Science and its Critics

Jack Haas (
Fri, 7 Mar 1997 10:43:52 -0500 (EST)

Jonathan Arm has asked me to expand on several points from my report on the
University of Kansas Conference 'Science and Its Critics.'

(1) Alan Sokal and the social construction of science. Alan argued strongly
against the notions that 'all of science is social construction' or
'science is only social construction.' I suspect that, like Sokal, most of
us would argue that there is a real-independent world out there which we
are seeking to understand, however imperfectly. Yes, ideologies influence
our thinking in developing theories, but the tests of time and
fruitfullness of our models are the ultimate ways that we value what
is said about nature.

I recommend: Arnold Thackray, ed. "Constructing Knowledge in the History
of Science," Osiris, Vol. 10 (Second Series) 1995 as a good source for
current thinking by 'science studies' people.

My concern in this matter is the role that religion (Christianity) has
played in the past and the role that it should play in the future. This is
central to our current discussion of 'theistic science.' I would like to
move from shots at P. Johnson to informed discussion of the broader
issue(s). The pages of PSCF are available.

(2) My comment that the "post modern mood allows Christians in the gate"
follows what others have suggested. The point is that where there are all
sorts of truth in the marketplace, civility (and perhaps logic) requires
that exponents of these views (including Christianity) be allowed in the
university. It was strange to be part of a panel of black-americans, a
native-american and a resentative of a prehistoric tribe who joined me in
attacking scientism.

Jack Haas