Re: Science and Theology

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Sat May 01 2004 - 06:33:48 EDT

Doug Barber wrote:

"...I don't think that it is ever the case that theology can even tend to
discredit a valid empirical hypothesis (that is, an empirical hypothesis
which is capable of being either true or false). It may give us reason
to regard what purports to be a valid empirical hypothesis with special
suspicion...."

On the other side of this issue we should not lose sight of the fact that certain empirical results do not necessarily imply commonly deduced theological consequences. For example--as some of us have recently been discussing, the apparent haphazardness of organic evolution and the great expanses of time taken may seem to require a God who does not intervene by coercing nature. But it is not necessary to draw this particular conclusion. Depending on God's objectives in the world, the empirical observations can be perfectly compatible with occasional coercive divine interventions. While the resulting picture would not be as pretty philosophically as one involving a totally non-coercive God, logical beauty is not a valid theological criterion. If it were, we'd have to throw out the heart and substance of the Christian message, which is foolishness to the wise of the world. The prettiest solution is not the only one compatible with the data and in fact may not be the best.

Don

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Douglas Barber<mailto:dlbarber1954@verizon.net>
  To: asa@calvin.edu<mailto:asa@calvin.edu>
  Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 7:28 PM
  Subject: Science and Theology

  Please pardon me in advance for arguing with myself in public.

  In an earlier post on the topic of YEC Destroying Faith, I argued that
  "The task of forming a coherent view of life from a stance of absolute
  trust in God - for Christian purposes, what Paul called 'taking every
  thought captive to the obedience of Christ' - will sometimes require us
  to revise empirical theories, and sometimes to revise our interpretation
  of what God has revealed in sacred scripture."

  That argument was hasty and does not accurately reflect my belief.

  I don't think that it is ever the case that theology can even tend to
  discredit a valid empirical hypothesis (that is, an empirical hypothesis
  which is capable of being either true or false). It may give us reason
  to regard what purports to be a valid empirical hypothesis with special
  suspicion, but any legitemate criticism of the empirical hypothesis will
  have to be made on one of two grounds: 1) the evidence does not in fact
  support this hypothesis, or, is so provisional as not to compel even
  provisional assent, or 2) the purported empirical hypothesis is not
  really a scientific hypothesis, but a metaphysical statement attempting
  to pass as a scientific one. (Examples of the second type of have come
  up in the history of science, even from an atheistic point of view, with
  some formulations of Freudian Psychoanalysis, Marxism, and Darwinism).

  Doug Barber
  Crisfield, MD
Received on Sat May 1 06:32:23 2004

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