Archive for the ‘science requires faith in induction’ Category

Unless Nature always goes on in the same way, the fact that things had happened ten million times would not make it a whit more probable that it would happen again

November 11, 2009

Unless Nature always goes on in the same way, the fact that things had happened ten million times would not make it a whit more probable that it would happen again. And how could we know the Uniformity of Nature? A moment’s thought shows that we do not know it by experience. We observe many regularities in Nature. But of course all the observations that men have made or will make while the race lasts cover only a minute fraction of the events that actually go on. Our observations would therefore be of no use unless we felt sure that Nature when we are not watching her behaves in the same way as when we are: in other words, unless we believe in the Uniformity of Nature. Experience therefore cannot prove uniformity, because uniformity has to assume before experience proves anything. And mere length of experience does not help matters. It is no good saying, ‘Each fresh experience confirms our belief in the uniformity and therefore we reasonably expect that it will always be conformed;’ for that argument works only on the assumption that the future will resemble the past – which is simply the assumption of Uniformity under a new name.

C.S. Lewis, Miracles, 1959, p. 123

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Science draws upon…the idea that we live in a world which has been ordered in a rational way, by a lawgiver, that there is a lawlike order in nature which is imposed from above

October 5, 2009

Science draws upon…the idea that we live in a world which has been ordered in a rational way, by a lawgiver, that there is a lawlike order in nature which is imposed from above.

Most cultures do not share that view…nature is a battle-ground, capricious, a tension..Galileo, like many of the early scientists was deeply religious…The motivation for doing science was this belief that there really is a scheme of things that can be discerned through experimentation. If he had not believed that, he would never have embarked upon science…It was usual to say man was created in God’s image…the human mind reflected in some diminished way God’s power, so there was an intellectual basis to nature.

Source unknown

Behind and permeating all our scientific activity, whether in critical analysis or discovery, there is an elemental, overwhelming faith in the rational constitution of things, but faith also in the possibility of grasping the real world with our concepts

October 5, 2009

Behind and permeating all our scientific activity, whether in critical analysis or discovery, there is an elemental, overwhelming faith in the rational constitution of things, but faith also in the possibility of grasping the real world with our concepts, and above all faith in the truth over which we have no control but in the service of which our rationality stands or falls. Faith and intrinsic rationality are interlocked with one another… Science does not operate from an axiomatic set of formally defined and verified propositions, as the positivists claim, but from ultimate informal assumptions which cannot be proved or refuted and which cannot be completely formalized, yet without implicit reliance on them would be no scientific knowledge at all. As examples of these ultimate assumptions we may refer to belief in truth or belief in the lawfulness of nature, neither of which we could prove for we would have to assume them in any attempted proof, but both of them are nevertheless all determining constituents in our fundamental frame of belief, affecting the entire shape and scope of our scientific activities and their results as well, Hence Polanyi insisted that the premises of science on which all its inquiry rests are the beliefs held by scientists on the intelligible nature of reality independent of themselves and its capacity to disclose itself in an indeterminate range of yet unknown and perhaps even unthinkable ways. Far from being subjective or irrational these beliefs have to do with the structural kinship between the knowing subject and the objective reality he seeks to know, and they arise in his mind as intuitive convictions which he cannot reasonably avoid for they are thrust upon him as elemental aspects of reality pressing for realization in his understanding.

Thomas F. Torrance, Christian Theology of Scientific Culture, Oxford University Press, New York, 1981, pp. 63-66

the existence of the God of Christian theism and the conception of his counsel as controlling all things in the universe is the only presupposition which can account for the uniformity of nature which the scientist needs

October 5, 2009

Says A. E. Taylor in discussing the question of the uniformity of nature, “The fundamental thought of modern science, at any rate until yesterday, was that there is a ‘universal reign of law’ throughout nature. Nature is rational in the sense that it has everywhere a coherent pattern which we can progressively detect by the steady application of our own intelligence to the scrutiny of natural processes. Science has been built up all along on the basis of this principle of the ‘uniformity of nature,’ and the principle is one which science itself has no means of demonstrating. No one could possibly prove its truth to an opponent who seriously disputed it. For all attempts to produce ‘evidence’ for the ‘uniformity of nature’ themselves presuppose the very principle they are intended to prove.” Our argument as over against this would be that the existence of the God of Christian theism and the conception of his counsel as controlling all things in the universe is the only presupposition which can account for the uniformity of nature which the scientist needs. But the best and only possible proof for the existence of such a God is that his existence is required for the uniformity of nature and for the coherence of all things in the world. We cannot prove the existence of beams underneath a floor if by proof we mean that they must be ascertainable in the way that we can see the chairs and tables of the room. But the very idea of a floor as the support of tables and chairs requires the idea of beams that are underneath. But there would be no floor if no beams were underneath. Thus there is absolutely certain proof for the existence of God and the truth of Christian theism. Even non-Christians presuppose its truth while they verbally reject it. They need to presuppose the truth of Christian theism in order to account for their own accomplishments.

Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 103, emphasis added.

science is not religion and it doesn’t just come down to faith. Although it has many of religion’s virtues, it has none of its vices. Science is based upon verifiable evidence

October 4, 2009

…science is not religion and it doesn’t just come down to faith. Although it has many of religion’s virtues, it has none of its vices. Science is based upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops. Why else would Christians wax critical of doubting Thomas? The other apostles are held up to us as exemplars of virtue because faith was enough for them. Doubting Thomas, on the other hand, required evidence. Perhaps he should be the patron saint of scientists.

Richard Dawkins,

Is Science a Religion?,

the Humanist, January/February 1997

1. But the other apostles did have evidence. They saw Jesus’ miracles, the empty tomb, his resurrection, hte testimony of others to the same events.

2. Thomas was not criticised because he asked for evidence. He was criticised for lacking faith when he had so much evidence. He had the testimony of the other 10 apostles; he had seen Jesus’ miracles; he had heard the testimony of the empty tomb etc.

3. Science does rest on faith: faith in induction, a uniform, ordered, law-governed universe, uniformitarianism, the reliability of the senses, the reliability and credibility of scientists etc. Dawkins overlooks these ‘minor’ matters.

Laws of Nature are observed regularities only

September 7, 2009

(a false assumption is that) the so-called ‘laws of nature’ state what must always necessarily occur. They are regarded as ontological entities which determine the course of nature on the supposition that ‘an observed regularity in events is somehow also an observed immutable necessity’ (H.H. Farmer). laws of nature, however, are mental concepts, not ontological entities. They are generalizations made on the basis of the observation of certain regularities in the events which have happened hitherto in the phenomenal world.

R.Abba, Nature and Authority of the Bible, p.156

The (reasonable) faith of the scientist

August 17, 2009

Science believes in the regularity of nature an it is rooted in this belief as firmly as a religious belief is rooted in a system of religion.

German physicist G.F. Weizsäcker replying to Martin Heidegger that science requires belief in the regularity of nature as fondational in  way similar to religious belief.