Re: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised

From: allenroy (
Date: Tue Sep 16 2003 - 18:31:42 EDT

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    I thought that when I originally posted this there would be some clouds on
    the horizon. I especially thought that Dick Fisher because this basically
    makes his 10 points against YECs irrelevant to them. The reason why is that
    all his empirical data is not really empirical at but rather interpretation
    of data within his paradigm. To the YECs, who start with a different
    paradigm, yet one in which science can just as well be done, Dick's
    interpretations find no reality. The same goes for Glen Morton, who is
    continually saying that YECs ignore empirical facts and data, when in fact,
    they are simply interpreting the data within their paradigm. So, where's
    the reaction?


    allenroy wrote:

    > We've been talking about how YEC interpretation of the Bible causes them
    > to have bad science--i.e. that they try to force science into
    > preconceived, religious notions. In light of that, I have here some
    > edited sections of an article by Del Ratzesch, Professor of Philosophy
    > at Calvin College, called, "Cradled Science: Examining the Cosmos in the
    > context of Faith." (Journal of Adventist Education, Summer 2002, pp.
    > 2-12.)
    > He starts with the concepts of Baconian science and moves on to the
    > influences of Popper and Kuhn.
    > [begin selected material]
    > Baconian science rests ultimately on pure, objective dispassionately
    > collected observational data.
    > Scientists then applied special logical procedures to those data in
    > order to produce scientific theories.
    > This set of stringent procedures constituted the 'scientific method.'
    > Bacon's views are generally
    > referred to as 'inductivism.'
    > This view of science achieved dominance, becoming practically the
    > official cultural conception by the
    > earth 20th century, and still underlies many popular ideas about
    > science. But however attractive its
    > promises, Baconian inductivism is in fact irreparably defective,
    > disintegrating at nearly every point.
    > Among its many problems are these: (a) There simply is no form of logic
    > by which theories, laws, and
    > the like can be inferred from empirical data; and (b) Empirical
    > procedures cannot confer certainty
    > upon any scientific theory. The only way to test proposed theories or
    > hypotheses was to deduce
    > experimental or other observational predictions from the theory or
    > hypothesis (hence the term
    > hypothetico-deductivism), then see whether or not the predictions
    > matched observed reality, thereby
    > confirming or contradicting the theory.
    > Hypothetico-deductivist believed that although theories could not be
    > proved true, they could at least
    > be empirically confirmed. Not everyone agreed, A number of people
    > (claiming to follow Karl
    > Popper) concluded for technical, logical reasons that theories could not
    > even be confirmed, much less
    > proved. But in their view, science could at least prove specific
    > theories to be false by uncovering
    > empirical data contrary to predictions of those theories.
    > Unfortunately, even this modest claim turned
    > out to be too strong.
    > Historically, it was almost universally believed that perception was
    > neutral, in the sense that genuinely
    > honest and careful observation was unaffected by beliefs,
    > presupposition, philosophical preferences,
    > or similar factors. This neutrality guaranteed the objectivity and
    > utter trustworthiness of empirical
    > data, which constituted the secure foundation of science. But that
    > perceived neutrality came under
    > attack in the mid-20th century. Thomas Khun, for example, argued that
    > perception itself was an
    > active--not a passive--process, deeply colored by the broader conceptual
    > matrices, or paradigms, to
    > which one had prior allegiances.
    > Thus, this view not only destroyed the allegedly rigid, logical
    > structure of science, but also threatened
    > the pure objectivity of its foundation. Furthermore, paradigms
    > influenced not only perception, but
    > also theory evaluation and acceptance, conceptual resources, normative
    > judgments within science, and
    > a host of other consequential matters. And, according to Kuhn,
    > paradigms were partially defined by,
    > among other things, metaphysical commitments and values. Thus,
    > non-empirical, human-suffused
    > perspectives had seeped into the no-longer-inviolable scientific method
    > at all levels, from empirical
    > bedrock to theoretical pinnacle.
    > One consequence of underdetermination was that no amount of (even pure)
    > empirical data could point
    > to just one theory among competitors. Thus, if one adopted a realist
    > stance toward theories, claiming
    > that come specific scientific theory was actually true, rather than
    > merely a useful model, the selection
    > of that specific theory had to involve (at least implicitly) factors
    > beyond just the empirical. Kuhn's
    > own list of operative non-empirical principles was relatively
    > tame--simplicity, fruitfulness,
    > measurability, accuracy, and the like. But some postmodernists went
    > much further, claiming, for
    > instance, that the very heart of science contained political agendas,
    > social biases, dominance
    > hierarchies, gender prejudices, and so on.
    > But what can no longer be denied is that a science with utter
    > objectivity, absolute logical rigidity, and
    > purely empirical foundations is not an attainable ideal. Most
    > contemporary mainline commentators
    > argue that despite the unavoidable dependence of science upon resources
    > other than just empirical
    > data and reason, scientific results can still claim significant rational
    > justification and epistemic
    > legitimacy. Rigor, objectivity, and warrant may be less than absolute,
    > even less than many fervently
    > hope, but science can still get at theoretical truth. A tempered
    > realism still seems defensible.
    > Realist claims are plausible only if we have grounds for confidence in
    > the human perceptual and
    > cognitive structures that, inescapably, function within science. Beyond
    > that, the principle of
    > underdetermination of theory by data indicates that science requires a
    > conceptual environment
    > extended beyond the merely empirical. Historically, that indispensable
    > confidence and conceptual
    > richness were drawn from religious principals. Some current historians
    > argue that without the broader
    > Christian conceptual matrix, modern science might never have arisen.
    > Ideally, a worldview should be a unified, integrated whole. But for
    > much of the 20th century, many
    > people thought that religion and science were simply irrelevant to each
    > other. At worst, religion was
    > seen as fighting a rearguard action against the seemingly inexorable
    > advance of a science destined to
    > conceptually engulf everything it touched. Science is now recognized as
    > (1) at least partially
    > embedded in a wider conceptual context and (2) unavoidable drawing
    > resources from that wider
    > context.
    > 'Science' can thus be locked into place within a number of different
    > worldviews, with advocates of
    > each claiming that it confirms their particular view. There are many
    > who insist on some version of
    > methodological naturalism--that whatever the ultimate metaphysical
    > reality, genuine science as
    > science must (either definitionally or practically be completely
    > detached from everything other than
    > the purely natural. But rigid cases for such prohibitions are
    > increasingly difficult to construct, and
    > even some secular thinkers now admit that there are no compelling
    > reasons why Christian thought
    > cannot contribute to a legitimate conceptual context for science.
    > [end selected material]
    > Thus, it seems to me that Emperical data and science is pretty much an
    > imaginary idea. What we are really dealing with is interpretations of
    > data and science within philosophical foundations. These can include
    > Ontological Naturalism, Methodological Naturalism, and even Creationism
    > (typically YECism). OECism apparently finds its foundation in
    > Methodological Naturalism. And some on this net seem to function as if
    > Baconian science is still valid and ignore the enlightenment of Popper
    > and Kuhn.
    > Allen

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