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lovebanswarr's avatar

Francis Collins writes, "Science is the only reliable way to understand that natural world, and its tools when properly utilized can generate profound insights into material existence" (p. 6). Agree or Disagree?

Asked by lovebanswarr (28points) July 3rd, 2010

This is a quote from Francis Collins book, “The Language of God.” You don’t have to read it in order to answer. It’s just a matter of your opinion if you agree or disagree with what he’s saying and why you agree or disagree.

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15 Answers

MissA's avatar

I disagree. Humans have an innate ability to ponder their existence, without necessarily turning to science.

nikipedia's avatar

Oh, I think if you know anything about science, then this statement is self-evidently true.

There simply is no other way we have devised yet to understand the natural, material world.

The supernatural, spiritual, and other domains are not scientific and do not accurately describe the natural world.

ETpro's avatar

Yes I agree. If you leave the word “reliable” out, then you can know a good deal about the natural world just by being close to it. American Indians knew a lot about the world around them, but they had no good way of determining what part of that knowledge base was true and what part was based on myth and superstition.

gasman's avatar

The scientific method is the most successful intellectual achievement in the history of our species.

By “scientific method” I mean physical observation combined with logical inference.

By “successful” I mean resulting in a deep understanding of the natural world with a significant rise in standard of living over our pre-scientific ancestors.

nebule's avatar

I disagree. Philosophy can explore areas of the natural world that cannot be explained by science alone and the fusion of the two along with other areas of expertise (e.g. psychology) can lead to some pretty convincing theories about the nature of the world we live in.

lovebanswarr's avatar

@lynneblundell I was asked this question in my Philosophy class so I appreciate your view on faith.

nebule's avatar

Well it’s like the the classic misconception that Darwin’s theory of evolution completely wipes out any possibility of their being a God or rather some branches of religions assume that it does this because Science would suggest that evolution is non-teleological and therefore anti-god… but through philosophy we see that this is not the case. What people assume the implications to be are not necessarily true. Science is an answer but it is by no means the final word.

MaryW's avatar

I agree if you say… a reliable way… instead of “the only reliable way” I would never say only because the same conclusions may also be reached logically, which is not considered by some as straight science.

wundayatta's avatar

Science is great at helping us with objective truths. However it has a hard time with subjective truths. To get at those, we need stories and metaphors. God is a very popular metaphor.

The problem is that “subjective” and “truth” are kind of contradictions in terms. The truth is known only to the perceiver/thinker. It feels like truth, but it can’t be shared except through language, which is to say, metaphor. It can not be shared directly.

gasman's avatar

I may have overstated the case in my previous posting, which unintentionally sounded like scientism. Obviously science is not the be-all and end-all of Knowledge with a capital K. You can’t know the human condition without the humanities. Existence would be dreary indeed without our literature, art, mythology (including religion), and undeniably other aspects of our material existence as people that lie outside the reach of empirical science.

My point is that in 10,000 years or so of recorded civilization, man’s eternal quest to grasp existence underwent a gigantic step—a big bang of knowledge, so to speak—beginning with the scientific revolution of only the most recent 2 or 3 of centuries. Very recent in the pageant of history.

The much-venerated Aristotle probably set back the cause of physics for 2000 years by arguing (from essentially an armchair, i.e., non-empirical premises) that a body in motion comes to rest and a body in constant motion requires a constant force. (I’m not sure exactly what Aristotle said, but that was the gist of it). This is completely wrong and finally got straightened out by Isaac Newton.

Aristotle made important contributions to early western thought & may be excused for not understanding friction as a force distinct from gravity. It shows how a philosophy may be self-consistent, yet lack external validation.

Not that I’m making any value judgments here.

One of my favorite Richard Feynman quotes: What men are poets who may speak of Jupiter if he is a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?

mattbrowne's avatar

Francis Collins is a Christian. He is not an advocate of scientism. And yes, the best way to understand natural phenomena is scientific method. Thunder and lightning are not triggered by an angry God.

The theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions.

The theory of materialism cannot explain the origin of the natural laws.

Can we use science to understand the purpose and meaning of the universe. We can’t. Science does have limitations.

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne I don’t think we can definitively state that we can’t use science to understand the purpose and meaning of the universe. All we currently know scientifically on that score is we haven’t found an answer yet.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – I’m puzzled. Hypothetically how could scientific answers look like? I thought the purpose of science is to explain phenomena and make predictions about future events. How can you invent experiments, apply scientific method and the result of this gives you the purpose of the universe?

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne I can no more answer that question than Sir Isaac Newton would have been able to describe to you the the experiments and instrumentation needed to explore quantum physics. I’m just saying that Science is not able to say what science can’t say—it’s only useful in saying what it can say. Proving a negative is not a well formed question, scientifically speaking. All we currently know is that if there are things to be observed that make it clear how the universe was formed, and why, we either haven’t observed them yet or don’t yet realize what we are looking at.

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