Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Epistemic Underwriter

We depend on the cosmos being dependable, readable, rational, coherent, intelligible and above all having epistemic integrity.

Here's one of the latest comments I found on Jason Lisle's blog. (Research Update August 2014) It's significant because I probably have common ground with  Lisle on this topic and would largely agree with him.

Stefan Frello says:
I should have been a little more precise. In order for a theory to be scientific, it should follow Occam’s razor. You should be able to make predictions from the theory, and it should be falsifiable (because it is convenient, If not for other reasons).
  • Dr. Lisle says:
    The problem with this answer is that it disconnects science from reality. That is, your view of science is that it is a way of answering questions that is “convenient” but not necessarily true or having anything whatsoever to do with reality. In the Christian worldview, science is a tool we use to answer certain questions about the actual universe. And it works because God upholds the universe in a consistent way with patterns that we can discover with increasing probability (though not necessarily certainty) using our mind and senses that God designed. But on your worldview, there is no reason to think that the procedures of science, including Occam’s Razor, have anything whatsoever to do with reality. Thus, your worldview cannot justify science as a method of obtaining empirical knowledge. And that’s been my point all along. Only Christianity can do this.

What I would add to this is that we come to God in an a priori way: "In the beginning God the Father and therefore the universe will make (some) sense because his creation will be coherent and intelligible". However, this approach can't be offered as "a proof of God" as I have heard some Christians suggest; we can only start with the basic ideas of cosmic integrity and rationality sourced in a personal God and then exploit this concept, a priori, as the corner stone of our epistemology. That is, we can't  infer God from an intelligible universe, but if we posit a God of integrity we can infer a comprehensible universe.**

If some atheists choose to exploit an epistemic that depends on an intelligible universe as a given "brute fact", then in spite of them not believing that the success of this epistemic is sourced in God, they too will reap the reward of noetic riches; although they won't be able to relate this success to any higher reason.... for them "it just is".

Good 'ole Jason Lisle - I agree with him for once! Where I would probably disagree with him is in a typically fundamentalist lack of generosity to atheists*: Atheists who trust the integrity and rationality of the universe as a given and consequently make scientific advances to the benefit of us all are doing God's work and are glorifying him. Moreover,  when I look at the general state of the religious world I can hardly blame them for being atheists. Fundamentalists of all religious brands give me the creeps and constitute some of the best arguments for atheism. But the sad fact is, atheism sometimes finds itself teetering on the edge of the chasm into nihilism, the abyss where the chaos monster lurks.

Relevant Links:

* Fundamentalists also lack generosity to fellow believers who don't follow their views (if indeed they even think of them as fellow believers). See for example the link below where we catch Jason Lisle thrusting blasphemies and heresies into the mouths of fellow Christians.
** But that said we have to acknowledge that often our world makes little moral sense - basically that's the problem of pain and evil. 

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