Monday, December 11, 2006


I am in the middle of a book entitled The Limitations of Scientific Truth, by Nigel Brush. I initially bought it because it looked from the table of contents like it covered a range of topics that I need to learn more about. I figured it to be a dry read. Not so. The author is a very engaging writer who takes a host of complex philosophical topics and condenses them into a nice package.

One of his points is that modern science has no solid ground for asserting that it finds truth. This is not his opinion, this is the current state of the world. All of the attempts at finding a solid philosophical basis for the scientific method have come up empty. Essentially, the only reason we believe the findings of science is because we choose to believe them.

Philosophy does not fare much better. The last century of philosophical thought has been forced to acknowledge that we cannot evaluate philosophical perspectives by any objective standard. If my belief system differs from yours, no external ruler exists in philosophy to measure them and find which is superior. Basically, if I believe something different than you, it is only because I choose to do so.

The only other source of information available to humans is revelation. Which of course cannot be measured by any external tools, and is therefore accepted or rejected entirely on faith. Now I don't have any problem with that - I know that my decision to accept the teachings of Scripture are first and foremost an act of faith. I have examined them and believe that they are likely correct. Yes, it is true that they work for me (except when they don't seem to), and there is an element of confirmation that I believe God gives to those who choose to follow the truth. But in the end, following the Scriptures is an act of faith.

I just find it very nice to know that science and philosophy are as much faith-based systems as Christianity.

At least we admit it.


the-unintentional-blogger said...

I'm going to play the skeptic here for just a moment (even though on the surface, I agree with his assertions). I noticed that the author was a Christian, so he has a motive in debunking scientific truth. Do you think that his assertions stand up if he was not a religious person? I guess my question is, does the book seem to question science so that people would be left with faith in a religious system as the only alternative for truth?

Dr. Don said...

A valid question. But his point is not to debunk scientific truth, simply to point out its limitations. It is my observation that he effectively places all three on level ground. He does so, however, only using philosophic and scientific arguments, rather than religious ones.

And yes, he is a Christian.