Science’s Fortuneteller

4186-1537In defending scientism (the belief that science is the source of all knowledge) Alex Rosenberg insists that he doesn’t actually need to deal with the arguments showing his position to be wrong.

Scientism isn’t required to figure out what is wrong with these proofs that experience can’t be physical, so minds can’t be brains. That’s the job of science— neuroscience in particular. (The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, p. 228)

It’s already been pointed out that this is a category error–that science simply cannot, by definition, explain the mind. In fact, that is precisely what many of the proofs Rosenberg mentions show. So, to say that science will explain it is to assume, without giving a reason, that these proofs are somehow flawed.

But there is more going on here than circular reasoning. Even granting for the sake of argument that science can inquire into metaphysical objects like minds, this is no defense of materialism. This is because Rosenberg has absolutely no reason why, in order to explain the mind, neuroscience won’t need to propose metaphysical properties or substances very much like those believed in by theists.

Of course, one might object that “Of course neuroscientists won’t propose such things; they wouldn’t be doing science if they did that”. And that is exactly the theist’s point. Science doesn’t propose or test for the metaphysical, and so cannot even in principle explain things like mind or experience.

Essentially, we can’t have it both ways. We need either to see that science doesn’t test for the metaphysical, or (falsely) claim that it does. But, if we do the latter, we shouldn’t be making bold predictions that science will never find it.

But there is still the more the more modest view that, while there is no reason (at all) to think that science will show that the mind is physical, there is no reason to think otherwise. This approach is less presumptuous about what science will do, and only suffers from the fact that it is demonstrably false. Science simply doesn’t test for the mind. And, I hasten to add, is no less amazing for that; it has a very different, equally necessary job.

So, in Rosenberg, we run into one of modern culture’s more curious paradoxes. As one of scientist’s most passionate supporters, he seems to know very little about how science actually works–and it is precisely his love affair with science which, like an infatuated teenager, keeps him from seeing the real person through the illusion that he’s found the answer to all of life’s problems.

Rather than make a goddess out of science, however, we need to see it for what it is: an astonishingly useful tool for revealing physical truths, which achieves such power by ignoring (not disproving) the non-physical. Prophesying that science will one day save the materialist from proofs of the non-physical is anything by scientific.

And this is key. Scientism is not merely not science; it is positively anti-science.

One response to “Science’s Fortuneteller

  • Hank Kimball

    For SOME reason we base our calender by what came before Christ, and what came after Christ.
    ONLY one book I read claims that Jesus Christ is the son of God. All the rest claim him to be a prophet or just a son of God in line with other personifications of God, who were equally important.
    The source of all spiritual knowledge is from God, obviously.
    IF one was interested I could easily show them 20 prophesies made and fulfilled in the Bible. Prophesies being made in the Hebrew, Aramaic or Old testament scriptures; and being fulfilled in the Greek or New testament scriptures. That’s just ONE of the amazing items I can pull from the scriptures.
    The bible consist of 66 individual ‘books’ and letters written over a span of 1600 plus years, by 40 plus authors. They (the authors) include tax collectors, carpenters, fishermen, masons and average men.
    The all had one thing in common, especially, they were chosen by God to Do, and Preach and Right.
    When you look at some of these guys, you realize our God is a God of mercy and love. They are perfect examples of God being willing to forgive for ANY sin. Look at what David did to the husband of the woman he committed adultery with. He placed him in a position in battle that he knew would kill him because he didn’t want everyone to know that he impregnated his wife!! Talk about EGO and SELFISHNESS.
    Paul slaughtered Christians soon after Christ had died. Talk about a serial killer! He was a horrible example of decent conduct. Period.
    ONLY God could turn a guy like that completely around. He had been killing men who were really Christian and meek and mild mannered because he believed he was doing the will of God. On the road to Damascus Jesus appeared to Paul. He told Paul what the deal was, and Paul did a complete 180. Not only did he stop killing Christians; he began to preach and uplift them in spirit and truth. He also became loving and tolerant to ALL people. He had no designs on killing some of the most arrogant and belligerent deniers of God there were. He loved them ALL.
    David had done his dirty deed AFTER he had been given Jerusalem by God, and KNEW in his offspring would come the promised seed: Jesus.!! God corrected him and forgave him his sins!
    I don’t know how many times I have heard people say that “IF God is than God would be…..’.this’, or ‘that.’ ”
    They start this finite human mind logic; that sounds all neatly and rationally MADE UP, because they have NO knowledge of God prior to making their mind up about how God should BE!
    They don’t EVER consider the SOURCE of their own thinking about to begin with. They get in from the world. The precise place Jesus said he was no part of!!
    These same humans don’t consider that there is a reason for the way things are in the world. Their minds snap shut at what they have determined are key words. They measure what perfect should be by finite human standards and apply it to God.
    I state all these things because I TOO, at one time thought I knew enough about the bible; and I knew more than most; to determine that the bible was written by men and, even tho it may have been ‘inspired’ by God; it was still written by men and there was just too much superstition in it for it to be literally the word of God. CLEARLY.
    I was, what I considered to be spiritual. That means I was open to all forms of spiritual practices as long as they weren’t what ‘the world’ judges as ‘dark’ or evil. I prayed and meditated for 25 plus years. I helped a great many people, by God’s Grace.
    I didn’t know there was MORE. I certainly didn’t expect to find it in the bible. If I read what I just wrote, 5 years ago, I would have never believed it was I that typed it.
    Imagine being shown the insight of 150 years of men and women studying the Bible, only letting scripture interpret scripture, in an ever increasing fellowship, that found out, by scripture, that it all was prophesied. STRICT scripture interpreting scripture.
    The bible is NOT a novel folks. It wasn’t meant to be understood, for all the secrets in it about the last days, UNTIL these last days.
    That’s why when someone tells me that they read the bible; I just say; “that’s nice”. They have no idea what they are saying. I used to say that too, in argument. I said it to shut people up. But I found out that most of the people that argue the bible have no clue about the real ‘keep on the watch’ truths it tells us. Either that or they are just way off the spiritual beam and have let their ego get the better of them.
    I don’t believe that God has made it possible for everyone to know him. Jesus said in John 6:44; “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him; and I will resurrect him in the last day. “. And John 6:65; “…….“This is why I have said to ​YOU, No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.””
    I can prove the bible is in harmony with itself. I can only prove it to a man that REALLY wants the truth and the answers to his questions. ANYONE can argue and throw accusations about the bible. Who can SIT down and reason together with the BOOK?? Either God is everything or God is nothing. Either God IS of God ISN’T. About the only truth I could tell you, looking back, that I honestly could state, was that God IS, and I would have been correct. The rest I have been fortunate enough to learn, and UNLEARN. God doesn’t need Saints, God wants workers.

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