Monday, August 25, 2008

Christ on Campus Initiative

The third essay in Christ on Campus Initiative’s series is by Kirsty Birkett, "I Believe in Nature: An Exploration of Naturalism and the Biblical Worldview."

The CCI web page states, "The editorial team, led by D.A. Carson, commissions top evangelical scholars to oversee the creation and distribution of a variety of resources for university students. The goal of these resources is that they be intellectually rigorous, culturally relevant, persuasive in argument and faithful to historic, evangelical Christianity."

Here is a segment of Kirstry Birkett's essay.

Now what relevance does this have to accepting a scientific explanation of the universe over a religious one? When "science" is spoken of as explaining life, the universe, and everything, we are no longer talking about a particular technical triumph. By a "scientific" explanation of the universe, people mean one which does not use God as part of the explanation of how the universe, or we, came to be here. It means an explanation that is entirely naturalistic, with no sense of purpose or intelligent intention. This is a philosophical position—if you like, a metaphysical one. This meaning of "science" in "science explains the universe" is very different from the meaning of "science" in "science got us to the moon." But we have experienced a clever slide of meaning here. The "science" that "got us to the moon" was very successful in its own terms, and this success is transferred over to the "science" that gives an explanation of the universe. But naturalistic philosophy has not displayed the kind of success that moon-going calculations did. It does not deserve the attribution of success that moon-goingness does. The kind of success that the moon project achieved is almost entirely irrelevant to a philosophy that aims to explain the universe naturalistically. It is an entirely different kind of project.

We need to be more careful about using and understanding these terms. We will try, then, to tease out some of the different ways in which "science" is understood. This has an even deeper level of complexity, for not only is the word used in different ways in common language, but ever since "science" began there has been an ongoing philosophical debate about what the definition of "science" should be. This debate has continued up to the present, as some of the traditionally accepted meanings of "science" have come under close scrutiny. We will try to interweave these two discussions by looking at the different ways in which the word "science" is understood and then at some of the debates over that particular aspect of science.

Read the whole essay.

2 comments:

Curt and Lalia Kregness said...

The link to Birkett's article has changed to the following: http://www.henrycenter.org/media/cci/2008/birkett.pdf

A. B. Caneday said...

Thanks for the correction.