Is science religiously neutral?

by caseybedell

Philosophers of science like Kuhn and Polanyi have demonstrated that science, like most disciplines, operate within specific paradigms that are accepted by communities.  These communities work within that paradigm, collectively agreeing on specific theories, applications and instruments. In other words, science has its own set of rules, language, criteria, presuppositions and commitments. No duh, right.

Well the problem is, scientific communities often assume that their paradigm is “the paradigm.”  Sound familiar? Religious communities have been hearing this sort of stuff for centuries.  One communities dogma that differs from another communities dogma, it is the stuff of religion.

As well, as Hume and G.E. Moore pointed out long ago, there are certain things we cannot get out of observation (e.g. deriving ought from is), which therefore makes science a limited discipline.  So there are certain types of knowledge it can provide and certain types of knowledge it cannot provide.

In the end, if scientist and perhaps religious fanatics could self-consciously acknowledge the insights from Kuhn, Polanyi and Hume they could both help foster a much more amicable dialogue between religion and science.  Of course, as a Christian, I do think the Bible tells the truth.  Does it depend on a community?  Well that depends on which community.  One is human and the other is Trinitarian.

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