Science vs. Scientism

This week I listened to a couple of great podcasts on the relationship between Christianity, philosophy, and science versus the strange ideas of scientism. See definition number 2 from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

Main Entry: sci·en·tism
Pronunciation: \ˈsī-ən-ˌti-zəm\
Function: noun
Date: 1870
1 : methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist 2 : an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)

In this week’s Reasonable Faith podcast, Dr. William Lane Craig and Kevin Harris discussed an article by Massimo Pigliucci which is critical of scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s prejudice against philosophy.

Frankly, …someone who regularly appears on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and has had the privilege of remaking Carl Sagan’s iconic Cosmos series — in short, someone who is a public intellectual and advocate for science — really ought to do better than to take what amounts to anti-intellectual (and illiterate) positions about another field of scholarship. And I say this in all friendship, truly.
– Massimo Pigliucci

Dr. Pigliucci’s article is also critical of Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, calling the latter “another frequent philosophy naysayer.” Dr. Craig and other Christian philosophers and apologists have often criticized these atheist superstars for their antiphilosophical biases, but it is notable when Dr. Pigliucci makes such statements. He not only has scientific and philosophical degrees, but is an outspoken secularist. He certainly cannot be accused of a pro – Christian bias.

In this week’s episode of Straight Thinking, the podcast of Dr. Kenneth Samples, Dr. Timothy McGrew appears as a guest. The myth propagated by folks like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins is that science and religion (and let’s be honest–by “religion” we mean Christianity) are in conflict. In fact, Christianity is not just unscientific, but is actively anti-science. Dr. McGrew slays that dragon with historical facts and the sword of philosophical reason. Dr. Samples and Dr. McGrew also discussed the complementary relationship between good philosophy and good science.

There is certainly no denying that some Christians have misunderstood science, or bought into pseudoscience of one kind or another. However, modern science was birthed out of Christian convictions that the universe was created and designed by an almighty and all – wise God. Therefore, the universe functioned according to reliable, observable, and repeatable laws in an orderly fashion. Rather than being anti-science, the Christian worldview of Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Copernicus, Galileo, Johannes Kepler and so many others set the stage for modern science.


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