The philosophically invisible God

The second part of TOF’s series on the dangers of (scientific) models is now up. It goes into more technicalities than the first part, but is pretty instructive. I’m not sure yet where he mainly wants to take the series, but some applications should be obvious – except for those whose models of knowledge won’t let them see it.

For he begins his piece with a thought I’ve previously alluded to myself, but which ought to cause sober reflection all round:

In “The Year of the Jackpot,” Robert A. Heinlein famously said. “A fact has no ‘why.’ There it stands, self-demonstrating.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Facts are meaningless by themselves. Einstein (whose name double-rhymes with Heinlein) put it this way: “Theory determines what can be observed.” This led Heisenberg to his famous observation that:

What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.
– Werner Karl Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science

Now do we really understand the import of that for our own fields of interest? I’d like to apply it in an area I doubt matters that much to the author, and that is to the philosophical/metaphysical presumptions I’ve been covering in the last few posts, and how they might specifically affect theistic approaches to the question of origins. I’ll put them in the form of open questions for you to ponder.

  • If your view of God’s action in nature sidelines formal and final causation and considers (in Enlightenment fashion) only efficient and material causes (see here), what will you observe, and what will you be unable to observe?
  • If you assume a nominalist position over a realist one (see here), ie that nature does not embody universal essential forms, what will you observe, and what will you be unable to observe?
  • If you adopt a “mere conservationist” of divine action rather than a “concurrentist” one (see here), what will you observe, and what will you be unable to observe?

Do you think such issues might be influencing the public discussion of theistic evolution?

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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