Re: [asa] Empiricism, Faith and Science

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Thu Sep 14 2006 - 23:36:55 EDT

On Fri, 15 Sep 2006 14:57:40 +1200 Don Nield <>
> David Opderbeck wrote:
> >
> >
> > But here is my biggest concern vis-a-vis TE. The author says:
> > /Scientific "truths" are empirically supported observations agreed
> on
> > by different observers. Religious "truths," on the other hand, are
> > personal, unverifiable and contested by those of different faiths.
> > /The epistemology behind this seems to me appallingly simplistic
> and
> > wrong -- it's just old-school positivism. I can't see how anyone
> > committed to an authentic Christianity can accept this
> epistemology.
> > But isn't this epistemology implicit in a TE position that
> promotes a
> > rigid methodological naturalism? Even though the TE's MN is
> couched
> > in pragmatic terms, isn't the philosophical underpinning a belief
> that
> > there really is no "empirical" knowledge of religious truths?
> >
> I agree that the author's statement in italics is based on an
> positivistic epistemology that is simplistic and wrong. But implying
> that the same goes for a TE plus MN position is not warranted.
> Rather,
> MN is compatible with a critical realism position . For me, MN is
> the
> basis of science, but science is limited -- it can only give us an
> approximation of the truth.
> Don
Good point, Don, for all human beings are fallible. We may do better when
we check each other's work, but we don't achieve perfection. (Math comes
close, but only by positing a set of axioms, with which we tinker, and
using them to deduce theorems.) Then there is the little problem that
induction, the basis of science, does not give proof. Add to that
Poincare's extension of Koenig's proof, that there are an infinite number
of models for any set of data that fits under least action. Then George
keeps bringing up Goedel. Add to this that all scientific work is based
on some beliefs that cannot be demonstrated scientifically, or any other

Science at least has a tie to empirical checks. Philosophy usually lacks
the empirical check, having to depend on consistency. There are various
consistent philosophical world views. Theology uses the philosophical
approach, but builds on a scripture or the declarations of a prophet held
to be correct. Christianity has a special position in that it is
inexorably tied to a set of historical events, especially the life, death
and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These matters cannot be proved, but the
evidence is solid. With faith comes an inner witness, dismissed as
wishful thinking by those with a different commitment, but telling to
those within the household of faith.

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Received on Thu Sep 14 23:42:58 2006

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