DOES THE EMPIRICAL NATURE OF SCIENCE CONTRADICT THE REVELATORY NATURE OF FAITH? | rhein-main-verzeichnis.info
We view understanding of the nature and structure of scientific knowledge and the .. at the next, empirical reasoning based on relationships between variables ;. that cannot be based on empirical evidence are not a part of sci- ence (National Understanding of the nature of science—the goals, values and assumptions .. Association, The Teaching of Evolution Position Statement). Scientists seek to. Among scientific researchers, empirical evidence (as distinct to be presenting complementary senses related to thought.
And many scientists share a belief in oracles, special people whose words are somehow more valuable and more likely to reflect Truth than that of other people's. Science is a messy business conducted in messy places. Scientists are evolved hominids that have only used toilet paper for a brief period in their existence. Science owes its existence, health and results to the society that supports it. Scientists are not monks, after all, to be freed from worldly constraints for contemplation of their god, Truth.
Their patrons include their opponents in modern societies. They must engage in dialog and not act as though only the true believers in science are worthy of dialog. No matter what jokes we tell over cocktails. The upshot is although religion ought not to be causally implicated in the practice of science, any more than politics, religious people have a right to demand that scientists treat them with respect and that scientists are careful to construct their own 'canopy of epistemic humility', in the terms of historian of religion Mark Noll.
Dennett Philosopher; Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, From Bacteria to Bach and Back Jerry Coyne nicely dissects the urge of many people to persuade themselves that their religion can coexist peacefully with science in general and evolutionary biology in particular. And he shows just how hopeless this quest is.
I can discern more than half a dozen plausible reasons for belief in belief in God, and in some people these reasons are no doubt additive, not exclusive. I list them more or less in order, ranging from abject through feckless to noble-if-misguided: In fairness to myself, I was entrapped in this view when I was too young to know better, and I've never been able to find a face-saving exit strategy.
Where it doesn't itch, don't scratch! I'm going to carry this white lie to the grave, or at least until my parents are safely in their graves and my children and loved ones give me clear signs of being able to take such a confession with equanimity.
It's a method of self-purification that keeps me morally fit. Religious belief puts the fear of God into some who would otherwise behave reprehensibly. Why discard alliances, make enemies, lose the affection of powerful friends and associates by raining on their parade?
If I recant, I contribute to the dissolution of an aspect of the world that they truly depend on. I have no right to take away their crutch.
They would never tolerate such fuzzy and illogical thinking in their science—or, in the case of philosophers, in their analytic work in ethics or epistemology or metaphysics. They manage not to notice how they have transformed the object of their worship from the original Celestial Bio-engineer into a Divine Nudger of Randomness into an Omniscient Lawgiver into the impersonal, but still somehow benign Ground of All Being.
Not only don't they notice this comical retreat; they applaud the deep sophistication of the theologians who have conducted it. I haven't any idea what the Ground of All Being is, so I guess I don't have to be an atheist about that. Maybe the process of evolution by natural selection just is God! Now there's a way of reconciling evolution with religion!
Each reason for belief in belief in Gd is defensible up to a point, but we need to weigh the indirect side effects of going along with tradition.
First, there's the systematic hypocrisy that poisons discourse, and even more important, our vulnerability to those who abuse the "reverence" with which we are supposed to respond to their indulgences. We can continue to respect the good intentions of those who persist in professing belief in God, but we'll be doing them a favor if we stop pretending that we respect the arguments they use to sustain these fantasies.
To see why consider that any attempted reconciliation between a believer of monotheistic religion and a scientist is bedeviled by a troubling asymmetry.
No scientist would deny to someone who doesn't believe in natural selection the lifesaving benefits of medicines developed based on its premises. But this generosity is not reciprocated. The greatest gift revelatory religions have to offer is the promise of heaven. Were they to practice the brotherhood that they preach this would be offered to all, irrespective of belief.
The fact that it isn't underlines the essentially coercive nature of the appeal of religion: The shame that this deal is offered to children too young to reason through its premises is another piece of evidence of the essential bad faith of the arguments for revelatory religion. The basic ethics of an open and free society are to be prepared to defend what you believe with reasoned argument from public evidence, be prepared to change your mind, and be tolerant of diverse views on questions the evidence does not suffice to decide.
Religious faith that promises great gifts in a mythical hereafter as the reward for adherence to unverifiable claims contradicts these ethics. In fact it is science that practices the generosity and inclusiveness that religions teach, and for that reason will triumph, because ultimately human beings prefer to be reasoned with rather than coerced and manipulated. However, many still feel the need for a community that shares their wonder at the existence and beauty of the universe, while offering solace for the pains of life and death.
For this reason, the fact that there are liberal forms of religion that are consistent with science and these ethics is not to be denigrated, as Coyne seems to. Many former believers have given up monotheistic religions for the pantheistic or liberal reconciliation offered by Spinoza and Einstein, precisely because they recognize the weakness of the claims of revelation compared to science, but still wants to feel part of a community.
We scientists, who are lucky to be members of the most inclusive and diverse community on the planet, should understand the need of others to be bound in communities with people who share their values and hopes, so long as they do not contradict the ethics of the democracy we aspire to build. When President Obama announced that we will restore science to its rightful place in government, the implication is that we will also restore religion to its rightful place--in the Church.
Rick Warren was invited to Washington to deliver an invocation, not an opinion on science education or funding for embryonic stem cell research. Robert Boyle, pioneering experimental chemist and a founder of the Royal Society, helped launch the current trend in with his delightful "Christian virtuoso: That an incessant stream of books attempting to reconcile Science and Religion keeps rolling off the assembly line is more a testament to the success of the Templeton Foundation than to the failure of Boyle and his followers to make their case.
Derman is best known for his work on the Black-Derman-Toy interest-rate model and for developing local volatility models of the implied volatility smile. His research interests include quantitative finance, financial engineering, derivatives valuation, volatility models, and risk management.
Giberson Scholar of Science and Religion I enter this conversation feeling vaguely like a wishbone being stretched. On the one hand, I believe that the world is the creation of transcendent God that I perceive dimly behind the almost opaque curtain of my experience; but I also believe in the extraordinary power of science to unfold the nature of that world with astonishing clarity and conviction. I have one foot in each of Gould's non-overlapping magisteria and the space between them seems, at least in this conversation, uncomfortably large.
Discussions like this that juxtapose "empirical science" with "revealed religion" rarely seem like appropriately balanced encounters to me. When Ken Ham and his merry band of biblical literalists talk disparagingly about science, I can barely recognize it. Coyne, who affirms Dawkins's approach, speaks of "theologians with a deistic bent" who inappropriately presume to "speak for all the faithful.
This seems unfair to me. The great unwashed masses of these "faithful" should be juxtaposed with the great masses of people who "believe" in science but are not professionals.
Most Americans—and the rest of the world, for that matter— are attached to both iPods and a belief that medical science is their best hope when they are sick.
Nature Of Science
They "believe" in science. What do you suppose "science" would look like, were it defined by these "believers"? The physics would be Aristotelian; astrology and aliens would accepted as real; General Relativity would be unknown; quantum mechanics would be perceived as a way to influence the world with your mind.
And yet all of these people would have had far more education in science than the typical religious believer has in theology. Science as "lived and practiced by real people" is quite different than the science promoted by the intellectuals in this conversation.
Empirical science does indeed trump revealed truth about the world as Galileo and Darwin showed only too clearly. But empirical science also trumps other empirical science. Einstein's dethronement of Newton was not the wholesale undermining of the scientific enterprise, even though it showed that science was clearly in error.
It was, rather, a glorious and appropriately celebrated advance for science, albeit one not understood by most people. Why is this different than modern theology's near universal rejection of the tyrannical anthropomorphic deity of the Old Testament, so eloquently skewered by Dawkins? How is it that "science" is allowed to toss its historical baggage overboard when its best informed leaders decide to do so, even though the ideas continue to circulate on main street, but religion must forever be defined by the ancient baggage carried by its least informed?
The world disclosed by science is rich and marvelous, but most people think there is more to it. Our religious traditions embody our fitful and imperfect reflections on this mysterious and transcendent intuition—an intuition that, as articulated by some of our most profound thinkers, seeks an understanding of the world that is goes beyond the empirical. Coyne is correct that books like those he reviewed—Ken Miller's Only a Theory and my Saving Darwin—have not been particularly successful in securing a peaceful overlap for the magisteria, at least not for most people.
Coyne would say there is no such peaceful overlap. But there are many well-informed believers who have come to peace with science, and who live happily on the rich, but thinly populated, turf where the magisteria overlap. I think we can all agree though that, wherever we stand, there is a great need for a discussion of how America's conversation on origins should proceed.
We need to wake up to the reality that current strategies have been an abysmal failure and ask some tough questions about why that is. There is a widespread fear on America's main streets that evolution is destroying a cherished belief in God. As a consequence, anti-evolution has assumed the proportions of a military-industrial complex but the battle is a proxy war, aimed not at evolution, but at materialism.
I wonder what would happen if, in the name of pluralism and diplomacy, we could all agree that it was OK for people to believe that evolution was a part of God's plan. I suspect that cultural changes would be inaugurated that would eventually make both Eugenie Scott and Ken Ham irrelevant. Miller Professor of Biology at Brown University My colleague and friend Jerry Coyne is a brilliant scientist, an excellent writer, and a thoughtful, outspoken atheist.
He believes that God does not exist, and that any reasonable person should think as he does, rejecting the elixir of faith as pointless delusion.
In taking that position, even though it is one with which I disagree, he places himself in distinguished company, no question. Coyne's review of recent books by Karl Giberson and myself Only a Theory, and Saving Darwin, respectively sought only to make that argument, thereby to distance himself from a couple of deluded Christians, I wouldn't have much to complain about.
On the issue of faith, there's plenty of distance between us, even if I think Coyne is on the wrong side of the question. But Coyne did something quite different from that.
In addition to making the usual claims about the lack of evidence for God, Coyne flatly states that faith and science are not compatible, arguing that the empirical nature of science contradicts the revelatory nature of faith.
Coyne waves them away with scorn, literally comparing them to "adulterers" who have subverted their vows to be true to science—or at least to Coyne's view of science. More on that later.
Coyne claims that "theistic evolutionists" like me exhibit three of the four hallmarks of creationism, making me really no different from the folks I opposed at the Kitzmiller trial.
Empirical research - Wikipedia
He couldn't be more wrong about that. I share exactly one thing in common with creationists, which is my belief in God. The other points of supposed agreement are figments of Coyne's imagination—or of his overwrought efforts to slander any believer by placing them in the "creationist" camp. He seems to argue that a person of faith who accepts evolution must also believe God "micro-edited DNA" to guide evolution. While it's certainly true that a Divine author of nature could intervene in his world at any time, I have never argued for the sort of divine tinkering that Coyne finds so disturbing.
In fact, I have argued exactly the opposite. Evolution is not rigged, and religious belief does not require one to postulate a God who fixes the game, bribes the referees, or tricks natural selection.
Unfortunately, Coyne does not seem to appreciate this point. Coyne's eagerness to close out any possibility that there is an author to the natural world leads him into a curious position of self-contradiction on the appearance of the human species on our planet. As I pointed out in Only a Theory, evolution did indeed produce the grand and beautiful fabric of life that covers our planet, including our own species.
Therefore, we are not a "mistake" of nature, but a full-fledged product of the natural world.The Scientific Methods: Crash Course History of Science #14
If God is the creator of that world, including the laws of chemistry and physics and even the unpredictable events of the quantum universe, then it would be perfectly reasonable for a religious person to see our emergence, through the process of evolution, as part of God's plan for that universe. This doesn't mean, as I took care to point out in my book, that nature is rigged to produce big-brained, hairless, bipedal primates who would invent football, canned beer, and reality television.
Rather, it means that the universe in which we live is sufficiently hospitable to life that on this one planet, at the very least, it has supported an evolutionary process that gave rise to intelligent, self-aware, reflective organisms, who would then be capable of arguing about the meaning, purpose, and nature of existence.
I made no argument that this happy confluence of natural events and physical constants proves the existence of God in any way—only that it could be understood or interpreted as consistent with the Divine by a person of faith.
To Coyne, however, even the mere possibility that someone might understand nature in a Divine context is absolute heresy.
Empirical evidence - Wikipedia
As a result, while he strictly rules out anything but natural causes in the evolutionary process as would Ihe then must argue that the same process could never, ever happen again.
Because if conditions in our universe are such that they make the emergence of intelligent life, sooner or later, pretty much a sure thing, then people might wonder why.
And if they were to come to the conclusion this might mean that there was a Creator who intended that as part of his work, they would be guilty of the very thoughts that Coyne finds so outrageous that he wishes to banish them from the scientific establishment. So, despite his frank admission that "convergences are striking features of evolution," he rules any possibility that human-like intelligence could also be a convergent feature.
His only reason for so doing seems to be that such intelligence evolved "only once, in Africa. Actually, of course, if an observer had checked as recently as 5 million years ago, it wouldn't have evolved at all. Because theories explain facts, they embody a greater understanding of the natural world than do observations. Without theories to explain and integrate them, facts become collections of unrelated observations. Evolutionary theory is a comprehensive explanation that integrates facts from many different areas of science.
It has proven tremendously successful in explaining the basis for observed phenomena and in allowing scientists to make predictions based on existing data. In science, an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed. A testable statement about the natural world that can be used to build more complex inferences and explanations.
In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.
- Empirical evidence
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- DOES THE EMPIRICAL NATURE OF SCIENCE CONTRADICT THE REVELATORY NATURE OF FAITH?
It is straightforward to imagine how holding either absolutist or relativist epistemologies could lead to a distorted view of the nature of science. For example, Carey and Smith point out that many students do not understand that science is primarily a theory-building enterprise. They may learn about observation, hypotheses, and experiment from their science textbooks, but they rarely understand that theories underlie these activities and are responsible for both the generation and interpretation of both hypotheses and experiments.
The commonsense epistemology that young students typically hold is unreflective; to the extent that they think about it at all, children often think of knowledge as stemming directly from sensory experience, even though they do know that some knowledge is inferred rather than observed Sodian and Wimmer,and they are even aware that the same object may be interpreted differently by different observers Taylor, Cartwright, and Bowden, Like the absolutists described in the developmental psychology literature, they tend to regard differences in conclusions or observations as being due to lack of information or misinformation, rather than legitimate differences in perspective or interpretation.
For this reason, Kitchener and King argue students fail to understand that controversy is a part of science and that authorities are deemed, by definition, to share a common set of true beliefs. We suggest, however, an additional factor that may explain this finding, but that is not considered in this body of research.
Children are rarely taught about controversy in science, so why would they come to view scientific knowledge as contested? Many children regarded models merely as copies of the world, a Level 1 perspective. Finally, in Level 3 epistemology, models were regarded as tools developed for the purpose of testing theories. Similarly, Driver et al. The reasoning considered at the lowest level was reasoning grounded in phenomena; at the next, empirical reasoning based on relationships between variables; and finally, the highest level was reasoning that uses imagined models.
Like the Carey and Unger studies, Driver et al. Much of this research literature suggests that K-8 students have a limited understanding of how scientific knowledge is constructed. However, it is not clear to what extent one can attribute such limitations to developmental stage, as opposed to adequacy of instructional opportunity or other experiences. In the words of Carey and Smithp. First, in what sense are these levels developmental? Second and distinctlydo these levels provide barriers to grasping a constructivist epistemology if such is made the target of the science education?
As noted in other chapters, in the upper elementary school years, the process of scientific knowledge construction is typically represented as experiment, with negligible acknowledgment of the role of interpretation or, more generally, the active role of the scientist in the process of knowledge construction. In the early grades, the typical emphasis on description of phenomenology through the basic science process skills of observation, categorization, measurement, etc.
In the same vein, science aspires to construct conceptual structures, with robust explanatory and predictive power, yet this is seldom either explicit or implicit in the K-8 science curriculum.
According to Roseman, Kesidou, Stern, and Caldwellauthors of the AAAS report, the science texts evaluated by AAAS included many classroom activities that either were irrelevant to learning key science ideas or failed to help students relate their activitiy to science ideas.
Science curriculum has long been criticized as reflecting an impoverished and misleading model of science as a way of knowing e. Although there are notable exceptions to this pattern, most K-8 curricula would appear to at least exacerbate the epistemological shortcomings with which children enter school. In the words of Reif and Larkinp. The epistemic cognition literature has documented shortcomings in students at all levels of study, including college and beyond.
It is not surprising that shortcomings in the understanding of science as a way of knowing have been identified in K-8 teachers. A small literature of classroom-based design studies indicates that these limitations may be at least to some degree ameliorable by instruction. With appropriate supports for learning strategies of investigation, children can generate meaningful scientific questions and design and conduct productive scientific investigations e.
For example, in the small elementary school in which she was the lone science teacher, Gertrude Hennessey was able to systematically focus the lessons on core ideas built cumulatively across grades In another example, students showed improved understanding of the process of modeling after they engaged in the task of designing a model that works like a human elbow Penner et al.
In this study, students in first and second grade in two classrooms participated in a model-building task over three consecutive 1-hour sessions.
They began by discussing different types of models they had previously seen or made. They considered the characteristics of those models, and how models are used for understanding phenomena.
They were then introduced to the task of designing a model that functions like their elbow. After discussing how their own elbows work, children worked in pairs or triads to design and build models that illustrated the functional aspects of the human elbow.
After generating an initial model, each group demonstrated and explained their model to the class followed by discussion of the various models. Students were then given an opportunity to modify their models or start over.