Author Topic: Faith vs. Science  (Read 774 times)

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Faith vs. Science
« on: January 03, 2019, 09:46:59 AM »
Responses to the charge the Church (or the Bible, etc.) contradicts science generally fall into the following three categories.  I'll state them then critique them from a Catholic point of view. 

1) Insist that the Church is right, no matter what science may have to say or how firm its conclusions using its proper methodology, because theology, and a fortiori Divine revelation, is superior to the natural sciences as a source of knowledge.

2) Say that, while natural science can provide knowledge about the present (it's why we can build airplanes and MRI machines that work) it cannot provide knowledge about the past, and therefore cannot contradict the Church about what happened in the past.

3) Claim that scientists are wrong and that science actually supports what the Church claims, using science's own proper methodology.


1) is true as far as it goes and worthwhile for keeping believers in the fold but is hopeless from an apologetic point of view.  Apologetics attempts to convince one that faith is at least probably true, if not morally certain, using reason.  But here we would have faith contradicting what one could be morally certain of via other means.  (Since I know this will be brought up, miracles are not a counter-argument.  Science cannot say miracles are impossible and therefore didn't happen, only that they are impossible to predict using scientific methodology.)  This would make the assent of faith essentially irrational for one who doesn't already have it.  Thus, 1) entails fideism, which is OK for Protestant faith but unacceptable for Catholicism.

2) is however only a half-truth.  It depends on what assumptions are brought into the picture.  Crimes are solved, for instance, using forensic evidence such as DNA, and paternity can be determined using DNA, etc., so clearly the blanket claim that science can provide no knowledge about the past is false.  The key assumption is whether physical laws remain the same, or whether they can change.  If they remain the same (as we assume for heredity of DNA), then clearly we can obtain knowledge about the past by simply running the clock backward.  On the other hand, if physical laws are merely something external arbitrarily willed by God upon the universe, then yes different laws could be willed at different times.  But Thomism will insist that physical laws result from the nature of things (e.g. they are intrinsic and not external to them) and therefore could only change if the nature of things themselves changed, which would be an "evolutionism" much more radical than even the most diehard materialist.  And Thomism (as much as I disagree with it on some things) rightly insists on this, otherwise God is voluntarist and arbitrary; moreover, there simply is no such thing as a rational proof of God resulting from the nature of created things, for there is now no such thing as the nature of created things properly speaking (everything every created thing has, including its "nature", is just something arbitrarily willed by God).  And a voluntarist God is OK for Protestantism (many branches explicitly preach this) as well as a fideist faith, but unacceptable for Catholics.

I will divide 3) between the YEC and the ID approach.  Relevant for YEC it entails the denial of 2) (which most YECs don't seem to realize); either science can say something about the past (assuming constancy of physical laws) or it cannot.  Now, if it cannot, then you cannot (for instance) use the complexity of a cell to argue against the possibility of abiogenesis or use irreducible complexity and the fitness landscape to argue against complex systems appearing via random mutations or use the absence of transitional fossils as evidence against gradual evolution at some time in the past, but only in the present, since chemistry and biology might have been vastly different in the past.  But if you assume constancy of physical laws you cannot argue "accelerated nuclear decay" as an explanation for mother-daughter isotope ratios and a young earth.  IOW 3) wants to have its cake and eat it too which is why it is not credible as a complete answer.  The ID folks, on the other hand, do assume constancy of physical laws and have had some success with information-theoretic type arguments about complexity of the cell and fitness landscape arguments about the limits of random mutation and so on.  But all they can score with this is a philosophic triumph and refutation over materialistic presuppositions or conclusions of scientists, which are not necessitated by the science itself.  Thus, they don't refute the science as such; they readily admit the empirical conclusions of science (such as common descent and an old earth, etc.) could be correct exactly as they are, with just a designer either having front-loaded the information at the Big Bang or introducing it into the universe over time via mechanisms such as guided mutations.

So I think I'm going to have to reject all these and instead hold to:

4) There is a true and real reconciliation between faith and science, though we haven't found it yet.

 
The following users thanked this post: Xavier

Offline Sempronius

  • Korporal
  • **
  • Posts: 453
  • Thanked: 228 times
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2019, 10:00:33 AM »
I would like to know more about number 2 (the problems that that option entails)

Is it unreasonable to say that God made Mount Everest in 3 minutes? How would that affect the physical laws?
 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2019, 11:07:35 AM »
I would like to know more about number 2 (the problems that that option entails)

Is it unreasonable to say that God made Mount Everest in 3 minutes? How would that affect the physical laws?

Yes, it is unreasonable, for there is more to consider regarding miracles than just God's power (which everyone agrees is capable of creating Mt. Everest in 3 minutes or 3 nanoseconds).

The very concept of a miracle (which is a one-off violation of physical law) presupposes the existence of physical laws intrinsic to creatures in the first place.  If physical "laws" are just the arbitrary will of God, and there is really no such thing as creatures acting according to their own nature properly speaking, then there are no miracles strictly speaking either, just variations from what the will of God usually is.  So miracles don't affect physical laws per se; they are just violations of them. 

Of course, the question is how and why we would think a miracle has or has not occurred.  When we have a plausible natural explanation for something, we cannot say to absolute, apodictic certainty that a miracle has not occurred (and science never gives absolute certainty, just moral certainty anyway; we don't have absolute, metaphysical certainty that what we have characterized as physical laws and regularities really are such).  But it is nevertheless unreasonable to think that it did.

Ontologically, it isn't reasonable to postulate God performing a miracle 1) without a specific purpose and 2) a purpose that couldn't be obtained via natural means.  Again, this is an arbitrary, voluntarist God Who intervenes in His creation without rhyme or reason.

Epistemologically, it isn't reasonable to posit a violation of physical laws without a good reason to think they were violated.  Sure, God's power could have created Mt. Everest in three minutes, but that does not constitute a good reason to think that He did, when we have a perfectly good natural explanation for creations of mountains.


 

Offline Sempronius

  • Korporal
  • **
  • Posts: 453
  • Thanked: 228 times
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2019, 11:34:16 AM »
I would like to know more about number 2 (the problems that that option entails)

Is it unreasonable to say that God made Mount Everest in 3 minutes? How would that affect the physical laws?

Yes, it is unreasonable, for there is more to consider regarding miracles than just God's power (which everyone agrees is capable of creating Mt. Everest in 3 minutes or 3 nanoseconds).

The very concept of a miracle (which is a one-off violation of physical law) presupposes the existence of physical laws intrinsic to creatures in the first place.  If physical "laws" are just the arbitrary will of God, and there is really no such thing as creatures acting according to their own nature properly speaking, then there are no miracles strictly speaking either, just variations from what the will of God usually is.  So miracles don't affect physical laws per se; they are just violations of them. 

Of course, the question is how and why we would think a miracle has or has not occurred.  When we have a plausible natural explanation for something, we cannot say to absolute, apodictic certainty that a miracle has not occurred (and science never gives absolute certainty, just moral certainty anyway; we don't have absolute, metaphysical certainty that what we have characterized as physical laws and regularities really are such).  But it is nevertheless unreasonable to think that it did.

Ontologically, it isn't reasonable to postulate God performing a miracle 1) without a specific purpose and 2) a purpose that couldn't be obtained via natural means.  Again, this is an arbitrary, voluntarist God Who intervenes in His creation without rhyme or reason.

Epistemologically, it isn't reasonable to posit a violation of physical laws without a good reason to think they were violated.  Sure, God's power could have created Mt. Everest in three minutes, but that does not constitute a good reason to think that He did, when we have a perfectly good natural explanation for creations of mountains.




Its not that He intervenes, more like the physical laws are being created after His activity. He creates everything with so much violent force, materia crashes together and then slowly humans can percieve some harmony between everything after God has rested
 

Offline Kreuzritter

  • Wachtmeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 762
  • Thanked: 607 times
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2019, 04:54:10 PM »
1) is true as far as it goes and worthwhile for keeping believers in the fold but is hopeless from an apologetic point of view.  Apologetics attempts to convince one that faith is at least probably true, if not morally certain, using reason.  But here we would have faith contradicting what one could be morally certain of via other means.  (Since I know this will be brought up, miracles are not a counter-argument.  Science cannot say miracles are impossible and therefore didn't happen, only that they are impossible to predict using scientific methodology.)  This would make the assent of faith essentially irrational for one who doesn't already have it.  Thus, 1) entails fideism, which is OK for Protestant faith but unacceptable for Catholicism.

That's fine, but to take hold of the other end of the stick, some of us have no interest in apologetics, particularly those directed at certain insufferable groups of people.

Quote
2) is however only a half-truth.  It depends on what assumptions are brought into the picture.  Crimes are solved, for instance, using forensic evidence such as DNA, and paternity can be determined using DNA, etc., so clearly the blanket claim that science can provide no knowledge about the past is false.  The key assumption is whether physical laws remain the same, or whether they can change. 

That's itself a half-truth. Even if physical laws were immutable, it does not follow that they would provide us with such knowledge of the past that you seek; that's particulalry true of irreversible processes, but it's even generally true of processes in systems that aren't closed. And that consideration itself is operating within the framework of a reductionist material world in which, barring the operations of any transcendental intelligence, a supposed "substrate" runs on the discoverable and systematisable clockwork of mechanical law and generates all so-called "epiphenomena". Despite it's near total ubiquity in modern times, even amongst theists, as a basic world-view, it's not one I even remotely accept, and ironically it's one I can attack decisively using the methods of analytic philosophy, with a tip of the hat to the Vienna Circle and Wittgenstein, though the most devastating critique of all such thought, at least in Western thought, is surely the Geist als Widersacher der Seele of German Biocentrist Ludwig Klages.

Even taking the case of paternity tests, they don't tell us, for example, how conception occured or what led to it, and even the paternity itself is established in the "balance of probabilities" upon things we presume to know about the past, such as that gametes can't be and haven't been artificially synthesised to replicate someone's DNA. No, they provide as tiny window into a fact of a conceptual scheme of a part of reality and that only in something that is not remotely comparable to trying to disover an esssential picture of what the world and lif ein it looked like millions of years ago and what processes took us through to the world of today!

Quote
If they remain the same (as we assume for heredity of DNA), then clearly we can obtain knowledge about the past by simply running the clock backward.

Nope. Irreversible process and open system, not to mention simply supposing away the influence intelligence, immanent or transcendent, on the basis of naturalistic presuppositions defended on the basis of the pseudo-principle of parsimony. We can't determine the initial conditions, let alone the process that got us from there to here, by "running the clock backwards".

Quote
On the other hand, if physical laws are merely something external arbitrarily willed by God upon the universe, then yes different laws could be willed at different times.  But Thomism will insist that physical laws result from the nature of things (e.g. they are intrinsic and not external to them) and therefore could only change if the nature of things themselves changed, which would be an "evolutionism" much more radical than even the most diehard materialist.  And Thomism (as much as I disagree with it on some things) rightly insists on this, otherwise God is voluntarist and arbitrary; moreover, there simply is no such thing as a rational proof of God resulting from the nature of created things, for there is now no such thing as the nature of created things properly speaking (everything every created thing has, including its "nature", is just something arbitrarily willed by God).  And a voluntarist God is OK for Protestantism (many branches explicitly preach this) as well as a fideist faith, but unacceptable for Catholics.

Alright. So what is the actual, meaningful difference between the "nature"of a thing as it pertains to the source of the law-bound behaviour and the law and behaviour itself? That's point one, on which I call, as with so much of Scholastic philosophy, "that's a nice trick of language but not terrible informative". Point two is, how are the "nature's of things", or even to drop the semantic baggage introduced into philosophy through the grammar of nomen and adjective, the thing's themselves, not just as "arbitrarily willed  by God upon the universe" as much as any externally-imposed law, and even more so under Thomism in which their very being is given and continuously sustained by something alien to themselves?

As for "evolutionism", I don't have any problem with "evolutionism" as such, however radical it is, but with materialism as a denial of transcendent spirit and the subject's identity and power, and more particulalrly, the physicalism that is really meant by "materialism". I also have a problem with the notion that Genesis 1 is not a real cosmological and historical narrative and probably a mere moral tale about this world and man's plave in it, along with the implication that God, the same being incarnate in Jesus Christ, used the proposed process of Darwinism, as pictured by Darwinists, to evolve man from animals through evil. By "problem" I mean I consider these propositions to be absolutely false and blasphemous and myself to possess total certainty that they are such.

Quote
4) There is a true and real reconciliation between faith and science, though we haven't found it yet.

The starting point is that this



whatever its reality, is not the reality of God's work, a proposition that solves more theological problems than reconciliation of "faith and science", and until you stop looking there to see here, no solution is going to present itself.


 

Offline Kreuzritter

  • Wachtmeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 762
  • Thanked: 607 times
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2019, 05:10:12 PM »
Quote
The very concept of a miracle (which is a one-off violation of physical law) presupposes the existence of physical laws intrinsic to creatures in the first place.  If physical "laws" are just the arbitrary will of God, and there is really no such thing as creatures acting according to their own nature properly speaking, then there are no miracles strictly speaking either, just variations from what the will of God usually is.  So miracles don't affect physical laws per se; they are just violations of them. 

He's just pushed that issue a little further back. By these criteria, miracles are ultimately " just variations from what the will of God usually is" in his system too, although he's not clarified the disctinction between a law that is "arbitrality imposed from the outside" by the will of God and a "law" that somehow follows from an "intrinsic nature" that equally owes its continued existence to the will of God.

He's also forcing upon the word "miracle" the sense of a particular metaphysical system to supposedly rob it of signifiance outside of accepting that system, a trick that is even more spurious if it's applied to the culture of Biblical Hebrew and its uses of נֵס or  מוֹפֵת Yes, an act of God is inevitably going to make somethign happen that wouldn't have happened otherwise, but that doesn't at all imply the necessary existence of an intrinsic or any other kind of physical law, much less ones ordained in any way by God, for such act to have significance.

Here's a scenario no less understandable and consistent: man has an intrinsic nature, in the image of the divine, free of what we know to be physical law; man, due to sin that disconnects him from the divine, finds himself in a world in which physical law binds him, at least certain material parts of him, from the outside by a malevolent being; God breaks into this world and overcomes this law by his power in order to save man; miracles, strictly speaking, exist.

« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 05:31:34 PM by Kreuzritter »
 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2019, 10:44:39 PM »
Even if physical laws were immutable, it does not follow that they would provide us with such knowledge of the past that you seek; that's particulalry true of irreversible processes, but it's even generally true of processes in systems that aren't closed. And that consideration itself is operating within the framework of a reductionist material world...

Irreversible process and open system, not to mention simply supposing away the influence intelligence, immanent or transcendent, on the basis of naturalistic presuppositions defended on the basis of the pseudo-principle of parsimony. We can't determine the initial conditions, let alone the process that got us from there to here, by "running the clock backwards".

I disagree with all your assertions here.  In the first place, in my rebuttal to 2) I am rebutting the claim that science cannot obtain any knowledge of the past (which is claimed by some Catholics arguing against the claims of science), and therefore claiming that science can obtain some knowledge of the past, although not complete knowledge of the past.  You are creating a false dichotomy between a clockwork universe and one in which no information whatsoever is available about the past from science.

1)  We can certainly have knowledge that irreversible processes happened in the past due to knowledge of physical laws.  Are you really suggesting that when we are at a birthday party and see anomalous globs of latex on the floor that we are not justified in concluding that a balloon was popped, or that after a needle reads 9.0 on the Richter scale, and we see lots of rubble, we are not justified in concluding an earthquake leading to massive destruction?  Or that when we see billows of smoke rising from a cigarette, we cannot conclude all of it originated from the cigarette and dispersed from there?

2)  While only the entire universe would qualify as a completely closed system, nevertheless subsystems are frequently closed enough for practical purposes.  A refrigerator isn't completely thermally insulated from the outside, but isolated enough that it works as predicted.  The solar system (broadly speaking, including Kuiper Belt, etc.) isn't completely isolated gravitationally from the rest of the universe, but the perturbations are small enough to make accurate (enough) predictions possible.

3) "Influence of transcendent intelligence" is a fancy way of saying "miracle".  Granted that miracles can and have happened, there must be a good reason to think that one did, and not just pull one out of a hat.  That is not a "naturalistic presupposition" but sound epistemology.  If you think that parsimony is a "pseudo-principle" you simply don't understand the basics about how inferences are made from data.  You'd overfit a curve every single time, using as many predictors as data points (claiming your fit is "perfect" and completely describes the data), and then wonder why you couldn't predict anything.

4) We're not talking about determining initial conditions or types of processes, but what in fact was the case at some time in the past (not necessarily at t = 0).

Quote
Alright. So what is the actual, meaningful difference between the "nature"of a thing as it pertains to the source of the law-bound behaviour and the law and behaviour itself? That's point one, on which I call, as with so much of Scholastic philosophy, "that's a nice trick of language but not terrible informative". Point two is, how are the "nature's of things", or even to drop the semantic baggage introduced into philosophy through the grammar of nomen and adjective, the thing's themselves, not just as "arbitrarily willed  by God upon the universe" as much as any externally-imposed law, and even more so under Thomism in which their very being is given and continuously sustained by something alien to themselves?

Point one: The nature of the thing is its essence (quiddity), as in standard Thomism; the law is a necessary attribute corresponding to the essence; the behavior is an accident.  So, for all massive bodies (granted they are of different essences) it is a necessary attribute they attract according to the Law of Gravity.  Their actual motion, and position, are accidents (they don't only depend on the Law of Gravity but also on the position of other massive bodies).  Now you might not agree with these metaphysics.  But there is a meaningful difference all the same between nature, law, and behavior.

Of course, it's possible to argue against the assertion of physical laws being necessary attributes, but Catholics and Thomists especially won't like the implications.  Let's assume they are non-necessary attributes (accidents).  In this case there are no true regularities in nature (and thus no physical laws properly so-called), but only a series of astonishing and inexplicable coincidences.  A massive body might be in act insofar as it attracts others proportional to inverse square of the distance, but it is in potency to attract others proportional to inverse cube of the distance or even repel others.  That everything in fact seems to attract via an inverse square law is inexplicable via reference to nature itself, but can only be explained via the sovereign will of God.  That is voluntarism.  And without any true physical laws, physical causation doesn't exist either (since the supposed "cause" doesn't in fact entail the effect) and occasionalism is also the logical consequence.  Finally, miracles properly so-called don't occur either, since there is no true order of nature outside of them to occur.  The gravitational forces would have changed and thus rearranged the water molecules in the Red Sea so as to bring about its parting; the forces were always in potency to such change, meaning that nothing really occurred outside the order of nature, even it was something unusual.  The preceding arguments apply a fortiori if physical laws are not attributes of things at all but pure expressions of the will of God.

Point two: Contingent doesn't mean arbitrary.  Contingent means not logically necessary, while arbitrary means without rhyme or reason.  Granted a creature's existence is contingent, but it is not arbitrary, there is a purpose (final cause) for its existence.  Whereas if physical laws don't result from the nature of things, they are completely arbitrary.

Quote
I also have a problem with the notion that Genesis 1 is not a real cosmological and historical narrative and probably a mere moral tale about this world and man's plave in it, along with the implication that God, the same being incarnate in Jesus Christ, used the proposed process of Darwinism, as pictured by Darwinists, to evolve man from animals through evil. By "problem" I mean I consider these propositions to be absolutely false and blasphemous and myself to possess total certainty that they are such.

I know.  But others do not share your opinions and cite science as part of the reason why.  This thread is therefore about problems with typical responses made against science.
 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2019, 11:04:00 PM »
He's just pushed that issue a little further back. By these criteria, miracles are ultimately " just variations from what the will of God usually is" in his system too, although he's not clarified the disctinction between a law that is "arbitrality imposed from the outside" by the will of God and a "law" that somehow follows from an "intrinsic nature" that equally owes its continued existence to the will of God.

The former (a law arbitrarily imposed from the outside) is contingent and lacking a final cause, thus arbitrary, while the latter is necessary.  Yes, the nature (or essence) is willed by God, but necessarily willed by God, just like all necessary truths like 2 + 2 = 4 are.

Quote
Yes, an act of God is inevitably going to make somethign happen that wouldn't have happened otherwise, but that doesn't at all imply the necessary existence of an intrinsic or any other kind of physical law, much less ones ordained in any way by God, for such act to have significance.

Yes it does.  What is the distinction between the act of God that would make something happen that wouldn't have happened otherwise, and the act of God that would have made that otherwise thing happen?  For this distinction to be miraculous, it must be between God acting within nature according to natural processes (e.g. grapes growing, being harvested, fermenting, and becoming wine) and God acting outside of natural processes (water instantaneously turning into wine).  For miracles to be truly and properly ontologically such (and not just such in a nominalistic sense) there must be a real ontological distinction between within and outside of natural processes.  If this distinction doesn't really exist ontologically, but is only a nominalist classification, then likewise a "miracle" is only nominalistic classification of a particular act of God.

Quote
Here's a scenario no less understandable and consistent: man has an intrinsic nature, in the image of the divine, free of what we know to be physical law; man, due to sin that disconnects him from the divine, finds himself in a world in which physical law binds him, at least certain material parts of him, from the outside by a malevolent being; God breaks into this world and overcomes this law by his power in order to save man; miracles, strictly speaking, exist.

But in this scenario physical law exists, so it doesn't disprove my point.
 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2019, 08:11:29 PM »
Anyway, it just seems to me the Church is quite hamstrung in defending itself from attacks from science due to the very Thomistic philosophy it espouses as THE answer against Modernism.
 

Offline Sempronius

  • Korporal
  • **
  • Posts: 453
  • Thanked: 228 times
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2019, 07:03:10 AM »
You say

”4) There is a true and real reconciliation between faith and science, though we haven't found it yet.”


So you are waiting for something to show you the true reconciliation, maybe science will progress that much during your lifetime or God will show you.. but couldn’t we aswell wait for God to show us how His Grace affects nature. For instance, how Adam managed to live so many hundred years and how sin entered the world and changed our environment..
 
The following users thanked this post: Xavier

Offline Xavier

  • "Deign to use Your Slaves of Love to accomplish what was said of You, O Immaculata, "She will crush your head," and, "You have destroyed all heresies in the world."
  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3102
  • Thanked: 2597 times
  • Ave Maria, Gratia Plena, Dominus Tecum!
  • Religion: Catholic Christian (Roman Rite Latin Traditionalist)
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2019, 11:34:15 AM »
This is an interesting discussion and I intend to participate in more depth later. However, there are some materialistic presuppositions being taken for granted. Sacred Theology, Philosophy and the Natural Sciences are all beautiful and legitimate endeavors worthy of pursuit.

Man must however realize these are means to an end and not ends in themselves. And if any of them presume to raise themselves to an idolatrous level, Mother Church has the right to intervene for the benefit of all.

For now, I'll note that (1) science presupposes the truths of Christian theology (even though modern secularists don't know or realize this) that the universe is governed by laws and behaves rationally; as C.S. Lewis aptly summarizes it, "Men became scientific when they began to believe in Law, and they believed in Law because they believed in a Legislator" - St. Thomas' Fifth Way is basically an inference based on the the observation that nature behaves in ordered ways, acting for an end - this shows there are laws that the universe, like a programmed system, is bound to obey. (2) the history of science confirms this and shows science developed like never before in Catholic Europe; later agnostic attempts to deny this notwithstanding. This has been proven in depth by academic historians of science, like Traditional Catholic Historian of Science Prof. Thomas Woods in "How the Catholic Church built western civilization" and accomplished Fr. Stanley Jaki. These works have been praised by secularists. (3) science is not about precluding intelligence, but about discovering reality. The DNA and forensic example given by Quare in his point 2 illustrates the basic principle on which the whole science of Intelligent Design and Creation Inference is based - for if, according to secularists, it is never permissible to deduce the action of an intelligent cause to explain observed effects, we must necessarily conclude all deaths are accidental or natural, with the absurd implication that then no one could be convicted for murder. Which is self-evidently false. As we examine evidence and deduce that an intelligent man likely caused death in a given instance, we can indeed justly conclude the effects we observe in the universe's fine tuning and in man's cells and being themselves are best explained by the action of Intelligence in creating us. Dr. Meyer has developed a detailed demonstration from DNA itself to Design. Intelligent Design Scientists use other examples like Cryptography that enables and is based on the fact that it is possible to distinguish intelligent messages from a random signal. (4) the ID/Creation Science distinction is mostly one without a difference but we'll deal with that in more depth later.

A brief excerpt for those to whom the news in (2) may be new. Please see the link for more details: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2005/05/thomas-woods/how-the-catholic-church-built-western-civilization/

Quote
We have all heard a great deal about the Church’s alleged hostility toward science. What most people fail to realize is that historians of science have spent the past half-century drastically revising this conventional wisdom, arguing that the Church’s role in the development of Western science was far more salutary than previously thought. I am speaking not about Catholic apologists but about serious and important scholars of the history of science such as J.L. Heilbron, A.C. Crombie, David Lindberg, Edward Grant, and Thomas Goldstein.

It is all very well to point out that important scientists, like Louis Pasteur, have been Catholic. More revealing is how many priests have distinguished themselves in the sciences. It turns out, for instance, that the first person to measure the rate of acceleration of a freely falling body was Fr. Giambattista Riccioli. The man who has been called the father of Egyptology was Fr. Athanasius Kircher (also called "master of a hundred arts" for the breadth of his knowledge). Fr. Roger Boscovich, who has been described as "the greatest genius that Yugoslavia ever produced," has often been called the father of modern atomic theory.

In the sciences it was the Jesuits in particular who distinguished themselves; some 35 craters on the moon, in fact, are named after Jesuit scientists and mathematicians.

By the eighteenth century, the Jesuits

had contributed to the development of pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter’s surface, the Andromeda nebula and Saturn’s rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon effected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light. Star maps of the southern hemisphere, symbolic logic, flood-control measures on the Po and Adige rivers, introducing plus and minus signs into Italian mathematics — all were typical Jesuit achievements, and scientists as influential as Fermat, Huygens, Leibniz and Newton were not alone in counting Jesuits among their most prized correspondents [Jonathan Wright, The Jesuits, 2004, p. 189] ...

To say that the Church played a positive role in the development of science has now become absolutely mainstream, even if this new consensus has not yet managed to trickle down to the general public. In fact, Stanley Jaki, over the course of an extraordinary scholarly career, has developed a compelling argument that in fact it was important aspects of the Christian worldview that accounted for why it was in the West that science enjoyed the success it did as a self-sustaining enterprise. Non-Christian cultures did not possess the same philosophical tools, and in fact were burdened by conceptual frameworks that hindered the development of science. Jaki extends this thesis to seven great cultures: Arabic, Babylonian, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Hindu, and Maya. In these cultures, Jaki explains, science suffered a "stillbirth." My book gives ample attention to Jaki’s work ...

The Church also played an indispensable role in another essential development in Western civilization: the creation of the university. The university was an utterly new phenomenon in European history. Nothing like it had existed in ancient Greece or Rome. The institution that we recognize today, with its faculties, courses of study, examinations, and degrees, as well as the familiar distinction between undergraduate and graduate study, come to us directly from the medieval world. And it is no surprise that the Church should have done so much to foster the nascent university system, since the Church, according to historian Lowrie Daly, "was the only institution in Europe that showed consistent interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge."

The popes and other churchmen ranked the universities among the great jewels of Christian civilization. It was typical to hear the University of Paris described as the "new Athens" — a designation that calls to mind the ambitions of the great Alcuin from the Carolingian period of several centuries earlier, who sought through his own educational efforts to establish a new Athens in the kingdom of the Franks. Pope Innocent IV (1243—54) described the universities as "rivers of science which water and make fertile the soil of the universal Church," and Pope Alexander IV (1254—61) called them "lanterns shining in the house of God." And the popes deserved no small share of the credit for the growth and success of the university system. "Thanks to the repeated intervention of the papacy," writes historian Henri Daniel-Rops, "higher education was enabled to extend its boundaries; the Church, in fact, was the matrix that produced the university, the nest whence it took flight."
Please listen to the frequent messages and take heed of the directions given from Our Living Lord and Our Loving Lady from around the world here: https://maryrefugeofholylove.com/ Great things are at stake. Please consecrate your life to the Blessed Mother so that the Kingdom of God may come, "Ad Sanctam Trinitatem per Mariam, Ut adveniat Regnum Deum, adveniat Regnum Mariae, ergo TOTUS TUUS ego sum, MARIA" See http://www.maria-domina-animarum.net/en/flowers/1-250

Mary, our Heavenly Mother, implores those who receive Holy Communion Daily, or at least Weekly, to Offer their Lives. TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted and pluralized: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For all the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for Priests, Nuns and Monks, for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, and for All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/ It is recommended that you make this Life Offering as soon as you feel ready, and to renew it from time to time.

Please read the Blessed Mother's amazing promises in the link: A simple effective way for thousands of us to save millions of souls. The Doctors and Apostles say if we save even just one other soul through prayer and sacrifice, we also ensure the salvation of our own! Let us Offer our Lives in Sacrifice to Jesus and Mary Today, to save, if it were possible, all souls everywhere.
 

Offline Arvinger

  • Vizekorporal
  • **
  • Posts: 248
  • Thanked: 255 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2019, 12:35:10 PM »
1) is true as far as it goes and worthwhile for keeping believers in the fold but is hopeless from an apologetic point of view.  Apologetics attempts to convince one that faith is at least probably true, if not morally certain, using reason.  But here we would have faith contradicting what one could be morally certain of via other means.  (Since I know this will be brought up, miracles are not a counter-argument.  Science cannot say miracles are impossible and therefore didn't happen, only that they are impossible to predict using scientific methodology.)  This would make the assent of faith essentially irrational for one who doesn't already have it.  Thus, 1) entails fideism, which is OK for Protestant faith but unacceptable for Catholicism.

I broadly subscribe to 1), so I will reply only to that. Before that, however, it must be noted that if 1) is correct it logically entails 3) as well. If Divine Revelation is indeed and infallible source of knowledge, it means that all empirical facts are necessarily consistent with it, so if science is done correctly, it will indeed support what the Church teaches (since there can be no contradiction between faith and empirical reality). If science claims something that is contrary to Divine Revelation, it means that it has been done incorrectly.

As to your quote above, several problems:

1) You are begging the question by asserting that we can be morally certain of something contrary to the faith using other means. If something contradicts the faith, we cannot be morally certain about it. In fact, if a certain claim contradicts the faith, this contradiction is a sufficient evidence to prove that this claim is wrong.

2) There are elements of faith which indeed cannot be explained rationally - to demand reconciliation between every doctrine of faith and reason is rationalism. That does not mean, however, that faith is fideistic, since there are and will be strong arguments to support it in other areas. So, there can be areas of the faith which are true but currently indefensible apologetically due to current state of scientific/historical reseach, but there are still strong apologetic arguments in favor of faith in other areas. Furthermore, faith is a gift from God, it cannot be arrived to merely through using correct epistemology and apologetics, therefore it is not strictly necessary to be able to prove every single doctrine of faith via apologetics (but of course we should strive to do it) - God is not bound by our apologetic efforts while granting faith to His elect.

3) While you are technically correct that science cannot prove that miracles don't exist, in reality this is an assumption upon which atheistic/naturalistic scientists operate - that there are no miracles and miraculous explanation is ruled out a priori. These naturalistic presuppositions are one of the foundations of worldview represented by current academia.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2019, 12:38:31 PM by Arvinger »
 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2019, 02:29:36 PM »
I broadly subscribe to 1), so I will reply only to that. Before that, however, it must be noted that if 1) is correct it logically entails 3) as well. If Divine Revelation is indeed and infallible source of knowledge, it means that all empirical facts are necessarily consistent with it, so if science is done correctly, it will indeed support what the Church teaches (since there can be no contradiction between faith and empirical reality). If science claims something that is contrary to Divine Revelation, it means that it has been done incorrectly.

Sigh.  This is exactly what 1) is denying and why I reject 1).  Your post is, frankly, a response to what you thought I was saying (e.g. some sort of apologia for rationalism) rather than a carefully thought-out response to what I was actually saying.  And if you do not find me worth the time to carefully read my posts and discern what I am saying then I will not find you worth the time to respond to.  Again, here's 1):

Quote
1) Insist that the Church is right, no matter what science may have to say or how firm its conclusions using its proper methodology, because theology, and a fortiori Divine revelation, is superior to the natural sciences as a source of knowledge.

Quote
1) You are begging the question by asserting that we can be morally certain of something contrary to the faith using other means. If something contradicts the faith, we cannot be morally certain about it. In fact, if a certain claim contradicts the faith, this contradiction is a sufficient evidence to prove that this claim is wrong.

No, I'm not begging the question because this is clearly not what I'm saying, if you had actually taken the time to digest the complete post.  I'm saying that if moral (even if not absolute) certainty can exist using other means for something contrary to Faith then the assent of faith is irrational, and therefore it is hopeless from an apologetic point of view to simply appeal to the superiority of faith while granting that science, even properly done, would or even could reach a conclusion contrary to it.

Quote
2) There are elements of faith which indeed cannot be explained rationally...

Which has precisely nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand, and nowhere was I saying otherwise.  The claim that the assent of faith is rational and not irrational (e.g. in accordance with reason) is not the same thing as claiming every element of faith can be perfectly explained via reason; if it could be, there would in reality be no such thing as "faith" in the first place.

Quote
3) While you are technically correct that science cannot prove that miracles don't exist, in reality this is an assumption upon which atheistic/naturalistic scientists operate - that there are no miracles and miraculous explanation is ruled out a priori. These naturalistic presuppositions are one of the foundations of worldview represented by current academia.

Which is of course the point, lest someone counter with "But science says miracles are impossible!!  Therefore the assent of faith necessarily involves the denial of things we know from science!!"  - it is not something we know from science.

 

Offline Arvinger

  • Vizekorporal
  • **
  • Posts: 248
  • Thanked: 255 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2019, 05:35:06 PM »
No, I'm not begging the question because this is clearly not what I'm saying, if you had actually taken the time to digest the complete post.  I'm saying that if moral (even if not absolute) certainty can exist using other means for something contrary to Faith then the assent of faith is irrational, and therefore it is hopeless from an apologetic point of view to simply appeal to the superiority of faith while granting that science, even properly done, would or even could reach a conclusion contrary to it.

No certainty of any kind can exist for anything contrary to faith using any methodology, because the very fact of a claim being contrary to faith means it is wrong. Therefore, any methodology used to arrive to that conclusion must either 1) be wrong in itself, 2) have been used incorrectly. So it is impossible for science being done properly to contradict faith.

The issue is what is "proper methodology". I took your post (perhaps incorrectly) to mean "proper" = meeting widely accepted standards of scientific research, since you believe in evolution, Old Earth, etc., which implies you consider scientific methodologies used to reach those conclusions to be valid (even though there is little to no Scriptural or Magisterial basis for evolution and Old Earth - if Scripture indeed teaches creation in seven 24h days, it means that the current scientific methodologies are wrong). However, an unbeliever will not grant that any conclusion of science which is contrary to faith must be wrong, therefore he will consider scientific methodologies which result in denial of faith as being "proper" and thus conclude that the Catholic faith is indeed irrational. Again, it comes back to the necessity of taking the Catholic faith presuppositionally.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti
Which is of course the point, lest someone counter with "But science says miracles are impossible!!  Therefore the assent of faith necessarily involves the denial of things we know from science!!"  - it is not something we know from science.

Theoretically not, but in practice many naturalists argue as if we know that naturalism is true and take it as a given.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2019, 05:40:46 PM by Arvinger »
 
The following users thanked this post: Xavier

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: Faith vs. Science
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2019, 03:39:00 PM »
No certainty of any kind can exist for anything contrary to faith using any methodology, because the very fact of a claim being contrary to faith means it is wrong. Therefore, any methodology used to arrive to that conclusion must either 1) be wrong in itself, 2) have been used incorrectly. So it is impossible for science being done properly to contradict faith.

The first sentence is false, which is why we are talking at cross purposes.

It is possible to be morally certain of something and yet be wrong, because moral certainty is not absolute certainty.  There may be very many and strong reasons to believe X is true, and no reasons or only very weak reasons to believe X is false.  This makes X morally certain; yet X could still possibly be false.  This is the strongest degree of certainty science can give (we don't know, for instance, any physical law to absolute certainty.)

So, if X is a revealed doctrine, that makes it metaphysically necessary that X is true; that does not entail that it is metaphysically impossible that one could arrive at moral certainty that X is false through other means, for such isn't absolutely prohibited by the truth of X.

So, option 1) is for believers (or the Church) to say, "We don't care if science has reached moral certainty on things opposed to faith.  Revelation triumphs regardless as a higher source of knowledge."  I am saying if that this were in fact the case, the assent of faith would be irrational, and therefore 1) must be rejected.

The "theology trumps" line not being an option, this forced the Church to argue on the basis of the the science, which it was quite ill-prepared to do, with most of its best minds well-educated in scholasticism but quite ignorant of the natural sciences, and in fact often enough holding them in contempt and disdain (an attitude even quite prevalent today in traditionalist circles).  And so it was a rout; the Church hardly even ever showed up, with her best minds being told to "Ite ad Thoma" who had a vastly different conception of the physical universe.

Thus we saw a gradual retreat, with the (at least de facto) abandonment of geocentrism, a young earth and universe, a global flood, an anthropologically universal flood, special creation of all animal species, special creation of man's body, and now the abandonment of monogenism is on the horizon, with offending Scriptural passages reinterpreted according to the scientific needs of the day.

Quote
The issue is what is "proper methodology". I took your post (perhaps incorrectly) to mean "proper" = meeting widely accepted standards of scientific research, since you believe in evolution, Old Earth, etc., which implies you consider scientific methodologies used to reach those conclusions to be valid...

Which I do, assuming constancy of physical laws.

Quote
However, an unbeliever will not grant that any conclusion of science which is contrary to faith must be wrong, therefore he will consider scientific methodologies which result in denial of faith as being "proper" and thus conclude that the Catholic faith is indeed irrational.

Yes, and if your only response to him is that his methodologies must be wrong because they contradict what you claim to be faith, without any explanation of why they are wrong, he will quite reasonably conclude it is irrational.