In the middle ages, we called science "natural philosophy" because we understood that science was the application of a particular philosophy to our understanding of the natural world. The philosophy then employed was the philosophy of Aristotle, with its mixed bag of insight and nonsense.
Science still is natural philosophy, even though we’ve dropped the name. The philosophy it now employs -- empiricism -- is exploded. Even though the finest philosophers now rarely advocate empiricism, modern science still insists on being its laboratory application. Someone needs to tell the scientists that the rest of the world has junked the scientists’ philosophy and might have been right to do so.
If bad ideas have bad consequences, and if empiricism is a philosophically bad idea, then one wonders what bad consequences flow from the bad philosophy that sits as the bedrock of modern science and is the engine of its movement.
Worth considering, that.
When challenged on the point, these otherwise empirical scientists often take resort to pragmatism: “We use empiricism because it works.” Pay no attention to the fact that as a worldview pragmatism has its own set of fatal flaws. Simply notice that a moment earlier the scientists were talking as if science yielded truth and empirical facts. Now they don’t. They move seamlessly yet schizophrenically back and forth between supreme confidence and self-effacing mealy-mouthedness, depending upon which one serves their purposes best at the moment.
The same nonsense holds true with the scientists’ faulty theology, which says that God, if He exists at all, is and ought to be irrelevant to scientific endeavor, that we can proceed quite nicely without Him, thank you very much. Put on this lab coat and leave your Bible at the door.
That's perfectly bad theology, pure and simple.
It might be well for scientists to consider Wolfhart Pannenberg’s hypothesis that God is not only a field of force without limitations of time or extension, but that He is the field of force and, if so, then the scientists have been dealing with Him all along in one way and another yet never once realized it because their suffocating worldview made such recognition simply impossible.
I'm not saying that the alternative to modern science is the bastardized nonsense that one gets at some Christian colleges, but neither ought it to be the bastardized nonsense one gets at shamelessly secular enclaves like Harvard or Oxford, as if Richard Dawkins, not John Lennox, John Polkinghorne, or Michael Polanyi were the master of interdisciplinary thinking on this subject (or any other).
All this academically myopic, self-congratulatory, under-informed, scientific delusion happens because we have divided human knowledge up into discreet and externally impenetrable academic disciplines, each with its own private set of presuppositions and methods, and each with the freedom to do as it sees fit without regard to the knowledge gained in other disciplines.
But it’s utterly unreal. It’s utterly a rejection of things as they really are: We don’t have, say, a mathematical universe alongside a historical universe, alongside a philosophical universe, alongside a chemical universe, alongside a theological universe, alongside a sociological universe, alongside a rhetorical universe, alongside a political universe. We have but one world, and the answers we offer to life’s fundamental and enduring questions need to be true across the board. Regarding origins, for example, it cannot be that (A.) the universe and matter are eternal and also that (B.) we have reached today -- any today. Why not? Because it is impossible to traverse infinity, and if the universe is infinitely old, then you can’t get from infinity past to here.
Yet, here we are.
Some scientists, I am pleased to say, have escaped this prison and its “mind-forged manacles.” They work at places like the Discovery Institute; they also have serious doubts about evolutionary theory and the very unpristine data concerning global warming.
The prominence of contemporary scientific silliness is the by-product of academic segregation; it's just Jim Crow in charge of the curriculum: “Separate (disciplines) but equal,” which means, we all know, separate but unequal. No scientist I know thinks we ought to give equal weight to science and to Karl Barth’s intellectual earthquake, which brought down the towers of natural philosophy and natural theology, or to the first Christians’ discovery of the empty tomb on Easter morning. If, indeed, the tomb was empty, if Spirit reversed physical death -- doing what matter could never do -- then the scientific presupposition that only matter matters, and that only matter-based hypotheses are acceptable is simply false. In such a world, science misses out on some of the most important, perhaps even the most important, explanatory principle in or out of the universe: God. Easter has dawned in the laboratory and no one there even noticed.
That’s because scientists don’t really think that Theology yields knowledge, that Theology is really an academic discipline that needs to be heard and taken into account. But they do think the theologians ought to listen to the scientists. They also think that the traffic between the two disciplines, if it exists at all, ought to be a one-way street from the laboratory to Jesus’ gravesite, not the other way round.
They think that Theology must sit in the back of the bus.