Monday, February 26, 2007


Dominic J. Balestra on 'Science and Religion'

I present, for your interest, a series of quotes from Professor of Philosophy (Fordham University, New York) Dominic J. Balestra's paper on 'Science and Religion' from Brian Davies OP (ed.), Philosophy of Religion: A Guide to the Subject, (Continuumm, 2003):

'...the last twenty-five years of scientific discussions about origins, and the new, post-Kuhnian philosophy of science, present a significantly transformed context... it removes an old barrier (the hard demarcation) between science and theology and, thereby, clears a way for new avenues of exchange between these disciplines... [we live in] a time when the results of science in cosmology and biochemistry have produced findings salutary to religion, and philosophy of science has removed old walls of separation... Because certain types of explanations (for example, moral duty as an explanation for someone's behaviour) are ruled out of science for methodological reasons, it does not follow that such explanations tout court do not contribute to our understanding. Nonetheless, they [i.e. such methodological strictures] rule out any other kind of explanation, metaphysical or theological, of astronomical origins or of biochemical mechanism or of evolutionary development. In general, such scientistic thinking illustrates what the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead has described as "the fallacy of misplaced concreteness." The issue of scientism stands in a critical intellectual juncture between science and theology... Nonetheless, it is a fact that some results of the latest scientific cosmology has ignited an astonishing discussion among physicists, philosophers and theologians... Most philosophers of science have abandoned the quest for demarcation...'

In other words, scientistic folk may exclude intelligent design from science by errecting philosophical rules of exclusion, but most philosophers of science recognize such rules as being merely arbitrary rules that do nothing but get in the way of pursuing the truth about reality. Scientistic demarcation criteria should not prevent us from following the evidence from cosmology and biochemistry when it points in the direction of desgin, even if the other side of the elephant marked 'intelligent design' might be marked 'God.'

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