Wednesday, August 23, 2006

In Search of Knowledge

What is the point of philosophy?

We are unable to scientifically theorize or theologically test, any proposal regarding such an origin without the rigor of philosophical speculation. If part of the scientific and theological enterprises includes rigorous philosophy, Christians should learn to get it right so that responsible philosophy can discipline both science and theology (theology is the academic discipline of the devotional practice called religion.) Christian theology has been drawn into the discussion because the new apologetic is to explain the Church’s creedal proclamations as an act of public accountability.

The natural sciences are the arts of collecting relevant evidence to support or reject the hypothesis of a theory. We observe the universe and conclude that everything is energy-matter. We construct observatories and build computers to measure, quantify and analyze the different data about the forms of energy-matter. We interpret this data to develop theories that make predictions for further data gathering that can be applied to other theories in a loop of inquiry: the theories we construct determine the kind of data we will obtain, which determines the kinds of theories we can affirm. This loop is a self-selecting mechanism for discovery. In a sense, one can discover what one is looking for. To counter this bias, the predictions must be logical and are tested against a hypothesis to allow us to reject it if it no longer can be modified to fit the incoming data. The modern sciences have approached and crossed the boundaries into philosophy and theology. Science can help theology side-step dead ends and implausible conclusions, for e.g., affirming that the notion of ‘the four corners of the earth’ is not to be understood literally after Col. Yuri Gagarin’s flight around the earth.

What is a natural phenomenon? The scientific presumption is that life is a natural outcome of the evolution of cosmic matter. This is to be expected because science is in the business of explaining natural phenomena. What then is a natural phenomenon? It is one that appears to be scientifically explicable. This is obviously a tautology. A process is natural if it can be scientifically explained and a scientific explanation of a process means it must be a natural phenomenon. This means that if a phenomenon cannot be explained by science, it may not be a natural phenomenon and conversely, if a phenomenon is supernatural, it cannot be explained scientifically. So how can we tell if a phenomenon is natural or not if it cannot be scientifically explained by science? It is convenient to then add that even phenomena that cannot presently be explained by science may in the future be, so it ought not to be considered supernatural phenomena. By this account, no phenomena can truly be considered supernatural because time has not yet run out.

Christian theology is a second-order source of knowledge that attempts to reconcile its reflections with the evidential inferences of the sciences. Both fields of inquiry are shaped by philosophical commitments.

What has the Genesis account or the first article of the Apostles’ Creed on the creation of the heavens and the earth to do with the origin of the universe, of life and of the human mind? Can divine proclamation cause the emergence of energy-matter, animate matter and lead to self-awareness? Read on

No comments: