Let’s now look at an example of a scientific proof and contrast it with an argument from philosophy. An argument from natural science goes something like this (there are even some philosophical moves here, such as the move from effect to cause):
“Everything that has a beginning has a cause. The universe had a beginning. Therefore, the universe had a cause.”
Most of the effort is usually placed on the second premise to marshal evidence for the universe’s beginning. For example, the second law of thermodynamics (law of entropy) is often invoked. It says that energy in a closed system (a system that doesn’t get energy from the outside) converts from usable to unusable energy. In other words, when we take our cell phones off of their chargers the battery begins to die until it is recharged. In the absence of a charger (energy from the outside), when it dies the phone will simply not work. The move in this argument is to show that there is nothing outside the known universe that provides energy. Thus, left to itself, the universe is running out of usable energy. If the universe existed from the infinite past, it would have already run out of energy by now. But it hasn’t. Therefore, the argument says that the universe has not existed forever into the past, but had a beginning. And if it had a beginning, it had a beginner.
Arguments like this are very strong, but they depend on the accuracy of interpretations and notions such as how the second law of thermodynamics works and to what extent it can be applied. Does the law apply to everything? Does it apply to the whole universe? Is the universe getting outside energy (whatever that would mean)? Thus, there is a degree of probability with this reasoning. It is based on induction and is thus not certain.
Philosophical proofs on the other hand lead to deductive (metaphysical) certainty. That is, scientific theories change, but the nature of the world does not… Brian Huffling, “Why Philosophical Proofs for God Are Better Than “Scientific” Proofs” at J. Brian Huffling, Ph.D.
His basic point is that philosophy, unlike science, can deal in deductive proofs which are stronger than inductive evidence. But is the divide between science and philosophy so very clear?
See also: Are black holes partly a philosophy question?
John Lennox vs. Peter Atkins: Can science explain everything?
Why neither weak nor strong scientism can gorund ethics
Follow UD News at Twitter!