Contrary to Hume’s contention, there is no essential connection between miracles and violations of natural laws. Not only may violations of natural law be utterly nonmiraculous, miracles may occur in complete conformity with such laws. Furthermore, a proper understanding of miracles in terms of divine agency places them into an epistemic context where the growth of science does not directly threaten their possibility.
Scientists, both modern and contemporary, commonly try to discern patterns in nature. They also frequently use arguments by analogy to construct an understanding of the natural mechanisms responsible for producing such patterns. For Robert Boyle, the famous clock at Strasbourg provided a perfect paradigm for understanding the connection between these two scientific activities. Unfortunately, it also posed a serious threat to his realistic pretensions. All sorts of internal mechanisms could produce precisely the same movements across the face of a clock. (...) Given God's immense creative capacities, Boyle realized that standard epistemological constraints could never ensure, not even to the least degree of probability, that scientific theories about the unobservable mechanisms of nature were descriptively accurate. Like most moderns, he fortified his epistemology theologically in order to retain his realistic stance. John Locke, however, took counsel from Ecclesiastes to repudiate Boyle's realism, while Samuel Clarke mobilized biblical images to dismiss the clockwork paradigm altogether.A contemporary review of this modern controversy reveals that there is still much to learn from the clock at Strasbourg. Among other things, the realism/antirealism issue is of central importance to understanding today's science, Nancey Murphy's protests notwithstanding. Moreover, the kind of realistic stance that is essential, not only to the truth but to the very intelligibility of certain types of scientific explanation, demands more than the critical realism of Ian Barbour. To be taken seriously, the models used in such contexts must be taken literally. (shrink)
In his recent review of the Galileo affair, Pope John Paul II confidently proclaimed the intellectual autonomy of religion, comfortably affirming that the methods and ideas of religion are cleanly separable from those of the sciences. Unfortunately, a close review of the actual details of the Galilean controversy reveals that the lesson to be learned from that famous case is not one of sanitary intellectual compartmentalization, but one of entangling interdependencies among scientific, religious, and philosophical thought.
It is commonly thought that w v quine's indeterminacy thesis can be devastatingly undercut by a straightforward survey of the details of one's own linguistic capabilities. However, Because any such survey must depend upon a repudiation of the quinean doctrines used to generate his thesis, Objections based upon introspective evidence remain question begging without a critique of those more central doctrines. Since such a critique would be sufficient in itself to undermine quine's thesis, Objections based upon introspective gleanings must be (...) abandoned as either question begging or superfluous. (shrink)
Michael Ruse, Science and spirituality: making room for faith in the age of science Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11153-010-9242-9 Authors Edward L. Schoen, Western Kentucky University Department of Philosophy and Religion Bowling Green KY USA Journal International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Online ISSN 1572-8684 Print ISSN 0020-7047.
According to Langdon Gilkey, both religion and science are cognitive enterprises, but they are separated methodologically. As a result, science and religion are concerned with different, though related levels of truth. Against these claims, historical examples are used to argue that scientific and religious explanations cannot be so neatly separated. To the contrary, both fields frequently treat overlapping ranges of data in methodologically opportunistic ways.
In a footnote to ‘Of Miracles’, David Hume defined the miraculous as ‘… a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent .’ In the opening pages of the essay itself, however, Hume dropped the reference to agency in favour of the simpler declaration that any ‘ … miracle is a violation of the laws of nature …’ This preference for the simpler formulation was deliberate. According to (...) Hume, it was their violation of natural law that provided the genuinely intimidating obstacle against miracles. As the course of his argument makes clear, Hume believed that the massive accumulation of evidence supporting the regularity of nature invariably would overwhelm any meagre reports to the contrary. For this reason alone, questions of divine agency could be ignored as purely academic. (shrink)
Three of the most venerable objections to anthropomorphic conceptions of the divine are traceable to Xenophanes and his critique of the early Greek gods. Though suitably revised, these ancient criticisms have persisted over the centuries, plaguing various religious communities, particularly those of classical Christian commitment. Xenophanes complained that anthropomorphism leads to unseemly characterizations, noting that both over the ages, the list of unseemly characteristics has expanded somewhat.
While reports of sensory encounters with the divine come from a variety of religious traditions, philosophers as diverse as Thomas Aquinas and Robert Oakes have argued that such experiences of incorporeal divine beings are impossible. Nevertheless, by clarifying various relations among acts of perception, perceptual detections of presence and kinds of perceptual recognition, the sensory perception of imperceptible things emerges as a coherent possibility. So, even if they are essentially unobservable, incorporeal divine beings still fall well within the range of (...) normal human sense perception. (shrink)