Vincent Cheung #fundie

(Figures that he's a presuppositionalist, seeing how van Til, the one who founded the idea, was also a Calvinist.)

Some Christians attempt to defend the faith with scientific arguments, such as those based on physics, biology, and archaeology. Along with the unbelievers they assume the reliability of science and attempt to "do science" better than the unbelievers can. If what I am saying is correct – that is, if what Paul is saying is correct – then of course we are able to do science better than the unbelievers, since Christians possess presuppositions that correspond to reality, that tell us the truth about God and his creation.

That said, the scientific method itself precludes the knowledge of truth, so that even with the correct presuppositions, science is totally unable to discover or describe the nature of reality. As Ronald W. Clark writes, "Contemplation of first principles progressively occupied Einstein's attention," and in such a context, he quotes Einstein as saying, "We know nothing about it at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren....the real nature of things, that we shall never know, never." Of course, he could speak only for science and not revelation.

Karl Popper, who has produced a number of works on the philosophy of science, writes as follows:

Although in science we do our best to find the truth, we are conscious of the fact that we can never be sure whether we have got it....In science there is no "knowledge," in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth....Einstein declared that his theory was false – he said that it would be a better approximation to the truth than Newton's, but he gave reasons why he would not, even if all predictions came out right, regard it as a true theory.

Scientists conduct multiple experiments to test a hypothesis. If observation is reliable, then why do they need more than one experiment? If observation is less than reliable, then how many experiments are enough? Who decides? [...]

The probability of drawing the correct curve (about experiments determining the exact boiling point of water, taking into account minutely different observations) is one over infinity, which equals zero. Therefore, there is a zero probability that any scientific law can be true. This means that it is impossible for science to ever accurately describe anything about reality. Thus Popper writes, "It can even be shown that all theories, including the best, have the same probability, namely zero." [...]

Scientists, of course, attempt to get around [affirming the consequent] by having "controlled" experiments, but they are faced again with an infinite number of things that may affect each experiment. How do they know what variables must be controlled? By other experiments that affirm the consequent, or by observation, which we have shown to be unreliable?

Bertrand Russell was a celebrated mathematician, logician, philosopher, and wrote much against the Christian religion. So he was not attempting to endorse Christianity when he wrote:

All inductive arguments in the last resort reduce themselves to the following form: "If this is true, that is true: now that is true, therefore this is true." This argument is, of course, formally fallacious. Suppose I were to say: "If bread is a stone and stones are nourishing, then this bread will nourish me; now this bread does nourish me; therefore it is a stone, and stones are nourishing." If I were to advance such an argument, I should certainly be thought foolish, yet it would not be fundamentally different from the argument upon which all scientific laws are based.

Yet many who speak this way refuse to draw the logical conclusion that all science is irrational and without justification.

Most people feel compelled to respect science because of the practical success that it appears to achieve; however, we have noted that affirming the consequent may yield results but not truths. Remember what Popper said about Einstein: "He would not, even if all predictions came out right, regard it as a true theory." The typical college student would disagree, but the typical college student is not Einstein. Accordingly, although science sometimes achieve practical ends, it has no authority to make pronouncements concerning the nature of reality. If the scientist does not know his place, an informed believer should not hesitate to put him back in his place. Theology is the ruling intellectual discipline, not science.



So were we! You can find all of this, and more, on Fundies Say the Darndest Things!

To post a comment, you'll need to Sign in or Register. Making an account also allows you to claim credit for submitting quotes, and to vote on quotes and comments. You don't even need to give us your email address.