Thursday, April 2, 2009

The big difference: Theology and Science

NO, this isn't going to be yet another screed on evolution. In fact, in my religion, evolution is an accepted fact, it's the theory of random quantum mechanics that isn't accepted.

Still, though, Theology and Science do look at things in one very different way: Dogmas vs Axioms. Axioms in science can actually be disproven- just like any other theory or law or idea. Whole schools of scientific thought have, in the past, had their axioms disproven and they've had to either change or go extinct because of it. Not so with theology- in theology, Dogma is sacred. In Roman Catholic Terms it's the "Deposit of Faith" upon which all else is built. Everything else in theology is explaining the Dogma to new generations- there is never anything added or taken away.

In this way, I charge that the so-called soft sciences of Psychology and Economics are not really sciences at all- but rather theologies. Their dogmas, even when apparently destroyed by an aberrant personality or an economic collapse, are held to be inviolate. Thus, we get Freudian psychologists who explain everything in terms of sexual development; and Milton Friedman economists who claim that cutting taxes is the right thing to do even when consolidation of wealth is destroying the market.


Sci-Guy said...

Actually I like to point out that Quantum Mechanics is not "random" it is probabilistic.

Ted Seeber said...

Good point- the main reason I brought it up is that atheists, who claim to believe in science, are always bring up the "random" nature of the universe at a quantum level as proof that there is no God.

To be exact, there are two possible explanations for Quantum Mechanics being probabilistic:
1. The information to make it deterministic just isn't there (and if so, neither is God, for a God-controlled universe would be deterministic at least.)
2. The information is there, but is not available to finite human instrumentation or capabilities (thus at least leaving a door open for beings of greater abilities- not necessarily God, could even be finite beings just a little more advanced than us, for whom quantum mechanics becomes deterministic in their understanding while remaining probabilistic in ours).

But *BOTH* explanations are something theology alone could never accept- for theology, dogma is the only knowledge that counts for anything. A rational religion must admit to both dogmatic and scientific knowledge to be rational. Otherwise, might as well strap a bomb to your chest in an infantile attempt to stop progress. Or for that matter, call for tax cuts for the rich to prevent the poor from forming a middle class again.

kerrjac said...

Interesting post in contrasting science & theology. The surprising thing, however, is that the 2 may not really be that different. Their axioms differ widely, but their modes of deduction - particularly the role of rational logic - maybe quite similar. Part of it might depend on what brand of theology you take to, but taking from Aquinas - & really, he wrote in theology's heyday - he writes in such a logical, even-tempered, & rational manner, that his works seem more akin to science than to, say, the sacred texts.

Godel in the 20th century however essentially dislodged logic from its throne. It was a blow to science (well, in the sense that it redirected the enterprise), but I think it was also a blow to any form of rhetoric that depended on logic (note, not to any "logical" discourse, but to anyone that depended on formal logical systems/deduction). Theology, I'd think, would be included. The concern is that even if it's axioms are completely correct (oh, & note that you can't disprove axioms, merely work from them), & it's deductions are completely sound, it still might be *wrong* (not only that, but that there's a good chance that it is wrong). That might sound weird to you - imagine Godel's surprise, as he was trying to prove the opposite. It's not that logic flies out the window; just that you can't use it alone in drawing too many deductions.

As for dogma, I have to admit, my theology's a bit rusty. How does it fit in? Or anything else I hastily said?

Eiko Onoda said...

Psychology and economics are both new academy - both were built actually by two giants Freud and Marx in late 19th century and both were not in the least sciences in the first place though they are categorised by some as a branch of human and social 'sciences'.

They as well as politics ought to be dealt still to be a part of literature.

Science in narrow meaning is so called natural sciences as physics, chemistry, mathematics and I still approach psychology, economics, and politics in a very literal way, in other words very theological way as such.

Ted Seeber said...

Kerrjac- you're absolutely correct, and that's no accident. You can think of dogma (aka the Deposit of Faith) as merely the axioms for theology- the profound stuff said by the founder of a given religion that kicked everything else off.

I say it's no accident because the modern scientific method in the western world evolved from the earlier Catholic doctrinal council method.

As for how Godel fits in, I think you're somewhat right there as well- but I can sum Godel up pretty easily in "Never let your own arrogance conflict with reality".

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