Re: [asa] Demarcation was Re: thinking was prosecutors and not that of the judge

From: Bill Hamilton <williamehamiltonjr@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue May 08 2007 - 20:08:05 EDT

Rich wrote

Now the question that dogs this list and the our entire organization is
what happens when the two things (tested natural propositions and
Scripture) we implicitly trust appear to conflict. As Hamlet said
while considering another quandary, "Ay there's the rub." What you and
David need to note is I am not saying one whit about this because I
only dealt with the easy problem. Please do not infer what I am not
implying.

When our understanding of Scripture and the current findings of a scientific discipline appear to conflict, there are several possibilities: 1) Our understanding of Scripture is incomplete; 2) The scientific results are incomplete or just plain wrong; 3) Some combination of 1) and 2). When we reach this point we need to redouble our efforts to understand both the Scripture and the science. If we do this, an inconsistency becomes a challenge to do more research and improve our understanding.

BTW I believe philosophers currently believe that there is no satisfactory solution to the science/nonscience demarcation problem. This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to judge the scientific merits of a research program, but we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously.
 
Bill Hamilton
William E. Hamilton, Jr., Ph.D.
248.652.4148 (home) 248.821.8156 (mobile)
"...If God is for us, who is against us?" Rom 8:31

----- Original Message ----
From: Rich Blinne <rich.blinne@gmail.com>
Cc: AmericanScientificAffiliation <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Monday, May 7, 2007 3:24:29 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Demarcation was Re: thinking was prosecutors and not that of the judge

On 5/7/07, Terry M. Gray <grayt@lamar.colostate.edu> wrote:

David,

Exactly. This is part of my general complaint about the naive
definitions of science floating around on this list and in our

courts. Classification, careful observation and description, data
collection--these are all part of science. Yes, we strive for
explanation, prediction, postdiction, etc. But, often, and, this is
particularly evident if we take the long view of the history of

science, "mere stamp collecting" is the crucial predecessor to
hypothesizing and theorizing. And contrary to some opinions on the
list, I don't believe that science is restricted to physical
phenomena. Biology, psychology, sociology, economics, linguistics,

anthropology, etc. all are sciences. Granted we may want to
distinguish between physical sciences, biological sciences, human
sciences, social sciences, etc. but this in no way is prejudicial to
a proper, broad definition of science. Also, if the supernatural is

causal in some extraordinary way, why can't it be part of the
explanation? (Please notice the "if"). I don't see any "in principle"
reason to exclude it from the side of science. (My personal

opposition to such has more to do with a theological perspective than
a scientific one.)
 

My take on science is it can be like the little, little, girl with a curl in the middle of the forehead. When it is good, it is very, very, good, but when it is bad it is horrid. Taking the common perspective that you, David, and I have, I start here:

 

1. There is real truth "out there"

2. Error and the noetic influence of sin is also real and must be dealt with

 

Given these you can have methodologies that find some but not all truth as long as they are properly limited. [Note to David and Terry: I am trying very hard to have a posteriori rather than a priori demarcation here.] When it is not possible to be within the limitations is when it seems that most people -- inexplicably in my mind -- lose it. The insistence on having testability of some sort is a way to deal with the two presuppositions above. The tests drive even a biased observer to the truth "out there" but again even here not by itself. There needs to be an enforcement mechanism against fraud. This mechanism is the peer review system and independent replication. You can look at the narrow demarcation as being pretty much analogous to regulated capitalism. Capitalism takes people driven by self interest to do good things for society and the regulation keeps them in line and away from cheating.

 

Another way you can look at this is like a sandbox around the Java interpreter. Useful things can be done while the sandbox blocks the software from becoming malware. Let's say you have a program that's not in Java. Does it make it not a useful program? No, it's just not sandboxed. Such programs are just not given implicit trust like Java. Things that are not narrowly science in my definition are the same. We cannot give them the same level of trust that we do for tested propositions. My point that appears not to be getting through is we should not be implicitly trusting a broadly-defined science and while it may still be true it requires us to be extra skeptical of it.

 

There is still another analogy. In Protestant theology there is the doctrine that only Scripture can bind the conscience. That's because we have implicit trust for Scripture and religious doctrine not derived from Scripture while possibly true does not have this implicit trust and further justification is necessary.

 

Now the question that dogs this list and the our entire organization is what happens when the two things (tested natural propositions and Scripture) we implicitly trust appear to conflict. As Hamlet said while considering another quandary, "Ay there's the rub." What you and David need to note is I am not saying one whit about this because I only dealt with the easy problem. Please do not infer what I am not implying.

 

 
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Received on Tue May 8 20:08:55 2007

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