John's SS class

From: Jan de Koning (jan@dekoning.ca)
Date: Sat Dec 21 2002 - 14:19:48 EST

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    At 09:36 AM 20/12/2002 -0700, John Burgeson wrote:

    please, allow me to make some remarks, in between John's writing:

    >As a matter of fact the various definitions of science will be a
    >focus item in the five week SS class I'll be teaching starting the first
    >Sunday in January at Montview Blvd Pres Church here in Denver.
    >
    >Among the definitions offered to spark our discussions (the class will be
    >20% lecture and 80% discussions) are the following (still draft form).
    >Comments and additions to this material cheerfully accepted. Most of the
    >quotations include a citation; some, as yet, do not and may be paraphrases.
    >
    >III SCIENCE
    >
    >Many argue there is no adequate, satisfactory definition of science (even
    >when narrowing the definition to the natural sciences). E.g., see
    >Moreland╠s Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical
    >Investigation. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989.
    >
    >¤Scientism is a scientific worldview that encompasses natural explanations
    >for all phenomena, eschews supernatural ans paranormal speculations, and
    >embraces empiricism and reason as the twin pillars of a philosophy of life
    >appropriate for an age of Science ¸ cosmology and evolutionary theory ask
    >the ultimate origin questions that have traditionally been the province of
    >relgion¸ .Ë Michael Shermer, Scientific American, June 2002, p. 35.

    Here one gets into a circular reasoning, since the meaning of "natural"
    depends on the meaning of "nature", which is created by God. The same kind
    of criticism may be levelled at "empiricism" and "reason". A Calvinist
    believes that all our faculties are affected by the fall in
    sin. "Religion" guides all our faculties, and all what we do.
    "Speculations" is another word that is defined by one's outlook on
    everything. I believe in miracles still happening today. Someone may call
    that a speculation.
    We all have a "world-view", but it is different for one who believes that
    Christ died for our sins, and cleanses us, than for someone who believes
    that "nature" is acting independent of God. So someone's "objective" proof
    is considered by others to be very "subjective" That is already true among
    believers in Christ as their Saviour, even more so if non-believers in
    Christ are involved.

    >In Webster's 1828 dictionary science is defined as: "SCIENCE, [from the
    >Latin scientia, from scio, to know.]
    >1. In a general sense, knowledge, or certain knowledge; the
    >comprehension or
    >understanding of truth
    > or facts by the mind. The science of God must be perfect.

    >2. In philosophy, a collection of the general principles or leading
    >truths
    >relating to any subject. Pure
    > science, as the mathematics, is built on self-evident
    >truths,

    Even that is not quite true. Vollenhoven discussed in his 1918
    dissertation three different philosophies of mathematics. What some find
    self-evident, others have trouble with.

    > but the term science is also applied to
    > other subjects founded on generally acknowledged truths, as
    >metaphysics; or on experiment or
    > observation, as chemistry and natural philosophy; or even to
    >the assemblage of the general
    > principles of an art, as the science of agriculture; the
    >science of navigation. Arts relate to practice,
    > as painting and sculpture. A principle in science is a rule
    >in art. Playfair.

    It will be difficult to deal with "generally acknowledged truths"
    "metaphysics". What is "natural philosophy"? Which philosophic system are
    you following? If you are not very careful, you may get involved in never
    ending discussions.

    > 3. Art derived from precepts or built on principles.
    >Science perfects genius. Dryden.
    > Any art or species of knowledge. No science doth make known
    >the first principles on which it
    > buildeth. Hooker.

    The division "Arts" and "Sciences" is built on medieval philosophic
    theory. You found some definitions, but it would be difficult to "fit"
    everything in those schemes. It is on the other hand a wonderful point to
    start: "No science makes known the first principles on which to build." I
    agree with that 100% provided you include all sciences and arts. The only
    thing to trust is God's Word in Bible and Creation. For me, meaning, for
    example, if I see certain phenomena in nature, then I know God is speaking
    to me there. So, for example, since evolution is still going on, I can
    accept "evolution" as a fact. Also, since God was talking to His creatures
    in a language they could understand in their stage of development, I accept
    that, for example, Gen.1-11 are using a different way of speaking than
    modern text-books.

    >4 One of the seven liberal branches of knowledge, viz, grammar,
    >logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry,
    > astronomy and music. Bailey, Johnson

    Dooyeweerd comes to fourteen areas of knowledge, but acknowledges there may
    be more. However human beings we do not know everything, and we may have
    disagreements about what we see. Even in logic.

    >A scientist's verse: Psalm 27:4 -- "One thing have I desired of the Lord,
    >that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the
    >days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his
    >Temple."
    >
    >Science Ď doing one╠s best with one╠s mind Ď no holds barred. Ď Bridgman
    >
    >¤Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, based on
    >observation, hypothesis, testing, measurement, experimentation, and theory
    >building, which leads to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.Ë
    >Ď adopted in 2002 by the Ohio State Board of Education..
    >
    >It is clear that science is not in contact with ultimate reality, but that
    >it is describing the waves, and not the ocean.

    I would say it differently, but I think I agree. Here again, in its
    working out disagreements will probably appear.

    >Trap of ¤nothing butteryË thinking. (to be expanded)

    ????

    >A definition of Intelligent Design by Angus Menuge, which opens his essay
    >for a volume on ID and Darwinism that Bill Dembski is editing with Michael
    >Ruse:
    >
    >"Intelligent Design (ID) argues that intelligent causes are capable of
    >leaving empirically detectable marks in the natural world. Aspiring to be a
    >scientific research program, ID purports to study the effects of intelligent
    >causes in biology and cosmology. It claims that the best explanation for at
    >least some of the appearance of design in nature is that this design is
    >actual. Specifically, certain kinds of complex information found in the
    >natural world are said to point convincingly to the work of an intelligent
    >agency. Yet for many scientists, any appearance of design in
    >nature ultimately derives from the interplay of undirected natural forces.
    >What's more, ID flies in the face of the methodological naturalism (MN) that
    >prevails throughout so much of science. According to MN, although
    >scientists are entitled to religious beliefs and can entertain supernatural
    >entities in their off-time, within science proper they need to proceed as if
    >only natural causes are operative."

    I disagree with the basic principle : Can we, creatures limited in
    knowledge, ever decide that God is intelligent? Of course, anything He
    does leaves traces that are visible. But we are creatures as well. Who
    are we, creatures, to decide that: "Yes, somebody was intelligent when
    deciding this world." and then decide that must have been God. Personally,
    I find that a very upside down reasoning. I know that God created, and
    don't need proof. Even more from Scriptures I know that even believers
    have to be careful. WE do not know God's ways and His purposes, His doings
    etc. I find the ID movement dangerous, because WE decide what is wise and
    purposeful, see Job 38 and 39.

    I delete a lot fro here on, since the parts where I might disagree I
    mentioned already. Besides, I don't think one can do a thorough job in
    five or six or even twenty lectures. I certainly do not always agree with
    the way "sciences" are divided, but I have said that more often already.

    So, when I delete the rest, it is not because I am not interested.

    Jan de Koning.



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