KARL JASPERS FORUM
Commentary 42 (to C40 by Adams)
IN WHICH SCIENCE DIFFERS FROM RELIGION ?
by Serge Patlavskiy
19 August 2009, posted 29 August 2009
[William A. Adams] wrote:
"<5> True believers have only two recourses: one, insistence on an axiomatic first principle, such as "Allah is the only God and Mohammed his only prophet." Once you accept that the doctrine is the literal word of God, then it is possible to reason within that framework and to reject those who do not accept the first principle. The principle itself is not open for discussion. That gambit makes the religion a formal system, like a chess game, with the rules defining the limits of fair play. It also makes it immune to criticism."
[S.P.] Both Science and Religion are intellectual products. Both have, according to the proposed terminology, an "axiomatic first principle", or (using my terminology), a set of meta-theoretical assertions. Both "Modern Scientific Materialistic Picture of the World" and a certain belief system are "immune to criticism". Why? Because they both are certain meta-theories, but a meta-theory cannot be criticized -- it can only be investigated for compatibility with other meta-theory. The term "to criticize" means to learn whether such or other idea corresponds to a given established meta-theory. A meta-theory cannot be assessed in reference to itself. We can only see whether the given meta-theory is all-sufficient, is not self-contradictory, whether the applied theories may be constructed within its frames, and whether those applied theories can explain the available facts.
So, both Science and Religion(s) are formal systems. It goes without saying that "true scientist" cannot put in question the Darwinian theory of evolution, or the idea that the solar system was born in a huge swirling cloud of cold gas. In other words, if I say that the Darwinian theory of evolution is false because it is not backed up by any paleontological evidences, or that the solar system is clearly an artificial construction, then I will be treated as not "true scientist". The same will happen when I say that by "God" we should mean the ultimate unexplainable cause of events instead of an anthropomorphic old man with a long grey beard -- I will be excommunicated. The scientific and religious dogmatisms are of the same nature -- they both are the intellectual products of the level of meta-theory, and they strive for staying unchanged as long as possible at any price.
I think that rationality (logic, criticality, etc.) -- it is not in which Science differs from Religion. When answering a question "Where the human come from?" the believer says "The human was created by God", there is much logic and rationality in his words -- his answer corresponds to the given belief system: since God has created everything (this is a meta-theoretical assertion), it would be logical and rational to suppose that he has created the human as well. In general case, "to be rational or logical" means to correspond to given established meta-theory.
Somebody may argue that the distinctive feature of Science is practical applicability of its results. But, the fact is that Religion(s) persuades hundreds of millions of people to conduct similar way of live and to follow certain universal moral standards -- this is a remarkable practical result as well.
So, in which Science does differ from Religion? In my view, for the intellectual product to be called scientific, it must meet the following few criteria:
1) it must not contain tautologies;
2) it must not contain notion-metaphor transmutations;
3) it must not contain hypostatizations;
4) it must not contain incorrect definitions (when the unknown is
defined through the other unknown);
5) it must not contain multiplied hypotheses (when each next hypothesis is being based upon the previous one);
6) it must not breach Okham's razor principle;(the suggested items may be modified, and more items may be added).
The intellectual products based on the belief systems do not meet these criteria. It may look strange, but many theories presently treated as scientific do not meet the formulated criteria either. Also, as I have mentioned in my jcs-online post #6893 in reply to Bill Adams, "if we all would strictly obey the formulated universal criteria of scientific correctness while constructing our intellectual products in the field of consciousness studies, we would be able to come to common understanding very quickly."
e-mail <prodigyPSF (at) rambler.ru>