Friday, February 29, 2008

Religion and scientific world view - audio lecture by Keith Ward (online at Gresham college)

Quotes and comments;

1. 'Is there a scientific world-view? The Oxford English Dictionary defines a world-view as ‘a set of fundamental beliefs, attitudes, values, etc., determining or constituting a comprehensive outlook on life, the universe, etc.’
- I suggest replacing the obsolete word religion with world view (wview) or belief system. You can see how this would change things by replacing the word religion in the following quote; ''there is an inherent conflict between religion and science."

2. Ward's view of metaphysics appears to be that man is the result of the 'fine tuning' of the laws of physics... and that this 'fine tuning' was done by some kind of absentee creator. This kind of speculation of course has no power to draw anyone; hence the empty churches. Is that the kind of God anyone would worship? I doesn't appear to be the case does it. (Sort of like a beautiful young lass falling in love with an elderly Newton :=)

3. This is the first of a series of 6 lectures on science and religion. I listened to them all but can't recall that he ever bothered to define religion. I expect that's rather telling, as his brand of Christianity isn't based on anything real; certainly not the Bible.

4. The new scientists (after Galileo) said 'were not going to ask what the purpose of things is." This has been called the 'disenchantment' of nature.

5. 'The conflict that is presented by modern day atheists as 'religion' vs. science was really one between the new science and the old science. The old science was Aristotlian; and it included a concern for final causes.' (i.e. Methodological naturalism lops off this concern for final causes; doesn't ask 'what is a thing for?')

6. Ward quotes G.E. Moore as saying "on the whole it would have been better if this universe had never existed." Here we see the bleakness of materialist philosophy. Moore couldn't possibly have know that. (He's probably saying I shouldn't have existed; and if one knows a little something of his life one can understand it.) This is silliness. There is no way a finite, fallible human being is in any position to make such a statement. This is just indulging in perversity. All his learning availed Moore nothing.

7. Ward says it's alright for scientists to say 'we're not concerned with the question of purpose or values...' (and he agrees this is the way science should be done)
- should be done? if all is matter in motion it makes no sense to say x or y 'should' be done; so even materialist science, at the very beginning, starts off with a moral view of things.
- He says it's Not alright for scientists to say there is no purpose; i.e. to switch from a method of doing science to a conclusion about reality... to a metaphysical claim. (which is what populizers like dawkins do)


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