Science and Skepticism

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


Science and Skepticism. John Oakes 2011 ICEC Christianity and the Paranormal. Approaches to deciding Truth. Rationalism Empiricism Biblicism A class I have taught: Induction, Deduction, Revelation. Rationalism. What is true must be logical. It must make sense. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Science and Skepticism

Science and SkepticismJohn Oakes2011 ICECChristianity and the Paranormal

1Approaches to deciding TruthRationalism



A class I have taught: Induction, Deduction, Revelation2RationalismWhat is true must be logical. It must make sense.

I cannot accept that. It does not make sense to me.

Is this a good argument?

This is rational Christianity.3EmpiricismWhat is true is what can be demonstrated to be true by observation or experience.

Until we have actual physical evidence that ghosts, demons, etc. are real, the default position is that they are not real.

Flip side: I experienced this, therefore it is real.

This is experiential Christianity.4BiblicismBiblical statements (or at least my interpretation of them) trumps all other arguments.

If the Bible said that Jonah swallowed the whale, I would believe that.

This can be irrational Christianity.5A Suggested ApproachEclectic, Skeptical No-particular-ism

The Problem of Philosophy.

Augustine: We know in order to believe.

Aquinas: We believe in order to know.

William of Ockham and Nominalism6A propositionPhilosophy is a useful tool but truth should not be a tool of philosophy.7The TruthThe truth is not [always] rational.

The truth is not irrational.

The truth is always biblical.

If the Bible were irrational, then it would not true.8A Case Study:Augustine, Faustus and ManichaeismCan one commit to being rational and to the authority of the teaching of Manes?

Is Manichaean cosmology irrational?

Side note: Is Hindu or Buddhist cosmology irrational?9Conclusion (for now)We can learn from and use philosophy and reason.

We can learn from and be informed by science and experience.

We can rely on biblical authority.

But none of these gets to trump the others.10Before We StartI lean toward biblicism.

I am skeptical of skepticism.Skepticism needs to work both ways.11GhostsBiblical warrant weak at best. 1 Sam 28?

Rational warrant weak at best.

Empirical warrant weak (based on anecdote)

Alternative rational and biblical explanations exist.

I say it is very likely ghosts are not real.12Satan/Demons/Demon PossessionBiblical warrant very strong.

Rational warrant somewhat weak. Is evil real?

Empirical warrant weaker. Again, based on anecdotes.

I believe demons are real, demon possession in the past was real, and likely it is real today.13Witchcraft, Shamans, occult, etc.A weaker biblical warrant. Perhaps related to demonology.

Many will say that belief in such things is irrational.

Empirical evidence is weak (anecdotal).

Conclusion: I do not know, but I am VERY skeptical.14Aliens, astrology, numerology, leprechauns, etc.Zero biblical warrant.

Zero rational warrant.

Zero empirical warrant.

These things are not real.15Final ThoughtsWe need to learn how to accept a fairly wide range of thought on some of these things.

The role of the teacher is to help people learn how to think about these things rather than tell them what to think about these things.16