How Scientific Research Is Conditioned By Worldview
Sergei Golovin Simferopol, Ukraine
Translated from Russian by E. MolodchiyAnnotation. The metaphysical understanding of a scientist inevitably renders influence upon the interpretation of the observed facts, chosen by the scientist. The fanatical faithfulness of many modern researchers to methodological naturalism does not allow them to admit to the possibility of another approach. Nevertheless, a lot of knowledge has been gained from the last century which is located obviously outside of the naturalistic model of the universe. Only an unbiased comparison of the approaches will allow us to establish which of the paradigms gives the most consistent scientific picture of the world.
Edited by Amy Shved
According to the choice expression of Poincare, science cannot be reduced to a number of facts, like a building cannot be reduced to a pile of stones. Without a doubt, facts are the most valuable product of empirical research, of which the generally accepted attributes conform to the requirements of observation, repeatability and falsification (i.e. basic refutation). But in the same "stones" of the facts one person can see the plan of the great Architect, another sees an infinite line of changing illusions, and a third - no more than a successful combination of accidental elements. What is the reason for such a difference? The point is that each of us looks upon the facts through our own glasses named as "worldview" or "religion".
The given paper's purpose is not to look at the phenomenon of the so-called organized religions. The term "religion" here is used in its original sense (lat. - religio). Being in the given context a synonym for the modern term "worldview", religion means a system of basic principles and regulations accepted without proof, i.e. by faith. In this sense, Christian theism is a religion in the same degree, as atheism, naturalism or materialism. At the same time, science will be understood as the development and theoretical systematization of objective knowledge about reality with the purpose of describing, explaining and predicting the processes and phenomena of reality on the basis of the laws discovered by science.
THE FUNDAMENTAL WORLDVIEW CONTEXT OF SCIENCE
Science cannot exist outside of the context of worldview or religion even if we put aside such an interesting phenomenon of our time, as superstitious scientism. (This is the tendency of many people to see in the person of a scientist a faultless and infallible "priest" of the temple of truth and unconditionally trust any newspaper hoax, if the message is anticipated with the magic formula "scientists have discovered, that … "). The religious aspect of science is already seen in its definition, namely:
It is not difficult to be convinced, that all three of the above mentioned premises first of all carry a purely religious character, and secondly are not independent judgements, but follow as a result of belief in the existence of the One reasonable, omniscient, omnipotent Lawgiver. This Lawgiver is capable not only to establish a unified and self-sufficient system of universal laws, but also, in distinction to the majority of modern lawgivers, to watch closely the execution of these laws. It is also supposed, that our mind is the representation of His mind, and that we are capable to learn His plan and even to express it by mathematical methods. In particular, the possibility of mathematics itself was perceived by Kant as the essence of the basic question of philosophy alongside with the possibilities of physics and meta-physics.
In this case it is hard not to recollect on the debate of Leonhard Euler and Pierre Laplace about the existence of God arranged by Catherine II. Euler, who had to speak first, came forward, wrote on the blackboard "eip+1=0", and declared: "Hence, there is God". Thus the debate was finished. Objections had not followed because it is really difficult to give other explanation to the fact that an imaginary quantity and two transcendental numbers can be combined in such a simple and beautiful ratio.
In the decades since then our knowledge of mathematical fundamentals of the universe have been considerably increased. This idea was expressed in the words of Paul Dirac, who received together with Erwin Schrodinger the Nobel Prize in 1933 for research in the field of quantum electrodynamics and quantum theory of gravitation:
…The fact that fundamental physical laws are described by the mathematical theories of greatest beauty and power, requiring mathematical knowledge of the highest level, appears to be the most fundamental property of nature… God is the great mathematician and He used mathematics of the highest level in creating the Universe.
What we call today the scientific method, comes directly from creationist religious beliefs. As a matter of fact, despite the high level of development in all pre-Christian civilizations in the areas of astronomy, medicine, agriculture, metallurgy, architecture and art, essentially science and the technology based on it have formed only in the late-Christian European civilization, where faith in the one Creator, Who made the Earth by his power, stretched out the heavens by his understanding, holding all with the word of His power, became the integral part of both common culture and individual consciousness. In the same place, where the notion of a Creator was absent, there had not been a search for laws and some of the discoveries (ex. Archimedes law) were the product not of research, but of sudden brilliant inspirations while solving purely practical tasks.
Faith in the perfect character of God's creation inspired Johannes Kepler, the theologian and naturalist, to spend several years of his life on the clarification of the reason for the disparity in the observable movement of Mars like the notions of both Ptolemy and Koppernigk (depending on the chosen system of counting). The discovering of the Kepler laws and also the successful solution by Newton of the task of finding the force of interaction of heavenly bodies, proceeding from the character of their movement, resulted in the discovery of the law of gravitational interaction which laid the foundation of theoretical mechanics, and truly was recognized as the most convincing proof of the validity of the postulates on unity and intelligence of the laws of the universe.
Representatives of the so-called "strong scientism" reject the very possibility of dependence on scientific conclusions from the religious premises of research, presenting in that way the clearest example of "proofs from the desirable ". "Weak scientism" recognizes the presence of the religious premises of a scientific method, but counts them as insignificant for the results of research. The latter affirms that the conceptual construction is more grounded than the premises on which it is based; that is groundless from the point of view of logic. But the fact remains: natural science is the child of bible divinity. Science was even called "natural divinity" (and so the textbook on natural science by William Paley - author of the most well known definition of the theological argument of God's existence.)
THE CONTEMPORARY WORLDVIEW CONTEXT OF SCIENCE
However, the relationship between science and Christian religion over the last 150 years remind us of the characters from the parable of the prodigal son in the Gospel. Having achieved certain results in its area (study of the material world), natural science has taken its part of the father's property and is moving on to the far country - to the area of the religion of materialism and atheism. The fourth principle - naturalism was added to the three primary global principles of science (casualty, universality and rationalism). Naturalism says: everything in the world has only natural reasons. This principle also carries a purely religious character and cannot be checked by scientific means.
To the three pragmatic, self-rationalizing, religious principles were added one more, also accepted by faith, which a priori is not provable or refutable (the impossibility of detecting the supernatural by means of natural sciences is as natural, as the impossibility of detecting color through the means of a hearing device). Thus, science has not become a less religious matter at all.
THE EVIDENCES OF THE INCONSISTENCY OF NATURALISMCosmology
Nevertheless, more and more data has been found in the process of further accumulation of the scientific facts which contradict the idea of naturalism. Thus, the discovering of the red shift in a spectrum of galaxies and background radiation has made cosmologists recognize the fact of the beginning of the Universe. Since our Universe with space, time, matter and energy, had a beginning, the reason, which has caused this should be outside of matter/energy (i.e. supernatural), outside of space (i.e. infinite), and outside of time (i.e. eternal). We agree that we have already heard about this from somewhere. The pun has turned out to be tremendous: Naturalistic-cosmologists have come across the old Cosmological argument for the existence of God again. Robert Jastrow, the director of the Institute of Space Research (USA) describes the dramatic character of that situation in the following way:
For the scientist, who lives by faith in his own intelligence, the end of the way is turning out to be a horrible dream. He is climbing up a mountain of ignorance and he is about to reach the top. As soon as he is ready to make his last push and almost stands on the top, he is welcomed by the company of theologians, who have been seating there for centuries (Jastrow).