At 09:51 PM 12/02/02 -0500, george murphy wrote:
>Steve Bishop wrote:
> > I am doing some research into methodological naturalism. At the moment, I
> > am attempting to identify reasons for its popularity.
> > I wondered what reasons list members could identify for its adoption;
> > personally or in the literature.
> 1st, speaking of the "popularity" of methodological naturalism is an
>understatement. The vast majority of working scientists use it in
>test that claim one may try to find scientists who are content to explain a
>puzzling result of an experiment or theoretical inconsistency by saying
> Of course some are committed to methodological naturalism because
>are committed to _metaphysical_ naturalism. If there is no God, gods &c then
>methodological naturalism is the only game in town.
> A rejection of methodological naturalism means that "Stop" signs are
>erected to block scientific research at certain points. Even scientists who
>believe that God is active in the world are generally uncomfortable with that.
> Personally I would argue that there are strong theological reasons,
>based on the character of God as revealed in Christ, for accepting
>methodological naturalism. I set out this argument in an article "Chiasmic
>Cosmology and Creation's Functional Integrity" in _Perspectives on Science and
>Christian Faith_ 53.1, March 2001, 7-13.
> Finally, I don't think it's very profitable to argue about the _name_
>It isn't ideal but it is reasonably accurate, especially when the contrast
>metaphysical or ontological naturalism is emphasized. & like it or not, we're
>stuck with it - like "Big Bang".
Rather than talking about naturalism when we talk about philosophical
backgrounds, we should directly talk about philosophy. All science
(Wissenschaft in German) is done against a philosophical background,
whether we know it or not. For that reason the Free University in
Amsterdam required (in my time, 60 years ago) that all first year students
took a year long course in (Calvinist) Philosophy. It formed my life,
though as a mathematics student I first thought "why?"
The course made clear to me that all of our life is either directed toward
God (through Jesus Christ) or away from God. Our original tendency to go
away from God in everything is turned around by, and through the cross of
Jesus, to God. That happens in our innermost being, the heart. The result
is that we in all we do (should) ask for God's will. God reveals Himself
to us through Jesus in His Creation, so that no one is excused, and He
reveals Himself in His Word. That Word has gone through many stages, but
it still is the only way to salvation.
However, before the Word came, God was already creating through His
Word. Thus "creation" was revealing God to our original parents. Original
sin came before the Bible was. God's salvation came before anything was
written down. And God is still working in His creation. We still see many
plants etc. coming through "evolution", but "evolution" is God's work as
well as any other good thing God is working in us. We still become "new"
when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. Then our "innermost being" (what is
often called "soul", a word that Vollenhoven avoided because of translation
and philosophic problems, based on bible translations) will be turned from
"away from God" to "towards God."
Vollenhoven, my teacher, then went on to describe 14 fields of knowledge
from "theology" (study of religion) to the lowliest subject "mathematics",
my subject. These 14 fields are irreducible. Theology is not Ethics,
Ethics is not Law, etc., Mathematics is not Physics. Actually, he split
math. in two parts, space and number.
These distinguishing marks I found very helpful at the university, and
still anywhere else. It avoids mixing up all kinds of irrelevant things
with the real important things.
Vollenhoven worked partly together with his brother-in-law, Dooyeweerd,
whose work has been translated into English. Vollenhoven's background was
Theology, Dooyeweerd's Law. In many points they agree, for example on the
14 basic fields of knowledge.
Following Vollenhoven's lectures was a joy, since he showed us the
relevance of God's Word to our work,. and telling us that God still spoke
to us in creation, His creation. He taught us, poor people, who could not
read Hebrew or Greek, how to look for words, and not just trust any
translation, but to look the word up in the original. The he spent three
hours on comparing biblical words for "soul', which then appeared to be
translated in with very different words, because, he said, the
philosophical Greek influence on translators.
Relevant for our discussion is, that these different disciplines may use
some tools from other disciplines, but thaat they are basically on their
own. The only thing that all disciplines have in common is, that you are
either working towards God or away from God, and that you need the saving
grace of Jesus to see that.
I understand that some one is trying to translate his lectures. From
experience I know how difficult it is, because the words he is using can
hardly ever be translated literally. I tried it and gave up.
Jan de K.
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