Science’s Overlooked Problem
The other contributors on this website do a great job offering ideas and concepts they find regarding religion, God, atheism, and the like. In lieu of this, I would like to share some wisdom from theologian Huston Smith. Smith is Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, of Syracuse University (to learn more, visit his website).
For fifteen years he was Professor of Philosophy at M.I.T. and for a decade before that he taught at Washington University in St. Louis. Most recently he has served as Visiting Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Berkeley. In addition, Smith holds 12 honorary degrees and has written 14 books (some titles include: Why Religion Matters, The World’s Religions, and The Soul of Christianity). That being said, it is from some of Smith’s writings that I base this post.
It is no secret that science and religion have been butting heads since the 20th century (particularly against the fundamentalist sects of faiths). Yet I have been a firm believer that science cannot, and does not, provide ample explanation for things such as life’s purpose or God (despite rather poor attempts).
I think it would be beneficial to reflect on the insight from the writings of Huston Smith. Essentially, scientists are being forced to reconsider their “bottom-up” reasoning theory of causation (the one that challenges, say, the Christian position).
Since science is empirical, everything in it spins off from our physical senses. The fact that those sense connect only with physical objects and that the entire house of science is founded on our physical senses has led scientists to assume that matter is the fundamental ‘stuff’ of the universe.
Their familiar scenario begins with the Big Bang, from which issued the smallest conceivable entities – quarks, strings, what have you – that grouped themselves into progressively more complex entities until the latest nanosecond of cosmic time life and consciousness emerged. It’s upward (bottom-up) causation all the way.
Smith has outlined the basic (dominant) theory and beliefs from the scientific perspective. However, as he will point out, this type of causation is being question for very important, yet surprisingly obvious reasons. Smith continues…
What is causing scientists to reconsider that scenario [the one outlined above] is their dawning realization that it contains no explanation for WHY [emphasis mine] complexity increases. To say that it rides the Big Bang’s momentum is no good, for no one completely knows what powered the Big Bang in the first place.
And to say that the complex forms emerged fares no better, for emergence is a descriptive, not an explanatory, concept.
I hope you think on these words and let this overlooked point sink in. For those of you who are not familiar with my writing on this website, please note that my intention is not religious conversion, but rather intellectual stimulation. Have a great day and enjoy the rest of the week. Hello to everyone that I haven’t conversed with in a while (i.e. Simen and HIS).
Politics & Religion