Metatheoretic Shaping Principles: Where Science meets Theology

In William Hasker Thomas Jay Oord & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), God in an Open Universe (2011)
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Abstract

Scientific knowledge is often categorized as experimental or theoretical. There is, however, a third layer where philosophy of science and science proper overlap, the realm of metatheoretic shaping principles. For example, we assume that the causal regularities observed today will also hold tomorrow. Researchers are thereby relying on two metaphysical doctrines: the uniformity of nature and mechanistic causation. There are also the “explanatory virtues” of simplicity, testability, internal and external coherence, fruitfulness, and wide scope. My first goal is to categorize these principles and show how they’ve operated in the history of science. Particular attention will be paid to their suspension and rejection, even of widely held principles. My second goal is to consider how certain shaping principles impinge on open theology. Of particular interest will be naturalism (both metaphysical and methodological), reductionism, and realism. Surprisingly, differences within the open theology camp are more relevant to these issues than open theism itself.

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Jeffrey Koperski
Saginaw Valley State University

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