’ll summarize a bit our general claims, both about the initial cultural milieu in which formal scientific inquiry “took” or “stuck” with the premises of reason levied atop orderly properties, and even, then, the first principles which are capable of granting ultimate coherence to them. You can reply or you can again mischaracterize. If the later, we’ll be sure to point it out. For the sixth time.

  59. GH,

    then yourself go on to freely revise the list inexplicably discarding scbrownlhrm’s word “logic”

    So, you seem to think that GR is opposed to logic as having a rightful, and permanent, place within scientific inquiry. You’re wrong about that, but, if you want to “subtly infer” that there is “divergence” by such desperate moves (and that is an obviously desperate move), we won’t stop you. It’s odd that you strain at a gnat (which is a falsehood anyway) and continue to ignore the elephant in the room.

    I have been given here 3 different definitions of what constitutes “uniquely Christian metaphysics that underlay modern science

    Actually, the only description of first principles, of ultimate explanatory stopping points, of metaphysical accounting underlying the assumptions which make scientific inquiry possible was, firstly, just that one time by me, and, secondly, was just a start, and introduction in my initializing of an actual attempt to accommodate your repeated attempt to “go there”. But you evaded and baled when the opportunity (finally) presented itself.

    BillT gave a response that did not include the A-D list, and had other assumptions around people assuming God exists and doing science to explore Gods creation

    That’s brings it up to about six times now.

    Impressive.

    Ken Ham and his “scientists” position on this at Answers in Genesis. He freely states science has to be viewed through a “biblical lens”, where science and evidence is subordinate to the bible

    This is a repeat of #31 in which you bring in non sequiturs in an attempt to change the topic. While the topic of Concordism (the hermeneutical approach to scripture which advocates interpreting scripture in light of modern science) is interesting, it is not relevant to our initial claim of the cultural milieu which permitted scientific inquiry to take root, nor is it relevant to the first principles, the metaphysical accounting of ultimate explanatory stopping points underlying full and final coherence within reason levied atop the orderly properties of the universe vis-à-vis scientific inquiry. That opportunity presented itself, just once so far, but you evaded and hedged. And then baled.

    So, about six times for misstating our claim, and, about two times for non sequiturs.

    so he probably would be none too chuffed at that word being dropped – so might many others

    So, you seem to think that GR is opposed to logic as having a rightful, and permanent, place within scientific inquiry. You’re wrong about that, but, if you want to “subtly infer” that there is “divergence” by such desperate moves (and that is an obviously desperate move), we won’t stop you. It’s odd that you strain at a gnat (which is a falsehood anyway) and continue to ignore the elephant in the room.

    nor am I the custodian of the generally accepted Christian position of what are “uniquely Christian metaphysics that underlay modern science

    Actually, the only description of first principles, of ultimate explanatory stopping points, of metaphysical accounting underlying the assumptions which make scientific inquiry possible was, firstly, just that one time by me, and, secondly, was just a start, and introduction in my initializing of an actual attempt to accommodate your repeated attempt to “go there”. But you evaded and baled when the opportunity (finally) presented itself.

    Basic summary of our claims:

    First: We have not asserted that modernity embraces the metaphysical necessities which can grant ultimate coherence to A-D (either one will do vis-à-vis fallacy/elephant) vis-à-vis first principles – or that those metaphysical necessities are accepted by “modern science”. Rather, the claim is that A-D are the fundamental assumptions underlying the behavior that is the scientific method. Theist and Non-Theist alike proceed as if they are true. That is why nobody expects Hume’s rabbits to show up anytime soon. Bill T’s specific claim was on the cultural milieu in which those working assumptions began, and then remained, and then continued onward and actually took root, that being the birthing of modernity’s scientific method.

    Secondly: No Christian is claiming that one must adhere to the necessary metaphysics which grant ultimate coherence to A-D vis-à-vis first principles in order to employ A-D.

    Thirdly: First principles and ultimate explanatory stopping points, being truths about the fundamental shape of reality, are true regardless of the epistemological features of anyone who employs them.

    Fourthly: Intuiting truth and employing it is not the same as metaphysical *accounting*. For example, if Christianity is true, then objective moral truths existed, and were known by Man, prior to Sinai. The silliness of tracing chronological epistemology has nothing to do, at all, with the metaphysical accounting of truth/ontology.

    Fifthly: Moral/Scientific epistemology (Etc.) employed is not ontology possessed/comprehended. It just is the case that Reason, logic, A, B, C…….X, Y, Z, and so on are *all* in this situation.

    Sixth: The silliness of chronological epistemology is not, at all, what this thread is about, nor is it what Christianity’s truth predicates are about, nor is it what truth period is about. The silliness of tracing chronological epistemology has nothing to do, at all, with the metaphysical accounting of truth/ontology.

    Seventh: The necessary first principles within the ultimate explanatory stopping points vis-à-vis metaphysical accounting which can grant full and final coherence, void of ontological IOU’s in the stuff within Christianity and Science’s A-D in those various a priori lines, and so on, never have di-verged from one another – not once from the very get-go of their lifelong friendship. Hence the unfortunate need for con-vergence, while obvious with the metaphysical start/stop points of many other worldviews, is nonexistent in their lifelong compatibility. Also (as per #24) Scripture’s auspicious move to separate Knowledge into two paradigms from the get-go is equally compatible with the way Knowledge has necessarily panned out (contrary to the hopes of scient-ism) – and thus we find another happy lack of di-vergence from the get-go in that very same lifelong friendship.

  60. scbrownlhrm

    Thank you for your response.

    First, we claimed that the general cultural milieu which gave birth to A-D (ours) and/or A-D (GR’s) (it doesn’t matter which, because you’ve just demanded of GR the *same* metaphysical accounting) was the general cultural milieu of Christianized Europe all those ages ago. That’s the cultural milieu which housed the intellectual subtext which allowed reason to be levied atop the physical properties of the universe and granted the environment in which formal scientific inquiry “took” or “stuck”.

    This claim does not seem to make as gratuitous a pillar of modern science as the original being “the metaphysical assumptions that underlay modern science are in the great part uniquely Christian.”

    Although there are probably some interesting things to discuss. I would argue the success of modern science is attributable to rational thought applied to empirical evidence; and the significance of the peer review (beyond just reason) is to apply an inter-subjective check on illusions.

    The instruments that we design to scientifically test for and measure phenomena still depend on the assumption that our senses are reliable, especially when their perceptions are replicated. After all, we could read a dial wrong or a measure wrong. It is not just the general reliability of our senses, but that the results of our senses are replicated among different investigators.

    That’s why science or methodological naturalism has an advantage over religion in this regard. Religious “truths” can’t be replicated by different faiths, or even different adherents to the same faith. Hence a clear divergence between religion and science.

  61. GH,

    Peer review beyond just reason?

    If you mean that the process is at any point void of reasoning then we disagree.

    Fortunately Christianity and A-D have no need of convergence, never having diverged to begin with.

    Not so much for your hero Hume and his suspicious hope to see rabbits pop into existence out of thin air. That void of reasoning may suit your metaphysics ….. Christianity’s not so much.

  62. scbrownlhrm

    I did not say peer review “beyond” reason. Although I am not sure what is meant by that, the only example I can conceive of that is a group of people believing in something “beyond reason” frankly points to religion / faith. I accept A-T tries to be more respectable in this area compared to non-A-T.

    Also, although I admire Hume’s work and think he is more relevant than what an A-T may think (that is a separate debate I feel), you should not assume he is my hero or atavistic mentor.

    Also, when you say the “…cultural milieu…allowed reason to be levied atop the physical properties of the universe..” I have to admit I am having trouble with the meaning. How does one actually “levy atop” reason on the properties of the universe? I can think of a number of ways to interpret that. Does the universe have to be interpreted and conform to a definition of reason, or is there an axiomatic relationship or similar as our knowledge of the properties of the universe grows?

    For instance, we have discovered a number of seemingly queer things since scholastic times. Some may have concluded that something infinite is impossible/unreasonable. But the physical properties of the universe point to the following:

    An everlasting universe is likely.
    Infinite space is almost necessary
    Maybe there is an eternal (past and future) universe. (or is not ruled out by science).

    Can “levying atop” reason deal with these findings without ruling anything out simply on the basis of an ancient definition of what things may be deemed reasonable, and where such a definition was forged in a time of much less knowledge about the properties of the universe?

  63. GH,

    You seem to be looking for ways to escape A-D’s necessity, so as to try to justify your denial of the particulars of the Christianized milieu of reason and logic allowing A-D to get that genuine foothold and take off. You also seem to be looking for ways to escape A-D so as to deny the lifelong friendship of Christianity and A-D, a friendship void of divergence from the get-go.

    We get that you (in order to accomplish those goals) want to be able to establish that A-D are not necessary for some “special steps” that occur “within” the larger, wider frame that is the scientific process, such as, say, peer review. We also get that you (again, to accomplish said goals) want to be able to establish that A-D are suddenly, as if by absurdity, “non-existent” in the arrival of the “special situation” that is the extrication of New Information.

    Unfortunately there are no special steps free of reasoning, free of A-D, nor are there any special situations, such as, say, encountering New Information, that suddenly allow “special steps” to suddenly show up and take over, free of reasoning, free of A-D.

    A few examples may be helpful:

    1)

    But it looks like Hume was right all along……Genuine randomness seems to be ubiquitous. As such, scholastic Christianity and modern science has certainly diverged

    As noted earlier, we realize that Hume’s rabbits (or did you mean something else?) popping into existence out of thin air may be suitable for his metaphysics and for your metaphysics. We’ll not stand in your way, but, well, not so much for the metaphysics of Christianity’s A-D, which it has happily walked with, hand-in-hand, from the get-go, free of divergence.

    2)

    The significance of the peer review (beyond just reason) is to apply an inter-subjective check on illusions

    Yes, this is, say, a lot of people all conversing about all the data and arriving at definitions and models, and also revising old definitions and old models, and also positing new definitions and new models. You seem to infer that this “special step” is free of reasoning, free of A-D. You seem to infer that this “special step” (peer review) within the wider frame that is the scientific method may permit one to arrive at the metaphysical actualization in which “A is A and not B” just may in fact be *both* “A is A and not B” *and* “A is both A and B”, such that an A which is not a B may in fact be both an A and a B. And so on there in the stuff of reasoning and of logic’s lucidity. We’ll leave that for you to infer or hint at, to show us how peer review does in fact find A-D unnecessary. As for Christianity, well, there is that pesky lifelong friendship from the get-go. Adding more and more layers of Minds and of New Data doesn’t change what is happening.

    3)

    How does one actually “levy atop” reason on the properties of the universe? I can think of a number of ways to interpret that. Does the universe have to be interpreted and conform to a definition of reason

    The definition of reasoning……. Perhaps it is nothing but mechanistically involuntary cascades inside our skulls constituted solely of determined processes void of sight, utterly blind, helplessly pushed this-way and that-way by illusion’s capricious, random, winds, and, therefore, the “real work” is done, not by Reasoning, but by Reason’s Taskmaster constituted solely of those capricious and random winds such that Nature’s sightless mechanisms define Reasoning. Or, instead, maybe it is the case that vis-à-vis Hume’s (and your) “genuine randomness” it is the case that Christianity’s Trio of [reasoning, inferring, logic] is not reliable and therefore that same Trio (reasoning, inferring, logic) does not actually “do the work” (…..not *really*, that is….) of defining, of positing models, and so on. Rather, the definition of Reason is what the Skeptic defines it to be in “special cases” rather than the other way around, so as to permit the Skeptic’s own Trio of his own three golden treasures: First, No-God. Second, the metaphysics of Hume’s rabbits popping into existence out of thin air (which may hopefully permit the Frist). Third, your own, “But it looks like Hume was right all along……Genuine randomness seems to be ubiquitous. As such, scholastic Christianity and modern science has certainly diverged” (which may hopefully permit the First). Any of the above will do for those who are averse to A-D’s necessity, it seems, as they permit one to diverge away from A-D. Of course, Christianity’s lifelong friendship with A-D lacks such divergence and therefore continues moving onward and outward to fashion, defend, modify, buttress, and amend definitions of that wide and beautiful array of fabrics found in the universe.

    4)

    An everlasting universe is likely. Infinite space is almost necessary. Maybe there is an eternal (past and future) universe. (Or [these are] not ruled out by science).

    Yes, the standard appeal to “New Information” or “New Data” in one’s hopes of finding some seam somewhere that is void of the busy work of “Christianity’s Trio” (as per #3), so as to, without sufficient reason, permit the (typical) “Skeptic’s Trio” (as per #3). But that is all self-negating for the very sentence itself, the very question itself, just is the product of mind atop matter, of reasoning and modeling and inferring. You seem to hold the view that “New Information” takes us to the following location:

    There is no need for the principle of sufficient reason, for A-D, because “(New Information at X) = (Unintelligible at A-Z)” because it is obvious (to your metaphysics) that [New Information] means [An A truly *is* a Non-A].

    Unfortunately for you, though, encountering New Information and following New Data into New Models fails to suddenly allow “special steps” to suddenly show up and take over, free of sufficient reason, free of reasoning, free of A-D. There could be no statements period about “This New X” unless we had sufficient reasons to fashion such statements. The aversion to A-D is such a desperate case that even the humility of “We do not as of yet know the answer to that” is laced through-and-through with the express fabric of A-D’s ubiquitous presence, A-D’s bothersome hold there in the subtext of D. Hart’s “legitimacy of the elementary categories of logic and the discriminatory powers of the intellect”.

    Also, unfortunately for you, your entire premise in that question about “New Data” or “New Models” reeks not only of a desperate appeal to “special steps free of A-D”, but, the premise also reeks of bothersome hints of Scientism – for which we can find no intellectual support. At all. None. In fact, the very claim defeats itself. This business of New-Data / New-Models just isn’t giving you the hoped for freedom from (Christianity’s) A-D. Fortunately for Christianity’s lifelong friendship with A-D, as predicted, Scripture’s auspicious move to separate Knowledge into two distinct paradigms from the get-go is seamlessly and flawlessly compatible with the way Knowledge has necessarily panned out (contrary to the hopes of scient-ism) – and thus we find another happy lack of di-vergence from the get-go in that very same lifelong friendship. Speaking of two paradigms of Knowledge, well, at least Christianity’s metaphysics, its A-D, retains the needed tools which permit it to happily avoid Scientism’s own unhappy self-negation.

    5)

    Can “levying atop” reason deal with these findings without ruling anything out simply on the basis of an ancient definition of what things may be deemed reasonable, and where such a definition was forged in a time of much less knowledge about the properties of the universe?

    See replies to number 3 and to number 4 above.

  64. scbrownlhrm

    Thank you for the response. Don’t infer from my questions that I am holding a position that I am rationalising. I am open to the idea of say a first cause, but I don’t think that still doesn’t get anywhere close to theism let alone any particular flavour of it.

    In any case, a fair amount of what you say seems to rest on a specific view about PSR, and that alone of course may include many assumptions and meanings. Simply to draw that out, let me ask the following: Why accept PSR at all? If you accept PSR, what is the SR for the PSR?

  65. GH,

    Feel free to believe things for no good reason(s). While you question why on earth we need reasons behind definitions, models, and beliefs, we’ll remind ourselves that it is *you* who must tell *us* what counts as “evidence” given that you affirm Hume’s Rabbit-Randomness. It seems nothing will survive *that* first principle. We’ll be sure to watch out for said rabbits. Literally.

    Given Christianity’s first principles, however, neither the Christian nor the physical sciences need settle for such.

  66. Oh, the burden of proof is on me now? It’s not about simply believing in things without a good (or sufficient reason). It is the meaning and justification given to “good” or “sufficient”.

  67. GH,

    Given your capricious first principle of Hume’s Rabbit-Randomness, yes, the burden is yours as to what counts as “evidence”. Also, as you stated earlier that A-D “may not be enough” (#51) you’ll also have to tell us *why* it is we need said “evidence” (your version) and also *how*, exactly, it is that we are supposed to go about getting said “evidence”.

  68. There could be no statements period about “This New X” unless we had sufficient reasons to fashion such statements. The aversion to A-D is such a desperate case that even the humility of “We do not as of yet know the answer to that” is laced through-and-through with the express fabric of A-D’s ubiquitous presence, A-D’s bothersome hold there in the subtext of D. Hart’s “legitimacy of the elementary categories of logic and the discriminatory powers of the intellect”. The capricious first principles behind Unintelligible Randomness must, to succeed in convincing us, borrow a painful chain of ontological IOU’s just to get off the ground. As if that’s not bad enough, the Bank it must borrow from has peculiar routes of funding, all its accounting being handled by One Uncanny Full Stop.

  69. scbrownlhrm

    No, #51 was in relation to not good enough to characterise the scientific method (or that is the context of my remarks regardless if we were talking past each other at that point). You are claiming A-D are metaphysical first principles. You have the burden.

    What is the sufficient reason for the PSR? What justifies this demand? What is the basis for implying that nothing is adequately explained until everything is?

    In any case, affirming the PSR provides no protection at all against skepticism. It is one thing to think that things have sufficient reasons; it is something else entirely to say that we are in a position to discover them. Don’t you think evidence comes in at some point?

    Anyway, lets put your A-D to the test. Why should we think that a presumptively fundamental physical reality (quarks and leptons, quantum fields, superstrings, or whatever) needs supernatural support in order to exist?

  70. GH,

    not good enough to characterize the scientific method

    Show us your “special step” free of reasoning and the elementary categories of logic.

    You are claiming A-D are metaphysical first principles. You have the burden

    They are a few of the metaphysical first principles for Christianity. That you doubt that is bizarre. As for the physical sciences, one need not ascribe to a metaphysical accounting of “X” merely to employ “X”. Of course, please, show us your “special step” free of reasoning and the elementary categories of logic.

    What is the sufficient reason for the PSR? What justifies this demand?

    Christianity found logic and reason as necessary. That science happens to be free of “special steps” which are free of reasoning is informative should one’s T.O.E. seek to leave Scientism behind. That your first principles of Unintelligible Randomness does not need (PSR) them is fine. We’re not stopping you from trying to prove that such is the nature of reality. We know you believe it. But we don’t. And the scientific method proceeds “as if” it were not the case vis-à-vis its a priori.

    What is the basis for implying that nothing is adequately explained until everything is?

    Describing a tree does not explain “everything”. Not even the Tree. It describes the Tree. The physical sciences describe the various fabrics of the universe. One by one. Is that confusing for you? Did you think someone here asserted that nothing is explained unless everything is described? No one on our end would assert that, because Scientism is absurd. The problems of Scientism emerge and that is why the physical sciences cannot explain “everything”. The Christian does not expect that of the natural sciences. Do you? Scripture shows us two distinct paradigms of knowledge. You seem to disagree and affirm Scientism.

    Don’t you think evidence comes in at some point?

    First, you seem to think we suggest that A-D is the stopping point of either the Christian or of the physical sciences, that neither go about to seek evidence. Why would you think that? Can you tell us where we said that? We are speaking of the fundamental starting points of the scientific method (logic and reasoning and so on). The Christian and the Scientific method happily travel about gathering data, building models, revising all of the above, and so on. Regarding evidence, given your capricious first principle of Hume’s Rabbit-Randomness you have a burden to explain what, exactly, counts as “evidence” and you’ll also have to tell us *why* it is we need said “evidence” (your version) and also *how*, exactly, it is that we are supposed to go about getting said “evidence”.

    needs supernatural support in order to exist?

    For about the fifth time now, Scientism isn’t the fundamental starting point of either Christianity nor of the physical sciences. Describing physical things describes, well, physical things. It does not explain them, but it does describe them. That is what Scientism seems to forget as it asserts that “describing” is the same thing as “explaining”. That is also what Scientism seems to forget when it asserts that it *can* explain *everything*. Describing a tree does not explain “everything”. Not even the Tree. It describes the Tree. The physical sciences describe the various fabrics of the universe. One by one. Is that confusing for you? Did you think someone here asserted that nothing is explained unless everything is described? No one on our end would assert that, because Scientism is absurd. The problems of Scientism emerge and that is why the physical sciences cannot explain “everything”. The Christian does not expect that of the natural sciences. Do you? Scripture shows us two distinct paradigms of knowledge. You seem to disagree and affirm Scientism.

    You seem to think that metaphysics, philosophy, and the physical sciences never do and never can inform and educate each other. That’s odd. You seem to think that there does *not* need to be a seamlessness in this or that T.O.E. which is fundamentally constituted of all of the above, of metaphysics, of philosophy, of the physical sciences, and so on. Any T.O.E. which sacrifices huge swaths of ontological real estate – such as the very tools to build said T.O.E. – is fundamentally self-negating.

    In short, you seem to ascribe to Scientism based on the premises buried in your questions.

    That is fine. But, again, neither the Christian nor the physical sciences affirm that stance.

  71. scbrownlhrm

    I have no problem with reason and logic, but your A-D list has other things with other implications.

    Take the PSR: the PSR the way Christians use it means a lot more than simply reason and logic. According to the PSR, nothing exists unless there is a sufficient reason for its existence. Everything that exists either is contingent, that is, it is not a sufficient reason for its own existence, or it is a necessary being, that is, it is its own sufficient reason for being. (Putting aside it is not clear what it is for anything—including God—to be its own sufficient reason).

    An unending chain of contingent beings that did not terminate in a necessary being would leave the whole chain unexplained demands the PSR. Therefore, if we accept the PSR, the world, the totality of all physical objects, must either contain its own sufficient reason, or the world owes its existence to something else, a necessary being that is the sufficient reason for the world’s existence.

    So why accept the PSR? What justifies it? Why not regard the universe itself or its physical properties as a brute fact or primordial reality? If our explanations ultimately end with brute facts, then those brute facts will remain unexplained. The PSR doesn’t like this but I don’t see the physical sciences being too bothered.

  72. Therefore, if we accept the PSR, the world, the totality of all physical objects, must either contain its own sufficient reason, or the world owes its existence to something else, a necessary being that is the sufficient reason for the world’s existence.

    So why accept the PSR?

    Why indeed? Why should the universe make sense. Why should anything make sense. Why can’t we have the scientific enterprise, which is all about things making sense, exist in a universe which itself doesn’t make any sense. Why indeed.

    And, to return to the origins if said scientific enterprise, why in a universe that doesn’t make sense should anyone think the details of that universe should? Well, the fact of the matter was that people who didn’t think the universe made sense didn’t think details of that universe should. However, the worldview that thought the universe made sense founded the enterprise that was able to explain those details.

    Your entire premise is upside down. You are asking why, now that we have science, do we need to explain what sense the entire universe makes. The reality was that until someone understood that the entire universe made sense there was no logical reason to proceed to understand its details. Once that was established, the scientific enterprise could and did proceed from there.

  73. GH,

    That thing that Bill T. just said.

    Also, we agree that the physical sciences aren’t bothered. They can’t be bothered, because Scientism is absurd.

  74. So why accept the PSR?

    Because what we know is that the people that didn’t have the Principal of Sufficient Reason, quite literally, didn’t have sufficient reason to believe that the world around them was reasonable.