CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Skeptics sometimes assert that theists have no more reason to accept the supernaturalist worldview of Christianity than that of any other kooky belief system the world over. Why not accept the 330 million gods of Hinduism, for example, or Zoroastrianism? The implicit assumption is that, outside of scientific naturalism, all worldviews are pretty much created equal, and are all equally likely (or unlikely).

But that's just not so. There's a good reason why a skeptic like Paul Draper believes that the choice of compelling worldviews really comes down to Christian theism or scientific naturalism (see the introduction to Divine Hiddenness: New Essays, in Part 3). It is simply that not all worldviews have proven as accomodating to scientific advances as has Christianity. Science may underdetermine the possible metaphysical explanations of existence, but it does put severe constraints on them which to the best of my knowledge only some form of monotheism, out of the available supernaturalist options, accomodates.

There is a good historical example of this to be found in St. Augustine's Confessions. Before embracing catholic Christianity, Augustine was a devotee of the teachings of Mani, considered a heretic by the Church. Not only did Mani's theology diverge substantially from orthodoxy, but he also developed a rather elaborate, fanciful cosmology in which eclipses, for example, were the means by which the sun and the moon veiled horrific cosmic battles from human eyes. (p.xv) As Augustine began to read the writings of natural philosophers and treatises on astronomy, he began to question Mani's cosmology because he thought that "the philosophers' teachings seemed to be more probable than what the Manichees said" and he goes on: "Many years beforehand they have predicted eclipses of sun and moon, foretelling the day, the hour, and whether total or partial. And their calculation has not been wrong. It has turned out just as they predicted." (pp.73-74)

Although Augustine castigates these philosophers for failing to recognize that the intellect they use to investigate these things is a gift from God the Creator, nevertheless he acknowledges that they made "many true observations...about the creation itself" and that he "compared these with the sayings of Mani who wrote much on these matters very copiously and foolishly...he was not in agreement with the rational explanations which I had verified by calculation and had observed with my own eyes." (p.75) On this basis he concluded that since Mani "was convicted of ignorance by those who really understand these things...from this one can clearly know what understanding he had in other matters which are harder to grasp" (p.76), such as theology, and that a Christian should not stubbornly insist that "his view of nature belongs to the very form of orthodox doctrine and...obstinately...affirm something he does not understand" (p.77)

What is noteworthy here, besides the picture of a devout Christian operating in a clearly skeptical, scientific frame of mind, is that Augustine rejected the worldview of the Manichees, not because he was brainwashed into accepting orthodoxy, but because the Manichees foolishly insisted on making their fanciful cosmology part of their essential doctrine, and upon scientific and philosophical examination this cosmology failed to hold up. This, then, is a very important criterion for judging between worldviews: whether they make outlandish cosmological claims which do not square with the findings of science.

P.S. Science, of course, has a track record of changing dramatically over the centuries. Augustine accepted a neo-Platonic cosmology which is just as defunct now as the Manichee cosmology was then. But the point is that Augustine made every effort to square his worldview with the best knowledge available at the time. That's all that matters for our purposes.

32 comments:

Nice observations, JD. Thank you.

JD Walters wrote
"It is simply that not all worldviews have proven as accommodating to scientific advances as has Christianity."

Surely Greek pantheon believers were more accommodating towards science. On the other hand Christians have a history of burning libraries/books and banning scientific ideas/books. From 400 AD to 1500 AD Christians almost stopped the scientific progress in Europe while Chinese (Buddhist/pagan worldview?) clearly overtook Christians in the scientific knowledge. Conservative Christians have constantly been against many scientific research. The latest seem to be the nano-technology conservatives Christians are against.

Peter,

Really, you need to come out of your free-thinker fantasy land. The Greek pantheon wasn't more accomodating towards science. It may have been more accomodating than Hinduism (for example), but it certainly wasn't more accomodating than Christianity.

As far as the burning libraries/books and banning scientific ideas pablum, I certainly agree that there were rare times when some in the Christian church did this. But you have to balance that out against the vast majority of times that Christians were at the forefront of scientific investigation which was driven by the fact that Christanity (unlike other religions) believed (and believes) that God is reasonable, that the universe reflects his creation and would be understandable and therefore knowable. It is no accident that science took off in the Christian west and did not advance in other areas of the world.

But if you want to sit there in your sanctimoniousness and claim that Christianity held back science, go ahead. Just don't expect those of us who have actually read on this issue to agree.

bk,


In my "free-thinker fantasy land" mechanical calculator was invented by Greeks 100 BC (Antikythera mechanism). Maybe you could provide some highlights of scientific advances of Christians during the first 1000 years of their rule.

bk wrote:
"you have to balance that out against the vast majority of times that Christians were at the forefront of scientific investigation"
You are right. At the time when Christians burned non-Christians and trinity deniers at stake or shunned them from the society all scientist were Christians.


bk wrote:
"Just don't expect those of us who have actually read on this issue to agree."
I understand that you are so well read (surely more than me) so maybe you could tell us what (and why) happened to Copernicus, Bruno and Galileo and their works? The church did not actually embrace Darwin's findings. Maybe you can also explain why Conservative Christians so against any changes like democracy, ending slavery, womens' rights, universal suffrage, ending race separation, gene technology, birth control, ending sexual discrimination, etc. Christians establishment seems to have been so afraid of change and development in big issues, and being afraid of change does not help progress. Polytheist religions tend to be more tolerant towards new ideas than monotheistic religions.

As you are so well read can you please provide an example where Hinduism seem to have been less accommodating towards scientific development than Christianity as you claimed.

Hi Peter,

(bk, I hope it's not a problem if I contribute.)

You assert that, if Christians are and were so pro-science, the years 400 AD to 1500 AD should be brimming with European scientific advances.

In fact, there are good reasons why that might not be the case. The Roman Empire, generally held to be the high point of civilisation in the ancient world, was not known for its regular scientific and technological advances. Yet we don't call the Romans "anti-science".

The Roman Empire, of course, eventually fell into disorder and collapsed, at about the same time as German tribes invaded from the east and set up a whole bunch of petty kingdoms. War between, and sometimes within, these kingdoms took up a fair proportion of time. Also, I guess that a large number of people who in Roman times might have been wealthy landowners or merchants (and thus, in principle, able to fund if not do "scientific research") were reduced to working in the fields to grow enough food for tomorrow.

In the circumstances, it's no wonder that science took a back seat for a few hundred years.

Christians were as affected by this as everyone else. But though comparatively little new knowledge was added during the middle ages, Christian monasteries played a very important role, being almost the only Western European institutions which preserved the knowledge of the ancient world. (Other places it was preserved were the Byzantine and Arab empires, also officially monotheistic.) As the Middle Ages neared their end, Christian monks and priests founded the world's first universities.

So why did this suddenly change in the 15th century? First, stable nations began to emerge. This meant people were richer, less immediately preoccupied with day-to-day survival, and more able to spend time in leisure pursuits (as science was for a long time). Also, trade picked up, so things like the magnetic compass became more useful and therefore more profitable (and thus, in turn, more worth making). Another major factor was the invention of the printing press (perhaps the greatest technological advance of its time), so information flow increased massively, and researchers and inventors could more easily learn from each other's work.

At this point, I'll change tack, to address your point about tolerance (or lack of the same) in the medieval Church and society. Now, I happen to think that the Church, at least, has no place as an official censor for external institutions. But to say that the Christian belief of either the religious or the secular rulers of the day was the sole, or even the main, reason for attacking the three you named is unjustified.

Rather, the problem stems in large part from the fact that society and the established order were vulnerable. There were many external and internal threats, and the response was to earnestly cultivate (among other things) unity of belief and purpose. That meant maintaining the theological and scientific orthodoxy of the time by any means necessary. It so happened that the said orthodoxy was Christian; but I think you'd have a hard job proving that insecure non-Christian rulers are, on average, any more tolerant than their Christian counterparts. Consider, for instance, the French Reign of Terror, Stalin's Purges, or Mao's Cultural Revolution. Even the Romans, those polytheists, didn't hesitate to punish severely those who refused when instructed to publicly acknowledge the divinity of Caesar.

I'm not really going to address your laundry list of things that "conservative Christians" have supposedly opposed, because I think that whatever else they are, most of them aren't scientific advances. However, I will say that opposition to very few of them has been universal even among conservative Christians, unless by "conservative" you mean merely "against change" (as opposed to theologically conservative).

Perhaps bk can provide an example where, say, the Hindu religious establishment has proven itself anti-science (by deliberate persecution of a scientist solely for his scientific claims, I presume you mean). I don't know of any; but I also find it hard to point to any uniquely Indian scientific development before the 20th century, except for, say, the domestication of the elephant. And this, too, isn't really a scientific matter; but if you wish to extol the virtues of Hinduism above Christianity, I merely point out that it was the (officially Hindu) Indians of the 18th and 19th centuries who burned widows alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands, and the (officially Christian) British government which put a stop to that practice.

I agree that from 400 AD to 900 AD the Church did not have much influence to develop science, but Christians invasion to central Europe and Greece set those countries scientifically back. Once the Church started to have great influence in Europe around the time of the crusades, the science was going backwards.


Mr Gronk said...
"But to say that the Christian belief of either the religious or the secular rulers of the day was the sole, or even the main, reason for attacking the three you named is unjustified. Rather, the problem stems in large part from the fact that society and the established order were vulnerable."

Copernicus lived in Poland, Galileo in Pisa and Bruno traveled extensively. It was not the local Christian/secular ruler who went after them, it was the Church from Rome. These countries did not feel vulnerable towards there scientists, it was the Christian Church.


Mr Gronk said...
"As the Middle Ages neared their end, Christian monks and priests founded the world's first universities."

- Alexandria university 300BC had 5000 students modeled after Greek ideas
- Takshashila in India had an ancient university 500BC (contested)
- China had many universities
- Nandala in India had an University in the 7th Century
- I think it is generally accepted that Muslims build the first modern day universities in Morocco and Egypt.
It would be arrogant to suggest that European Christians founded the world's first universities like one in Bologna.


Mr Gronk said...
"I don't know of any; but I also find it hard to point to any uniquely Indian scientific development before the 20th century, except for, say, the domestication of the elephant."

LOL, just Google "Indian inventions" and you will be surprised.


Mr Gronk said...
"And this, too, isn't really a scientific matter; but if you wish to extol the virtues of Hinduism above Christianity, I merely point out that it was the (officially Hindu) Indians of the 18th and 19th centuries who burned widows alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands, and the (officially Christian) British government which put a stop to that practice"

I agree this is of the topic, but the Brits did not stop this, it still happens in rural villages (sometime assisted) and google "india kitchen accident" and you find out what happens to women when the dowry is not large enough.


I just don't think BK or JD Walters have made a case why Christian belief is better for the science especially these days when Christians are pushing Creationism/ID as science. Christians also "make outlandish cosmological claims which do not square with the findings of science" like that the earth/universe is less that 10000 years old. This will put Christianity in the same basket as Manichaeism as most head of the Churches endorse Creationist view.

Peter,

I was going to put up something much like Mr. Gronk has done, but I’ve been busy on other projects recently. I’m glad he beat me to it, as a starting point anyway.

{{I just don't think BK or JD Walters have made a case why Christian belief is better for the science...}}

Incidentally, I agree, they should go more in-depth on that. However, neither is this what JD was arguing/illustrating in his article; nor was this what BK said in his comment.

{{...especially these days when Christians are pushing Creationism/ID as science.}}

Of course, even bad science is still science. (And secularists aren’t immune to doing bad science either, including for purposes of ideological protection.) But, as I discussed at long length in recent comments (primarily here, and here,) these movements are actually parallel to secularism movements, wherein the proponents make use (for better or for worse) of data being uncovered by researchers. I honestly don’t know what the ideology was of the team who discovered that two galaxies with significantly different red-shifts are nevertheless connected by a bridge of hydrogen (if I recall the article correctly), and I certainly don’t know enough about the details to be able to confirm it independently. But the great thing is that it really does not matter much what they believed, and doesn’t necessarily matter much what they were trying to do. The data may still be perfectly good data--or not. If it’s perfectly good data (or in some circumstances even if the data turns out to be faulty), then it would be ridiculous to claim that it wasn’t gotten by doing science. Few people would soberly claim that archaic reconstructions of dinosaur skeletons were ideologically driven pseudo-science, even though they turned out to be wrong in some key fashions. (Well, okay, some people would say it was ideologically driven pseudo-science, but if so it certainly wasn’t done to promote creationism, was it? {g!})

And when interpreters go on to use the data, it may be arguable whether they’re at that point doing ‘science’ or not; but secularists do that just as much as creationists. Again, that’s just how the process works.

However, that observation about how the process (realistically) works, is not itself a defense that Christian belief is better for science than X-other-belief. (Which personally I’d be leery of making anyway. I think the topic is being worked at backwards when the question is put that way.)

{{Christians also "make outlandish cosmological claims which do not square with the findings of science" like that the earth/universe is less that 10000 years old.}}

Actually, the data that has been coming in, during recent decades, starts to make this look less outlandish as a cosmological claim. (To take a minor example, there shouldn’t be a particle bridge between two galaxies with such a significant redshift differential. To take a more significant example, the moment we have a universe inflating to beyond the current observable size in a trillionth of a second, we’d better start taking serious second thoughts about how we’re “timing” the age of the universe.)

Be that as it may, JD was fairly explicit in what he said in that paragraph, which wasn’t merely that various (or even many) Manichees endorsed a cosmological belief at odds with our (current) scientific beliefs. The problem with Manichaeism, from a scientific standpoint (there are frankly other more critical problems with the belief system logically prior to a comparison with scientific data), is that it necessarily requires those counter-scientific claims. Whereas, I assure you that I can easily maintain a fully orthodox Christian worldview without once coming into conflict with the current scientific status quo. (To be honest, I suspect this is actually true of Manichaeism, too. Lewis used to point out back in the 40s that Manichaeistic dualism was still as viable a philosophical option as it ever had been, and scientific claims haven’t altered drastically since his day.)

{{These countries did not feel vulnerable towards there scientists, it was the Christian Church.}}

Actually, Mr. Gronk included that quite specifically in his retrospective: “There were many external and internal threats, and the response was to earnestly cultivate (among other things) unity of belief and purpose. That meant maintaining the theological and scientific orthodoxy of the time by any means necessary. It so happened that the said orthodoxy was Christian.”

It’s true that the religious (and not primarily the secular) authorities are who went after Copernicus, Bruno and Galileo; but the religious authorities were the ones responsible for keeping the unity of belief and purpose in a dual-power setup.

It’s also true that they went after Copernicus, Galileo and especially Bruno, not for scientific or anti-scientific reasons, but for philosophical reasons. There is a highly popular myth that these men were persecuted for the sake of ‘science’, but they were actually persecuted for being neo-Platonists instead of Aristotelians (and for pantheism in Bruno’s sake)--and also for sake of pro-scientific cosmology! All the actual scientific observations of the time were in favor of geocentrism; they were bucking the trend purely for philosophical reasons, not because they had better scientific observations (which weren’t available until well into the 1800s.) Nor were their philosophical reasons of a type that secularists today would largely agree with. In fact, those three men just turned out to be amazingly lucky, insofar as validations from scientific astronomy are concerned.

In Copernicus’ day, it didn’t matter quite as much whether one was a neo-Platonist Catholic or an Aristotelian Catholic, except insofar as there would be some natural resistance to going against the paradigm’s current grain: a resistance heightened by the counter-observational (and not-incidentally thus counter-scientific!) claims the man was making in regard to heliocentrism. But Galileo was operating after the Reformation and Counter-reformational schism, when ideological pro-or-anti-Catholic lines were being drawn among the princes and dukes of Europe; and not surprisingly the Reformers were rejecting scholastic Aristotelianism for neo-Platonism. The Pope (who was a positive fan of Galileo, and even acted to quietly try to scientifically substantiate his claims after the trial) did not need a popular political gadfly publishing satires of him for (in effect) rejecting neo-Platonism, when Europe was about to be bloodily torn apart. Galileo didn’t understand this, and refused to back down on his cult of personality, until he was slapped down--after warnings. (I had a slightly more detailed discussion about this in a recent thread somewhere, too, but I can’t turn it up this morning for reference. Sorry.)

Bruno’s situation was a little like Galileo’s, but more outside the bounds of the church altogether. It was still a conflict of metaphysical/philosophical claims, though; not of science vs. anti-science per se.


{{Christians invasion to central Europe and Greece set those countries scientifically back.}}

Blame the neo-Arian/pagan barbarians on that, not the orthodox. {s} Orthodox Christians never “invaded” Greece per se, though they inherited military control over it. And while the Empire (East and West branches) did continue its military expansioneering into Central Europe, after the Empire became Christian, I don’t recall there being any scientifically advanced cultures in the region that hadn’t already been squnched by barbarian incursion. (The Mongols, meanwhile, had a lot of relatively sophisticated technology, even though their culture wasn’t largely science-oriented. Which is why they were so successful doing their own invading and overthrowing. {s} Science and technology doesn’t necessarily improve cultural morals.)

All that having been said, you’re correct about the universities being set up in other non-Christian cultures, before Christians started doing so in Europe (or even before Christianity period.)

JRP

Jason is right. I wasn't arguing that Christianity was conducive to the rise of science (though I do believe that and would be prepared to argue for it). Rather, I was suggesting that a good criterion for choosing between worldviews is how well they accomodate increasing scientific knowledge of the world around us. Notice I say accomodate, not develop. Leave aside for a moment the question of where this knowledge comes from and what conditions are necessary and/or sufficient for its development. As Augustine's example shows, I think that Christian theism (or at least some form of theism) is uniquely accomodating to science among the various rival worldviews.

There are plenty of examples of resistance to science without invoking religion. On the harder end there are the examples of Soviet biology (which denounced genetics) and Soviet geology (which denounced plate tectonics). In these examples, those who would publicly not accept these theories was either killed or imprisoned by the overtly nonreligious government.

On the less serious side there is a slew of "pathological science" such as N-rays. There are also examples of top scientists interjecting their opinions and being flat out wrong: Einstein's resistance to quantum mechanics, Kelvin saying "heavier than air flying machines are impossible", etc.

There are also examples of entire movements that are nonreligious but resistant to science. Europe's entire fear of genetically modified foods, the "organic" and "all natural" food movements, the vaccine causes autism, etc.

I would say that, over the centuries, Christianity has been more willing to adapt than other world views given new evidence without abandoning the core message. The fact that they now stand with ID/creationism against science is kind of sad.

John

Oh, yay, I found it!

The comment thread where I went into a bit more detail about the Galileo situation is here. Readers will have to page down through numerous posts before getting to my exchanges with Exterm and SpanInq, but I recommend doing so, not least because I went to some trouble to pinpoint the portion of Galileo's beliefs that does in fact involve a conflict between orthodox and non-orthodox philosophy. (Most of his neo-Platonism didn't, which is why even the RC church eventually felt comfortable switching over to it from Aristoltelianism--at which point they quickly and prevalently became heliocentrists, despite there being still no good scientific reason to be heliocentric (in our modern sense of inferences from observational data about the behavior of the natural world) until long afterward.

JRP

Peter, JP,

Thanks for the clarifications (and corrections). Looks like I need to better acquaint myself with history before I make some claims again.

My bad.

JRP wrote:
"And when interpreters go on to use the data, it may be arguable whether they’re at that point doing ‘science’ or not; but secularists do that just as much as creationists. Again, that’s just how the process works."

Sorry, you got this wrong. Evolution is a theory that you can falsify. (for example find a 500M year old mammal). If you are putting forward a hypothesis which is not falsifiable, it is not science. In the evolution threads you mentioned, several writers including myself asked where are the creationist/ID falsifiable hypothesis. Without it, it is just pseudo-science, just like Norsk creation myths.

JRP wrote:
"Actually, the data that has been coming in, during recent decades, starts to make [the earth/universe is less that 10000 years old] look less outlandish as a cosmological claim"

Please point us to the data that shows this. And please tell us "how particle bridge between two galaxies" (our Milky way and the large and small Magellanic clouds I presume) and "universe inflating" point to a 10000 year universe. If you can not your "belief [is] at odds with our (current) scientific beliefs [knowledge?]" just like Manichees.


JRP wrote:
"It’s also true that they went after Copernicus, Galileo and especially Bruno, not for scientific or anti-scientific reasons, but for philosophical reasons. There is a highly popular myth that these men were persecuted for the sake of ‘science’, ... All the actual scientific observations of the time were in favor of geocentrism; they were bucking the trend purely for philosophical reasons, not because they had better scientific observations (which weren’t available until well into the 1800s.)"

Sorry, you got this completely wrong and you are propagating a myth here. Copernicus used fixed turret to observed the retrograde motion and varying brightness of the planets. From his observation he concluded that the sun is the center of our solar system. Galileo had a telescope and observed that Venus exhibited a full set of phases similar to that of the Moon also pointing to solar centricity. He also found 4 largest satellites of Jupiter showing not everything revolve around the earth. They did not rely on any philosophy, but scientific observations.


JRP wrote:
"Blame the neo-Arian/pagan barbarians on that, not the orthodox. {s} Orthodox Christians never “invaded” Greece per se, though they inherited military control over it."

Sorry, no. Orthodox Christian changed the tolerance of all religions to compulsary Christianity and Christian worldview (geocentrism).

JD Walters said...
"I was suggesting that a good criterion for choosing between worldviews is how well they accomodate increasing scientific knowledge of the world around us."

I made the case about Catholic Church going after scientists (who had observable evidence) and banning their books and ideas. I also gave modern day examples how Christianity hinders the scientific advances. This shows that the Christianity did/does not accomodate scientific advances well. Now please show were Hinduism and Zoroastrianism has shown similar intolerance of scientific advances. If you can not back up your claim with evidence please retract your claim.

(Sigh) Peter,

I only mentioned Zoroastrianism and Hinduism as an example of the metaphysical choices out there. I made no statement one way or another about how well those systems accomodate increasing scientific knowledge. Notice I only stated my point as a general principle: an important criterion for evaluating worldviews (I didn't mention any specific ones) is their accomodation to science. I illustrated this principle with Augustine's choice between late antique catholic Christianity and Manichaism. Clearly Manichaism emerges as a philosophy which was not receptive to the best scientific knowledge of the time. As such Augustine was rational to reject it in favor of Christianity, which did/could accomodate it.

Your evidence about the Catholic Church is very biased and distorted, as Jason has tried to point out to you. The disputes were much more about philosophical and political matters than about science. But even granting your evidence as it stands, it is only evidence of INSTITUTIONAL opposition to upsets of the status quo, and as such is observed among secular, non-religious groups as well. So it's irrelevant to the point I'm making.

JD Walters said...
"Your evidence about the Catholic Church is very biased and distorted, as Jason has tried to point out to you."

I think that I pointed out that JPR was wrong stating Copernicus' and Galileo's claim was philosophical not scientifical. (JPR incorrectly stated that scientific observations weren’t available until well into the 1800s). Galileo had eventually 32x magnifying telescope and offered Pope to have a look at stars through it. Galileo used Scientific methods, made observations, formed theories from them and publish them. He relied on evidence not philosophy to make his claim. How is that not science and how is my "evidence about the Catholic Church very biased and distorted"? How would have the 17th century scientist worked if not like that?


JD Walters said...
"But even granting your evidence as it stands, it is only evidence of INSTITUTIONAL opposition to upsets of the status quo..."

I made the point that Copernicus, Galileo and Bruno shows that Christian institutions are bad for science, something that Hinduism and Zoroastrianims (institutions?) are not. I also made the point earlier that I have met many people who have a personal relationship with Jesus and explain me that the earth is 10000 years old and all geologists, biologists, cosmologists, paleontologists and historical linguists are incompetent hacks. These people also tend to be against gene- and nano-technology for some reason. I have many Hindu friends and one Zoroastrian acquaintance. I actually lived in India and met plenty of people from both beliefs. They never claimed to know more/better that top scientists. Please show me how my (personal, limited, subjective) observations are wrong.

So I claim that a Hindu or Zoroastrian worldview better accomodates scientific advances and a Christian worldview can hinder scientific advances

Peter: JD Walters wrote "It is simply that not all worldviews have proven as accommodating to scientific advances as has Christianity."
Surely [...] Christians [...] Christians [...] Christians [...] Conservative Christians [...] Christians [...].


First off, I have to point out that "Christians" and "Christianity" are not the same thing. Alas, there are many people who call themselves Christians who don't act in a very Christian manner. So for your alleged counter-examples to hold water, you need to show how those people are actually applying the Christian philosophy. Unless your point is that people do not act Christian enough, in which case I would certainly agree. The world would be a better place, scientifically and otherwise, if we all better lived up to Christian principles.


-David

Peter:
I think that I pointed out that JPR was wrong stating Copernicus' and Galileo's claim was philosophical not scientifical. (JPR incorrectly stated that scientific observations weren’t available until well into the 1800s).

JPR provided several specifics to explain his claim (and provided a link to more details from his previous posts). You need to do a little better than retorting, "Am not!" Perhaps you could point to an actual scientific claim made by Galileo that was rejected by the Church, with particular regard to evidence available at the time and how it unambiguously supports that claim.
JRP is entirely correct in stating that scientific observations of heliocentrism were not available at the time of Galileo; the evidence that Galileo did have was entirely capable of other interpretations. In fact, until Kepler came along with his ellipses, Ptolemy's epicycles better fit the empirical evidence than did Copernicus's heliocentrism. The idea that Churchmen were unaware of or unconcerned with the evidence is a ridiculous caricature.

Galileo had a telescope and observed that Venus exhibited a full set of phases similar to that of the Moon also pointing to solar centricity. He also found 4 largest satellites of Jupiter showing not everything revolve around the earth. They did not rely on any philosophy, but scientific observations.

The phases of Venus fit nicely with a heliocentric model, but claiming that "nice math" is equivalent to "physical reality" is not a scientific claim, it's a philosophical one. You are apparently unaware of the Tychonic system, which accounts for Venus's phases while still being geocentric. This system was accepted by religious authorities because it was compatible with both philosophical beliefs and the evidence. Now if Galileo had had a good enough telescope to demonstrate stellar parallax, that might have provided some compelling evidence for heliocentrism. But he didn't. And even that wouldn't be conclusive from a purely physical point of view, because it could still be explained as a mere notational convenience. It wasn't really until Newton provided a physically-grounded explanation (gravitation) that went beyond the equations that heliocentrism could be justified on a non-philosophical basis. The fact is, the Church looked for and did not find empirical evidence that incontrovertibly established Galileo's claims, and thus they were insisting on a higher standard of observational evidence than Galileo was. That actually makes them more scientific than Galileo (if we want to claim that Galileo thought he was doing science instead of philosophy, which would be caricaturish also).

Of course, if we ignore all the philosophical and religious and political and plain bad-attitude issues that were involved, we still come down to the fact that Galileo did his science as a Christian, based on and inspired by his having a certain kind of beliefs about a certain kind of God who created a certain kind of universe. Christian scientists disagreeing with each other hardly makes a case that Christianity itself is somehow inimical to science. (In fact, isn't disagreement among scientists supposed to be one of the things that makes science work so well??) The Church would not have cared what Galileo said if not for its vehement belief that there are facts and falsehoods about the physical world, and that it is important to get the facts right — which of course underlies the very enterprise of science, and is a prime reason why Christianity does foster scientific progress.

These people [who have a personal relationship with Jesus] also tend to be against gene- and nano-technology for some reason. I have many Hindu friends and one Zoroastrian acquaintance. I actually lived in India and met plenty of people from both beliefs. They never claimed to know more/better that top scientists. Please show me how my (personal, limited, subjective) observations are wrong.

Oh, I don't claim that your observations are wrong — merely that they are personal, limited, and subjective. In other words, "not scientific". You haven't shown, for example, that the Christians you cite are doing so because of their Christian beliefs (not in spite of them!), or that their beliefs so held are a correct understanding of Christian principles, or whether these people have any measurable influence on the accumulation of scientific knowledge; similarly, while at face value your observations may suggest that Hinduism or Zoroastrianism is accommodating to science (and again, you haven't shown that these claims actually are consistent with Hindu or Zoroastrian principles, but even assuming that they are for the sake of argument), they are equally consistent with the idea that those belief systems accommodate "anti-science" as well. (Christianity has been a major influence against astrology, for example; clearly this is not true of many other religions.)


-David

David,

Thanks for joining the discussion. The Cadre guys don't seem to want to defend their argument or are anoyed with me...

David said...
"So for your alleged counter-examples to hold water, you need to show how those people are actually applying the Christian philosophy. Unless your point is that people do not act Christian enough, in which case I would certainly agree. The world would be a better place, scientifically and otherwise, if we all better lived up to Christian principles."

You are right, but what is the "Christian philosophy" and "Christian principles". Christians can not agree on ethics of stem cell research, abortion, euthanasia, polygamy, contraceptives, when to go to war / turn the other cheek, what count as an evidence of a miracle, which of the 30k denomination is right and many other things. So who got these "Christian philosophy" and "Christian principles" right.

David said...
"JRP is entirely correct in stating that scientific observations of heliocentrism were not available at the time of Galileo; the evidence that Galileo did have was entirely capable of other interpretations."

Not quite. Both Tychonic system and Galileo's claim suggest that that all other planets revolve around the sun and Galileo's observation of sun spots was a problem to Tychonian (still biblical) view which some Jesuits supported. His observation of Jupiters moons futher showed many centres in the solar system. I.e. He had more evidence and the other side was defending the Bible. But the whole point is that the Church resisted new scientific findings (right or wrong) because it did not support their biblical interpretation. If you read the statement of Pope John Paul II issued in 1992 about Galileo, you'll see that he acknowledge that the Church was incorrectly defending the theological view (1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 104:5, Ecclesiastes 1:5) and not defending any scientific view nor wanting more evidence.


David said...
"claiming that "nice math" is equivalent to "physical reality" is not a scientific claim, it's a philosophical one"

I did not claim any "nice math" is equivalent to "physical reality"...


David said...
"The fact is, the Church looked for and did not find empirical evidence that incontrovertibly established Galileo's claims, and thus they were insisting on a higher standard of observational evidence than Galileo was."

Sorry you got this wrong. In 1616 Cardinal Bellarmine, acting on directives from the Inquisition, delivered Galileo an order not to "hold or defend" the idea that the Earth moves and the Sun stands still at the centre. The Church was not interested in fair discussion. Eventually Galileo was required to recant his heliocentric ideas, ordered to house arrest for the rest of his life and his books were burned and banned. The Church was not insisting a higher standard, they insisted him to shut up. In a letter to Kepler of August 1610, Galileo complained that some of the philosophers who opposed his discoveries had refused even to look through a telescope.


David said...
"The Church would not have cared what Galileo said if not for its vehement belief that there are facts and falsehoods about the physical world, and that it is important to get the facts right — which of course underlies the very enterprise of science, and is a prime reason why Christianity does foster scientific progress."

That is an odd distortion. The Pope wanted to "the facts" align with the Bible just like modern day creations don't accept evolution because of what the Bible teaches to them.


David said...
"You haven't shown, for example, that the Christians you cite are doing so because of their Christian beliefs"

Am I missing something? The Pope and the Inquisition (Christians) defended the Christian view (geocentric at the time) because they belived that's what the Bible teached.

Peter,

I'm of the understanding that JRP and David are technically correct. By that, I mean that Galileo's observations will have shown that not everything revolves around the Earth. But, taking Venus as an example, it was possible to interpret it as "Venus orbits the Sun, which in turn orbits the Earth"; and that could not be faulted. In fact, even today a terrestrial reference frame is not intrinsically absurd; it's merely unconventional. The reason we choose a heliocentric reference frame for the solar system is because it makes calculations easier; and because we assume that from a purely physical standpoint, which is (I readily admit) a sensible one when considering space, the biggest object is also the most important.

Now, we turn to the medieval Church and their treatment of Galileo and others. I'm of the understanding that the Church had, over several centuries, harmonised Aristotelian cosmology with Scripture. Of course, the way they did this was to choose an interpretation of Aristotelian cosmology which was consistent with Scripture, and an interpretation of Scripture which was consistent with Aristotelian cosmology, and then put their full weight behind those interpretations.

I'll clarify this point. To my knowledge, the interpretations that the Church selected were not intrinsically stupid. (They didn't claim, for instance, that the Sun really is a bridegroom or an athlete, as in Psalm 19.) But - and this is important - nor were they the only reasonable interpretations.

For example, in 1 Chronicles 16:30, the word used for "the world" is 'erets. This can also be translated "the land" or "the ground". What was David doing, do you think? Was he making an astronomical statement, or merely expressing that God made us a place with a stable surface (plate tectonics of, oh, 1 cm a year notwithstanding)?

So, to the extent that the Church did go after Galileo for his heliocentrism, were they wrong to do so? Absolutely. Were they following a command of Scripture by doing so? Not to my knowledge, and if you can find one, I'd love to hear it. Was their belief in geocentrism buttressed by the only reasonable interpretation of Scripture? Absolutely not.

You'll probably still think that the real problem is that we Christians have an unhealthy regard for Scripture; that, of course, is a matter on which we'll simply disagree. (By the way, I suspect young-earth creationists, who seem to be the ones you really take issue with, make up less of a percentage of the "conservative Christian" population than you suppose.)

I will make two other points, though. The first is that an "unhealthy regard for Scripture" (or, for that matter, for the sacred writings of a different religion) is not the only stumbling block. When I was an undergraduate student in a biochemistry class, I was told a story about a scientist whose work was rejected from a prestigious journal because "everyone knew" that things didn't work the way he was suggesting (despite his theory being an eminently logical one). He went on to be vindicated.

The other is that everyone (except infants and madmen) has a set of prior beliefs about how this world works. Most of these beliefs come from authority (parents, teachers, experts, religious leaders, and so forth), since we can't do all experiments ourselves. And, to go to the other extreme, I'm not about to discard all my previous beliefs because of what some crank says at the drop of a hat, just because he might turn out to be right in 100 years. And neither, I suspect, are you.

One further comment:

Any worldview which makes truth claims and expects to be taken seriously risks opposing (or being opposed by) science from time to time. But such a worldview is, I believe, the only sort worth having.

Sorry for the delay; aside from taking the time to write a fairly lengthy letter, things have been busier than average at 'work' work this week, which substantially cuts down on my time and inclination (after work) to do other projects. Also, I've been trying to post my comment this morning for a while, but have been running into some weird bug. It'll arrive when it arrives; hopefully later today. (And now my phone is ringing again--sorry! I do have prior responsibilities.)

JRP

hm... well, that posted (I notice after my phone call)... will keep fiddling until my actual comment goes up. Maybe Blogger has implemented new size restrictions? (I know this isn't the longest comment I've ever done, by far, but it's still pretty long by most people's standards...)

JRP

Peter,

Let me start off by saying you were correct to catch me overrhetoricizing in the other direction. I have a very good idea of the strong philosophical commitments of Galileo and Copernicus (and Bruno for that matter); combined with an awareness of how much of their work was either equivocal or just dead wrong. (Galileo went to his grave believing both that the tides were caused by the rotation of the Earth, and that this would somehow count as evidence against geocentrism per se if it was true.) But, that’s no excuse for me to treat them as if they had no evidence from what amounts to scientific investigation at all. Ironically, I fell into much the same rhetorical trap as, well, critics of ID and modern YEC work. {g!} Even I’m not immune to over-rhetoricising by accident, though I try to watch out for it; so I gladly and rightly recant statements to the effect that “all the actual scientific observations of the time were [unequivocally, by implication] in favor of geocentrism” and “they were bucking the trend purely for philosophical reasons”. (Strongly or even primarily, yes; purely, no.)

I’ll have more to say about the Galileo topic in my next comment (which I'm breaking into parts to test whether Blogger has implemented new sizing restrictions). First, some other things.


{{Sorry, you got this wrong. Evolution is a theory that you can falsify.}}

Incidentally, I have never once said evolution was an unfalsifiable theory, including in the comment you quoted from and in the specific quote you referenced.

I’m trying to figure out what exactly it is that I got wrong in the quote you gave. I am wrong that interpreters go on to use the data? (Obviously not wrong about that, or we wouldn’t be having discussions on the topic at all. {g}) I am wrong that it may be arguable whether an interpreter is at that point doing ‘science’ or not? (Obviously not wrong about it being maybe arguable, because you yourself went on to argue in favor of an interpreter doing ‘science’ by drawing inferences from gathered data.) I am wrong that secularists interpret the gathered data just as much as creationists do? (Obviously not wrong about that either.) Perhaps I was wrong that this is just how the process works?? {g}


{{In the evolution threads you mentioned, several writers including myself asked where are the creationist/ID falsifiable hypothesis.}}

There are several qualifying observations to be made about that principle, though.

First, a potentially falsifiable hypothesis is important for proper abductive reasoning, where the hypothesis is tested by comparison with gathered data; but not all inferences concerning data are abductive. I don’t necessarily have to have a hypothesis to test first, to draw inferences to conclusion from data; which is why there is such a thing as (broad) inductive and deductive reasoning as well as abductive (often considered to be a special category of induction). ‘Science’ isn’t only about abductive reasoning; on the contrary, an abductive hypothesis is often arrived at because someone decided it was suggested by inductive implications from a data set.

Second, there are larger scale and smaller scale hypotheses, and those can be nested in an abductive set. Someone can hypothesize that the Earth is only 10,000 years old, for example, without necessarily engaging in a larger scale hypothesis concerning how it happens that the Earth is only 10,000 years old.

The flip side to this, however, is that characteristics of an overarching hypothesis might include factors that allow provisions against falsifying smaller scale hypotheses. And now we reach the point where intentionality becomes a problem for scientific conclusions from a data set: intentionality can foof the data, and omni-intentionality could in principle omni-foof the data (so to speak. {lopsided g})

To illustrate with a notorious example: doppler-shift analysis of astronomic bodies, seems to clearly indicate that the universe is umpteen billion years old, largely due to inferences drawn from certain known (or believed) characteristics of light. A hypothesis that the universe is ony 10Kyears old, would not only be abductively but even deductively disconfirmed by this conclusion (if the data and validity of the other conclusion are both sound). But if that hypothesis is some subset of a larger hypothesis, where the larger hypothesis includes an omni-capable intentional entity, then it always remains possible that the entity has somehow foofed the data to merely look as though the universe is umpteen billion years old--thus an old retort by YECreationists was that God could have just started up the light waves at a 10,000 year range with the proper doppler effects etc. (They tend to be rather more scientifically sophisticated these days; I haven’t heard of that attempt at a save in a while, but keep up with YEC only sporadically. {wry g}) In practice, it might turn out that following a trail of ripostes and counterripostes along this line would eventually arrive at the proponents of the God-hypothesis arriving at a mutually exclusive contradiction in order to hold to their sub-hypothesis, at which point the sub-hypothesis would be (for now) deductively disconfirmed after all--though not the larger hypothesis yet. However, in principle it is possible that an infinite regression of ripostes will always end up beating the counter-riposte attempts; i.e. the 10Kyear hypothesis proponents might always be able to appeal to the larger hypothesis as a loophole against disconfirmation of the lesser hypothesis.

For what it’s worth, unless the larger hypothesis was either arrived at by scientific induction/deduction or is being defended at its own level by a scientific abduction process, such a defense could not be reasonably called a scientific defense.

But, if the 10Kyear proponent was defending his position by scientific abduction up to that point, and/or had arrived at the hypothesis by scientific induction/deduction (the deduction could be being challenged by counter-data attempts), then so far as that goes the 10Kyear proponent would in fact be doing science. Even if he loses, he’s still doing science (just wrong science in that case.) What would not be scientific would be appeal to the overarching hypothesis, if that overarching hypothesis was not being primarily arrived at or defended by scientific methodologies. (Such an appeal is not necessarily illegitimate in principle either; the law of noncon, to take a common example, is not scientific per se, but it’s routinely appealed to anyway including in scientific endeavors, and rightly so.)

So the situation is rather more complex than just asking ‘where are the falsifiable hypotheses’?--not necessarily more complex in favor of the creationist/ID side, but not necessarily against it either.

To give another example of the complexities involved: recently it has become popular among defenders of NDT (whether the defenders are secular or not) to point to a fused chromosome set in humans as evidence helping inductively to verify NDT (though their language is often even stronger than that in favor of the evidence.) Any scientist, whether ID or not, could hypothesize (perhaps as a result of preliminary inductive reasoning) that it is impossible for that fusion to occur by any merely automatic unguided mechanisms. Beyond that, an IDer could (and likely would) latch onto that hypothesis (for any of various reasons, including possibly as a result of preliminary scientific induction), and set it within a framework where, if the hypothesis works out in practice, this would be considered positive evidence of design. In effect, the IDer would be making a forensic challenge, one widely recognized to be scientific in character. If a merely automatic mechanism turns up by which the fusion could occur, then that sub-hypothesis would be falsified so far as it goes; though then other issues might be raised in turn, whether or not by an IDer (though the IDer could be raising the issues with an intention toward helping build a forensic case for design.) Perhaps the possibility is there, but the plausibility of it happening is hideously low. Perhaps the plausibility is not too hideously low, but the resulting fusion would necessarily render the mutant incapable of mating with anything else that doesn’t also have a similar fusion. Perhaps it is technically possible that the fusion would still be mateable with individuals not sporting the fusion, but the odds of this fusion being viable within the parent species (much less elsewhere) are themselves hideously low on the hypothesis of undirected accident. Perhaps those odds are not hideously low after all, but the subsequent history of such a mutation within the species pool would be extremely likely to lead to a historical result very different from what can be experimentally ascertained.

All of these are scientific questions, which could be brought forth from the process of doing legitimate science (keeping in mind that legitimately scientific processes aren’t always necessarily correct as to facts in the end); and could be brought forth by anyone regardless of ideology; and would probably be answered, one way or another, by scientific inquiry. An IDer is likely to bring them up for positive forensic purposes, but positive forensic purposes are very far from being necessarily unscientific!--and again, if the attempt turns out to be defeated, then that still doesn’t mean the attempt was itself unscientific.


To give a similar example from the other side, I wouldn’t consider finding a 500 million year old mammal to falsify evolutionary theory per se. It would only falsify certain sub-theories which happen to be currently attached to the larger theory. This is why evolutionists aren’t bothered by x-hundred million old coelecanths and other living fossils, nor by fossils indicating that highly developed mammalian species (such as bats and sloths) existed far back through the cretaceous period or beyond, in much the same forms as they exist today.

Irreducible complexity, if that could be proved (and I haven’t heard much about that recently, I expect for good reason--I was very critical of it when it was a hot topic), would falsify certain key positions opportunistically attached (for ideological reasons!) to gradualistic NDT, but it wouldn’t falsify the biological theory very far.

The only two ways to falsify gradualistic NDT (though even then not necessarily every possible evolutionary theory), would be, basically:

a.) demonstrate that unguided natural selection (or unintentionally guided, if one prefers to put it that way) is not effective enough at preferentially killing off less environmentally adapted individuals faster than better environmentally adapted ones, to plausibly (or possibly?) arrive at the demonstrable historical results;

and/or

b.) demonstrate that accidental copy-errors with no induction of adaption from any environmental causation, are not effective enough at building up newly effective complexity, to plausibly (or possibly?) arrive at the demonstrable historical results.

Whether challenges in favor of (a) or (b) are intended for ideological purposes or not, is not necessarily relevant; any more than the ideological program of the NDT synthesizers back in the 30s (and they certainly had one) is necessarily relevant to defenses against (a) or (b). Nor, for that matter, are ideological purposes necessarily relevant to the positive arguments against which (a) and (b) are the challenges.


{{And please tell us "how particle bridge between two galaxies" (our Milky way and the large and small Magellanic clouds I presume) and "universe inflating" point to a 10000 year universe.}}

I didn’t say it did. I said things of this sort (and I wasn’t talking about small Magellanic clouds connected to the Milky Way) start to make claims that the Earth and/or universe is less than 10Kyears old less outlandish. Less outlandish doesn’t even mean positively pointing toward less than 10Kyears; it only means less outlandish. {s}

I’m an old-earther, and always have been; that’s how I was raised, and it’s how I still think the data points on the balance. Nor do I have any ideological preference either way. At most, my only bias is that I happen to enjoy the ‘interestingosity’ of such challenge attempts.

The redshift differential problem between connected astronomic macro-entities at vast cosmic distances from our galaxy, is too complex for me to summarize here; and I already stated earlier in the same comment you quoted from that “I certainly don’t know enough about the details to be able to confirm it independently.” In fact I recommend you go back and read the paragraph I just quoted myself from, where you’ll find me being (by topical implication) rather more ambivalent about the redshift claim than you’re apparently expecting me to be. Meanwhile, you can read the article I’m thinking of at this web journal. Whether the claim is accurate science or not, I am not in a position to tell; but it is clearly a scientific claim being made on scientific grounds--and it’s pretty fairly qualified, too. (Even if it’s a hoax, it’s categorically a scientific hoax; with the hoaxer willing to suggest two other options at nominally equal plausibility as inferences from the data.) Checking around, I can tell the author advocates the Young Earth theory, for whatever it’s worth; and his presented rationale is specifically scientific in its evaluation of evidence (whether or not the evaluation is on target).

The implications of hyperinflationary universal expansion on universe-dating is a little easier to explain: a substantial amount of cosmological dating techniques are based on light-speed being a universal speed limit which is never significantly breached (minor or inconsequential anomalies notwithstanding). But all natural material now appears to have moved at spatial speeds during initial expansion which grossly exceed the speed of light, traveling cosmically vast spatial distances in the process. At the very least, this means that lightspeed/stellar-distance evaluations for estimating the age of the universe will need some revision for purposes of practical application; and any change in that estimate (if any change is in fact arrived at) would be in the direction of a substantially younger universe.

Even so, although I regard this as a more significant example of recent data, I still only regard it as making a 10Kyear claim less outlandish.

{{If you can not your "belief [is] at odds with our (current) scientific beliefs [knowledge?]" just like Manichees.}}

You’re reading much more into what I actually wrote than is warranted. I recommend being less touchy about the topic.

I'm breaking the Galileo comments into the next post. (Testing indicates a new size restriction on posts has indeed been implemented. Now, did that happen by unintended accident, or by design? And if I decided it was either certainly or most likely by design, would that inference be thereby unscientific? {g})

JRP

Peter,

This is part 2 (of 2, don't worry {g}) of the comment. (Incidentally, new testing indicates that the real problem may not have been sizing rules, but lack of a proper opening tag in html coding. Blogger's error alerts on this aren't immediately noticeable.)

{{Sorry, you got this completely wrong and you are propagating a myth here. Copernicus used fixed turret to observed the retrograde motion and varying brightness of the planets.}}

Not "completely" wrong at all; at most I overreached on the statements “all the actual scientific observations of the time were in favor of geocentrism” and “they were bucking the trend purely for philosophical reasons”. If retrograde observations and varying brightness of the planets were scientifically sufficient, we wouldn’t have had to invent special lenses for observational purposes (checking whether a planet did disappear behind the sun)--which is why scientific confirmation didn’t occur until the early-mid 1800s. But yes, those observations and inferences would count as scientific rationales; and still would have done so, even if they had turned out to be wrong after all. That these were better scientific observations than ones promoting geocentrism was not evident until long afterward.

Even one of the examples you mentioned, concerning the satellites of Jupiter, did not have any direct bearing on geocentrism per se; it would be a category error to present it otherwise. Nor would looking at the stars through a 32x telescope, even if what they were looking at was the Sun. (As you’re obviously aware, Galileo tried to argue that sunspots were evidence against geocentrism. But will you report why he thought that counted? I can; and I will, if you don’t. {s!}) The Pope did however commission monasteries and church buildings to be altered into solar observatories, in order to try testing out certain trigonometric sun-tracking methods that might have helped validate Galileo. (He also celebrated Galileo’s telescopic discoveries in Latin verse. {g})

{{They did not rely on any philosophy, but scientific observations.}}

That, meanwhile, is overreaching very far in the other direction. {s} The dogmatic neo-Platonism (and theism, for that matter) of Copernicus and Galileo is well-established in historical studies. Even Copernicus’ famous insistence that properties of natural material can only be discovered a posteriori through empirical observation, rather than deducible a priori, was directed precisely against Aristotelianism--and grounded in theology. Where Aristotelianism required that geocentrism be true due to intrinsic properties of matter tending toward (and indeed creating) a singular center of gravity, Copernicus retorted that the Creator could make as many centers of gravity as He pleased; consequently we should check, if it becomes possible, to see what the natural situation actually is. (This was his point to the moons orbiting Jupiter, though you forgot to mention that. {g}) The famous (if possibly apocryphal) story of Galileo dropping balls off the tower of Pisa picks up on this same rationale: we cannot presume to know how God thinks (Galileo argued); we must go out and look at the world He has made.

This could be argued further in much greater detail.

{{If you read the statement of Pope John Paul II issued in 1992 about Galileo, you'll see that he acknowledge that the Church was incorrectly defending the theological view (1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 104:5, Ecclesiastes 1:5) and not defending any scientific view nor wanting more evidence.}}

With all due respect to the Pope, the primary evidence shows that while some theologians did have that problem, many of them had both philosophical problems (certainly no more religious than Copernicus’ or Galileo’s own philosophical interests and rationales) and scientific problems.

{{I did not claim any "nice math" is equivalent to "physical reality"...}}

No, but the heliocentrists you’re defending sure did; as David pointed out. Their argument was that heliocentrism required fewer epicycle calculations and so should be preferred for that reason, specifically because God could be expected to make the most efficiently simple system design possible.

{{In 1616 Cardinal Bellarmine, acting on directives from the Inquisition, delivered Galileo an order not to "hold or defend" the idea that the Earth moves and the Sun stands still at the centre.}}

Wasn’t that after Galileo had already formally discussed this with the Church no less than five times over a period of many years?--and had started publishing satirical rebuffs of his friend and supporter the Pope in an increasingly dangerous political climate for Europe? Or do I have my dates wrong?

{{In a letter to Kepler of August 1610, Galileo complained that some of the philosophers who opposed his discoveries had refused even to look through a telescope.}}

If you understood the things Galileo was actually claiming, you’d have not bothered to look through the telescope either, realizing that it would be a waste of time and would make no difference--scientifically speaking. (Doubtless they would be annoyed for philosophical reasons to discover multiple centers of gravity; but then, that was a very key philosophical issue for Galileo, too.)

{{Am I missing something?}}

Quite a bit. {s} But not for lack of trying on our part.


Finishing off on a minor note:

{{Orthodox Christian changed the tolerance of all religions to compulsary Christianity and Christian worldview (geocentrism).}}

This is not the same as invasion, which is what you had said. Whereas I specifically admitted where invasions of Central Europe continued, and also admitted assumption of military control (by inheritance from the previous regime) in Greece. So I was hardly trying to cover up annoying data.

Moreover, Christians did not need to compulse anyone to be geocentric, as part of a religious worldview or otherwise. What they might have ‘compulsed’ people about, was the (Aristotelian) notion that the Earth was the center of the universe because it was, relatively, the worst place in God’s creation. I’m somewhat doubtful this would have been high on their list of doctrinal priorities per se, even compared to promoting the doctrine of original sin (which hardly needs geocentrism as a bulwark, though doubtless Aristotelian Christians would find it helpful.)


Incidentally, I strenuously disagree (though I appreciate Mr. Gronk’s attempt at defense) that the reason we choose a heliocentric reference frame today is for any reason other than that’s simply what we find from our observations and calculations. Mass/gravity calculations themselves would be sufficient if we didn’t have observational capability; but in fact we do now have observational capability, and have had it since the early-mid 1800s.

However, Mr. Gronk’s description does more-or-less cover why Europeans, including the Church (and increasing numbers of secularists), went to heliocentrism, long before we had better observational and gravitation-calc reasons to do so.

JRP

Peter: Thanks for joining the discussion. The Cadre guys don't seem to want to defend their argument or are anoyed with me...

Ah, they just get busy like the rest of us! (In fact, I see Jason has already posted another mini-novel, heh!)

You are right, but what is the "Christian philosophy" and "Christian principles". Christians can not agree on ethics of stem cell research, abortion, euthanasia, polygamy, contraceptives, when to go to war / turn the other cheek, what count as an evidence of a miracle, which of the 30k denomination is right and many other things. So who got these "Christian philosophy" and "Christian principles" right.

An excellent question! But a very different question; besides which moral questions like the ones in your example are more likely to rely on science than the other way around. Not to mention that the Christian principles that do encourage science, such as belief in an ordering, intelligent Creator or man's intellectual soul are pretty uncontroversial among all Christian denominations.

[...] He had more evidence and the other side was defending the Bible. But the whole point is that the Church resisted new scientific findings (right or wrong) because it did not support their biblical interpretation.

Well, again there were many personal, philosophical, psychological, political, etc. reasons on both sides. But the scientific reasons were, well, scientific. I think the point you want to disagree with here is the idea that the Bible is evidence, but it is — or certainly, to them it was. They accepted the passages in question as God's observations, and therefore they needed to be explained scientifically. And if you claim that the notion that the Bible presents "evidence" is not a scientific claim, you're right: just as your notion that, say, your own eyes present "evidence" is not scientific. (You can have a scientific theory about how the human eye works, but that cannot be your basis for believing your own eyes in the first place, because that would be circular. You have to start somewhere, and all science is based on certain philosophical beliefs. You are entirely entitled to disagree with the Pope's philosophical starting point, but just note that when you do that, we're no longer talking science, we're talking philosophy. As far as science goes, the Church resisted heliocentric claims because of inconclusive evidence.)

If you read the statement of Pope John Paul II issued in 1992 about Galileo, you'll see that he acknowledge that the Church was incorrectly defending the theological view (1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 104:5, Ecclesiastes 1:5) and not defending any scientific view nor wanting more evidence.

If one Pope can be wrong about science, another can be wrong about history — the Pope's not infallible, after all (well, not about science or history, anyway!) =) Or maybe he just figured it was an easier PR move than trying to get people to study the facts.

The Church was not insisting a higher standard, they insisted him to shut up. In a letter to Kepler of August 1610, Galileo complained that some of the philosophers who opposed his discoveries had refused even to look through a telescope.

I claimed only that their scientific standards were high — we've already established that "science" wasn't the only (or even primary) factor in what happened to G. Christian principles certainly did not stop people from looking through his telescope: the Pope looked, Bellarmine looked, the Jesuit astronomers at the Collegium Romanum looked; some people, none of whom I've ever seen identified as Church officials by the way, did refuse to look, but all that means is that they were jerks. (Jason's claim that they had no scientific grounds to look may be technically correct, but simple Christian charity should have led them to look anyway, even if they only thought they were humouring Galileo. Which again shows that the real problem was not being Christian enough!)

[Re the Church's interest in getting facts right] That is an odd distortion. The Pope wanted to "the facts" align with the Bible just like modern day creations don't accept evolution because of what the Bible teaches to them.

And just like modern scientists want "the facts" to align with their theories. Oh wait, that's how science works! It seems clear that you disagree with the Pope over the importance and factual status of the Bible, but that's still a philosophical issue. What you seem to be saying could only make sense if the Pope distorted the evidence of the time — e.g. looking through the telescope and claiming he saw no moons about Jupiter, or prohibiting people from saying that Venus had phases. In which case, please provide some evidence, because this is the first that I, or any encyclopedia, or article about it that I've seen, has heard of it.

Am I missing something? The Pope and the Inquisition (Christians) defended the Christian view (geocentric at the time) because they belived that's what the Bible teached.

No, they defended what they understood as the most scientifically and philosophically consistent theory available at the time. Oh yeah, and did I mention all the historically related stuff going on then that is distinct from the scientific issues involved? (JRP may have spent one or two lines discussing that.)

-David

David,

{{simple Christian charity should have led them to look anyway, even if they only thought they were humouring Galileo.}}

Agreed, btw. Unfortunately, with Galileo providing evidential confirmation that a key application (at least) of Aristotelianism was dead wrong, in the face of civil wars springing up where the other side was busy convincing the educated power-players that neo-Platonism was the proper Christian philosophy (as a way into doing more accurate science, no less)... well... it must be said that deigning to look through that dang telescope would be politically inconvenient, too. And not necessarily only for those refusers.

JRP

Hi JRP,

I think you may have misunderstood me - probably a failure to communicate on my part. I did say that a heliocentric reference frame makes the physics easier; but I went on to say that we choose the biggest object as the most important.

What I didn't clarify was that we now understand the physical reason why that's the case is because of gravity. However in the 16th and 17th centuries, we didn't have a general theory of gravity at first - cue Newton - so even if we knew that the Sun is larger than the Earth, we didn't have a scientific basis for assuming heliocentrism on those grounds alone. Now we do.

I also didn't mean to imply that there's something wrong with a heliocentric reference frame per se. Quite the opposite: I think heliocentrism is to be preferred as regards the solar system. (On a larger scale, like the galactic scale, heliocentrism is as unhelpful as geocentrism - and for precisely the same reasons.)

All I was saying was that a geocentric reference frame, while silly from both a physical (how gravity, etc., work) and a mathematical (making life easier for us) perspective, is not logically inconsistent with itself.

Jason Pratt,

I appreciate your long two posts. I mostly agree with your first post, but when you defend YEC being science (but not necessary good science) I have to disagree there. My friend told me that Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe last Tuesday and provided plenty of evidence and justifications for that, but that does not make it science (not even bad science).

Regarding your second post about Galileo, I agree he got tides, sunspots and comets wrong and disagree with you on couple other points as I wrote above. But the claim of the this blog post was that Christians world view accomodates best the scientific development, which brings me to your out of context comment:

"Am I missing something?" Quite a bit. {s} But not for lack of trying on our part.

Which was the reference to David's argument:
"You haven't shown, for example, that the Christians you cite are doing so because of their Christian beliefs"

Which I replied:
"Am I missing something? The Pope and the Inquisition (Christians) defended the Christian view (geocentric at the time) because they beli[e]ved that's what the Bible teached". [oops..taught]

Which brings me to my original point (and why we are talking about Galileo) that when Christian authorities (Pope, Inquisition, Bishops, TV evangelist...) take Bible litterarily to rally their troops, it hinders the scientific development. Christian beliefs contributed to Galileo's house arrest, book burning and banning his ideas. (I mentioned the YEC as modern day parallel). At the same time the author nor the commenters did not provide any non-Christian example of religion not accommodating scientific development even when that is not so difficult to do (Brahmanist, Islam...). Non-literalists don't have a baggage to try to match scientific findings to their particular doctrine, theology and holy book.

You correctly pointed out that the Pope / Jesuits used the Bible as evidence and there the problem appears. When you pit any Holy Book against empirical evidence, that religion does not accomodate all scientific evidence equally.


David said...
"the Christian principles that do encourage science, such as belief in an ordering, intelligent Creator"

Once you prove that an intelligent Creator exists, then it useful as a premises for scientific enquiry. If you argue that a belief is enought then that does not give an edge to the Christianity.


David said...
"You can have a scientific theory about how the human eye works, but that cannot be your basis for believing your own eyes in the first place, because that would be circular."

You can disect an eye, study it with your own eyes, make a testable hypothesis about how it works and eventually form a theory. Nothing circular about it. But you can possible construct a circular vision test (Is the red your see the same red I see? -type of test)


David said...
"You have to start somewhere, and all science is based on certain philosophical beliefs."

I assume you claim that "using a scientific method" is a "philosophical belief".


David said...
"And just like modern scientists want "the facts" to align with their theories. Oh wait, that's how science works!"

No, that is not how science works. Scientists us a scientific method to eliminate "want" and "align" from "the facts". You might not understand how science works.


David said...
"they [Pope / Jesuits] defended what they understood as the most scientifically and philosophically consistent theory available at the time."

I totally agree, but defending the theological view does not always accomodate empirical scientific enquiry. Thus you have shown that defending a biblical view does not lead to the correct scientific path.

Peter: My friend told me that Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe last Tuesday and provided plenty of evidence and justifications for that, but that does not make it science (not even bad science).

Well, now—was the "evidence" physical observations and was the "justification" testing of formally devised hypotheses? If so, that is science, yes. Now I'd be astonished if your friend succeeded in demonstrating his conclusion scientifically, but in science, failure is always an option. Bad science is when someone makes a mistake in his reasoning or measurements. Good science is when the application of the scientific method successfully supports (or refutes) the original hypothesis. But to do "science" you only need to be applying the scientific method, successfully or otherwise.

Regarding your second post about Galileo, I agree he got tides, sunspots and comets wrong and disagree with you on couple other points as I wrote above. But the claim of the this blog post was that Christians world view accomodates best the scientific development, which brings me to your out of context comment:

But you still haven't illustrated what it is about the Christian worldview that is a problem. Several aspects of that world view which encourage science have been listed, but what you keep pointing to is specific acts by individuals. Can individuals interfere with scientific development? Of course; some Christians have, as have some Hindus or some atheists. I guess that makes atheism opposed to science too — unless you agree that not everything every atheist does is defined by atheism. Similarly if there is some Christian principle per se that is so hostile to science, please indicate it. (And yes, there is some disagreement among Christians; pick any principle that is "widely held". Or stick to one particular denomination—say, name an officially defined Catholic dogma that is hostile to science.)

Which brings me to my original point (and why we are talking about Galileo) that when Christian authorities (Pope, Inquisition, Bishops, TV evangelist...) take Bible litterarily to rally their troops, it hinders the scientific development.

Actually, heliocentric theories (and related issues) clearly did develop, continuously in fact, all during that time and afterward, so it's not at all clear how scientific development was really "hindered". People continued looking through telescopes. If Galileo had ended up differently would heliocentrism have been generally accepted a year earlier? A month? A decade? Did development of such theories stop until Christianity disappeared from the picture? Um, nope, Europe continued being Christian and science continued to develop. At most, we're looking at some speed bumps resulting from non-Christian behaviour.

Christian beliefs contributed to Galileo's house arrest, book burning and banning his ideas. (I mentioned the YEC as modern day parallel).

What exactly was the parallel again? Who's been arrested by YECs? What ideas have YECs stopped you from learning? Please include references to how this behaviour is dictated by fundamental Christian requirements.

Non-literalists don't have a baggage to try to match scientific findings to their particular doctrine, theology and holy book.

Non-scientists don't either. The "baggage" of trying to make things fit is what drives the scientific enterprise—Copernicus disagrees with Ptolemy? Einstein disagrees with Newton? Well, you could just "accommodate" both of them, or you could insist that at least one of them has to be wrong and try to match the scientific findings to one particular doctrine or the other.

You correctly pointed out that the Pope / Jesuits used the Bible as evidence and there the problem appears. When you pit any Holy Book against empirical evidence, that religion does not accomodate all scientific evidence equally.

Possibly; but to say that they pitted the Bible against empirical evidence is to completely misunderstand their basic mindset. Under Christian principles there can be no such thing as "conflicting evidence"—all facts about the world, the physical and the metaphyisical alike—come from God and therefore must ultimately agree. If there seems to be a conflict then you need to reinterpret your evidence to make it all fit together, whether that means reinterpreting Biblical evidence, or reinterpreting geocentric evidence. Christians did both, motivated by their philosophical convictions that there had to be a consistent explanation for all the evidence. That very same principle that there has to be a single, consistent explanation for all available evidence is a hallmark of modern scientific progress.

Once you prove that an intelligent Creator exists, then it useful as a premises for scientific enquiry. If you argue that a belief is enought then that does not give an edge to the Christianity.

I'm not sure what you mean here — are you saying that proof of God in that sense would be a benefit to doing science, but if you can't prove it, it doesn't help? Perhaps from a purely hypothetical point of view, but if in practice that is what you believe, and that motivates you to do science, then the result is the same. (Plus of course, many Christians consider that they do have such proof in the first place!)

David said... "You can have a scientific theory about how the human eye works, but that cannot be your basis for believing your own eyes in the first place, because that would be circular."
You can disect an eye, study it with your own eyes, make a testable hypothesis about how it works and eventually form a theory. Nothing circular about it. But you can possible construct a circular vision test (Is the red your see the same red I see? -type of test)

"You can dissect an eye, study it with your own eyes" — and that's not circular? In other words, you know that your own two eyes work because you saw it with your own two eyes! How can that possibly NOT be circular? This is actually a big deal in the philosophy of science — how do you know "science" is true, that it works at all? You can't find the Scientific Method by looking in a microscope. Everyone who does science has metaphysical underpinnings for his scientific work, even if those foundations are taken for granted. (Most professional scientists are not also professional philosophers of science, but they're still assuming that some foundation for science exists!)

David said..."And just like modern scientists want "the facts" to align with their theories. Oh wait, that's how science works!"
No, that is not how science works. Scientists us a scientific method to eliminate "want" and "align" from "the facts". You might not understand how science works.

Perhaps I just didn't express myself very well. =) On a theoretical level, science is about finding theories that align with the facts. On a practical level, scientists are human beings, and therefore have lots of psychological "wants", including the basic motivation to find theories that align with the facts and facts that align with their theories (or facts that explicitly mis-align with someone else's theories!). Sometimes scientists lie, sometimes they cheat, sometimes they make mistakes—that doesn't undermine science itself, regardless of whether the scientists are Christians or atheists or anything else.

David said..."they [Pope / Jesuits] defended what they understood as the most scientifically and philosophically consistent theory available at the time."
I totally agree, but defending the theological view does not always accomodate empirical scientific enquiry. Thus you have shown that defending a biblical view does not lead to the correct scientific path.

To the contrary: if your theology stipulates that empirical observations have a basis in fact (and furthermore that those facts are regular and intelligible!), then your theology requires science! (And may even require that you engage in science, depending on various other theological details.) Your point there only applies to religions/philosophies that claim, e.g., the physical world is merely an illusion (Buddhism perhaps?? Hm, how does Buddhism approach science anyway, or does it?).

-David

Peter,

Sorry for the delay; finishing up a huge project or two elsewhere.

{{My friend told me that Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe last Tuesday and provided plenty of evidence and justifications for that, but that does not make it science (not even bad science).}}

Really? What were the evidence and justifications for his conclusion? Or conclusions rather, since his position has at least two elements, maybe three:

1.) something was created last Tuesday.

2.) the something was the universe.

3.) it was created by a (the?) FSM.

Before I accept or dismiss it as science (even bad science), I would want to know what methodology and evidential types your friend was applying for each of these positions. It might turn out to be science (even if bad science) up through position 2, but not science at all for position 3. Or, it might turn out to be science (even if bad science) through position 3, too.

If someone is trying to make a claim of ‘science’, then I’m not going to ideologically exclude it from that class of claim merely based on the topic. I might inductively expect it to turn out not to be scientifically based (to this or that degree or altogether), based on my own past experience, but that isn’t the same thing as making a deductive ruling against it--and I would be making a sloppy category error to suppose so.


Regarding my “out of context comment”:

David had stated, “You [Peter] haven’t shown, for example, that the Christians you cite are doing so because of their Christian beliefs.”

Doing what?

Persecuting and resisting ‘science’, wasn’t it?

Your reply to David, was “Am I missing something? The Pope and the Inquisition (Christians) defended the Christian view (geocentric at the time) because they belived that's what the Bible teached.”

Your answer to David was the context in which I answered, “Quite a bit; but not for a lack of trying on our part.” i.e. you brought up an oversimplified example of defense of geocentrism (as “the Christian view”, as if “the Christian view” actually requires geocentrism, which it does not and never did). I’ve spent a very long time trying to help you understand that the particular case you’re talking about was far more complex, and not necessarily anti-scientific per se, than you’ve been resolutely making it out to be. There was a whole lot more going on than “Christian authorities taking the Bible literally” in the Galileo affair, and for that matter a whole lot more going on from Galileo’s (and Copernicus’) side than merely “scientific development”. If you’re going to keep simplistically referring to Galileo’s case, then you’re going to keep getting replies stating in either a long or short fashion that you’re too simplistically referring to Galileo’s case. That may be annoying to you, but it isn’t out of context.


As for what JD’s post: he didn’t claim exactly that Christianity is “better for science”, though it could be construed that way, too. (The differences are subtle.) He claimed that “some form of monotheism, out of the available supernaturalist options”, accommodates the “severe constraints” placed on “the possible metaphysical explanations of existence” by science. (It was Paul Draper, the sceptic whom JD referenced, who believed the choice really came down to Christian theism or scientific naturalism.)

JD made that claim over against an assertion he sometimes finds sceptics making, to the effect that theists have no more reason to accept the supernaturalist worldview of Christianity than that of an other “kooky” belief system the world over. (“Kooky” meaning that these kinds of sceptics lump all religious belief including ours into that category.)

I agreed early on that JD (not to say BK, whose initial comment was far more inflammatory) “should go more in-depth” into what he is talking about. Whether he will do so or not, I have no control over. Whether I will go into more depth as to why I have more reason to accept the supernaturalist worldview of Christianity than any other belief system (including naturalism, atheistic or otherwise), I do have some control over, but I’ll be doing it from the angle of technical metaphysics; and indeed have already posted more than 200 pages on the topic since last summer. (I put up a catch-up post with links to the beginning of the series here on Friday.)

I could make a utilitarian argument based on characteristics lending themselves best as a framework for doing science, and I’ll say something about that in a minute. (I was waiting for one of the other posters, nominally JD, to follow up on it.) But I don’t like making utilitarian arguments. I would rather make principle analysis arguments and so avoid Bulverism-charges of “you’re only saying X in order to get to Y”. (Otherwise, I could make a striking argument implicative of orthodox trinitarian theism from a goal of ideal sexual experience! {g!})

Be that as it may, I wasn’t shy of pointing out that other religious societies have done as well as Judeo-Christianity and even better in some regards (depending on the historical situations at the times in question). So I rejected a simplistic application of the notion that holding to Christianity will somehow lead automatically to the best scientific development and application compared to any other belief system in history. Which JD was not arguing either (so far as this particular post goes), but which someone unfamiliar with English could be forgiven for mistaking him for saying.

What I did do was chime in on other mistaken assertions being made in auxiliary fashions--not necessarily against you either! But, sometimes against you, too: if you persist in requiring an oversimplified Galileo situation, you’re going to get flamed on that, just as quickly and correctly as you tagged Mr. Gronk about first universities. (That being said, Mr. G was correct about the social degradation of the Dark Ages not being the fault of orthodox Christianity.)

In any case: orthodox Christian theism does not require a ‘literalist’ rendering of the creation chapters in Genesis, nor that the equivalent of astronomic statements found in the scriptures be taken literally, either. Which, had you paid attention, was part of JD’s reason for mentioning Augustine; for he not only critiqued the Manichees for necessarily requiring their cosmological picture be literally true, but he also warned that a Christian should similarly not stubbornly insist that “his view of Nature belongs to the very form of orthodox doctrine and...obstinately...affirm something he does not understand.”

The important criterion (which JD admittedly did not spell out very well) was not in fact simply whether a worldview makes outlandish cosmological claims which do not square with the findings of science, but whether a worldview can retain its essential doctrines when inferences from confirmed observational data suggest or require alterations in the expressive imagery of the worldview. Christianity has survived and thrived just fine without taking the creation story of Genesis as literal history; and it was doing so a long time before the Middle Ages (much less before the time of Galileo.) If I recall correctly, it was doing so quite a while before Augustine’s time, too.


Now, as to what worldview would in principle best provide a framework for doing science. As far as I can tell, such a worldview would require the following components:

1.) an expectation that natural material will generally behave in a merely reactive (and thus substantially predictable) fashion, at some practical level.

2.) an operational distinction between initiative action and mere reaction/counterreaction. This distinction cannot be whiffled away to being only mere reaction/counterreaction after all, as this would imperil the personal claim of inferential success. (i.e. if real action capability does not exist, no arguments per se can be taking place, thus no scientific inferences and conclusions per se are possible--only the facsimiles thereof.)

3.) the material system must be real enough that there is some meaningful point to making inferences-to-beliefs from observations of the system’s behaviors.

Without components 1 and 3, there can be no effective ‘scientia’ per se.

Without component 2, the whole rational program is called inextricably into question. (Indeed I would concentrate on that aspect first long before getting to the question of ‘science’: first rationality and its implications, then science later.)

Component 3 eliminates or at least minimizes the degree to which the evident system of ‘Nature’ can be only illusory--no negative pantheisms.

Components 1 and 2 imply substantial differences between rational action and the intrinsic behaviors of the natural system per se, which tends to exclude naturalistic theism (or positive pantheism).

Positing that component 2 is dependent on a fundamental reality of component 1 characteristics, imperils component 2; but component 1 can be a declension from a fundamental reality of component 2 characteristics without in any way imperiling the status of component 1. This can in principle be paralleled by the concept that no scientist would insist on non-rational analysis of non-rational or rational behaviors either one, but would insist on rational analysis of both non-rational and rational behaviors. However, as far as worldviews go, it reprsents theism over atheism.

The combination of components so far involves a-or-the foundation of reality being actively rational (i.e. God exists), but the system of Nature not being substantially God itself.

If we as rational entities are using divine properties in the study of Nature, then there must be some kind of property conjunction, and this will eventually run against cosmological dualism (i.e. where God and Nature both exist as ontological Independents, thus unable to affect each other and having no shared overarching reality.)

For the best paradigm for operational science, then, one system must be dependent upon the other for its existence; and supernaturalistic atheism would imperil component 2 as much as naturalistic atheism would.

The ideal paradigm for doing science would thus be supernaturalistic theism of some kind.

This does not however mean that supernaturalisic theists will automatically be better scientists in any possible situation than people who aren’t supernaturalstic theists; nor does it mean that people who aren’t supernaturalistic theists will be hopeless at doing science. They might still be very efficient at it; and I would say history proves that people are quite capable of science and technology regardless of their ontological worldview.

Which is another reason why I wouldn’t proceed myself to supernaturalistic theism from an argument concerning scientific utilitarianism. Moreover, while I might be inclined to proceed to supernaturalistic theism from an argument concerning implications of doing ‘science’ per se, I would pretty quickly notice that the issues topically overarch the question of doing specifically scientific inferences, so I would step back to the more preliminary level of doing rational arguments at all.

However, once I finished the metaphysical arguments, I would be (and am!) in a position to agree that the result makes a superior paradigm for doing ‘science’, without contravention of principle somewhere. And I would understand why it would be valid, in a way, to say that other people successfully doing science are borrowing components of my worldview, even when they don’t realize they’re doing it or even when they would hotly protest that they don’t accept those components.


{{I assume you [David] claim that "using a scientific method" is a "philosophical belief".}}

For what it’s worth, I would certainly say that using a scientific method relies on philosophical beliefs. However, those beliefs may not be obvious to the practitioner, just as the law of non-con may not be obvious to billions of people who use it every day, both for science and for other purposes.

David is correct: all science is based on certain philosophical beliefs. I discussed this myself in the case of Copernicus and Galileo, above.

That being said, I agree that scientific procedure ideally does not try to align facts with theory--at the expense of everything else! However, where scientific procedure is abductively testing a hypothesis, it is entirely normal to try to align facts to fit a theory, especially when the scientist believes the theory already has been proven to have good strength. If the facts don’t fit, then the scientist has a choice to make: either stay with the theory on some other ground, and treat the facts as being inexplicably aberrant (so far), or alter the theory to some extent. If the scientist cannot think of a way to alter the theory, or the hypothesis, to fit all the facts better (including the new aberrant ones), he might be better off to keep the otherwise successful theory and put aside the aberrant facts until something can be done with them one way or another. (This is aside from the psychological pressures mentioned by David.)


JRP

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