Intelligent Design

The Seen and Unseen in Science and Theology

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Another interesting paper I have come across recently was published by the American Scientific Affiliation

Hyung S. Choi , Knowledge of the Unseen: A New Vision for Science and Religion Dialogue, ‘Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith’ 53.2 (June 2001): 96-101.

http://www.asa3.org/asa/pscf/2001/pscf6-01choi.html

A few quotes:

“While contemporary physics and cosmology take seriously the knowledge of invisible realities, the discussion of the unseen in religion has been largely neglected in the recent science-and-religion discussion. Neglecting the issue in theology is ultimately self- defeating since God is considered the Unseen. In light of contemporary understanding of the unseen in science, we contend that that there are significant parallels between scientific and theological claims concerning the unseen. The epistemic distinction between the seen and the unseen does not necessarily imply the ontological demarcation between the natural and the supernatural. New heuristic frameworks such as a multi- dimensional model are suggested for more holistic and dynamical understanding of reality that includes both the seen and the unseen.”

“In hindsight, it is an irony that while modernity in its positivistic spirit started out with the notion that the reality perceived by our senses is the only knowable reality there is, we now end up with the idea that the true nature of physical reality is quite different from what we experience through our senses. The legend of the tangibility of matter, or what may be called “the matter myth,” which served as the basis for the certainty of knowledge, was lost.”

“Here, within science, were raised the problem of reality (an ontological problem), issues of the limits of human knowledge (an epistemological problem), and the problem of testability (a methodological problem). Relativity and quantum physics, which serve as the pillars of contemporary science, and more recently chaos theory, are now presenting us with a radically new physical view of the world in which positivistic, deterministic, and materialistic philosophies no longer have secure places. They present us with deeper, greater, and more mysterious aspects of nature.”

Science and Values blog

18 Replies to “The Seen and Unseen in Science and Theology

  1. 1
    PaulBurnett says:

    The “American Scientific Affiliation” is not primarily about science – it is about religion. Its creed is “I believe in the whole Bible as originally given, to be the inspired word of God, the only unerring guide to faith and conduct. Since God is the Author of this Book, as well as the Creator and sustainer of the physical world about us, I cannot conceive of discrepancies between statements in the Bible and the real facts of science.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.....ffiliation

    Their “platform” statement of faith is at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/faithASA.html and reads more like something from the Institute for Creation Research than anything of interest to intelligent design proponents.

  2. 2
    BarrettBrown says:

    Howdy. I’d like to inform Clive Hayden that I have written an article on him and his recent critique of a Wired article, which may be found
    here, assuming that I am using html correctly. Thanks.

  3. 3
    IRQ Conflict says:

    Isn’t this referred to as Bill Maher Syndrome? At least in the west? 🙂

    Nice find Andrew.

  4. 4
    Clive Hayden says:

    BarrettBrown,

    I read your blog, and I’m still unpersuaded that co-option is anything other than a fantasy, a just-so story, similar to your ID advocate eating species story. They both exist only in your mind, and writing a blog doesn’t change that fact my friend. I’m flattered that you wrote a blog about me though. 8)

  5. 5
    Upright BiPed says:

    Its not surprising to see Paul out doing his “Lying for Jesus” routine.

    Of course, the only creed that matters is:

    “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

    For many, its hard to tell which group’s words are more floweredy. It is interesting however that the former group allows for (and studies and supports) the mechanisms of the latter group, while the latter prohibits all mention of the mechanisms of the former (to the point of complete dismissal of all repectability within the profession). Its almost as if one group has something to hide, and even that they say as much in their own little “creed”.

    In any case, Paul, when are you going to take that panty off your head and address the actual evidnence for ID?

  6. 6
    BarrettBrown says:

    Clive-

    Fair enough.

  7. 7
    William J. Murray says:

    It is interesting that someone apparently without the necessary qualifications to conduct or properly evaluate evolutionary research feels comfortable in telling someone else that their evaluation of it is “crazy”.

    It seems to me that an appropriate understanding of the limitations of one’s own education and knowledge should engender a more tolerant view of others and a more cautionary perspective of our own assertions, especially when the subject matter falls outside of our area of expertise.

    It seems from this O.P., at least. that a more constructuve dialogue is being considered. It seems the old dialogue (as promulgated by Mr. Brown, and Dawkins) is being recognized as inappropriate by more and more people. Calling people who disagree with you “crazy”, and your own perspective a fact (and repeating that like a mantra) doesn’t endear most people to any position.

  8. 8
    P. Mahoney says:

    Let’s leave aside BarretBrown’s egotistical attempt to derail the discussion by advertising his scribbling.

    The quoted piece strikes me as wishy-washy babbling using ‘quantum’ and ‘chaos’ as catchphrases to give an illusion of depth. Does the author mean to use those disciplines to actually demonstrate the Divine? If so, let him do so rather than vapidly wishing that someone else would.

    The quoted text points to one of the flaws inherent in modern thinking about the relationship between the natural and the Divine. Aristotle points out that knowledge gained through reason is superior to that acquired through perception: one does not need to examine every pair of objects in the universe to conclude that 2 + 2 = 4 in all cases. Similarly, as Aquinas observes, God is, whether or not man is there to worship Him.
    Conversely, materialist science, being based on fallible perceptions, is inherently unreliable. (In fact, that fallibility is vaunted by its proponents as a hallmark of its ‘truthfulness’!) But consider: the cumulative effect of reliance on fallible perception is an increase in the margin of error associated with the observed data.

    I find this logic one of the most compelling for ID. The Almighty has chosen to place us in a universe that bears the sign of His work. Dr Dembski has shown how, by the use of mathematical logic alone, proof of that Design can be deduced. Materialist scientists, in contrast, keep their eyes in the mud and look for a special pair of 2s that just might add up to 5. This is not to denigrate all observation-based science, but when logic and reason indicate the true nature of things, it is otiose to look for ‘evidence’ to deny an inescapable conclusion. ID proponents are wise to eschew such nit-picking.

  9. 9
    Lenoxus says:

    P. Mahoney:

    materialist science, being based on fallible perceptions, is inherently unreliable.

    I wonder, is non-materialist science based on infallible perceptions? Or is it somehow not based on “perceptions” at all?

  10. 10
    Borne says:

    Upright BiPed: Nice rebut. Lewotin is notoriously honest about this at least (or is he lying for science).

    But don’t forget the really important part found elsewhere in his bag of revelations:

    Scientists, like others, sometimes tell deliberate lies, because they believe that small lies can serve big truths.

    -Lewontin, R.C., The Inferiority Complex, New York Review of Books, 22 October 1981

    What is astounding is that so many people will read this and yet still believe everything they say!!

    In other words, this type of “scientist’ says, “Hey stupid, I’m lying to your face but you must believe my doctrine!”
    The materialist responds, “Duh ok. I must believe, I must believe…”

  11. 11
    Borne says:

    Lenoxus:

    I wonder, is non-materialist science based on infallible perceptions? Or is it somehow not based on “perceptions” at all?

    What’s non-materialist science?
    Oh, you mean information! Ok, I get it, information is not a physical entity. True.
    But, therefore cannot be perceived or analyzed etc.? Hmmm…
    Perhaps you were referring to some other “non-materialist” science?

  12. 12
    Lenoxus says:

    Borne: I was referring to ID. It’s non-materialist, right?

  13. 13
    P. Mahoney says:

    Lenoxus: I was referring to logic: it’s unscientific, right?

  14. 14
    lamarck says:

    If a materialist were to squarely face the double slit experiment and the measurement problem, and the teleportation experiment, he would see that materialism is already falsified, period and absolutely. Watershed moment.

    And it’s only a small stretch from there to come up with some corollaries:

    That part of you which is actually you is an immaterial, or spiritual entity.

    Quantum particles change because of the mind, and once this beachhead is established, then it’s pretty clear that all matter derives from spirits or a god spirit. Or from another dimension if you like, and that time doesn’t exist as we know it.

    I’m not interested in someone’s absurd absolutism, just pointing out that this is obviously where things stand.

  15. 15
    Qrewtix says:

    @Lamarck

    How many quantum cats have you killed with your mind of late?

  16. 16
    Qrewtix says:

    @Paul:

    lol, I just realized that too.

    NEWSFLASH:

    Religious organization of religious people made journal for apologetics, which is now at an apologetics blog.

    to quote a 4-chan meme:
    Un-newsworthy news is un-newsworthy.

  17. 17
    Michael Servetus says:

    Believing unseen realities is not a problem for most people if we are talking about a materialist worldview. All p[eople must have a partial materialist worldview. When we eat or dress or do the simplest things there is the natural order of things all around us. So we are all materialists to a degree but not all of us are soley materialists. Some of us , in fact most human beings accept and believe as another part of the natural order of things the thoughts and reasonings and logical conclusions of the mind that lead us in our thoughts to trascend the material order. Most people of all stripes would be open minded enoough to accept such things.

    An invisible reality for physics can only be traced if it is fixed and non-arbitrary, much like logic in the intellectual realm. That is true for all men when we are talking about physics or doing any science. That is simply the only way things can be done as a receptor can only detect that which it is engineered to recieve.
    Any invisible realites which will be discovered must be discoverable by our human senses and man engineered instruments and therefore predictable and unchanging in a way, in other words non-volitional. Invisible things that would be significant for a theist worldview would be limited to divine volitional acts, I mean what else could we expect to discover? If not then they would be plain miracles which are not regularly discoverable, predictable or repeatable, therefore experientially a no go for our science.
    Yet science belongs to man,all men, when doing science some sort of it must operate and think as materialists, all the way down to the humblest science of making and baking bread. That after all must have been at some point the greatest science of some day. Science is science for all of us, there is not one set of rules or beliefs about our sciences for one camp and another for the other. Evolutionists and materialist always try to make that the argument when it is false. Tt is just that, as Mahoney alluded, that people who take their reason and logic seriously just as seriously as science will not be bullied by unreasonable absolutist blind materialist science. Reason is closely aligned to faith and religion as evidenced by the conclusions of the most revered philosophers, unless there is a perverted wilful bent towards denying things. Reason alone leads many people to believe in some sort of God and design. The light of reason is also sufficient to make most people doubt what is called Darwinism.
    William J. Murray said above quote:

    “It is interesting that someone apparently without the necessary qualifications to conduct or properly evaluate evolutionary research feels comfortable in telling someone else that their evaluation of it is “crazy”.

    “It seems to me that an appropriate understanding of the limitations of one’s own education and knowledge should engender a more tolerant view of others and a more cautionary perspective of our own assertions, especially when the subject matter falls outside of our area of expertise”. end quote.

    I guess by that reasoning unless he is an expert journalist or blogger his opinion and reasoning don’t matter.

  18. 18
    Cabal says:

    An invisible reality for physics can only be traced if it is fixed and non-arbitrary, much like logic in the intellectual realm.

    Gravity, relativity, quantum mechanics, they are all invisible. Are they also ‘reality’? What is reality? I am afraid we cannot trace an invisible reality; all we may expect is to detect the effects of invisiblities like the laws of nature.

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