Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Mon Nov 02 2009 - 18:13:38 EST

Returning to Greg's original post, I note that Greg asks about teaching science "with metaphysical context" as well as "with metaphysical interpretation".

And I'd suggest that these are two different questions - the distinction centring on (a) whether one is conscious of one's metaphysical commitments; and (b) whether one articulates them in practice (i.e. gives the science an explicit metaphysical interpretation).

I think it blindingly obvious that science teaching does have a metaphysical CONTEXT, but it doesn't follow that this context is identified and articulated. And this later, I think, is necessary for one to speak of metaphysical INTERPRETATION. My own educational experience backs this up, I think, as I remember doing hours of science and never being exposed to a moment's discussion on the metaphysical basis or implications of the science. In retrospect, I'm sure it was there - I'm sure there was a metaphysical context - but there certainly was no *explicit* metaphysical interpretation of the subject.

By way of analogy, one often comes across the claim that certain types of churches are "non-liturgical" - meaning that they don't follow a proscribed form of worship. But the reality is that every congregation, when it sets out to worship God, follows a "plan". Thus, the difference between "liturgical" and "non-liturgical" churches lies not in whether they are committed to a form of worship, but whether they articulate those commitments. A "non-liturgical" church may engage in worship without any liturgical INTERPRETATION of their worship, but that's a vastly different thing than to say they worship without any liturgical COMMITMENT.

Actually, reflecting upon this situation one might suggest that the problem with science teaching is precisely that the metaphysical interpretation is *implicit* rather than *explicit* - but teaching science *as though* it were metaphysically neutral, students are given the perception that there are not metaphysical commitments - which probably makes it all the easier to foist upon them the metaphysical interpretation(s?) implicit in the science. And wouldn't this issue: the implicit advancement of an unarticulated materialistic metaphysic through the teaching of science be precisely the objection which theists have to the practice of science education in the US?

Murray wrote:
> "Can you teach science without any metaphysical interpretation at all?"
> Or to push Gregory's conclusion farther... Even reductionist materialists
> can't do it. They just fantasize that they can. But if anybody could achieve
> such a feat or the best possible approximation to it, I would bet on the
> religious thinker of scientific sensibility over the irreligious one.
> --Merv
> Quoting Gregory Arago <>:
>> David C. wrote:
>> "Can you teach science without any metaphysical interpretation at all?"
>> Only if you're a reductionist! Or let's just be frank and say it clearer:
>> smallminded. - G.A.
>> ________________________________
>> From: David Clounch <>
>> To: Ted Davis <>
>> Cc:; Schwarzwald <>
>> Sent: Tue, November 3, 2009 11:25:14 AM
>> Subject: Re: [asa] on science and meta-science
>> Ted Said
>> [quote]
>> "for it tacitly
>> assumes that one *can, in fact* take the metaphysics out of the science
>> without gutting the science"
>> [unquote]
>> I wanted to ask if it is possible to teach science without any metaphysical
>> context, but Ted seems to (almost) have asked this question in his text.
>> If the answer is no, then how much science can you teach without any
>> metaphysical context?
>> Let me phrase it differently. Can you teach science without any metaphysical
>> interpretation at all?
>> Thanks,
>> Dave C
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Received on Mon Nov 2 18:14:22 2009

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