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The Role Of Science, Ethics, And Faith In Modern Philosophy

3577 words - 14 pages

The Role of Science, Ethics, and Faith in Modern Philosophy

ABSTRACT: Curiously, in the late twentieth century, even agnostic cosmologists like Stephen Hawking—who is often compared with Einstein—pose metascientific questions concerning a Creator and the cosmos, which science per se is unable to answer. Modern science of the brain, e.g. Roger Penrose's Shadows of the Mind (1994), is only beginning to explore the relationship between the brain and the mind-the physiological and the epistemic. Galileo thought that God's two books-Nature and the Word-cannot be in conflict, since both have a common author: God. This entails, inter alia, that science and faith are to two roads to the Creator-God. David Granby recalls that once upon a time, science and religion were perceived as complementary enterprises, with each scientific advance confirming the grandeur of a Superior Intelligence-God. Are we then at the threshold of a new era of fruitful dialogue between science and religion, one that is mediated by philosophy in the classical sense? In this paper I explore this question in greater detail.

The thesis of this essay is that philosophy is at an important crossroads at the end of the twentieth century in its role as paideia—philosophy educating humanity. An unprecedented challenge and opportunity for philosophy today is to mediate, and enhance understanding of the relationship, between science, ethics and faith. A central question arises: What can philosophy contribute to the emerging dialogue between science and theology? The emerging science-theology dialogue is characterized by complexity and considerable confusion regarding proper methodologies, goals, and possible interactions. There are at least three major schools, models, or approaches to science-religion interfaces: (1) complete separation: no dialogue; (2) complementarity; and (3) fusion: "theistic science" or even a new natural theology (Gruenwald 1994: 4-14).

Paradoxically, the third model, which argues for a fusion or unity of science and theology has naturalistic as well as theistic proponents. For naturalists like Willem B. Drees, personal experiences, including religious experiences and consciousness, are all "part and parcel of nature" (1996: 245). Hence, Drees concludes that "the distinction between personal and impersonal relations provides no basis for distinguishing supernatural and natural phenomena" (1996: 245). Naturalists like Drees, then, consider religious beliefs and moral codes as products of evolution or natural processes alone, which leave no room for a Creator, let alone a transcendent God.

In contrast, theists like Phillip E. Johnson and Alvin Plantinga criticize the prevailing scientific paradigm in the natural sciences for excluding questions concerning design, purpose, value, First

Principles, and ultimately the Creator-God. According to Johnson, the scientific method or methodological naturalism leads imperceptibly to, and buttresses, metaphysical...

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