[Vision2020] Creation vs. science (was NSA's accrediting agency)

Joe Campbell joekc at adelphia.net
Sat Dec 22 19:39:52 PST 2007


First, let me say what a breath of fresh air it is to encounter people on this forum who can 
disagree with my views in a civil and humorous way without resorting to personal attacks 
and unsupported accusations!

Second, do you think that science REFUTES the existence of God? As I see it, science 
adopts a certain epistemological methodology, namely, empiricism: the view that 
knowledge is gained through experience. Because of this it is great for discovering facts 
about the physical world, since knowledge of these facts is based on observation and 
experience. But it also seems that science has its limitations and is ill equipped to deal 
with non-physical truths -- mathematical truths, philosophical truths, moral truths, or 
religious truths. It doesn't have much to say about whether God exists or abortion is 
moral and to think that it does is to make a kind of category mistake, IMHO.

Obviously, if you believe in physicalism -- the view that the only kinds of truths are 
truths about the physical world -- and empiricism, then you likely think that science tells 
you everything there is to know. Period. But this view is problematic for two reasons.

1. How do we arrive at the joint assumptions of physicalism and empiricism? If one says 
that science establishes them, then we have a problem of circularity. If one says that there 
is another methodology that establishes these truths, then empiricism is false.

2. What about mathematics? Science uses mathematics but you don't want to say that the 
proposition that 7 + 5 = 12 expresses a fact about the physical world, for there aren’t 
enough physical things to play the truth-maker role for mathematical claims. There are an 
uncountably infinite amount of numbers but only a countably infinite number of objects.
Nor do you want to say that experience teaches you that 7 + 5 = 12. Experience tells you 
that 7 apples and 5 apples equal 12 apples but it can hardly allow you to generalize this 
claim for all possible objects – apples, elephants, unicorns, etc. Also, nothing that we 
learn from experience – not even our knowledge of the law of gravity – has the level of 
certainty that mathematics has. Or so it seems to me.

I'm a neo-Kantian. Once you realize that physicalism and empiricism cannot deal with 
mathematical truth and knowledge, it opens the door for other kinds of truth and other 
ways of knowing. Not that I have much to say about these in particular!

Best, Joe

---- Chasuk <chasuk at gmail.com> wrote: 

Imagine a world in which belief in Santa Claus was commonly held by
the majority of adults.  A minority, anti-Santaists, dispute this
belief.  They reasonably point out that reindeer have never been
observed to fly, that visiting every household in the world (at least
those which contain qualifying children) within 24 hours would be
impossible, and that elves indisputably do not live in a place called
"Santa's Workshop" at the North Pole.

The Santaists modify their beliefs to make them compatible with the
anti-Santaist objections, invoking Faster Than Light sleighs and
perhaps metaphorical "hours" that actually last a month each.  Santa's
Workshop is only visible to believers, and even then requires

I am certain that you see where this analogy is going without
extrapolation, but suffice to say that this encapsulates Chas's
reservations to any attempts at evolution-creationism reconciliation.

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