Re: [asa] on "baconianism" & American evangelicals

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Tue Mar 06 2007 - 19:32:00 EST

On 3/6/07, George Murphy <> wrote:
> 1st, as we've increasing come to find since Huxley's time as
> the phenomena with which we deal get farther and farther from everyday
> experience, our observations of "facts" are theory-laden. Without some
> theoretical framework we couldn't get from a network of bubble trails to a
> reaction of hadrons, leptons &c. .

You see the lack of appreciation with theory with the current "evolution is
just a theory" complaint. To a modern scientist the response would be, "What
do you mean just?" because theory means something completely different
technically versus popularly.

I have a thought with respect to the timing. Ted please let me know if I am
all wet here. I don't believe that this was the attitude of evangelicals
until the 20th Century even though the core ideas came from the 18th. The
reason why I say this is from the first chapter of Charles Hodge's
Systematic Theology. Here Hodge makes the following analogy. Science is to
nature as theology is to the Bible. Without the theoretical and
systemetizing underpinning neither the Bible or nature make sense and are
just "brute facts". Contrast this with Barth's Church Dogmatics, his
anti-system system if you will. This brings a question does neo-orthodoxy or
post-modernism have an influence on evangelical thought on science? Does the
explanatory power of theory come too close to meta-narratives for pomo

So, the question with respect to the theoretical nature of both science and
theology was Hodge behind or ahead of the times with respect to evangelical
thought? Or to put it differently, was Hodge's movement away from the
Scottish Common Sense school representative of 19th Century evangelical
thought? If yes, then the 20th Century is a resurgence of this thinking. If
no, then evangelicals did not change. In either case, Old
Princeton/Westminster appeared to follow along the same lines where
philosophical idealism (I mean this in the technical not popular sense)
became the warp and woof of their apologetics system. This could explain the
lesser hostility towards modern, non-Baconian science (the methodology of
science but not necessarily the conclusions) by neo-evangelicals than
traditional ones. Any thoughts, Ted?

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Mar 6 19:32:54 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Mar 06 2007 - 19:32:54 EST