Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca>
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 02:48:18 EST

Well said Murray. Let me just follow-up on your last paragraph, which reads as follows: "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?" A couple of things come to mind/heart/body from reading this. The interpretation of 'neutrality' is a tough one to wrestle with because it is impossible to avoid the 'personality' of the teacher. Max Weber's so-called 'ideal type' of 'value-free science,' which is never achievable in practice, is an example that shows at least what should be preferred is both the teacher showing all of the options (as many as possible) and letting the student decide. This approach is called 'teach the controversy' in America on topics related to origins and processes, evolutionary theories, creationism, ID, etc. The challenge is when can the teacher or whether or not the teacher can/should be 'reflexive' with the class/students and show his or her own position, i.e. how they interpret the 'facts,' e.g. with regard to metaphysics or worldview. The power of a teacher is great given the hierarchical relationship between teacher and student, however, the teacher
 'humanises' them-self by exposing their own limitations if they can be successfully 'reflexive' and also offer the aura of 'neutrality,' e.g. by teaching 'uncomfortable facts' that apparently go against their own position. Good teachers are hard to come by for this reason, among others. Also, what Murray said about teaching science *as though* it were metaphysically neutral is precisely what the ideology, which surprisingly many people on this list accept, albeit, apparently without much serious consideration, of 'methodological naturalism' pretends to achieve. By teaching 'MN,' the result is the same as what Muray says, re: "students are given the perception that there are not metaphysical commitments." This is what makes MN a weak position to promote, though a majority of the minority of non-theists like it because it does for them a job that they inevitably want done: no discussion of metaphysical commitments. As with what Merv suggests, if you mandate somewhere in the curriculum the discussion of metaphysical commitments (see how this is done in a formal sense below), I have no doubt that the religious scientists will come out ahead of the non-religious (and commonly anti-religious) scientists. But then again, I am biased when I
 say this (i.e. when I practice 'reflexivity') too! Murray's question is an excellent one, but I wonder if it would make sense if the words were slightly changed also. If we asked instead, if those who support MN give an example of the implicit advancement of an unarticulated *materialistic naturalism* through the teaching of science, would this help us discover something important on the path of truth? This connects with Cameron's point a few days back wrt speaking about 'methods' in contrast to 'objects' of science. If 'science' is to deal with objects rather than only 'using methods,' e.g. the methodology called 'naturalism' (i.e. that which deals *only* with nature, thus disqualifying more than half of the Academy from the title 'scientific,' in a kind of 'protect our integrity,' and 'uplift pure science' strategic move), then the COMMUNICATION of knowledge can proceed on a more 'neutral' or 'egalitarian' basis and, if promoted, also involve 'reflexivity,' which can lead the implicit
 metaphysics into explicit metaphysical interpretations. Does Moorad, I wonder, promote 'reflexivity'? In other words, rather than simply protect 'natural scientists' from 'explicity' revealing their metaphysical interpretations (which some scientists, particularly 'public understanding of science' scientists, already do), what is needed is acknowledgement that 'science' without 'metaphysics' is dumb, for smallminded people, is a fantasy, etc. But naturalists do not usually want to say this!! One obvious aid in this project is to teach more philosophy of science (PoS). Yes, that is a sting to the ears of many 'practising scientists'! (And it would be a worse sting to them/you to suggest teaching more sociology of scinece - SoS, which serves to demystify the neo-enlightenment meaning of 'Science' as 'Scientists' do it!). But it is in the PoS, ahead of the history of science (HoS) - and this is where Ted and I run into difficulties - that the explicit metaphysics are a topic of necessary discussion. By involving more PoS in American schools (and of course I would advocate this in my own home and native land also), some of the problems that you are currently facing with 'ID,' 'neo-Darwinism,' 'theistic evolutionism' and 'methodological naturalism' can be overcome. Take note that other countries with highly educated citizens don't face these same problems as America does, in part because PoS is taken seriously and thus a dangerous ideology
 like MN or a pseudo-science or non-science masquerading as *is* scientific, like ID (which quite obviously belongs - as a theory about reality - in the human-social sciences, instead of in the natural-physical sciences), or a predominantly anti-YEC, confused philosophy like TE, are not met with rich soil in which to grow. You've got such a soil in America, and it is also suitable for weeds to grow there. I guess there just needs to be some more gardening done, which is the work of a Gardener. Gregory p.s. good analogy with 'non-liturgical' churches as well! ________________________________ From: Murray Hogg <muzhogg@netspace.net.au> To: ASA <asa@calvin.edu> Sent: Tue, November 3, 2009 2:13:38 AM Subject: Re: [asa] on science and meta-science 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? Blessings, Murray mrb22667@kansas.net 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 <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca>: > >> 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 <david.clounch@gmail.com> >> To: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu> >> Cc: asa@calvin.edu; Schwarzwald <schwarzwald@gmail.com> >> 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 >> >> >>      __________________________________________________________________ >> Be smarter than spam. See how smart SpamGuard is at giving junk email the >> boot with the All-new Yahoo! Mail.  Click on Options in Mail and switch to >> New Mail today or register for free at http://mail.yahoo.ca > > > > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message. > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message. __________________________________________________________________ The new Internet Explorer® 8 - Faster, safer, easier. Optimized for Yahoo! Get it Now for Free! at http://downloads.yahoo.com/ca/internetexplorer/

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Nov 3 02:49:00 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Nov 03 2009 - 02:49:00 EST