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J. P. Moreland: How scientism leads to post-modern relativism

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From an interview with J. P. Moreland, author of Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology (2018):

RC: How does science differ from scientism and why does it matter?

JPM: Claims of science—water is H20, electro-magnetic fields behave in such and such a manner—what science is limited to. But scientism is a philosophical claim about science, not a claim of science. Scientism is a theory of the nature of knowledge (it can only be obtained through physics, chemistry and the other hard sciences) and limits of knowledge (based on the nature of knowledge, it is limited to the the hard sciences and absent from all other fields, e.g. religious claims or ethical assertions). These types of claims are nonsense and we are free to construct our reality anyway we want to. So scientism leads to postmodern relativism in culture. Richard Corey, “Scientism and Secularism: An interview with author J. P. Moreland” at Ratio Christi

Here is Part I: A Synopsis:

Says Corey Miller, President and CEO of Ratio Christi:

“JP Moreland, now a mentor, ministry colleague, and friend, was my first philosophy professor at Talbot, Biola University. On the first day of class he said to the class of Christian philosophy grad students, “You all have been influenced more by the philosopher Immanuel Kant than by Jesus Christ.” While I didn’t initially appreciate the gravity of that hyperbolic statement, I’ve come to see how true this is among believing professors after working with faculty ministry on secular universities for almost 15 years. If true among believers, imagine how much worse among non-believing faculty. It’s culturally pervasive even outside of the university and into the churches. While the reader may not know ‘Kant’ (a central figure in modern philosophy), she or he had better figure out one of the implications following downstream from Kant known as ‘scientism’!”More.

Could the progressive war on science be obliquely influenced by scientism? That is, if all beliefs are inherently evolved illusions, scientism cannot protect beliefs about science. So why not a war on math and correct answers, if it is politically advantageous? At one time, people were restrained by the notion that their words and actions should make sense, be rational, be reasonable. Now that’s colonialism or something.

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See also: J. P. Moreland on claims we know better than we know science truths

2 Replies to “J. P. Moreland: How scientism leads to post-modern relativism

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    OK, but this has VERY little to do with the writing of History, which is done by Historians and retired politicians. Most of the public discussion of WHY the general public should CARE about arguments between narrowly focused geeks with degrees in Physics or Math is between the narrowly focused geeks. And of course the Trekkies, who were never firmly based in reality. We can launch a satellite into orbit using Newtonian physics. The fancy bits are merely fancy bits.

    I’m not sure where the Global Warming and Save the Polar Bears guys fit in. The guys making a living off these frauds are clearly in the Marketing business. And to them there ain’t much difference between a set of air temperature stats and a sample of “Do you like Lyft better than Uber?” interviews. Ya sell the SIZZLE, not the STEAK. So how does a picture of an alleged starving polar bear make you FEEL?

    The important discussions for mankind are among Historians and Economists. And the various schools of History and Economics are closer to Religion than Physics, as diehard Communists continue to demonstrate.

    So, for most (upwards of 95%) of humanity, the only real question about Hard Science is how much are the Scientists demanding for their NEW toys. I saw a map showing the New Collider: it’s bigger than Switzerland. And it will, um, let 100 truly obscure men argue amongst themselves about whether it is NECESSARY for humanity to build them an even BIGGER collider (um, encircling most of China and Siberia??) which will of course produce YET ANOTHER SET of data that is open to several interpretations, by these same obscure Scientists. And NONE of these interpretations will have ANY effect on “the price of tea in China”.

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    <At one time, people were restrained by the notion that their words and actions should make sense, be rational, be reasonable.

    True, but this is an assumption that requires deeper (or higher) level of validation.

    People were restrained by the notion that they should be rational. But why? It’s ultimately because of theology.

    In Christianity – God gives Jesus Christ – the Logos. The principle of reason. So, humans reflect God by using their reason correctly, for truth.

    The breakdown of realism, the theological movement to private interpretation of texts … this came before and caused scientism, Kant, Enlightenment, etc.

    The Catholic worldview is incarnational. It is the living fulfillment of Altar, Temple, Sacrifice – as a People, not merely texts to be interpreted.

    Every movement towards private interpretation of text-alone which is the method of the synagogue today – is the foundation of scientism and basically the slope that leads to atheism.

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