If you are struggling to understand the relationship between science, Christianity, and secularism like I am, I wholeheartedly recommend J.P. Moreland’s book, Christianity and the Nature of Science: a Philosophical Investigation. Here are a few important takeaways:
- Scientists and philosophers of science disagree about the definition of science. Is science scientific realism, scientific antirealism, inductivism, phenomenalism, operationalism, pragmatism, instrumentalism, or nonrational nonrealism? J.P. Moreland, for example, holds to a combination of scientific realism for problems like cosmology and antirealism for problems like quantum physics. Are there such things as natural laws pointing to unseen realities, or are scientific equations really untrue but useful approximations of natural phenomena? When people justify a claim with the statement “because science” what does that even mean considering there are so many different positions? Christians and secular humanists naively assume scientific realism in their arguments, but scientific realism is not the only option available.
- Science is intimately connected to philosophy. I wrote another piece about that here. “What is science?” is a philosophical question. One of the biggest weaknesses with American public school education today is that science is naively viewed as a discipline severed from philosophy. Or, more dishonestly, materialist philosophers combine their philosophy with science and then say science has no relationship to philosophy. If American schools are serious about reform, they must start teaching history of science and philosophy of science courses.
- Scientism or scientific imperialism is a philosophy that is self-refuting and undermines science. See J.P. Moreland’s argument here. Basically, the statement “scientific knowledge is the only knowledge that is rational” is a philosophical statement; therefore this statement presupposes that philosophical knowledge is rational in addition to scientific knowledge; therefore the statement “scientific knowledge is the only knowledge that is rational” is false and self-refuting. Philosophy is inescapable.
After reading this book, if you are still a scientific realist, you will have a healthy appreciation for the antirealist arguments. (You will be a scientific realist “chastened” by antirealism).