Monday, October 18, 2010
SCIENCE IS DEAD!...without philosophy
On the first page in Chapter one of Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow's newest book, The Grand Design, the following is stated regarding questions about the origin of the universe:
"Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge."
This statement reflects the attitude among many toward philosophy. I personally have run across this type of "Scientific Snobbery" in conversation and interactions with skeptics.
Statements such as
"I'd rather ask a physicist than a philosopher any day"
"Philosophers are full of baloney and just like to hear themselves talk; I'll take a quantum physicist's word over theirs any day. "
are not entirely uncommon in the blogosphere or in the local newspaper.
Within these statements, such as the one made in Hawking's new book, exists an obvious misunderstanding that needs to be addressed. Simply put, science is built on philosophy. Indeed, as authors Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. Frank Turek point out, science is a slave to philosophy. Why? Because:
Science cannot be done without philosophy. Philosophical assumptions are utilized in the search for causes, and, therefore, cannot be the result of them. For example, scientists assume (by faith) that reason and the scientific method allow us to accurately understand the world around us. That cannot be prove by science itself. You can't prove the tools of science-the laws of logic, the Law of Causality, the Principle of Uniformity, of the reliability of observation-by running some kind of experiment. You have to assume those things are true in order to do the experiment! So science is built on philosophy. Unfortunately, many so-called scientists are very poor philosophers. 
Indeed. Even the statement, "Science is the only source of objective truth" is not itself a scientific truth, but it claims to be true! Therefore, the statement is self-defeating.
Science is an extremely valuable tool and it's contributions to mankind have been great. But let us not be deceived- science owes it's life to philosophy.
Courage and Godspeed,
1. Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. Frank Turek, I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 127-128. Note: Geisler and Turek offer 2 other ways that science is built on philosophy in their book.