Behind Science

Science and religion have been sparring partners for a few centuries now, and I believe this is a generational conflict.  The child, science, arguing with the parent, religion.  You see, religion is all about worldview.  As secular as secular scientists declare themselves to be, their worldview was likely formed by their religious heritage.  Religion can’t be teased out of culture.  Here in the western world modern science was born in a fully Christianized cultural landscape.  That’s not to say that Judaism and Islam didn’t contribute, but European culture was based on some basic Christian ideals.  Creatio ex nihilo, for one—creation out of nothing.  Another aspect is that Occam’s razor accounts for the world we see.  This was a philosophical concept born of the Christian worldview.  And the list could go on and on.

Scientists, focusing on their specializations, generally don’t sit back to think about the origins of their basic cultural presuppositions.  Many of them came directly from their religion.  Ever since college I’ve tended to think back to presuppositions, and question them.  How do we know we know?  Epistemology is as useful as it is disturbing.  And if we discover that the basis for what we know was locked into a worldview we can no longer accept, what does that say about the underpinning method?  Our science is based on the idea that the world is rational because a benevolent deity wouldn’t make it absurd.  Would he?  And why are we still referring to the deity as a male?  Indeed, we still think of him as a human.

It’s difficult to get beyond our basic cultural propositions.  Religions such a Buddhism promote the idea that change is the only constant, yet the science in countries of the east is borrowed from the concepts of the west and its monotheistic sub-structure.  We tend to think that if humans can’t sense it, and quantify it, it doesn’t exist.  So it is that many scientists become atheists, but without perhaps questioning the cultural presuppositions that have led to the scientific outlook in the first place.  Some will go as far as saying philosophy is a waste of time when philosophy is the framework of all rational thinking.  And that’s not to forget that there’s emotional thinking as well.  The big picture is complicated by philosophers writing in lingo that the rest of us can’t understand.  And even they have presuppositions.  Maybe it’s time for me to go back to school and examine them again.

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