Intelligent Design Philosophy Science

We are urged: Keep science irrational

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The Knowledge Machine

It turns out that Michael Stevens, the author of The Knowledge Machine, is not part of the current assault on math, science, and reason. Rather, he is a fan of hard evidence, however unreasonably sought. He urges us, “Is hard data the only path to scientific truth? That’s an absurd, illogical and profoundly useful fiction”:

Indeed, I conjecture, modern science arose in the 17th century, in the course of the so-called Scientific Revolution, precisely because it stumbled upon the extraordinary motivating power of ‘only empirical evidence counts’ – a story I tell in my book The Knowledge Machine (2020). For thousands of years, philosophers thinking deeply about nature had valued empirical evidence highly, but they had valued many other avenues of thought in addition: philosophical thought, theological thought and aesthetic thought. Consequently, they were never forced, like Kuhn’s scientists, to throw themselves wholeheartedly into experimentation and observation alone. They watched the way the world worked, but they stopped measuring and started thinking too soon. They missed out on the little details that tell us so much. Only once thinkers’ intellectual horizons were closed off by unreasonable constraints on argument was modern science born.

Michael Strevens, “Keep science irrational” at Aeon

Much of nature, including most human beings, cannot be reasoned out but rather must be investigated.

See also: The progressive war on science takes dead aim at math

4 Replies to “We are urged: Keep science irrational

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Much of nature, including most human beings, cannot be reasoned out but rather must be investigated.

    Without reason to provide an explanatory framework, all investigation does is collect data.

  2. 2
    mike1962 says:

    Seversky, Reason can only grant induction. (Dog logic. The sun came up for millions of years, therefore the sun will come up tomorrow.) That’s is. Nothing more. Good for survival. But not useful for adjudicating “truth.”

    For the Big Questions, you’re flying blind. How does it feel?

    When something is dead, it doesn’t make any difference at all. Does it. Hehe. Hehehe.

    Atheism is great. Death. No problem. Oh yeah.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky stands up for reason?

    Without reason to provide an explanatory framework, all investigation does is collect data.

    HUH??? Seversky is defending reasoning????

    Knock me over with a feather! 🙂

    I’m glad Seversky finally honestly admits that reason is absolutely essential to properly evaluating empirical evidence, But, as has been pointed out to Seversky, at least dozens of times now, it is impossible for his atheistic worldview to ground reasoning.

    “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason for supposing that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”
    J. B. S. Haldane 1892–1964 – Scottish mathematical biologist – Possible Worlds (1927) ‘When I am Dead’

    ”Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”
    – C.S. Lewis – The Case for Christianity, p. 32.

    Also see C. S. Lewis, ‘The Argument From Reason’:

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”?
    – C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    Excerpt: (CS) Lewis closes the third chapter of Miracles with this conclusion:
    Reason is given before Nature and on reason our concept of Nature depends. Our acts of inference are prior to our picture of Nature almost as the telephone is prior to the friend’s voice we hear by it. When we try to fit these acts into the picture of nature we fail. The item which we put into that picture and label “Reason” always turns out to be somehow different from the reason we ourselves are enjoying and exercising as we put it in. [. . .] But the imagined thinking which we put into the picture depends—because our whole idea of Nature depends—on thinking we actually doing, not vice versa. This is the prime reality, on which the attribution of reality to anything else rests. If it won’t fit into Nature, we can’t help it. We will certainly not, on that account, give it up. If we do, we should be giving up Nature too.

    Atheistic naturalism, primarily because it denies the reality of free will, simply cannot ground reasoning:

    The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It: Sam Harris’s Free Will – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.

    In short, if one is to ever claim that he is truly being ‘reasonable’ then he first honestly must admit to the necessity and reality of his own free will (so as to even be able to make logical choices in the first place), and therefore, since free will is one of the primary defining properties of an immaterial mind, the atheist must also necessarily admit to the truthfulness of Theism.

    Isaiah 1:18
    “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

    John 1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

    of note: ‘the Word’ in John1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos also happens to be the root word from which we derive our modern word logic

    What is the Logos?
    Logos is a Greek word literally translated as “word, speech, or utterance.” However, in Greek philosophy, Logos refers to divine reason or the power that puts sense into the world making order instead of chaos.,,,
    In the Gospel of John, John writes “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John appealed to his readers by saying in essence, “You’ve been thinking, talking, and writing about the Word (divine reason) for centuries and now I will tell you who He is.”

    Of supplemental note:

    Naturalism and Self-Refutation – Michael Egnor – January 31, 2018
    Excerpt: For Clark, thoughts merely appear out of matter, which has no properties, by the laws of physics, for generating thought. For Clark to assert that naturalistic matter as described by physics gives rise to the mind, without immateriality of any sort, is merely to assert magic.
    Furthermore, the very framework of Clark’s argument — logic — is neither material nor natural. Logic, after all, doesn’t exist “in the space-time continuum” and isn’t described by physics. What is the location of modus ponens? How much does Gödel’s incompleteness theorem weigh? What is the physics of non-contradiction? How many millimeters long is Clark’s argument for naturalism? Ironically the very logic that Clark employs to argue for naturalism is outside of any naturalistic frame.
    The strength of Clark’s defense of naturalism is that it is an attempt to present naturalism’s tenets clearly and logically. That is its weakness as well, because it exposes naturalism to scrutiny, and naturalism cannot withstand even minimal scrutiny. Even to define naturalism is to refute it.

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    Heh. I just purchased that book yesterday without even seeing this post or the aeon article.

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