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Church Scientific Workshops
Transcript of Church Scientific Workshops
Knowledge vs. reductionism
Knowledge in community
Knowledge by scientific method?
Church Scientific: the ideas
Science with Christ as Lord?
Religion and the history of science
How can worldviews shape science?
"Crede ut intelligas"
- i.e. faith comes before knowledge
René Descartes: scepticism as the path to knowledge... Ultimately fails because radical doubt is impossible
Modernism: John Locke, David Hume: "no knowledge without rational demonstration"... Ultimately means no knowledge of any ultimate truth
Thomas Kuhn's 'worldview-ish' analysis of science
The Bible gives a meta-narrative to direct our life
Idolatry as the principal sin: worshiping what is created (Rom 1:25) or
treating it as absolute
scholarly investigation into
things generally happen throughout the created order
The gold of Havilah (Gen 2:11-12): a call to exploration, technology and civilisation
'Science' = knowing - also seeing...
'Natural philosophy' = love of wisdom about created things
Metaphysical speculation as hindrance?
Greek maths, astronomy, philosophy... and idolatrous religion
Francis Bacon's 'method' and 'idols': ideal of objective knowledge for human flourishing
Deism & materialism confronting theism
foster 'science vs. religion' myth
New idolatries of reductionism: back to idolatrous metaphysics?
The 'Scientific Revolution': physical sciences begin amid visions of progress
Being a scientist in a congregation: accountability and calling
Doubt: only in the context of an undoubted worldview: radical scepticism impossible
The dream of neutral authoritative knowledge
The folly of physical reductionism and determinism: science undermined!
The creed of materialism
Beyond reductionism and rationalism: example of tacit knowledge
From Augustine to Descartes: the search for an Archimedean Point of absolute 'objectivity'
How do theories come and go?
Can we find a demarcation criterion for 'science'?
Induction - and the dream of Positivism
Falsification, corroboration: Popper's theory of conjecture & refutation
Historicism - and Kuhn's view of the
of scientific communities
Accumulation of anomalies
Sociology of science
Constructivism: strong programme of "sociology of scientific knowledge"
Paul Feyerabend's 'Against Method'... no demarcation criterion for science at all?
So what is 'proof'?
A concept best restricted to maths?
The fundamental problem of induction: we have no path to certainty or true probability.
How can we discover something without expecting it?
The experimenter's regress
And what's a 'fact'?
that all scientific knowledge is provisional...
Do terminology and conceptual models influence scientific knowledge?
The business of science: who's paying, and why?
Scientific careers: the ideal and the problems
How shall we work as Christian scientists after Kuhn, Polanyi, Feyerabend, etc?
A biblical story of worldviews
Honour & relationship
Trust instead of fear
Forgiveness & pardon
Modern Western science
Basic Christian convictions include:
Communication with God
Don't leave these in church! Be aware of all kinds of religious convictions that guide the search for knowledge...
Philosophies of Biology: atomism & mechanism
Paradigms in genetics: e.g.
Religious commitments: reductionism?
Dooyeweerd's framework of aspects: the ultimate way to avoid reductionism?
Naming the animals (Gen 2:19): a
task of creative freedom
Scholastic tradition: cataloguing, documentation, speculation
0) Elaine Storkey
1a) David Hanson
1b) Eline van Asperen
2b) Eline van Asperen
2a) Mark Roques
2c) Richard Gunton
3b) Richard Gunton
The sciences as
fellowships of critique
Tales of the unexpected:
Has the speed of light decayed - or did workers bias their measurements towards previously accepted values?
The Hubble constant: calculated in 1927 by Georges Lemaître who conceived of an expanding universe, then independently measured in 1929 by Edwin Hubble
N-rays: discovered in 1903, debunked in 1904 - after 300 publications!
Ozone hole: only discovered once researchers overrode the automatic discard of improbable readings (Mario Molina's story)
3 types of culture - each needing the Gospel
Shame - honour
Fear - power
Guilt - innocence
3a) Arthur Jones
Affirm - critique - enrich:
a creation - fall - redemption approach to scientific work
- example from the FiSch Working Group on Ecosystem Services
Verificationism & Positivism (JJ Ayer, Rudolf Carnap et al.): philosophies that ultimately undercut themselves
3 types of post-Fall worldview:
Probability and presuppositions
Every probability calculation is based on assumptions - radical scepticism is impossible.
E.g. To estimate a probability as a frequency (the
approach) requires the notion of replication: all
factors (what are they?) remaining constant.
Geological & biotic similarities across oceans
personal work by people responding to God's call, yet extracting themselves out of the picture ('objectivity')
Nothing is beyond committed, scholarly investigation:
the heavens > astronomy; cosmology
other animals > zoology, ethology
the human mind > psychology
human society > sociology, anthropology
God’s own self-revelation > theology
God's covenants begin with the whole created order (Jer 33:25) and ground the scientific search for generalities
Stewardly dominion of the creation commissioned in Eden, before the Fall
Paradigms in physical sciences... (think of examples)
Paradigms in biological sciences...
Green = descriptions of science
*Classes of entities and variables, not metaphysical substances