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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Is scientific knowledge the only legitimate kind of knowledge?

A recent paper by an Ian Hutchinson argues against scientism, which, he says, is ". . . the belief that science is all the real knowledge there is." Hutchinson says that not only atheists have such a belief, but that it may be found, alive and well, among Christians, and, he writes, most people who have such a presupposition do not say that they do, or, probably, even realize that they have it.

There are, unfortunately, a few typos in the paper, but I found it worth reading, and, I believe, basically correct. It is eight pages in length, rather large type, including one page of references.

Thanks for reading. Read Hutchinson.

9 comments:

atlibertytosay said...

Very interesting ...

I have a problem with those that think science / biblical science are not one in the same.

Science can often be interpreted differently with the same data by different scientists analyzing said data. The Bible is interpreted many ways by many people not only intuitively but imperative to its purpose.

I would argue that the purpose of the study of science s the same as studying the bible - to learn, to change, to understand, to live better because of the knowledge.

There are lots of the things in the Bible that are concrete that are restrictive to morals but without question cause dire consequence and harm. (stealing, lying, adultery, etc)

There's lots of concrete scientific evidence that is restrictive of morals that also causes dire consequences and harm. (inbreeding)

The instance of inbreeding is both biblical and scientific. The instance of lying, stealing, adultery are proven by example and data to have dire consequence for those involved and to society as a whole. The "extra consequences" the Bible throws into the mix? Eternity and favor with God.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, atlibertytosay.

I agree with much of what you said, but would have to disagree about "biblical science." This disagreement is probably a matter of definition, so I'll try to define, or at least describe, what I mean by "science." Science is one way of obtaining knowledge, but not all kinds of knowledge. Science, as I see it, relies on repeatable observations and experiments. Religion relies to a considerable degree on subjective experience. It's not the only field of human endeavor that does not rely principally on repeatable observations and experiments.

Thanks again.

atlibertytosay said...

How is "dating" thousands of years or millions observable in science though?

It is theorized through repitition as you said, but not observable.

How is interspecies evolution observable?

How are star distances known?

(note about above: some creationists believe in a lens theory and reject the big bang)

To me, it seems most of science as it relates to origins both human and geological aren't science they are subjective as well.

With the exception if what I said in this post, I think we are mostly on the same page.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks again, atlibertytosay.

Radioactive dating uses repeated compared observations of the isotope levels in various rocks. I am not a geologist, nor an expert in radioactive dating. But the RATE project, undertaken by three of the leading young-earth creationist organizations, concluded that there was not bias toward an old earth in the methods used. The young-earth creationist scientists of the RATE project claim, instead, that the rate of radioactive decay has not been constant, but varied greatly at various times in the past. (A claim which is taken with great suspicion by others, as you can imagine! Also one which is difficult or impossible to show experimentally.) See here
if you are interested in more about this.

Origin of new types of organisms by descent (nor deposition of the layers of rocks) was not observed as it happened, except for a few cases. But it is possible to observe the appearance, the internal structure, the biochemistry, the chromosomes, and the DNA of organisms, and compare them between types of organisms, and a lot of this has been done.

I would disagree with you that the science indicating that the earth is very old is subjective, if I understand what you mean by that word.

Sorry.

Pete D said...

atlibertytosay - radiometric dating is a very reliable method and there happen to be several radioisotopes with appropriate half-lives for dating similar time scales. These produce consistent dating of the materials that contain them. For shorter timescales, there are other dating methods that confirm the accuracy of radiometric dating (e.g. tree rings, ice cores, and carbon dating). The observables are the final concentration of radioisotopes in many samples from a common formation and the rate of decay of particular isotopes.

Interspecies evolution has been observed several times as well. Here's a quick starting point with references located therein http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciation

There is no young universe cosmology (or any cosmology other than the Standard Cosmological Model) that accounts for the data from COBE, WMAP, temperature of stars, concentration of isotopes, etc. that are observed in the universe. Regardless of what others believe, the universe is old...billions of years old.

To me, it seems that most of what you think you know about science as it relates to origins both human and geological isn't the actual science at all.

Martin LaBar said...

I was e-mailed (standard automatic Blogger practice) a comment from Pete D. It's not here, for some reason.

It basically backed up my comment above. If it doesn't show, I'll copy it here.

Thanks, Pete D.

Martin LaBar said...

Here's the e-mail, which was supposed to be the same as a comment previously made:

Pete D has left a new comment on your post "Is scientific knowledge the only legitimate kind o...":

atlibertytosay - radiometric dating is a very reliable method and there happen to be several radioisotopes with appropriate half-lives for dating similar time scales. These produce consistent dating of the materials that contain them. For shorter timescales, there are other dating methods that confirm the accuracy of radiometric dating (e.g. tree rings, ice cores, and carbon dating). The observables are the final concentration of radioisotopes in many samples from a common formation and the rate of decay of particular isotopes.

Interspecies evolution has been observed several times as well. Here's a quick starting point with references located therein http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciation

There is no young universe cosmology (or any cosmology other than the Standard Cosmological Model) that accounts for the data from COBE, WMAP, temperature of stars, concentration of isotopes, etc. that are observed in the universe. Regardless of what others believe, the universe is old...billions of years old.

To me, it seems that most of what you think you know about science as it relates to origins both human and geological isn't the actual science at all.



I have no idea why the comment didn't show up. This is the first time this has happened to me in about six years of blogging. Oh, well. Thanks, Pete D.

Pete D said...

Thanks Martin. I might have closed the window before it finished posting. I'm not sure.

Martin LaBar said...

Beats me, Pete D!