Appeals to Scientific Authority

Boy, you guys have been tearing it up in the discussion department lately!  It’s been a lot of fun spectating the various conversations, and interjecting a point here and there.  I love this sort of thing!  Thank you all for adding legitimacy to my blog by lending your time, efforts and points of view — and, above all, for keeping it civil (may this serve as a friendly reminder to all — I think a good rereading of this community’s ideals and guidelines would be beneficial for everyone) 😉

One of the things that has come up in these discussions seems to be the extent to which we should trust scientific authority.  The question was specifically brought up in the context of dating methods to determine the age of the earth.  After being posed the question by Ark, Nathanael replied with an explanation of his reluctance to trust the word of scientists when he hasn’t himself come to a reasonably coherent understanding of their methodology.  At one point he states: (more…)

Scientism (Part 3)

I’d like to conclude (for now) the discussion on scientism.  (If you wish, you may read Part 1 or Part 2.)  Pending any objections, I think a solid case has been made that, for those who wish to take seriously the debate about God’s existence, relying solely on scientific evidence isn’t going to cut the mustard; there must be a place for non-scientific, subjective evidence to play a part in the discussion.  And, from that point, I’d like to discuss the question left unanswered from the last post:

What does subjective evidence tell us about the existence of God?


Scientism (Part 2)

We left the discussion in Part 1 in a difficult position, I think:

  1. There are two types of information: objective (scientific) and subjective (non-scientific).
  2. Objective information is, on the whole, much more reliable — but because of its limited scope, it cannot tell us definitively whether God exists or not.
  3. If we wish to explore seriously the question of God’s existence (which means we must go beyond the bounds of science), then we are left only with subjective evidence, which is, as a rule, less reliable than objective evidence.

What, then, are we to do?


Scientism (Part 1)

I wanted to start the ball rolling by discussing a philosophy that, in my experience, tends to stymie the discussion about the existence of God — and that is scientism.

The way I see it, scientism is a sort of “silent killer” of robust theological discussion, because it’s a bias that seems often to be taken for granted as being true — and, as such, tends to float under the radar, eluding the kind of direct scrutiny that I believe it deserves. Those that hold to it often don’t seem to recognize that they have, in fact, adopted a theoretical world-view, but instead seem to view it as a self-evident truth — and this, I think, makes it difficult for such a one to have real, meaningful discussions about God. I am generally distrustful of any philosophy that inherently and automatically discounts competing philosophies out of hand — and scientism, I believe, is one such philosophy.